Week 6 Wednesday

October 31, 2007

Our individual and discussion time were really helpful for me today because my paper is based on applying the Trinitarian model to my home church congregation. I’d like to continue thinking through practical application steps that will be realistic for my church to try. My most successful realization today is that unity does not dictate uniformity or conformity. Also, we may have a good idea, but if God’s not it in, that idea is best left for another time.

Week 6 Monday

October 29, 2007

I really engaged with the lecture today. I think the subject matter was just what we have all been waiting for since the class began. I was really affected by the imagery of the rubber band versus the linked rings. I even talked to my dad about it tonight, and he said it reminded him of human body cells, all interlinked to form one unified body but not all one big blob cell that keeps enlarging. It’s an image that will stick with me, I’m sure, as I try to decide what I think about the church and the world and the missio Dei.

John writes about Fuellenbach’s discussion of the kingdom of God as being larger than the church itself. He supports the view that there is more than just one way into the kingdom and that Christians do not have a monopoly on the kingdom. The way I understand the kingdom of God and Fuellenbach’s argument differs from John’s.

I come from a much more conservative background, and I do believe that Jesus is the only way into the kingdom of God. The way I interpret this chapter is more based on my coming from the land of nominal Christianity in the South. Just because you say you are a Christian and join a church and do all the Christian stuff that culture expects doesn’t make you part of the kingdom of God. And just because you reject the church or have too little understanding of God to “do” all the Christian stuff we westerners expect doesn’t exclude you from the kingdom of God. I don’t know a person’s heart, so I can’t judge. And we’re all on the path toward or away from God. But I don’t think that means there is more than one way into the kingdom. It just means we aren’t capable of judging one way or the other for anyone but ourselves. God knows the heart. It’s just my job to point the way.

“The church as an icon of the Trinity brings forth that unity with the Triune God and with one another for which the kingdom of God is the perfect expression” (89). Is the church really an icon of the Trinity? Do people really look at the church, with all its divisions and factions and petty arguments, and think: ah, that’s such a perfect representation of the Trinity? I think it’s a truer statement that we need to be reminded that the church is not the kingdom of God but that the kingdom of God is certainly present in the church as certainly as it is present out of it. This is more of the centered-set model thinking. But the Trinity is all about unity, and I don’t really see a unity emphasis within the church right now. We’re too busy splitting to think about coming together. Maybe Fuellenbach is referring to the RCC.

Well this is certainly a new way to read Esther, one of my favorite books growing up. “Esther struggles, but Mordecai reaps the fruit of the struggle” (140). I think it’s important to be aware of the different lenses people read the Bible through. We have our own western lens, and for a long time it’s been heralded as “the” interpretation. Certainly other people’s life experience they bring to the table is just as valid. But it’s still difficult to read Esther in such a light as this.

The idea that freedom is a commodity (114) as presented in this article echoes much of the criticism directed at the Bush administration. What I mean is, this is not new information. It is still worth considering what is implicitly expected from other countries in exchange for American involvement. Freedom, at least the American ideal, is virtually unattainable in any tangible sense, even in America. People’s rights are stepped on every day, and those too poor and marginalized to do anything about it just suffer wherever they are. Freedom is a wonderful concept, but without the support to back up the ideal, freedom is just another brand of wool to pull over the eyes. Man, I am cynical today.

“During the public outcry over the massacre at St. Kitzito school, the headmaster was reported to have remarked that the boys ‘meant no harm, they only wanted to rape'” (262). Only?! I know we’re supposed to interact with each article, but I really just have no adequate words…

This article surprises me because I, personally, really enjoy world music. I like to be exposed to the arts on a global level, and one of my goals is to learn to discuss intelligently about these things, as a way of breaking out of my “western” bubble. It makes me sad to realize that the music industry is exploiting global artists for western consumption, especially at the expense of true artistic expression. One more example of the squelching of self-identification for non-western peoples. I’m feeling the nibble of cynicism today… Is it possible to discuss these things without it creeping in?

“It is important for us to continue trying to tell our truths” (228). I’ve been taking a Storytelling class at Fuller, and we talk about how crucial stories are to the preservation of our identities. When we hear a story, we identify with it in some way, find a bit of ourselves in the characters or situation. Colonialism clearly has done so much harm to the identities of the colonized, and now that we’re in the postcolonial era, it’s up to those once-colonized to figure out who they are really and declare it to the world…and it’s up to the rest of us to acknowledge the validity of their claims.

Week 5 Wednesday

October 24, 2007

The concept that “race” is a scientific fallacy was quite a surprise for me today. I just never thought about it before. I have recognized the gradual shift in terminology from “race” to “ethnicity,” but I didn’t realize the history behind that shift. The idea that “race” was nothing more than an excuse to enslave others is sickening enough, but to perpetuate such an idea in current society surprises me. Now that we wrap our identities around our ethnic cultures, we can only work within that mindset since trying to eradicate it isn’t an option.

Week 5 Monday

October 22, 2007

I enjoy our small group time in general, but today’s seemed perhaps unnecessarily prolonged. Because our paper outline is due Wednesday, I had hoped to cover more material in lecture. But I did appreciate the chance to discuss with my group the nature of nationalism in our own lives and our churches. It’s hard for me to think about my own nationalism because I was raised to have more of a global mindset. It was a good and worthwhile challenge for me to answer the questions in class today.

I’m not quite sure what I think about Brianna’s description of the reason women are suffering oppression–from Radhakrishnan’s article. It’s true that the traditional expectation of women has been that of submission, but how much of that is a reflection of patriarchal ideals? Yes, women are called to submit to Christ and to submit to others. But no less or more than men are called to submit to Christ and to others. Criticizing women for aggressiveness in the workplace but allowing men to continue the same practice is simply a double standard that perpetuates a false ideal for women. The fact is, people are supposed to submit to Christ and to one another. In the western workplace, competition, individualism, and supposed success have negative connotations for all people who step on each other or cut corners to get ahead. To say that it is only women who are out of place in this setting because they’re not being submissive enough…it simply isn’t helping.

In all honesty, I’m struggling to learn what it means to be a woman of God, especially one who is learning leadership skills that will be contested when put into practice in just about any local church setting. Because I am more accommodating by nature, I have to struggle to learn to say no and stand up for myself when situations call for confrontation. Should I learn to overcome these issues, does that make me less of a woman? Am I then stepping outside of my required submissive state? Have I then bought into some “feminist” formula that sets me apart from God’s plan for me?

I do think Brianna has a point that life is not as God ordained it to be. We don’t live in Eden where everything is right. But the idea of womanly submission has played too detrimental of a role in society to be left alone. All of humanity is called to submit to God. All of humanity is called to submit to one another. To stress that role for women and leave the men out of it is tantamount to dragging the adulterous woman naked into the street to be stoned (an extreme example, I know) while leaving the adulterous man to remake his bed, comb his hair, and wonder what’s for dinner.