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Saturday, November 04, 2006 

glorieta part 1: the post-atheist speaks

i have never spent a single day in new mexico that i didn't just plain love. each visit is distinct, unique, incredible in ways one can never anticipate. i have made lifelong friends of perfect strangers each time i've ventured that direction.

which, you might understand, makes it the perfect place for an emergent gathering.

i'll spare you the pastoral (we're talking nature here, folks, not the vocation) descriptions and dive smack dab into the good stuff. the campus is rather beautiful, and you can see some pictures by searching for "emergent gathering 2006" on flickr.

(indicentally: if any attendees have pictures they'd like to share, please put them up on flickr and tag accordingly!)

two of my favorites: no, we didn't pose ourselves. don't we kind of look like the polyphonic spree?


separate but equal?
emerging women

let's just dive on in, shall we?

i had a great conversation over tacos and red wine with about eight women and one man in what i've come to refer to as the main cabin (mostly because i never went up to the other cabin). i was drawn into the conversation (i'd actually wanted to attend a session with peyton and dan on something i considered more substantitive) but i had made the acquaintence of julie, sarah and karen in the kitchen while cooking chili and sarah used her powers of persuasion (along with the mystery of her taco recipe) to draw me there.

we smoked up the kitchen, smiled and laughed among the crackle and splatter sounds of tortillas coming to life in oil, dug a few bottles out of the pantry, engaged in a desperate search for a corkscrew (it's a baptist campus... the kitchen isn't stocked with such items), found opened wine from the evening before, turned on a tape recorder and settled in around the main room.

the core concern seems to be creating a safe space for a woman's voice in the emergent movement. now there are some nuanced arguments back and forth about this (check out this post on julie's blog and elsewhere, but i think they miss the point.

julie has such a warm, inviting voice (and presence), but i have to wonder what she means by "safe space."

the emergent conversation already is safe space, a welcoming space for female voices.

i don't see a need for this official gendered discourse.

what really shocked me was the use of the slogan "separate but equal" to refer to emergent women. wtf? it is only too fitting that the phrase has a very specific historical significance, e.g. it was the slogan used to justify segregation!
think plessy vs. ferguson!

it seems that women are unnecessarily claiming victim status, literally segregating themselves along these gender identity lines (even while inviting men to come along for the ride).

isn't the whole point of this emerging church that it's -- well -- emerging? it's rather different than the old model of doing church; it's keying off of those traditions but participants take a radically different approach. i think the tone and content of this specific conversation about emerging women is antiquated: we are not a community of oppressed pastor's wives. this is an emerging movement; this isn't the old model, and approaching it as such is only going to yield frustration and failure.

what i mean is this: sitting around talking about how to make it easier for other women to come to the conversation, worrying that women don't have a voice keeps you from actually being the voice. you are, in a sense, oppressing yourselves.

i want to encourage the women who are already part of the conversation to stop talking *about* the conversation and actually participate. it's like a planning session for what we are going to be. fuck that! just be!


i'm not arguing that people who have something in common (be it gender, an interest in derrida or cooking or babies) shouldn't create relationships and systems of support, that they shouldn't engage in conversations about the challenges they share.

i think this is already happening in a very organic, natural fashion. what i take issue with is precisely this: i don't think that the women are being oppressed, at least by emergent. they don't particularly need to fight this battle. they are actually creating it.

what does all of this boil down to? i don't want someone to be interested in my voice just because i'm a female. of course my identity naturally brings unique nuance to the content of my contribution... but it should not comprise the entirety of what i have to say. we're eventually going to train others to give our voice their attention because we are women if we keep demanding that they do so.

you have a voice. use it.


all of that said, are there ways to make the emergent gathering, specifically, more inviting to married women with children? yes. encourage people to bring their kids. create a childcare crew that functions like the food and hospitality crews (in general i think this is only necessary for younger kids. the older kids seem to get along just fine taking care of themselves and each other as they create adventures on the vast beautiful playground that is the glorieta campus).