Monday, August 11, 2014

#ClaireMusings: Why I am not teaching my daughter that "modest is hottest"

Ten months or so ago I became a father to a precious little girl. Her name is Claire Jewel, and she's been getting me to thinking a lot.  I have started to see the world in a very different way than I think I did before she was born.  It's just some of what churches and Christian based organizations are teaching girls seems to be quite flawed.  When I say the Church, I am not talking about any one church but Christian culture in America.

One of those things is teaching our daughters that "Modest is Hottest." Looking at that, it looks like a great statement, and that we should teach our daughters that being modest is appropriate, but that's not what this is saying. This is not the purpose of this "cute" little rhyme in my opinion.

We live in a very sexualized world.  Women and girls face a world where their worth is put into how "pretty" "beautiful" "sexy" the package is, and how they get what they want based on looks and appearance. We live in a culture that says if a women isn't pretty, by a photoshopped standard in the latest women's magazine or fashion brand's latest advertising,  then she isn't valuable, and even farther, she isn't worth our time.

See I believe that the teaching that modest is hottest came from a very genuinely good place.  I can see someone using the culture of the world to sell modesty to little girls who are exposed to what the world is doing to women through images of perfection.  I can see it's origins.  I can see a counter-culture trying to make sense of the current culture.

My beef with modest is hottest is that it's STILL sexualizing women!  It says, you still need to be hot, but modest at the same time. I believe that the teaching modesty is important, but based on teaching girls the VALUE of themselves.  I think my daughter is valuable because she is, not because of what she looks like.  When you say modest is hottest it's cheapening the worth of her, her intelligence, her abilities, and her as a human.

You shouldn't fight fire with fire.  You should use the current culture as an example but not in agreement.  My daughter is valuable, not because of what she looks like, but because she was created by a God full of love! We may not have control over how the world works or how it portrays women and girls, but we do have the ability to provide truth in the midst of chaos.  We have to teach our daughters from as early as possible to value themselves and to be examples; while addressing and exposing what's going on around them at the same time.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

I choose to disagree not abandon.

Recently someone told me I was offended at my church.  I wouldn't normally let that bother me, but it hit a nerve.  I turned and said,  "Just because I disagree doesn't mean that I am offended."  Then I kind of did some examining of my heart.  I learned a lot about myself and why it ticked me off.

A little back story:
I go to a mega church, and while it's really popular to hate on them today, I certainly don't hate my church.  I see the great and the bad of such a behemoth.  Recently, I found myself  disagreeing with something the church is doing.  It's something small but enough for me to think I didn't want to participate. Yes, I see things that make me cringe but I am a church advocate.  I think it's extremely important.  As someone once put it, the local church is the hope of the world.  I agree.

I was talking with someone about it and they totally misunderstood what I was talking about.  They assumed that I was leaving the church.  Well, no.  Just because you disagree with something doesn't give you the right to leave.  That's how I would have known I was offended.  If I have let something so trivial affect me to leave.  Over the years I have not agreed with my church on occasion.  I think it's healthy to not follow blindly everything a church does/says/believes.  This doesn't mean I am in rebellion as someone once put it.  I can simply disagree without being in rebellion.  I still tithe, volunteer, and participate.

I believe that when you have crossed the line is when you let little offenses blow you off course and leave and go to another church, sit in the audience, and compare how much better you and your current church is.  I think when you get to the point where you would leave, you need to examine your heart.  Talk yourself off the ledge and realize it's probably best to talk to someone about this.  Barring, that is, if your church is doing something wrong.... like heresy, which probably happens but not as regular as people claim.

I have seen many people leave a church because.... well there are a lot of reasons.  When you boil it down, it's an offense.  The sad thing, when they get comfortable in their current church they'll just get offended and move to another.

In the end, I kind of like it when I disagree with my church.  At the end of the day, I either learn why I agree with my assessment or I mature.  Either way I win, and in the end the Body at large wins when we invest in our churches.  Abandoning the ship shows our immaturity.

Churches aren't perfect.  To think they are is to fool one's self.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

"Republicans Get Out of My Vagina"

Perhaps that title is a little suggestive, but it was a sign I saw in all the recent hubbub in Austin last year.  What happened?  Well it all started with Senate Bill #5 in the Texas Legislature.  The bill banned abortions after 20 weeks of fertilization and it undoubtedly stirred up emotions, tempers, and especially voices.

Both sides of the abortion issue were very vocal about their opinions regarding their stance.  It was interesting to watch democracy in action. I am a person, that if you must label me, then you would say I am pro-life.  I hate that we are either or we're not, but that's how America has become.  We are two sided on issues, and live in the us vs. them mentality.

Why do I think abortion is wrong?  It's simple.  If you do a little research, then you'll see what done to the fetus when it is aborted.  It's pretty gruesome.  But we as humans like to sugar coat things.   We say, "It's done humanely."  This is somehow supposed to make the who operation seem like it's okay.  I use the term operation because if a women has a miscarriage, the same procedure done to an aborted fetus is used in this instance, which is referred to as an operation.  There is a lot of debate, that somehow this has become a religious fight?  I can argue abortion without bringing up religion at all.  If a women chooses to do with her body what she chooses then she ought to have to face the responsibility that she faces.  Just as a man if he get a women pregnant should have to face those consequences.  No one is telling women or men they can't have as much sex as they want to, but that if it result in a baby, they need to take responsibility for the child. Part of this issue is that people believe what they want.  

Then this image floated to the surface:
This picture makes me so sad.  I mean I am glad she has the right to say this, but I think it's just plain sad.  At the end of the day, if you can't decide to have an abortion before you're 5 months pregnant, then maybe you shouldn't have done what it took to get you into that predicament.  That's the problem I have with abortion.  It let's my generation off the hook.  Unfortunately, we can go to a "clinic" (most abortion facilities are not usually of good quality or safety) and you don't have to face the consequences. Religion isn't the only indicator that abortion is wrong.  Talk to ladies who have have them.  They will tell you that there is not a day that goes by that they don't think about what they did.  I have met women who became infertile because they chose abortion when they were too young to know that it could effect their whole lives.  That's what needs to be talked about.  This decision that's make in an instant will have consequences that will haunt.  That's what I think we need to talk about.   

Back to that sign.  I kept thinking about the wording "Republicans get out of my Vagina,"  and I just wanted to tell that lady.  Maybe if you cared about what was in your vagina more than you wouldn't need an abortion.  

Friday, January 03, 2014

I've changed my mind

Exactly 6 years ago you would have pegged me as a red state conservative, Bush loving, Republican bot. It would have been easy to tell, based on Facebook rants (who thought we would even coin a term like that), and the sheer ignorance in which I spoke.  I thought the poor were lazy, and food stamps needed to be more shameful for users.  I thought people in poverty were there by their own choices.  I thought big business was the best idea, and that's what will lift people out of poverty. I thought only teenagers worked for minimum wage. I felt I was doing to poor a favor and would judge them out of poverty.  I thought if you needed help it was easy to get.  I thought that "cheating the system" was a way to live like a king. I wanted there to be more hoops for the people who needed help to jump through.  I thought if a person needed help it was a consequence of their own behavior.  I thought that people cheated the system for a living.  I even thought there shouldn't be welfare, but just let them eat cake.

Yes, this is how I lived.  I didn't care about the "fellow man," I certainly didn't care about social injustices. That was until I started looking around.  Because of my job, I was thrust into a seat at the table of the poor. I met person after person and heard story after story.  Their stories cut me to the core.  They gave me chills.  They forced me to see an alternative to my thoughts. They showed me just how hard it is to be in their situations.  They made me feel 2 inches tall.

I was at a chasm.  Do I continue to hold these beliefs, or do I accept people's testimonies?  Do I continue to turn my head, or do I look them straight in the eyes?  It was like God shined a light and I had to either put on sunglasses or see what He was showing me.

I chose to change my mind.  I chose to not judge a person.

What I've learned?  The system is extremely confusing.  It's not set up for emergencies.  If you need help because you lost your job.... stand in line and you'll get help in a month.  I found that people in poverty are some of the most loving and generous people I know.  I found that consequences are the reason people need help, but that it's not usually their's.  I learned that food stamps are not enough, and charity isn't either.  I learned that big business isn't pulling anyone out of poverty, and neither is the economy. I figured out why Jesus hung out with these people.  I learned that single mothers work for minimum wage.  I learned that what I thought was reality was republican rhetoric.  I learned that the poor were pawns of the democrats, and that neither party truly cares.

So are you saying you're a Democrat Broc?  No, I am not saying that at all.  I am saying that politics are less than humans.  Don't be jaded by a political party.  Don't let some guy in Washington tell you what reality is, experience it for yourself.  Look outside the fray, and you will find something that challenges the things you hold.  As Mother Teresa says, "Come and see."

Monday, January 07, 2013

Judgemental

That's what a lot of people are being these days.  I have seen many people malign another group of people because, as if it should be a surprise, they are different.  I have especially seen this in Christians who also happen to be conservative.  It's like they forget what the Bible says when it conflicts with their political agenda.  I mean Jesus was adamant about the widows, orphans, and the poor, but that seems to be lost on them. I mean they would rather line up at the local chicken fast food restaurant to make a statement, than deciding to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and guide the lost... those are thing Christ actually said to do.

I don't want to sound cynical, but I have just seen so much, and I always think: I bet they would think differently if they lived in poverty even for just a week.  I think if they had been raised with the background of those they malign, they might see how the person thinks, acts, feels.  They might see that they make poor choices, because they have no role model who's ever taught them to make good choices.  We are in two consecutive generations without fathers, and I will be honest, we are seeing the effects that come with a nation that mother's it's children, but they doesn't father them.

The poor have made bad decisions, yes,  this is so true.  You have made bad decisions, but you had more resources, which limits the effects.

I recently met a lady at a food giveaway and I asked her some questions about herself.  The book opened and she told me how she had a job, no husband, two kids and her car broke down.  When she took it to the shop they told her it would be $7000 to fix it, which she realizes now was them taking advantage of her.  She was desparate, because her boss was not an understanding man; she could not miss work.  She went to buy a car, and she found a used one that was not super nice, but was a car.  She financed it at the dealership, with a 21% APR.... she could not qualify anywhere else.  Needless to say, the car was repoed and she lost her job.  Remember she's got two kids to think about... She shifted into survival mode.

People purposely set out to take advantage of the poor, with interest rates they have no idea are bad.  They have no one to turn to to see if that's a good thing, and yet we would see this lady using her food stamp card and might think in our minds of how she's "just abusing the system."  All of this is happening in her life, and yet we feel like being judgmental is the way to be.

Grace people.  People of grace, and love.  

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The Problem


I have noticed, mostly because it's an election year, a large majority of Christians who are wanting certain morality legislation from the US Government.  I think it's indicative of the Body of Christ who has lost its way while allowing ourselves to become complacent, much like the children of Israel as they came out of slavery in Exodus.  The problem with Christianity today is that Christians are looking to the government to solve problems that the Church has the power to do ourselves. 

If you want morality to return to the nation, you claim is gone, then you be the one who instills it by causing a culture change. If you really want to change the state of this nation then you have to be part of the process, you cannot rely on the government to legislate morality, because you CANNOT legislate MORALITY.  It's a choice that you make as an individual. 

While I am on this subject, I have heard a lot of people talking about social services, and that the government should not be doing this, the church should.  I think that's a great idea, why don't you start that right now.  The truth is, the government stepped in when the church changed its focus and stopped helping feed the poor, and helping the widows and the orphans.  Because the church stopped the government has a moral, ethical obligation to help those in need. If you're a Christian who is mad because your tax dollars are being spent to help those in need, you needn't look any farther than the end of your nose. 

It's our fault that the nation is in the moral decay.  We can blame, the Republicans, or the Democrats  or Washington all together.  You can blame this person or that one, but at the end of the day, it was the Christians who caused it.  We are the ones who should be above reproach, but obviously humans who miss the mark, but instead we shunned people with different ideas, and buried our heads in the sand. 

We should be investing our time and energy into others, so that they might find the hope and promise that we have.  We must stop looking at the government, and especially The Presidents, to solve the problems that WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN to SOLVE on our own. 

So, where do we start? It's starts with you owning your flaws, knowing you're weak, trusting on God to make up the difference, and then go out and change the world around you.  As momentum builds, you will see how the culture of the country changes as well.  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

the poor.

I remember when I started my nonprofit journey at the Food Bank and many people said, "You'll find that the poor are easy targets."  I remember thinking that couldn't be true, who on earth could villainize the poor? My, how quickly I began to realize that was the most true statement I have ever heard.

No truer was it made clear to me about the disconnect between the poor and the privileged than while speaking to a group of college students and one asked me what I thought about all the misuse of food stamps and people who abuse the government's "hand-outs."  I remember pausing, and thinking what an arrogant statement.  After all, he was sitting in a college classroom, learning about media, and obviously had a support system in line to achieve his dreams.  "Well, you're are blessed.  You are sitting here taking college courses, obviously your parents instilled good values and such that makes it possible for you sit here.  The flip side is that not everyone was raised, experienced, and has had the opportunities you have had."  For the first time, he realized how crass his comments came out, and how blessed he was.  I went right in to talking about how we have got to reach out to those around us.

I recently went to Washington DC, and now I understand why the poor are easy targets.  They are easy targets because they have no money.  I was disgusted by the ridiculousness of DC.  If this is the suppose nucleus of our government, I feel that we are failing.  There are elevators, for "members only," yes this is for the elected officials who are so busy they just can't be in the same elevators as common folk.  We met with some of our local elected officials, and while telling them about the plight of constituents in there area, we were lambasted with false accusations of the poor.  We were told they get multiple calls about people abusing the system.  Yes, we understand, there are some who choose to do the wrong thing.  I wanted to ask them if their boss, the congressman, had ever taken a trip in exchange for a vote?  Because in my mind, I feel like that is just as corrupt.  Money talks in Washington.  Whoever has the most wins, and I am sure George Washington, is mortified with what he sees.

The poor are easy targets and pawns in the game that is called "law making."