#ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear shows it’s sexism not hermeneutics

#ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear shows it’s sexism not hermeneutics

Feminists: “A strange sub-strata of women with a peculiar inferiority complex”   That isn’t a quote from some ignorant, aging Fox News commentator. It’s from one of the rising young stars of the conservative movement, writer Daisy Cousens. In this week’s edition of the Spectator, she refers to feminists as being “obsessed with picking at the scab of women’s lib, trying to draw fresh blood, often being seen prowling (or lumbering) around, attempting to sniff out sexism in every nook and cranny.” According to Cousens, women who complain about sexism are whiny and pathetic. And they lumber (whatever that’s supposed to mean!?!). She concludes, “The idea women that in our society are still somehow under the thumb of men is a fallacy; every opportunity available to men is also available to us.” The same day I read Daisy Cousen’s diatribe against feminism, I discovered that Canadian Christian blogger and author Sarah Bessey had just launched the Twitter hashtag #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear and it was trending. Big time. Woman after woman (including many personal friends of mine) tweeted the passive aggressive put-downs and out-and-out sexist statements they’ve heard in churches over the years. It seemed cathartic. Like lancing a boil. Years of snubs, sneers and rebuffs flowed like puss. For me, reading it was like passing a car wreck on the freeway. I

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Is meaning simply in the eye of the beholder?

Is meaning simply in the eye of the beholder?

When I first saw a photo of the Fearless Girl defying the rampaging bull of Wall Street I loved it! There she stands – feet apart, back arched, hands on hips – boldly staring down the ultimate symbol of out-of-control capitalism. Viewed from behind it looks as if she’s stopped the bull in his tracks. He crouches tentatively, quizzically sizing up his opponent, unsure of whether he has the measure of this defiant girl. How clever to subvert such a masculine symbol of greed and power with a figure of sheer feminine chutzpah.   At least that’s what I thought until I discovered who created each sculpture and what their motives were for doing so. Charging Bull was created in 1987 by Italian-American sculptor Arturo Di Modica right after the Black Monday stock market crash. He claimed he wanted the bull to represent “the strength and power of the American people” – like a kind of shot in the arm after the collapse of the financial market. Interestingly, Di Modica wasn’t commissioned to design the bull and he spent $350,000 of his own money to create it. He trucked it into Manhattan himself and installed it – without permission – right in front of the New York Stock Exchange. It was guerrilla art in the true sense of the word,

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Is this the greatest Easter painting of all time?

Is this the greatest Easter painting of all time?

It has the imposing title, The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection. More often than not it’s just referred to by the shortened form, The Disciples or Les Disciples. You won’t find it in the Louvre or the Met or the National Gallery. It hangs tucked away in an old railway station in Paris, now the Musée d’Orsay, on the left bank of the Seine. It was painted in 1898 by a relatively little known Swiss artist named Eugène Burnand. He was something of an old-fashioned realist at a time when all the cool kids were embracing modernism. The Disciples didn’t make a splash when it was first hung. Burnand’s style was already considered passé by the 1890s. But those who take the time to find it in the d’Orsay come away saying that viewing the canvas is akin to a spiritual experience. Some say it is the greatest Easter painting ever made.   Scroll up and look again at the picture. As the first blush of dawn is tinting the clouds, Peter and John are rushing to the tomb of Christ. They’ve just been told by Mary Magdalene that she and the other women found it empty, that Christ has risen. Her words are ringing in their ears. But their faces and their bodies

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They’re dying in Egypt while we’re whining about Easter hat parades

They’re dying in Egypt while we’re whining about Easter hat parades

This week I was interviewed by a local radio station about the place of Easter in the post-Christian West. Specifically I was asked how I felt about schools removing references to Easter in their annual hat parades. I told them I couldn’t care less. I honestly don’t care if schools want to run a “happy hat parade” or a “crazy hat day” instead of an Easter hat parade. I just don’t. And then I heard about the two suicide bombings at Coptic churches in Alexandria and Tanta and the deaths of 44 worshippers on Palm Sunday at the beginning of Holy Week. And then I didn’t just not care about Easter hat parades, I was outraged at our insensitivity and complete lack of perspective on these things. And then I saw this photo (above) of a shocked and grieving nun staring blank-faced into the debris caused by the bombing at St George’s Church in Tanta, and I remembered that there are Christians in the West who actually talk about experiencing “hostility” because of their faith. They say they are being persecuted and marginalized, silenced and ignored. This Easter, Egyptian Christians will have to clean the blood spatters from the marble pillars of their church and grieve the deaths of worshippers and priests and choristers. And I really hope no one tells them

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I don’t want to rain on Jesus’ parade, but…

I don’t want to rain on Jesus’ parade, but…

Entry into the City was painted by Californian artist John August Swanson in 1990. It’s one of those enormous pictures where the artist utilizes both vertical space and depth in order to fill the canvas with a host of people, many of them alluding to some hidden narrative. We can only imagine their stories. As Jesus makes his triumphal entry into Jerusalem we see among the crowd women holding children, a man on crutches, a soldier with dogs, flag-bearers, palm-wavers and those who cover the street with cloaks. What brought each of them there, out onto the streets? John August Swanson’s use of color, movement and light captures the dynamism and the energy of Jesus’ arrival in the capital. He said of his picture, “I wanted to convey my feelings from being in marches for peace and justice. This scene has been repeated countless times in the lives of heroic and selfless leaders who have fought for love, peace, and social justice. It is relived in the lives of Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Oscar Romero, and Cesar Chavez.” I too have participated in my share of peace marches. They are full of energy and vitality. People are marching because they believe in something. There’s a tone of hope. The speakers rail against injustice or war or prejudice, and we feel bound

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