Tuesday, March 06, 2007

dear patriarchy

bob at the corner linked to this letter/article written by science fiction/fantasy writer elizabeth bear. she writes:

Dear Patriarchy:

I don’t care what you think.

I’m not here to convert you. I’m not here to enlighten you. I’m not here to try to earn your respect. I don’t need it.

I am not scared of you.

You see, I can win without you. I can make a living without you. I can reach a broad readership of women–yes, and men too! lots of men! men who are enlightened, and emotionally secure!–without you. It’s really kind of awesome. After fifteen years working in corporate America, actually, where I usually had to do what a particular type of authoritarian men wanted if I wanted to keep my job, these days, I can pick the audience I care to appeal to.

nolove, Bear.

wow. this is so powerful i think i'm going to write my own! she ends the article with this line:
Because nothing is more terrifying to an extant power structure than a frictionless surface. And the magic of it all is that they have no power over me.

i think that is one of the things the internet has done to/for the church - it has made the kingdom a frictionless surface - the women sitting under neanderthal teaching have access to truth now - they can't build the walls high enough anymore. and there are no footholds on this frictionless surface for them to stand and abuse anymore.

they have no power over me. i LOVE that phrase. i found out last week from my aunt that my father freaked out when she told my aunt that i was preaching at church, right in the middle of a restaurant, which is so not his style. i joked with her he'd rather tell his conservative friends who ask about me that i have backslidden and am a crack whore than i am using my gifts in the church and god forbid "teaching men"...

dear patriarchy,

the walls of power you have built in the church can no longer hold me in, keep me down or silence me. you have no power here, the kingdom of god is bigger than the fortress you have built to keep us in check. you tried to keep us making the coffee, cooking and cleaning up and making you fat with our meals.

i am not afraid of you. i don't need you anymore. there are women and men who love jesus all over the world who know the truth now. you can't stop this because we're taking our wallets with us. your source of income will dwindle to the size of your small, shrunken hearts.

and just so you know, it really is awesome out here, you're welcome to join us, the kingdom is wide and deep and full of life. you will have to set down your power though. it doesn't work here. you see true kingdom life is the kryptonite to patriarchy. jesus came to set the captives free. and we are free indeed.

no love, bobbie


Ari said...

both of those letters (hers and yours) are awesome. Shine on! I might just have to write my own now.

Alexander M said...

Love it!

Both my parents were ministers (Salvation Army); dad was the "dictator", mom was the Christian.
They're in the Next Life now so it's all "evened-out"...


Hope said...

I wasn't raised in the church so I don't have the scars that many do from living in a patriarchal religious enviroment. If I did I would imagine that I would have a different perspective. I love your heart Bobbie, you know that. I understand, as much as I am able to, how damaging patriarchy was to you and your sense of self worth. The system of patriarchy defined you for so long and now you are free of those confining definitions. The Kingdom is so much bigger than words can describe.

It may be that I am taking your post too literally but these thoughts surfaced for me as I read it:

I must assume that the 'no love' part means no love for patriachy not 'no love' for my brother in Christ who has a power problem.

The kingdom is wide and deep and full of life and who are we to assume that those who are entrenched in patriarchy are not within it? It creates a different kind of 'us and them' thinking if we think we are in it because we are enlightened and they aren't because they haven't been. Us and them thinking is not the Gospel no matter where we speak it from. If, in the past, we accepted patriarchy as the norm because of the religious culture we grew up in then how can we hold it against the men who accepted it too because of the same culture? Wouldn't we resist change if the tables were turned? To break out of thinking that is not in line with the Gospel message is difficult. It is a gift of grace to have grown to know that Jesus is not a fan of patriarchy.

I have my own power issues. The sins of Patriarchy make me look within to see where I wield my power in the relationships in my life. Having adult children has shown me how power hungry and power abusive I was in my parenting. I don't needs to be a man to be broken when it comes to boxing people in and wielding power that raises me up while making others small.

If we believe we are not less than because we are women then that means we are equals with those still entrenched in patriarchy. The challenge is to extend mercy. Patriarchy isn't a thing - it is people, our brothers in Christ - who are no less broken than we are.

Tim Levert said...

Right on.

My wife is a strong, spiritual, intelligent, compassionate leader, and she's been wounded often by a well-meaning church with oppressive theology. I'm excited to see you addressing an issue much in need of addressing, and doing so in a strong, yet humble way. Seems a lot like the way Jesus adressed the same issue.

And I'm excited to pass your blog to my wife for some much needed encouragement.


loneparent said...

I'm not a Christian, but I liked your thoughts about patriarchy! A frictionless surface... getting out from under the power really is the key to finding freedom. thank you.

loneparent said...

P S I'm quite new to blogging, hope it's OK to join in on your blog here.

Tasha said...

Thank you!

Too often I feel the pull of living between the messages where the world suggests I'm not enough and the church suggests I'm too much. I turn a deaf ear to them both, and work to live out God's plan for my life with passion, love, and abandon.

I'm teaching during our Sunday gatherings for the next 4 weeks. Ha! Sadly, it would be less controverial if I were just a crack whore.

Thank you for your heart.

tonya said...

Thank you for this proclamation of emancipation! Happy International Women's Day!! Thank you for walking with me in Congo, Bobbie.

Patchouli said...

bobbie, bobbie, bobbie--you teach me to embrace my dreams! ONWARD and UPWARD!

Sarah Louise said...

This I will need to chew on--but I love it! You go girlfriend!!

It's a new understanding of power, and Who holds it.

Amen, bobbie, amen!


ari said...

hope, I appreciate your heart of making peace and extending grace. But I think what needs to be kept in mind is that it's possible to speak harshly against a system and recognize that there are PEOPLE who uphold that system who are just fallen humans who are in need of grace just like us.

sometimes I want to piss on the system of organized, oppressive patriarchy in the church but that doesn't mean I necessarily feel that way about individual people.

I'm called to forgive, love and make peace with people not systems. there is a lot of precedent even in Jesus' life of speaking very strongly against ideas and systems.