Saturday, April 09, 2005

happy anniversary to me: church gal is 1 yr old

my dad and i were in the habit of checking in with each other; he worried that some big city serial killer had finally overpowered his baby and had her locked up in some cage and i worried that some divorcee with gold teeth and a weave would sink her claws into my newly single still grieving dad (who has all the instincts of a man who stopped dating in the 60s.)

so one day he called me:

Dad: hey, little girl. i have an idea.
Me: yeah? what idea is that?
D: i want you to write an article about relationships for my website.
M: (laughing)
D: really. you're single, smart, live in the big city and it would be great. it doesn't have to be long. a column.
M: i don't think you want to do this. i mean, you really don't want to do this.
D: of course i do. you're my baby.
M: see? you don't want me to write for you. i'm honest, dad. i get the feeling your audience, uh, may not like that from, uh, someone like me.
D: aw, forget them. they can't handle it, forget it. it would be great. just something about what it's like being a christian woman dating.
M: i don't write very nice. i mean, i don't do churchy. i don't write devotions.
D: that's not what i want. i want what you have to say. what you see. what you think.
M: (hesitating) well... i warned you.

i did. i warned him and then i wrote it. i wrote four of them, actually, and jeebus - the crap storm that opened up on me from my dad's male readership was spectacular. maybe that's to be expected when you write something called "why i don't date church guys." anyway, those four articles (one of which is here) started me thinking about the ways that i don't quite think 'churchily'. i hadn't really thought about what it meant to be a progressive christian woman before and now i was thinking about it. amy sullivan's writing had also started the cogs turning in my head about how my faith and politics intersect or diverge. throw in the insanity that was the election year and ChurchGal was born - one year ago this month.

so cheers to this little blog for keeping me sane and actually forcing me to learn some things. i hope the second year is just as fun.


rhoda said...

i've been reading your blog for a while so i thought i'd leave a comment.

i read the article you wrote about never marrying and thoroughly enjoyed it. i can understand where you're coming from as i grew up in a conservative right-wing church, but am now a 24-year-old, stubborn, opinionated, smart-mouthed, rabidly progressive and arrogant educated feminist/Christian, who would rather hire someone to clean my house than do it myself.

however, i feel like you leave no room for the idea that there might be progressive men within the church. i'm actually married (and very happy in my marriage), to a Christian man who is at least as progressive as i am and probably as much of a feminist, despite being a traditionally trained Church Guy. he fully supports me in my career pursuits and does not assume that we will necessarily have children. i haven't lost much independence and certainly have not lost my own identity, critical thinking faculties and self. our "We" is neither paternalistic, nor boring, uncool, or fundamental.

i guess it just feels like you leave out the possibility that a Bible-believing man could actually see his wife as his equal, and, although i know many people who fit the description in your article, i know from living everyday with my husband that it doesn't have to be that way.

i'm not saying you should get married, it's definitely not for everyone, but it would be nice if you left a little room for the progressive feminist church guy.

the reverend mommy said...

Yeah, the progressive feminist church guys are out there -- I'm married to one who doesn't mind being Mr. Pastor's Wife. But he may need therapy later.

Wasp Jerky said...

I just read the araticle about marriage. Wow, what an asshole. It reminds me of a blind date my wife's college roommate went on with a guy (the night that I proposed incidentally). The guy was an older banker who lived with his parents. The guy insisted on where they would eat, what movie they would see, and basically grabbed her hand at one point and never let go. Then, to top it off, at the end of the evening, he prayed with her (you know, the kind of prayer that's really about setting an agenda with the person you're with). Scary.

So anyways, it seems like there's two things at work here. One is that you don't necessarily want to get married. The other is that traditional church guys creep you out.

If you don't want to get married, then don't. Many people are going to be baffled by that decision because it's never entered into their minds that someone could want something else, something that hasn't been crammed down their throats since they were six. Marriage is still the conventional option for living your life relationally, so that's what people are going to expect from you. Fuck 'em. :)

As for non-traditional, feminist church guys, we're out there. You just have to look around a bit to find us.

ding said...

you're totally right.

when i first wrote that (about two years ago) i didn't actually think those guys existed. i mean, i had heard rumors of them (like they were bigfoot or the loch ness monster) but they existed?!?


even in my church, a terrifically progressive congregation, the only one i really knew was my scottish pastor - and i thought he was like that because he was scottish!

so see? a girl can change her mind.

ding said...

i know! i just have to look for you guys!

(clearly this means i have to go to church more often...being a deacon should help with that, right?)

i'm reminded of the time when i was hanging out with some guys in my youth group back in l.a. we were, of course, talking about dating and one guy said his perfect date was to talk about the book of revelation.

i gagged.

Wasp Jerky said...

"i know! i just have to look for you guys!"

I'd volunteer for the job, but sadly my wife won't let me be that progressive, even when I try to justify it with the Old Testament. What's a guy to do? ;)

"i'm reminded of the time when i was hanging out with some guys in my youth group back in l.a. we were, of course, talking about dating and one guy said his perfect date was to talk about the book of revelation."

Ha! I had a Sunday school teacher who was big on doing yearly studies of things. We spent an entire year on Revelation.

sojourness said...

I thought your article was brilliant. I am wary of dating Christian guys or thinking about marrying any for the same reasons.

jesus chick said...

okay so i FINALLY read the article. i can relate with some of your points, especially since i was once married to the "church guy" who also was the pastor's son - what FUN! i am now very happily married to a wonderful christian man-he goes to church but isn't a church guy- if that makes any sense.

i have a couple of questions ~ i think i may be ignorant on a few topics:
what is the definition of a feminist? my initial thought is that every female should be a feminist; it just makes sense - but perhaps i'm not clear on what a true feminist is (i didn't factor males into my "everyone should be a feminist" formula because i'm not sure what one is yet; nor do i know if not knowing is something i should be ashamed of. . . gasp)

what does it mean to be a progressive christian? to be progressive is to make progress, shouldn't all christians be making progress?
i want to make sure i'm not missing anything - do tell

ding said...

hi, JC -
I love this from Rebecca West: “I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is; I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.”

That’s what feminism is. Feminism speaks a different language, one that isn’t phallocentric and which opposes patriarchy when/wherever it can. Feminism is the lesson that first shows a girl what power is – who has it, who doesn’t and why. Feminism is a lens through which a woman can see how her condition is the result of institutionalized and systematic actions against women simply because they are not men. Feminism is the teacher that shows us there is a woman’s history that has long been hidden that shows how, contrary to patriarchal norms, women have participated and driven history to the improvement of the human condition – far beyond being only mother or silent wife.

For instance, did you know that Mothers Day was not about celebrating ‘motherhood’ but was initially a political action taken by Julia Ward Howe and other women after the Civil War in reaction to the horrors of war and was supposed to be a global peace movement? Feminism takes that moment and puts it in a historical context, a woman’s context – see what it is we are actually made of – not what other people think we are.

This is what feminism has taught me: a woman is not a thing, an object; we are autonomous and have moral agency. Our material needs are at once the same and different from a man’s. And no one will help us get those needs met but other women (oh, and those feminist friendly guys).

and socially progressive christians not only recognize this feminist history but work in ways that move it forward. (as opposed to socially conservative christians.)

jesus chick said...

thanks for the overview. i will be ruminating. if i have more questions/comments, i'll get back to you somewhere.

Nicole said...

Hmm, I find it interesting that I grew up always wanting to get married, but never assuming that my husband would be anything like the type of marriage you described.

I guess that explains why I am pursuing my doctorate and my husband works and cleans the house and does the laundry. :) Yay, Kevin!

I dated a few church guys. I remember feeling completely exasperated by them and by the whole experience. I still bitch about that experience to my husband.

As for there being truly feminist male Christians, I can only vouch for Kevin who is what he claims to be. But, marriage is still hard and a refining process. Put two people and all their baggage in one apartment with two cats and you'll always have one crowded apartment.

ding said...

absolutely, nicole. my baggage is particularly prickly and loud so let's hope there's some person out there with a compatible set.

thanks for stopping by!