Monday, July 21, 2014

thoughts on...(#allthethings)

Hi there! Sorry for the long radio silence, this summer has been cr-azy busy (sometimes I feel ridiculous saying that my life is super busy with basically just my 9-5, husband and dog #puppyparent), or maybe I'm just a naturally sporadic blogger? Anywho, let's get down to business. This blog post might be a little wordy and all over the place but I wanted to write it to share some of my long-time unease and confused thoughts now that they seem to be coming all together in a more positive, decisive conclusion 
(how about that for super specific and detailed intro, eh?). 
image via pinterest. 

So let's start with some brief yet relevant background information: I grew up in the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church which is traditionally a very very conservative atmosphere (Focus on the Family et all), in my teen years, moving to Nebraska made me a strong feminist and possible mild socialist, then studying politics in college taught me to question most theories/belief systems and allowed me to see the connections and reasoning between each of these beliefs. Now I find myself a young, 20-something, newlywed who holds pieces of each of these things as her core values. Looking to my future I know that these can all fit together somehow, and I want to believe that I can put each into practice without significantly contradicting each other. 

Okay, okay, you say-but why are we talking about these things now? Enter Noonday Collection. Noonday isn't something I just learned about, actually I discovered it a little over a year ago and did a project in one of my rhetoric classes on Noonday's colonial implications. This is the point in the discussion where Jen Hatmaker  and her blog (also Sarah Bessey and Jesus Feminist) come into play. I had all but forgotten about Noonday Collections and my conflicted feelings about the project when Jen Hatmaker blogged about Noonday and being one of their ambassadors, (also again here). Upon seeing this, I realized that perhaps I should give this whole Noonday thing another try, and that it definitely deserved more thought from me at the very least. In this midst of this re-thought I realized that for me, at this point in my life Noonday represented more than just a theoretical conflict, it was a sort of collision of all of this confusion I held in all of my beliefs (#whoa). 
for your information, here's a quick info-graphic on Noonday:
1. It represented an obvious political conflict-a strong awareness of the inequalities in our world and a sincere desire to help in some way but also being sincerely afraid of modern day colonialism as encouraged by my own privilege. 
2. It represented a conflict in my faith-a belief that your beliefs should be represented through your actions and at the same time being all too aware of the problems with big-church evangelism aka mission trips (queue more white privilege). 
3. And it represented a much more personal conflict-the clear appeal of a 'big church' community, filled with young cute families, and socially conscious volunteerism, but tied with my all too prominent awareness of the significant problems in 'big church' political involvement and often overly conservative involvement at that (pro-life pamphlets anyone?). Also mixed in here are my own personal (and shallow but very real) insecurities-can I even be that young cute person? I'm six feet tall, I have strong opinions, etc... 

This is probably the point in this post where if you don't care about, or don't really want to talk about any of these things you probably would be better suited to stop reading and go hang out at my excessively pinned Pinterest. (but really). because we are about to dig into this mess even further. 

Okay, #1, political conflict. This point is probably the one where most of you are thinking-Heather, you're being way too picky with this, chill. And my response, as usual is-no! I will not chill! But really, all mild joking aside. This notion of empowering underprivileged peoples to better their own lives by giving them the tools they need to succeed is not a unique one (and it certainly can be tied back to the Biblical notion of  'teaching a man to fish'). Upon first glace, these kinds of projects are immensely cool, awesome, progressive even. Yet I still cannot rid myself of the voice in the back of my head whispering 'colonialism' over and over again. Let's (us privileged white people) give these (not as privileged people) our advanced knowledge so they can better their lives in the way we think is best. The more I think about this the more I think we cannot ignore this sense of colonialism, but also that perhaps we cannot escape it, perhaps we cannot hope to erase  the marks of something that has been involved in our social-political landscape for literally hundreds of years. So what can we do? This, it seems. We can do things like Noonday that take this ever-present colonialist nature and put it to good use. To me, this conclusion is supplemented by my firm belief that in a strong capitalist society you vote with your money (cough Hobby Lobby cough...). So, you like this sort of rustic-artisan-made aesthetic? Then for the love of ice cream- STOP SHOPPING AT URBAN OUTFITTERS and buy something actually artisan made! (maybe I'll do a later post on my picks from Noonday's current collection?) 

Moving on to #2, a conflict in faith. This one is a bit more personal than the last, and doesn't come to nearly as clean of a conclusion. We already kinda-sorta discussed that I was raised Christian, and that I still hold on to elements of that belief and that evangelism is terrifying. Where this conflict stems from I think is a a mix between my past, present and future church going experiences. Future experiences? Yes, future. I want my (future) children to go to church and experience the community of the church (how Tocquevillian, I know) and learn the Bible and even have faith. But I also want my children to experience other faiths and understand their significance, relevance and importance; to not diminish the values and beliefs of others, but respect, appreciate and even learn from beliefs that may differ from theirs. Okay-you say-sounds good, but why does this matter now? and how is this relevant? It's relevant because it seems that if I understand my future destination so clearly, that sitting in my current place of relative inaction isn't going to work. 
All this thinking about Noonday and it's symbolic implications made me realize that part of my unease with Noonday is exactly part of my unease with "The Church." This Christian community seems so totally awesome (in all sincerity), especially in big churches where you can find a group of congregants to fit your every need-I could totally see my future self going to church and befriending other young families and having book clubs and play dates and such. But it has also been my experience in many of these big churches (definitely not all!) that conservative evangelism is the prominent name-of-the-game so to speak, and that is just not my jam (AT ALL). In fact I worry a lot about being involved  in a church that is secretly a political beast and preaches things I sincerely do not agree with. That being said, for this internal disagreement to come to any sort of a conclusion it seems that I need to continually remind myself of two things: 1. it is not fair of me to cast every church and church-goer in this same light without even attending their place of worship, and 2. a church as well as its congregation are (hopefully) not stagnant, but living, breathing and ever-changing, just like the individual people it is made of. 

And now for the seamless transition into an even more personal #3, my own insecurities revealed. I think if I'm honest with myself this is something that has been eating away at me since high school, maybe earlier, but it seems to have come to significant fruition at this point in my life. If you have ever attended one of these 'big churches' on a Sunday you may have noticed a large amount of truly faith-filled young couples usually made up of a handsome and J.Crew-stylish young man and an effortlessly beautiful, truly graceful young woman (who will obviously and eventually become the adorable young family mentioned prior). Now don't get me wrong here, I think my hubby is super handsome and I try honestly to love and appreciate my tallness, but it's these young couples that always bring out my personal insecurity mixed with my questioning habits.  It seems odd that my insecurities would come out at church more than say, the beach, don't you think? (hmm I think so too, hence, this post). It was this internal discussion of Noonday and the Church that made me realize why this is. It's not simply that I will never be a petite adorable person, but instead it's that I will never  be that eternally graceful, quiet-spirited woman that this type of Christianity desires. I think I've tried to be that person, and it is just is not who I am. #sorrynotsorry anymore. I believe in voicing your beliefs firmly and publicly when needed, and I believe that disagreement and conversation are required for necessary change in our social-political landscape. This being said, I am not quiet in my nature or in practice, and this may be seen by many as qualities that are the opposite of desirable in a woman. 

So I guess my question now is: can I be a part of one of these more-awesome (I'm sure they are out there) 'big church' communities that is socially aware on a local and global level, while also not being the quiet-hearted Christian woman it seems to ask for? Jen Hatmaker and Sarah Bessey lead me to think yes. But I don't think it will be easy, or even that it will make sense sometimes. But I feel like I need to try, not only for the benefit of my future family, but for my current self. 

a quote from Bono? yes. a quote from Bono. image via pinterest.
That's it! If you stuck it through the entirety of this post, I'm impressed. If you see the same connections between its contents that I did, then bonus points for you! I'm interested to hear your thoughts and observations if you have any! remember, sharing is caring!