Friday, October 20, 2017

Me, too. But ...

I learned about the “Me too” thingy by seeing friends’ Facebook status updates and felt it was appropriate to add my own little drop to the bucket. It seems like a good idea to help raise awareness of the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault against women. But I have mixed feelings about the, I guess “micromovement,” one might call it—as I have about a lot of feminist statements and calls to arms and such.

It troubles me that the “Me too” thingy might exacerbate the problem that people grossly, habitually underestimate the percentage of men who have been sexually harassed or assaulted. This is much more widespread and difficult to address because the stigma against men speaking out about their experience of harassment and assault is so much more powerful than it is for women. Probably no woman would be surprised if every single one of her female friends said “Me too.”  But if every man who has been harassed or assaulted were to do the same, people of both genders would most likely be deeply shocked.

The other thing that is concerning to me is that often it seems like feminists blame men in general for the inappropriate actions of individuals. Yes, considering how many incidents of inappropriate behavior are occurring, the percentage of men who commit them must be pretty high. But I don’t see it really addressing the problem to lump them together with men who would never even entertain the idea of cat calling a stranger, let alone assaulting someone.

I think it’s interesting, looking at my own experience as a young female pastor in a mainline denomination … I can think of three separate situations in which, as a pastor (and pastoral candidate almost ready to be ordained) it seemed to me than certain women in positions of authority exercised their power over me in a manner that I felt was inappropriate. I cannot recall any similar situations involving men. Overall, I have felt more respected and supported by male colleagues in ministry than female colleagues. (I should note that the instances of perceived abuses of power were minor and ultimately turned out, at least in some sense, “okay.”)

So, anyway, I really question the value of talking about abuses of power against women as if they were something that men do to women. Rather, it seems like something that certain individuals, male and female have particular problems with. And, I feel it's important to share, I do not blame them for it. Every single one of us has some deep-seated resentment and confusion about gender issues (and when I say "confusion," I am referring to a whole host of confused feelings people have about gender, not just ambivalence about one's gender role). The resentment and confusion is worse for some than others. But the more each of us develops the capacity to look compassionately and honestly within ourselves, the more we will be able to forgive others who are struggling and bring grace into our discussion of these issues.

Friday, July 28, 2017

A Few Hours In Paradise

Have I shared these pictures on my blog before or is it just deja vu? Maybe it's because I've been intending to write this post for so very long ...

Six years ago, we were living in California and on a trip up to Washington we visited Mt. Rainier. The area with the interpretive center--from which you can begin a very gentle hike through flowery mountain meadows, past pristine streams and waterfalls, all with a stunning view of the summit--is called Paradise, and on that day, it was living up to its name.

Wildflowers were blooming, the air was exquisitely fresh and sweet, it was the perfect temperature--just a shade cooler than warm, with a caressing breeze. It was like being inside of a Jehovah's Witness booklet, just minus the predatory animals snuggling with their natural prey. It was so utterly beautiful, so perfect ...

I've wanted for six years now to share this on my blog. And I've been thinking of this, remembering the experience for six years. But I never really knew what I wanted to say about it. Other than, OH MY GOSH IT WAS SO WONDERFUL. But I don't like to write (or speak) without having a definite purpose for doing so. And I really was at a loss to say what this experience meant.

But now ... I am reaching a point in my life where I'm learning the value of leaving things undefined. Of refraining from analysis. Or returning to such a place, perhaps. During my dark and painful years in college I found great solace in a book called The Cloud of Unknowing, which describes a mystic path to union with God which leads through a place of darkness--a place where the senses, the intellect and even the emotions are left behind and the naked soul reaches toward the Mystery that cannot be contained by any human definition ...

So ... anyway ... I don't know what it all means. But I wanted to share these pictures and to describe what they recall to my mind: an experience that is ultimately beyond description but which can be alluded to, and perhaps recognized by someone who has also spent a few hours--or even a moment--in Paradise.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

2016 Hattie Pictures

Happy New Year!
For our friends who don't use Facebook, here are some Hattie photo highlights of 2016. Enjoy! And I hope your

January 2016: Hattie joins the fine Pickering and Way family traditions of standing in front of the heater.

February 2016: enjoying Mama's birthday cake.

Playing in the sink: a favorite pastime.

Memorial Day at the local cemetery.

Father's Day hike.

On a roadtrip to a friend's wedding in Portland, Hattie meets Big Mac. "Mmmm! Yummy!"

Hattie flipped for summer foods: watermelon, corn on the cob, blackberries, and most of all, tomatoes and snap peas from Auntie Suzanne's garden.

Summer at the family's beach spot on the Snoqualmie River
Walking from the river back to the house, through the fields. What a summer!

Another favorite pastime--and a favorite series: Pete the Cat by James Dean.
The wind and falling leaves were exhilarating.

Don't be fooled by this pose: Hattie was happily wading and splashing in that cold, cold water just minutes before.

Hattie lends a hand a the family pumpkin patch.

We got Hattie a pumpkin costume to wear at the patch, but she screamed and screamed in it. So for Halloween I let her pick out a character hat and we did a simple Grover ...

Thanksgiving 2016: after dinner, napping while Mama watches Elf.

Decorating the tree as she does all things: thoughtfully, carefully.