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Preview: How God Messed Up My Religion

How God Messed Up My Religion

a blog by Pam Hogeweide

Updated: 2014-10-28T04:08:33.812-07:00


Subscription to Pam Hogeweide Being Forwarded to You


To my subscribers of How God Messed Up My Religion:

I have shut this blog down and am now actively blogging at my new and improved site,

Lacking the techno know-how to transfer my feed subscribers, I am going through the backdoor by manually sending each of you a new subscription to the new site. If you want to continue to stay in the loop of what I'm writing, how my new book Unladylike is doing and what book project I'm launching in the fall, then simply verify the subscription link when you get the email. 

Otherwise do nothing!!

I want to thank you one more time for sharing your email box and your busy reading life with me and my blog. How God Messed Up My Religion is where I cut my teeth as a writer. It's the space where I experimented with new ideas. My readers made the blog and the blog made me the writer I am today. 

As a token of appreciation for those who choose to follow me to my new site, I want to mail you an old-fashioned form of communication called A Postcard.  :)  I'll request your address once I see you've verified your new subscription.

Thanks again. I am over and out from How God Messed Up My Religion...........

My Blog is Moving...farewell God Messed Me Up! {last post}


Well. It's been a long time coming. I knew this blog was getting stale a couple of years ago but I wasn't willing to admit that. Now I am.

I've been slowly setting up a new site using Wordpress instead of Blogger, the blogging platform that has been my online writing medium for the last six years. It will be much different, but the same me. For starters, I'm retiring the blog name How God Messed Up My Religion. I need to start fresh and push into new territories of writing that are beyond Christian spirituality and issues of faith and church.

So  I want to invite you to follow me over to  There is a subscribe button at the top of the page there for you to submit your email. I know there must be a way to import my subscribers to Wordpress, but techno clumsy that I am, I don't know how. So I'll do it this way, by personally inviting you to stay connected to me and the writing path that I am meandering along in Wordpress.

Thanks for being a subscriber (for those who've been getting these posts in your emails and feed readers!)

That's it folks. Over and out.

The Privilege of Being Human


My friend Tiffany posted this on her Facebook page today. It is from Father Bob, who adapted this look at male privilege from a tool used to help recognize white privilege. You can access that link HERE. I have highlighted the ones that I have seen or experienced in my context as a Christian woman. 1. If I wish, I can arrange to be in the company of my gender most of the time.  2. When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my gender made it what it is. 3. I can be quite sure of having my voice heard in the group in which I am the only member of my sex.  4. I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my gender on trial.  5. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my gender.  6. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my gender.  7. If I declare that there is a gender issue at hand, or there isn’t a gender issue at hand, my gender will lend me credibility for either position.  8. My culture gives me little fear about ignoring the perspectives and powers of people of the other gender.  9. I can worry about sexism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking. 10. I can take a job with an employer that has an employment equity program, without having my co-workers suspect that I got the job or promotion because of my race or gender.  11. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation, whether or not it has sexist overtones.  12. I can think over many options, social, political, imaginative, or professional, without asking whether a person of my gender would be accepted or allowed to do what I want to do.  13. I can choose public accommodations without fearing that people of my gender cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen.  14. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my gender will not work against me.  15. If I have low credibility as a leader, I can be sure that my gender is not the problem.  16. I can easily find academic courses and institutions which give attention only to people of my gender.  17. All in all, I generally do not have to worry or wonder if my race or gender is a factor in the opportunities available to me in my family, my education, my recreational activities, my career, and my future old age.Does this ring true for you as you read them? We all have privilege of one kind or another.  Racial privilege,  economic privilege, education privilege,  etc...  as Christ followers, what are we meant to do with the privilege we possess simply for being born a certain skin color, gender or nationality?[...]

Dust Devils


I grew up in the desert land of southern Nevada. The desert is a strange place with unusual weather phenomena like sand storms and dust devils. A dust devil is like a mini-tornado, a swirl of heat and sand that twirls and hovers above the ground. They look like spinning ballerinas. When I was a kid, I would become mesmerized when I spotted a dust devil from the safety of the family car. There were rare occasions when I'd see two or three dust devils spinning together in a cluster. It resembled a dance party. Dust devils are created when the right wind conditions are in place. They touch down upon the earth spinning and grinding whatever their wind-driven devilish selves can kick up and around. Sand particles and small rocks go round and round in fast cycles creating a dust cloud wherever the dust devil travels. For this reason, they are easy to spot from far away.The winds of change are blowing for women in the contemporary church today. More and more I am hearing of women who are discontent--I call it a holy discontment--with the way things are. This is good. Christianized sexism has gone unchecked in some corners of Christendom. Patriarchy is viewed as normal. Resistance to patriarchal Christianity is viewed as deviant and unbiblical.A couple of weeks ago a well-known and influential American Christian leader kicked up a dust storm when he openly discussed the "masculine feel" of Christianity. I blogged about it, and so did many other Christian bloggers as a cry of outrage produced a wealth of dust devils across the digital desertscape.   Blogger and author, Rachel Held Evans, especially pushed back on this idea of a masculine Christian faith.Today Rachel continues kicking up some dust on the absurdity of a masculine Christianity and takes on some traditionalistic thinkers who think women need to just remain quiet:In his post on the topic, Challies admits that he isn’t sure what he thinks about Piper’s most recent comments, and confesses that “I find that I am not entirely comfortable making Christianity more masculine than feminine in its nature... There is certainly a masculine feel to Christianity; but does this masculine feel necessarily exclude an equal female feel? ”And this part is telling: “It seems inevitable that if men are to lead the church,” Challies says, “there will be a masculine feel to the churches they lead.”Exactly. When women are forbidden from exercising any form of leadership in the church, Christianity takes on a masculine feel. It reflects only part of God’s nature.It utilizes only half of the Church’s resources.It elevates one gender above the other. And it has for centuries.The question is not—does Christianity have a masculine feel? It does! Few would dispute that.The question is—should Christianity have a masculine feel? Should things stay this way? Does patriarchy really represent Christ’s ultimate vision for the Kingdom?I am so heartened when  I read blog posts like this. Just a few years ago remarks like this would barely get a shrug let alone a bevvy of dust devils in the blogosphere. But the atmosphere has changed since then. There is a scent in the air of something different. The breeze of business as usual is absent and in it's place are disruptive, unruly dust devils unharnessed and reckless.I think I see a growing number of dust devils swirling across the wilderness of Christianity. The winds of change are gusting up. God knows I don't like wind if my face or messing up my hair, but this is a good wind, a necessary wind. I think it's a Holy Spirit wind blowing upon women and men across the American church and dismantling patriarchy board by board.Sam Cooke sang it right. A change 'gone come..dust devils and all...a change 'gone come. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="420">[...]

The Civil War Song of Male/Female


W hen I was in middle school and high school I played the trombone. I was a good horn player and had even earned my way into the city’s high school honor band. But in my own school band I held second chair. The first chair trombone player was a boy.          My mom recently reminded me that I didn't want to challenge him for first chair since I thought a boy ought to hold it, even though I was a better player than he was.Somehow I got the courage and finally challenged this boy for the first chair. I literally blew him away and for the rest of the year, I possessed the power and the privilege of being the only girl horn player with first chair bragging rights.           It broke band social codes for a girl to play trombone in the first place, let alone to hold first chair, but when the band director signaled us to play, ranking no longer mattered. Playing together did.I loved the trombone. It was my instrument, what worked for me. I played it loud and strong. The brassy tone of my horn blended with the other trombones, trumpets and clarinets and drums. We made music together, all of us converging as a tapestry of sound.          I hadn’t played in over thirty years, but recently I was invited to join a brass ensemble made up of hospital employees where I work. Nurses, doctors and even the president of the hospital system I work for are in the band. One of the chaplains is our music director.           I am employed at an entry-level job which makes me the lowest ranked employee in the ensemble. But when we play, it doesn’t matter. Playing music together collapses all the social, vocational and economical positions people relate to one another by. We play in unity for the love of the music we can create together.           Earlier this year I saw a band called The Civil Wars in concert. This singing duo comes from the talents of Joy Wilson and John Paul White. Joy sings with a subdued sorrow in her tone, a haunting voice that takes me to another place. John Paul is equally mesmerizing. His voice possesses a slight whisky growl that runs  through all of  his songs. They are each powerful singers on their own, but when they sing together it becomes a new sound entirely. It is their unique harmony that has created so many fans for their music.Joy says that sharing vocals with John Paul is one of her favorite things about The Civil Wars.  “Because when you're a solo artist, you can't harmonize while singing the lead. To me, all harmony is active listening." What a great picture. The harmony of their voices is rooted in the other. I think this is a beautiful example of male/female equality and shared gifting. One is not above or below the other. The Civil Wars is not John Paul with his sidekick Joy.          And so it is with male and female, created by God to sing and live together in harmony, side by side. Not one above, nor behind the other. Side by equal side.[...]

She Loves Unladylike


Writer and editor of She Loves magazine rightly observes, Gender equality is a hot topic, causing much division, and yet, through my own awakening to injustice in its many forms over the last decade, I hoped and prayed this book would shine a bright light into the unnecessary silencing too many women still endure. Personally, I am thankful for my faith community where women’s voices are heard–it’s not even a question–and we can get on with the business of what God uniquely calls us to do on the earth. But I grew up in a silence and a stifling and I know what she’s writing about. Moreso, I hoped her book would bring more language, tools and clarity to the gender justice conversation. (Idelette McVicker)I was so stoked when she requested an email interview after she began reading Unladylike.  The payoff for all the hard work that went into this book is when a reader like Idelette emails me how my words are bearing resonance. She further writes,Pam reminded me that I have a responsibility to lean into freedom–not just for myself, but for my sisters. Injustice doesn’t just run away. We have to say, Enough! If I am tired of silencing, I have to take a stand. Plus: If we want to be part of empowering women everywhere, understanding our value–and ourequality in the eyes of God–is essential. It’s from this place that we can go on and transform our world. In “Unladylike,” Pam drew me in with her gracious spirit, comfortable writing style, yet well-researched strength. Through the lines, I heard a whisper, Another way is possible for our women.Idelette asked some great questions in her interview. I'll leave you with this snippet and hope that you'll go to the She Loves magazine site to read the rest.Idelette: Why is this your story to tell and who did you write this book for?Pam: When I first began to reflect on writing about women and the church, the first mental obstacle I had to cross was the fact that I am not a pastor nor an elder. I do not have that story of being banned from following my calling because of my gender. And that’s when it hit me: despite the absence of a leadership call in my life, I have been acutely affected by inequality in the church towards my gender. My womanhood and identity have been profoundly affected and shaped by the messaging of the church that women are to remain in subservient roles. That is my story, and I realized it is the story for many other women, too. Most of us are not called to be pastors or leaders, yet women of faith bump up against what I refer to in the book as “an inner stain glass ceiling,” the personal censorship we put on ourselves out of a sense of lacking power. That’s the story I wanted to tackle and these are the women I wanted to reach, women like me who are ordinary Jesus women scarred from inequality. [...]

A New Mourning : Saying Good-bye to Tony Tuck


Anthony J. Tuck 1/28/39 to 2/2/12

My friend Tony Tuck passed away last week, just a few days after his 73rd birthday. When I got the news I was incredulous. No. Not Tony. Heart attack? Can't be. The guy was healthy and active...

But yes, it was true, Tony passed away on an otherwise ordinary day under a blue canopy of a Pacific Northwest sky.

My heart broke immediately for his death. And it also ached for Jane, his wife and a good friend of mine. How can she be without him?  How can he leave her? They have been together  for over four decades. They met when  they were young communal hippies during the heyday of the sixties era. She has lost half her heart and soul, I thought. And I sorrowed for her as surely I sorrowed for the light gone out of the world that Tony took with him to the other side.

A new mourning has arrived. With it comes ghosts of old mournings from years past--from the summer of 2007 to be specific. That was my summer of tragedy. Four funerals in one month. Read about it HERE.

I am going through the motions at work and even at home. I haven't really spoken too much about Tony's passing. I've barely mentioned at all how deeply this is affecting me. I don't want him to be gone. I don't want Jane, my dear friend and one of the tenderest, wisest women I know, to be Tony-less.

He was a good man. A wise Jesus man of a sage who affected many, many lives including mine and Jerry's.

He will be missed.  The  mystical conversations,  his authentic probing questions to get to the heart of a matter, his understanding of the Enneagram and how to apply it to relationships, and his noodles. Noodles! My God, he cooked Chinese noodles better than the Chinese! (And wherever did he get that huge, oversized wok from?)

And so, a new mourning has come upon me. I comfort myself with the words of Isaiah, the ancient Hebrew prophet who spoke oracles with poetic imagery of the exchange of ashes of sorrow for the oil of gladness. Life is temporal. But, assures the sacred text of the Bible, so too, is death.

Book Excerpt : The Non-Essential Christian Woman was Me


**The following excerpt is from my new book, Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church available now at Amazon in print and on Kindle. This excerpt comes from Chapter Five, The Bible Tells Me So {Part One} : The Search for Biblical Equality***I’ve been involved in discussions and debates about the issue of gender equality in the church for more than twenty years. I’ve been on both sides of the issue, having once been a devout evangelical woman who was desperate to please God and gain and keep the approval of the men and women around me, whom I admired very much. Even ten years ago I did not feel as strongly as I do today about the equal status of women.I have known women who have long felt the disproportion of equality between men and women in their faith communities. It eats away at their soul, slowly corroding their sense of worth and value in a religious culturethat is meant to be their refuge of safety. Some women quietly leave, slipping out the backdoor without a word being said. They wander away from the haven of church determined to find an open meadow where being a woman is not a liability. I know women who’ve never come back, though their argument isn’t with God; it’s with the people of God who maintain an ideology of gender inequity and defend it in the name of Bible doctrine.In the summer of 2011, research organization the Barna Group, released its latest findings in regards to American women and the Christian faith. The number of women attending church has declined by 11 percent according to their research. Church volunteerism has fallen by 9 percent, which is to be especially noted since women have long served behind-the-scenes to keep church programs humming along.41Barna’s study summarized “that the only religious behavior that increased among women in the last 20 years was becoming unchurched.” We can speculate why women are disappearing from the pew (at a faster rate than men, says Barna) yet I have to wonder if part of it has to do with the misogyny that permeates the corridors of Christendom?I like to believe that this shift of women leaving is positive, an indication of resistance to the injustice of inequality in the church. In fact, when I first read this study, I had just met three different women who left their churches (but not their faith) as a result of sexism they experienced in their faith communities.I remember the first time I heard of a woman leaving her church over this issue. It was years ago. I was part of a thriving non-denominational church that was complementarian in belief. At the time, I agreed with complementarian view so it was a non-issue for me at my church. The woman who abruptly left our fellowship was not much older than me. She had been quite involved as a volunteer so it was noticeable when she stopped showing up.“Why did she leave?” I asked someone who was seemed to know what was going on.“She wanted to teach.”She wanted to teach? Teach what? What did that have to do with her leaving?Oh, not teach what. Teach to whom. She wanted to teach men.Apparently, she had told one of our pastors that women ought to be allowed to teach at home Bible studies and from the pulpit like men do. When he told her it’s not biblical for a woman to teach the Bible to men, she decided to leave. I was astonished. Why would that bother her so much? Why wasn’t she content to teach women’s Bible studies or children’s ministries? There was more than enough opportunity to teach in these realms. She had been told this, but she decided she couldn’t be in a church where women weren’t allowed to teach as freely as men.It’s on her, we decided. She could have taught in women’s ministry, but that wasn’t good enough for her.“She’s in the wrong,” said the church woman, “She better be careful, too, that she doesn’t go too far off the track of b[...]

Feels Like Patriarchy : John Piper and the 'Masculine Feel' of Christianity


Now that my book has been born, I've been able to once again pay attention to the chatter around the blogosphere. Like yesterday. Bloggers and tweeters alike were buzzing with uproar over the comments by popular author and pastor, John Piper, who said, "God's intention for Christianity is for it to have a masculine feel," among other patriarchal comments.At his annual Desiring God conference, John came out boldly stating why he thinks the male half of humankind is better suited for leadership and revealing Christianity:God revealed Himself in the Bible pervasively as king not queen; father not mother.  Second person of the Trinity is revealed as the eternal Son not daughter; the Father and the Son create man and woman in His image and give them the name man, the name of the male.  God appoints all the priests in the Old Testament to be men; the Son of God came into the world to be a man; He chose 12 men to be His apostles; the apostles appointed that the overseers of the Church be men; and when it came to marriage they taught that the husband should be the head. It's the feel of a great, majestic God who is by His redeeming work in Christ inclining men to humble Christ-exalting initiatives and inclining women to come alongside those men with joyful support, intelligent helpfulness, and fruitful partnership in the work. (emphasis mine. click here to read the entire report)Blogger and author Rachel Held Evans brought this wide attention when she called on bloggers, especially men, to respond to this blatant male-centric imagery of God and the Christian faith.   I asked some writers I know to take up her call and they did.Dan Brennan had this to say as he challenges the "masculine feel" of the Christian faith with this observation:In John's Gospel, in the most pivotal, defining moment in the Christian story, Jesus revealed himself, his presence to his friend, Mary Magdalene when no one of his male chosen disciples was around. Think about it.Peter Walker gets personal explaining why a masculine version of his faith doesn't quite work for him...and he's a guy!But talking about masculinity makes me nervous for a number of reasons. First, despite an early strain of fundamentalism, I’ve never been a particularly macho guy. Christian Youth Culture was always awkward for me growing up because I wasn’t an athlete, and so many church activities focused around athletics. I did theatre, and took ballet classes in high school and college – that didn’t help. Second, I have always been emotional. I’m the guy crying in the theater at romantic comedies (not my wife). Damn you, Diane Keaton, you’re just so good… And Third, I have gay friends – where does John Piper’s definition of masculinity fit for them? What about my female friends – particularly my lesbian friends, who have their own unique and often painful experiences with gender roles?As for me, I coincidentally just had an article published today at Burnside Writes Collective about  why I wish I did not need to write a book like Unladylike. Piper's patriarchal philosophy serves to remind me that unfortunately, books like mine are urgently needed to push back on the "manning up" of a faith tradition that has always been meant to be a model of mutuality between the sexes, for God created male and female, in the image of God did he create them...Here's what I wrote for BWC:Right now there are congregations from coast to coast where women remain relegated in subservient roles. The men preach and teach and rule in a spirit of patriarchy, while their sisters serve the coffee and polish the stain glass windows. Nothing wrong with serving, but inUnladylike I explain how women of faith remain caged up in domesticated roles out of being conditioned to remain so. We do not come forward from the back of the church becau[...]

When Wounded Women Speak Up


A recent Facebook thread generated a rather robust discussion about women's roles and equality in the context of Christianity. One commenter, a pastor, contributed to the discussion the typical storyline that women who reject the headship doctrine are likely wounded because of men who lead poorly.Have a listen:I understand the pain and hurt that many women have had in their homes and churches over "headship" theology but that doesn't mean we can throw out the fact that Godly men are to lead. Yes, women can have the gifts of pastoring, teaching...etc.. but eldership is ultimately responsible for the direction of a home and church. This pisses many women off because MANY men are very, very unsatisfactory in their spiritual leadership. I am sorry for our failures to be trustworthy.... doesn't mean we can change God's plan because it feels better to have control. This pastor effectively demonstrates one reason why so many women remain "in the closet" about their misgivings with male hierarchy. A woman who dissents to the No Women Allowed sign on the door risks being interpreted as a woman operating from a maimed point of view. The same commenter also directs the discussion to the issue of power and gender writing, Our culture is fighting around us for power, rights and prominence. Unfortunately, the evangelical community is also fighting over the gender issue. Sometimes, both sides seem to be angry and power hungry to win the argument.I address this is my book, Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church, the notion that women who challenge Christianized sexism are sometimes met with a pushback that it is really an attempt to grab power. I find this logic flimsy when the person in a position of privelage and power explains to the person who is oppressed, that their desire for liberty is really a misguided grab for illicit power. Is it just me?Telling women that the male gender by virtue and divine design  are meant to possess power, and then insist that women who buck against this are themselves fighting for power is a telling sign of oppression.  The woman is relegated to a subservient role and then told by those who have assigned her this space that to reject her role is to attempt to vie for power that is not meant to be hers. Paulo Friere says it this way:The behavior of the oppressed is a prescribed behavior, following as it does the guidelines of the oppressor.And that pretty much sums it up for me which is why I am calling on women and men of faith to act Unladylike. [...]

Reviews are coming In


I love to write book reviews. This is because I like to give my opinion. I've written plenty of Amazon book reviews as well many blog posts reviews (which reminds me, I have some book reviews to catch up on. Look for them soon!)So it is interesting to find myself in the other seat these days, the place of having my writing reviewed. This reviewer has become the reviewed.I promised myself not to give too much credence to reviews. One person's POV can be vastly different than another. And though I know this, I still check Amazon at least three times a day to see if anyone has posted a new review. So far there are nine. All of them are 4-5 star reviews with the exception of one (more on that later). What's really interesting is that most of the reviews are from men. I love this. Love it. My pictured reader as I wrote Unladylike was a non-descript white woman. Basically a woman like me.Here's some highlights of some of the Amazon reviews:Unladlylike is going to challenge you because Pam boldly guides us on a tour through the deeply rooted sexism in the evangelical  *** Having been raised in the Bible-belt south, and in churches where it was just a fact of life that women were not to be in positions of authority, I was naive to the oppression of women in ministry. And this book is opening my eyes. The research is well presented, the prose clean and well written, and Pam's personality shines through in every chapter. *** My daughters will both read this book, and I pray come away stronger and more sure of their value in God's eyes. May they be "women who are determined to live in the fullness of who God has made them to be rather than diminished by what patriarchal religion tells them they cannot be.Besides the Amazon reviews, my friend Bill Dahl--who regularly reads and reviews books more than any other person I know--wrote a lengthy response of his thoughts after reading Unladylike. Here's an excerpt:It took incredible backbone to write a book about the heart of this matter. As we have seen throughout the history of civilization, it takes the heart and beautiful mind of a wise, courageous and creative woman to propel us toward imagining a better way… Dying breed?Not – if   Hogeweide and her ilk have anything to do with it.Finally, a song from my childhood kept throbbing through my head as I read this book. It’s entitled The Buses' Are A-Coming. Hogeweide’s authorship of this book finally…formally.. introduces a voice that is long overdue a legitimate place on the platform this work places her on. Pam Hogeweide… a freedom writer.             (click here for his full review)I've obviously been quite pleased with these early reviews!  Granted, several of these folks are people who have been long-time fans of my writing and so there is likely a tad of bias. But still, it has been encouraging.Then yesterday, the one-star review came in. The reviewer says, "I cannot recommend this book." When I read what he had to say, I was surprised. I think you will too. You'll have to click HERE to go and see what he had to say.Do you ever post book reviews?[...]

My Book Cover Has Boobs


When my publisher and I together decided on this image for Unladylike, I noted that the female statue's boobs were visible. I wasn't sure I wanted that to be framed on the cover of my book so  I asked the publisher to crop it down. Nope, he said, it looks good the way it is.

Now I think he's right.

For a book urging women to be unladylike, this cover and her boobs kinda says it all : Strip yourself of the niceties that hold you back from being and saying who you really are.

In the sixties women's lib movement, burning bras became a symbol of rising up through the constraints of a patriarchal society. My Unladylike covergirl has no bra. She's topless (and armless!).

Now I just need to find out who she is. Anybody recognize her??

Dragon Girl with the Eleven Tattoo


I am a woman who likes to find omens. I search for signs and clues that there is an Unseen Force greater than me at work in my life. When Unladylike was being scheduled for release, I relished the idea of the original release date of 11/11/11.  How prophetic is this date! A once in a lifetime, in a millennium for the 11's to be dated in triplicate. I have an interesting history with eleven that began with a dream. Several years ago I dreamt that I was getting a number eleven tattooed on my right hand, the hand I write with. But instead of getting an eleven, I changed my mind at the last minute and got a tattoo of a rose on my hand instead. Ever since then, the number eleven and I have bonded. It pops up in my life in the most random places. I look at the clock frequently right when it's 11:11. My father, when he died, was transported in a hearse by Palm Mortuary that had the licence plate, Palm 11.  I finally had a tattoo artist ink me with a little eleven on my arm. This number has become like a friend that keeps showing up in the most unexpected places. My friend Mimi is going to host a book release party for me at her relative's coffee house. It's called Cafe 11.And today, the release date of my book, I met up with Elizabeth and the number we were given for our order guessed it, Eleven. I blogged about the number eleven back in June of 2007 when I went on a personal retreat at a monastery. I reflected on my walk around the stations of the cross on the grounds:At risk of sounding as if I am into numerology, which I'm not, I'm into Jesus, but I have to say that the number 11 has been occurring in my life for over two years. It first showed up in a dream, an 11 tattooed on the back of my hand...and since then it pops up in all kinds of random ways, like when I glance at the clock and it reads 11:11 (many, many times this has happened) and seeing car plates and addresses and so on with Eleven. It's a great number, but I don't know why it's stalking me.Then there I was, staring at the pierced hand of Station 11,     remembering my dream of two years ago of my own 11 scarred onto my hand. Is 11 the number of grace? I don't know... So I just stood there, and felt the wind of God's presence breeze through me. The veil on my heart fluttered like a lace curtain in an open window. God walked with me. While I had to let go of my 11/11/11 publishing date due to simply just not being able to pull it off, I am pleased with the number eleven still managing to find it's way to me today at that little restaurant with Elizabeth.But there is something else special about today, January 23, 2012. Not just that it's the official launch date for my book, but it also happens to be Chinese New Year.  The Chinese zodiac depicts each year as being marked by characteristics of an animal. This is the year of the dragon. I was born in 1964, also a year of the dragon. And my book is being born today, Year of the Dragon.  This day has turned out to be dripping with omens!I adore what my Canadian Chinese friend Esther posted on my Facebook today. She is my Dragon Sister:...your book is released on the first day of the Chinese New Year of the Dragon - isn't it our year, lady? Were you born on the same year as I was - 1964? If you were, then you are also a dragon girl! WOW!! That signifies something - to have your 1st book released on the 1st day of the year of the dragon! It represents your unusual love and care for the Chinese people, too. Oh, I am so happy....I love that Esther remembers how much Chinese people and other Asian groups are deep in my heart. I lived in Hong Kong for nearly seven years and have traveled a bit around Asia including Thaila[...]

The Writing Sign


I didn't sleep well. I tossed and turned most of the night. I had fitful dreams. In one dream frame I was holding a broken laptop.  At times I prayed, Can  I make this deadline?I am a writer. I am writing my first book. I have a contract with a small independent publisher out of California called Civitas Press.  We had an agreement that I would deliver a publishable manuscript by October 11th. That was six months ago.All summer I have holed up to write Unladylike : Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church.  I knew I could write pages at a time, but 150-200 pages, could I do that?The answer is yes, I can. I have a wonderful but shitty first draft (as writer Anne Lamott refers to it). It's got some strengths, but a whole lot of revising and organizing that needs to make it publishable. There is just no way I can make this deadline. There is an extension clause in my contract with Civitas. It's not the end of the world to bump up this book's publication release.  But it has been a matter of ego and cool numbers. 11/11/11 is the original publication date. How rad is that??! I LOVE eleven. I have an eleven tattoo. Elevens saturate my life, and so it seemed fitting, even prophetic that my first book would come out on November 11, 2011.So,  I did not sleep well as the realization that I was not going to make it sunk in. I prayed for a sign. Maybe God would endow me with supernatural writerly powers so I could do the impossible. Jesus walked on water; maybe I could walk on words.All day at work after that fitful night I prowled around for a sign. I listened to what people said, to songs on the radio, to newspaper headlines. God speaks in  all kinds of  ways and signs from heaven  usually show up in the rhythm of everyday life. All day I prayed and hoped for a sign while I worked my shift at the hospital.I came home from work and found my sign. Taped to the door of my writing cave. My daughter Rose, 17 years old and mindful of the low tide my writing state was in, had thoughtfully posted a sign of encouragement on my door :  I stood there. Dumbfounded.  This was the sign I needed, that I'd been looking for and praying for. Here it was taped on the door of my writing cave. A list of writing rules she had learned at school. How much clearer could a sign be?!Within a few hours I was on the phone with my publisher who graciously agreed, Let's extend. I slept really good last night.  And today I wrote even better as I resumed work on Unladylike. Gotta love how God moves in Her mysterious ways![...]

The Courage to Write a Book


School started this week at community colleges and universities around my city. I ought to be enrolled, a slight thrill of anticipation pumping through my knowledge-starved mind. But nope, this term I won't be gracing the halls of Marylhurst University.  I can't. I work full-time at a hospital and I have two teenagers at home....and if you haven't heard, I'm writing a book. The on-deadline-writing-a-book kind of book. It typically consumes about 20 hours of my waking life a week, the equivalent of a part-time job. And though I can be amazingly productive and multi-task, I am no Super Woman. Last  time I checked, my day still only had 24 hours in it. (If you are willing to give up some of your daylight hours to me, please send 'em! Then I could get more done!).It's hard work. I knew it would be. For the first time in the more than seven years I've been blogging and writing, I feel like a writer. Writers write. God knows that I've penned more words in the last year than the last two or three combined. Seriously.This explains why my blog has become very quiet. I can't blog. I ought not to be blogging right now. I have writing and the swamplands of edits to sludge through, sentences to wrestle down like a Swampwoman alligator hunter. I have writing stuff to do!  Last week my publisher (who is a guy in California who started up an independent publishing house) spent 90 minutes with a thorough explanation of what revisions he is recommending. "Are we at square one?" I asked him when we reached the end of the word doc that outlined his editorial notes. "Can I possibly make this deadline with this much work still left to do?""You're not at square one," he assured me. "You have a lot of content, but yes, you have a lot of work to do, but I think you can do it." And that, my blog reading friends, is why my stomach hurts almost from sun-up to sun-down and I'm not sleeping well. I have a book inside me that is about to birth. The contractions are coming together, furious and hard, I have to remember to breathe. "It's almost time to push," I tell my laboring writer self.My fave writer guru is Ralph Keyes who wrote, The Courage to Write. I have read this book three times in the last seven years, and began it for a fourth time over the summer.  Ralph perfectly captures my angst and fear of failing in this excerpt:Only after my tenth sleepless night did it dawn on me that there might be more to this business than recording good words on paper. By the time I started my first book, there was no escaping the fact that anxiety had elbowed its way into my office to sit beside me, scrutinizing every word I wrote. Much of this anxiety showed up in disguise. It expressed itself as stomach trouble, irritability, and restlessness. During toss-and-turn nights I’d jot notes on a pad beside my bed (like marijuana-inspired brilliance, such notes were seldom of any use in the light of day). Seven-day weeks became routine as I tried to build walls of research and rhetoric strong enough to protect me from marauding critics. When a friend offered me a relaxing massage to ease my obvious tension, I turned the offer down from fear that getting too relaxed might keep me from finishing my book. I had trouble even thinking about anything other than getting the book done. Doing so might destroy my concentration, I feared. Taking a weekend off, or even spending an evening with friends might break the writing spell forever. Then I might never return to my desk. [...]

Resisting the Murky Curtain of Inequality


Vague understanding becomes the murky curtain by which true equality is trapped behind.
Pam Hogeweide  

My 9/11


I was getting my seven year old daughter ready for school when the phone rang."America's being attacked!" cried my best friend Kim."What? What are you talking about? Who's getting attacked? " My barely caffienated brain couldn't register what she was saying."Just turn the tv on!"Moments later I watched with stunned disbelief as the second plane hit the second tower.  Fire and smoke billowed from the Twin Towers like erupting volcanoes.I debated what to tell Rose, a mere second grader. She was eating her breakfast, oblivious that life in her country had just been altered. But I realized that I had best tell her something lest she hear scary rumors at on the school playground. Breathing deep and centering myself to be calm, cool and collected, I told Rose about the attacks. By then the Pentagon in Washington D.C. had been hit and the plane in Pennsylvania had gone down. She listened with all the earnestness a little girl  of tender wisdom could possess."Are we safe, Mom?" she wanted to know. "Is Portland safe?"  Yes, I reassured her, Portland is safe. Nothing will happen here."What about the president?" she asked next, which surprised me. "Is he safe?"  I told her that he was being taken to a safe place until he could return to the White House."Maybe he should come to Portland. He'd be safe here," she said. Her blue eyes, deep with wonder and childlike simplicity, made me smile for a moment.For the rest of the day, while Rose was at school and I occupied Jeremy who was only four at the time with as many videos as he could watch, I viewed with the rest of America the devastation in New York, Washington D.C. and a Pennsylvania field where the third plane had crashed. Sporadic phone calls to friends and family, anxious feelings for my husband to come home from work. He had left early while the rest of us were still asleep. I couldn't call him at the factory where he works so I just had to wait until his shift ended and he came home. Yes, he had heard about it but not much. He didn't really know what was going on. "Every news channel is covering it," I told him.In the days and weeks that followed, normal life was punctuated with gestures of solidarity with the lost and wounded Americans of that fateful day. One evening we sat in the yard with candles as did thousands of other Americans, a kind of collective moment of silence in the front yards of the nation to share out sorrow together. But I didn't really feel anything. I was mechanical. Going through the motions. I was shocked, yes, shocked along with the rest of the world, but my emotions seemed stuck. I cried a bit that first day, more out of fear than grief. But now as the country began moving forward with naming the dead, funerals and grieving, I felt hollow. My emotional innerscape seemed frozen over with an unusual degree of stoic steadiness. I thought long and hard about the events of 9/11. But I barely shed a tear other than the few that fell the morning I watched the Twin Towers collapse.Many days later my city's paper published the names of the passengers of all the planes. I read the rosters, one by one, name by name. I pictured each one in my mind as name and age blurred together line upon line.  Then I got to the passenger list for United Airlines flight #175 from Boston, bound for Los Angelas which crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center. Each name blurring into the next, my chest growing tighter from the implications of how many people were murdered that day.  And then I came to this listing:Peter Hanson, 32, Sue Hanson, 35, Christine Hanson, 2...Click here to go to the Hanson Family rem[...]

Food Lady : My Summer of Trauma


 **I needed a writing break from my book project. I did a freewrite today and this is what emerged. Welcome to my working world!It's nearly one-thirty p.m. I park my mini-van in the hospital parking garage and walk fast to get to the time clock. This is shift work. Somebody is waiting for me to get there so I can relieve them and they can clock out. I tie my black apron on and sling my lanyard around my neck. My hospital I.D. dangles from it and flops around against my chest when I trot down the long, gleaming hallways.I poke my head into the kitchen to see if there is anything I need to bring upstairs. This is one of the invisible places of the hospital, an underground multi-million dollar state-of-the-art kitchen designed to serve 300+ patients a day. I'm a Patient Dining Assistant. I work in a Trauma Level One metropolitan hospital.  Most weeks I float around several different units. I'm a supplemental worker which means I am  put where I'm needed. But this summer I've been assigned the  Trauma Unit. One of my coworkers is on an extended vacation to her home country and I get to cover for her while she's gone. It's been great  to have a routine and also to get to know the staff and patients better. That's hard to do when I'm jumping around all the time from unit to unit.The Trauma Unit is my favorite. There's an energy about the team of nurses, CNA's and unit secretaries and housekeepers who keep the unit humming that draws me in. I find it one of the most rewarding atmospheres to work in out of all the units I've been on, and I've worked all of them.  But what's even more apparent to me are the patients. They have survived a trauma of some kind, likely an accident or a fall or an assault, and here they are on the mend with the expert help of a team of people.  These patients are among some of the most grateful that I've encountered.There are 37 rooms on the Trauma Unit with a total capacity for 41 patients. I usually have an average of about 30 or more patients who have meal service and I'm also responsible for helping any patients who are eating in the intensive care unit, a smaller unit of about 14 beds.  At our hospital patients can call meals in themselves and then I'll deliver it to them. We refer to this as Room Service. It's been a trend in hospitals around the nation, an effort to provide better service and more meal options by developing a room service method for meals. But many patients cannot call for themselves. Maybe their arms are broken or they've had a neck injury or back injury and cannot move. Or they are so sick or sedated that they cannot manage ordering meals on their own. My job as a Patient Dining Assistant is to help them by going over the menu choices and  guide them in what to have to eat.   This requires a certain amount of finesse and often patience, especially if you're dealing with someone who was born before 1930.Elderly Lady Patient: I don't know what I want for dinner. My stomach doesn't feel good. Maybe I'll just get a cheese sandwich.Me: Ok. We have grilled cheese. Would you like that and some tomato soup?Patient : No. What else do you have?Me : We have a turkey dinner with mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. How 'bout that?Patient :  I don't like turkey.Me:  Ok. What about macaroni and cheese?Patient:  Too heavy.Me: Alright. What about a grilled pork chop with potatoes or rice?Patient : I don't like  pork.Me : (forcing my tone to remain cheerful and engaging) Well, how about a bowl of chicken noodle soup and a sandwich? We make our soup from scratch.Patien[...]

Churches Losing Women


In a fascinating article from Her.meneutics, a blog for women from the magazine Christianity Today, comes this startling report:  attendance of women in American churches is down by an estimated 17 percent which is nearly double the number for men.

The research is based from a study from the well-known Barna Group, a statistical research outfit that has been issuing reports to the church for years on the shifts and changes that are rapidly taking place in this point of time and history.

The writer of the blog, Sharon Miller, offers these questions in light of this report:

These changes have real consequences for how Christians reach out to their communities, which means we need to be asking ourselves some evaluative questions. For instance, in order to communicate with increasingly educated and professional women, Christian women must be able to articulate what they believe and why. How is the church equipping women for this? Are Christian women able to answer the basic theological questions of their neighbors, coworkers, and friends? And as more American women populate the workplace, how is the church supporting the Christian women in their midst?

I love these questions. I am hosting another Womens Listening Party this weekend at my home where  I gather women together to discuss how the church has informed and shaped our identities. Gender inequality is a harsh reality for many women who are waking up to the patriarchal messaging of their faith tribes. I can only wonder how many women have exited the church when they feel they have no choice but to go to keep their identity intact. In recent weeks, I've encountered three different women who did just that, none of them abandoning their faith, but all three of them leaving because their gifting and/or womanhood felt stifled by the inequity of gender.

It is a pressing issue that I predict will increase in fiercer rhetoric as the old guard of patriarchal American Christianity heaves a long, dying breath in trying to maintain it's grip on its daughters. There is a generational shift happening, Barna captures this with his research. I like to believe that this shift is positive, a resistance to the injustice of inequality in the church. It is way overdue for women to act unladylike and lift up our skirts as we  run  in the power of our feminine nature which is part of the imago dei of God.

Amen and Awomen.

To read Sharon's full post click HERE


The Dare to Buck Patriarchy {Book Excerpt}


***I'm still feverishly writing towards a deadline for my first book, Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church, due out in November.  Here's a sampler!Acceptance…belonging, these two human desires are, I believe, the deeper root for women in the world of church for why we put up and shut up with the unjust messaging of inequality. It’s why patriarchy has continued to thrive in many pockets of Christendom virtually unchallenged. A woman’s need to belong and be accepted, driven by shame over who she is, keeps her shackled to the lie that she has no power.  If polite oppression is a pretty bitch than shame in all her black dog ways is the guard at the door keeping a woman’s identity      locked up by holy lies. Women are meant to be free to serve and lead alongside men. Collaboration and mutuality in leadership and servanthood is the culture of the kingdom of God. I believe with all my heart and mind that the day men and women learn to reflect, shoulder to shoulder, the full imago dei, or image of God, is the day the powers of hell will shudder. From the beginning of our creation story man and woman has been at odds with one another. But the God we are fashioned after is a God of reconciliation. Women’s innate drive to belong and be accepted is exploited by the voice of shame who threatens our expulsion from the communities we love if we dare buck up against the system. [...]

Welcome to my Writing Cave


 This is my desk stacked with books on the topic of gender and equality in the tribe known as Christian.  See that little vial?  It's an essential oil that's supposed to stimulate clarity in thinking when it's scent is inhaled.Yep. Between Red Bull, coffee and inhalents, I have increased my writing power.   Peeking out from behind the books that tower above my laptop is a Dream Big card from one of my fave artists,Kelli Rae Roberts. I can't remember where I found this writing angel, but she has hoveredabove my desk for several years now. I love what she says,Writing: I love the swirl of swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.  I am not much of an outliner when I write, but now I find myself charting, mapping and (gasp!) sorta-kinda outlining to help keep me on track. And hey, don't judge my wallpaper. I was going through a cutesy country-style phase at the time. Imagine!  I don't know if any of this will interest anyone besides my mom (Hi MOM!!) but I thought I'd put it out there in the interest of creative transparency. And I guess it's my way of inviting others into stepping inside my writing cave. I rarely have guestsover besides all the ghosts begging for page time. It's kind of an anti-social kind of space.Thanks for stopping by!Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself.  ~Franz Kafka[...]

HOMEpdx: Church for those on the Outside


Ken Loyd of HOMEpdx really sent out a rare appeal for contributions.  A church for those who live outside in Portland, Oregon, Ken and his fine team of street angels give away food, socks, and lots of conversation every week to the most invisible citizens of our city. If you haven't heard of this guerilla form of nonverbal evangelism, get your ear to the ground and have a listen. HOMEpdx is an indigenous expression of a church for those who live in the land in an urban setting. Wanna learn the art and soul of missional life? Hang out with HOMEpdx for a bit, either here in the city or online through the magic of blog stories and websites.And if you can, share some of your power ($$) with them, for when you are a church filled with homeless outcasts, the budget is painfully thin.***reposted below is a blog post from last year, the last time I had volunteered for HOMEpdx until just this past week. I'm up to my eyeballs in end-of-term homework but as soon as I can I want to blog about what it was like for me to rejoin HOMEpdx after more than a year***--  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  There is no us and them, only Us."I'd play better if I was sober," said the Native American man sitting on the floor. He was listening to another man play guitar and sing some blues riffs. They played against a backdrop of a room full of bingo players who were relaxing after a Sunday meal of rice, gumbo, salad and peach crisp with ice cream for dessert."I've been clean for twenty days from heroin," said a much-too-skinny blonde guy who couldn't have been more than 18 years old. "Way to go!" somebody responded as they butted knuckles with him. Welcome to another day in the life of a faith community in Portland, Oregon known as HOMEpdx, a church for people who live outside.Portland is considered somewhat of a magnet city for the homeless. The attraction certainly isn't our weather since we are soggy more months than not. Many say that homelessness is rampant here because there are so many social services and charities here that cater to those who live outside for whatever reason. I don't know how accurate that is, but for the good people who make up HOMEpdx it doesn't matter. They just show up, week after week, and welcome whoever comes within their field of vision.Mitch, a former Viet Nam vet who was wounded in action, is somewhat famous on the street of Portland for his origami art. A regular fixture at HOMEpdx, he not only is on the receiving end of hospitality and good Christian outreach, but he is a giver, sharing his works of art with those around him and the joy he had in creating them.A woman took me aside to show me fresh bruising on her leg from a recent beating from an ex-boyfriend. I hugged her and told her I was glad he didn't have a weapon when he attacked her.Smells of stale body odor and musty alcohol permeated the building. There is a scent of homelessness that is unmistakable. My friend Vivian, who used to be a part of the HOMEpdx team, says she remembers it well and misses it."We have only one rule here and that is No Violence. No violence of any kind," says Ken, the founding pastor of HOMEpdx who looks more like a pirate than a reverend. "No verbal violence, no physical viole[...]

Complementarianism : Disagreeing with God they say...


Discovered this image at Critical Discipleship who blogged a great post about complementarianism.

 I wrote a post a long while back titled Complementarianism Sucks: Telling Women to be Quiet in the Name of Jesus. 

It's a collection of excerpts from other bloggers about the subjugation of women in the modern Christian church as I was participating in a synchroblog, which is when a bunch of bloggers all blog on the same topic.

Every now and then a reader will stumble through my blog and leave a comment on this post, reminding me that the issue of women and men and equality is alive and well lest I forget. Here's what the reader said, and note, they remained anonymous so I do not know if they are male or female: 

You can't POSSIBLY argue against a Biblically supported philosophy without using the Bible in any way, provided that you believe the Bible is true.

Look at your post, Pam. Everything you say is like "I like", "I heard", "I saw", "I listened", "I know", etc.!

You need to be reminded that this world isn't about you and what goes on in your mind. This about God and what he wants, and if he were to demand that there be a separate, lower section of seats in the church for women to sit in, then as a believer in God you better sit there! Now obviously I'm using a more extreme case of "sexism" or whatever you would call it to illustrate my point, but at least you understand it.

If you disagree with that argument then you are disagreeing with God, because whatever God asks of you, you need to do.

It's a simple fact that Eve took the fruit and ate it before giving it to Adam and convincing him to eat it as well. So you tell me, why do you think God doesn't want women to lead the church?  
(bold my emphasis)
This, my blog readership friends, is why I'm writing a book that confronts gender inequity in the modern world of Church.

So thank you Anonymous for stoking my writing fires to light up the pages with prophetic heralding announcing that complementarianism does indeed suck and that Christ came to liberate all....need a bible verse for that? How about Gal 3:28
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Doubt: The Dangerous Power of Asking Questions


I believe that doubt is the one thing that hastens social and spiritual and personal change.

I read this morning a post by an author who raises the question of the transformative power of questioning and doubting. She surmises that societal change originates with somebody somewhere asking a question.  She writes:
Now imagine: if you actually discussed your beliefs with someone else, you begin to see, very rapidly, that he doesn’t believe the same things as you, at least not in the same way as you.  You have a decision to make.  You either burrow into your hole and insist on your rightness, or you listen and wonder, “I wonder why he thinks that?” and “What can I learn from him?”

Doubt promotes dialogue...

Many years ago I expressed doubt about the justice of hell. The room full of Christians who I trusted to hear me out instead began to scripturize me to keep me on the straight and narrow path...narrow being the key word here. But questions are the fertile ground where our imagination discovers new trails of thought and possibility. Questioning and doubting open up vistas of our thinking to consider faith, life, and relationships another way.

I once  heard Brian McLaren say that he sees this generation discovering faith by questioning. I love that, for I am the queen of questions and it is true : I have learned and relearned and unlearned what makes the sum of my life by the simplicity of asking a question.  In the creed that I follow, which is to live my life as best I can according to the teachings of Jesus, he advised his followers, You have not for you ask not. Asking is a gateway. But asking doesn't come without it's risks.

Questions have long been troublemakers for those who ask them, and especially for those who attempt to answer them. Questions can lead us to bigger open meadows of liberty or push us to the edge of the cliff with a mob ready to throw us off. Questions can be subversive. Who do you say I am? asked Jesus of his followers. Definitely a dangerous question in the context of the times.

What questions are you asking lately? 

The Last Testament of Maddie Rae Johnson {an introduction}


 **I have thought many times about blogging a serial story focused from the point of view of one character who finds herself at the edge of the apocalypse. The  recent media frenzy with the myth of the rapture predictions of an old man, a little story featuring a very special woman has found it's spark to come out of hiding. Meet Maddie. A character born during a freewrite exercise during my heyday with the Bridge Writers Group here in Portland. Maddie has been a part of my imagination for about three years. I've kept her locked up long enough. It's time to uncage her and let her breathe the free air of the open page and be met by others. This is the beginning of what will be a new kind of blogging for me: the writing of story in serial form. 

I hope you like her. 
 ** ** ** ** ** **  ** ** ** ** ** **  ** ** ** ** ** **  ** ** ** ** ** **  ** ** ** ** ** ** 

At the back of the bus on a long, dusty Memphis highway I was born. I grew up hearing my mama tell that story, drunk or sober, to anybody who asked about me. And plenty of people did ask about me, like teachers and preachers and social workers of all persuasions from the magnolia drenched state of Louisiana.

My name is Maddy. I am 42-years old and this is my life story, a last testament before the end of it all roars down my quiet little street and takes me home to the world I was meant for.

I don't suppose that anyone shall ever read any of this, for there are rumors that all life will suffocate come the next solar storm, which should be, say forecasters, within the next six weeks. So I do not write this as a memoir to interpret my life as a tapestry from the underside. I write this to help tick away the remaining days in order to comfort myself  as well as decode meaning from that which  appears to be utterly meaningless.

If we are to become extinct then may I vanish with a soul content with the station I found myself within this life. This then is my last testament.