Is it Safe to Come Out and Sing?
Life as jazz. Sweet improvisation. Singing one’s song for the world. Such thoughts should inspire, but ironically this chapter in Make the Impossible Possible made me tire of Strickland’s hopeful refrain.
True, he warns that 'choices we make are incredibly risky. They could lead to surprising and sometimes disastrous consequences.' And he reminds, 'when a jazz artist launches on a solo, he takes a frightening leap of faith. Every note, every phrase, every bit of color and texture he or she brings to the music is a risk that could backfire and make the player look like a fool. He could play himself into a corner. Worse, he could play himself out and find he had nothing to say.' But he concludes we can still achieve the impossible if we 'risk ourselves, our time, our careers for what we believe…' (p105)
In a world with all things being equal, this should hold true. And because Strickland comes from a world where all things were not equal, he should be a convincing voice (which, at some level, he certainly is).
But what if the world isn’t ready for our song? I consider a conversation that began over at Scot McKnight’s blog. I asked one of the participants to tell me more and let me share her thoughts here. This is what Barb answered, and I wonder what systemic dynamics work against her song.
Says Barb, 'I don’t like women’s bible studies because women’s groups seem to like to read women’s books. Prime authors include: Beth Moore, Joanna Weaver, etc. No men I know have ever read any of these books—even if the topic could be seen as gender neutral.'
She continues, 'The authors of these women’s books presume that women need woman-friendly examples to understand theological truths—that if it can’t be translated into cooking, child-rearing, house cleaning, or getting along with your husband then women just won’t get it. Favorite topics of books for women, by women, usually relate to personal devotion. A woman’s emotional experience trumps her intellectual experience.'
Finally, Barb asks, 'Where are those gifted women who write like Scot Mcknight (just one example)? He can proclaim a profound theological or biblical truth in a visual and conversational way—I’m thinking about ‘blue parakeets’ and ‘water-slides.’ I’m not really interested in what someone writes in her personal journal. I’m interested in how she (using both sides of her gifted brain) connects what she finds in scripture with her faith and her world. And I would love it if she would write about it in a detached enough way so it’s not limited to her gender’s perspective. I know that women are gaining ground in many areas, but when I look at the big stack of books by my chair—none are written by women. Is this a problem? What can we do?'
The song Barb is singing… is there a place in the world where it can be heard? Or do Strickland’s promises fall flat to women who feel this way? (Men, I’m interested in your response to this too. And, to everyone, it probably goes without saying, but I'd like a cordial discussion, since I'm thinking we all have our sensitivities regarding the issues Barb raises.)
Hidden at the Window photo, by Sara. Used with permission.
OTHER BOOK CLUB POSTS:
High Calling Blogs All that Jazz
Erica's Jazz and Balance