Sunday, 1 September 2013

Needed: Paradigm Shift

In the last few weeks as the online site I'm using has continued to expand its fruitless search off into far corners of North America (against my wishes) I have noticed a small paradigm shift in the language used to describe an ideal mate. It makes me wish there was a way I could have access to all the evangelical or marginally evangelical profiles on online dating sites as a way of examining the more general language around dating being used in those areas. It seems the Northwest is deep in the throws of gender politics, with very direct (yet with superfluous wording) in their beliefs of the roles of men and women.

Now as the matches are coming from the Southwest I've noticed a slightly different trend. It seems that Proverbs 31 is the new catch phrase.

So on that note we're going to have a teeny tiny exegetical moment, limited in large part by the fact that I do not currently have access to a library (you are SO lucky) but don't worry we'll probably do a tango with this topic instead of this middle dance version.

Being poetry there is a little more flexibility in the translations (using Biblegateway you can set up multiple parallel translations for free if you want to see where the differences are) so instead of critiquing the translations or the context or really anything that you would in a close exegetical reading, I'm going to look at the general structure and what being a Proverbs 31 woman entails.

If you read the whole of Proverbs 31 you'll notice before the writer(s) come to discussing this archetype or ideal, they discuss the imperative behaviour of her husband and just like Ephesians, we seem to do a very quick skip and a jump over those verses.

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice." 31:8-9 (NLT) 

This imperative is echoed throughout scripture and yet it seems that we are not throwing this around as looking for a Proverbs 31 man... true it is not an imperative limited to just men, it should be for all. However, I do in situations like online dating find it telling that piece of text is being proof-texted rather than understood and conveyed in other ways.  But I think that will be clearer if we actually look at the text.

A capable wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant, she brings her food from far away.
She rises while it is still night and provides food for her household and tasks for her servant-girls.
She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She girds herself with strength, and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid for her household when it snows, for all her household are clothed in crimson.
She makes herself coverings; her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the city gates, taking his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them; she supplies the merchant with sashes.
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. (31:10-27 NRSV)

I've highlighted some passages to pull out some of the main themes, one organization and provision - "provides food for her household," "merchandise is profitable" "her lamp does not go out at night," which is to say she has a enough oil and is prepared to ensure that there is light, "not afraid for her household when it snows," these are just a few of the instances. It is clear that she is the one in control, ensuring that their household is fed through the work of her hands and that they are clothed through that as well. She is a woman with hustle, serious dawn to dusk hustle. And yes that is a exegetical declaration that I would have no problem declaring from a pulpit.

The problem? 

Well I feel like this passage is a double edged sword - for women we read it and feel inadequate - I know I cannot manage a home and a job and provide like this woman could. And for these men who cite it, it is a pastoral (in the other meaning of the word) vision of their happy little housewife canning and sewing to her heart's content with babies crawling all over her. And yet is should never have become a sword. This passage is located in Proverbs - we need to understand the environment of the text, it is not a checklist by which we, as women, or for future partners hold their wives to.

Instead it should be seen as speaking to the spirit of a woman who wherever she is, at home with the kids or without children or with children and job outside the home, that she seeks to do her best at whatever she does, seeking the best choices, making wise financial decisions and acting with grace and compassion.  It does not declare what our titles must be but the spirit by which we act and the same goes for our partners, as seen in the earlier verses.

At the end of all this if you're about ready to weep or drink consider this courtesy of Hey Christian Girl:

Saturday, 24 August 2013

All the Other Shades of Grey

No, I'm not referencing the bafflingly popular book series, instead I figured it was time to have a discussion about all those other shades of grey questions that bounce around the world of faith (to whatever degree or affiliation) minded singles.

It seems every time I sit down with my single friends (faith and non faith minded) the question seems to find its way to the issue of where do we place faith in our relationships. Is it the glue that makes marriages their best or is it something more? I am sure there would be those who argue that mutual faith is one of the determining factors to the success of a healthy relationship. However Christian divorce rates are the same as non-Christian rates. Even if faith had no factor in those divorces, what happens when a person goes through a period, season or years (whatever term makes you happy) of questioning, doubt and even silence within their relationship with God. Do they in turn silence their partner, if God is the centre and one no longer feels God's presence what happens? I realize it is more complicated than that and that is why I think there are so many shades of grey, especially in a culture where it seems many can place themselves with some degree of assurance on all sorts of other complex issues like gay marriage, abortion and even social policies, immigration and the environment.

Why is this one the murkiest of them all it seems?

I started this journey/blog for many reasons but namely because of this one issue. How is it that I still believe I need to share a common faith with my partner and yet to date the most successful relationships I have had have been with men who would label themselves some form of lapsed Catholic/agnostic or spiritual person. Is my decision being solely driven by the belief that in the hard moments I need someone to pray with - do I believe that I will be without other community in those times? Or is my decision being driven by the fear that some future ordination committee is going to reject me because I didn't fall in line with expectations? (If you're wondering that was one of the questions discussed when this issue most recently arose)

My frustrations are not unique which I am aware should be comforting and yet I feel only adds to the confusion. I have heard too many stories about Christian men with bizarre ideas of who their wife should be and the spiritually and emotionally aggressive lengths they go to (and I am fully aware that this phenomena can go the other way, sometimes I do wonder if the state of affairs in the Church is not in some way still being fuel by bizarre fantasies women have of their husband who leads the family in faith in all circumstances like a mini-Jesus or Paul). This does not mean that an agnostic partner would be less abusive or that there will be less turmoil. Nor should the decision be laid solely on these experiences or even my past experience. The question is:

When all else is great, even amazing is faith a deal breaker?

Yes, but no, but yes. Maybe oddly it has been but at the other extreme, for the last few months the extremes of evangelical faith have been a deal breaker, but in theory it should not be, I should be excited to see all these men professing the only books they have read are their Bible and Wild At Heart and yet I just feel lost, stuck in this land of grey that wants to believe that love is enough and a part of me that really just doesn't know.

So what do you think?

Photo credit

Thursday, 15 August 2013


One of the early profiles I was matched with I quickly discovered that he was looking for:

"a feminine woman who will allow me to be a male around her and who will become feminine when we are together a woman that I could take care of for the rest of her life protect, nurture defend encourage and share my love with. I have so much love to give and need someone that will be willing to receive it."

So being that I had a pretty good idea of what was being requested but unsure I wasn't reading my personal bias into it, I turned to my lovely friends on Facebook and asked for a translation on this Christianese and received everything from the purely humorous to the serious and everything in between such as:

Secret desire for evangelical Christian dominatrix, of course - best friend

The answer to this question and any other about what they mean or are looking for is pretty simple. BJs. - former almost boyfriend (and a similar response from my father)

Allow me to translate. What this means is I read some book (I can probably name the book but I'm not going to because it doesn't deserve it) a long time ago that told me that women wanted traditional men to defend them and make all their decisions for them and so if I write a bunch of crap like this in my **** profile it will make women want me and find me a nice submissive wife who will let me be what I think a man is. In other words not the guy for you. - former university classmate and presently a pastor

When I spun the question around a few weeks later after finding that 98% of the profile matches were soliciting the same dynamic, I asked "it seems every **** profile cites the need for a feminine woman to make them feel like a man, this puzzles me. Have you ever turned to man to make you feel like a woman? Or is it a uniquely Christian male issue?"

The responses were very similar to each other so I picked to of the dozen or so married women who responded:

but 'woman' is just a label, and 'feminine' is a meaningless societal construction as far as I'm concerned. I'm a woman on my own terms, but more than that, I'm a person. My man makes me feel loved and valuable, and the fact that I'm a woman is hardly even relevant. If a guy doesn't feel like a real man without a woman that acts 'feminine', then that's his problem he needs to solve on his own.

 I don't think about feeling "like a woman" much at all, so I don't expect someone else to evoke such feelings! What's interesting to me is what they mean by "a woman who makes me feel like a man" - code for what exactly? And what could make them feel not like a man? I have a hard time picturing this to be a good thing.

In that moment I was so thankful that the Facebook hive-mind had come together and validated the feelings I had about this whole issue of being feminine so that I can exist only as a binary marker for my future spouse to mark himself against. Again the language of evangelical gender relations was not of woman as a whole but rather as only defined in relation, as though it doesn't exist without man. But there is the rub, at its extreme this dynamic also suggests that men cease to exist unless interacting with women. And all these roles and interactions do not even consider that gender is a construct and that cis men and women (and that does not even include trans men and women - not that they're not important to this discussion but rather it is a topic for another time and space) can abide on a spectrum. I might be able to bake a pie and scrub a floor but I also can also hang cabinets, use power tools and assemble furniture but none of those abilities/activities are a result of my uterus/sex. These are not intrinsic to what it means to be a woman or being feminine. 

And yet...

The message continues. 

We continue to tell women that they are only feminine if they are soft spoken and meek, not too educated and super excited by the prospect of having a huge family (see:Dugger's/quiver-full communities) and we tell men, just like these two cases that they are only men if they conquer (do but don't Google Douglas Wilson and conquer if you want to know details) or are "wild at heart" (thanks Eldridges). We eliminate all the shades of grey - all the beautiful complexity that is being human, wherever you place yourself on the gender spectrum and whoever you love. 

Lastly while I would love to offer a musical reference at this moment it seems in digging around the musical interwebs that there has been a lot of discussion for the idea of a woman needing a "manly" man - yes I'm looking at you Shania, Aretha and well actually the whole of music it seems. But I was able to find this song which condenses in some way the expectation of women in the Evangelical church - Stand still and look pretty

Monday, 12 August 2013

I See Dead Things

Every morning when I open my account to assess the damage I expect to see dead things. It might be the area of the world I live in or the Christian population from whence my matches are being pulled but it seems that these men feel it imperative to inform me in their photos that they can kill small animals and fish or in the extreme, wrestle a sedated tiger in Guam. I find this an interesting phenomena where Christian culture has deemed killing of small animals as a sign of manhood, while at the same time secular entertainment like Criminal Minds continually remind us that this is can be a pathological behaviour. Frankly I do not need any convincing that it is a pathological behaviour.

While yes we can joke, as my brother did, that this is a good sign, it means that if there is an apocalypse we'll survive. That does throw a little theological wrench in the system, as after all, should we really be so paranoid about the "end times" that we start living our lives out of that fear? Don't answer that - it will take you all sorts of places we do not have time for. So if we throw the end of the world to the side, I only have the massive evangelical conglomerate knows as gender roles via the Eldridge et al contingent to hold accountable.

Now I realise that there might be women out there swooning over the idea of a man perched behind the carcasses of a dozen birds or fish, or even smiling while play wrestling a tiger, but for myself I find it problematic. For one, yes while I do eat meat and I support the ethical treatment of animals in life and death, it is something that can easily altered for sport. Furthermore for myself, I worry when a man has certain activities so deeply integrated with his understanding of masculinity. A person is not a man because he kills things, drives a pickup truck or grunts at the TV, they are a man because of who they define themselves as and how they carry themselves. Which I realize places everything into shades of grey, but just as I do not want to conversely be held to a standard which sees women as barefoot and pregnant or just plain weak and meek.

But I do feel I must also confess that the undercurrent to my distaste is also while I appreciate the forest and the serenity that my male classmates claim they find when they're in a frigid Colorado river which a cigar in their mouth and a fly fishing rod in their hand, they would likely find that pole lodged elsewhere if one ever insisted I come along. I don't do the woods like that. I will happily glamp (glamour camping) with my martini and a good book, a little Bonhoeffer seems appropriate to the climate, but I draw, more so dig and erect a wall there.

This is probably not the last time we take a dance with this topic but that being said:

Is there something that you see on a profile and it causes the opposite response in you than intended?

Photo credit

Friday, 9 August 2013

I Do Not Get the Maybe Part...*

I have every intention of continuing with the understanding the language of evangelical dating, but providence has arranged a detour for the moment. Mary is My Homegirl posted a gif response to the wonders or horrible wonders of flirting in graduate school, which of course ended up on my Facebook wall and launched a discussion about the state of affairs, or lack there of in Christian graduate circles or just evangelical circles in general.

I am certain that I cannot flirt to save my life despite all the lady magazines I spent my teen and young adult years reading. Actually that is not entirely true - I can flirt when I do not actually like the person or I am on an Amtrak train for four days by myself and decide it is a good time to test out that eye contact article from a lady magazine I had read repeatedly in my boredom (which FYI worked, too well actually). Thankfully for my more adult-lack-of-flirting-skill-self I have stumbled into a community where flirting is more or less limited to hushed requests to watch your stuff in the library, while you likely go to the washroom. Which when you think about it is a little odd and a little too forward as you are introducing someone to the rhythm of your bodily functions.

I know that my lack of flirting skill is not unique in the evangelical world. I have found in my experience with men that most seem to oscillate between being far too aggressive or too passive and routinely swing between the extremes rather than trying find some sort of middle ground. The whiplash between the two extremes does happen in the non-evangelical world, however, as friend pointed out on Facebook the lack of flirting "game" is linked to the culture.

For evangelical men or even men who have spent any duration of time in the evangelical culture flirting is challenging. They are on one extreme told to be "masculine," to stake their claim and ensure that there is no possibility that the woman they are interested is going to lead in any way and on the other they are routinely shamed for their own understanding of masculinity or their sexual desires. They have not been offered a way in which they can with respect and appropriate timing and speed approach a woman they like, treat her like a human and not a piece of land to be claimed and in turn handle either the acceptance or the rejection well. I have found in my experience that 90% of men chose the passive approach via the friend zone. They hope that they can hang around long enough that eventually they can slide into the boyfriend zone. Pseudo dating is a blight on all decent men and needs to be stomped out with a vengeance... but that is another issue to be discussed at a later date. The remaining 10% I have found go to the other extreme. For example, I was at a house party a few years ago and might have become a little intoxicated, but that is beside the point. I awoke the next morning to a message in my Facebook inbox asking for my number and a date and I honestly could not remember anything about this guy. If he'd been flirting with me he'd been doing it wrong, all wrong. I did for the record go on a date with him which turned out to be the worst and longest date of my life.

In addition to these extremes I have found that most male-female interactions where there is some sort of attraction seems to be stunted at the level of playground antics. This can look like a classmate who insulted me in our first interaction and then fled, only to continue to act bizarrely around me for the last two years to a friend of mine who believed the best way to interact with me was to antagonise me, questioning predominately my theology. I have absolutely no problem discussing theology because that is the field I am in right now, but I do have a huge issue when the only way you can convey you like me is through petty arguments that you do not actually have any interest in. It's the equivalent of poking me until I give in to your advancements, all in the hopes you'll just stop. Both you and I are not going to win if I give up.

For evangelical women, I think the binaries are just as extreme. We have to negotiate the heroic virgin (see Regnerus) paradigm in evangelical circles which spans all sorts of shenanigans like Purity Balls and other shaming rituals to keep young women nonsexual by shaming them about their sexuality to the other side which is the I give up, you think I'm a sl*t so I guess I'll own it. For the record one of my male classmates did call me a sl*t because I use birth control. While it is cliche, the Madonna/Whore binary seems to skew every aspect of our interactions with the world.

So do I flirt now? I might if you have a few G&T's in me because that is about the only time I'm going to be flirting at the extreme where it is completely undeniable and I will make a complete and utter fool of myself. I do not blame the lady mags for that failure and to some extent I do not even blame the evangelical world for my issues with flirting. Rather I think I've come to the point where I cannot stand having to switch my brain off to get myself attention, and when I have tried it in recent years and it always comes up against a wall which I have chosen to interpret as both he's not interested and don't waste your time. This philosophy simplifies my life but it has also completely killed off my dating pool.

So on that note:


Tuesday, 6 August 2013

So What is REALLY Going On...

The prodding question, "so what is really..." is quickly rising in the ranks of one of the most hated questions. It has already surpassed the questions about when are you going to graduate or how's the ex... 

But I should back things up just a small amount here. My father got remarried this weekend. He is now a father to six kids, all of them unmarried, ranging from 31-15. So being that I am that 31 year old, it seems only fair that I was the one bombarded with the most aggressive of questions about my life. I respect that I have opened myself to the questions as I have been posting my horror stories from my current dating site on Facebook in a combination of misery likes company/see, it is really hard.

Here in lies the issue, why is it difficult?

I am not sure.

I could blame my singleness on all the problems with the Evangelical dating gauntlet; however, in my moments of introspection I have my worries that the problems at the end remain within me. I want to blame the misogynist men - those threatened by my "calling" or just my extensive education (thanks subsidised education system) or my few apologies approach to how I have directed and conducted myself over the last few years.

It would be easier if I could find the blame in me.

If I could blame my choices, my love of high heels or reading choices...the list could go on and on and on for all the reasons from my education to my waist size, the former being a never ending problem, not made any easier by the surge in the "smokin' hot wife" dialogue in the Church, then my life would be easier.

The problem is in moments like this past Saturday it is hard to even in those moments to say well maybe it is me and have it be heard and understood, that what I am saying is not that I'm broken or that I'm a lesbian or that I as a feminist I hate men. It is not any of those, but rather the acknowledgement that may be despite my desire for there to be a simple reason, it is really complicated and thus why I'm writing these posts. It might be the covert misogyny or it might be an issue in me or it might just not be the right time.

It does not make the answer to the question any easier when your aunt leans over to ask you at dinner, with your tired looking satin bridesmaid dress on and Spanx peeking out the bottom edge, what is really, really going on. I normally oscillate between these two responses:

Thursday, 1 August 2013

That is What You Want, What You Really Want?

Today I witnessed an event that I expected would not come for some time or at all. I was really, really praying never. I can handle the language of submission as they appear on profiles as: "servant-hearted, grace-filled, humble, meek, quiet and gentle." I know that it is all the new evangelical candy coated speak for the now passe term "submissive." That is not to say the idea has somehow become passe. No it's still en vogue, if not more so now than it was a generation ago, these men just do not have the chutzpah to come out and ask for it (how ironic). However, today when someone posted they wanted a "patient, faithful, submissive wife," initially I laughed a little or vomited a little in my mouth, let's just say combined it was a moment of reflux and then all my emotions could be summarised as:

Yes apparently by that sentiment I am not the woman he is looking for to marry. However, I do not think any human is, although there are many mammals living at the local animal shelter who would fit the bill. There might be differing opinions on the roles of women and what the ideal dynamic is for marriage; the problem I have is that there is this belief that submission is necessary as if that is the only way, a colonial conquering rather than any type of mutual agreement. This belief is perpetuated by the belief that a woman is not a full human; she is only the extension of man. I'm not going to trod down the theological road on this one other than to clarify that humanity (both man and woman) in one flesh was created first, thus end of the whole dance around who got there first.

So why am I all ruffled about this? Because of dating advice like this (OFFENSIVE CONTENT) that reaffirms beliefs that a woman is little more than a child you can have sex with complete with the need for discipline (that is a sentence I never wanted to write or will write again). Submission and all its other forms are only models of conquering or oppression and can only be maintained when a person is stripped of the fullness of their personhood. This is not to say that complementarian relationships are the same as relationships that are founded solely on submission. A woman can subscribe to the suggested traditional roles of motherhood and still maintain her whole selfhood and live out of that wholeness, but I believe only when that is her whole choice and not the demand of the male in her life.

Yes that is a little detour and it really did not need to be said, but as my ex-boyfriend said after he and I had a conversation about this issue, "where did you find these misogynist jerks," it made me sad. I was a little sad that I had to have the conversation with him but even more so because this is what we're creating in Evangelical circles, we are teaching men that the only way they can be men is by making women less. It is the same structure that reinforced colonialism, racism and classist behaviours around the world and it reflects nothing of the Gospel.

*Yes, I did quote the Spice Girls and it was intentional.

Monday, 29 July 2013

The Double C's

As I have spent the better part of this evening doing down the Taylor Swift rabbit hole in Youtube one of the many they have, not that I would know anything about being lost in the world of retro makeup or geeky desserts, I have come to the following question.

Are men taking their dating cues from T Swizzle?

I will qualify this by saying I will give a pass to any 14 year old and under who looks to her for dating advice because they're young enough that the swallow depth of her lyrics are not likely to cause to much trouble. Now for a 31 year old male.... I will give you that she is attractive (but she's also crazy); however, she is more, she also represents our cultural demand for a counterbalance to the "modern successful, even sexually forward" woman. She represents the cute woman more a girl than not yet a woman demographic. It is for this reason for Charlotte in Sex and the City or Jess in New Girl. She's often meek, often overly dream focused, flouncy and girly. She does not by her actions, words or carriage portray a deep held direction, conviction or even the ability to steer herself through life, she is at the behest of whatever male-force wind blows through her life. This concept shares similarities with the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope which has been utilized in the art of covert misogyny in film. The issue is not that there are women who behave like Charlotte (most clips are NSFW so feel free to go down that rabbit hole on your own) or Jess but rather that these cinematic two dimensional characters are seen as normative rather than a masculine ideal. When women, are upheld to an idealized standard, one that in this case requires that they be emotionally, socially or even intellectually limited to be appealing, this is a problem (there is a growing degree of this occurring within women in regards to how they view men and that is not okay).

The problem manifests in dating, especially online dating as the double C's, the cute and cookie-cutter.

I am not cute.

Okay, well...

I might have moments that are cute or silly or even truthfully juvenile, but it is not my desire nor is it appealing to be classified as cute. However, as this one profile notes, "appreciates the differences between genders and attempts to understand the mind of a man...reflective/quiet personality...little financial debt, and I got to say... oh so very cute."* First off, I love ellipses but maybe consider some of the other grammatical devices available, like say a sentence. On the idea of cute. Puppies are cute, bunnies are cute, even sometimes small humans (ie. children) are cute. Is an adult woman? Well maybe before I wrestle with that one, what is or more so what does it mean to be cute in this context? Cute in this case exposes two underlying actions/thoughts. Cute is not sexual, as a good evangelical woman she would not in any way be sexual because that would imply that she's either not modest, holy or even more horrifying that she may want sex and thus pursue, even more horrible initiate, said action with her husband. It also suggests malleability, as the second C in the double C's is cookie cutter. Yes, often that phrase implies pre-arranged, pre-packaged two dimensional persons but it also holds with it the desire to have someone moulded to that exact shape and specification that works for you. 

 So with that in mind I do not want to be cute. I am me, just me. I am a whole person, full of quirks and awesomeness and all that stuff in between.

But that being said I have a confession to make.

I know that somewhere in the evangelical dating curriculum that went out and around almost two decades ago and the time that followed that there was this idea that if we complied this perfect list we would not have superfluous dating relationships as we already knew what we wanted. For the record my list was HUGE. I could have and I would have gone all Frankenstein in that moment. Since then? I tossed the list and got a really simple one. I'll know. I will spend time with people who interest me, men I have chemistry with and that combined with what I know of myself and what I need, it will all pan out, maybe, somehow, or not. But that's the issue in the cute and the cookie cutter. It isn't about the learning. Life, never mind love, is not about a list or a pre-determined shape I want to fit my life or a flavour I like best (apricot rugelach) it is about change, growth, definitions and redefinition. And that process has never and will never be cute, even for the small humans change is not cute, it's hard, but it can also be beautiful, fierce and fragile. That is what I want. That is what I want to be wanted for the beauty, the ferocity and the fragility that is life lived honest and whole hearted.

*per the fine print, this quote is word for word, a typos and ellipses are the individual's, in this case italics and bold are mine for emphasis.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Understanding the Language (Part 1)

I would love to blame my summer of Biblical Hebrew last year for my sudden inability to understand Evangelical dating-ese, but I think the problem might go further back. Way back, like a few light years ago to junior high.

I skipped out of dating in junior and senior high. I would love to say that decision was my choice, a sign of me channelling my inner Cher Horowitz or maybe it was, more accurately, a decision not of my making. Somehow in that choice, that wasn't really my choice I missed out on my chance to learn or at least vaguely comprehend this mysterious language. It sounds like English and I am sure it is English, or maybe was English, just like Cher (the other one) was actually Cher at one point in her life. Every morning when I look at my matches I find myself wondering what kind of alcohol induced game of telephone I've found myself in. Now granted I am sober when I read my matches, it is really all I am willing to offer of myself to the process, so then where is it all breaking down?

I have narrowed down some of the issues which I have examples of (oh screen shots how I love thee), and maybe if we put our heads together, like a gaggle of tourists around a Greek sign we'll be able to figure out where we are headed or at least where we are.

1. The My-I's
2. Cutes
3. Death as Becoming
4. Fem-Men-in-and-out-and-all-around

The My-I's are number one purely for my annoyance and not necessarily my confusion per say. I will say that I am in many respects curious about all of the facts in their appearance. What do the My-I's look like? At present with the site I am using it is often encountered in the "5 Things I Cannot Live Without" as My Jesus, My Salvation, My Bible, My Church, My iPhone, usually followed by the 3 Things I am Thankful For with, My relationship with Jesus, who saved me, My salvation or some other derivation of the Jesus/Holy Spirit or Father God combo and then the last one is always a My ___ (possession). At this point I will say that a majority of profiles (80-90%) demonstrate this phenomena and of those 75% demonstrate it in its majority.  This grates on me, like this grated on my nerves for the five years I worked in pediatrics. It also does not help these men that I work with a 3 and a 6 year old two days a week and they do not even drop the I or the M words that often.

So what happened?

Did Gen Y become the "why meeeeeeeeee" generation at some point and I missed that moment while I was busy being a junior homemaker, balancing a job, school and parents? Even if that did happen, which I doubt it did, I do not feel comfortable with forcing Gen Y to shoulder the blame for this issue when I think the "personal relationship" aspect of the modern Church has a part to play. In all our desire for the me and Jesus relationship we have lost the we and Jesus, the community. I am not suggesting the movement from a corporate understanding of faith and salvation to an individual one is wrong. However, in this manifestation it sounds a lot like the Finding Nemo seagulls and not like a beneficial understanding of the relationship between God and humanity.

I will confess (to you all - how lovely corporate confession is) that these men normally get kicked to the no pile really fast. Why? In the end I'm looking to marry a partner. It is a red flag to me when everything can only be framed in terms of me and I. I become very worried that I am dealing with at best a poorly behaved 3 year old and at worst a pathological narcissist. In the immediate terms of online dating it also makes starting a conversation hard when it is framed all about them. Where exactly do you jump in and get the discussion going? Should I ask how your Bible or your Jesus is today?  Or is all of this just a sign that #4 is going to be the biggest problem of them all, because maybe it is not so much about it being your Jesus as much as it is about my voice* being nothing compared with yours.

*Voice (definition): auditory communication of life experience, perspective and opinions.

Postscript: While listening to the radio I heard this song and I thought I fit perfectly as she does know how to work the My-I:

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

In Which I Enter a Familiar Yet Foreign Land

Robert Frost's famous poem "The Road Not Taken," speaks of two roads, diverging from one another,and according to physics diverging lines do no re-intersect each other after their initial point of contact. However, I have found that either the physicists or Mr. Frost have erred as it seems despite my best attempts to leave the road of fervent, even fundamentalist, faith I have found myself skirting its boundaries.

While I know that in practical terms I have never left evangelicalism as it has continually informed my life even as I have done whatever I could to remove myself from its reach, I was not expecting to discover myself on a this road of more traditional fundamentalist faith. The experience has been more akin to realizing I had mistakenly left my homeland and to my surprise enter into a foreign, hostile (to me) land. In an attempt to remain unseen I have found myself plunged into a ditch.

The first rule of thumb when entering a foreign land, even one that looks, sounds and smells familiar, do not drink the water until you know, for certain, it is safe. Unfortunately for myself I have found I am immersed in some unholy water, the backwaters of fundamentalist evangelical thought. I am positive that the whole of evangelicalism is not quite a stinky at this run off and yet I have fears that this water is what is irrigating future generations. This water does not contain the usual farm run off with a healthy growth of green sludge; rather it contains the bacterial strains of gender roles and politics, the language of "masculinity" and "femininity," a healthy dose of shame and a questionable understanding of the Trinity, all together, when swallowed will make you sick. I have spent the last decade of my life trying to avoid this water, these beliefs spewed like a commercial farm sprinkler in the forms of I Kissed Dating Goodbye to the recent "literary works" of Mark Driscoll and fellow neo-Reformers, like John Piper and Douglas Wilson.* The problem is while I know that these men and their thoughts in no way represent the whole of Christian thought, yet they seems to have found the most fertile soil in men aged 25-40. That is not to say they have not also impacted women as well; however, for all the hype that Joshua Harris garnered during my late teens and early twenties, the idea of throwing dating out the window for the purposes of purity did not ring true for me. That is not to suggest I did not want to throw the angst ridden concept of dating out the window altogether for other reasons, namely my awkwardness in the presence of men my age. I did *try* to date with intention which in practice looked much more like Hermione trying to use a crystal ball. For some reason I had mistaken the idea of intention to one of prediction, was he "the One," yes, then hang around waiting for the day he decides he wants to intently pursue you, while emotionally benefiting from your presence.Yes, you are correct, the math is very wrong in that equation, and no fancy calculus formula is going to make that one work out in the end.

So where does that leave me now... well I guess as I'm reading profiles which tout the wonders of John Eldridge or is looking for "someone who appreciates the differences between genders and attempts to understand the mind of a man" while being "oh so very cute," I am trying to decide if I have or am willing to drink a little of the water in an attempt to be polite.

*These men could also fall under the label complementarian. 

Sunday, 21 July 2013


A few weeks ago I found myself breathing a very deep sigh of relief when my therapist did not broach the subject of my two year long dating dry spell. However, as I thought about it, I decided to do something about it and in doing so continue to be the super patient, so next month I can offer her the brilliance of my action.

Or so I thought. What I had conceived as brilliant quickly became a horrible mess. I quickly realized that trying to jump with both feet into the world of dating Christian men would pose to be as difficult as trying to find a pair of size 8 pumps at an end of season sale.  In recent years I have opted to avoid the stress and existential crises that, for me, seemed to come with dating in the evangelical sphere. I have for the last five years opted to cut my emotional losses and date non-Christians or nominal Christians. It may seem counterintuitive to some but for myself it made much more sense. I did not have to address any of the Church encouraged or even sanctioned gender roles, for myself and for the men I had been dating. I did not have to worry that what I was saying could emasculate my partner or that my desire to not give birth to children could be interpreted as being willful against God's call for myself.

So then why am I back in the Evangelical dating world, now a local in a foreign land or maybe more so a foreigner in what I thought was charted territory?

When I started my degree two years ago I realized that while I might have more in common with the marginally interested in faith or completely apathetic, I could not ultimately have the kind of long term partnership I desired, one that did involve some degree of faith. As such quickly I found myself stuck. I was straddling or more lady like sitting sidesaddle on the fence I perceived between the world and Evangelical Christianity. It might not even be a fence, it might be a wire or it might a large swath of barren land between the two sides, as I am truthfully not even sure where I stand with regards to either side. Wherever I may be sitting (with my ankles locked), standing or running around like a ninny (mostly this option) I have come to the realization that there is much to be re-charted and translated if I have any hope of understand where I am and what I am truly looking for. So on that note, the journey must begin.

Has anyone seen a map?