Thursday, March 20, 2008

Ruth Tucker on Jesus and Leadership

Ruth Tucker writes a wonderfully provocative piece: Acknowledging Jesus as a Failed Leader. We get so used to calling Jesus the perfect everything that we forget that He wasn't actually trying to be everything. He was being precisely, and only, what the Father sent Him to the earth for, and His mission had little to do with contemporary ideas of "leadership."

Good stuff. Check it out.

HT: JollyBlogger

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Settling for Mr. Good Enough?

The March Issue of Atlantic Monthly has an article by Lori Gottlieb entitled, "Marry Him!" on "settling." As in, a woman lowering her expectations and marrying a guy who she doesn't see as her one and only perfect "soul mate." I agree with the general point and many of the specific assertions of the article.

Thing is, I find the language insulting and demeaning.

Gottlieb writes from the perspective of a 40-year-old single woman who has realized the pitfalls of "waiting for Mr. Right," recognized the benefits of marriage, even if it isn't to the idyllic man of a woman's dreams, and cautiously advocates settling "young, when settling involves constructing a family environment with a perfectly acceptable man who may not trip your romantic trigger—as opposed to doing it older, when settling involves selling your very soul in exchange for damaged goods." She correctly recognizes that marriage isn't mostly about romantic bliss; it's about "having a teammate" to go through life with, to share responsibilities and chores. She's absolutely right.

The problem is that the language of "settling" is, well, unsettling. I kept reading through the article looking for clues that this was all tongue in cheek, that all this talk of settling was really a matter of being both realistic and simply fair to any real live flawed human man who might actually be interested in marriage. There was one, just one, nearing the conclusion of the article, tucked away in a parenthesis:

Unless you meet the man of your dreams (who, by the way, doesn’t exist, precisely because you dreamed him up), there’s going to be a downside to getting married, but a possibly more profound downside to holding out for someone better.
The man of a woman's dreams doesn't exist, can't exist; and yet men are faulted for not being that. Even though Gottlieb pokes holes in the fairy tale that some day your prince will come, she also makes it clear that settling is still settling to her. The images of men that she discusses are all in some degree repulsive, which I get is her point, but it still puts the woman in the place of looking down her nose at her prospects and giving in to the inevitable with a weary sigh. Any faults that the woman has are attributed to age and motherhood, and Gottlieb discusses the unfair nature of the fact that women lose their appeal earlier than men do (although this is largely due to the fact that women are attracted to older men; whose fault is that?). Gottlieb simply doesn't deal with the issue of how pretentious it is for a woman to set such impossible standards in the first place. What woman could live up to such standards from a man?

Gottlieb argues that men don't settle, and when they do, they don't seem to mind it. She's missed the point entirely. Men settle all the time. Where does she think the stereotype of the Man Afraid of Commitment, the Sweaty Groom Looking for a Way Out, comes from? But men don't generally call it settling, because they don't generally have such Impossible Dreams floating around in their heads in the first place. They don't think of it as settling. They think of it as being realistic. "Dude, you're not going to do better than her," is a perfectly plausible and common conversation for men to have.

So my advice to women would be, don't settle. Because as long as you're thinking of it as "settling," you're demeaning the person you're committing your life to. First, get rid of the notion that one man is going to bring you unending happiness, that all your problems are due to not having him, or once you have him, that all your problems are due to his flaws. Dump the ego trip that says that anything other than the Prince Charming in your brain (to whom you've probably attributed self-contradictory attributes, anyway) is beneath you. Recognize that you're a human being, and any guy you meet is a human being, and if you find someone who treats you with kindness and respect and sticks in there through the long haul, then you're pretty lucky.

Then, you won't have to settle.
For more on marriage, check out my book, Marriage, Family, and the Image of God .

Marriage, Family, and the Image of God


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

What's in a name?

Sorry, nothing profound here about names or naming things. I'm just in the middle of rethinking some things on this blog, and I'm rethinking the name. "The Schooley Files" was originally the name of an old website on which I had published some papers, most of which now appear as posts or series here. I'd come up with the name in imitation of a now-apparently-defunct website called "The David Ponter Papers." It just seemed like an intriguing title, and after all, that's what the site was: contents of my files that I thought other people might find worth reading.

It seems to me, though, that very few bloggers, at least of the type I frequent, have the main author's name as part of the title of the blog, and I'm wondering if it comes off as conceited to readers. The thing is, I don't really know what else to call it. My own bent would be to use a Greek word as a title, like Aletheia (Truth) or Dikaiosune (Righteousness, Justice). I could make a cool banner graphic screening in the Greek lettering in the background. But the words wouldn't resonate for most people, and there would be problems in spelling and therefore finding it (should I choose to use it as a domain name).

Nothing else comes to mind. I don't want to pigeonhole myself ("The Arminian Advocate," "The Pentecostal Scholar"--ugh!) and I'm not blogging on behalf of a church or larger organization that might lend itself as a ready name.

So I'm open to suggestions. Any impressions that the blog overall gives you? (This lends itself to something with "shudder" in the title....) Or maybe I'm making much ado about nothing.