The Mind of the Master Class: History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholders’ Worldview by Elizabeth Fox-Genovese and Eugene D. Genovese [October 2005; reviewed 11-18-2010]
It’s been a long time since I posted either a book review or anything that I wrote for a class, so I’m posting in PDF form the review I just did of Mind of the Master Class for one of my history classes here at TEDS.
I’m torn between giving this one an A- or an A. In the end I’ve settled on A because, in spite of the flaws I listed, I still think it’s a pretty amazing and well-done book. Quintessential reading if you’re interested in the history of slavery in the United States or the history of the antebellum South.
Mutuality is a quarterly magazine published by Christians for Biblical Equality. The theme for this season’s issue was “Building a Bridge to People of Other Faiths,” so I submitted an article on women in Mormonism entitled, “How Wide the Divide, and Can Biblical Equality Bridge It?” My article is approximately 1800 words long and covers the status of women in Mormonism, the use of egalitarianism in dialogue with Mormons, and the possibility that Christian egalitarianism can serve as an evangelism tool among Mormons.
A final issue that might crop up for evangelicals over Halloween is the fact that Halloween falls on a Sunday this year. This happens once every five or six years unless leap year causes Halloween to miss the Sabbath—so for those who are counting, Halloween is not going to fall on a Sunday again until the year 2021. Rosalynde Welch had an excellent post on this topic a few weeks ago over at the LDS-themed blog Times & Seasons. Basically, one can make a really good Sabbatarian argument that Halloween should not be celebrated in the traditional manner if it falls on the Sabbath; it should either be celebrated on Saturday the 30th or skipped altogether. One can also make a really good communitarian argument that the Sabbath should be a day of building trust and friendship with others, and Sabbath-day Trick-or-Treating can be a great way of building those ties and fellowshipping. Some people get to avoid the question altogether because their local city councils and townships move local Trick-or-Treating hours to Saturday anyways. This was the case when I was living in Provo in 2004, the last time Halloween fell on a Sunday. However, both the TEDS on-campus housing administration and the Bannockburn township have set 2010 Trick-or-Treating hours on Sunday the 31st, so it’s a question we’ve had to face. I have mixed feelings on the matter, but ultimately I’ve come down on the side of taking Harley out Trick-or-Treating on Sunday. My decision has been more utilitarian than theological. (more…)
As I’ve mentioned in many other places, I wasn’t really raised in a Christian household, so we always celebrated Halloween without question. I had some fun costumes over the years, too. In seventh grade I even won first place in my junior high for weirdest costume for dressing as Mileena from Mortal Kombat II. Halloween in our family usually consisted of carving out a pumpkin, making shaped sugar cookies and decorating them with orange and white frosting, going to local parties, picking out costumes and going Trick-or-Treating. We always had lots of decorations as well. I did not realize it at the time, but my parents (especially my mother) really went out of their way to make Halloween a fun time for us.
So what changed?
In the fall of my senior year of high school, my youth leaders sat us down and gave us a sort of anti-Halloween sermon. These were some of the arguments that they used, in addition to some arguments that I’ve heard other Christians use:
1. In pop culture, Halloween is associated with dark, bloody, sexually graphic films and literature. The themes found in these books and films are often Satanic and demonic in nature.
2. The mythos surrounding it is frightening and has little that is spiritually uplifting.
3. Halloween is often a time for malicious pranks and even outright vandalism.
4. Halloween is still considered a powerful and sacred Sabbath in some false religions such as Wicca, Neo-druidism, and Satanism.
5. Incidences of Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) dramatically increase on Halloween night. Christians who support Halloween are indirectly supporting that abuse.
6. Halloween is associated with magic and the occult and could set kids on the path to Satanism and Neopagan religions.
At the time I accepted these arguments, and thus my anti-Halloween crusade was born. (more…)
Or, how I went from anti-Halloween evangelist to sexy Roman goddess in less than ten years!
My family got most of our Halloween costume shopping done last week. This is the first year since our daughter was born that all three of us will be dressing up, and we’re looking forward to the festivities and fun. Our daughter is going as Tinkerbell. She picked out the costume herself because of the wings and was sorely disappointed when she put it on and discovered that it did not enable her to fly, but I think she’s going to enjoy it just the same. P. ordered a Dionysus costume because we figured that the irony of a Mormon dressing as a god associated with wine would be good for a few chuckles. I purchased a Roman empress costume as I figured it was about time I dressed as something that would play to my ridiculous height. I spent yesterday in the nursery of my church building with one of the elders leadership team members from my church, having her help me extend the costume by 4-5 inches so that the gown is now floor-length on me in 3.5″ heels.
This time ten years ago, I was a very different person. In October of 2000, at the age of 18, I was making a very strong showing of not celebrating Halloween. Not only that, I was doing everything in my power to evangelize other Christians to my cause.
Want to know what I was doing instead? (Get ready to roll on your floor laughing . . . )
Today I attended the Christians for Biblical Equality one-day conference in Chicago, “Women & Christian History: Building on a Legacy.” The event started at 9 AM and lasted until nearly 5 PM with talks being delivered by five different egalitarian scholars. I sat at a table with Mimi Haddad, the President of CBE, and it was a pleasure to see her again. I was also sitting next to Marlys Taege, author of The Heart of Jesus: Women in the Gospel of Luke, and she was a delight to speak with as well. I just came down with a bad head cold on Friday and was still battling it today, so I was a little embarrassed to be nursing a handful of tissues and blowing my nose the entire conference, but thankfully the people at my table were good sports about it.
The conference was titled “Women & Christian History,” but that may have been a bit of a misnomer. Sure, arguably every talk delivered was related to the lives of women in the history of the church or Israel in some way or another, but most of them were not what I would consider “church history” as someone specializing in the subject. If I had to choose a subtitle for the conference that accurately described the content of its talks, it would have been the “CBE Sampler Conference.”
Now, that isn’t a bad thing. A CBE sampler conference is still bound to be more edifying and intellectually stimulating than any number of other religious conferences because CBE has some great things to say and some great people to say it. I just would have went with a different name for it, something that captures a more general egalitarian theme. Then again, I had the opportunity to be involved with planning the conference and I was too lazy busy to help, so who am I to complain?
Evangelical Feminism: A History by Pamela D. H. Cochran [January 2005]
The history this book attempts to cover is a fascinating one in terms of the internal struggle within the Protestant world concerning the equality of women in the church and home. It describes the rise of the Evangelical Women’s Caucus (now the Evangelical & Ecumenical Women’s Caucus), the split within the movement over tolerance of homosexuality, and the formation of the more conservative Christians For Biblical Equality. It focuses in on several key figures within these organizations and explores their personal stories as well as the hermeneutics they utilized to arrive at the conclusion that Christianity and feminism were not antithetical to one another.
Jesus Girls: True Tales of Growing Up Female and Evangelical by Hannah Faith Notess (editor)
[September 2009; reviewed 12-29-2009]
Jesus Girls: True Tales of Growing Up Female and Evangelical. The title made me think that the authors intended to spend most of their pages complaining about the treatment of women in evangelical Christianity, a “Festivus: Airing of Grievances” for evangelical and post-evangelical women. Here, I thought, I would find tales of heartache over bad teachings on submission, being silent in church, and hyper-modesty. Here attention would be given to how overwhelmingly androcentric evangelical thought, worship and life can be and how that can make women feel marginalized and undervalued. I could certainly sympathize with such a message, and perhaps my expectations say as much about my own biases as they do about evangelical culture in general.
The good news is, I was wrong. Delightfully, happily wrong. Jesus Girls provided a treat for the heart and soul quite unlike any work on evangelical Christianity I had ever read.
On May 2, 1998, Rachel Joy Scott recorded in her journal:
This will be my last year Lord. I have gotten what I can. Thank you.
On Tuesday, April 20, 1999, twelve students and one teacher were murdered at Columbine High School by fellow students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who later took their own lives. 17-year-old Rachel Joy Scott was among them. Today marks the ten-year anniversary of that tragedy.
I was a junior in high school sitting in the chemistry class which I hated when the news of the shooting was announced over the televisions in the classrooms. I was stunned, and I confess, my initial reaction to it was one of apathy. It just seemed so distant and far away, and I had already been much more personally affected by violent crime, so I had gotten over the fact that “these things” happen.
A few weeks later the “She said YES” sermons began making tracks through evangelical youth groups. We were told all about how Cassie Bernall had been asked by the gunmen whether she believed in God, and they shot her after she replied in the affirmative. Then a similar story evolved around Rachel Joy Scott.
Normally I’m quite the snob about pop evangelicalism. Kirk Cameron, the Left Behind craze, Testamints, you name it, if it’s popular and evangelical I’m probably snarking about it. I don’t like sentimental poems about footprints in sand or gushy anecdotes about starfish and I don’t like those weepy chain e-mails that always get forwarded to your inbox.
Except for this one.
This story was originally written in 1995 by evangelical author and speaker Josh Harris, who claims it’s based on an actual dream that he had. It became a popular chain e-mail in the late 90s and early 2000s, so you’ve probably seen it before, although it’s been attributed to different authors. Trust me, Harris wrote it.
In spite of its toxic popularity, it remains one of my favorite allegories for the atonement ever. If evangelicals believed in adding new scriptures, I’d canonize this.
So, here’s “The Room.” I hope it gives you something to think about as we remember what Jesus Christ did for us on this Easter day. He’s the reason we have clean note cards waiting to be written.