Gospels of Matthew and Luke have extensive birth narratives with the
young, betrothed Jewish woman name Mary as the focus of God’s grace and
self-disclosure to the world. Luke’s Gospel carries this theme of
empowerment and equality forward with the list of women that funded the
mission of Jesus next to the list of his first disciples (Luke, chapter
8). In almost every passage with parables, Luke has a woman and a man as
the focus of Jesus’ illustrative teaching (see Luke, chapter 15). And
in all the gospels, women are the first to see the Risen Christ and
share the good news.
history, there are godly women in all vocations who proclaimed the
gospel, ruled empires, led communities, pioneered new ministries, and
raised families. The great 4th century Cappadocian Fathers
were discipled by Macrina the Elder and Macrina the Younger. Hildegard
of Bingen confronted bishops and popes, offered deep scientific and
theological insights, and composed amazing poems and songs in a medieval
era if systemic inequality. Eleanor of Aquitaine astonished all around
her. From the 1800s to the present, courageous female leaders have
served the vulnerable, fought for justice, started businesses, and made
the world a better place. Think of Dorothy Day, Catholic social
reformer, Margaret Thatcher, Methodist Prime Minister of Great Britain,
Mother Teresa, prophet for the poor, and many others. There stories are
often buried under the weight of a dominant patriarchal culture.
is time for all thoughtful persons to end ungodly and unprincipled
sexism and affirm the equality of all persons and the gifts that each
one brings to our world. This is not eliminating male and female
differences or opening the door to confusion. In our responses to the
anarchistic anthropologies of our day, we must not react with unjust
subcultural responses, confusing truth with particular cultural or
historical gender roles. In the end, we are catching up to the divine
image bestowed by the Creator.
are inundated with loud voices clamoring for emotional reactions. In
contrast, followers of Jesus are invited to hear the voice of the Good
Shepherd and choose loving obedience. Let’s take time to still our
hearts, listen deeply, and love wisely.
do not live in the best or worst of times…but in the most
instantaneous information moment of history. Our conflicts are not new,
but much more immediate and our responses are often unreflective. We can
shun vulgarity. We can choose intercession for those who disagree. And
we can recognize that power itself is an addiction affecting every part
of the political spectrum.
often sparks revival in persons and communities. Without pretending
about our real pain or excusing transgression, what if we let go of the
rap sheet that we keep against ourselves and others and truly forgive?
And when we bless those who frustrate us most, we are liberated, and a
new future opens to us.
antidote for our epidemic and anger: In the spirit of St. Francis of
Assisi, we can meet every insult with blessing, every denial of truth
with love and truth, arrogance with humility, and intolerance with civil
discourse. And let’s respond to emotionalism and incipient Orwellian
controls with careful thought and affirmation of liberty rooted in
virtue. Systemic issues of class, gender, and race must be exposed…and
overcome with love, relationships, and wisdom. Protest is one
step…and practical, sacrificial action for others moves our vision of
shalom forward. This is more than being nice and it is not passive.
Living in the opposite spirit of our age of insults and vulgarity is a
courageous spiritual posture.
Even when it is not “well with my soul” it is still well with the Lord, who perseveres in his love and pursues us with holy determination.
Today, let’s release every internal barrier to flourishing: anger and nostalgia, regret and pride, rebellion and ignorance…and choose forgiveness and hope, humility and learning, pursuit of the Triune Lord and the good of others.
Transformation comes responsive decision at a time.
In a world quick to label everything a “…phobe” I confess a “phobe” I must wrestle with:
Translated: fear of (real) thinking. This affliction is spreading as some try and silence all dissent that departs from their narratives. How about befriending people of diverse beliefs and cultures? Then any vestiges of our phobias will transform into mutual respect, genuine debate and, perhaps, principled ways of helping all flourish.
Dear anarchist, please share what your “there” looks like.
Dear traditionalist, please share how all people are included in your vision of “there.”
To all friends of conscience, let’s articulate a just and loving, safe and sustainable future.
It is hard work aiming for principled compromise and proximate justice.
Much easier to alienate, marginalize, yell epithets and delegitimize concerns of “enemies.”
Will you join me in a new era of civil dialogue?