About being “suitable”

bronze-dancing-ladiesIn spite of the abundance of commentaries on Genesis 2, the creation of mankind and the revelations of male and female roles, I continue to find hidden gems and discoveries of my own that speak to my mind and my heart.  Today it comes from a reminder of the Hebrew used to express the suitability and fittingness of the lovely being we call Eve.

To Adam, she was Isha, bone of his own bone and flesh of his flesh. She was a co-heir to the dominion of the world, the only thing his God had made to whom he could conform his soul, mind and body.  To us she has become either the controversial victim of ignorance, or the willing herald of sin to the world.  Men have held up this unknown queen of creation with skepticism and scorn. Having come from a family in which there were several marriages between both my parents, I feel quite comfortable in relating the typical sermons on Eve and womanhood to the insinuations of an angry, jilted spouse.  But is that really who she was? How can we know?  A simple Google search for Adam and Eve will makes it painfully obvious what our world really thinks of Eve, a seductive smile as she joins the snake in seducing her husband to sin.  WHERE, are the paintings of her first appearance to Adam on the arm of God?

The Hebrew root that is translated suitable in most Bibles is NEGED, נגד

The noun form literally means “in front of, opposite” but in Hebrew I’ve come to learn that the essence of a word does not lie in its literal, rational translation the way English speakers tend to treat language.  Americans just want to know “what it means”, and Hebrew, being a language that is hundreds of years old and from a part of the world wholly unknown to us westerners, simply isn’t as cut and dry as we want it to be.  The meaning I’m referring to is called “aspect”, you might understand it something like “perspective” in that the words take on meaning, feeling and interpretation based upon a slew of perspectives that might come from anywhere within the context of the story, the storyteller, the characters, or simply Creation at large.  In the case of NEGED, the aspect of being in front of someone, or standing opposite to them conveys a strong sense of presence and like-ness.

She is before him, alongside him and fitting to him both literally, as she stood naked in the garden next to her Creator, and spiritually.  Spiritually she is present with him because she had been blessed with the same image and likeness of Adam, made through his rib, the protector of the lungs which hold the breath/spirit, ruach, of God.  She is like him both inside and out, thoroughly and completely.  All these things Adam recognizes when he says “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” but this is NOT why he was breathless and amazed at her presence.  She is not the “same”, that is the adjective “zahah” or another of many forms that convey the aspect of idential, same or selfsame being.  From God’s perspective she resembles him completely inside and out, and yet he could not help but add to this new life form his signature stamp of uniqueness and beauty; femininity.

You see, it is God who decides what is suitable, what is fitting, what is right.  It is from HIS perspective, I believe, that the aspect of neged takes its most poignant meaning, for He made a woman who could, in so many ways, reflect her own-male flesh unlike any other creature, and yet she amazes Adam both with her likeness, but also with her uniqueness to himself.  “You shall be called ishah for you were taken out of ish.”

It is undeniably foolish to try to argue the subservience of a woman, or the dominance of a man from this beautiful text.  To do so robs the man of his humility and replaces it with an expectation of pride. It robs the woman of her feminine essence, replacing it with destructive insinuations and she grows up to believe that being feminine itself is a sin.*  The ONLY question of authority appropriate to this passage is the power and might of God, the ONE who is able to take two and make them one.  In the attempts of the Church to come up with rules for men and women they have undermined the authority of the Trinity, and the power of one of the oldest stories in our history to convey the awesomeness and wonder of God.

Please, share this post! Lets remind people to keep the most important thing, the most important, and remember the One to whom we owe everything.  Perhaps, in doing so, we can help repair the irreparable damage done to masculinity and femininity in our world enough to love one another the way the Christ loved us.

*Greek philosophers began teaching that women were born as unformed males, years before Christ was born.  Such teaching justified generations of abortion, child abuse, girls sold into prostitution and slavery, and the overarching belief that women were incapable of thinking for themselves at all because they were underdeveloped.  While Jewish culture undeniable adopted this negative perspective of women over the years, it is NOT reflected in the Creation story of Genesis. Further study will show, remarkably, that many women in the Old Testament were valued and esteemed alongside the men of their stories, but context and human behavior following sin must always be taken into account when interpreting the histories.

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A Book Review that leads to a surprising idea about how we treat one another

I’ve just finished Nabeel Qureshi’s “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus,” and I MUST recommend it. The work of God in his life perfectly depicts the key issues in the western understanding of Islam that lead many otherwise open and friendly Muslims to despise us and fear us. It also shows how graciousness among friends can open many doors, and help some walk through.

In America today it’s the way of ultimate right to be tolerant. About the refugee crisis, many have said we just need to be more tolerant because Islam is like any other religion. Others want to crucify anyone who even looks Middle Eastern, in spite of the fact that looking Middle Eastern only suggests Islamic origin and might mean that you are actually Christian, Zoroastrian or a desert tribal religion!  Neither approach deals with the heart of the matter, or the real fundamental worldviews that separate us.

Where do you come from? Why do you think the way you do?  It is more complicated and painful to alter a worldview at its basic level then most of us will ever know.

Tolerance or Graciousness?

I have a strong dislike of the word “tolerance”. It implies something done from disinterested obligation rather than heart felt conviction. It has come to be the buzz term for identifying those who accept behaviors that others deem morally disalute, and then it becomes the aluminum bat to beat anyone who isn’t “tolerant”.

No. What I learned from Nabeel’s story is  not another call to tolerance, it’s a call to graciousness. To be gracious is to be hospitable, kind and welcoming. It cannotes tolerance of a kind that allows the building of life together, that allows for conflict and disagreement without destroying the relationship, and it leads far beyond mere tolerance and into the realm of love. How do you really come to love someone? You show grace.  David and Nabeel demonstrate this kind of graciousness to each other in their story, and they lead their friends and family to walk a similar path as Nabeel searches for truth. Grace is not a call to blind, arbitrary acceptance that must disregard all differences. Rather, it honors the differences without condoning wrong doing or sacrificing ones conscience. Grace, not tolerance, is what Christ showed in the cross.

Please please, this book is a must read. Or you can listen to it on audible read by Nabeel himself! 

Feed my Sheep

In an effort to get back into writing again, something which feeds me, I’ve decided to post snippets and thoughts from Dr. Tim Laniak’s devotional on Biblical shepherding.  My husband and I are reading through it day by day and being immensely encouraged, as well as strongly challenged. Here’s a bit on day 8

Today’s devotion was on Feed my Sheep. Did you know that Bedouin shepherds know over 100 types of vegetation, their uses, nutritional value and where they grow? And I was overwhelmed reading about how much effort goes in to grazing the sheep every day. Dr. Laniak says that in Jesus’ rebuke of Peter in John 21 emphasizes that “leading means feeding.” WOW. that is far more intentional than just a command to serve. It’s service BY feeding. Like a mother or father feeds their newborn.

The challenge is this, what are we feeding our flocks? Do we spend time searching and studying the sources of spiritual vegetation in their lives, and ours, so that they can be healthy, vibrant and give birth to strong healthy lambs. Or have we become convinced that a simple rugged diet of entertainment and thin grass is enough to keep them from being poisoned? Do we give our infants water with a little sugar, or we provide them with rich, nutrient filled milk?  This challenged me today because so much of my time is meant to be exactly that kind of thoughtful and intentional learning so that I can feed others. But I easily forget the long term needs of the “bread” I’m being given in favour of just getting through an assignment.

“As a teacher, my favorite compliment is ‘thank you for feeding my soul'” Laniak, pg 63. Mine too 🙂

And finally, “Do we feed our people well but do not teach them to feed themselves?” There comes a point where a child is helpless if she cannot decide for herself what to eat. The milk has always been good but her body needs more now. What should she give it? Dr. Laniak points out the diet of TV right away as the most common supplement. It keeps us from eating well physically or spiritually.

“Feed my Sheep”

Blessings!

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Advent, a week on Love

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Blanket statements such as “you’re all terrorists!” Or “you’re all homophobic!” show more fear and ignorance than they do wisdom or reason. 

But my question is to those who hear those statements being directed at them. Have you stopped short in your reaction and taken time to consider what is in the heart of the Person who makes those claims? Perhaps they have been abused and treated unjustly. Perhaps the injustice of their past is the truer cause and it’s not about you at all…would you maybe take time to respond differently, or perhaps just give yourself to listening?

-Advent, a week on Love

(Photo of my beautiful daughter at the docks).

Open Doors – a part of my art journey

I’m THRILLED. My theology professor

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was fascinated by my interest in using the arts to teach theological and doctrinal truths and he’s going to let me compose a piece on the Trinity instead of writing a paper!!!!  Ahhhhhh!  I’ve been waiting for God to open doors like this, I’m so excited to challenge some norms, push myself and really create something excellent AND beautiful.

The Christian world desperately needs artists who are compelled to create groundbreaking work, not to compromise and not to limit themselves with stereotypes.  I think that dance is perhaps the most non-existent form practiced by Christians in a manner that turns heads and truly makes people think and be inspired.

Decorated by some of my recent photographY, playing with shadows.

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Comments on current issues

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It’s easy. Fundamentally they believe the world is overpopulated, and just like any other animal of which there are so obviously too many, it’s perfectly reasonable and moral to support methods that benefit the population.

We can’t make an impact without demonstrating why human beings are more than mere animals and, sadly, Christianity lost ground on that eons ago when we failed to maintain a strong presence in the field of science. Now that we’re being forced to return to it we find, general, that our grounding in our own faith isn’t solid enough to deal with the sheer propensity of god-less worldviews. The solution is we must face our weaknesses and begin to learn again. People’s lives depend on it.

In the Church – a part of my art journey

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Why the Church Needs Artists

A good friend of mine shared this brief article with me and it is worth a read. I have contemplating the words all week, and not just his words but the voice of the writer! There is such heart and longing that resonates with something I’ve struggled to articulate for YEARS.

Most people think I’m a great manager. I get lots of complements on my administrative “gifting” and have ended up in leadership positions since I was a child. I’m not saying I did everything right or was the best person, heavens no. Anyone in a spot light knows or learns how easy it is to make a mess instead of organize. This is just a fact about myself, and I even like it!  But there is another side to me that I know has been missed.  It feel it when I put out new ideas in church groups or business teams. I fight it when I’m told things like “that’s not how we do it” or when someone thinks I’m wrong and doesn’t say it, they just don’t support the new project.  It cuts to my heart when I get the “look” from a
Pastor or authority figure that says, “what am I going to do with you you just won’t fit in”.  It’s there but I’ve never been able to put it into words.

I’m an artist.

These quotes stood out to me-

Artists honor the past without being bound by it. They propel us into the future by helping us see it. Even if we’re not ready for it yet.”

“Artists don’t give us what we want. They show us something we didn’t even know we needed.”

“Artists don’t debate what style of music (or teaching, preaching and lighting) is best. They give us new ways of doing it.”

Yes yes yes! These are the words!  I can instantly give half a dozen stories where I these quotes articulate exactly what I was feeling and fighting with. They have stayed with me because I have never yet been able to say WHY it bothered me so much. Why, when I’d get some kind of honor for administration I’d want to scream, This Isn’t Me!!!! And why I feel hurt and misunderstood.

Am I alone? I don’t think so. I’m a teacher! I’ve met dozens of people, old and young, who have had their creativity ignored, crushed or buried and only need someone to come say “We want you! We want how you think. We think that idea is crazy but we’ll give it everything we’ve got because we love you!” What we’ll be difficult now is that so many beautiful artists have buried themselves, like me, and may not even know why they just aren’t content. (Don’t get all philosophical here, God saying we should be content in every season in life does NOT include the ones we wrongly force upon ourselves or the ones in which others silence us and keep us restrained. Missionaries don’t stop preaching in prison do they?)

I’m one of the fortunate few who also can be administrative and so I’ve managed to painstakingly carve out an almost me-shaped relief where I can still be in community with churches and ministries, but it’s so hard. And most do not try. Oh, how the church would grow, especially in this country, if we learned to create space for these crazy artistic people, and every day in this new world I’m learning the words we need to help teach the church how to do that. But this post is really about me. I’ve got to break free and live this God given part of who I am again or I will suffocate and abandon the church body completely.  God put this in my hands today so I could change, the healing and rest that still needs to come I’m sure will be here shortly.

Shall we commemorate this revelation with a song?

I HOPE you dance!!!