Showing posts from 2012

Absolute Ruler of Australia

Having toyed with what I might do to make America a safer and kinder place, it is time I turned my attention to cleaning up our own back yard, so to speak.

As was my plan for the United States, I would love to explore how to do community-building as a priority. This does not take money so much as vision. How can we make our society more interconnected, so our elderly do not sit alone, so our young mums do not go insane with boredom, so our youth do not feel so alone they fall into serious depression and self-harm? I would love to listen to experts on community-building. I would love to talk to churches, community groups, sporting groups, the media, and anyone who will listen, really, about how we can get to know our neighbours and create support groups where needed. Wouldn't it be awesome if we got really, really serious about knowing and caring for our neighbours? Bring it on.

I would make sure we keep our commitments on giving 0.7% of our GDP in well-targeted development accordi…

If I were the President

My friend Alan Hirsch, in a ridiculous moment, suggested I should be President of the United States, so I decided to play around with the idea.

I think it would be necessary to declare a day of national mourning that the country had managed to elect someone so spectacularly incompetent, but then, it wouldn't be the first time... perhaps I'll skip that idea.*

My next concern be to do something about America's deficit... 16 trillion dollars is a lot of debt, and much of it is unproductive.

My first target would be military spending. Spending around five times more than the next most heavily invested country in military spending seems completely disproportionate... spending twice as much would still make the US a military superpower. I think I will be moderate and cut defense spending in half, freeing up $355.5 billion dollars annually.

I'd also like to do something about incarceration rates... the financial cost, and the cost in terms of human misery, is a terrible thing…

Most of the day in Pyjamas

Just thought I'd share this reflection from Aubrey Sampson, which is part of a women in ministry series.

As well as enjoying her article, I'll admit I rather liked her self-description:

"Aubrey Sampson is a pastor’s wife and stay-at-home mom to three boys—which is to say she spends most days in her pajamas drinking a lot of coffee. On the days she manages to get dressed, she writes and speaks about shameless living, women’s issues, and God’s love."

Ah, living with young preschoolers. For those of you still inhabiting this exhausting stage of life, I promise you it does get better. For those of you who live in this zone but manage to be showered, dressed, blow waved and made up by 8.00 am, please share how you do this. Or possibly not: it might make the rest of us feel worse. :-)


Ideas Have Consequences

Once upon a time those who opposed women exercising any leadership in the church, the family, or the workplace, spoke of women’s “inferiority” to men. In the post-sexual revolution world, the “inferiority” term became socially unacceptable, so in the 70’s those of a theological bent coined the term “complementarianism”. Women were not inferior to men, but complementary… the role of men is to lead, and the role of women in the church and in the family is to support and submit. Humans have been designed for this and are happiest this way, apparently. (They had to backtrack too on women not exercising leadership in “secular” spheres, as this also became utterly socially unacceptable.)

In the teaching of Jesus, the one who serves is great, and Jesus modelled exemplary servant leadership. However, there is a world of difference in having personal power and using this to serve and empower others, from being powerless. The former leads to shalom, the latter so often leads to exploitation.


Religion and Violence?

One of the marvellous things about the world wide web is the plethora of information on almost anything. Recently I stumbled across one of the many atheist blogs on the web (Daylight Atheism cohabiting with “Big Think”) and a post called “People of Darkness and Light”. Fine, God bless them… or whatever blessing atheists believe in. But I’ll to admit I was taken aback by this paragraph in particular:
“religion is as strong and dangerous as ever. Granted, there are many nominally religious people who are humanists in all but name: people who practice an enlightened and rational morality, who don't interpret the fairytales of scripture as literal truth, people whose notion of God is sufficiently amorphous to accommodate any scientific discovery. But there are at least as many people who proudly uphold the banner of ignorance; people whose god is small and ignorant, and who want to keep him that way; people who persecute to the limit of their power to do so, and who'd gladly use f…

It’s all over bar the shouting… so why are we still discussing it?

It seems from various discussions I’ve had recently, the debate about women in ministry is still raging.
I thought I’d do a bit of a survey on this issue of serious theologians (the ones that write books other working theologians footnote, not the ones who write popular books for Word). If that sounds snobby, so be it.
Theological luminaries such as Jurgen Moltmann,  NT Wright,  and important writers like Scot McKnight, Craig Keener, Thomas C Oden, Walter Liefeld, Gordon Fee, FF Bruce  Stanley J Grenz, Ben Witherington, William J Webb… indeed virtually all important living theologians…. are egalitarian. It seems to me the one working theologian of any note is Wayne Grudem: other voices for the Complementarian cause are mostly local church pastors who are also populist writers.
I was told recently the World Council of Churches commissioned their best theological minds onto the subject of women in ministry, and came to the conclusion that the grounds for excluding women from ministry …

Much ado about Manners

When I was in Vietnam recently, Fiona Briers told me that saying “please, thank you, and I’m sorry” aren’t part of traditional Vietnamese culture (although doubtless such things are taught to people working in the tourism industry). She has been insisting on such courtesies in her business, and has felt like this is not only changing communication routines, but shifting attitudes in significant ways.
This got me thinking about the words we teach small children. Perhaps most parents who teach “please, thank you, and I’m sorry”, if they think this through at all, are doing it to help their children become socially acceptable in a wide a range of settings as possible. This is a laudable aim: no one would want their child to become isolated because they behave in socially unacceptable ways.
I wonder whether they are also helping to shape the soul of a child in positive ways?
Not that such courtesies are “magic words”: ever one has met someone who may be scrupulously polite externally, but w…


Gotta love Lark News... there's a great article about "facebragging" here

Do you know any "facebraggers"? Any other pet facebook hates? Your guilty secret is safe here... he he.

Kevin Giles on women in ministry

Dr Kevin Giles is a biblical scholar who has written many books on theology and women in ministry. This paper is like the "Readers Digest super-condensed version" of his extensive work on the subject.

The fundamental question is: does the Bible make the God-given ideal the subordination of women, or their social equality with men? Or to put it another way, are men reading the Bible rightly when they argue that God has excluded women from leadership in the church and the home?

That the Bible can be quoted by both sides that reply to these questions only tells us that the Bible is not a set of rules or timeless principles, but an historical revelation. On all the major doctrines, Christology, Trinity soteriology etc. there have been big debates over what the Bible teaches, and texts have been quoted by both sides to “prove” their stance. What we want to discover is how we should read the Bible, so that what is primary and foundational in scripture on the man-woman relationship…

Women in Leadership - research from business

Well, apparently women are out-performing men in the business world, although they are under-represented in senior positions. Research conducted by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman suggested that in 360 degree reviews, women (on average) were perceived as more competent on many criteria such as initiative, integrity, developing others, inspiring others, driving for results etc. than men (on average). Obviously in a survey of 7280 leaders there were some exceptional leaders and some below average leaders, but the difference was statistically significant.
You can see some of the discussion here and here, or do some Googling yourself!
So... why are women, on average, perceived as better leaders than men? I'd be interested in your thoughts!

NT Wright on I Timothy 2

I have just shamelessly copied and pasted NT Wright's reflections on I Timothy 2 for those who are just interested in this passage, and do not wish to read his longer reflection here. After all, what is the internet but us all copying furiously off one another?

For your consideration.... Janet

I leave completely aside for today the question of who wrote 1 Timothy. It is more different from the rest of Paul than any of the other letters, including the other Pastorals and 2 Thessalonians. But I do not discount it for that reason; many of us write in many different styles according to occasion and audience, and though that doesn’t remove all the problems it ought to contextualize them. What matters, and matters vitally in a great many debates, is of course what the passage says. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I suggest that it is this passage far and away above all others which has been the sheet-anchor for those who want to deny women a place in the ordained ministry of the chu…

Increasing the numbers of women in ministry - a reflection for Churches of Christ leaders.

This paper has been written for State CEO's of Churches of Christ for an upcoming meeting. Some of the material in it may be of broader interest so I thought I'd put this up on Secret Women's Business!

Ministry leadership in Churches of Christ: Gender issues in a time of challenge and opportunity.

One of the responsibilities of those called to leadership at the State and National church level is taking the “balcony view”. From the “balcony” we may sense the “big picture” of what God is up to in our midst. From the “balcony”, we can anticipate possible dangers and possible opportunities. From the “balcony” we can exercise leadership in order to can maximize future opportunities and minimize future dangers. It would be interesting to privately and corporately reflect on and discuss the following “balcony” questions:

•What opportunities do we see for our movement? What are our greatest opportunities?

•What potential risks do we see for our movement? What are the greatest …

women, society and sobering statistics

Some rather interesting statistics have crossed my desk in the past few weeks. The first study was an Australian Communities Report by Olive Tree Media. It noted that the perceived role of women in the church was a “belief blocker” for 60% of Australians. This composite figure included the respondents who named the perceived roles of women a “belief block”, completely (20%), significantly (14%) and slightly (26%).

The second study that came to my attention was completed by psychologists at MIT and Carnegie Mellon in the US. They divided people into teams and asked them to complete intelligence tasks together. Interestingly, the IQ scores of the group members barely affected collective performance. The number of women on a team, however, affected it a lot – the more women, the better. It seems that the capacity of women to raise the “collective intelligence” of a group is related to the fact their “social sensitivity” is usually stronger than that of men. Thus they tend to draw out mor…