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Dear Rev. John, I write about religion for The New York Times, and I am doing a story about women clergy…. Researchers and women clergy themselves talk about the 'stained glass ceiling', and I was wondering if that had been part of your recent experience at all? Read more
When a girl is sixteen years old, it seems like life is full—innocent and wonderful—opening up like a book waiting to be storied on fine, white linen pages. The confines of childhood are being left behind while the concerns of adulthood are yet far enough in the future so that the moments of teenage hood burst with joy and possibility. Yet at any time, we are vulnerable to forces both within and outside of ourselves that can both gradually and quite quickly shift the course of our lives in ways that will affect us as long as we live. I say these things as one speaking from my own experience of feeling the wonders of being sixteen, later complicated by life and marriage to an abuser.           Read more
 An 18-year old, 5'8" famous Brazilian runway model died recently of systemic infection due to her anorexic state. She weighed only 88 pounds. Her problem? She sought to be the epitome of beauty—according to the tastes prevalent in fashion circles. Read more
The recent news has been permeated with two contradictory “epidemics” characterizing Americans: anorexia and obesity. However, maybe the larger paradox is the way in which the Church has embraced the same standards of beauty that the larger culture has. In many cases, the Church has adopted cultural standards of beauty and views physical bodies as representations of spirituality. This appears to be a modern version of the “health and wealth” gospel in that “Christ is reflected in one’s physical appearance.” Read more
A couple of years ago I was invited to participate as a speaker at a Christian college’s body-awareness week. The weeklong program had been designed to address the rampant eating disorders and entrenched negative views of the body found particularly among the female students. The counseling office was overwhelmed by the need for a healthy and redeeming view of the body it saw desperately lacking among its students. Women, in unprecedented numbers, were starving themselves, engaging in bulimia, and confessing deep shame about their bodies. Some of the male students responded with the attitude that these women needed to get over their “personal sin” by repenting and straightening up. Other young men claimed that they also suffered from the “lookism” in our culture, which measures people’s worth by their appearance.  How does this happen at a Christian college and among young people who have attended church all their lives? How does this happen at places that promote themselves as nurturing a Christian worldview and a certain degree of protection from the culture? Read more
The struggles of Christian women with sexuality, food, and their bodies reflect the Church’s historic ambivalence towards the body—particularly the female body. The embodiment of God in the Incarnation, Jesus’ embrace of lepers, prostitutes, and women, and Jesus’ bodily resurrection establish a radical foundation of body affirmation. Yet the history of the Church demonstrates a decidedly negative view of the body and sexuality. Both of these dynamics express themselves in women’s conflicts with our bodies. We desire to be fully embodied despite our learned fear of our body and appetites. Read more
Focus with me on the world where I work most of my days. It is the world of the Licensed Professional Counselor in Sugar Land, Texas. I am also licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist. I counsel at the Houston Center for Christian Counseling, a group of 30 Counselors committed to providing the best in both theology and mental health care. Read more
A man who uses a wheel chair called a church and asked if he could attend. "Oh yes, we're handicapped accessible," he was told. He said his wheel chair was 31" wide and was assured there would be no problem. When he arrived, however, the door into the sanctuary was only 30" wide. Fortunately the church had a smaller wheel chair. He transferred into it and was able to enter the sanctuary. The church thought it was providing equal access. How did the use of language contribute to the church's mistake? Read more
Impairment is any loss or abnormality of structure or function, be it psychological, physiological, or anatomical. A disability is any restriction or inability to perform an activity in the manner or range considered normal for a human being. The restriction or inability results from impairment. A handicap is a disadvantage for a given individual that limits or prevents the fulfillment of a role that is normal. As traditionally used, impairment refers to a problem with a structure or organ of the body; disability is a functional limitation with regard to a particular activity; and handicap refers to a disadvantage in filling a role in life relative to a peer group. Read more
When was the last time someone referred to you as “thou”? The fact that we greet each other with “How are you?” instead of “How art thou?” is an example of how language can change over time. When was the last time someone referred to you as “man” or “he”? If you’re a man, this probably happens all the time. But it has also been happening to women for centuries. Read more

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