Saturday, November 03, 2007

Off The Map LIVE - Women's Panel

Last year's panel of women leaders turned out to be rather a disaster. A panel of educated, intelligent, wise, and interesting women were given the privilege of asking a couple men some questions. ick. Brian McLaren was one of those men and he was insightful enough to recognize the problem and name it in the moment, but it was a miss and very disappointing. I think it would have been great to reunite that panel and have the questions asked in the appropriate direction. In the absence of that, I was thrilled to experience this morning's panel of women.

Lisa Domke facilitated the conversation with Sadell Bradley, Diana Butler Bass, and Ann (I missed her last name-sorry!) on the topic of dialogue with people different from ourselves. The interaction fascinated me and I greatly appreciated the opportunity to hear them.

I just want to pick out one little thought from the session. A woman asked a question about the tension between following one's heart on the journey of faith and betraying family and friends. Sadell pointed out that this kind of "betrayal" has always gone along with following Jesus, that Jesus himself said if anyone loves father, mother, lands, property, etc. more than him, that one is not worthy of following Jesus. Diana said that the biggest betrayal is the one to yourself. She said (and I hope I'm not misrepresenting her) that by being true to yourself and who you are in that tension ultimately you become a better daughter, friend, etc... and a better Christian as well. It reminded me of a prayer of Kierkergaard, "And now with God's help, I shall become myself."

That kind of betrayal of self - of the self created by God - is one that women have often done in order to avoid great persecution. I can think of times when I've been guilty of that kind of betrayal, but also - thankfully! - I can think of times when I've been tempted to but have learned to resist. And I think Diana is right - when I've remained true to the woman God has created me to be, it has resulted in my being a better follower of Christ, friend, daughter, etc. I can't help but think that if I had been exposed to women like these when I was growing up, that I might have learned to resist self-betrayal much earlier in life.


Anonymous said...

The Rev. Ann Holmes Redding


Rachel said...

I can't help but think that if I had been exposed to women like these when I was growing up, that I might have learned to resist self-betrayal much earlier in life.

I feel the same way, Karlene! I'm so glad that we have the opportunity to expose our own daughters to strong, amazing women leaders.

Karlene Clark said...

Thank you so much for providing her name! I was going to look her up when I got home from the conference. She certainly deserves full recognition. thank you anonymous!

Natalie S Johnson said...

Karlene--great blog! I was really torn about going to the session you went to and the globalization one with B. McLaren. I grew up in a demonination and faith tradition that has always accepted women as leaders (even ordaining them! **GASP**). But I have never heard anyone say that it was more important to think of what it means to betray yourself. In my mind, it has more to do with betraying what God has called you to. Hence, in my opinion, the ultimate betrayal is betraying God.

I have really struggled with this as I feel God calling me away from the faith tradition in which I grew up. What if God calls me to a denomination that does not ordain women? What if he calls me to a church that only allows women to serve as children's ministry workers (careful not to call them Children's Pastors!).

So the biggest question that I have had to face, and would be curious about your thoughts, is where does loyalty to a body come into play? If you are called to a body of believers that rejects you being in a position that you feel God has callled you to, do you just decide to pack up and leave? Or do you stay out of concern for unity?

Pam Hogeweide said...

hey karlene,
i was at that session as well, and could not remember ann's last name, so thanks Anon!

you summed up the session well. i adored what diana said about betraying yourself. yes, this is a worthy thought that when we resist what we believe God leading us to do out of fear we are really betraying who we are meant to be. This is a powerful thing for me to reflect on. (and I have a 13y old daughter that I am raising to follow her heart wherever that may take her...courage, people, we all need courage!)

Karlene Clark said...

Hey Natalie~
I wrote a long response to your comment last night and lost it to an internet quirk. :( I'll try again.

I think your questions are really important, and probably can only be answered by each person in her own context.

I know women who have stayed where they aren't completely affirmed because they are able to do what they feel called to do, are deeply attached to their community, and/or feel that God is calling them to stay. I think it can be a courageous choice.

I also know people who have stayed too long in places where they are being devalued, and who have suffered a lot of pain as a result. Sometimes it can be a courageous choice to leave too.

As a woman who feels called into pastoral ministry it just wouldn't work for me to stay in a place that believed leading was just for men. I actually began to feel very drawn to church planting when I realized that in my tradition I was unlikely to have the opportunity to pastor a church and even if I had the chance, I'd probably spend a lot of time dealing with the gender thing. I don't want to be a "woman pastor" - I just want to what I'm called to do!

One more thought ~ I agree that the ultimate betrayal is to betray God. But I think that when we betray the person we are created to be Christ, the imago dei within us, we're not too far off from the ultimate betrayal. (I can see how this could be misused as an excuse for self-centeredness, and I'm not advocating that!) I hope I'm making sense.

I'd love to hear more of your story Natalie, esp. where you are coming from and where you think you might be headed.

If you had a chance to get out to Portland next February, I think you'd love Convergence. It's a diverse gathering of women leaders with a lot of experience and wisdom to share together. Plus it would be great to see you again!

Karlene Clark said...

Hey Pam!
Thanks for stopping by! I also have a 13 year old daughter. It excites me that she sees so many more women out there doing all kinds of things than I did at her age. Tough age though. We should chat on parenting teenage girls sometime. Courage for our daughters and courage for us! :)

We're going to be up visiting Ken and Deborah in December - hopefully we'll get to see you!

Rachel said...

Karlene & Pam - Have you seen the new Emerging Parents blog? It's moderated by Julie Clawson.

Karlene Clark said...

Thanks Rach - that's pretty cool. I'll need to spend a little more time over there. It looks some fun conversation.

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