No Years Resolutions

Welcome to 2011, my dear friends. A few years ago, I stopped making new year’s resolutions. Maybe it was in rebellion to all that I felt Master’s Commission was. In Master’s Commission, I grew to look at myself more as a project who needed work. I always felt guilty for the thoughts I had, even if they were good. I always thought I should change-be something or someone else. Rather than viewing myself as a unique person who had some great qualities, I constantly dogged on myself for the faults I saw in myself.

And New Year’s was just another time for us to focus on “changing” and “better ourselves” and “working harder” at our self-control and discipline.

So, I decided to stop all that nonsense. I also decided to stop looking at myself in a negative light, as someone who had to be changed, and to look at myself as someone who was pretty amazing, creative and individual. In order to do that, I decided to stop making New Year’s Resolutions temporarily and just practice appreciating the person I was.

I also used to spend hours on end in Master’s Commisson being “encouraged” to always improve my time management, so I could squeeze more projects into one day. We read all those business and self-improvement books that are filled with ways to finish your entire to-do list in a day. Most of the time, then, my to-do list wasn’t even stuff I wanted to get done. It was something I wasn’t getting paid to do for someone else. Now, I do things for myself, and then help others. I simplify my time. I spend a good amount of time saying no to needless responsibilities (that sometimes others are just too lazy to do) and tasks that I didn’t choose, but someone may have pushed onto me. I relax more. I realize that I’m ambitious enough throughout the day that some relaxing at night isn’t going to hurt me. And if the to-do list doesn’t get done, there’s always tomorrow, or next week. Eventually, if it’s important enough, I’ll find time for it. If not, I’m not bothered by some unimportant things not getting done.

I don’t force myself to read more, exercise more, do more, be more of something else. I just don’t mind going through a new year at the same pace as the last one, and being the same person as I was last year.

For many of us, who’ve been recovering from the teachings of Master’s Commission, it’s helpful to take a moment and strip away the guilt, the self-criticism, and stop beating ourselves up. Recognize that you’re a good person, who’s worthy of love, who is great, and has a good heart.

Lastly, I’m by no means not telling you to make a New Year’s Resolution. In fact, I’m probably going to start getting back into the “resolutions” game this year with my own new set of goals. However, I’m going to do so knowing that it’s in my best interest (and not the interest of someone else), and not because someone encouraged me to do so, but that it’ll make me happier as a person.

Magic Erasers Are the Best Cleaning Product, Or Why Elisabeth Elliot is Full of Crap

Magic Erasers are the best cleaning product out on the market today.

They’re particularly useful for the bachelor pad, the busy business minded person or for the person who hates to clean (like me).

If you’re like me, you hate to clean. You don’t mind letting the shower go for a month without a good scrub down. You may not even vacuum the floors until you can visibly see the dirt on the floor. Maybe you have a sink full of dishes that’s been sitting in there since Thanksgiving. Who cares!

With the Magic Eraser, you can wait two or three months and then give your shower a good scrub down. All the soap scum disappears…like magic! (Pun intended) Ha Ha.

I love the magic eraser. Why? You ask. Let me explain.

Years went by while I was being “discipled” (or as I affectionately call it: Slavery) that we were ordered to keep our rooms, bathrooms, and cars in meticulous care.

If our pastor walked in unannounced, he might see our dorms in moderate disarray (the kind of disarray that’s normal for a young adult).You’ve seen comments on this blog, where ex-students have shared that their personal belongings were ripped from their wardrobe closets and tossed into the middle of the dorm room floor to represent the pastor’s distaste for uncleanliness.

This was a real problem for me.

Not only is it violent, and abusive, but it’s just not my style to spend hours on end categorizing and organizing my underwear and personal filing system. I have better things to do. I like to sleep. I love to write and play online. I take long drives down in Southern California, adoring the natural beauty of our state. In other words, I don’t give a damn about cleaning for hours on end and I’m happy about that.

Furthermore, I’ve always been really relaxed when it comes to how my room or apartment looks. My idea of being organized for my writing space is dozens of books lined up along the floor, wall, counter top, and desk–some open to a page that I’m quoting or mulling over and some face down, with some random gum wrapper holding my place. I have papers spread around me like a moat around a castle–if I move, I have to tip toe around them like I’m Alice in Wonderland getting out of a maze.

If you walked into my creative work space, you’d probably think a Tasmanian devil had arrived and spun out of control.

I like it that way.

No big deal.

Except, it is a big deal when your pastor and his wife are obsessed with Elisabeth Elliot and her books. The idea that “cleanliness is next to godliness” gets it’s militaristic stance from the author of Passion and Purity, a legalistic guide to abstinence and avoiding contact and emotional ties with the opposite sex. Elliot wrote a book entitled Let Me Be a Woman, which is the text I believe the idea of being clean, robotic women-drones came from.

Why do I disagree with Elliot and the teachings our pastors put on us? Well, first let me say that if you think getting your clothing and possessions thrown on a public floor is “godly” or good in any way, you need to have your head examined, as my dad would say.

Secondly, Elliot is completely against the type of female I am. I was raised to be a woman who could do anything I wanted to do with my life. Yep, I had those parents. The ones who never said, “Oh, Lisa you’re a girl. Don’t even dream of doing that! You must just sit at home and get married and have babies.”

Elliot is completely anti-feminist and contrary to how I was raised (how I was raised is probably really normal and if nothing else–healthy).

How can Elliot be anti-feminist? It’s more common than you think, especially in Christian society. Elliot wrote the following argument against feminism and matriarchy in her book, Let Me Be a Woman.

“Do the women’s liberationists want to be liberated from being women? No, they would say, they want to be liberated from society’s stereotypes of what women are supposed to be…. Some very interesting facts have been uncovered by scientists which will feminists will have to treat very gingerly for they show that it is not merely society which determines how the sexes will behave…. The idea of matriarchy is mythical, I’ve learned, for not one that can be documented has ever existed. Doesn’t it seem strange that male dominance has been universal if it’s purely social conditioning? One would expect to see at least a few examples of societies where women rather than men held the positions of highest status…. Isn’t it really much easier to believe that the feelings of men and women throughout history bear a direct relationship to some innate prerequisite? … It was God who made us different, and He did it on purpose. Recent scientific research is illuminating, and as has happened before, corroborates ancient truth which mankind has always recognized. God created male and female, the male to call forth, to lead, initiate and rule, and the female to respond, follow, adapt, submit.”
~ Elisabeth Elliot, Let Me Be a Woman, pages 58-59.

Elliot’s last line in there is completely sickening: “God created male and female, the male called forth, to lead, initiate and rule, and the female to respond, follow, adapt, and submit.”

Wow. All I can say is how full of ignorance and stupidity that line is. Women are just to “respond, follow, adapt and SUBMIT?” What a load of horse sh*t.

What she really means is this: Women: Don’t use your brains, don’t take charge or be assertive, don’t buck the system (especially if that system is your husband or a male pastor), and don’t diverge from the role I’m telling you “God commands” you do have.

If I’m going against what Elisabeth Elliot taught (along with what my pastors taught), and don’t sit around cleaning my house non-stop, nor do I “submit” to a man’s plans for my life and that means I’m “ungodly” or “unsaved” then…AWESOME. I personally can’t ascribe to ignorant teaching and I personally don’t even want to be categorized as anything that those idiots teach or language that that ideology pushes. It’s language that oppresses me and other women. It attempts to push us into the home, coercing us to serve our husbands as our masters, without recognition of the human beings we are. The anti-feminist ideology fails to recognize that we can have dreams and succeed too, even if we are women. Emphasis is only placed on the males ability and desire to “dream about their future” and succeed in the business or ministry world.

My magic eraser and I are doing just fine without a load of horse sh*t teaching. Thank you very much.

Think For Yourself

The problem of complicity is a dangerous one. To be complicit, is to refuse to think for oneself. When we listen to what is taught to us without question, without examination, and without doubt, we’re prone to being complicit.

To Think Requires Courage

The problem of complicity is a dangerous one. To be complicit, is to refuse to think for oneself. When we listen to what is taught to us without question, without examination, and without doubt, we’re prone to being complicit.

Complicity is a problem that extends to many religious and political ideologies. Often in politics and religion, a mob mentality is often easier to listen to. When you’re faced with a mob of hostile onlookers, it’s easier to join them than to allow the moral dilemmas of the historical and current times press against the conscience.

Individuals become easily complacent by allowing a group to think for them, and not taking the hard road of freedom of thought and moral action. People must be greatly courageous to think for themselves, both morally and socially, because social ostracism is as prominent now as it ever was. In the history of the Holocaust, thinking for oneself meant the possibility of one’s own life being taken by the SS soldiers. Therefore, to think creates a problem for the individual and for the society. Sometimes, we may disapprove of or doubt what an entire group is thinking and in doing so, may be “attacked” by the mob.

But to go along with the mob as a “just a bystander” creates an even greater problem. Going along with the mob paves the way to some of the lowest points of humanity. The mob mentality was what caused an unthinkable horror such as the Holocaust and mass extermination of an entire culture. Although an extreme example, it’s one I can not forget. The Nazi mentality when they were tried was, “I was just following orders.” The Nazi soldiers who killed innocent men, women and children were “just doing what they were told.” In essence, they weren’t thinking for themselves. They didn’t take responsibility for their own actions.

To think for oneself is one of the most courageous acts a human being can embrace, and because the majority of the world chose to stand by silently, the world has lost millions of precious lives and, for a time, lost their courage.