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Feb 28


In the last strip on the month we see Jimothy touting an old argument which holds that since men were created first, they are more important than women. Beth shows how the logic doesn’t really hold up if you carry it through the rest of the creation narrative.

The creation narrative of Genesis 1 has humankind being created last, a sort of grand finale in God’s creative work. God says creation is good, and then humankind is very good. There is significance and meaning in the order of events – humankind being created last is a sort of stamp on their specialness (in this story man and woman are created at the same time). In Genesis 2 (the second of the two creation accounts) it’s interesting to note that Adam is made first and then Eve. If we use the framework of the first account, it would imply that the woman is the finale of creation since she is made last. I don’t know that’s what the author is implying, but it is interesting to consider.



The Summer Trip

May 16th was our two year anniversary! We planned to take a road trip to southern California and sleep in our car for about four days. In the weeks leading up to leaving, we found and ordered what we thought we’d need (car tent, power supply, air mattress, cooler, gas stove, etc.) and then took off hoping for the best. It was an incredible trip that we’ll remember for long time – and things went surprisingly well.


The Route

  • (Wednesday) Phoenix to Santa Barbara
  • (Thursday) Malibu, Laguna Beach, Ventura
  • (Friday) Oceanside, Encinitas, Del Mar, La Jolla
  • (Saturday) La Jolla, San Diego
  • (Sunday) Phoenix

The Ride

I found a Hasika “Tailgate Shade Awning Tent” on Amazon for about $80 which made sleeping in the our Toyota Venza pretty pleasant. At night, we put a few of the larger items outside (cooler, beach chair) and laid our back seats down. This left enough room for an air matress, and when the back gate was up with the awning attached, I could completely stretch out. It was actually really fun.


The Food

We bought a two burner, propane camp stove from some friends so we could cook at the beach. We only ended up doing this a couple times, but it worked super well! We took a cooler and ate most of our meals from there. We figured we ate out about five times in five days. Between sleeping in the car and taking our own food, we kept the expenses pretty low (except for gas – gas was high).


We ate at a great little place in Little Italy in downtown San Diego.


The Beach Towns

We’d been to Del Mar before and definitely want to return. This is such a great beach spot with both a nice town and a beautiful beach. The photo above of me with the grill is at Del Mar.

Aleisha and I agreed that Laguna Beach was the place we’d move if we were going to southern California – for sure a favorite. La Jolla also turned about to be a ton of fun (although finding a place to park for the night was really hard).


Before we left I bought a wetsuit. And a few years back, Aleisha and Luke bought me a surfboard. It was great to not have to rent anything anywhere we went. I did a lot of surfing. It made me realize though that west coast waves are harder than east coast waves, and I’m a bit out of practice.

Overall, we had a blast! It was kind of surprising how smoothly the whole trip went. We decided that next time we’ll plan ahead a bit more about where to park overnight as finding a place to sleep can be challenging. This was a lovely way to experience the coast of California.


Teddy

The day we got back to Phoenix was the day my mom flew in with our new puppy, Teddy. We got him from my aunt Thersea who raises beautiful little dogs (Palmetto Upstate Puppies)! He is so far a great addition to the Bear family. Teddy sleeps well at night, mostly, and is very chill overall. He sometimes complains about having to go on walks. We love him.


In Other News

Aleisha is the program and intern Director at Aim Right Ministries and has recently also taken a job with City of Joy. They’re an incredible organization in Rwanda, and Aleisha manages their online store. I’m still working as an admissions counselor at Grand Canyon University where I’m also in my third class towards being licensed as a mental health counselor.


Feb 27


When we don’t even consider hiring men for positions we’d prefer to fill with women because a man would find it demeaning, all we have to do is take a small step back to see how low of a view of women we have. Jimothy’s argument here is that a man would be insulted by the notion of taking a position traditionally filled by women. What’s implied (if not said outright) is that women can expect less because they are capable of less. Men can expect more because they are capable of more.



What does it say when we deem work to demeaning for men and perfectly suitable for women?

How are stereotypes around “male” and “female” work engrained in my community?

Do I encourage people to use their gifts or just steer them toward gender stereotypical work?


Feb 26

So much of the reality we live in is culturally constructed. Simply, things are the way they are because we have decided to make them so. In Communication as Culture, James Carey says it this way.

Reality is not given, not humanly existent, independent of language and toward which language stands as a pale refraction. Rather, reality is brought into existence, is produced, by communication–by, in short, the construction, apprehension, and utilization of symbolic forms.

Under the sway of realism we ordinarily assume there is an order to existence that the human mind through some faculty may discover and describe. I am suggesting that reality is not there to discover in any significant detail…To put it colloquially, there are no lines of latitude and longitude in nature, but by overlaying the globe with this particular, though not exclusively correct, symbolic organization, order is imposed on spatial organization and certain, limited human purposes served.

This particular miracle we perform daily and hourly–the miracle of producing reality and then living within and under the fact of our own productions–rests upon a particular quality of symbols: their ability to be both representations “of” and “for” reality.

– James Carey

God created us to build reality. In Genesis 2 we read,

Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.

God not only gave Adam a task, he actually waited “to see what (Adam) would name them.” And whatever decision Adam made was how the world was built: that was it’s name. The task for humankind in the garden is still our task today – to make order in the world, to co-create with God. I believe God is still looking on with anticipation, to see what they will make of the world.

We may disagree on the best way forward. In fact, we will most certainly disagree. Yet I believe we are one step ahead if can realize that what we decide is largely of our own making, that the world we inhabit is one we’re building. We decide, over time, what will be considered normal, what is required, who is in and who is out, what is liked and what is shunned. Our decisions, our actions, and even our silence contribute to constructing the reality we share. As much as we might like to think we’re just taking all our cues from scripture, even a simply analysis reveals we are so often just making it up as we go.

And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Scripture isn’t a textbook with an index of answers and procedures – though some try to force it to be. Whether we admit it or not, much of our world (the rules, the norms, the ways of life, the traditions, the expectations) is of our own making. This is true in church as much as outside it. Once we acknowledge that, we can move beyond Jimothy’s ignorant insistence that everything we’re doing is taken right from scripture.

Perhaps God has made us to choose and to build and construct our worlds. And that is an incredible responsibility with huge implications. We’re farther ahead if we can recognize that we are indeed choosing and building and then evaluate what we’ve made.



Is it scary to think that much of reality is built by human choices?

How does claiming a scriptural basis for human-made rules give power to those in charge?

What ways might we have decided to make reality other than what we’re living in?


Feb 25


“The best marketing scheme in history is men successfully getting away with calling women the “more emotional gender” … because they’ve successfully rebranded anger as not an emotion”

Claire Willett

Jimothy here reiterates the old argument some folks like to level – women are too emotional to be trusted with leadership. I, like dear Tim, often don’t even know what to say when this claim is made. It’s ridiculous, unfair, and lazy. Not only is it scientifically unsound, it’s also not been my experience. I’ve had female professors, worked under a female manager in a corporate setting, and watched my own wife lead a team of people. The “too emotional” argument is absurd at the familial, church, corporate, and national level. But it’s a powerful argument and has been used to keep men in charge for a very long time.



If we include anger as an emotion, are women still “more emotional”?

Do I speak with lazy generalizations about how women are made or behave?

How are both men and women damaged by lazy speech like Jimothy’s?


Feb 24


While single men are empowered and encouraged to build a career or get an education or start a business or get a job and move up the chain, single women are stuck in limbo. The ultimate (even if unspoken) goal is marriage, but while they wait for a man to approach them, they have to do something. If they take a job, they have to make sure not to move up the chain and gain authority over a man. If they expect marriage in their future, they know that as soon as they are married, they’ll need to give up their career.

What an impossible situation this puts so many young ladies in. Here is an entry point into the discussion about ideals. Some may argue that marriage isn’t necessarily required or even expected. Yet when we consider the norms, the unspoken expectation, the way social power is gained, it seems clear marriage is of high priority. So Beth’s question in a pertinent one – what’s the holy call for single women?



What does my community expect of single ladies?

Is it realistic to be a full member of the community while remaining single?

How can single women thrive if Jimothy’s goals for them are in place?


Feb 23


Jimothy’s answer suggests a sharp divide between the culture and way of living inside the church and out there in the world. I think we do well to seriously consider the implications of such an understanding of the kingdom of God. If the kingdom and its ways are only applicable inside the walls of the church, how exactly can we continue to build it on earth? Build more churches?

The second thing Jimothy’s answer suggests is that women may have useful insight (and the ability to wield it) in the world, just not in sacred (church) spaces. But isn’t it also interesting that women are also often discouraged from building careers in this outside world, the space where they may be allowed to become experts.

If we take Jimothy’s position, I think we miss out on two incredible things. (1.) We lose the ability to experience the presence of God in culture*1. When “spiritual matters” like singing in church are separated from “worldly matters” like working in a pharmacy, what does this say about where we believe God is operating? (2.) We lose the gift of beautiful service the women in our communities can offer. We miss out on their insight and full expression of God’s grace when they aren’t permitted to lean into their gifts inside the church.

*1. For more on this I highly recommend Tish Harrison Warren’s book (and maybe my paper which uses her book heavily)



Do I believe the ordinary places in life are sacred?

Do I believe God is using women to express his word in the world and in church?

Do I draw sharp lines between church and culture which may be hindering what God wants to do?


Feb 22


We can chuckle, but we must admire Jimothy for his honesty in the third frame. If he is so much as alone for a few minutes with a woman, he has no confidence his purity will survive the encounter. This is familiar talk given to young men in many churches.

Consider the view of women displayed here. When a man cannot be alone with a woman for fear of becoming tarnished, defiled, made impure – women are seen as agents of impurity, they are dirty and dangerous.

I remember hearing a man teach this rule. He said he had to call or message his wife anytime a woman entered the room where he was working as an act of accountability. This kind of behavior communicated two things: (1) Men are completely out of control when it comes to temptation and desire. Their sexual impulses are so strong and raging that the mere one-on-one encounter is to be avoided. (2) Women are tempters. They are out to seduce men. They cannot be trusted. In reality, the danger of a man raping a women is much more real when alone in a room (more likely than a woman seducing a man). Yet what is often taught to young men is to never be alone with a woman…or else. The message to women is to dress as modestly as possible lest they awaken these insatiable, uncontrollable desires and cause their brothers to stumble. That women are dirty and dangerous and that men need to remain pure and safe.

We may not be saying it out loud like Jimothy, but we’re saying it.



Do I communicate harmful views in the name of purity?

Have I unintentionally accepted or taught views of sexuality which cast woman as temptresses?


Feb 21

In order to keep women from any positions of authority of leadership it’s necessary to say that anytime a woman senses a call to these positions, she has heard wrong or that she didn’t hear from God. Conversely, when men demonstrate an ability to lead or if they sense they are gifted in leadership, they are often told this is a calling from God. In the end, men are told to trust their instincts: women are told to trust men.

Jimothy’s answer may sound ludicrous, but what other answer can there be? If we are totally sure woman aren’t supposed to be leading, what options are there when a woman starts to sense that calling? We have to say that either: we are wrong about what women are allowed to do or the woman is hearing wrong: God didn’t say that. Since the first option would kind of undermine the entire operation in many churches, we rely heavily on that second option.

Even more preferable is the silence and submission of women. If they seem to be gifted leaders, they can just keep that quiet and keep the community from having to make a visible choice (and saying out loud what Jimothy says).



Is every woman who senses a call to lead hearing wrong?

Do I encourage open dialogue about men and women stepping into their giftings?

How is Jimothy’s answer worded to women in other, less direct ways?


Feb 20

The logic of being completely different and kept apart (while still being “equal”) was employed during the Jim Crow era to keep black children out of all white schools. Eventually, even white people realized how ridiculous this logic was and were forced to integrate. This same kind of logic is employed in churches where men’s and women’s roles are seen as totally separate/different but “equal.”



Have I shut down conversations about gender roles with answers of men and women being “separate”?

Can we truly see ourselves as working together if we are divided up tasks according to gender?

If separate but equal doesn’t hold for race, why does it for gender?