Friday, July 29, 2011

This guy believes in women preachers

Earlier this week I was chatting with a faculty coworker who had recently been contacted by a church that wanted to know if he believed in women preachers. He wrote them back saying he absolutely does and pointed them to some web-based materials that express his views on women in ministerial leadership.

While telling me the story, he had a carefree attitude that I appreciated. Many people in his position might have tried to avoid rocking the boat by watering down their beliefs about women in ministry. Yet this professor unapologetically shared his views and moved on without fear of backlash and with no concern for his own reputation with that congregation. In his typical laid-back manner, he shrugged and said something along the lines of, "If they send me a nasty email or corner my family member who attends there, that's nothing compared to what some women who want to be preachers deal with."

Things I appreciated about his response to this congregation:

  • He knows what he believes, and he stuck with it. He didn't try to sugarcoat the aspects of his beliefs that might be offensive to the congregation.
  • He championed the inclusion of women in the pulpit.
  • He recognized that what women go through in our struggle with identity in the church and ministry (particularly in traditions that don't make a habit of being gender-inclusive) is significant. And he recognized that that ongoing pain is more significant than the short-lived hurt feelings that may have been caused by backlash from this church (and more significant than the temporary discomfort created for his family member if he/she gets cornered because of what he advocates).
  • He acknowledged his own privileged status--he's a white male with a comfortable income, who is tenured and therefore guaranteed this job until retirement. And rather than focus on protecting his secure privilege, he advocated better treatment of a marginalized demographic. 
  • He placed the interests of others above his own. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Cookie dough cheesecake

Several weeks ago, my friend Lauren and I took a day trip to Dallas, and one of our treats for the day was a trip to the Cheesecake Factory. We ate many wonderful things there, but the one thing we felt inspired to attempt to duplicate was cookie dough cheesecake. Now, some people might go online and look for cookie dough cheesecake recipes. This thought did not occur to me. Instead, I looked for eggless cookie dough recipes and for no-bake cheesecake recipes. I suppose it was a more exciting challenge to hunt for multiple recipes and combine them, than to just look for one.

Anyway, I made it for a dinner last night, and the result did not really taste like what we had at the Cheesecake Factory, but it was still very good. (Honestly, I would consider it a success if mine turned out half as good as the Cheesecake Factory's!)

You may notice there are no chocolate chips in this
dough. That's because one of the friends who would
be eating it cannot have chocolate.
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbsp. white sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 Tbsp. water
Pinch of salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 to 1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup frozen Cool Whip, thawed (I used lite)

For crust, combine the three ingredients and press into a 9-inch springform pan.

For the cookie dough, cream the butter and sugar in a bowl. Add the vanilla, water, and salt. Add the flour and mix until well blended. Stir in the chocolate chips. Using your hands, scoop out some dough, flatten it, and place it gently into the springform pan, being careful not to mess up the graham cracker crust. Once you’ve transferred all the dough into the pan, carefully press the seams together, again being careful not to mess up the crust.

For the cheesecake, beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Fold in the Cool Whip. Pour cheesecake filling into springform pan on top of the cookie dough layer, and smooth.

Cover and chill at least 2 hours. (Mine ended up chilling for about 24 hours and was fine.)

Next time, I plan to use chocolate graham crackers for the crust, and mix the chocolate chips into the cookie dough. Also, this particular cheesecake recipe was more fluffy/light, and I wish it had been heavier/creamier. So I may try a different recipe for the cheesecake layer. Or, perhaps I might even search for cookie dough cheesecake recipes and see what they suggest.

Tah-dah! As you can see, I sprinkled the mini chocolate chips on
top for those of us who could eat chocolate.

And, in the interest of not plagiarizing, here are the no-bake cheesecake and 
cookie dough recipes that I pirated.

Monday, July 4, 2011

How Sweet, How Heavenly

Side note: I wrote this from my desk, which I don’t recall using since I moved into this house in September 2007.

Several months ago in chapel, we sang “How Sweet, How Heavenly,” a hymn that celebrates unity among believers. It praises Christian unity and genuine community in which people truly know and care for one another. I’d sung this hymn many times, but this particular time, the second and third verses kinda rubbed me the wrong way:

When each can feel his brother’s sigh,
And with him bear a part;
When sorrow flows from eye to eye,
And joy from heart to heart.

When, free from envy, scorn and pride,
Our wishes all above,
Each can his brother’s failings hide,
And show a brother’s love.

Now, maybe I was feeling particularly sensitive or feminist or critical that day. And I know the song was written in the 1700s when songwriters didn’t care about gender-inclusive language. But I still felt a little excluded from the song and, therefore, from the community with whom I was singing it. These verses paint a beautiful picture of what Christian community should be: deeply sharing each other’s joy and pain, and loving one another despite each one’s failings. But all the Christians in these two verses are male. I find it sadly ironic that this song about unity actually excludes half the members of the community.

Since I was already distracted, I indulged my imagination, wondering what would happen if that masculine language had been written as feminine:

When each can feel her sister’s sigh,
And with her bear a part;
When sorrow flows from eye to eye,
And joy from heart to heart.

When, free from envy, scorn and pride,
Our wishes all above,
Each can her sister’s failings hide,
And show a sister’s love.

My suspicion is that one of the following things would happen: 1) we wouldn’t ever sing the song in church—it would be one of those songs that no one is quite sure how it made its way into the hymnal; 2) we would still sing it, but only the first, fourth, and fifth verses; 3) women would occasionally sing the full song at women-only gatherings (women’s retreats, women’s Bible classes, mother-daughter banquets); or perhaps 4) we would occasionally sing it corporately as part of a woman-focused service, such as on Mothers Day.

And if we sang those verses with feminine language, I suspect that the vast majority of the men present would (understandably!) feel the song didn’t fully include them because of the exclusively feminine language.

If it were just this one song that was infused with exclusively masculine language, I would be mildly annoyed but would move on fairly quickly. But it’s not just in this one hymn. It’s in many of the hymns/worship songs we sing corporately. It’s in our translations of the Bible. It’s in ancient writings and prayers of antiquity. It’s in our sermons, our communion thoughts, our everyday conversations.

I wonder (worry about) what we as a church can do about this. Even if we all agreed that gender-inclusive language was important and formative, how would we incorporate it into our worship services that include songs and prayers that are rich with history and filled with non-inclusive language? We can’t just turn “Faith of Our Fathers” to “Faith of Our Fathers and Mothers” or “Faith of Our Ancestors.” Not only do the inclusive options contain too many syllables, but changing these words penned in 1849 just feels wrong. It would feel weird to suddenly alter the words of songs we’d grown up singing a particular way. (And don’t even get me started on the use of gender-inclusive language for God, because that affects pretty much every song in the Christian tradition.)

This post has gotten far too long. So I’ll end by asking your thoughts. How can we use more inclusive language (particularly in our songs) without compromising the rich history of these songs (or throwing them out altogether)? Especially given the reality that not everyone in our churches is on the same page about the importance of inclusive language.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Crisp tuna salad

The other day, I made some tuna salad that was--if I may say so myself--quite delicious. I don't have a picture to share...partly because I was more excited about eating it than photographing it, but mostly because, let's face it, it's hard to make tuna salad look appetizing. But here's the recipe.

2 cans tuna in water, well drained
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
Half of 1 large cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
1 largeish whole dill pickle, finely chopped
1/2 to 3/4 cup lite mayo with olive oil (I did 1/2 cup, but some may like it creamier than me)
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a glass bowl, adjusting the mayo amount to your preferences. Chill and eat. This was okay on whole wheat sandwich thins, but it tasted excellent with Stacy's brand whole grain pita chips.