Monday, June 19, 2006

Paradigms

Throughout my childhood I attended a church deep in the mountains of central West Virginia. Small and fundamental, the church membership was made up mostly of extended family members. It was rare when folks outside that small circle of relatives would attend.

During my teen years a young, married couple, who were not family, began attending. They were interesting, and seemed pretty hip to most of us kids. Soon, they began taking an active role in the church, and were especially eager to work with the youth. There was one problem: this congregation frowned upon women wearing pants in the church. And the young lady wore pants. For every service.

After several months of waiting for her to catch on and conform, church leaders finally decided to talk to her about wearing a dress. Afterwards, the couple never came back.

I think of that couple often when I ponder how we humans are so easily enslaved to our beliefs, rituals and habits. In this instance, frustration over something as petty as whether slacks or a dress should cover the legs of a woman caused harm and ill will, and forced from the church two people who may well have influenced positively the lives of several kids.

So, good luck to Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the newly elected leader of The Episcopal Church. It's gonna be a tough gig, Ma'am. Stick around, though, and change the minds of a few kids. It'll be worth the effort.

22 comments:

jedi jawa said...

Must...resist...urge...to make...smartassed comment...urrggh!

Okay. That's a good sentiment. If only dogma could be so simple as getting over something so small as not to matter perhaps we'd all get along a lot better. I used to run with a girl in college (WVU) who belonged to a church that had split from another fringe church because of the interpretation of one word of one obscure passage of the bible. I don't remember what it was, but it seemed pretty minor to me at the time.

The Film Geek said...

Make smartass comments any time you like, Jedi. It's part of what makes throwing out ideas for discussion here fun.

One of the most ignorant things we men do (and I mean men literally, because throughout history we've had the power) is define how women should behave and look,and what authority they would have in our religions. In the end, it's simply petty and superficial.

Off Route 75 said...

Geek, what were you, Pentecostal? I can honestly say I don't care what somebody wears to church. The important thing is they're are attending, in my honest opinion.

The Film Geek said...

75, nope. Not Pentecostal. And the post is less literal about dress than it is about the superficial systems we set up for ourseves and judge others by. Dress, language, lifestyle, gender, sexuality... most people have something about which they make judgements about the spiritual authenticity of others. You got any such biases?

jedi jawa said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jedi jawa said...

Yeah, I think that 75 might have a couple of those... I'll let him tell you what they are though and will only "out" him if he doesn't fess up. Tee hee. :)

Off Route 75 said...

Uhh....HUH?!?

Off Route 75 said...

Geek, I'm not here to preach, so I'll keep my "biases" to myself. I'm no expert, nor would I ever claim to be. I would feel uncomfortable is someone came to me for spiritual guidance, so I'd refer them on to a person more experienced in those matters.

Do I have a set of beliefs on how Christians should present themselves in public and private life? Yes.

Do I always follow them? Yeah right! (That means No)

Does that mean my line of thought is the "End All, Be All" of Scriptural/Spiritual debate? No.

There are certain things you just don't "paradigm shift" without totally losing the meaning, and no, I'm not talking about a female spiritual leader. Whether it's male or female, as long as they provide me and/or my family with what's needed physically and spiritually, then I've got no problem. Would it take some "getting used to?" Sure, only because I've been predominately in churches with men as spiritual leaders. That doesn't, however, mean I wouldn't be accepting. I wouldn't look at a woman any different than I would a man in that role.

jedi jawa said...

I'll play nice. I haven't seen 75 make spiritual judgments about others or force religion on anybody which is what your post was really driving at. We do have a few differences of opinion on a few spiritual matters but they are off-topic and not that big a deal in the greater universe. So far as I can tell 75 is a great dad and a good husband and that makes him okay - even if he is a no good dirty conservative. :-)

I, however, do tend to make spiritual judgements about others when I know that I shouldn't. I get irritated when I see someone with a Jesus fish on their car (often made redundant by saying "Jesus" inside the fish) act rudely. I find that I want to honk at them and shout WWJD ***hole! I don't do that but I am judging them based upon their expression of spirituality. I do the same thing on other, more controversial, issues as well so I suppose that makes me no better in some ways than the conduct that you talked about in your post today.

Mea culpa. I suppose I'll just have to work on that as well. Maybe 75 can enroll me in one of those ACLU tollerance courses that he likes so much. ;-)

The Film Geek said...

Hey 75: Enjoyed the thoughtful post. Thanks.

I also agree that there are some things--certain beliefs, personal morals, values, etc--that one should be hestitant to compromise. But, I think we should always question our beliefs and values, so that we know what we ultimately hold true, and why. Without that questioning, we tend to collect a whole bunch of mores and habits that get labeled as something more important than they actually are.

The Film Geek said...

Jedi: I don't know ya, but 75 vouches for you, so you must be OK. Your posts seem thoughtful, and I think we knew you were taking a polite wink at a friend with the comment earlier.

I like the Darwin fish symbols I see on cars from time to time. Gotta get me one of those...

Off Route 75 said...

Geek, you're an asshat...size 8! LOL.

Jedi, thanks for the nice comments. The best thing anybody can say about me is that I'm a good dad. Seriously. Well....they could also say I'm good at Halo 2, and that'd be cool, too! I digress.....

I totaly agree with you (Jedi) about the people with the fish. If you're going to talk the talk...then you'd better walk the walk. If I'm going to say I'm a Christian in public, then I'd better act like one. Of course, you both know me, and know I ain't always good at that! Of course, that's what being human is about, isn't it? It's not only our ability to recognize our shortcomings/faults/idiosyncracies that set us apart from other animals, it's the ability to act on them and initiate change within ourselves.

Hippocrites, from any walk of life, annoy me (see: politicians, Hollywood "stars" telling us how to live our lives, and yes sadly, those claiming to be Christian)ad nauseum.

I stand with you 100% on that.

jedi jawa said...

Thanks for the nod, but what do you mean by "seem thoughtful"? ;-)

I agree with you on the mores and habits thing. There is sometimes such a subtle difference between questioning tradition out of contempt and questioning tradition to affirm that it remains valid. Both have their rightful places alongside tradition itself.

See, I can be actually thoughtful too. Or am I?

BTW, I bought a fish for my wife's car that has legs, floppy ears and says "DOG" to go with her other sticker that says "In dog we trust". She hasn't put the fish on her car yet for some reason though.

Anonymous said...

You certainly got something going with this one film geek? I suppose that is your intention..People need to get their eyes off people and their eyes on God..Why is christianity so offensive to non believers? Having a fish symbol on ones car should not offend anyone. Whenever I see one , I just recognize it as being a christian man or family witnessing for the Lord.Then again, maybe the driver bought the car used, and the symbol was already there, and he is an atheist...Guess that's wrong, he would have removed it....

Off Route 75 said...

That wasn't me! I swear! LOL

The Film Geek said...

Hey Anonymous, thanks for stopping by and saying hey. Hope to see you regularly. My purpose with this post was to start a discussion about how we develop traditional belief, and how often those beliefs become so rigid and legalistic that they lose meaning, and even sometimes stifle the progressive actions of others.

jedi jawa said...

That's the problem with allowing anonymous posts. They just tend to stir crap up without making someone accountable.

I didn't say that the fish symbol offended me. What I said was that inconsistent behavior irritates me because, as by buddy 75 said (very non-anonymously) sometimes you have to practice what you preach or walk the walk if you're going to talk the talk to put it another way.

I'm the kind of guy who likes seeing debate about first amendment issues so I fully encourage questioning tradition (I'm a very non-anonymous liberal in that way). I was dissing myself though for making the sort of "spiritual judgment" that Geek was talking about in his original post in my example of the rude driver with the Jesus fish. I could have been a little more upfront about it and used some more inflamatory examples but I didn't think that would be very nice.

Man, it just isn't as "thoughtful" if you have to explain it. ;-)

The Film Geek said...

Jedi, I think your intent was well understood by those of us who have enjoyed your comments these past couple of months here and on other web logs. And sorry about the "seem thoughtful" comment earlier...it's just the way I talk, my friend. Sad, but true. It really was a compliment.

jedi jawa said...

I'm just joshin' with ya Film Geek. I knew that you didn't mean it that way. I had a great swim/bike workout this morning and was just feeling spunky. :-)

2-hot-4-you said...

Geek: 75 told me that you heard that Tom Roton show and that is when you started thinking about this. I heard the same one (accidentally - 75 had it on that station and I was getting ready to turn it). I thought I would puke when I heard some man say that women were taking over the churches and ruining them. Then a woman called in and said the Bible said women should be silent in the church. I hate stereotype beliefs like that (yes, I know I had some back in the days of our work together-lol) about women in church. I'm not a feminist or anything but it really bothers me when I hear someone say they wouldn't attend a church with a woman preacher. Or, our church had a softball team. When the email came out to see who was interested, it said the team must consist of predominantly men but it never said why. That annoyed me too. I think 75 and I are beginning to see a lot of things from different perspectives. Jedi - It seems I may be turning a bit more liberal on certain issues (not all by any means) than I thought.

The Film Geek said...

hey 2-hot-4-you (my god, it was tought typing that): good to hear from you. Keep commenting, and keep 75 straight.

2-hot-4-you said...

Hey Geek - yeah I guess I'll have to post under this name now (hard to type or not). 75 found out about my other identity. If you keep up with his blog, I'm sure you can guess who I was (I'm always trying to aggravate him).