August 2007

Today is the 10th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana.  Most of us today remember where we were when we heard the news that she had been killed in a tragic car accident, much like knowing, in my generation, where you were when John F. Kennedy died.

Today, editorial writer, Cal Thomas, has what I think is an insightful article about her death and the mystic of her life that continues to this day.  He describes her followers as those who continue to worship the cult of beauty. At one point, Thomas says,  “The feminist writer Germaine Greer penned a devastatingly honest essay for The Sunday Times that pierced the makeup, the clothes, the jewels and the image to reach her reality: “When Diana presented herself to her adoring public as a guileless girl who fell in love with a chap who just happened to be heir to the English throne, only to have her innocent young love spurned, she was acting a lie.”Greer says that in adulthood Diana became “more, rather than less, devious.” It is a character assessment her adoring disciples are prepared to overlook. And then Greer writes this explosive line: “The story of how she emerged from her dowdy chrysalis to become the people’s princess is often told, but what is seldom assessed is just how much of a performance this was.”

It is interesting and timely that he wrote about this because I have been thinking about the concept of physical attractiveness, about young women and their quest for beauty, of older women who lament its passing, and have been wondering what a Christian’s response ought to be to these ideas in the 21st century.
Consider, also, these quotes:

Proverbs 31: “Beauty is vain but a woman that fears the Lord shall be praised.” 

In her book, The Beauty Myth, feminist writer Naomi Wolf contends that the women’s movement caused magazines and advertisers to be confronted with their “own obsolescence” and thus “the beauty myth, in its modern form, arose to take the place of the Feminine Mystique, to save magazines and advertisers from the economic fallout of the women’s revolution.”

Counselor and writer Dr. Mary Pipher says in her book, Reviving Ophelia, “Anorexia is a problem of Western civilization, a problem for the prosperous….(it) is both the result of and a protest against the cultural rule that young women must be beautiful.  In the beginning a young woman strives to be thin and beautiful, but after a time, anorexia takes on a life of its own…Of all psychiatric illnesses, it has the highest fatality rate…Its victims are often the brightest and best young women.  In my experience, it is the good girls, the dutiful daughters and high achievers who are at the greatest risk for anorexia…they epitomize our cultural definitions of feminine:  thin, passive, weak, and eager to please….it is a young woman’s statement that she will become what the culture asks of its women, which is that they be thin and nonthreatening.  Anorexia signifies that a young woman is so delicate that, like the women of China with their tiny broken feet, she needs a man to shelter and protect her from world she cannot handle.”

How much emphasis, do you think, evangelicals place on physical beauty?  Have you sorted this out for your own life application and, if so, please share thoughts and insights or personal experience.  How can the church, today, address this issue in a wise, biblical manner?  Any thoughts?


I’ve got lots of them. So many, in fact, that I launched a separate blog to deal with my link addiction overload obsession interest.

Seriously, I’ve started another blog, Sallie’s Stack, and I’d like to invite you to stop by and check it out! And, of course, spreading the word to anyone who might find it interesting is always appreciated.

Hope to see you there! 🙂

I have had many years of experience volunteering in a crisis pregnancy center, though for the past 5 years I have not been involved in any hands on way.  There is an ongoing discussion where I live in regards to the correct philosophy of ministry to those in a crisis pregnancy.  Some advocate an approach that includes a “social programs” type of agenda where girls complete Bible studies in exchange for diapers or other baby items.  In the past year there have been only a handful of girls who have actually had crisis pregnancies.  However, hundreds of others are receiving help so it is really more of a single mom ministry.  Unfortunately, no local churches are currently involved, other than through financial support. 

The other philosophy involves creating a clinic type of environment where a nurse is on call, a sonogram machine is available, and there aren’t give aways unless someone is truly in dire need.  Since the majority of women who chose to abort are not lower income single moms, but rather middle class college students, it is believed that a crisis center ought to have more appeal to them. 

Do any of you have any experience with this or any thoughts?  Also, what do you think the Bible teaches about this?  Do any of the rules regarding “widows” apply in these situations?

Jas 1:27 ~
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

I have been giving much thought lately to the relationship the body of Christ is to have to those who have been widowed. 1 Timothy 5:3-16 certainly gives us very easy to understand guidelines and the reasons for them.
3 Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. 5 The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. 6 But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7 Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame. 8 If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 9 No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, 10 and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds. 11 As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. 12 Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. 13 Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to. 14 So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. 15 Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan. 16 If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need. “

Have any of you actually seen any of this work well and biblically?  I have several thoughts that come to mind….what if no man marries or is interested in a widow who is young and one the Apostle Paul admonishes to marry?  What if she was left with no insurance or death benefits?  What kind of support is the body of Christ to offer?  I am especially troubled by verse 7.  What does it mean for me personally?

Any thoughts? 

I just tried to scrape the teething biscuit from my t-shirt. I was as successful at that as I was at removing it from 9-month old’s eyebrows and hair. I gave up and declared it a “bath night”  for her. I destroyed the ant I found in the dining room; hopefully before it got the word out that under my table lies an ant feast, “crumbs to last through the winter and beyond as long as you don’t get killed by the flying spoon that volleys to the floor every 20 seconds during meal times.” 

My preschooler used lunch to experiment with what happens when you dump your yogurt in the tea you requested at breakfast this morning, mixed with water, and then refused to drink. I managed lunch while catching up with my first college roommate. The 9-month old screamed everytime she dropped her cracker, when I couldn’t get the spoon into her mouth fast enough, when I wouldn’t let her have the spoon, and when I didn’t pick it up fast enough after she practiced pitching it. My friend kept saying, “You probably need to go.” And I kept putting it off. Talking to her reminded me that I have a lot to be thankful for. She was always the energetic one who could outdistance my performance in anything; now she is struggling with ill health and scheduled for surgery next week. She struggles to get off the couch and to homeschool her two children.

She reminds me about the moment. She tells me about bra-shopping with her daughter and I can’t believe this tiny little baby I once held is now turning into a young woman. My own tiny daughter will probably grow up tomorrow and I want to enjoy today. We lament that we always see what we didn’t accomplish at the end of the day instead of what we did. She said she recently gave up lists because she got too depressed when she only checked off two of the eight things she had hoped to accomplish. I am stupidly dependent on lists. I tell myself I will forget something without it. But my list is always in my head and everytime I look at the floor I know I need to vacuum. Okay, no more lists.

I am also giving up apologizing to my husband for everything I didn’t get done. Instead I’ll tell him that once again I have done his laundry, changed 14 diapers, fed everyone breakfast and lunch, read stories, played blocks, kept the preschooler from assaulting the 9-mo. old, walked to the park and back, made our bed, picked up countless toys, and that it looks promising that I will get dinner ready tonight before 7. It might be awhile before everything I didn’t get done doesn’t run through my head; but he doesn’t have to look far to know I didn’t clean the bathroom (again), the kitchen floor is in dire need of a good scrub, and I still haven’t managed to get his old law books listed for sale. Oh and I still haven’t lost that 20 pounds. He can figure all of that out.

My life is good. In 20 years the bathroom will probably be clean, and the table set for dinner when my husband arrives home. I will have caught up with old friends and new. I hope I will have my health, but if not, I will be grateful I had it as long as I did. I will miss my children, and hopefully be finishing up their baby books. I probably will be able to sleep 8 consecutive hours at night. And I will walk past harried young mothers in the grocery store trying to keep their toddler from toppling out of the cart and their preschooler from knocking over a jar of peaches. And I will think, “I miss those days. They went so fast.”

This week I start my new career as a “play-at-home” mom. I’ve been a “professional” for nearly two decades now. I was a chair of my academic department. I earned my Ph.D. in Rhetorical Studies from one of the finest programs in the country. And my first book will come out in November.

But now God has granted my prayer to spend my days making rock candy and slaying paper giantsMy husband, too, is starting a new job at a new school on Wednesday. After knitting our adulthood to an all-encompassing ministry for 21 years, God has said deemed that we start over at, for me, age 38.

So I’m asking for advice. What’s important for stay-at-home moms to remember, to do, and to plan? How do you do it? Like the good over-achieving grad student that I still am, I’m taking notes!


This morning on NPR’s Morning Addition, I listened to an interview with novelist Julia Alvarez who discussed her recent book called Quinceanera: Coming of Age in the USA.  According to the NPR site, “More than 350,000 Latina girls will turn 15 this year, and for many of them that means a big bash. The “quinceanera” is celebrated across Latin America and the United States. It’s a rite of passage, and a growing industry, in the United States. The average quinceanera dress can cost hundreds of dollars.” Another article with pictures can be found at this news site.

Wikipedia describes the celebrations this way:  “The Quinceañera or Quince Años (sometimes represented XV Años, meaning “fifteen years”) is, in some Spanish-speaking regions of the Americas, a young woman’s celebration of her fifteenth birthday, which is celebrated in a unique and different way from her other birthdays. In some countries, such as Puerto Rico or Peru, the word Quinceañero is used instead of Quinceañera when referring to the celebration.  The word is also used to refer to the young woman whose 15th birthday is being celebrated (analogous to the word cumpleañera for “birthday girl”). The closest equivalents to the Quinceañera in the English-speaking world are the sweet sixteen or, in more affluent communities, a debutante ball at the age of eighteen.”

In the culture in which you grew up, what marked the coming of age of girls?   What do you believe could be the significance of this type of event?  Evangelicals have recently begun having what they call Father-Daughter Purity Balls.   Are these an attempt to provide a similiar coming of age celebration for Christians girls?  Any thoughts?

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