Category Archives: Music/Music videos

You are worth more than your body or your sex appeal.

One of the central themes of holistic body theology is cultural discernment.  Our culture has many valuable gifts to bestow, but there are also many lies and harmful beliefs perpetuated.  That’s why media literacy is so important.  We have to recognize the messages around us and decide for ourselves whether we will accept them as truth or not.

But before we can even develop that discernment, we have to first know who we are.  If our identity is not sure, then we are so much more easily swayed by others’ attempts to tell us who we are or who we should be.  As Christians, we identify as children of God.  The foundation of our identity is built on Jesus, the incarnate divine being, perfectly holy and fully flesh.

Holistic body theology, then, is about realizing our embodied holiness in our everyday lives.  This is hard enough for those of us who live out our lives in quiet and relative obscurity.  How much greater the struggle for secure identity and wise discernment among the many messages of our culture when in the unique opportunity to create those messages for ourselves.

I don’t usually engage in ongoing conversations about the latest thing in popular culture, but Sinead O’Connor’s open letter to Miley Cyrus carries too important a message to worry about getting caught up in current debate.  Regardless of the various opinions floating around about Ms. Cyrus’ motivations, etc., Ms. O’Connor’s effort still gets kudos from HBTB for being willing to speak hard truths about the reality of sexual exploitation of women working in the music industry.

Here are some highlights from her letter:

[…]Nothing but harm will come in the long run, from allowing yourself to be exploited, and it is absolutely NOT in ANY way an empowerment of yourself or any other young women, for you to send across the message that you are to be valued (even by you) more for your sexual appeal than your obvious talent[….]
I’m suggesting you don’t care for yourself. That has to change. You ought be protected as a precious young lady by anyone in your employ and anyone around you, including you. This is a dangerous world. We don’t encourage our daughters to walk around naked in it because it makes them prey for animals and less than animals, a distressing majority of whom work in the music industry and it’s associated media.

You are worth more than your body or your sexual appeal. The world of showbiz doesn’t see things that way, they like things to be seen the other way, whether they are magazines who want you on their cover, or whatever … Don’t be under any illusions … ALL of them want you because they’re making money off your youth and your beauty…

Real empowerment of yourself as a woman would be to in future refuse to exploit your body or your sexuality in order for men to make money from you[….] And its sending dangerous signals to other young women. Please in future say no when you are asked to prostitute yourself[….]

Whether we like it or not, us females in the industry are role models and as such we have to be extremely careful what messages we send to other women. The message you keep sending is that its somehow cool to be prostituted … its so not cool Miley … its dangerous. Women are to be valued for so much more than their sexuality. We aren’t merely objects of desire. I would be encouraging you to send healthier messages to your peers … that they and you are worth more than what is currently going on in your career[….]

The value of Ms. O’Connor’s open letter is that her message is for more than just Miley Cyrus and other women in the music industry.  It is also a message for those relative-obscurity-living-in people like you and I.  We have a responsibility to engage wisely in the world around us.  When we buy magazines or watch videos on Youtube or tune into entertainment news, we are telling the media and the world what we are interested in.  “Sex sells” is a well-known and proven marketing adage for a reason.  Sex sells because people buy it.

So, my dear lovely readers, here is my open letter to you:

Know who you are.  Make choices that reflect your identity and honor your worth.  Live a life that sells what is truly worth buying.  Live a life worthy of the precious, beautiful, unique, beloved child of God that you are.

You, dear readers, are worth more than your body.  You are worth more than your sexual appeal. You are too valuable just because of the simple fact that you are a human being on this earth to believe anything less about yourself or about any other human being on this earth.  You are worth more than the low, base messages in the media.  You and I, and Ms. Cyrus and Ms. O’Connor, and every other person deserve better.  We all deserve to be known and honored and valued and loved for our whole selves — mind, body, and spirit.

Let’s sell that for a change.

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Rohr on silence in a culture of noise

We live in a noisy world.

We surround ourselves with entertainment and news and music and talking and texting and constant accessibility to internet.  We immerse ourselves in the many messages we hear from culture, family, church, school, and work.  We are loud and wordy and flashy and full of so much swirling around that it often feels impossible to shhhhhhh… into a place of quiet, stillness, and rest.

Richard Rohr writes about the place of silence in this excerpt below from his recent article “Finding God in the Depths of Silence” in Sojourners (March 2013):

At the less mature levels, religion is mostly noise, entertainment, and words.  Catholics and Orthodox Christians prefer theater and wordy symbols; Protestants prefer music and endless sermons.

Probably more than ever, because of iPads, cell phones, billboards, TVs, and iPods, we are a toxically overstimulated people.  Only time will tell the deep effects of this on emotional maturity, relationship, communication, conversation, and religion itself.  Silence now seems like a luxury, but it is not so much a luxury as it is a choice and decision at the heart of every spiritual discipline and growth.  Without it, most liturgies, Bible studies, devotions, “holy” practices, sermons, and religious conversations might be good and fine, but they will never be truly great or life-changing — for ourselves or for others. They can only represent the surface; God is always found at the depths, even the depths of our sin and brokenness. And in the depths, it is silent.

Thoughts? Comments? Reactions? Share in the comment box below.

 

The Illusionists

You may have noticed this picture trending on Facebook and Pinterest this week.

screenshot

I ran across it myself, which led me to discovering The Illusionists, a documentary that is currently in post-production and promises to be a balanced and informative look at the commodification of the human body.  That’s right up our alley here at HBTB, so I thought I’d do a little plugging for them.  Check out the video below.

I’m in no way affiliated with The Illusionists, but I’m looking forward to their finished product!  You can also find out more about body image and media literacy on The Illusionists blog.

Saturday Sex-versations

My computer crashed this week, and I lost most of the interesting and well-written articles I had pulled for all you lovely readers this week.  I included below the ones I could recover, but I’m afraid the list is a little short this week.  To compensate, share your favorite conversation-starter article from this past week in the comment boxes and include the link so we can all benefit and stay informed together.

Stay informed about what the world and the Church are saying so we can discuss the issues, discern healthy, holistic body theology, and discover God’s truth in the midst of many opinions.

Here’s this week’s installment of current conversations on issues of holistic body theology.  (Links are organized roughly by date and similarity of content.)

A blocked quote indicates a highly recommended link.

Don’t be shy.  Share your thoughts in the comment section, or join the original conversations via the links provided.

Physicality: Body Image, Sexuality and Relationship Issues

1) The Fierceness of God In addition to expressing the nature of God’s protection over us, it also sheds light on the imago dei in women. Although men are traditionally construed as the “protectors,” I think we all know how fierce women can get with their children.

2) Are You There, World? It’s Me, Tina. Without Makeup. In a moment of pure insanity I thought, if my beautiful friend Claire can be honest about how many times she has weighed herself, I can be honest about what I look like without makeup.

3) Letter against gay marriage to be read in every Catholic church this Sunday The letter…restates the anti-gay-marriage campaign’s argument that “neither the Church nor the State has the power to change [the] fundamental understanding of marriage itself”.

4) Fit, not skinny I’ve decided to love my body no matter what the scale says.

5) Relationship Myth #2: If I Have to Tell My Partner My Needs… It is from this vulnerable place that we start to form the distorted thought, “If I have to share my needs, it doesn’t count because he/she should know me well enough to just know them.”

6) Rush Limbaugh and three evangelical blind spots Currently, evangelicals tend to force young adults, especially young women, into simplistic sexual categories. They are either “pure” or “impure,” “whole” or “damaged,” “virgins” or “sluts.” There does not seem to exist a vocabulary within evangelicalism with which to talk about men and women who are sexually active, but not promiscuous.

Media Literacy/Cultural Discernment

1) Loose All female sins can be reduced to same one: a refusal to allow men to define and control female sexuality.

2) My Take: New TV series ‘GCB’ portrays Christians as caricatures Still, “GCB” challenges every Christian – including me – to consider our own faith journey and if our talk really matches our walk.

3) What the Hunger Games Taught Me (and the Church Should Have) About Men In our culture, men are given license to satisfy their desires for pleasure by using women, just as women are given license to seek pleasure in pampering themselves. This message carries way beyond Christian teachers—it’s everywhere.

4) Gender Disparity in the Clergy: Breaking the Stained Glass Ceiling Let us capitalize on this national moment of frustration and revelation and commit to concrete action in promoting women as religious thought leaders in our faiths, culture and society.

Community: Equality and Other Issues

1) Foundations in Community–Part 1 The geese know that their best chance of survival is to travel in flocks, yet value the individual goose enough that they will not simply abandon them in crisis.  We could learn a lot from these geese.

2) Femsculine Christianity As we learn more about God, we can live out a Christianity that is both uncompromisingly feminine and genuinely masculine.

3) Brew Pubs, Putting Down Roots, and What the Incarnation Means for Local Living A local gospel must be important for a God who entered our physical space, Emmanuel, to dwell with us.

4) Does Suburbia Hurt Christianity? Community is spread out. It occurs irregularly at appointed places such as schools, churches and athletic facilities that are miles apart. It offers little in the way of unifying cultural and civic institutions because there is no commitment to a place … because there is no “place.”

5) the underground railroad when we choose the path of leaving systems & structures that continue to keep us in bondage, we choose a lonelier, scarier road.

6) The Torah and Making Sacred Spaces Confronted repeatedly by frailty, isolation, mortality, and error, we find strength and solace in community and the achievement that community makes possible.

7) Down We Go: Practicing Equality Jesus broke down barriers of inequality. Now we need to play our part in it as well. Equality crosses more than just gender.

8) Taking Root: Creating The church recognized that because God’s attribute of creativity is so important and because people are made in His image, it is essential for humans to create. It’s a part of who we are.

9) The Myth of Religious Superiority [Y]et another group thinks Christianity is one way of salvation, a true way, but there are other ways too (pluralism).

10) Women: The Church’s Most Wasted Resource But for many women (particularly wives and mothers), leaving doesn’t mean walking away; more often it means showing up without being present. Women often do this because they want their husbands and children to grow spiritually.

Service: Social Justice Issues & Creation Care

1) What the “After-birth Abortion” and “Personhood” Debates Have in Common “Merely being human,” they claim, “is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life.”

2) Let’s Retire the Term “Slut” The term hurts women. Men use it to hurt women. Women use it to hurt women. We think it’s time to stop using it.

3) Sandra Fluke and Rush Limbaugh: Let’s Retire the Word “Slut” [M]ost people — women and men — who call women prostitutes, whores, or sluts don’t do so because they think that’s the truth. They do it to defame, demean, and shame. They do it to keep women quiet and to keep women cautious in speaking about their own sexuality….

4) ‘Dawn of a new hope’ for whom? Systemic violence and impunity plague women in Ivory Coast “Women have a lower status than men, even though the constitution recognizes women’s equal rights. Domestic violence is very accepted as a way of educating and controlling women. Sexual violence is then possible because we don’t see women as protected and supported by the general community.”

5) Compassion in the Everyday Do not fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others, especially those who have the spotlight; reach out to those around you, wherever you are, and you will start to see your impact.

6) The best and worst places to be a woman 1) Best place to be a woman: Iceland

Saturday Sex-versations

Stay informed about what the world and the Church are saying so we can discuss the issues, discern healthy, holistic body theology, and discover God’s truth in the midst of many opinions.

Here’s this week’s installment of current conversations on issues of holistic body theology.  (Links are organized roughly by date and similarity of content.)

A blocked quote indicates a highly recommended link.

Don’t be shy.  Share your thoughts in the comment section, or join the original conversations via the links provided.

Physicality: Body Image, Sexuality and Relationship Issues

1) The Story Is Everything How does kingdom of God reshape the story of sex? How does new creation plot sex in its story?

2) Utah House passes bill to allow schools to skip sex ed “In truth, few of us are up to the task of effectively teaching our kids ourselves the things they need to know about sex.”

3) Yoga and Sex Scandals: No Surprise Here But over the decades, many have discovered from personal experience that the practice [of yoga] can fan the sexual flames. Pelvic regions can feel more sensitive and orgasms more intense.

4) Why (and How) Abortion Should Be Talked about in Church Churches that speak of abortion without acknowledging that many women have experienced it as an injustice, not as a choice, drive women deeper into their pain rather than set them free from the captivity where they are both bound and gagged.

5) How Old Should You Be to Marry? It’s not just about meeting the right person, but it’s also about their personal maturity.

6) Aw, Hey, Fella Aw, hey, fella–/Whatcha gonna do/When a pretty lady’s/Not ashamed of what she’s got?/Better let her know/Just what nasty names you’re thinkin’/‘Cause it’s so much easier/Than changing whatcha think.

7) Pew for One: How Is the Church Responding to Growing Number of Singles? The church needs to re-evaluate its relationship with singles, especially in light of the increasing numbers of unmarried adults.

8) Breastfeeding in Church, and Other Petty Crimes Breastfeeding is itself a work of art wrought by the Greatest Artist.

9) Day 13: Seek Intimacy Now Do I find it easier to be loved by God because someone else has said that the body I was created with is beautiful?

10) Birth Control: Burden or Blessing? This decision was meant to be hard—God meant it to be hard. He wants us to contemplate life with the utmost care and caution. He wants us to deeply consider the potential for life that we carry around in our bodies.

Media Literacy/Cultural Discernment

1) Women & Social Media Women are moving from passive purchasers to online authorities and tastemakers.

2) America’s Top Magazines: Still Not Hiring Women Do we really have to educate editors that women can bring new perspectives on major stories, and not just to stories about living as a single woman or going through a divorce?

3) Gender bias in books journalism remains acute, research shows Vida is instead trying to support women writers throughout their careers, and attempting to encourage people to examine their own biases.

4) Dear Oscar: Women Have Stories, Too When girls grow up seeing story after story that tells them they are sex objects, accessories or victims, they will learn that to be a “woman” is to play one of those three roles.

5) O Women, Where Art Thou? Certainly, something like a feminist intersectional analysis is rarely performed in the boardrooms and cafes of the Los Angeles film industry.

6) The Hidden Damage of Eating Disorders This inadequacy is due to the lie that resides beneath our cultural over-emphasis on physical beauty: “The only thing that is truly important or valuable about your identity is your appearance.”

7) People for the Ethical Treatment of Anyone but Women PETA’s use of nudity and sexuality has long been criticized as being exploitative of women, but many feminists say the new campaign crosses a line by trivializing domestic and sexual violence, further injuring an already-fragile demographic.

8) Why Do Only Women Whine? By stating that determined women are “whiners” their opinions instantly lose credibility in a distinctly sexist way.

9) you is smart. you is kind. you is important. the messages passed on to many of us through our families, relationships, and some of our church experiences are more like: “you’re somehow not enough.”

10) Does “The Help” Hurt? It is all too easy to accept caricaturizations of others that affirms our sense of justice while never addressing the inherent assumptions that come from living in a culture that is still largely “white normative”.

11) 3 Lessons Every Writer, Speaker, Blogger, and Musician Can Learn from Led Zeppelin Sometimes staying true to your art grabs the multitudes. But more often it does not. Staying true to yourself and faithful to your calling should always be the goal.

Community: Equality and Other Issues

1) This Easter Season, Remember: Church Growth is About More Than ‘The Marrieds’ These latest reports about childbirth and marriage suddenly show us that our typical evangelism efforts in churches are aiming at less than half of our nation’s population.

2) “I’m Dad, the Babysitter,” and Other Cultural Myths Dads are parents, not babysitters.

3) Tell Your Story, Tell It Well The church, if it wishes to speak into the culture around it, must regain its ability to tell testimonies. It must read its history and learn to tell its individual stories, and to tell them well, so that hearers hungry for a roadmap might find it in us.

4) More Than Enchanting: A Q&A with Jo Saxton I hope it changes the minds of women who have given up on God, their call on the church because of how difficult it’s been for them. I hope it changes the minds of those who have felt too inadequate to respond to God’s call.

5) Helen Lee: On Not Playing It Safe I still struggle with moments in which I distrust myself, in which I doubt myself, in which I would rather disappear into the background rather than put myself and my ideas forward into the public arena.

6) Reading the Magnificat During Lent [B]ut our faith is not something that concerns just us. We exist as a body and as members of the body of Christ the disciplines we engage in should always work towards the good of that body.

7) Resisting a Segregated Church Except for church, my life was one of post-Civil Rights integration.

8) Good Girls Never Change the World: Part 2 Esther more closely resembles the monarchs favourite prostitute than she does his married-in-a-church-before-God-and-all-our-friends-in-a-white-dress wife.

Service: Social Justice Issues & Creation Care

1) Earth Care as Lenten Practice If fashioned from the earth, and blessed and called by God, how can we live into an awakened relationship with the earth?

2) Living Abundantly “We understand that we can’t think about food without referring to the narrative of creation and linking it with a deep understanding of how we have been created to be the bearers of the Spirit and part of the community of life on this planet, not its owners,” Claudio said.

3) Because Children Need a Defender For children suffering in silence…justice and healing may seem impossible. But they are not—not when there is a strong defender standing beside them in the fight for justice.

4) Finding a Home for Oklahoma’s Orphans While not everyone is called to foster or adopt, every follower of Christ is called to bring justice to orphans and can do something to change the outcome for these kids.

5) Criminalizing Homelessness? Fallout feared from anti-Occupy bill “It’s criminalizing the right to exist as a human being. It’s outlawing homelessness.”

6) Desmond Tutu: Tackling Child Marriage in India One of the most common features of all these women is that they are educated, but has it reduced their worth? No, their worth has been enhanced.

7) One Small Wardrobe, One Huge Cause “I’m using my body and what I wear to represent these women. I feel like they can’t speak.”

8) Black Evangelicals, White Evangelicals, and Franklin Graham’s Repentence They see those 2,000 scriptures about poverty and injustice. And this new generation of white evangelicals is committed to fight systemic and structural justice because of the Gospel.

9) Feeling a Sacred Trust But the idea that we are separate from our world is a dangerous delusion. Every breath of oxygen we take was first exhaled by a leaf. No animal, even us, can be safer or healthier than its habitat.

10) Altering Clothes, and Lives, with Design “You have these smart students who care about the community, the planet and using recycled materials, and we have these people here in Detroit who really want to work and need money.”

11) Picturing the hands of Christ I touch people on their hands and feet and bodies to be a reminder to them that they are not alone when they are ill or dying, especially when they are dying. It is a holy moment to be with people in death.

12) Our Hands Tell Our Stories We receive the body of Christ in upturned hands every time we kneel at the altar. And as we kneel and wait, our hands, so unique and revealing about our lives, are made equal.

Saturday Sex-versations

As part of the on-going series, the links below will take you to current conversations about sexuality and relationships as well as issues related to the other three categories of holistic body theology: community, cultural discernment, and service.

Stay informed about what the world and the Church are saying so we can discuss the issues, discern healthy, holistic body theology, and discover God’s truth in the midst of many opinions.

Here’s this week’s installment.  (Links are organized roughly by date and similarity of content.)

Don’t be shy.  Share your thoughts in the comment section, or join the original conversations via the links provided.

Physicality: Body Image, Sexuality and Relationship Issues

1) Beautiful Sex and the Impact of Porn in Marriage  Incorporating the use of pornography is as beneficial to your marital sex life as having a threesome with a disease ridden meth addicted hooker.

2) ‘Love InshAllah,’ Newly Released Book Shatters Stereotypes on Muslim Women, Sex and Love “There are still misconceptions about Muslim women, because Muslim women, their bodies, their lives, have been so caught up in political debate,” Mattu said. “I feel like this is a way for people to connect with women who are revealing their full humanity.”

3) Love You! Now, the Difficult Stuff… Once people decide they are in love…too often they will duck tough conversations for fear of undermining what they see as a magical connection.

4) Should the Church Begin Arranged Marriages? With children hitting puberty earlier and earlier, and the level of sexual brokenness in our culture, having arranged marriages provides people with, hopefully, a healthier sexual outlet at a younger age.

5) 10 ways to have a horrible first date if you’re a Christian 7. Tell him you play handbells at church. And then, play them during your entire date.

6) Sex change British man gives birth to son Last night medical ethics experts called for a full inquiry into the issues surrounding transgender births, saying the interests of the child should not be risked to “fulfill the rights of an adult”.

7) Country’s first openly gay bishop preaches inclusivity beyond hospitality He called on the 300 people in the pews before him to work harder to integrate gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people into their spiritual lives.

8) To the Girl Who Has Never Dated Dating seems to have fallen into this weird category in Christian circles where we are either one date away from marriage or ruining the rest of our lives. Talk about extremes.

9) What Is Love? The Soul Knows If God is one and love is infinite, why limit ourselves when it comes to choosing a partner?

10) Interracial marriage in US hits new high: 1 in 12  “The rise in interracial marriage indicates that race relations have improved over the past quarter century…but America still has a long way to go.”

11) Unplanned Parenthood: The Blessing of an Inconvenient Pregnancy [F]ertility and childbearing highlight my addiction to control more than almost anything else…. Women are, after all, trained to control our bodies. Managing one’s appearance and conducting one’s body in a way that honors God are common female virtues in the church.

Media Literacy/Cultural Discernment

1) Kelli Anderson – Disruptive Wonder for a Change The world is full of order that doesn’t necessarily deserve our respect. Sometimes there is meaning, justice, and logic present in the way things are — but sometimes there just isn’t. [Her thoughts on media literacy begin around 9:30 with an astonishing prank.]

2) The Truth About Disney Love  What Disney fails to tell us is that when you wish upon a star, it usually doesn’t come true.

3) Why Pretty Women Are Overrated Don’t let culture define you.

Community: Equality Issues (There’s so much happening this week in the wake of John Piper’s remarks that I thought it deserved its own category.)

1) The Rhetoric of Masculine Christianity Yet the most important issue is not that Piper’s view would be misunderstood.  The absolute fundamental problem would be that it would be mistakenly taken as good news.

2) John Piper’s Masculine Christianity There is certainly a masculine feel to Christianity; but does this masculine feel necessarily exclude an equal female feel? Aren’t there aspects of the Christian faith that have a feminine feel to them…and should we also seek to promote these?

3) Lecrae, 116 Clique and John Piper — 100& Masculinity I assert that it is not masculinity that saved us from femininity; rather, that love compelled Christ to come and save us from fear, hate and darkness; that love compelled Christ to sacrifice all to save us from ourselves, our sin and our selfishness.

4) Writing for a Sexist World  [A]s women who write we have to be feminist, explicitly feminist—because the reception of our work will often be sexist.

5) Women’s History: Give Credit Where It’s Due Motivated by the belief that men and women were made in God’s image to “rule the earth” together, these pro-woman, pro-justice believers sought to right wrongs for those who had less social power. Isn’t it time we reclaimed our own story?

6) Masculine Christianity’s Problem One of the major issues today is the rise of education among women, making some men feel intimidated.

7) Unbinding the Feet: Women in Ministry In hindering some women from the fullness of their callings, we hinder the entire Body of Christ as well.

Community: Other Issues

1) seeds matter. we don’t have to keep perpetuating systems we fundamentally disagree with.  we don’t have to pass on a legacy of inequality and sexism to our children.  we don’t have to comprise our integrity  to keep fitting in. change starts with us.

2) Interview with Dan Brennan [W]e should never treat persons as instruments for achieving our own agendas….This is foundational for a life-giving, holiness and reverence between the sexes in marriage and friendship.

3) Does Anyone Actually Belong in Church? I want to step back and ask, “What do we mean when we say we don’t feel like we belong in church?”

4) Why Young People Are Feeling Conservative Evangelicalism The report cites the tension felt by young adults who find it difficult—if not impossible—to remain “sexually pure,” especially since most heterosexuals don’t marry until their mid-to-late twenties.

5) A love note to the workaholic One of the most commonly held and dangerous myths about vulnerability is that being vulnerable means being weak.

6) Why Jeremy Lin Matters Given Lin’s clear profession of faith, Asian American Christians in particular embrace him both as fellow ethnic kin as well as a fellow believer.

7) Christianity Out, Religion In?  In fact, these days more and more Americans are discontent with religion, and instead turn to spirituality to reconnect with God, themselves, and others.

8) When Words Become Flesh Our words must become flesh.

9) What’s the Point of Church Membership Perhaps the actual problem is that we don’t want to commit to a bunch of broken people who will inevitably hurt us and let us down. So we settle for tarnished intimacy and feigned vulnerability.

10) Gong Story My real agenda was not even to disciple her, but to make her more like me – and she saw straight through it. Who wants to be like a gong?

11) Amazing Gift: Stories of Faith, Disability and Inclusion “Anybody working toward including a particular group,” said Hartmut, “soon discovers that inclusive ministry does not stop there. It leads to many other groups, whose access to the holy table deserves equal attention.”

12) The Challenge of Disability to Christianity Persons with profound cognitive disabilities tend to teach us that the truly significant thing, the main thing, is located at the ineffable core of our being.

13) In which there is a crack in everything  Here’s my own life, I’m determined to share it, to pour it out unfinished, imperfect.

14) Five Principles for Surviving Community [Community] is a purposing to stand hand in hand with a variety of others, for a variety of reasons, and to say somehow–”These are MY people.” while not obscuring the fact that countless others, yet unknown, could equally fit such a description.

Service: Social Justice Issues

1)Stolen Childhood: How Do We End the Use of Child Soldiers?  [A]lmost 40% of child soldiers are girls. Not only do they serve as combatants, but many are also taken as “bush wives”, a term used by militia commanders to refer to sex slaves.

2) Crocheting for a Better Tomorrow [T]he cards are meant to serve as a reminder that we should remember to feel compassion and love for our neighbors both locally and globally.

3) Do We Have to Forgive Chris Brown? Something is very, very wrong when a story about Jesus protecting a woman from male violence is being used to protect a violent man from feminist criticism.

4) Finding Our Political Will to End Poverty Remarkably, we made it through 2011 without any major cuts to programs focused on hungry and poor people. We maintained the safety net in this country, and it is doing exactly what it is supposed to do.

5) Cost-Effective Compassion The difficulties in assessing the impact of antipoverty efforts only magnify the need for understanding the impacts of different types of programs.

Saturday Sex-versations

As part of the on-going series, the links below will take you to current conversations about sexuality and relationships as well as issues related to the other three categories of holistic body theology: community, cultural discernment, and service.

Stay informed about what the world and the Church are saying so we can discuss the issues, discern healthy, holistic body theology, and discover God’s truth in the midst of many opinions.

Here’s this week’s installment.  (The numbers aren’t rankings. Links are organized roughly by date and similarity of content.)

Don’t be shy.  Share your thoughts in the comment section, or join the original conversations via the links provided.

Physicality: Body Image, Sexuality and Relationship Issues

1) Relate with Helen: Let’s Talk About Sex! ”Can you honestly say that you believe that your gift of sexuality is a good gift from God?”

2) Our Bodies Are What? Our bodies are beautiful.  They’re the image of God despite all their earthly imperfections. We might have defects, but we are still loved and cherished by God.

3) The (real) secret to hot sex  His message is antithetical to the sex advice found everywhere from self-help books to the supermarket checkout line: The secret to a fulfilling sex life is mental, not physical.

4) In New Book ‘Sexual Intelligence’ Sex Therapist Marty Klein Explains the Key to Improving Intimate Relationships and Sexual Satisfaction Dr. Klein reveals that how we think about sex is the primary factor that determines the quality of our sex lives and intimate relationships.

5) Sex in the Body of Christ Christian communities aren’t immune to the sexual revolution.

6) Poll: Americans support contraception coverage, divided over religious exemptions  A majority of Americans — including Catholics — believe that employers should be required to provide employee health care plans that cover contraception and birth control at no cost, according to a new survey.

7) Ten Years of Changing Attitudes on Gay Marriage   (Be sure to click through all six graphs.)

8) Jay Bakker on Homosexuality, Religion & Politics   Bakker’s philosophy is that God is loving and all accepting.

9) The Death (and Life) of Marriage in America The full answer for the delay and decline of marriage would touch on birth control technology…, liberal divorce laws…, and even washing/drying machines….

10) The Great Modesty Experiment So, following these rules as carefully as possible, considering my Christian brothers at every turn, I am left with one pair of jeans, and three shirts that fit the modest standards.

11) Surviving church as a single  34. Someone throws the “Paul was never married” card on you. = +2 points

12) Mercy: A Daily Practice of Digging for Truth Seeing God’s love keeps us from being dragged down by hurt and failure, events that are inevitable in our world.

Media Literacy/Cultural Discernment

1) The Power of Choice in ‘Downton Abbey‘ But my favorite aspect of Downton is its emphasis on humans’ agency and accountability despite social and economic barriers. The characters are never excused for their choices by circumstance, class, gender, time period, or even the unfairness of the rules to which they so tightly cling.

2) Caucasian Christian Radio This preferential music that is called “Christian” is killing the gospel message by being exclusive, ethnocentric, and close-minded.

3) A Little More Ration for Fashion  [W]hat we wear on our bodies can be an obedient and worshipful response to these experiences of space and time and who we encounter in these experiences.

4) Victoria’s Secret Model Quits to Reserve Body ‘for My Husband’ “Thousands of girls that think that being beautiful is an outer issue and really it’s a heart issue.”

5) Can Fidelity Make a Good Movie? [T]he field of movies about marriage is much more diverse than the box-office belies. Viewers just have to be willing to look beyond a film’s self-advertising and see what can be revealed by digging a little deeper.

6) The Cultural IQ of the Church Christian leaders are lagging behind in attaining the cultural intelligence they need in order to navigate through this multi-cultural reality.

Community: Equality Issues (There’s so much happening this week in the wake of John Piper’s remarks that I thought it deserved its own category.)

1) Eight Traits of a Responsible Ministry  Change a word here and there, and what Piper says makes sense to me.

2) God Is Not Ashamed  When I challenged men to respond to John Piper’s claim that “God has given Christianity a masculine feel” with posts that celebrate femininity and affirm women in the Church, I never expected this.

3) Following the Leader Wherever She May Go I am deeply convinced that God calls both women and men into all vocations in the Church, gifting and empowering them to walk with one another in obedience to those callings.

4) In Response to Masculine Christianity: A Letter to My Daughter May you never mistake the pronouns of God with the character of God. May you never be so grateful for being created in the image of God that you seek to return the favor.

5) Is Christianity Supposed to Be Masculine? For Paul it would seem that a predominantly masculine Christianity would betray the logic that Christ is all and in all….[T]he traits that Paul mentions to describe the people of God…aren’t those that Piper mentions for his masculine Christianity.

6) Redemption and Strength in Men and Women I think God gave Christianity a redemptive feel, a feel of reconciliation, a feel of hopeful expectation through his desire to save wayward, broken people like us.

7) God the Father…and Mother? The father image shows us just how intimate God’s relationship with God’s people really is. But does this mean God is exclusively a father, and does not have any mother qualities at all?

8) Why the Church Needs Women [W]omen are living, breathing witnesses to the truth about human nature who in their very bodies direct God’s Church away from idolatry and heresy and toward true Christian faith and practice.

9) Sarcasm Alert: The Kitchen Has a Feminine Feel in the Bible   God wants men to stay out of the kitchen. Women are the unquestioned authorities in the kitchen.

10) In Search of Masculine Christianity The idea of a strong and aggressive (masculine?) Christianity, portrayed in [Studd’s book], had more to do with restraint, with sacrifice, with generosity, not bullying but serving, not hoarding [but] giving, not rampant conference attending but packing our suitcases for Christ’s sake and not coming home again.

11) A Balanced Perspective of Images for Ministry We discover texts that speak of our mutual motherly ministry. In other words, another dimension of ministry compares pastors/teachers to mothers.

12) Femsculine Christianity [Jesus] never said that his way was masculine or feminine. Rather, he persisted in breaking the oppressive barriers that had been set up against women. We must imitate him in this.

13) Digging Deep; Planting Trees And maybe in the planting we’ll end up with a forest so wide and beautiful the ditch will fill with flowers and old logs and we can sit and have conversations, conversations that are life-giving and life-up-lifting.

14) Unladylike If we want to be part of empowering women everywhere, understanding our value–and our equality in the eyes of God–is essential. It’s from this place that we can go on and transform our world.

15) Unladylike: A Review If we accept her tenet that women were made, fully and completely by a loving God, to do His (Her) good work, then the ways we resist come from Him (Her), too.

16) Breaking Through the Glass Sidewalk War zones are certainly not the only places women are bringing unprecedented change to their communities.

17) Don’t Read This Part of the Bible if You’re 30 or a Woman I am a feminist, and the Book of Ezekiel offends me.

Community: Other Issues

1) To Cade and the Eight Percent We wear political correctness as a badge of honor; but the rising statistics of pregnancies terminated after a Downs syndrome diagnosis reveal the hypocrisy of our celebration.

2) The Great Escapism   At first glance, living in local community seems to clash with the lifestyle of a church-hopping, apartment-renting, rootless and restless generation. But the benefits of plugging into local community are many….It’s time to invest where you are—no matter how long you’ll be there.

3) God Is a Verb that Acts Like Jesus The solution to individualism is not smaller churches; the solution to individualism is a decade or more of teaching and embodying the community nature of the Body of Christ….

4) Wherever Two or More Are Gathered…Online And yet, here we are, almost four years of daily interaction later, with a communion of 20 souls around the world.

5) Calling All Callings When we begin to understand this invitation from Jesus to join his mission of restoring all things, our enthusiasm for integrating faith and work will be heightened.

Service: Social Justice Issues

1) Down We Go: Diffusing Power The problem is when our churches, ministries, and communities inadvertently adopt the world’s thirst for power into our culture, our homes and the fabric of our lives.

2) The First Step Is Admitting There Is a Problem …and the evidence in the U. S. and around the world indicates that more and more people are coming to grips with the fact that extreme income inequality is a significant problem and that something has to be done about it.

3) The Church and Extreme Poverty The Church is unrivaled in its capacity. If you want to respond to the massive challenges of global poverty, then the Church is the organization with the legs to get it done.

4) pawn shops, empty refrigerators & the long hill up i am idealistic enough to think that if somehow, some way, every person who lived below the poverty line had brothers & sisters in Christ to journey together with  for the long haul that over the course of time  life could be different.

5) The Best Ways to Fight Poverty–Really  That means that (1) churches should create their own anti-poverty initiatives (like microfinance), and (2) churches should lobby governments to do better.

6) The Washington Projects–Justus–Music Video Premiere  The goal of this video is to give the viewer a visual understanding of what these victims face on a daily basis, and to entice those taken captive by the imagery to become the change they wish to see.

7) Praying for the Johns “If men stopped desiring [to buy sex], then this wouldn’t be a problem,” Hightower says. “Praying for men’s hearts to change is very important.”

Saturday Sex-versations

As part of the on-going series, the links below will take you to current conversations about sexuality and relationships as well as issues related to the other three categories of holistic body theology: community, cultural discernment, and service.

Stay informed about what the world and the Church are saying so we can discuss the issues, discern healthy, holistic body theology, and discover God’s truth in the midst of many opinions.

Here’s this week’s installment.  Don’t be shy.  Share your thoughts in the comment section, or join the original conversations via the links provided.

1) Jesus, Don’t Let Me Die Before I’ve Had Sex The movie will paint a picture of what is taught explicitly and implicitly by showing how churchgoers implement those teachings⎯through anecdotes of first kisses, chastity rallies, and secret obsessions.

2) Follow this link to find three articles on various views on homosexuality by members of the Fuller Theological Seminary community.

3) Question #2: Jesus and Women If there is historical evidence that Jesus affirmed and loved and served with women, even has them as disciples, why is the Church so stuck on this issue?  Why don’t pastors/leaders/teachers care about learning the historical truth?

4) A Bar Closed Means “No Child Will Ever Have to be Exploited Here Again”  Late last week, a karaoke bar where minors had been trafficked and sold for sex was permanently closed.

5) Five women who changed God’s rules  The second approach doesn’t see the Bible as a Rulebook, but as a story and collection of stories that shows us what God is like.

6) I Am (Pastor) Kristen To some this may sound like a brief snapshot of a typical week of a Pastor, and yet, because I’m a woman, the description might border on unscriptural at best, heretical at worst.

7) Why Are We So Sure Things Are Going Downhill? Regardless of how or why the bad news comes, the real issue is separating fact from fiction. You don’t have to believe all that you hear.

8) Fair Trade Products Are Too Pricey It is easy to walk into a store and purchase whatever you think is cute and cheap enough for your budget. However, it is rare for the average shopper to stop and consider the hidden costs of what he or she is buying—and who might be paying the costs.

9) Christian Catfights: Why Women Leaders Don’t Support Each Other In the Christian world, most of our attention has been focused on how men, as institutional gatekeepers, have prevented women from assuming leadership positions. But even we don’t see other women as having what it takes to be a successful leader.

10) A Pro-life Plea This Election Season I fear as well that the politicization of “pro-life” has desensitized us to seeing the people involved….Though evangelicals have over the past decade become more convinced of the importance of supporting unwed mothers, many of us still labor under the idea that once the baby is born, we’ve won the fight and can move on to the next one. But where does that leave mother and child?

11) 99 Problems with Jay-Z’s Use of the Word “B—“ New York magazine tabulated its usage in Jay-Z’s lyrics, reporting that he says “bitch” an average of 1.2 times per song. And while he’s been saying it and singing it and shouting it for years, the ugliness suddenly came into sharp focus when contrasted with the evident, intrinsic value of his newborn daughter.

12) Canada looks for ways to prevent honour killings How will police, teachers, social workers, and immigrants join forces to prevent any more women from meeting horrific fates?

13) The Mother God Here the reflection of the triune God is a community of women and men without privileges, a community of free and equal people, sisters and brothers. For the building of this new congregational structure, the motherly ministry of the Spirit, and the Tri-unity as a community, are important.

14) The Beloved Community vs. the Beloved Economy So, here we are as a nation, caught between two American Dreams: Beloved Community and Beloved Economy. Here we are, torn between two pursuits—a spiritual quality of life and a materialistic style of life.

15) Your Friendgirl Deserves Better And if you’re one of those guys who is passively encouraging a single woman to waste her time on you when you’re not romantically interested, then it’s time for one of the most important breakups of your life.

16) After Komen, the Next Big Planned Parenthood Fight Government funds appropriated for women’s health services are supposed to pay for medical tests, contraception, and cancer screenings, not abortions. But even if government checks aren’t used directly for abortions, they still subsidize the organization, pro-life advocates say.

17) What Planned Parenthood actually does, in one chart  So though the fight over Planned Parenthood might be about abortion, Planned Parenthood itself isn’t about abortion. It’s primarily about contraception and reproductive health.

18) Super Bowl XLVI: Real Battles Off  the Field The seamy underside of the Super Bowl is the increase in sex trafficking that accompanies it.

19) The Secret to Marriage  So maybe there’s just one secret to a successful marriage…

20) Sexy Marriage Songs If you’re single, have you ever thought, “That song is too dirty to listen to right now, but in the context of marriage that is going on the mix tape?” If you’re married, have you ever thought, “Hello formerly forbidden music, welcome to the Song of Solomon?”

21) Let God Write Your Love Story Clichés don’t work. I spent most of my 20s as a single woman, and if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that love stories differ. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to romance.

22) The Greatest Story Ever Played  Stories create readiness, they nudge people toward receptive insight….I see a new medium rising, one with the potential to convey meaning in a more affecting way than ever before: video games.

23) John Piper, what he said The internet is ringing with stuff about pastor John Piper and his recent opening comments about masculine Christianity…

24) Plant New Trees when God created humans, God made us in in the fullness of God’s image.  not half, not part.  yes, we are unique and different, and that’s why we need each other to more accurately reflect the fullness of God’s image.

25) Permit a Woman to Speak God permits a woman to speak.

26) Thank you, brothers   [M]y call for guys to write blog posts that honor women and celebrate the feminine images of God in Scripture has been absolutely overwhelming.

27) Christian Exorcism Leads to Gay Teen’s Suicide Not only are we, as followers of Christ, called to set aside our judgment, hateful rhetoric and disdain for those in the LGBT community; we’re bound by a covenant of compassion to advocate for their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

28) Sex, Money, and Other Good Things Gone Bad  There are three main wells in our culture we go to over and over again—despite the fact that they satisfy for a moment, only to leave us thirsting for more.

29) Evangelicals Mounting Concerns over Obama Administration’s Contraceptive Mandate  [C]oncern about the mandate runs even deeper since groups cannot opt out.

30) The Komen Fiasco’s Silver Lining But there is a silver lining to the disaster, and not just for textbook writers looking for case studies in catastrophic public relations failures. (Find additional articles about Komen here, here, and here.)

31) What If God Asked You the Same Question? What would you say if God asked you what you were doing about all the suffering, poverty and injustice that exists in the world today?

What is Body Theology?

Body theology is traditionally used to refer to body image and sexuality; however, I believe a true body theology is much more holistic, involving not only what we look like (physicality) but who we are as human beings (identity) and what we do with our bodies (community and service).

Holistic body theology is four-fold: sexuality/physicality, cultural discernment/media literacy, community, and service. Topics covered on this blog will stem from one of these categories, always with the underlying principle belief that our bodies were made good and, though corrupted by the fall, have been redeemed through Christ.

Holistic body theology, then, is based on the incarnation of Christ: God took on flesh, not merely the appearance of flesh; God lived and suffered and died—and rose again!—in the actual, fleshly sense. Likewise, we are both corporeal (bodily) and spiritual beings.  My goal is to encourage Christians to realize our true identity in Christ, free ourselves from bondage to the lies that can be perpetuated through culture, and be empowered to enter into the redemption Christ offers both for our bodies and how we use them in the world. I believe that as we grow in knowledge and discernment, we can redeem both the way we see ourselves and the way we interact with culture–and enjoy living in freedom in the space where the sacred and secular blur into messy, surprising beauty.

Come join me on this journey toward healthy, holy living.

Image: farconville / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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