Rachel Held Evans and The Miracles of Twitter

On the radio today I listened as a caller asked if anyone knew how to store cheese so that it doesn’t mold and become inedible in a matter of days. Within minutes two other callers responded with solutions—one particularly helpful which entails, for those of you with similar cheese challenges, to wrap the cheese in a paper towel or waxed paper before storing in plastic. Apparently the primary problem with molding cheese is its propensity to gather condensation. So, reduce the moisture; minimize the mold.

This radio community created by the program “Everything you Ever Wanted to Know” amazes me each time I listen. Heck, I even submitted a question once and then listened carefully to see if a caller could provide me the solution I needed (it didn’t happen, by the way, but I was grateful for the people who tried to help).

Similarly, I continue to be blown away by what is happening at astonishing speed each day all around the world. Have you been paying attention to Twitter and Facebook?

In case you’ve missed it, this week a pretty significant conversation occurred on Twitter when Rachel Held Evans, author of A Year of Biblical Womanhood, raised a question about the lack of female presenters at ‘The Nines’ conference. Out of well-over 100 presenters only four were women. So, Evans asked on Twitter how this vast imbalance reflects the reality of the church. What ensued was a rather interesting smattering of responses: some lambasting Evans for pointing out such things in a public format and others lamenting the “unchristian” nature of disagreement.

Not to be left out, Jeremy Weber of Christianity Today published a brief news story of the Twitter blow-up and another thread of disagreement ensued this time not as much about Evans and “The Nines” but the one-sided perspective of the CT story, one that portrayed Evans negatively while at the same time failing to explore whether or not her concern about gender inequity was legitimate or, further, if she had any comment in light of the dust-up, a courtesy extended to “The Nines” organizer, Todd Rhoades.

Social media also played a large role this week in unearthing a high school motivational speech given by Justin Lookadoo to Richardson (Texas) High School students. His conservative Christian role-based message met considerable backlash not only in the auditorium but also on Twitter and Facebook. The Dallas Morning News reported that following Lookadoo’s speech in Richardson, he was met by several students who objected to his gender-based “Dateable Rules” which include items such as “Be mysterious. Dateable girls know how to shut up. Let him lead. God made guys as leaders.” And “Men of God are wild, not domesticated. Dateable guys aren’t tamed.”

In contrast to these events where patriarchal preferences were clearly called into question, there was a day-long conference (Nov. 15) sponsored by Q. Heralded as a place for women to explore their callings through “exposure, conversation, and collaboration” Rachel Held Evans and several others were on hand to celebrate the contributions of women to faith, encouraging more, not less, involvement of women in church leadership.

Furthermore, the Q site provides several interesting articles on gender including one by Erin S. Lane called Holy Feminism, a consideration of how following Jesus leads to giving up positions of privilege, not because of someone else’s rights, but because this is the example Jesus told his followers to embrace.

So, what are we to make of just one week in the cyber world?

While those offended by the negative press around “The Nines” conference or even the few who thought Justin Lookadoo’s gender stereotyping appropriate may view these developments as evidence the church is succumbing to the secularist impulse of feminism, I think these events point to a church in the midst of shedding its patriarchal past.

It may be that the impetus needed for Christianity to rid itself of its sexist sin is social media, if this one week is any indication. In any case, it is becoming apparent that the time the church can hide its male privilege is quickly drawing to a close. Instant and wide-spread communication means it is no longer possible to keep women silent and isolated. Communication lines have been thrown wide open and church leaders today will not be able to stop the rising tide of the majority of people who go to church.

Thanks to Rachel Held Evans to keeping this conversation going and for knowing how to utilize Twitter to call the church to embrace its potential. Thanks to outspoken high school students in Richardson, Texas, who refuse to listen to a vile message. And, kudos to women—Evangelical and Liberal and all kinds in between—for refusing to be silent any longer.

A new day is dawning!