12 October 2017

Signs and Weinstein

Our corner, Yalagin Street and Fryazevo Highway, two nights ago. Our time in Russia is nearing an end; I'm storing up all these impressions, sensations, and amazing memories.

It's a sign of today's toxic political environment that the revelations of Hollywood sexual harassment connected with the Harvey Weinstein scandal are exploited by some Trump supporters as evidence of a liberal double standard.

That might be, but you can't convince me that only liberals "pester" women in the entertainment industry! I draw the word "pester" from this BBC interview with Emma Thompson. Locating Weinstein in a larger context, she says,
What I find sort of extraordinary is that this man is at the top of a very particular iceberg, you know he’s — I don’t think you can describe him as a ‘sex addict,’ he’s a predator. But what he’s, as it were, at the top of the ladder of is a system of harassment, and belittling, and bullying, and interference, and what my mother would have referred to in the old days as ‘pestering.’ ‘Is he pestering you?’ That’s the word we used to use in the olden days, if you recall. This has been part of our world, women’s world, since time immemorial. So what we need to start talking about is the crisis in masculinity, the crisis of extreme masculinity, which is this sort of behaviour, and the fact that it is not only OK, but it also is represented by the most powerful man in the world at the moment....
Not all public conservatives are reacting to the scandal with glee. Samuel James takes a much more measured look at men and women relating in the workplace, referring back to the brief swirl of controversy around Mike Pence's use of the "Billy Graham rule." The dilemmas of managing human lust (a problem not confined to liberals, considering how often Republicans get caught in sex scandals!) while also confronting systemic imbalances of power, will not be solved by confusing the issue with left/right labels. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" [context] and all of us need to confront that impulse to exploit -- when we see others being targeted, and when we ourselves are tempted to target others. The last thing we Christians need to do is feel superior!!

One more point. Many evangelicals who do not themselves pester anyone nevertheless do not allow women to exercise leadership in their churches and religious organizations. Their stained glass ceilings are reinforced with scriptural arguments and the weight of centuries of tradition. The evangelical publishing and conference industry (specifically, the "biblical womanhood" industry -- see this post) harvests billions of dollars peddling this message to this day. I dare not mock this community, because I know many dear people who are under its sway, but I'm totally opposed to its message and influence.

The Christians in this corner of Christendom claim to be conservative and Bible-believing. Here's my question: why do they not make a direct connection between sex-based oppression and the Fall? Why is sexual equality not linked with the redemption and reconciliation offered by Jesus?

When we try to understand pervasive sexual discrimination and patriarchy (not just in Hollywood, but as Thompson says, "this has been part of our world, women's world, since time immemorial"), we have two choices:
  1. This is how things should be ... Christ did not come to lift this oppression, and we will accordingly continue to let men lord it over women -- in the church just as in the world. God chased us out of Eden, and we're content to stay out.
  2. This sorry situation is part of the Fall; but the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, and the coming of the Holy Spirit, offers reconciliation to men and women -- all humans -- and makes them unashamedly equal, able to accept or challenge traditional roles according to their own prayerful seeking and the gifts they have been given, but in any case resuming the innocence and intimacy they had in the Garden of Eden.
Which of these alternatives fits our own understanding of the transforming power of the Good News?

Equality of men and women is one of the Quaker signs and wonders.

Tebow and Kaepernick: two Christians on their knees. Is there a false dichotomy here? ("One is concerned with private sins like abortion. The other is concerned with public sins like racial discrimination.") Gene Veith has some additional thoughts.

Dreams, prophecy, and ministry: Patricia Dallmann. Marge Abbott.

Andrei Kolesnikov on Alexei Navalny's permanent revolution.

"When things go wrong, so wrong with you, it hurts me, too."

1 comment:

Patti Crane said...

Beautifully expressed, Johan. Thank you. Patti