Sunday, March 10, 2013

Back to Blogging

Some of you have noticed, and even mentioned, that I have been a bit neglectful since I came back from Indonesia. That is, I have not blogged at all since late January when I returned.

It is nice that some of you have missed these posts. But the truth is, it has taken a while to get back into full swing. In the past six weeks, I have re-adjusted to western living, gotten back into the swing of a full academic life with teaching, mentoring, student visits, committees, and more. I guess I just haven't had the energy to think about blogging.

And I really haven't had much to say. 

After my experience in Indonesia, I needed time to process the work I did there, my reactions to a new situation and culture, and consider how all of that has shaped me. For me, that meant being quiet for a while.

I still haven't processed it all, but I am working on it. And I am ready to start reflecting with you on life, God, and other mysteries.

A few weeks back, there was an article in our local newspaper about women and work. It was written by Lonnae O'Neal Parker and was originally published in the Washington Post. Apparently, although a large proportion of Americans think Michelle Obama is handling her job as First Lady quite well, one group is quite unhappy with her: feminists.

The article noted that when her husband became President in 2008, she made public her intention to be "mom-in-chief." Feminists claimed that she had been "victimized by her husband's choices," according to Parker. This irritated me.

I currently hold a Ph.D. in theology and am a full-time, tenure track faculty member at a leading North American seminary. But prior to this life, I was mom-in-chief for our family. Both jobs were meaningful to me, both were jobs I felt a strong calling to, and both constitute important Kingdom work.

I also consider myself a Christian feminists of sorts. I say 'of sorts' because I am interested in many of the issues that impact women but I am not the sort that thinks my core identity is my gender. My core identity is that of an adopted child of God through union with Christ. That is who I am first and foremost; and I am female.

What I can't quite understand in this whole debate about Michelle Obama, is why her choice is considered selling out. Why does taking a break from one's career constitute being "victimized?" Why can't it simply be what she feels called to do for a time, given the demands of their family? And I can't help but wonder whether the feminists who are unhappy with her would be equally unhappy with her husband if the roles were reversed. If Michelle was President, would Barak have been victimized by her job if he chose to be dad-in-chief?

I rather doubt it.

And isn't it interesting that those who are criticizing never even mention the two children involved. From a Christian perspective, might sacrificing oneself (including one's career) for the sake of one's children actually be a good thing to do whether one is male or female? It may be true that women have had to do this more frequently in the past than men, but that simply means that we need to talk more about certain presuppositions regarding gender roles within a family.

Nonetheless, it seems to me that when one knows his/her true identity, it is not difficult to make decisions about his/her children and family that put self-interest and self-promotion in second place. Perhaps we need to work on allowing folks to make the best choices for their families and leave the judgments about selling out one's career out of the picture.

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