Archive for September, 2008

Follow Up to “Them Baptists”

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Thanks Rev. Charlene Hill both for granting me permission to post here on the blog the response she got back from the folks at LifeWay after she wrote inquiring about their decision to pull from their shelves the Gospel Today issue featuring women pastors on its cover.  Let me warn you now that the letter says nothing new. But kudos to Charlene and the many others of you who made public your disagreement with LifeWay.  This is how community organizing starts and how change begins. One letter at a time.

Dear Charlene,

Thank you for your email of September 25, asking us for a response the article about LifeWay Christian Stores
removing the current issue of Gospel Today from the shelves.  I am pleased to respond.

Thank you for asking about this.  Many of the news media reports were not entirely accurate.
Simply put, we removed the September/October issue of Gospel Today magazine from the shelves
of LifeWay Christian Stores because the cover story, featuring female senior pastors, clearly advocated
a position contrary to our denomination’ s statement of faith, The Baptist Faith & Message.
We certainly understand that some customers have different positions on the issues and do not agree
with every point.  We also recognize that some customers like to read a variety of views on subjects
such as these to stay engaged in the culture.  For that reason, we have continued to make the magazine
available upon request to accommodate those needs as best we could.  To the extent possible, we try
to serve all Evangelical Christians with the products we carry in our stores.  If you
like, you may find The Baptist Faith & Message available as a free download

Thank you again for taking the time to write and ask about this article and for giving us the opportunity
to respond.  I sincerely hope this information will be helpful to you.


Jim Shull
LifeWay Christian Stores


Heck y’all, I’m grateful to folks like Jim Shull.

In fact, there’s a lesson in all of this.  Maybe God is showing us something in all that we’ve seen and witnessed over the past months. Something important. Something that’s supposed to open the eyes of those of us who’ve been shy about  questioning authority and afraid to challenge the way Scripture has been interpreted by those in charge.

Power comes from lying. Lying big, and gettin’ the whole  world to play along with you. Once you got everybody agreeing with what they know in their hearts ain’t true, you rule and you win.

Thanks John McCain, Lifeway Stores, and “Them Baptists.”  You’ve taught women like me a lot about power, politics, and truth over these last few months.

I’ll never be afraid again to see the world differently, nor will I ever again be made to feel guilty about using my influence to persuade others to see the world as I do.

Blessings to you too Jim, et al.

The Woman Who Forgot To Live

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

First, I was dying to finish high school and start college.
And then I was dying to finish college and start working.
And then I was dying to marry and have children.
And then I was dying for my children to grow up and get out the house.
And then I was dying to retire.
And now, I am dying…and suddenly I realize I forgot to live.”



Who do you know that’s waiting…waiting…waiting? Send her this webpage as a reminder that it’s time for her to live.

And by the way, what are you waiting for? What are you waiting to happen before you really start living your life? Suppose this is it. Suppose this is your life.

Don’t catch yourself one day asking yourself, “Why did I wait so long…?”

Women are notorious for waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

Live now. Start now. Jump now.

Perhaps that’s what the apostle Paul meant when he wrote, “Now is the acceptable time, Now is the day of salvation.”

Them Baptists…(Southern Baptists, that is)

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Here I was scrambling to find something to close the week out on when my dear friend Claudette sends me a link to a story that appeared yesterday in the Atlanta Journal & Constitution. It seems like those Baptists are up to it again, this time it’s the Southern Baptists. Miscreants! Plebeians! Barbarians! Jackals! Toads! Knaves! (Sorry folks, I’ve been up all night prepping my daughter for her 10th grade Wester Civ exam on “The Middle Ages.”)

The Southern Baptist Church has ordered all copies of this month’s issue of Gospel Today, which has women pastors on the cover, pulled from the shelves of its Lifeway Bookstores.

The title of the AJC article reads:
“Gospel Today magazine pulled from Christian bookstores’ shelves.”

Women Pastors

You can go to AJC and read the article for yourself. But here are bits and pieces of the story:

Gospel Today, the Fayetteville-published magazine, was pulled off the racks by the bookstores’ owner, the Southern Baptist Convention. The problem? The five smiling women on the cover are women of the cloth — church pastors.
Southern Baptist polity says that’s a role reserved for men.

Teresa Hairston, owner of Gospel Today, whose glossy pages feature upbeat articles about health, living, music and ministry, said she discovered by e-mail that the September/October issue of the magazine had been demoted to the realm of the risque.

“It’s really kind of sad when you have people like [Gov.] Sarah Palin and [Sen.] Hillary Clinton providing encouragement and being role models for women around the world that we have such a divergent opinion about women who are able to be leaders in the church,” Hairston said. “I was pretty shocked.”

Chris Turner, a spokesman for Lifeway Resources, which runs the stores for the Southern Baptist Convention, said, “It is contrary to what we believe.”

Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of Gospel Today (too…too…too much pablum and too struck on church”stars,” for my tastes), but I support the publisher Theresa Hairston’s attempt this month to highlight women’s climb into church pulpits and the daring churches that have welcomed them as their pastors.

It’s just too bad that the best repartee Hairston could come up with in response to the SBC’s move against her magazine was:

“We weren’t trying to pick a fight,” Hairston said. “We just did a story on an emerging trend in a lot of churches.”

I’ll say it for her:
Miscreants! Plebeians! Barbarians! Jackals! Toads! Knaves!

Here’s how we can help Hairston and Gospel Today.

Forward this blog post to everyone on your mailing list who would care about this issue. LET’S ALL GO OUT AND FIND A COPY OF THIS MONTH’S Gospel Today in support of Hairston and to make certain that the magazine doesn’t go belly up because of the SBC’s effort to stamp out the notion that God calls women to ministry and to the pastorate.

Theology and A Cast Iron Skillet

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

I ain’t ashamed. Well, maybe just a little bit.

Some of my best recipes come from the Internet. (Motherless women have to learn how to cook the best way they can.)

I’m always on the Food Network website scouring for recipes. And two weeks ago when I just couldn’t justify shelling out any more money for Thai take out, I went online and taught myself, thanks to a few helpful videos, how to cook a couple of Thai dishes. Don’t even ask. Although the Thai fried rice was the bomb, the basil chicken tasted like grass and rubber sticks.

The point is that this reverend-scholar-feminist/womanist- blogger/writer is cooking a lot more these days. I’m no Bea Smith mind you, but I’m getting the hang of it. internet fookLike Mae who left a comment the other day here on the blog confessing to a love for well-stocked kitchens even though she rarely cooks, I salivate when my seasonal cataloges from Williams-Sonoma arrive in the mail even though I don’t need 93.5% of the stuff in those cataloges. Certainly not to cook the four dishes I cook often and cook well: spaghetti, paella, collards, gumbo, smothered pork chops, and now Thai fried rice.

You’re right if you’re saying to yourself, “Gosh, Renita writes a lot about cooking on a blog otherwise devoted to the loftier topics of gender, religion, and popular culture.” The skyrocketing cost of food is one reason cooking is on my mind. But it is probably also due to the fact that as you age, nesting takes on more and more importance. You’re done with conquering the world. Watching the squirrels play from your kitchen window as you eat a bowl of cereal transforms into a moment of theological awakening when you get to be my age.

Mark my words: this economy is gonna have us all returning to the kitchen before it’s all over. What I need is to do as someone who writes a lot about women is to come up with a spirituality of cooking so it doesn’t appear as though I’m reinscribing old roles for women when I write about cooking and domesticity.

In the meantime, my goal this weekend is to master the high art of cooking fried chicken. That’s right: I’m fried chicken challenged. A real idiot savant in that area. Mine always turns out burnt on the outside and undone on the inside.

It helps to have a well seasoned cast iron skillet, I’m told. (Something I ‘d forgotten because I’m motherless, remember? Toss the stainless steel pan.) I bought a new cast iron skillet a few weeks back. From one of those fancy gourmet cooking stores.

Every woman needs a cast iron skillet. A well seasoned cast iron skillet. Whether she cooks or not. Besides being great for frying chicken and baking cornbread, it makes a great weapon. My mother showed me that trick years ago when my father came in the kitchen barking out orders and breathing threats down her neck. Wham! I must say that my mother’s fried chicken was the best it had ever been that night.

Yep. This economy is gonna teach us a lot of things. About eminent domain. About everyday epiphanies. About why women for centuries have sworn by their cast iron skillets.