Saturday, February 23, 2013

Gender matters: Like the Wildeness of the sea, by Maggi Dawn

Gender matters. As I began to process my emerging church 10 years on data, I began to realise that gender matters – that in communities in which women led, women are more likely to grow; that in some denominations, most of the money invested in paid pioneers is invested in men; that some of the more interesting research I came across were into fresh expressions that were run by lay women.

So my sabbatical reading took a detour, into women’s faith development.

It is a theme that reemerges loud and clear in Maggi Dawn’s, Like the Wildeness of the Sea. Introduced as a book about women and bishops and the Church of England, it’s actually much more. It’s a book about the ability, or otherwise, of the church to be a flourishing place for gifted people.

What a different church it would be if all the gifts of its women were validated, and all their energy unleashed. If no more time was wasted discussing whether or not our place in church is valid, if no more goodwill dribbled away because of the despondency that follows from a dream being deferred, what a powerhouse of transforming social and spiritual power the Church might become. If this is to happen, though, it will demand more than a compromised measure through the system that gives an impression of permission to women. (Like the Wildeness of the Sea, 75)

And then this quote, which makes obvious that this is not only about ordination, but also about workplace cultures and habits.

what I would love my colleagues in the Church of England to know is this: I achieve twice as much in a working week as I did before. Why? Simply for this reason: none of my mental energy is wasted justifying my existence, surviving bullies, fending off harassment, or anticipating sexist behaviour. I don’t have to think about whether I should speak more loudly or more softly to gain permission to be heard. I don’t have to worry about whether my clothes will be thought too feminist or too feminine, or second-guess myself all the time to work out how to gain the space and the permission to do the job I’m appointed to. I just wake up every day feeling good, go to work full of energy, work hard all day, and come home, most days of the week, still smiling.

Because gender matters. Read it and weep. And dream. Like the Wildeness of the Sea, by Maggi Dawn

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