Tag Archives: Grace

Why we need blue-haired people

A few weeks ago, I dyed my hair blue. This has caused a bit of a stir.

I’m not surprised. I find it quite stirring myself.

I did some experimental color last summer and fall, but this was a step well beyond the reds and even dark purples which don’t seem to scare people. I guess blue screams, I’m breaking away from the norms!

I’m sure people think I’m having a mid-life crisis. I don’t feel all crisis-y, so I doubt that’s it. I just honestly wanted to do something cool for once and this seems pretty innocuous and non-permanent. And fun.

Having blue hair has been a revelation in some ways.

For one, total strangers are way more likely to give me a shout-out now. “I love your hair! Blue is my favorite color!” I’ve heard that at least a dozen times now, usually in the grocery store.

I’ve seen kids’ eyes get wide as they break into huge grins. They know what’s up. Sorry, parents, if your kids are using me right now as leverage in their argument to let them dye their hair…. By the way, you should totally let them do it….. Be prepared for some weird colors left behind in the shower though.

We need blue-haired people in this world. We do. And tattooed people, and people with nose rings, and people who wear weird colors or look androgynous or who play D&D on the weekends with their friends in a basement somewhere.

We need the people outside the “norm.” They show the rest of us that it’s ok not to be all matchy-matchy with what the world tells us we should be like.

We’re called to love those who are different, difficult, or outside our comfort zone. If you can’t get past the fact that I, a woman in the middle of her professional career, assaults your eyeballs with hair displaying about 5 blue hues — what are you going to do with the genuinely odd people you’re called to love?

Further, young people need to see all kinds of people living healthy, productive lives. Offering one standard model of a Human creates the impression that all the others are somehow deficient.

We crazy-haired people are pretty normal. Some of the nicest employees at the mall work at Hot Topic. Their body modifications (a typical trait of a HT employee, I’ve noticed) has no bearing on their friendliness, their capabilities as workers, or their value in this world. Likewise, I’m not sure why schools tend to jump all over things like crazy socks or crazy hair colors. Who cares what your socks look like? Or your hair?  “It’s distracting.”  Really?

God doesn’t care (I’m pretty certain) what my hair looks like. He created it brown, but I’ve never put much stock in the “if God wanted you to have ——, He would have created you that way” line of argument. Adam and Eve, apart from the Fall, would have still been working toward the New Jerusalem. From a Garden to a City was always the plan. (Read more about that in Al Wolters’ excellent little book, Creation Regained.)

Growth and development have always been the tasks of humans who create, being in God’s image.

Evangelicalism is really struggling right now to handle the LGBTQ+ movement. What I’m seeing, for the most part, is a willingness on the part of most Christians to love individual people (people they know, people they’re already friends with) even after they find out those people identify with an alternate sexuality …. but a deep-seated resistance to loving LGBTQ+ people as a group.

Somehow, in the aggregate, what is non-normative is more threatening. To extend marriage rights (some argue) diminishes marriage. To bake a cake implies approval. And Godforbid we imply that in any way, we condone anyone’s aberrant sexual behavior, identity, or leanings.

Apparently the Holy Spirit has lost His ability to convict people of sin, righteousness, and judgement (cf: John 14) in these latter days. The LGBTQ+ movement broke Him?

A decade of teaching taught me that I can’t change anyone. I can love them, encourage them, cajole them, and warn. But I cannot change anyone. It’s simply not my job. And it’s also not my job to function as someone else’s conscience, certain that I identify the areas in his life where he’s clearly wrong and sinning to make sure he knows that he’s messing it up.

I grieve when a friend tells me they’ve spent a lifetime trying not to be gay, not to be weird, not to be trans*, not to be different. I don’t have easy answers for them. I don’t even know how I’m supposed to think and feel about these issues – I cannot reconcile the Bible’s words (as I understand them) with the narratives I hear from people I love.

I’ve read the arguments from Christians working to reconcile biblical narrative and systematic theology for those who claim both faith in Jesus and a non-heterosexual identity. Ken Wilson’s Letter to my Congregation is one of the few I find compelling — I like his recommendation that churches provide a pathway for gay Christians to remain in communion with the Body while the larger Church sorts this stuff out. The Holy Spirit is big enough to handle Christians who are behaving non-normatively and – if they’re sinning – convict them of sin.

I’m certain that breaking people in the name of Jesus isn’t the right way to handle this.

Friends, if we cannot bring ourselves to tolerate oddball hair colors, a non-threatening behavior that lies outside our accepted norms, how are we capable of loving God and our neighbor when that actually gets hard?

Loving God doesn’t mean making everyone around me worship Him the same way I do and for the same reasons. It’s God’s job to call people to His name – He makes that clear.

Loving my neighbor doesn’t mean co-opting the Holy Spirit’s job to sanctify those who claim faith in Jesus. It means …loving.

Perhaps it means allowing myself to live in the uncomfortable region where I cannot exactly see how to reconcile my theology and my faith with my friends or their narratives, while remaining genuinely hospitable and welcoming to anyone who shows up at my door needing a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear. Perhaps that is what Grace looks like – giving up my comfort zone for the sake of another.

Perhaps we Christians need more blue-haired people around.

Because if you can learn to stop thinking of my hair as an unnatural aberration, maybe you can also stop seeing your LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters in Christ only as misguided, disobedient Christians … and simply care for them instead.

Link: Grace and Mercy in Chicken Fingers: Matt Redmond’s God of the Mundane | Mockingbird

Grace and Mercy in Chicken Fingers: Matt Redmond’s God of the Mundane | Mockingbird.

^ A review of what sounds like an excellent read.

We all want to think of ourselves as special and we deeply wish there were meaning to every task we do at work.

But what about the massive parts of life that are just … mundane? What about the millions of jobs that are honestly kind of boring?

A message of Grace for the everyday is what we need. And Redmond offers that, according to this reviewer.

Link: Should Mom-and-Pops That Forgo Gay Weddings Be Destroyed? — The Atlantic

Mob “shaming” tactics do nothing to advance LGBT rights, just as refusal to bake a cake does little to stop them. We need to follow a better way – dialogue, grace, patience. Both sides.

A very good read.  An excerpt:

The owners of Memories Pizza are, I think, mistaken in what their Christian faith demands of them. And I believe their position on gay marriage to be wrongheaded. But I also believe that the position I’ll gladly serve any gay customers but I feel my faith compels me to refrain from catering a gay wedding is less hateful or intolerant than let’s go burn that family’s business to the ground.

And I believe that the subset of the gay-rights movement intent on destroying their business and livelihood has done more harm than good here—that they’ve shifted their focus from championing historic advances for justice to perpetrating small injustices against marginal folks on the other side of the culture war. “The pizzeria discriminated against nobody,” Welch wrote, “merely said that it would choose not to serve a gay wedding if asked. Which it never, ever would be, because who asks a small-town pizzeria to cater a heterosexual wedding, let alone a gay one?” They were punished for “expressing a disfavored opinion to a reporter.”

via Should Mom-and-Pops That Forgo Gay Weddings Be Destroyed? — The Atlantic.

A couple good films for your February

Instead of just grousing about how Christians often fail to recognize excellent, biblically normative art when they see it, I’ve got a couple films to recommend to you for February viewing.

I’m pretty sure both of these are rated R. The first is just for a couple uses of the F-word and some mild violence. The second has adult content and I would recommend that parents screen it before showing to kids.

Ink (2009) – Jamin Winans

When I first stumbled across the excellent indie film INK on Netflix a few years ago, it punched me in the stomach with Grace, just like a good Flannery O’Connor story.

A band of supernatural beings called Storytellers race to rescue a little girl kidnapped by a bad spirit who’s desperate to make it into his own “league of evil,” while in our world the girl’s father buries his failures under layers of anger, bitterness, and numbness.

The film is inventive, visual, snarky, thoughtful.

Favorite scene: when the blind Pathfinder changes the rhythm of the world so as to “shake the shit out of” the girl’s father, giving him an opportunity to be something better than he is.

Lo (2009) – Travis Betz

If you mixed a Broadway play with a rom-com AND a horror movie, you get LO – a winsome and disturbing and heartwarming story of love in the face of hell. Literally.  Justin, a lovable loser, finds his life changed when he meets April …. until demons show up and take her to hell. So he does the most desperate thing he can think of to get her back. It looks like a horror movie mixed with a stage play (and there actually is a stage version) but really … this is a movie all about love.

It’s hilarious. It’s interesting. It’s …. kinda sketchy in places. And it’s one of the best love stories I’ve ever watched. Perfect antidote to all the sappy Valentine’s Day stuff.

Unfortunately, neither INK nor LO are streaming on Netflix right now, but you can rent INK on Amazon Instant Video. Both are available through Netflix DVD or for purchase at the films’ websites.


Want to discuss education?

This is a small plug for a site where I and a few friends chip away at the ideas behind “teaching redemptively” — applying the Gospel to the structures of education, not just the words used in the classroom or censoring textbooks or any number of surface-level attempts at biblical worldview integration.

The title of the blog is an homage to the book Teaching Redemptively by Donovan Graham, a work that profoundly affected the way I view teaching and learning.  Seeing how the Gospel transforms the very fabric of classroom structures, student-teacher relationships, and perspectives on the curriculum & subjects taught deeply changed how I approach discussions of education.

Finding myself in the company of a few colleagues who were studying at the same graduate school and absorbing the same viewpoint, we began writing — a little — in an attempt to tell some of our stories and unpack the day to day experiment of “Grace-based education.”

Our goal was to kick off a longer project of writing a series of case studies that illustrate or illuminate the principles Graham sets forth in T.R.   Names changed to protect the innocent and guilty, of course.

There’s much that we never got around to writing down, and some older posts that we might even wish to revise. But if you have any interest in thinking through what the Gospel means for education across all ages, we’d love for you to join the journey with us.

A note during the changeover:  I can’t update original author attribution until my fellow writers get over here to WP.  For the moment, all posts are listed under my name, but many were authored by my colleagues.  I’ll at least get authors listed over the course of the next few weeks.

Teaching Redemptively: A Blog on Grace-Based Education

TR blog shot

Link: Rob Bell, Jonah, and Redemption

I know people really love to hate Rob Bell, but his post below on getting the point of the biblical narrative is dead on, regardless of where you stand on biblical literalism.

Just one problem. It’s possible to affirm the literal fact of a man being swallowed by a fish, making that the crux of the story in such a way that you defend that, believe that, argue about that-and in spending your energies on the defend-the-fish-part miss the point of the story, the point about allowing God’s redeeming love to flow through us with such power and grace that we are able to love and bless even our worst enemies.
For the people who first heard this story, it would have been intended to have a provocative, unsettling effect. The Assyrians? The Assyrians were like a huge, gaping, open wound for the Israelites. Bless the Assyrians? 
The story is extremely subversive because it insists that
your enemy may be more open to God’s redeeming love than you are.

rob bell • What is the Bible? Part 4.

The goodness of the Lord in the land of the living

“I would have fainted, had I not believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Ps 27:13)

John’s story (link below) of God’s steady pursuit of him in Grace is a beautiful read.  Please don’t miss it. 

Fundamentalists Drink Good Beer, Too: The Story in Order sort of.
^ This post lists all of the segments of the story in their chronological order; John wrote them out of order but it’ll make more sense if you follow this list.  Also, don’t miss today’s post of his that wraps up his pilgrimage (which isn’t on the list yet, but I’m sure it’ll get there soon.)

Grace. It’s bigger than our sin. Really.