It isn’t just Catholics

I cling to Christ.

It really isn’t.

I was moved and grateful for the words of a staunch and devout Catholic friend that I’ve made here, BeautyBeyondBones, in reference to the avalanche of horrifying news that has overtaken the Catholic church in the past few weeks. But I feel very strongly that she, and the rest of us who profess any form of the Christian faith, ought to know by now (or be emphatically reassured if we don’t) that this isn’t, in ANY degree, a problem primarily constrained to the Catholic form of worship.

To that degree, I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity WORLD magazine took this week to prioritize a report on the rampancy of sexual abuse within Protestant circles. WORLD’s reporting on this and related topics have grown increasingly more thorough, and I hope they continue the trend, as there is room for more growth; but this is a solid installment. I am especially appreciative of how Olasky (editor in chief) and his team have called on the expertise of Rachel Denhollander (Christian, lawyer, and first to bring charges against Larry Nassar) and the profoundly RIGHT example of Tates Creek Presbyterian Church in handling the discovery of a predator in their midst.

Here is the link to the full WORLD article: Crouching at every door

And here are a few choice quotes:

 

“Although the decentralized nature of Protestantism makes statistics very hard to find, we’ve particularly found opportunities for abuse and cover-ups in three kinds of situations.

“(1) Some congregations have dominating pastors with unchecked authority.

“(2) Evangelical culture has a conference and lecture circuit with celebrities and quasi-celebrities who come to cities for weekend workshops and one-night lectures that provide opportunities to sin and go, leaving behind casualties.

“(3) Megachurch leaders face the ordinary temptations but also extraordinary pressure to cover up problems, knowing that a sniff of scandal will summon packs of critical reporters.”

 

“Mary Lou Davidson Redding, a retired editor of The Upper Room magazine, says she warned conference directors about Hensley for many years. Here’s her account: In the early 1990s at the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference at Eastern Carolina State University, Hensley had tried to slip his hands onto her breasts while she was in a dormitory hall, stopping only when someone walked in on them. When Redding later told a friend what happened, that friend rolled her eyes and replied, ‘Oh, is he still doing that? He was supposed to stop.’

“More from Redding: ‘People knew his behavior, and he was still being invited to conferences.’ She decided to warn people about him. When she saw his name on a conference brochure, she called the directors to tell them about her experience with him. No director she warned ever disinvited him: ‘They overwhelmingly said to me they want their conference to be a success, that people are coming because he’s going to be there.'”

 

“The few cases mentioned in this story should highlight the fact that sexual abuse is not just a Catholic problem. It’s also a Protestant problem, and a deeply human one.

“Our investigations show that many churches and ministries have not always done a good job protecting and empowering the victims. As cries of #MeToo reverberate across the nation, so too have stories of #ChurchToo, in which men and women within evangelical churches voice their own tales of long-suppressed guilt, shame, and anguish. They say their trauma isn’t just from the violating act itself: Trauma festered when trusted church authorities failed to believe or protect them, failed to report the crime to legal authorities, failed to change the institutional culture that enables and minimizes the severity of sexual abuse.

“Yet because this issue has become so public, more and more churches are acknowledging the existence and severity of sexual abuse within their communities, as shown in many cases mentioned above. More churches are asking for help to help the vulnerable, so this could be a wake-up call for the Protestant world.”

 

Let it be so.

–GM

 

Concert Attire–Suitable for Whom?

I’ve had the pleasure of singing in the chorus of Verdi’s Requiem with two different orchestras this spring. Both of them have had performance dress codes. The first one was nothing more specific than “all black, from ankles to wrists,” across the board for men and women, given as a verbal statement by the choir director during rehearsal.

When I asked this director if my cap-sleeved choir gown from old college choir days would be acceptable (does it literally need to go to my wrists, or is that an expression?), he explained that, in his words, “As a boy teacher, I have very limited capacity to answer this question–in fact, I had to google ‘cap sleeve’. You’re probably fine, especially if you’d have to scramble for another option. The idea is that if everyone is in all black, there aren’t one pair of arms or legs to draw attention. My guess is that some of the college students won’t be entirely strict on this, so I think it wouldn’t be just you.”

 

As it turned out, plenty of the college singers and others among us had widely varying sleeve lengths, including some just like mine, so it wasn’t anything to be concerned about–and I very much appreciated the director’s attitude to the whole affair. 🙂


 

Now, contrast that with the written instructions received from the director of the second chorus I’m singing with. This is word-for-word:

CONCERT ATTIRE

Men’s Guidelines: White long sleeve tux shirt, black tux pants, black tux jacket, black tie, black socks, black polished shoes.

NOT ACCEPTABLE: Plain white shirt, brown socks, brown shoes. No perfume or heavy hairspray or deodorant scents.

Women’s Guidelines: Please wear black concert attire made of dressy fabrics such as chiffon, velvet, or rayon. Wear a dress or skirt floor length or mid-calf. Dress pants are ok (polazzos). Black suits ok. Sleeve length should be three-quarter length or long sleeve. Please wear loose fitting outfits that are flowing and drape freely. Make sure outfit is black. Keep it formal! Keep it modest! Undergarments should be black if there is a chance of showing. Wear black shoes and black stockings. Peep toe is ok.

The following things are NOT ACCEPTABLE: Garments made of heavy cotton, denim, corduroy, twill, leather, or chino. Low cut gowns or tight fitting slacks. Anything that is “see-through” in nature. Purple, brown, or dark blue outfits. Heavy black belts with big buckles, jewelry made of twine, rope, or beads, extra large earrings. Sandals or clogs. Tan or beige stockings. Sleeveless or shortsleeved tops, tank tops, spaghetti straps, bare midriffs, bare shoulders, skirts above the knee. Plunging necklines. Long slits in the skirts front or sides. Long dangling earrings or excessively shiny rhinestones in either earrings or necklaces. Perfume or heavy hairspray or deodorant scents.


 

…You might suppose, given the level of detail this director supplies with regard to the women, that perhaps there are many youthful, body-image-confident college-aged women populating our numbers.

In fact, no such thing could hardly be further from the truth. I’d be extremely surprised if he actually believes any of the grandmas among this obviously very conservative group of ladies (judging from conversational snippets in between singing) have any inclination whatsoever to wear midriffs and spaghetti straps to the concert.

I do, however, have a bit of wardrobe advice for the author of this handout, as he seems to be in need of it:

misogyny is showing

At least this fellow didn’t think to google “cap sleeve”… well, not that it would have mattered, really. It’s been an extraordinarily tiring last few weeks, and I have already given all the bothers–including any that might have gone toward finding a second performance outfit that checks ALL the copious boxes.

But even if I had any bothers left to give, I probably wouldn’t, anyway, on principle.

I’d much rather stand on mine than his. 🙂

Keep it gritty, lovelies!

–GM

 

Beth Moore Throws the Book at Evangelical Misogyny

misogyny is showing

Yesterday, highly regarded Christian Evangelical women’s ministry leader Beth Moore published a message on her blog–one that’s been a long time coming. There are many excellent sections of it, ranging from clear, heartfelt appreciation for the GOOD men who have nothing to apologize for to an unwavering commitment to calling a spade*coughSINcough* a spade*coughSIN*; but for me, at least, the best part is where she makes the vital connection between the #MeToo/#ChurchToo movement and some deep-rooted tenants of fundamentalist/conservative Christian theology abundantly clear. I’ve been searching for the words to do this for some time, and I couldn’t be more grateful to Ms. Moore for sounding them from the rooftops.

Thank you, Beth. It means more than you know.

Follow this link to “A Letter to My Brothers” for the full piece. Here are the highlights that struck me the most (emphases added):

“I lack adequate words for my gratitude to God for the pastors and male staff members in my local churches for six decades who have shown me such love, support, grace, respect, opportunity and often out right favor. They alongside key leaders at LifeWay and numerous brothers elsewhere have no place in a larger picture I’m about to paint for you. They have brought me joy and kept me from derailing into cynicism and chronic discouragement amid the more challenging dynamics.”

Beth Moore - Living Proof Ministries

“I accepted the peculiarities accompanying female leadership in a conservative Christian world because I chose to believe that, whether or not some of the actions and attitudes seemed godly to me, they were rooted in deep convictions based on passages from 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 14.

“Then early October 2016 surfaced attitudes among some key Christian leaders that smacked of misogyny, objectification and astonishing disesteem of women and it spread like wildfire. It was just the beginning.

“I came face to face with one of the most demoralizing realizations of my adult life: Scripture was not the reason for the colossal disregard and disrespect of women among many of these men. It was only the excuse. Sin was the reason. Ungodliness.”

“This is where I cry foul and not for my own sake. Most of my life is behind me. I do so for sake of my gender, for the sake of our sisters in Christ and for the sake of other female leaders who will be faced with similar challenges. I do so for the sake of my brothers because Christlikeness is at stake and many of you are in positions to foster Christlikeness in your sons and in the men under your influence. The dignity with which Christ treated women in the Gospels is fiercely beautiful and it was not conditional upon their understanding their place.”

(And finally, the big kicker for me:)

“These examples may seem fairly benign in light of recent scandals of sexual abuse and assault coming to light but the attitudes are growing from the same dangerously malignant root. Many women have experienced horrific abuses within the power structures of our Christian world. Being any part of shaping misogynistic attitudes, whether or not they result in criminal behaviors, is sinful and harmful and produces terrible fruit.”

Amen. Say it again, Beth. Say it always–and let none of us ever say anything less.

–GM