Randy Elrod

i want to own art….

i’ve always wanted to.

now i do.  thanks to my good friend Randy Elrod.

i won the original water color poster for re:create ATX.  it’s beautiful. i’m going to have it framed and will enjoy it for many years.  i’m hoping to own other pieces in the future.  i’d like to have a Scott Erickson.

so i’ve now begun my collection and hope to add more.

you should really go and read this post….

at Ethos….

it’s a letter to the church that my distant mentor and friend Randy Elrod wrote.  Randy and the community he fosters has had an amazing impact on my life.

i really felt it’s also what i wanted to say to many of the churches i’ve been a part of in my life.  KNOW THIS.  i love the church.  i love the church i’m currently at, but that has not always been the case.

“Clearly the person who accepts the church as an infallible guide will believe whatever the church teaches” – St. Thomas Aquinas

Dear Church,

You have not loved me well. In fact, throughout our time together, I’ve felt used and abused. You use my talents to get people in the seats, but then you twist and “spin” the art I create for propaganda. You abuse by using me without any conscience whatever – for you tell me, “the end justifies the means.”

You have built a great wall between the sacred and the secular. Delineating worlds that were never meant to be separated. You have created a gray vacuum, a netherworld in between, and so I am homeless. I feel hopelessly rejected by both the church and the world. In fact, my entire life has been misjudged by parents, friends, teachers – and now you. Of all the places I thought I would surely find grace and acceptance, it was with you. But, you have not loved me well.

You value cloning, not originality. You value imitation, not creativity. You value programs, not people. You value the destination, not the journey. You value the story, not the telling.

Do you think I’m stupid? I’ll admit to being quirky, absent-minded, undisciplined, moody, depressed, to name only a few. But I’m not stupid. When I question, with an artists mind, the literal truth of the Bible, and you tell me I am not allowed to do so. Suddenly, I feel as if I’m in some sort of evangelical cult. So, if we are supposed to believe the Bible literally, then why aren’t we baptizing for the dead? Maybe that’s why the artist Madeline L’Engle said, “I believe the Bible is true, but I don’t believe it’s literal.” This coming from a Christian artist who was condemned by the fundamentalist church in the 60’s for writing science fiction.

And why do I meet so many disillusioned artists who have left you? They haven’t left their “first love”, they have just quietly left an illegitimate lover who uses and abuses them. The ominous number of artists without a church home is an ever-growing indictment against the church. As Cyril of Jerusalem was once said to have exclaimed, “The church is a whore, but she’s still my Mother”.

Thankfully, I’m finally beginning to understand that when I try to group the church and God together as one and the same – I get in trouble. God is perfect and the church is not. The church is composed of imperfect people. They are two totally different things. Apples and oranges.

And maybe I’m an idealist – I am an artist, you see. For over forty years, I have been continually disappointed by the church. But she’s still my mother. She has taught me scripture, bible stories, and songs. She has formed in me a foundation and belief system for truth. And despite the control she continually tries to exert over me, ironically, it is the very truth she has taught that has set me free. And for that, I’m thankful.


i was reading again…

this time it’s Randy Elrod’s Sex, Lies and Religion

i was reading a post the other day from some people we know who homeschool their children.  now i think homeschooling is a good thing, for some people.  it’s not for everyone and we have been on the receiving end of “not being very holy” because we send our children to public school (that’s another post for another day) anyway this post was talking about how their daughter had made an amazing meal and how she was going to grow up to be a wonderful wife and mommy.  NOW HEAR ME!  there is nothing wrong with that.  i love it that some women are called to be stay at home moms, but if i had written that post it would have been, “my daughter just made an amazing meal, i wonder if she will grow up to be a world class chef”.  now i know not all people who homeschool their kids believe that way, but i struggle with the roles that some churches give women and girls to play.  i’ve been questioning this for a while and then i read this passage from Randy’s book and it got me thinking even more. it’s from the chapter “The Lie About Sexual Equality”.  he’s been laying out the whole chapter that God created us equal and sin made us unequal.  and because of that girls and women have been objectified both sexually and religiously.  in his research for the book, Randy found that two overarching themes emerged.  “Those issues were first, female inequality and the resulting dehumanization of women, and second, a hierarchical alpha leadership of religious control.”  in the book of Galatians Paul says that we are all equal in Christ.

Galatians 3:26-28

26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

he makes three very specific comparisons, which in the context are earth shaking comparisons.

so i’ve already been struggling with this in my own life as i dream for my daughters and my wife.  too many times Amy has been treated like a second class citizen because she feels called to work with children in a school setting.  and then i read this passage from Randy’s book

Religious Objectivity

Both religious objectification and sexual objectification of women seem to be two threads in the same strand.  That strand leads back to the three major Western religions–Christianity, Islam and Judaism.  As the thread unravels, there seems to be a direct correlation:  The more conservative the sect or branch, the less equality for women.

These threads of objectification have turned women into a religious thing.  Remember that one may define “thing” as one dimensional, incapable of independent thought, autonomous decision-making and self-sufficiency.  Religious objectification is an consequence of the need for alpha male leadership to demonize and marginalize women to solidify the controlling power of the religious hierarchy.

Now, that’s a lot of fancy words to say basically that the preachers and other religious heads got together and said, “Let’s eliminate the competition (read: women) by convincing everyone that women are inferior, subservient and useful only for beauty, labor and reproduction.”  The post-modern version of this imperative is “keep all women in their place by grouping them with other sexualized women in Bible Study cliques, as makers and teachers of children, and as pretty singers since they have nothing of value to offer religious male leadership who have been appointed as God’s intermediaries.”

In the end, the sexualization and objectification of women in religion teaches girls that as women, all they have to offer is their body and reproductive capabilities and therefore they should expend all their effort on appearances.  When women are seen exclusively as sexualized beings rather than multi-dimensional persons with many interests, talents and identities, men have difficulty relating to them on any other than surface level.  This dramatically limits the opportunities men have to interact spiritually and intellectually with women, to create with them, to work together for higher causes (e.g. leadership), or to enjoy their company as equals.  It also promotes unhealthy sexual relationships.

now i’m not saying that all people who adhere to “alpha male leadership” treat their wives as subservient baby makers, but there are some who do.  i’m sure that some people who read this blog might take issue with this post.  i may even get a few bible verses thrown my way and some theological “lessons”.  i welcome that kind of discussion.  what i believe is good and right for my family, you may not feel is good and right for yours.  i want my wife and daughters to dream God size dreams and that He would be their ultimate passion.  that they would be reflections of His glory and that they would know, no matter what career path they choose or how they “look” while doing it, they are LOVED by Him and by me.

last night…

i got to sit by one of my heroes at dinner.

Randy Elrod has been a distant mentor to me for many years and to finally meet him last night was a huge pleasure.  Thanks to my buddy Jim Drake for setting dinner up and taking me.

i’m so excited about the rest of the week.