Friday, July 12, 2013

Living on the internet is funny.

With Google Reader's untimely demise, a lot of changes have been occurring across many of the blogs I frequent. People are taking it as an opportunity to stir things up and try new things.

And I have caught the bug.

In addition to the whole peer pressure aspect, I'm coming up on Paper Crane Library's second birthday next month. And I've been thinking about just how much has happened in the last two years. I am not where I thought I'd be--professionally, personally, physically even--and neither is this blog.

I started it because I thought I'd blog through library school, like I'd seen many people do. But honestly blogging about library school turned out to be almost as boring as library school itself. Now don't get me wrong, library school is alright, and I'm definitely going to finish it up. But if you've been around here long enough you probably know that it's not the end-all, be-all for me.

So I'm creating a webspace that feels more natural. A hub of sorts where my interests and identities can coalesce and where people can find me and my work. Part portfolio, part about-me, with a blog attached.

The content of the blog will probably be more or less the same: just whatever I feel like posting, whenever I feel like posting (maybe I'll bring back Theologian Thursdays one of these days). But without a cute name or the expectation that it's supposed to have a theme or be about something in particular.

I'll be leaving this blog up, for linking purposes, mostly. But the domain will not be renewed, so if you have any links you will want to change or remove them.

I hope you'll join me in my new space, and stay connected.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

On Being Pretty (or not) in Academia

I've wanted to write for a while about the effect of women's appearance in academia. First it started as "Just because I like cute clothes and lipstick doesn't mean I'm not smart." But then I realized that in many cases having a more-or-less conventionally "pretty" appearance can actually result in people being more likely to listen to you rather than less.

And so emerged the double-edged double-standard that women have become so used to facing.

Be pretty--because no one will listen to you if you're plain--but not too pretty, because then people will think you're dumb.

I remember agonizing over this back in March/April when I was preparing to present at my first academic conferences. I painstakingly picked out my outfits, trying on everything in my closet to find a balance between pretty and professional, dressing my age but not too trendy. I wanted desperately to stand out, and also to be taken seriously. My age and gender alone achieved the former, as I was almost surely always the youngest in the room, and usually one of only a handful of women. But the latter proved a bit more challenging.

Would people still hear what I had to say if I wore a makeup-less face and my hair in a ponytail?

Do people take me more seriously when I wear my glasses?

And this is a struggle women are met with every day. It's the performance of femininity in a delicate balancing act with a proper projection of power and meekness, authority and sweetness.

Sure, I can't really know what people think about me. And maybe it's my own neuroses, but so often I get the feeling of people being like, "Awww, look at that cute little girl doing theology." Or, my favorite (which actually happened), "You're too pretty to be a librarian."

There are plenty of pretty librarians. There are plenty of homely librarians. Both and either can be great or terrible at their job. Is there any industry (besides, perhaps, modeling or Hollywood) in which a person's appearance actually affects their job performance? Really?

And of course this is pretty much never an issue for men.

I think I'm beyond asking why appearance matters so much--it's become a given, fostered by patriarchy and capitalism, creating women and our appearance into objects for consumption instead of human beings to engage seriously and honestly. I'm more interested in just challenging this assumption, without overtly bringing attention to it (except for this blog post, of course).

I'm just going to keep reading. Keep writing. Keep at that academic hustle.

I'm also going to keep painting my nails with glitter and wearing bright lipstick.

I'm going to engage you (male or female or otherwise) sincerely and critically.

And I just ask that you do the same for me.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Pug Mug Monday

After all the feels last week, I think some cute pug pictures are in order.

Happy Monday.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Gay Marriage and the Christ/Church Analogy

Disclaimer: if you are a complementarian, you will not agree with my argument, so it's no use reading this or debating. It only really works if you believe that men and women are equal and do not have assigned life roles based on gender.


Perhaps you have heard (or even used yourself) the argument against gay marriage that goes something like this:

Marriage, between a man and a woman, is a symbol/sign/sacrament that reflects the relationship between God/Christ and the church, and gay marriage does not do this.

I'm going to make a few assumptions about this argument which will inform the rest of my post:

  1. In the analogy, the man is God/Christ and the woman is the church (a la Ephesians 5)
  2. A same-sex relationship cannot carry the analogy
  3. The analogy is a necessary part of the marriage relationship

So the analogy necessitates the two pieces--God and church.There is a significant qualitative difference between these two entities. Most people would probably contend that God is transcendent, or holy, or perfect, while the church, which is made of humans, is not. Interesting that the man, then, gets to be "God" in the analogy, while the woman gets to be the church which is dependent upon God. This analogy is clear that God > humanity, and therefore man > woman.

Obviously this is problematic.

If we believe that men are not inherently more holy or better equipped for leading than women, then we can swap the gender roles in the analogy.

So let's do some gender bending!

What if the woman could be God/Christ in the analogy? Could Ephesians 5 read, "Wives, love your husbands, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, wives ought to love their husbands as their own bodies. She who loves her husband loves herself" ? or "Husbands, submit yourselves to your own wives as you do to the Lord" ? (The previous verse does say "submit to one another," after all.)

Why not? Still seems like a marriage to me. Taken out of context, one might not even notice the roles have been flipped.
And if we can swap them, if women can be both Christ and the church, then why not two women in one relationship being both Christ and the church?

Why can't all loving, mutually submissive relationships (even deep friendships) be a symbol of God's great love for God's people, and the church's love and respect for God?

Furthermore, the original analogy, with the necessity of both a man and a woman, implies that men and women are qualitatively different and somehow incomplete--that they need each other. This really can't be true. Men are created fully in the image of God, AND women are created fully in the image of God. We are not two halves of a whole. To say that we are is to diminish the imago dei in each of us, and what's more, it devalues the lives of our single and celibate brothers and sisters. Are they somehow unable to display the love of God because they are missing the other half of their "analogy"? Of course not. (And this reminds me, we need to dispense with the whole Platonic soulmate thing too.)

So what do you think? If this Christ/church analogy is such an integral part of marriage, and it can still be achieved in a same-sex marriage, can we be done with this argument?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Nice, Cozy Echo Chambers

After the SCOTUS overturn of DOMA and Prop 8 today, and the epic filibuster over SB-5 in Texas last night, social media was ablaze. It was all I could do to keep up with my Twitter and Facebook feeds (especially since I still don't have internet at home!).

And something came up a couple of times--echo chambers. The idea that if your feeds were a reflection of your own views and responses, then you are living in an environment without challenge to those views, without having to engage with the "other." It's usually painted as a bad thing, implying that if you only listen to people who agree with you, you'll never grow, nor will you make a difference among those who believe otherwise.

However, I don't know that it's such a bad thing.

There have been times in my life when I was definitely not living in an echo chamber. Or maybe I was, but it was more like being held hostage in the other side's echo chamber. Either way, I've been in situations where I am literally forced to reckon with people who don't see eye to eye with me every single day.

And that's exhausting.

I absolutely believe in dialectic, in dialogue and the necessity of opposing forces and ideas. I love having my ideas challenged and trying new things on. But I don't love being forced to, and certainly not constantly.

Right now, I'm enjoying a season of life where I am being embraced by likeminded friends. It's refreshing to not have to defend myself at every word. It's nice to not be subject to the hatred being spewed all over the internet. It's my Facebook feed after all, why should it feel like punishment to read?

There's something to be said about hospitality, and venturing out to meet the other, but I don't think that being hospitable precludes a safe space where you can be yourself among your people.

For more on why echo chambers might not be all bad, check out this piece by David Weinberger.

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Church (and the Library): It's Not Dead Yet!

A couple weeks ago, a few of us Twitter folk (including Carol Howard Merritt, Ben Howard--no not that Ben Howard--and others) met at Michael's cafe, which is home to some amazing cake, and talked about the state of the Church.

We tried to focus on that big-C Church, and we talked about its overall decline in membership and incline in the membership's age, the rise of the nones, and the pesky problem of exclusionary theology. But as we talked in these generalizations, I kept hearing the same refrain--"That's not my experience."

For as many stories as we had about seminary degrees gathering dust and bigoted Christians, we had just the same stories of growth and love and rebirth in what we still could only call the Church, or perhaps more accurately churches.

It reminded me of Monty Python.

Then it reminded me of libraries. Every single stinkin time I tell someone I work in a library and I'm getting my degree in library science, they always want to challenge me about "The Future of Libraries," and "Aren't they all going to be extinct anyway?" Anyone can Google anything they want; we don't need libraries.

That's not my experience.

People still need libraries, just like people still need churches. They both foster the love of truth that is not going extinct, and a place for shared experience that you can't replicate by pointing and clicking. 

Churches and libraries are not dying. They might not look the way they used to, but they are still here, and they're sticking around.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Pug Mug Monday

Ebenezer is loving Nashville.

The only bummer is that there aren't a lot of places with fenced yards. So he has been spending lots of time on-leash, and relishing weekly trips to the dog park.