What I’m watching


This morning I settled into my couch with a cup of PG Tips, thankful to have the day off in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. and conscious of those who are not granted this time.

Meanwhile, social media sites were blowing up with response tweets to a well-known pastor who degraded the faith of the President, Facebook posts from friends proud that the President is being sworn in on such an anniversary, and this video:

This clip really has me thinking. MLK’s legacy should be honored and his prophetic voice should be remembered and heard again as if it were new to us today. What he stood for – nonviolence, equal rights, beloved community, care for the poor – should be what we strive for year-round, not just romanticize one day of the year.

MLK’s message was the message of the Kingdom — maybe not perfectly or wholly — but it was based in the person of Jesus and expressed through the voice of the African-American community. The Kingdom glimmered through him and all who participated in the Civil Rights Movement.

So yes, I resonate with Dr. West in that having President Obama be sworn in on MLK’s Bible is questionable and upsetting. But I am more concerned that I haven’t thought twice that all presidents are always sworn in on a Bible. While I do not by any means doubt the faith of the President, I wonder if we are trivializing the call of the Word on our lives.

While President Obama’s action today may have misrepresented MLK’s legacy, let us not play with Jesus, and let us not play with his Kingdom. Let us not use the Bible as a moment in a presidential pageantry without understanding the challenge that the Word presents to all of those who are in power, no matter what color.

Every time I attempt to tell a friend about this video I end up laughing so hard I have a hard time explaining it. So it’s best you watch it yourself.

I have a soft spot for period dramas – particularly ones based on novels by Jane Austen. I’m not sure if it’s the long dresses or the beautiful shots of nature or just the ‘simplicity’ of the portrayal of falling in love but somehow these types have films have escaped the grasp of my embarrassed conscience and I continue to watch them.

But as I watch Sense & Sensibility I identify the extreme polarization of two of the main characters. Marianne is a naive woman of 17 who is a whimsical, romantic idealist. Colonel Brandon is an experienced military man old enough to be her father, who hasn’t loved since his wife died. Upon meeting her, the Colonel immediately falls in love with the young Marianne, but, of course, she fancies someone else. She follows her heart and he steadily loves her from afar.

Maybe though, what attracts me to stories like this is not the superficial aspects of clothing and screen shots but the deep rooted desire to have a love story that follows that of Marianne and Colonel Brandon. Maybe, what attracts me to this story is that I secretly wish the immaturity of someone like Marianne could truly attract a man like the Colonel; that I need not be anything other than my naive self to gain the respect of a mature, moral man.

Marianne’s almost-engagement crumbles and in her dramatic emotional state she goes out alone in the rain and falls. Colonel Brandon saves her (*surprise*) and she begins to realize how foolish she’s been. His steadiness tempers her and she becomes worthy of him.

And I’m wondering… where does this sort of fantasy love story turn into an expectation?

This isn’t just a story – I’m absorbing lessons from it. Such as, that it’s reasonable for a quality man to love a fickle, undeserving girl. That it’s okay or even normal for growth in relationships to take one path: the man teaches the woman/the woman learns from the man. That regardless of what the woman does to negatively impact her life, the man will be there waiting for her.

Hold up. This is sounding a little too close to my relationship with God.

When we get down to it, Marianne is an immature child. Colonel Brandon is more like a father figure – or God figure – who guides her development than a loving, equal partner. Granted, this story has context in its time period, but if women (and men) make this love story an ideal today, then it can be pretty destructive. Women abdicate responsibility for their personal growth and development while feeling entitled to a near-perfect man. Men strive to be an unwavering, emotionless provider/protector and don’t believe they have anything to learn from a woman.

I’ve thought a lot more about the repercussions for women than for men at this point. And I think there is a lot for us to consider. First, I think that a lot of young Christian women moan about the lack of quality men around when we aren’t doing a whole lot to pursue our own character growth. Second, we shouldn’t be pursuing our own growth only because we want to make ourselves deserving of a quality man. Third, we aren’t entitled to or promised a near-perfect man or even a man at all.

Don’t get me wrong – marriage is wonderful and I don’t think it’s wrong to want to be married. But as a wise, single woman in her 30’s said, “I know a lot of women who’s desire to be married is so strong that they are unable to live the abundant life that Jesus has given to us to live now.”

So, single ladies, if you so desire, join me in striving to be a well-rounded, accurately self-perceptive, confident in my giftings, deeply and intentionally loving woman regardless of whether or not a man is waiting for me at some point in my lifetime. I don’t think it’s going to be easy, and I’ll be in need of some company. Single gents, you can do the same. I hope and pray that, single or married, we can all experience the reality of the abundance of the Kingdom now, which is ultimately incomparable to these love story fantasies.

I think I have a crush on Jackson Katz.

“If we want to deal seriously with reducing violence we have to turn away from thinking about it as kids imitating violence and focus instead on all the different ways we as a society are constructing violent masculinity as a cultural norm – not as something unusual or unexpected but as one of the ways boys become men.”

“We have to show that vulnerability, compassion and caring are also a part of what it means to be a real man. One of the ways in which we need to see more diversified images of masculinity is we need to see more honest portrayals of male vulnerability. Because the idea, again, that we are invulnerable is just a fiction.”

“The feminism I ascribe to and work for involves more than women and our fictional representations simply acting like men or unquestioningly replicating archetypal male values such as being emotional inexpressive, the need for domination and competition, and using violence as a form of conflict resolution. In my feminist vision, part of what makes a character feminist is watching her struggle with prioritizing values such as cooperation, empathy, compassion and non-violent conflict resolution in a world largely hostile to those values.”

This woman is brilliant.