Good Christian Fun (& Tory goes to Florida)
By the time you are reading this, I will be on my way to (or in) the great state of Florida. Florida has many amazing things: oranges, swamps, sinkholes, Disney World, but I am going specifically to see Universal Orlando’s The Wizarding World of Harry Potter as well as my best friend, Samantha. I’m going with my mom and we made the crazy decision to drive instead of fly, which means we need to leave quite early on Sunday to reach our destination in time. I wrestled with what to do for “church” this week, and decided I would write about a podcast I listened to recently where the topic focused on religion. I technically attended two churches last week, so I will still hit my goal of attending at least 52 unique churches this year. Plus, writing to you from the past is fun.
I listened to Good Christian Fun’s Second Service this week with Reverend Carol Howard Merritt. Carol has written several books including Healing Spiritual Wounds: Reconnecting with a Loving God After Experiencing a Hurtful Church and Fighting for Peace: Your Role in a Culture Too Comfortable with Violence. The hosts, Kevin and Caroline, interviewed Carol and got her perspective on overcoming abuse, being a woman in the ministry, a woman’s role according to the Bible, Christian pop culture, and other things. I found the entire thing uplifting, even as Carol expressed what are some incredibly hard realities for women, she had a beautiful perspective on overcoming them and how she believes God called her to the ministry. I also love GCF, and even mentioned their influence on my journey in my How to Read This Blog post.
The most inspiring piece of the interview, to me, personally, was when Carol described the push back she had received when she expressed interest in entering the ministry. She’d been writing sermons since she was eight years old and knew preaching the word of God was her calling, but had been repeatedly told it was not a woman’s place to do so. She didn’t have much support to follow her dream, but she persisted. She’s now part of the first wave of Christian women leaders in the church, which she describes as very exciting.
I’ve been loved and supported in my dreams, never worrying that I couldn’t achieve anything I wanted to simply because I was a woman. As a woman in the business world, I see my company and companies like mine making immense effort for women to be included in the workplace, treated equally, paid equally, and not harassed. I appreciate all these things. The only time I ever get discouraged is when I have the opportunity to be part of a meeting with executive leadership. The room is almost always comprised entirely of men. In a room of twenty people, I am lucky if I am one of three women.
Now, to be fair to my company, I am in an industry that was almost entirely male for many years, with women just recently entering the ranks in equal number to men. This means the employees with the most experience at the company are likely male, and I have faith that in the coming years our executive meetings will feature more women. Until then, I can feel bummed out or discouraged at times.
Carol literally was told you can’t do it or you shouldn’t do it, and kept going. She embraced her faith that what she was doing was right and knew that she had something important to add to the Christian community. On top of all of that, she survived abuse, worked through her trauma and its link to her relationship with faith, and is now writing, teaching, and inspiring others to do the same. She is the most spiritual badass.
I think Christianity’s lack of women in leadership has been a huge flaw for hundreds of years, but that is true of most industries and not just the clergy. Carol is a trailblazer in a time when women are demanding more, and it is women like her that are paving way for women like me to want to be a Christian. What would be attractive about a belief that told me I was lesser than my husband, or that I wasn’t allowed to preach in church? As women say “no more” and (for lack of a better word) force Christianity to be more inclusive and accepting of the modern, working woman, I can start to believe that church might be right for me. I can talk with and pray with other women who feel the same as I do. That is pretty neat, Carol is super neat, and if you don’t listen to GCF I highly recommend you start.