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Author Topic: Women and GC  (Read 63638 times)
mamie
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« Reply #60 on: March 21, 2007, 09:38:59 pm »

And Tony, thank you for your apology - you’re most definitely forgiven!
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AgathaL'Orange
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« Reply #61 on: March 21, 2007, 09:39:10 pm »

For the record, I think being a stay at home mom while perhaps not making you “smarter” in the academic sense… makes you smarter in the “soul” sense. And sometimes in the “knowledge” sense too. So I would never think that “behind the scenes” women are getting dumber. Never. never. never. Those women know the secrets of the universe.

I do however think that sometimes we women at GC make ourselves “less” so that men can be “more.” I owe that summation to Genevieve who said it so well. So we sometimes ACT dumb even if we’re not.

Sometimes “roles” oriented men think “dumbness” is cute or endearing or silly or gentle or whatever.
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Glad to be free.
TerryD
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« Reply #62 on: March 21, 2007, 09:39:34 pm »

Tony said:
“I understand you and your husband left over issues of church government”

Where did you hear that?

–MamaD’s Husband
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Tony
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« Reply #63 on: March 21, 2007, 09:39:55 pm »

Mamie,



Thanks for the tip. I’ll talk to Diana. Maybe I could even convince her to post.



Agatha, I understand that what you say is true, that one of the criticisms of GC in the early days was that occupations outside of ministry were thought less of. And, I am the benefactor of GC changing. In fact, it’s changed so dramatically, that twice during my grad work, I approached the pastors with the question about whether or not it would be better for the Kingdom of God if I quit my grad work to go into full-time ministry. Twice, they unanimously came back to me and encouraged me to do my grad work and earn that doctorate, instead of going into full-time ministry work.



My only point is that things change. It is possible that there are still pockets of anti-intellectualism in GC. There may have been pockets or themes of oppression of women in GC, as well. I don’t believe that to be the way GC is operating anymore. If it’s that way in your area, I don’t believe it will remain that way.



Thanks for the understanding, all.



I do hope that all of this blog not only results in ex-GC’ers finding other ex-GC’ers, but also results in the global Church becoming more like the one Christ intends (including GC).
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Tony
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« Reply #64 on: March 21, 2007, 09:40:06 pm »

TerryD, without being able to cite specific comments, I understand that from the content of yours and your wife’s comments.



I have received nothing from Evergreen about either of you. Nor have any of my pastors said anything. The only thing I know is that one of the two of you mentioned sitting down with one of the founding pastors, and that my pastor Tim received an email from someone named “Hill House Blues” that spoke angrily of Spencer Bernard’s comments on your blog. Tim cc’ed me on the reply to “Hill House Blues.” That email was posted on this blog by Nate.



Frankly, if there was gossip about you two, that’s awful. Regardless, you have my sympathy about losing your friends in GC, and any gossip that happened. That’s just not right.
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Genevieve
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« Reply #65 on: March 21, 2007, 09:40:43 pm »

Tony,
I also think your examples of smart women doing smart things are really good. I just think those are the exceptions rather than the rules. Do younger women strive to be more like Kirsten or more like a more traditional woman? Can you imagine Kirsten getting asked to speak at Faithwalkers or LT?

So, I guess what I’m saying is that what Kirsten is doing is great. She’s obviously smart and feisty. That’s great! I really hope she’s honored and held up among women as much as she should be. My guess is that she isn’t. She’s probably an “unsung hero.”

Do you really see women trying to be more like her than a more “regular” GC woman? I doubt it.

We also may not be very moved by a few examples because of sermons, personal experiences, and hearing other people confirm our suspicions from other churches. Some women being actively involved doesn’t necessarily counteract the others who haven’t been able to be.

Also, if it makes you feel any better, my “theory” comment was also mostly ignored. :-)
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puff of purple smoke
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« Reply #66 on: March 21, 2007, 09:41:03 pm »

My only point is that things change. It is possible that there are still pockets of anti-intellectualism in GC. There may have been pockets or themes of oppression of women in GC, as well. I don’t believe that to be the way GC is operating anymore. If it’s that way in your area, I don’t believe it will remain that way.

I’m one of the people where that is the “way it is” in my area (in more problem areas than just the topic of women), and I have little reason to believe there will be any change any time soon. Just trying to be realistic here. It’s good that your GCM church has improved, but in my area, where a number of local churches are run by people who were with GC since the 70’s and 80’s, and continue to act as they did back then in so many ways, is it really likely there will be change any time soon? Feel free to believe so, but I have heard little to convince me of this.

It seems like GCers keep trying to convince people here that “change is afoot” or whatever, but the only evidence I’ve seen provided is anecdotal, of which I have plenty of counter-anecdotally-evidence I could provide to point to the contrary. Rather than believe after decades of this stuff GC is finally “changing its ways”, it seems far more likely that “good” GC churches (like the one ex-shep describes) will probably remain good, “bad” GC churches will remain bad, and newly planted churches will be a mixture, depending on which leaders plant them. That is, without some sort of intervention from the rest of the GC body, or from the GC leadership. Given we know that at least one highly influential national leader is opposed to any such change in the organization, I tend to view this as unlikely. But it could happen, I guess..
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mamie
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« Reply #67 on: March 21, 2007, 09:41:53 pm »

FYI, Genevieve - your theory was dead on! Bordering on profound, actually…sorry not to have said so before…
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MamaD
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« Reply #68 on: March 21, 2007, 09:42:22 pm »

I understand you and your husband left over issues of church government

Where did you get this idea?

We did not leave over church issues of governance.

That is the line that people at ECC were being told. I’m just curious about who told you that?

So, I will put it in caps and if you hear it being said, you can tell the person who says it that this is not the reason that mamad left and you heard it from her.

MAMAD DID NOT LEAVE HER CHURCH OVER THE ISSUE OF CHURCH GOVERNANCE.

Also, head over to wikipedia or google church governance and you will figure out that GCM churches are congregational (which means that each church is not part of a denomination), but they think they are presbyterian (they are not, but they think they are). They are really sort of a combination of congregational and episcopal, as far as I can figure out.

It’s really difficult to sum up why we left (my husband tried once). I would say, however, that our reasons for leaving sort of had something to do with what is being discussed here. We found that, yes, on some level there was a “master/slave” thing happening. Only it was called GCLI.

There were levels among believers. All were not on the level of brothers/sisters. Some, it seemed to me, were on the level of masters to be obeyed. When we figured this out, we left.

Servant leadership was talked about with great emotion. But there was always a sense of “Us-Them” at the leadership meetings. I remember one pastor saying at one of these meetings, “The sheep will kill you.”

I guess the sheep are the enemy to some pastors.

Since my husband had no interest in becoming an elder, there was a lot about the system that we didn’t know about. This is really kind of strange to say since he was pretty involved in church (played in the worship band and led a small group). But, we didn’t realize how the system worked till some really odd decisions started being made.

All I can say is that sometimes it seemed that sanctification and perhaps even justification were works based. I think both justification and sanctification are grace based. Perhaps for single women the sanctification by works thing was carried out in the serve the brothers messages. For married women, the sanctification by works thing was carried out in the serve your families thing. For married men, the sanctification by works thing was carried out in working hard to be noticed to be asked to be a GCLI guy.

Sadly, maybe the baby is being thrown out with the bath water in this system. We all should serve each other out of love, not duty. And, it is our duty to love! Does that make any sense?

What we don’t do is serve for the purpose of getting something (status, recognition, position, whatever). Yet, the mystery is that when we serve out of pure love, we do get something.
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mamie
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« Reply #69 on: March 21, 2007, 09:42:39 pm »

Puff - my last GC church is solidly in the traditional camp and that’s because of the strong personality of one very influential elder. He is not going to change, and so neither will this church. I know he won’t change because a dear friend spent the last two years in extremely painful meetings with him and the head pastor (fyi, not the same leadership structure as Ames - not sure why) discussing the topic of women being more “fully released” to exercise their gifts. They weren’t talking about women as elders or pastors - just a broader view of what an “ideal” Christian woman looks like. It wasn’t going to change - my friend was made to feel as though she were somehow in sin for wanting it to change. And after many, many tears and prayers, she left. So nothing’s changing in this neck of the woods - and this neck of the woods is led by a very big bear who has significant sway in the whole forest.

I do think that the pro-GCM-ers - Nate, Kirsten and Tony - have a similar and positive viewpoint because they/you are in a church that may tolerate a broader range of views on some topics and also because you are on the college side of the aisle at Stonebrook. I hate that it’s true but it is just DIFFERENT on the community side at Ames - and you won’t be able to see it, no matter how much you are willing to, because you haven’t lived it. You can ask others to hear their stories and that will help, but you have to be willing to believe that what they are relaying has been true for them, whether you see it or not. How can I know what it feels like to have been _____ (discriminated against because of race, overlooked because of a disability, ignored because of my accent, etc.)Huh - I CAN’T. So I must trust their stories. It’s a lot to ask of you when you can’t see what we’re talking about, I know, but I would ask it of you. And if you can’t trust us, then talk to others who you can - see the pain on their face and in their eyes. We’re not making this up….and it’s not going away any time soon.

Wow, Mamad, the paragraph about justification/sanctification based on works and how that played/plays out for the different groups is very profound…and extremely sad but true, I’m afraid.
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Tony
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« Reply #70 on: March 21, 2007, 09:42:52 pm »

MamaD, TerryD,



I am sorry for offending you, and inadvertently saying the same thing ECC did. I really, really haven’t heard anything about why you left other than what’s been posted here.



I realize that “Elder Rule” is not listed on theopedia, and “ruling elder” is mentioned briefly in wikipedia on the church governance topics, but that is what GC’ers call their church governance. That’s honestly what I thought you had a problem with as I read your comments about why you left. It seemed like you thought that the pastors should not have final say about what the church should do (which I understand is what GC means by “Elder Rule”). I’m not sure what you thought the alternative should be, whether it should be more presbyterian, or totally flat. But, that was what I was thinking.



I’m sorry for misunderstanding. I don’t think ill of you, whatever the reason for leaving.
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MamaD
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« Reply #71 on: March 21, 2007, 09:43:32 pm »

Tony,

Terry and I were just discussing the blog and realized that we must have been typing at the same time. Didn’t mean to keep harping on your point.

We are a little sensitive about that perhaps because it came to be the “talking points” used by ECC leadership to smooth things over and miss the heart of why we left. And, it was one of the reasons that Terry put up his blog entry…to clarify that the reason was not over church governance because people had heard that said.

About elder led churches. We are for an elder led churches. We even wrote that in our resignation letter. In the three types of church governance that most people recognize it is the same as the presbyterian form of government.

I think that’s what the GCLI literature says, but I may be wrong. I think it says they are presbyterian, but in reality, they are more congregational. And, a congregational church can have a board of elders. Congregational doesn’t mean that the congregation makes all the decisions. (That is what GCM leaders believe because that is what it says in the GCLI information, but they are wrong on that point.)

We currently attend a congregational church that is elder led. It is congregational in the sense that it is an independent church (not part of a specific denomination–accountable only to itself), and elder led in the sense that the board of elders (elected by the congregation) makes most of the decisions.

At any rate, sorry we both hit on you. I hadn’t seen terrys post when I wrote.
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exshep
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« Reply #72 on: March 21, 2007, 09:44:09 pm »

Quote
So, women are under represented at Faithwalkers, and when they are represented they are kept in the areas of “women’s issues.” I find it so offensive that men and women!!!!! continue to perpetuate stereotypes of women as busybodies, constant talkers, people who can’t think for themselves— who need their husbands to help them prioritize their lives.

This in my mind, plays into oddly sexual politics. I mean that. I personally feel that women are reduced to gentle, docile creatures that produce children.
*********

This must have put the single women in the 80s in an extremely awkward place.
The campus fellowship 40 miles from where I live does have a mixed bag of traditional roles and married couple who work as a team.

In the local church, the couples I know work as a team. The associate pastor and his wife work as a team. They have their work together and separate. The senior pastor is quite open about situations on the homefront. It seems to be a collaborative effort. I have many comments where he is concerned for her interests. Life decisions are usually on a negotiated basis — I am sure after prayer and healthy discussion.
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Had friend in Columbus church 80's and 90s. Member left in 1993  Involved GC in Texas  2005-2007.  Empathy to both  with  positive and negative aspects.
Genevieve
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« Reply #73 on: March 21, 2007, 09:44:42 pm »

Now, back to the subject of women. I think an aspect of GC that’s different from other evangelical churches is its emphasis on submission and gender roles. It’s like submission / being “under authority” is a major part of salvation or the life in Christ (as Agatha said earlier).

I remember single women, after hearing *another* sermon on submission, asking pastors and other leaders what that means for them. It’s preached like it’s a major, primary way that women become women and follow God. I’m sure they felt like they were missing out on God’s plan for them if they weren’t visibly “under authority.” That’s not biblical.

I also remember one pastor preaching that one reason he didn’t think women should work was the area of authority in their lives. He believed that if women had a male boss, they’d be confused about whose authority they were *really* under. They’d start following their boss more than their husband.

Oh, I think he also said this confusion of authority could lead to affairs (now that I think about it, that might have been his main point).

Either way, that’s NOT normal evangelical thinking.
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exshep
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« Reply #74 on: March 21, 2007, 09:47:27 pm »

And in one message, there was an assumption that all of the women would get married, and not only that… they would get married to men within the GC movement.

Now I am starting to wonder if an elder was trying to pull a fast one as an enticement to join. The above comment jumped off the page for me. I remember reading either in the Jean Liverman story [Montgomery County MD Sentinel] or an anonymous fact sheet written by a former GC member [1980-1985] of a double standard when it came to engagements. It was recounted that if a brother had an interest in a sister, the elder would approach the sister and proclaim that it was “God’s will that you marry “Joe”. If “Sally” had a liking for Joe, the sister would be told that she should pray about it more in the hopes the topic would go away. I do remember the Jean Liverman described the latter in detail. I do remember a woman who taken out of GC by her parents, via an intervention. She was weeks away from being married off.

I am wondering if I am wising up to an enticement or if my powers of discernment are off. I was invited by a woman friend to join a GC predecessor in 1984. GCI was still two years away. I remember talking to an elder about joining. They were going to work out all the arrangements regarding a place to stay and, I believe a job. The elder made the comment, “Tammy is a great sister in the Lord”. A couple weeks ago I did a double take when I woke up to the full drift of the comment: Translated, Tammy is a great sister in the Lord … and [implied] I am sure we can work something out if you come out to Midwest City.

My wife and I replayed the incident. We were both in agreement that would have been an understated recipe for disaster. All I can say is I thank God that he saw fit to head that deal off at the pass. [Make me wonder if Faust and Mephistopheles ever had days like these] I would have felt bad if Tammy never had a say in the matter and that her God given personal autonomy would have been squelched at the hands of the elders.
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« Reply #75 on: March 21, 2007, 09:48:06 pm »

He believed that if women had a male boss, they’d be confused about whose authority they were *really* under. They’d start following their boss more than their husband.

Whew, I thought you were going to say they would start following their husband more than their pastor!

We heard a lot on submission, but I can’t remember hearing a lot on submission as it relates to gender rolls. Isn’t that funny. Perhaps I avoided those meetings. Also, I wasn’t single, so didn’t attend singles conferences where those issues may have been addressed.

We had many red flags over the years and one that comes to mind that sort of relates is an issue someone had about whether or not he should work on Sundays. This person’s wife thought he was gone too much and he was in a position where he didn’t have to work on Sunday since he set his own schedule.

However, he ran this by his “mentor” (at the time I was hazy on what that was all about). The wife thought he should be home on Sundays with the family. The husband was leaning towards the wife’s view. The mentor thought he should work on Sundays.

I remember thinking how hard it would be to have a “third” party in the marriage. And, also, remember talking with my husband about how odd it was that the “mentor” should have so much influence.

At any rate, the mentor’s view won out.

I can’t imagine how hard it would be for a single woman to stand up to an authoritarian figure when, in this case, two people couldn’t seem to stand up to him.

I just reread Mamie’s original post and this line made me gag:

(competing with other single girls over the privilege of doing an elder’s laundry or making their lunch - I kid you not!!)

Tell me, how would something like this fit into the servant leadership model?

I’m so sorry, Mamie.
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mamie
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« Reply #76 on: March 21, 2007, 09:48:22 pm »

Ex-shep said: “In the local church, the couples I know work as a team. ”

In the last GC church I attended (and I think this is also true in Ames - it used to be), even though one would think that life groups including couples that were lead by a married man were actually led by both the husband and wife, that wasn’t the case in public. I don’t know how it played out in real life - I was part of an all-women life group - but officially, only the men were recognized as the life group leaders. The trainings that all life group and ministry leaders were required to attend were only attended by the men - the only women that were there were those of us single women who led ministry groups and a sprinkling of young adult couples (bless their hearts!). it was uncomfortable on about 140 different levels. You never saw such weird group dynamics in your life!! (…on second thought, many of you probably have…) I think in the college group, it may be different - although there aren’t many young couples leading, I think they are more co-leaders than any of the “old-timers” on the community side. Of course, the elders led life groups, so they were the gold standard.

Leadership meetings were really hard to stomach…

[And in case you are curious or feel like I misled you earlier about my involvement in church leadership, I was encouraged by the pastor to co-led a divorce recovery group because 1) it was a caregiving ministry (i.e. feminine); 2) it would bring new people into the church (although it never really did because newly separated/divorced moms felt so out of place on Sunday mornings); 3) they couldn’t find a man who wanted to do it; and 4) I knew it was needed, I had experience doing it, and so I asked to do it. I eventually stopped leading it because I received no support whatsoever(I was invisible) from any of the leadership other than the pastor, who had a tender heart and would ask about the group now and then. Now and then, during a church promo, they would mention our group because it made us sound like a kind, caring church that was meeting the needs of the broken. But I don’t recall anyone in leadership (other than the pastor) ever talking to me about the ministry in any way at all - not even at the leadership meetings. Well, for that matter, the married men rarely talked to or even looked at the single women (there were 3 to 6 of us there on any given date). Like I said, really screwy group dynamics!!]

And, just for the record, Mamad, I wasn’t around in the early days when the whole women-serve-men-by-doing-menial-crap was going on. That was in the 70’s and I wasn’t in GC then…but I have heard enough women who were around then corroborate the story to believe it. From what I’ve been told, the guys believed they were following the early church model of having the elders be devoted to “prayer and the Word” - and so, of course, they didn’t have time to do trivial, mindless, unspiritual things like laundry and cooking. That’s where the womenfolk came in. I like to think I wouldn’t have stuck around for that nonsense…but there must have been something very compelling about the fervant “every nation in this generation” siren call that would cause perfectly normal, intelligent women to think this was okay….and they had some wonderful friendships among them that have lasted to this day, in many cases, even though most don’t go to a GC church any more.
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Kirsten
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« Reply #77 on: March 21, 2007, 09:48:46 pm »

   In the last GC church I attended (and I think this is also true in Ames - it used to be), even though one would think that life groups including couples that were lead by a married man were actually led by both the husband and wife, that wasn’t the case in public. I don’t know how it played out in real life

I think this is starting to change here — Recent (past year or two) photo displays of Lifegroup leaders as well as brochures listed the community LG leaders as both husband and wife where applicable. I’ve sat in on a couple of women’s ministry meetings where some of the discussion was on how to help the wives who are LG co-leaders with their husband view themselves more as leaders. I was told by one of the community women that the problem is less the wives being “allowed” to be co-leaders, and more that a lot of the wives didn’t want to view themselves in that role and they just wanted their husbands to be the “LG leader.” Obviously this is just one person telling me this, so I can’t really vouch for the accuracy.

I agree that the campus and community sides of our church are really different. Even though I am approaching 30 yeas old (less than six months away! AHHHH!) I have been reluctant to “grow up” and be at all a part of the community ministry even though that’s more my phase of life.

This past year though a brand new young couples’ ministry started outside of the college ministry and grew from a handful of couples to over 20 couples, nearly all of whom are in their mid to late twenties. (I am one of the oldest, I think!). It has been a nice dip into the “community” world to be with a group of people close to my age who don’t fit many of the stereotypes I’ve honestly held of community ministry. (Hope that doesn’t offend anyone who fits that category!)

I’m still doing a lot with the campus ministry and some with this couples group. It’s proving to be a nice mix for me and I am hoping to continue doing the same in another church when/if we move in the next few months.
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mamie
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« Reply #78 on: March 21, 2007, 09:49:21 pm »

Kirsten - looks like you’re an avid reader, too ( I think a person should get a free book on Amazon after so many purchases, don’t you???). For you and anyone else who would like to look at an alternative viewpoint (from Piper and Grudem) on men’s and women’s roles in the church from an equally scholarly and evangelical perspective, I would recommend:

1) Men and Women in the Church, by Sumner - very well written; nice balance of personal touch and scholarly hermeneutics

2) Slaves, Women and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis, by Webb. Yeah, I know, he really needs some work on the title. But he’s looking at how to understand the influence of cultural context on the interpretation of Biblical treatment of those three groups of people. It can get a little dry but that’s because he’s extremely thorough - very, very careful scholarship.

That’s my contribution to the reading list, folks. For now…

Oh, I just read your latest post, Kirsten - the young adult group sounds like a wonderful development! Yeah, don’t slip over to the “dark side” without a fight ;-)

and I’m not surprised by the feedback that the wives don’t view themselves as leaders….I believe that’s the result of decades of being told they’re not. Self-fulfilling prophecy…at least for some. For some women who might have had a tendency toward self-doubt anyway, the old GC patriarchy only fed it. They do need encouragement to understand what “leader” even means. You can’t go from hearing leader-woman as unacceptable to leader-woman as acceptable without some serious rewiring, redefining…
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Kirsten
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« Reply #79 on: March 21, 2007, 09:49:41 pm »

Mamie — I do enjoy reading quite a bit. I don’t do nearly as much of it as I used to. My 2 1/2 year old thinks its “really, really boring” when mama reads her own books. Surprise, Surprise! I find myself doing a lot more reading on the web now, because it’s a lot easier to fit into the five to ten minute chunks I have thru the day.

The summer after my freshman year in college, I spent the summer at home, working full time at a fast food restaurant. My friends seemed to mostly either be gone or working totally different schedules than me, so I had a lot of time to myself. So, I think I read somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 books that summer — mostly Christian books on a variety of subjects and biographies. :-) As the summer was going on I kept thinking I was having such a boring summer, stuck at home…but looking back on it, I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
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