I am so pleased to be able to say that the latest magnum opus I’ve been working on in some way or another for, well really, a couple years, is now complete. In short it is an essay about my integrative work on faith/church, learning/librarianship, and mission/activism. I don’t know what your lives are like, but as for me, living out my call in this world on such a part-time basis can really be brutal sometimes. There is the joy of knowing to what one is called intermingled with inevitable disappointment and occasional despair of simply not having enough time to give to these endeavors in the midst of life as it is.
As we get even further into the book of Hosea, I am challenged by this book. I am so challenged by its embedded sexism, using the tired trope of unbridled female sexual expression – with God as the consistently faithful husband and Israel as the consistently unfaithful wife. Biblical historians differ on their opinions about the historicity of Hosea and Gomer’s relationship – whether or not they were indeed married, whether or not she was a whore or unfaithful to Hosea.
Gale A. Yee reminds us: “(NIBC) The book of Hosea was the first to employ the metaphor of husband for the deity, casting Israel in negative female imagery as God’s adulterous wife. This imaging reflects the historical situation of ancient Israel, where gender relationships were asymmetrical: The man occupied the more privileged position in this society, and the woman was subject to him. Appropriating this socially conditioned relationship as metaphor has deeply affected the theology of the book of Hosea, for this theology interprets the divine as male and the sinful as female. Using this imagery, the prophet describes God’s legitimate punishment as physical abuse of the wife by her husband. Interpretive problems arise when the metaphorical character of the biblical image is forgotten.”
Biblical writing and its interpretations have consequences. Through what authority, rubric, and/or epistemology do we read them? All of these are subject to interpretive choice.
This week we’re reading through the 6th and final week of 40 Day Journey With Howard Thurman, days 36-40.
From Day 37, “All around us worlds are dying and new worlds are being born; all around us life is dying and life is being born. The fruit ripens on the tree, the roots are silently at work in the darkness of the earth against a time where there shall be new leaves, fresh blossoms, green fruit. Such is the growing edge! It is the extra breath from the exhausted lung, the one more thing to try when all else has failed, the upward reach of life when weariness closes in upon all endeavor. This is the basis of hope in moments of despair, the incentive to carry on when times are out of joint and men have lost their reason, the source of confidence when worlds crash and dreams whiten into ash. The birth of the child – life’s most dramatic answer to death – this is the growing edge incarnate. Look well to the growing edge!” (p. 73)
My theological alma mater, Eden Seminary, used (and possibly still uses) the terminology of “growing edges” when referring to things that its students need to work on as they prepare for ordained and the other types of ministry. I may have appreciated hearing about my “growing edges” more during seminary had I known the origin of the term and all the hope present in it.
Where is your growing edge or edges? Where do you see new life and hope in the midst of despair?
This week we’re in Chapter 6, “Three More Facts About Burnout” of The Lifelong Activist.
“The vast majority of burned-out activists are not lazy. They are not uncommitted. They are not undisciplined. They are, in contrast, some of the most energetic, committed and disciplined people around. They are, however, blocked from using their energy and talents in the service of their movement; and the block is invariably caused by trying to live a conflicted life where one’s actions do not derive from one’s values and needs.
The solution, once more, is honesty: about yourself, your situation and your needs.”
Oh my! Say that again, Ms. Rettig, so the whole class gets it! Again, this is about so much more than activism, but really, life itself. Has it ever seemed to you like even in the midst of trying to live the most authentic life you can, in the struggle to make a living and a life for yourself in this world, it is so easy to both internally and externally censor yourself? I think it starts on the outside first and then ends up being internalized until one believes it was always there.
In my experience, while FBCO is one of our best hopes for long-term societal change, it is not without the same issues that plague any other organization that utilizes volunteer effort to do essential work – expecting volunteers to know or do more than they reasonably can, given family and work constraints. On the other hand, as FBCO is one of our best hopes for a community-driven society that embraces the common good, and as I truly do believe I am doing God’s work in my involvement, its boundary creep is less annoying than some organizations would be. This is one of the reasons why self-interest is so important in FBCO: where does one’s needs and reasons for doing the work meet up with the organization’s? Especially because most of the people doing FBCO aren’t getting paid for it, it is important that they derive some kind of non-financial benefit from it.
Have at least one truly honest conversation this week with yourself or someone else about if and where your energy and talents are being blocked, and what your situation and needs truly are.
Things to Do
Check out the Find Your FBCO Map to find your local faith-based community organizing affiliate and connect with the people who are working together to live out their dreams of a more just world! What’s going on in your living of the Gospel? Let us know in the comments, in our e-mail discussion group, or on social media.
- Luther Seminary. “Enter the Bible,” n.d. http://www.enterthebible.org/.
- Nysse, Richard W. “Enter the Bible: Daniel,” n.d. http://www.enterthebible.org/oldtestament.aspx?rid=47
- Rettig, Hillary. The Lifelong Activist: How to Change the World Without Losing Your Way. New York, NY: Lantern Books, 2006.
- Rettig, Hillary. “Three More Facts About Burnout” in The Lifelong Activist: How to Change the World Without Losing Your Way. New York, NY: Lantern Books, 2006. http://lifelongactivist.com/part-i-managing-your-mission/three-more-facts-about-burnout/
- Schaper, Donna, ed. 40-Day Journey with Howard Thurman. 40-Day Journey. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Books, 2009. https://openlibrary.org/books/OL23575518M/40-day_journey_with_Howard_Thurman.
- Yee, Gail A., “Introduction to Hosea” in The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary.