Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Blessings and joy to you all on this Christmas!

A Word from St. Nicholas

In my own heart I cannot separate Christmas
from that Boy Child born in Bethlehem
some two thousand years ago.

I believe that Boy Child
was the Child of the Divine Mystery,
and He came into the world for love of us all.

I believe He came to bring healing,
freedom, and peace.

I believe He also came to invite everyone
to forget themselves and remember the needs of others.

For me, the religious meaning of Christmas
is a source of deep joy.

You must understand that my message
echoes the message of that Child born so long ago.

I am not the offspring of the Divine Mystery,
only His unworthy servant.

I am Saint Nicholas,
and the religious meaning of Christmas
will always be close to my heart.

—"Saint Nicholas"

Monday, December 19, 2005

Why I'm a Feminist, Part Three: My Story

Some women can cite the exact moment of their “conversion” to feminism. My story, on the other hand, is more of a process.

Childhood shapes us in ways we don’t often fully acknowledge. I am the oldest of two girls and grew up with an inherent understanding that I could do or be anything. My parents encouraged me to try many things. The Bible was my central teacher for life and my parents repeated its lesson of “God loves everybody the same” over and over. My first big “when I grow up” dream was to become the first female president of the U.S. In all my eight-year-old wisdom I felt that a woman could run the country, and because someone had to be the first, it should be me.

My first interest in activism was in pro-life organizations. As a teenager I helped out at crisis pregnancy centers and abstinence programs. I remember thinking that pregnant women needed to be encouraged and assisted in keeping their babies and that abstinence was a brave choice that showed a woman’s respect for herself. I found the message of God’s love and spirit at work within me to be very empowering.

Skip ahead to college where I served as the first female president of the BSM at my university (see, some of my childhood dream came true). It never occurred to me that I shouldn’t hold that position, even though this was a Baptist organization we’re talking about. During my undergrad years I went through a phase where I didn’t want a male to open the door or to lift anything for me, as I felt that undercut my abilities (I have since come to realize the difference between chivalry and misogyny). I felt that a lot of people didn’t know what to do with me, a young, intelligent, Christian outspoken female who was neither a bookworm nor a member of sorority. People often told me I was “intimidating”.

I chose to go into women’s studies for several reasons. First, my self-proclaimed “raging feminist” history professor during my master’s study had a pretty big influence on me. Second, and most importantly, I hadn’t heard of any Christians in the field (since then I have met several). I wanted to help infuse it with the love of Christ and the Bible’s messages of equality and morality. I wanted to equip young women to view themselves as important and competent, to educate people about history that is typically ignored, to assist in the aid of women who cannot speak for themselves, and to cultivate understanding and compassion for both sexes. I wanted to make a difference, no matter how cliché that sounds. These goals have remained.

I didn't wake up one day and become a feminist. I had been heading in that direction for most of my life, I just articulated it differently at different points. My story is not finished… I might very well be at the height of my feminist consciousness at this moment. Or I might become more outspoken in the future, who knows. We’ll see.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Good Stories

A good friend of mine is writing a curriculum for a church telling the stories of Genesis and Advent in his own poetic words... It's a very impressive collection, so go check it out:

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Things that change

Pain of new birth
Awakens me to bring
The loved parts of me
To the surface.
Judging from my reflection
I am still too unworthy
To fly,
Though I see grace in progress
Every Day.
Finding who we are
In the middle of it.
I am lonely,
Yet surrounded;
Yet fulfilled;
Yet full of life.
Posing all my intricacies
As depth incarnate
I press on,
And I wait,
And I move,
And I exult
In the One who does not

(Copyright LK, 12/16/06)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Letter to Lucy

Like many of you, I am a C. S. Lewis junkie. I believe Mere Christianity to be the sole training necessary in apologetics. I am Ungit and Redival and Psyche and I too want to wander away and see strange and wonderful things. I think Surprised by Joy is the most detailed and long autobiography but the most honest. And I find his articulation of grief extraordinary in my own mourning processes.

That said, I am re-reading the Chronicles with the book set that belonged to my schoolteacher grandmother when she read the entire series to her fifth-graders every year. I came across this letter to Lewis' goddaughter Lucy and I think it warrants attention. I often fear that I am in the span where I am too old and too young for fairytales. Then again, I am swept away by my imagination when I let myself be. And that is good.


My Dear Lucy,

I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand, a word you say, but I shall still be

your affectionate Godfather,
C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Why I'm a Feminist, Part Two: History

It would be impossible to identify the exact starting date of the feminist movement in the United States. History’s causes and effects are complex and deep rooted. Further, women have always contributed to history, even if not in the forefront. And keep in mind that there are layers of race, class, religion, nationality and other factors that complicate this history even more. So here is an incomplete list of feminist history landmarks in America’s story:

The women’s rights movement came in waves in the U.S., starting in full swing in the 1840s. Building on their platform as abolitionists, women spoke publicly about the need for women’s rights and held the Seneca Falls Convention in NY in 1848. The women and men present at this conference (organized by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton) signed the Declaration of Sentiments , modeled after the Declaration of Independence, detailing specific rights they felt that women deserved.

It wasn’t until 1920 that women received the right to vote, after a long and sometimes violent battle. Since the inception of the United States, female citizens voiced their desire to speak their minds through the ballot (for example, First Lady Abigail Adams, who wrote to her husband reminding him to “remember the ladies”). Women donned the popular “Votes for Women” banners, consistently pestered the government, and educated the public on the need for women’s suffrage. “Forward out of darkness, forward into light,” goes the slogan of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and it paid off.

Jump ahead to the 1960s and 1970s when the women’s movement took the country by storm. Male-bashing, sexual liberation, anti-discrimination, workers, political, and reproductive rights along with organizations such as NOW took center stage. Crazy protests such as crowning a sheep Miss America in 1969 terrified the general public. Most women were lumped into one of two categories: the submissive housewife or the radical feminist. Feminists of the ‘60s and ‘70s pushed for legislation to ensure their equal rights and openly displayed their cause.

Check out Sara Evans' Born for Liberty for a good overview of U.S. women's history. Also, the LOC has a pretty good timeline of women's history in America.

Stay tuned for a discussion of how this history has contributed to what feminism is today…

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Teaching Highlights

I have a really great group of students this semester. They are witty and sharp and half of them want to take my other class, which is flattering. Since the semester is nearly over I'm reflecting on highights of the semester, so here they are:

--I invited one student to be in the honors program, and it had not previously occurred to him that he was that good of a student

--After reading a book on female slavery (Arn't I a Woman_Deborah Gray White), a student told me she thought the author was arguing that the women were not accepted and were discriminated against. As slaves? I asked. No, as people, she replied. Very good.

--I tell my students to question everything, and of course they try that out on me.

--We watched a Civil War documentary and I commented that one day I hoped to be "that guy," referring to a bow-tied historian sitting in an armchair surrounded by books, giving his two cents about history. One student countered... "but not a guy, right?" That generated more laughter than any joke I planned.

--Preparing to play the second disc of the Glory dvd, I found the second disc of Gladiator in the case. That's what I get for ordering dvds on ebay.

--I was out sick and had a substitute fill in. The next class when I came back, a room full of grateful students looked back at me. The few "we missed you" and "welcome back" comments meant a lot.