Demonstrating a chronic need for fruits-of-the-Spirit-like patience…

More than a year since I started the project, I’ve been asked, indirectly, to re-publicise the lending library in my church. It’s hard to feel enthusiastic about it for all sorts of reasons, and since it’s that kind of day I am going to list them here.

  • the book stock is old and uninspiring. There is no budget for new books.
  • previous publicity has been met with unmitigated indifference
  • publicity slots ‘booked’ in the noticesheet have been moved without warning leaving me with ‘library time’ planned in for the wrong weekend, scuppering work plans
  • sarcasm at best, and indifference, at worst, from some who should know better – or at least be able to remember my name by now
  • ideas fall into a black hole of non responsiveness
  • donations consist of books fit for the bin – “we have these out of date publications, would you like them for the library?”

Why am I always approached via an intermediary? Why am I not allowed to attend or contribute to discussions about the project, leaving me reliant on games of chinese whispers to communicate with the church leadership to try to make my case? Am I not trusted to behave at a meeting?

 

In my less cheerful moments the apparent misogynistic attitude is really depressing. It reminds me of the cartoon of a board meeting where the chair comments ‘That’s an excellent suggestion, Miss Smith. Now perhaps one of the men would like to make it.’

(thought that was done by Jacky Fleming, can’t find it, but have seen another favourite – flamethrower)

 

It’s so frustrating. I am an independent, intelligent, well-qualified, professional woman. I have managed budgets of £500k, conferences in major exhibition halls, events with attendance of 10,000. I can sift and interpret business information from more sources than you can poke a stick at. Yet at church, I am a voiceless, marginalised, irrelevant, odd-one-out woman, only to be talked to indirectly. I’m not asking to be in charge, just to be treated in a civilised manner – the way that the men involved would, perhaps, value female work colleagues.

…all of which makes the Lord’s work such a joy to undertake.

Is this a problem because it’s an evangelical church? If the focus on the church was less on bringing more people in, and more about discipling/ teaching/ growing those already there, would several hundred books be seen as a useful resource, to be maintained, promoted and valued instead of shoved in the corner for the toddlers to be sick on?

Part 2 – Climate change – on your Christian conscience?

Last Sunday, 20 January, teaching at Church centred on climate change, and whether we had a duty to respect our environment. I have to say that it was a pretty simplistic analysis of the problems, contradictions and debate around the topic, and the main thrust seemed to focus too much on carbon offsetting.

However, it was a church sermon designed for a huge range of people so it’s not really a fair criticism.

During this week our small groups were discussing responses to the teaching.

One of the responses I heard in the small group I was in was, frankly, the biggest load of bollocks I have ever heard. A theological get-out-of-jail free card to continue our self-centred, polluting, resource-intensive western lives.

The argument seems to run that we don’t need to do anything. Revelation 21:1 promises us a new heaven and a new earth. So the damage that is being done to this planet is just part of the fallout from the Fall, the natural destruction that is inevitable from evil being in the world. Hence we can’t prevent it, and there is nothing we can do to help.

Well. I was completely taken aback by the sheer arrogance of this argument.

I had no idea if that is a theologically correct assumption about heaven and earth being made new. Then I read this pdf and felt reassured.

But what did rile me was the total disregard that it shows for the other 5,999,999,999 people on this planet. Climate change is causing floods, drought, crop failure, spread of disease, exacerbating famine and water shortages. Malaria is on the increase.

In a world where people are still hungry, food is being burned for fuel so we can ease our western consciences about fossil fuels (and there’s a whole political argument about reducing dependence on oil because of the pig’s ear George W has made of Iraq, but let’s not go into that here).

The argument that climate change is inevitable means you and I don’t have to do anything that might be a bit inconvenient, because the fate of the Mozambique flood victims is just a consequence of evil in the world.

So donate a tenner to the next Disasters Emergency Committee appeal, but don’t leave your car at home next time you need to pop to the shop. Give away to Oxfam the jumpers you don’t need becayse your central heating keeps your house toasty warm. Fill up on biodiesel on your way to a Christian Aid coffee morning.

I was a Bit Cross.