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.