Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lauren Winner Conference, or, My Life As a Chauffeur

I had been looking forward to the Lauren Winner Learning Conference at Quest for a long long time. Ever since the idea first came up over two years ago. Finally, this month, she came, and as I told everyone around me for several weeks prior, I got to be her chauffeur.

It's very interesting having an author that you love and have always slightly idolized in the passenger seat of your car. Or knowing that she has your cell phone number. Or taking her to QFC to buy Airborne. Random normal things that are made completely not normal by the presence of a person you never thought you would meet, let alone share meals and jokes with.

I try to never be the overeager fan, although I am still a little giddy about the inscription in the front of my copy of Girl Meets God. But it was humbling to find that Lauren was just a person seeking to share her faith and learning with others, that she wanted my feedback after her talks, that she would share a bit of her life with me and ask about mine. I don't expect her to call my cell phone anytime soon, although it might be fun to catch up with her next year when I am in North Carolina.

But enough about me and my "meeting my idol" experience. You want to hear about the conference itself. It was the perfect conclusion to our Faith & Gender class: Lauren said some of the same things we had all been struggling to say, but in a much more elegant, learned way. My friend Randall commented on the plethora of "big words" she used: words that we rarely use in conversation (despite our often-touted reputation as highly-educated Seattleites). Lauren herself commented on how intellectual the audience questions were. But beyond the deep analysis of issues of faith and gender, she communicated truth about God, community, and how we should be living as people of God.

I took copious notes throughout the weekend, scribbling furiously in the notebook that I had used to take notes while reading Girl Meets God. Here are some excerpts from what struck me on Friday night:

"We always think of difference in terms of violence, heirarchy, domination. The Trinity models difference without heirarchy, community without violence."

"Love, not as emotion, but as a call to participate in a common vision"

"When we talk about mutual submission we are not talking politically. We are talking about a relationship where both people involved are changed."

"The picture of the Trinity reminds us of our fundamental incompleteness. Our gender should be a reminder of our need for each other, not a way to dominate each other."

"By being here, with you and different from you, I allow you to be more yourself and me to be more myself."

"We have taken the story from capitalism that men need to find their identity in their work outside the home and women are relegated to domestic life."

"In our culture, when we find a biological reality, that ends the conversation instead of starting the conversation on how to handle and manage these realities.

And from Saturday morning:

"What if we made looking at women in the church as normal and important as studying men and male disciples in the church?"

"The story of Mary: How an impoverished Jewish peasant girl became an international superstar."

"Mary prompts us to ask ourselves how we expect God to act in our lives."

"When Jesus weeps, He's not getting in touch with His feminine
side, He's getting in touch with His humanity."

"In an eschatalogical reality, singleness trumps marriage. The tie that persists is that of baptism, our lives as brothers and sisters."

"You're not 'waiting' you are conforming your body to what the Spirit is doing in your life right now."

"We are going to be seated together at the heavenly banquet, so we should start reconciliation now."

So much good stuff! So much depth, so much to think about. If you didn't make it to the conference, I hear that the recordings will be available on the Quest website soon, so you should check them out. Be challenged.

All in all, the work put into this depth class and conference and the words of our pastors, leaders, and Lauren have all made a huge impact on how I view myself as a woman, a Christian, and a servant in the church. I'm grateful for the opportunity and hope to continue the conversations and the consideration of all that was said.

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