A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar

Feminist Pentecostalism: It's a Thing - Interview with Cheryl Bridges Johns

March 10, 2021 Randy Knie, Kyle Whitaker Season 1 Episode 19
A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar
Feminist Pentecostalism: It's a Thing - Interview with Cheryl Bridges Johns
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we speak with Dr. Cheryl Bridges Johns about what it means (and what it's like) to be a feminist Pentecostal, the interplay between reason and mystery, the relationship between virtue and spiritual formation, hermeneutics and ontology, the divine feminine, and even the gift of menopause. It's a rich conversation, and Cheryl's is an important voice within progressive Christianity.

Check out some of Cheryl's work mentioned in the episode:

Also look out for her book Re-Enchanting the Text: The Bible for a New Generation.

The beverage featured in this episode is Michter's US1 Unblended American Whiskey. Thanks to our friends at Story Hill BKC.

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/apastorandaphilosopher)

[Music]
00:15
welcome to
00:15
a pastor and a philosopher walk into a
00:17
bar the podcast where we mix a sometimes
00:20
weird but always delicious cocktail of
00:22
theology philosophy
00:24
and spirituality
00:29
welcome everyone in this episode of
00:31
pastor and philosopher walking to a bar
00:33
we're really excited to be talking with
00:35
someone who has actually been pretty
00:36
formative
00:37
in my own theology over the last several
00:39
years since i got to meet her about five
00:41
or six years ago
00:42
at a conference and that is dr cheryl
00:44
bridges johns who is
00:46
the recently full professor the robert e
00:49
fischer chair of spiritual renewal at
00:51
the pentecostal theological seminary in
00:54
tennessee and tennessee cleveland
00:57
tennessee
00:58
yeah the the other cleveland i guess and
01:00
she's just wonderful she's awesome
01:02
it's a really fantastic conversation so
01:05
you're all in for a treat
01:06
fun times but we are at a bar so let's
01:10
open something up and sip and talk about
01:13
it maybe we're gonna
01:15
hate it maybe we're gonna love it but
01:16
was that part of the was it an axe when
01:19
they thought they were drunk on wine and
01:21
they were actually drunk in the spirit
01:22
yeah my reaction to that was always why
01:24
not both i have no comment in the spirit
01:26
of that why not both let's
01:28
uh yeah so today we're drinking uh what
01:31
many of you probably are very familiar
01:32
with and probably what many of you are
01:34
unfamiliar with i hadn't encountered
01:35
this whiskey until probably two years
01:37
ago but it's mikter's
01:38
small batch unblended american whiskey
01:42
now all those words matter but really
01:44
mikters
01:45
is a really really good whiskey it's a
01:48
i mean i'm giving away that i love this
01:50
stuff but it surprised me the first time
01:52
i had it was this little
01:53
denky dive bar in a you know
01:57
half rural half suburban bar amazing
02:00
like that description right there just
02:02
needs more but i'm not going to give it
02:04
but i had a i had a sip of this and was
02:06
blown away so
02:08
mikter's american whiskey
02:11
oh that nose
02:14
that's that's cherries and like strong
02:18
cherry
02:18
yeah like you just opened a jar of
02:20
cherries that is so good that knows i
02:23
haven't got
02:23
past that yet i did read a couple
02:25
reviews of this and they were raving
02:27
about the nose
02:28
being like really intense and like i
02:30
don't know it's not intense
02:32
yeah i mean it's delicious yeah and it's
02:35
not like you take a big breath
02:37
and inhale through your nose and you
02:38
don't get burned
02:40
which i mean i think it's a 41 alcohol
02:43
so it's lower cut
02:44
yeah it's not it's not rough at all
02:47
really easy drinking yeah
02:50
love it goodness the cherry continues
02:52
all the way through it tastes like oak
02:54
barrels
02:55
yeah so the weird thing about this this
02:56
whiskey is that
02:58
that you can kind of read into the
03:00
marketing like they don't want to tell
03:01
you what it is
03:02
it's kind of a mystery that people
03:04
debate about on the internet apparently
03:05
but like
03:06
you know that it's uh well they call it
03:08
unblended which just means
03:09
they don't cut it with a neutral spirit
03:11
but it's definitely a blend of different
03:12
barrels right probably different ages
03:15
but you don't know anything about the
03:16
barrels other than they used to have
03:17
bourbon in them
03:18
maybe they're the mystics of the whiskey
03:20
world yeah i don't know
03:21
they're definitely working some
03:22
spiritual magic with those because this
03:24
is fantastic there's like no age
03:25
statement you know they can they have a
03:26
really amazing aging program so you know
03:28
they have old stuff that they could put
03:30
in it if they wanted to they have
03:31
bottles that are 20 and 25 years old
03:34
so i mean i suspect this this tastes
03:36
older than it probably is
03:38
and i'm curious what kind of magic there
03:40
i like this better than i remembered i
03:42
mean this
03:43
it's good i'm catching a hint of all
03:44
spice like just a touch of like anise
03:47
like
03:47
they're so it's real dark kind of like i
03:48
get i get them
03:50
i mean it's just so luscious
03:53
i mean i have to yeah it's like steel
03:54
much more expensive than it is rich
03:56
luscious how much is about it like this
03:59
maybe
04:00
thirty seven dollars i was gonna say
04:01
like forty forty five fifty
04:03
i i think well it may be because people
04:05
know about it now it might be
04:07
more difficult to find but if you were
04:08
to find it at like a you know big box
04:10
liquor store or something
04:12
i would expect it to be about 40 bucks
04:14
about the same as their bourbon i think
04:16
yeah
04:16
45.50 i think yeah the internet's
04:18
telling us it's worth it i mean
04:20
that's really nice i read that it had a
04:22
short finish but i'm not getting that at
04:23
all i think it lingers
04:24
this is pretty straightforward but i
04:26
love what it brings yeah
04:28
i mean you're the first one who says it
04:29
for the first time elliot what are your
04:32
it uh it tastes really like the the
04:34
smoothness is there i tend to like a
04:36
sharper
04:36
like a higher proof but for this being
04:40
what it is i appreciate there's a lot of
04:42
flavor it doesn't sometimes
04:44
stuff that's lower proof can feel weak
04:45
and this doesn't it's not like that yeah
04:46
there's
04:47
plenty of flavor to go around totally if
04:48
you're in a bar or a restaurant and you
04:51
see mrs and you're like oh a pastor and
04:52
philosopher
04:53
walked into a bar talked about this i'm
04:55
gonna order it ask for it neat first
04:57
try it for sure because you don't i
04:59
don't think you want to cut this and if
05:00
you do go ahead afterwards but man this
05:02
is perfect
05:03
i wouldn't i wouldn't even really want
05:04
to mix this to be honest
05:06
although it would make a pretty kick-ass
05:07
old-fashioned i bet with the cherry
05:09
forward i was going to say manhattan
05:11
like that
05:12
like you're already getting right in
05:13
those flavors with the vermouth
05:15
cherries like it's i mean i want to make
05:17
one
05:18
for me i can't put anything in here not
05:21
ice not water not
05:23
it's bitters or anything i don't i want
05:24
just this this is what i want
05:26
he's not even using a glass he's just
05:27
drinking from the bottle
05:30
i am not awesome well
05:34
victor's highly recommended well dr
05:37
cheryl bridges johns thank you so much
05:39
for joining us
05:40
we're super excited to share you with
05:42
our listeners
05:44
cheryl could you just tell us a little
05:45
bit about your background you have a
05:46
very
05:47
interesting background and academic at a
05:49
pentecostal university is just
05:51
fascinating so
05:52
just tell us a little bit about who you
05:53
are and how you got to where you are now
05:55
yeah i'm a fourth generation class what
05:58
they call classical pentecostal
06:00
and my great-grandmother received the
06:02
baptism of the holy spirit
06:04
as we call it in 1907 shortly after the
06:07
azusa street revival
06:08
and she uh
06:12
became one of those shouting methodists
06:14
and eventually asked to leave her
06:15
methodist church
06:17
and so she began starting the church
06:20
there
06:20
that many many decades later i grew up
06:23
in that church
06:24
and so i can't i come from a tradition
06:27
that
06:28
sort of had that matriarchal origin and
06:32
freedom for women so as a young girl i
06:35
think i was in one of the safest places
06:37
i could have been in the 50s and 60s
06:39
where
06:40
you know the elders would say we sense
06:42
god's hand on your life and
06:44
we want you to speak or we want you to
06:46
preach and
06:48
those things as i found out later
06:51
are are rare you didn't know that that
06:54
was rare at that time
06:55
oh yeah especially at that time so i um
06:59
sensed a call to ministry not quite sure
07:02
what it was maybe
07:03
missions you know in the pentecostal
07:06
tradition women
07:07
have historically been sort of
07:09
ghettoized in the prophetic
07:11
the evangelist or church planter
07:17
missionary it's sort of this profit
07:19
priest
07:20
dichotomy that we have and
07:23
so i thought well of all those little
07:26
options i guess
07:28
so in in spite of that freedom there
07:29
really i didn't see myself as a pastor
07:31
necessarily because i didn't
07:33
see many women pastors women preachers
07:36
but not in women missionaries but not
07:38
women
07:40
pastors and so i thought i would be a
07:43
missionary
07:44
and went to college at emanuel college
07:47
in georgia and then lee university
07:50
in tennessee i met my husband
07:53
at lee and two weeks after we got
07:56
married
07:57
in december of 74 we went to
08:00
wheaton grad school in january of 75 and
08:03
we got a master's in
08:04
leadership there and taught at a bible
08:08
college for
08:09
three years in north dakota which was
08:12
just a really great
08:13
growing experience and you teach
08:16
everything under the sun
08:18
and if they ever saw if the dean ever
08:20
saw anything on your transcript you
08:22
ended up teaching it the next semester
08:25
knew anything about it or not um but it
08:28
was good it was a wonderful place to be
08:30
and after that we went back to school
08:34
to the um a phd program in religious
08:37
education at the southern baptist
08:39
seminary
08:41
in louisville but i have to clarify to
08:43
people that that was
08:45
the southern baptist seminary before the
08:48
uh
08:48
conservative takeover and at that time
08:51
they were somewhat welcoming to my
08:53
husband and myself
08:54
and it was a good experience there as
08:57
well
08:58
and been teaching at the church of god
09:01
seminary or
09:02
what we call pentecostal theological
09:04
seminary for
09:05
33 34 years now and
09:09
i just went uh to the senior professor
09:12
level which is one course a semester
09:15
no faculty meetings no it's student
09:17
advising
09:18
congratulations it's just great and so
09:22
i'm enjoying that time of my life i'm
09:25
wanting to get a couple more books out
09:27
and spend more time hiking and playing
09:30
with my grandkids before i get too old
09:32
and
09:33
can't do it and my husband and i we also
09:36
planted a church and pastored that
09:39
church for 27 years so we went
09:41
kind of burning the candle at both ends
09:43
for a long long time
09:45
so this is a new season of life and i'm
09:49
enjoying it
09:50
i you know i did a lot of ecumenical
09:52
work through my journey and
09:54
tried to represent my tradition to
09:56
people who might
09:58
not know a thing about it and sometimes
10:01
i felt like i was first contact and
10:05
just trying to help certain people
10:08
groups understand
10:09
certain religious traditions who we are
10:12
and i've enjoyed
10:14
for the most part i've enjoyed that that
10:17
that uh vocation and calling we uh
10:21
we have a little farm and we have two
10:24
wonderful daughters
10:25
and five uh grandchildren and two great
10:29
son-in-laws
10:30
nice yeah i was just about to ask you
10:32
you're the first pentecostal we've had
10:34
on the podcast other than myself
10:36
first contact yes yeah here we go um
10:39
for any of our listeners well i'm sure
10:41
well i don't know i'm a bit of an
10:43
unusual pentecostal i'm also a
10:44
philosopher which makes me very
10:45
skeptical
10:46
of a lot of things i know you so i call
10:48
bs yeah randy doesn't even think i am
10:50
yeah well like jamie smith says you can
10:52
think in tongues right
10:54
yes exactly yeah um so would you mind if
10:57
it's all right just introducing
10:58
pentecostalism to our listeners
11:00
especially people who might have had
11:01
only
11:02
negative or i don't know experienced it
11:05
only through
11:06
prosperity gospel or something like that
11:08
how do you understand what
11:09
pentecostalism
11:11
means yeah it's um
11:14
it's a movement that has sought to
11:16
recapture
11:18
some of the essence of what we would
11:20
have called primitive christianity
11:22
as part of the whole restoration
11:23
movements that were popul big in the
11:25
late 1800s and
11:27
early 1900s it's a movement that
11:31
has its sort of primal um
11:34
i mean there were bursts of this
11:36
movement around the world at the turn of
11:38
the 20th century but
11:40
the ground zero the primal faith that we
11:42
call the the
11:43
what harvey cox would call the well of
11:45
the movement
11:47
is the azusa street revival there with
11:50
william seymour
11:52
in uh los angeles in 1906
11:56
it's a movement that is for me
11:59
one that is historically been
12:03
a very liberating movement among the the
12:06
margins of society around the world it's
12:10
majority the majority world is
12:12
pentecostal in the sense that
12:14
i think one in every 12 people on the
12:16
planet now identifies as
12:18
pentecostal i mean they can be a
12:21
lutheran in ethiopia but they're
12:23
pentecostal they're roman catholic in
12:26
brazil but they're pentecostal so
12:29
it's it's now become it's now become one
12:32
of the largest movements
12:34
christian movements in the world and
12:37
even it's i still get shocked you know
12:39
with that in terms of
12:42
even saying that there are people who
12:44
who might just see
12:46
a prosperity preacher or apollo white or
12:48
someone like that and say well that's
12:50
what this movement is but the average
12:52
pentecostal doesn't look like paula
12:54
white
12:55
she is of
12:58
a woman of color she probably lives in a
13:01
mega city in the majority world
13:04
that's who the average one of us is
13:09
cheryl in looking at the majority of the
13:10
american church i would say this is a
13:13
this is just off the top of my head but
13:14
i i would say a majority of the american
13:16
church isn't
13:17
pentecostal don't embrace the gifts of
13:19
the spirit as we would say as
13:20
charismatics
13:21
and i is someone who loved the gifts of
13:24
the spirit and a pastor who
13:26
loves releasing people into prophetic
13:28
giftings and
13:29
whatever those gifts of the spirit look
13:31
like as you encounter
13:33
you've traveled across the nation around
13:35
the world different
13:36
church movements different universities
13:38
what do you think
13:39
the the church is missing when they
13:41
stiff arm the gifts of the spirit or
13:43
when they don't believe in them when
13:45
they do maybe believe in them but don't
13:46
pursue them what is your
13:48
your observation on what those churches
13:51
and followers of christ might be missing
13:53
well some of those concerns are
13:55
legitimate that they don't want to
13:58
be the crazy you know there's a lot of
14:00
that out there so
14:02
they may say as a friend of mine who's
14:05
the united methodist pastor would say to
14:07
me
14:07
you know i want this the holy spirit
14:10
but i don't want it with all the
14:12
craziness
14:14
and so
14:17
yeah our movement because we are
14:20
a populist type of movement we do
14:22
attract the crazies
14:24
and i've always said that if i had to
14:27
choose between
14:28
being with the crazies and from being
14:31
with people who were
14:33
just as crazy but knew how to hide it
14:35
you know sort of the
14:37
middle class wide angle of sex and
14:39
protestant people
14:40
i would choose the the former uh so
14:44
yeah we can get kind of messy sometimes
14:46
and
14:48
you know protestant faith coming out of
14:50
the reformation has been pretty much a
14:52
rational
14:54
non-experiential form of religion almost
14:57
uh
14:58
disembodied in some ways it's almost
15:01
anti-sacramental in that sense
15:04
so it uh
15:07
has a fear of anything that would
15:10
be seen as irrational
15:14
and you know what we my husband and i've
15:16
tried to say
15:17
to those folk is but there's not a
15:20
dichotomy they're rational versus
15:22
irrational
15:24
but there is the trans-rational explain
15:27
that
15:28
the trans-rational i think incorporates
15:30
reason
15:31
but then goes beyond it into uh
15:34
the deep mystery mysterium of christ and
15:38
paul so eloquently refers to and
15:42
we are initiated as christians baptized
15:45
into that mystery
15:46
so we cannot know but we do know and
15:50
we see but we can't see uh
15:53
and in that trans-rational i do think
15:55
that there's
15:58
uh room for all the hard sciences and
16:02
uh physics and metaphysics and
16:06
it's i think that's where science is
16:08
going today anyway in a lot of ways
16:11
that we take these leaps these creative
16:14
leaps
16:15
and i believe that we can have a synergy
16:18
with the spirit our mind can be in
16:20
synergy with the spirit
16:22
and i think we were talking about jamie
16:24
smith james k smith
16:26
he's done some of his work on this that
16:28
you know we have
16:30
historically seen in the western culture
16:33
of christianity that we are just
16:36
thinking machines but we are deeply
16:39
embodied and
16:41
as deeply embodied we are in spirited
16:43
flesh and
16:45
mind and all that and a
16:49
very powerful gestalt so our
16:51
christianity
16:53
as we have inherited it from some of the
16:56
reformers and others
16:58
has just taken all that out and it's not
17:01
just the reformers i mean you know
17:04
as vapor said the modern project it it
17:07
was a
17:08
fueled bioprotestant understanding but
17:11
it's been the
17:12
project of the of the western world for
17:14
a long time
17:17
before we leave this topic i'm curious
17:19
pentecostalism is
17:20
of course associated with miracle
17:23
working and gifts of
17:24
healing and you know sometimes physical
17:27
or at least experiential manifestations
17:29
of the presence of
17:30
christ and the holy spirit and and so if
17:33
we're going to
17:34
think of it in this trans-rational way
17:35
where we want to square
17:37
that kind of experiential life
17:40
with what we know from science and the
17:43
observation of our senses and evidence
17:46
how do those things go together in your
17:48
experience
17:49
so i'll just you know just be frank all
17:51
the pentecostals that
17:52
almost all the pentecostals i've known
17:54
personally in my life
17:56
and especially that's actually like this
17:58
increases the more
18:00
spiritual they get and the more focused
18:02
on things like healing and physical
18:04
manifestations of
18:05
the gifts of the spirit and whatnot the
18:07
more interested they are in that
18:08
the less interested they tend to be in
18:11
confirming those experiences with
18:13
normal kinds of evidence and in fact
18:16
when asked to do so they often
18:18
view it or react as though it were some
18:20
sort of movement against the spirit so
18:22
trying to confirm that a miracle
18:23
happened for example would be
18:25
for many of the pentecostals i've known
18:26
anyway including former pastors that
18:29
would be like
18:31
evidence that you lack faith or
18:32
something like that so
18:34
um so as someone who's driven by reason
18:37
in the classical enlightenment sense to
18:40
base your beliefs on the preponderance
18:41
of the evidence but also
18:43
is open to you know this this truth
18:47
that that is not all of us that were
18:49
much much bigger than that
18:51
uh how do we square those things with
18:54
seeking
18:55
the very specific manifestations of the
18:57
gifts
18:58
that pentecostals have always been
18:59
interested in does that make sense
19:01
yeah i think that what some of us would
19:05
call the primal faith of our movement
19:07
that
19:08
is not only in the azusa revival but
19:11
in the mystics and back into the
19:14
you know to the life of the of the
19:17
church throughout
19:18
his history is that
19:21
the miracles and the gifts are
19:24
less that use the word signs those are
19:28
somewhat byproducts of things
19:32
and those were
19:35
things that would be evident in the life
19:38
of someone
19:39
filled with the spirit but the deeper
19:43
evidence of that would have been a
19:46
relationship with christ that was just
19:49
bound in the affections of a pats let's
19:53
use the word passion that my
19:55
colleague used in his book a passion for
19:57
the kingdom so to speak
19:58
and you know we we would we
20:02
used to use the term as and many others
20:04
still do the
20:06
five-fold or the four-fold gospel jesus
20:10
as the savior jesus has sanctifier
20:14
jesus as the healer jesus as the
20:17
baptizer
20:18
and jesus as the coming king
20:22
well and any of that you don't really
20:25
hear the
20:26
gifts being except for the gift of
20:28
healing maybe
20:30
but it's a package deal i guess it's
20:32
what i'm saying and
20:33
and then groups get you know there's
20:35
always problems when you make
20:37
one part the whole and and then if you
20:41
if you lack a good ecclesiology
20:45
and grounding in the deeper tradition of
20:48
the church
20:49
you can get some real uh gnosticism
20:53
and a lot of arrogance and pride
20:56
and i've seen that lately and it's
20:59
grievous because
21:01
you know we are part of something uh
21:03
larger
21:04
and therefore we are subject to one
21:07
another
21:08
questions about uh our discernment or
21:11
a miracle or and and we're part of
21:15
the human community and science is part
21:17
of that so
21:19
i think that it it's sort of an
21:21
exclusivism they should see in the maybe
21:23
the church at corinth that begins to
21:26
puff up and
21:27
pride and arrogance and not
21:30
really the gospel it becomes something
21:32
perverted
21:33
yeah that makes sense so i mean you
21:35
would then i suppose
21:36
you would welcome the attempt to
21:38
actually establish according to some
21:40
kind of scientific metric that
21:42
a miracle happened in a community and
21:44
you wouldn't view that as
21:45
somehow anti-pentecostal or anything oh
21:48
yeah and you know i
21:49
i've really not encountered where people
21:52
were resistant to that
21:53
for the most part i've encountered
21:56
people saying
21:57
well let's just let's just see what the
21:59
doctor's x-rays
22:01
say and a friend of mine almost my
22:04
closest friend she had colon cancer and
22:08
all of the scans and x-rays and
22:11
said that she had it pretty advanced
22:15
and so right before she went in for
22:18
cancer there was a lot of prayer for her
22:20
healing
22:21
and she went she went in for the surgery
22:24
and then
22:24
it wasn't there so the physician you
22:27
know he just
22:28
after the surgery said here's the x-ray
22:32
it's here you see it you see this scan
22:36
you see all this mri stuff and and i i
22:40
did i did biopsies on you and
22:43
that was in the lymph nodes when i did
22:44
those biopsies and
22:46
it's not there and so
22:49
she um she became really a good close
22:52
friend to this physician
22:54
and he wrote up an article in the
22:56
university of tennessee knoxville
22:58
health health magazine about this
23:01
experience
23:02
and he began to go to church after that
23:04
and
23:06
they're really good friends and and she
23:08
just as to me
23:10
i'm no better than anybody else and i
23:12
don't know why this happened to me
23:14
and i don't really deserve this but i'm
23:16
just
23:17
grateful that i'm not dealing with stage
23:20
three or four colon cancer right now
23:22
it's amazing and then there's that great
23:23
mystery that i don't understand
23:25
you know there are those who have those
23:27
experiences like my friend sue and then
23:30
there are those who do not find that
23:33
healing and they die
23:34
with this and and i do not understand
23:38
that
23:39
at all and but yeah i think that's the
23:42
mystery of it
23:43
yep and i think that right there is the
23:46
best
23:46
explanation is mystery if we're
23:50
talking about the supernatural and we're
23:52
talking about the rational together
23:54
um we have to get acquainted with and
23:57
comfortable with mystery even though
23:58
it's really hard to get comfortable with
23:59
it isn't it
24:01
i wonder how how would you define
24:04
mystery
24:05
either of you i suppose because when
24:07
i've seen philosophers use that word
24:09
what they often mean is
24:11
unintelligibility
24:13
and and reason wars against
24:15
unintelligibility
24:17
it's almost like uh like a i don't know
24:20
a presupposition of doing philosophy in
24:22
the greek tradition that the world is
24:23
intelligible
24:25
and and to be confronted with mystery in
24:27
the sense of
24:28
no reality as it actually is is
24:30
inaccessible
24:31
to you just because of the kind of thing
24:33
that you are that's like against the dna
24:35
of philosophy so like
24:36
if if that's what you meant by mystery
24:38
then then i would be torn
24:40
like in my being and so i'm really
24:41
hoping that's not what you mean so so
24:43
what does mystery mean
24:45
in the sense that randy go ahead and
24:48
then i'll
24:48
chime in on that i i mean i wish you
24:51
wouldn't have said that cheryl because
24:53
any explanation i have of mystery is
24:55
going to be inadequate
24:56
compared to yours but i will just say in
24:59
regard to this context which you're
25:00
talking about kyle as far as
25:02
a philosopher's concept and lack of
25:04
comfort level with mystery
25:06
i would just say when we're talking
25:08
about
25:09
when we're talking about anything a lot
25:11
of things in the universe but
25:12
particularly the supernatural we come to
25:14
an end of our reason
25:16
and that's that should be a more
25:19
comfortable place
25:20
where the unexplainable um is
25:23
not abnormal and where you require
25:27
faith that goes beyond reason of
25:29
something that you can't prove i'm not
25:31
saying anything new to you but i think
25:33
this idea of our reason and being kind
25:36
of
25:36
ruled by that and then also certainty on
25:39
the other side when
25:40
we as people of faith especially
25:43
american evangelicals love certainty we
25:46
turn faith into certainty and
25:48
so that's where i think there's a lot of
25:50
areas where we would be do well to be
25:52
more comfortable with mystery and so i
25:54
i'd be completely comfortable with not
25:56
being able to explain
25:58
uh an experience that i perceived was
26:01
with god that
26:02
to me and my person is as real as real
26:05
gets
26:06
but there's no way i can prove it to you
26:08
that i had this dream and that god spoke
26:09
to me through it and altered the course
26:10
of my life in some ways you know
26:12
or that a person had a word that she
26:14
said was from the holy spirit
26:16
that undid me in the most profound way
26:19
and it felt as real as being loved by my
26:22
wife
26:22
um there's things that i just
26:25
i think we need to get used to otherwise
26:28
we are going to be what
26:29
cheryl talked about earlier which is a
26:32
faith tradition that's completely
26:34
ruled by reason and our minds and live
26:37
there and
26:38
miss a whole whole part of who we are as
26:41
human beings which is
26:42
which is where we find the limit to our
26:44
reason now you can give the real answer
26:47
randy i think your definition's great
26:50
what i like what you said there about
26:52
the end that we come to the end of our
26:54
own reason and
26:56
sometimes we forget the finiteness of
26:58
our our reason
27:00
and mystery i think is not something
27:03
that is
27:04
held by some people and kept secret from
27:06
others
27:07
as much as something that is ever
27:09
deepening and ever widening
27:11
ever expanding so even scientists
27:14
talk about the mystery of the universe
27:17
and the mystery of this and the mystery
27:20
of that
27:21
and it's it's something really beautiful
27:24
and wonderful
27:25
and almost like whet's your appetite to
27:28
know more
27:28
about it and i will say
27:32
kyle the mystery like i wouldn't ever
27:34
use that as an excuse and not to
27:36
dig into that experience to see if it
27:38
was true that would that that would seem
27:40
unhealthy and immature
27:42
but i would say attaching the caveat
27:44
that says if we can't prove it it's not
27:46
true
27:47
that's where i would say i can't i don't
27:49
think that's a wise
27:50
place to go yeah but if if in our
27:53
attempts
27:54
and i'm not i'm not ascribing this to
27:56
the pentecostal tradition
27:57
per se but if in our attempts to
27:59
understand a thing
28:01
we uncover evidence
28:04
that the let's say spiritual
28:07
interpretation of it is not supported by
28:09
the evidence
28:11
then i would feel compelled to give up
28:13
the spiritual interpretation
28:16
i mean yes with the caveat that
28:18
spiritual is a really complex shirt
28:20
sure sure right yeah i'm using it
28:22
because i can't think of a better one
28:24
yeah the interpretation where god showed
28:26
up and did this and that's the best
28:28
explanation
28:29
i mean again i think god works in all
28:31
sorts of ways whether it's through
28:33
medicine doctors wisdom knowledge
28:35
miracles
28:36
so again i wouldn't give it up and say
28:38
that wasn't god moving but yes i would
28:40
say
28:40
if you find an explanation where this
28:43
person started taking this medication
28:44
they didn't know it and all of a sudden
28:46
this happened and
28:47
oh my goodness maybe it's not the
28:49
transcendent miracle from god that we
28:50
had no idea about
28:51
yeah that'd be stupid not to i think
28:55
sure that conference that i met you at
28:57
it sticks in my memory because
28:59
it was well was the only pentecostal
29:03
i don't know anything academic that i
29:04
had ever been to i didn't know that
29:05
there was such a thing as a pentecostal
29:07
academic at that point i
29:08
became a pentecostal in college and then
29:11
went to graduate school and
29:13
and i don't know if you remember this
29:14
but it was really really odd to me and i
29:16
wonder if it was odd to you
29:18
during your keynote there was what i can
29:21
only call
29:22
a movement of the holy spirit and
29:25
everyone in the room
29:26
began spontaneously weeping speaking in
29:29
tongues
29:30
including you yeah and
29:33
it went on like that for probably half
29:35
an hour
29:37
yeah and this was at an academic
29:42
it was sure unusual to me and it really
29:44
stuck in my brain
29:45
and one of the reasons i went to that
29:47
conference is because a philosopher that
29:48
i admired a lot a guy named westfall
29:51
was the keynote in the philosophy track
29:54
or whatever
29:55
and he was in the room he was in the
29:56
back of the room and i wondered the
29:57
whole time
29:58
what is he what is like his perception
30:00
of this
30:02
yeah my paper was on a feminist
30:05
pentecostal feminist herman unique
30:08
uh grieving brooding transforming the
30:11
spirit the bible and gender and then it
30:13
later was published and then i've got a
30:15
book coming out
30:16
co-edited with lisa stevenson who's a
30:18
graduate of marquette
30:20
on the same topic which is just a
30:23
compilation of
30:24
essays by both younger and older
30:27
women pentecostal scholars trying to
30:30
sort of bounce off of this hermeneutic
30:33
that i developed
30:34
you know of and so i think what was so
30:37
unusual about that
30:39
session was that it tapped into
30:42
some deep grief that the spirit brought
30:45
to the surface
30:46
in terms of the pathos in women's lives
30:49
and
30:50
you know i went to that text of tara in
30:53
judges 19.
30:55
so that was that was an event it sure
30:58
was
30:59
wow it was moving i brought a friend of
31:02
mine who wasn't in any way affiliated
31:04
with the conference when he just
31:05
happened to live in the area and he too
31:06
was just like doubled over speaking in
31:08
tongues
31:09
wow yeah
31:12
and there was one woman um she started
31:15
i think it's the whole you know i
31:17
started speaking in tongues and
31:19
i mean they asked me to pray which might
31:20
have been a mistake and then
31:23
this woman from canada just on my left
31:26
near the front just started groaning now
31:28
if you remember that this
31:30
whaling and later she told me the next
31:33
day she said you know i never cry
31:36
and besides that i'm canadian
31:40
i said well that was a double thing
31:42
there
31:43
yeah i think the spirit was uh
31:48
groaning that day
31:51
wow cheryl i want i would love to hear
31:55
what's intrigued me i've been intrigued
31:56
for a while
31:58
by this idea of feminist theology i've
32:01
been intrigued for a long time about
32:03
this idea of liberation theology
32:05
when you attach a word i know there's a
32:07
lot of i'm going to use the
32:09
word good in quotes but good bible-based
32:12
protestants who get really unhinged and
32:15
anxious when you attach any word to
32:17
theology that's not like
32:18
you know the theology of god
32:22
but feminist theology explain what you
32:24
mean by
32:25
feminist theology what that means for me
32:28
as a white male trying to listen and
32:30
understand feminist theology
32:32
well you know um i think feminist
32:34
theology
32:36
is just an outgrowing of
32:39
of good humanism in the sense of saying
32:41
that women are fully human
32:44
and you know we can say that sit around
32:46
here tonight and talk about that
32:48
as if that's just a no-brainer but
32:51
and and you know the ancient world if
32:54
the
32:54
if the greeks were sitting around
32:55
talking about it it would be a
32:57
no-brainer that women
32:58
were not fully human you know closer to
33:02
the animals than
33:03
than men in some ways so
33:06
to be fully human is a radical
33:10
statement and and over here in 2020
33:13
it it doesn't seem that radical but
33:16
looking back
33:18
even unto the mid of the 20th century in
33:21
some ways and even today
33:23
in some countries of the world to say
33:25
that women
33:26
are full humans is not fully
33:29
appreciated with that so that for me
33:32
is a starting point in identifying
33:36
feminism i had a young woman say to me
33:38
this past week i'm not
33:40
i'm i'm uncomfortable maybe with the
33:42
word feminist i think i'm just going to
33:44
call myself a humanist and i said
33:47
well i i think i i see where you are but
33:50
until women are accepted as fully human
33:54
i think i'm just going to keep using
33:56
that word feminist
33:58
and that reminds me a lot of um the
34:00
black lives matter versus all lives
34:02
matter
34:03
exactly you know like until all black
34:06
lives matter
34:07
we gotta say black lives matter because
34:10
yeah no i mean that to me is my basic
34:12
premise and
34:12
i actually stole that from you i saw you
34:14
tweet that one time
34:16
that as a definition of feminism and now
34:18
i use it for all my intro classes when i
34:19
introduce
34:20
feminism as like a simple way to
34:21
understand what it doesn't doesn't mean
34:23
it's very useful
34:24
so you're maybe the only at least before
34:27
i
34:28
discovered you i had never heard of such
34:30
a thing as a feminist pentecostal
34:33
that didn't that was not on my radar and
34:36
everyone i told
34:37
uh about that conference in the keynote
34:39
that i heard that was
34:40
not on their radar either so what's it
34:42
like being a feminist pentecostal how do
34:45
those perspectives inform each other for
34:48
the work that you do
34:49
and i guess two parts of the question
34:52
how's your feminism received in the
34:53
pentecostal church and how's your
34:55
pentecostalism received in the feminist
34:57
scholarly world well you know
35:01
back to the definition of pentecostalism
35:03
my husband and i were
35:04
in our breakfast conversation the other
35:06
morning he said you know i just think
35:08
cheryl that
35:09
you and i are more first generation
35:11
pentecostals in the
35:12
beliefs and ideology that we have than
35:15
fourth
35:16
or fifth generation current generation
35:19
so that
35:20
the early pentecostal movement was
35:22
heavily criticized
35:24
for being feminine you know it was a
35:27
time when
35:28
billy sunday and everybody was trying to
35:30
masculize christianity and hear these
35:32
pentecostals and all these women
35:34
and the reporters from the los angeles
35:38
times when they were
35:39
reporting on the azusa street revival
35:41
one of the things that
35:43
they zeroed in on was the leadership of
35:45
women and the predominance of women so
35:48
our movement up until the mid twenties
35:50
and thirties was
35:51
pretty much a proto-feminist movement or
35:54
incipiently inherently women were full
35:58
partners in the kingdom
36:01
and then as we became more evangelical
36:04
and joined the nae in 1942 we
36:08
you know whenever the guys get together
36:10
what gets thrown under the bus
36:13
that's usually the women the minorities
36:16
and the women
36:18
and so when we decided that we needed a
36:21
good peer group
36:22
and everybody hated us especially the
36:23
fundamentalist they would not be part of
36:26
the nae
36:26
if we would join anyway that
36:30
we became part of this sort of larger
36:32
evangelical culture in the 40s and 50s
36:35
and
36:35
if you think about what was happening in
36:37
u.s culture as a whole
36:39
post-world war ii and getting women back
36:42
into the home
36:44
we were not immune from that and
36:47
we became more of we became
36:51
a movement less of the working poor
36:54
more middle class and our women
36:58
were told that they were no longer these
37:01
warriors in this kingdom of
37:03
you know missionaries and other things
37:05
that they would be
37:06
good to be home homemakers so all that
37:09
1950s
37:10
the number of women in our movement as
37:13
full ministers just
37:14
rapidly declined so it's taken a while
37:17
to get back
37:18
up and so i don't think that it is an
37:21
oxymoron
37:23
except who we are today it's
37:26
more of just as i said in my
37:30
earlier statement about what it was like
37:31
to be a child growing up
37:34
in that church i grew up in they taught
37:36
me how to be a feminist
37:38
it's incredible and i don't think anyone
37:40
is particularly in the north
37:42
would would believe you if you say i was
37:44
discipled by the pentecostal church into
37:47
having a feminist theology that's
37:48
incredible
37:49
and beautiful and also reminds me of how
37:51
it seems like whenever
37:53
any branch of the church becomes
37:56
legitimized
37:57
and becomes kind of gets a seed at the
37:59
table with the big powerful important
38:01
people
38:02
all of a sudden the marginalized people
38:04
fall to the wayside
38:06
i think you see that probably when
38:08
constantine brought the church
38:10
into the full roman empire and said this
38:12
is the the way now
38:13
and all of a sudden the marginalized
38:14
starts falling away and all of a sudden
38:16
our picture of the gospel just gets
38:19
tainted doesn't it all of a sudden it
38:20
becomes this elitism
38:22
that really isn't the gospel for all
38:24
intents and purposes because it's
38:25
controlled by the powerful
38:26
it sounds like maybe in many ways that's
38:28
what happened to the pentecostal
38:29
movement in some ways
38:30
yeah i mean the hunger for acceptance
38:32
can you know when you come from a
38:34
shame-based identity
38:35
and you call the last vomit of satan and
38:37
other things you know
38:40
then when somebody says that they'll let
38:43
you come to the table
38:44
you want to dress up clean up there was
38:47
one guy
38:48
who became president of the nae
38:51
assembly of god that they the nae i
38:54
think
38:54
asked him if his wife would give up her
38:56
ordination
38:58
so that they would be more palatable for
39:01
the
39:02
movement so to speak so yeah we you just
39:05
what you're saying
39:06
when we get all cleaned up and get a
39:08
seat at the table
39:10
the things that make us different like
39:13
the women
39:14
the minorities maybe some of the
39:17
more overt manifestations so we went
39:20
more toward the pentecostal
39:21
light and less out of we you know we
39:24
have
39:25
african roots and african spirituality
39:28
there at azusa street and
39:30
you know a lot of the white pentecostals
39:34
wanted to just sort of take that out and
39:37
and now you know a lot of evangelicalism
39:40
is what we call pentecostal light
39:42
raise your hands have this praise and
39:43
worship thing
39:46
yep we try
39:49
yeah so you mentioned uh earlier the
39:52
hermeneutic that you
39:53
developed so can you talk to us a little
39:55
bit about how you approach
39:57
the bible and how that's informed by
40:01
the different strands of your
40:02
perspective as a feminist and as a
40:04
pentecostal
40:06
well the paper that you heard kyle was
40:09
the grieving brooding
40:10
transforming that was a sort of a
40:12
pentecostal feminist hermeneutic
40:14
and in my opinion the
40:17
traditional feminist hermeneutics as you
40:19
move from
40:20
the hermeneutica suspicion into
40:23
remembering and reconstruction
40:26
the missing thing there was grief
40:29
and there there's a movement there
40:32
when you read any text of terror where
40:36
the grief of the spirit over broken
40:38
creation has to be
40:40
not just a side part but a real part of
40:42
it in feminist hermeneutics i think and
40:45
and then what the brooding part for me
40:47
is this whole image of the creator
40:49
spirit
40:50
brooding over chaos and in history
40:53
toward justice and
40:56
stirring up the waters and creating
40:59
opportunities for transformation so
41:03
that is sort of my basic feminist
41:06
hermeneutic
41:06
and but the book that i'm working on now
41:10
re-enchanting the text the bible for a
41:12
new generation is more of an ontology of
41:15
scripture
41:16
which is what you know i think
41:18
hermeneutics is a secondary question
41:21
and i kind of agree with john webster
41:24
that ontology is the primary question
41:27
can you explain what you mean by that
41:28
yeah what is the bible
41:30
you know then we talk about how do we
41:33
read it and how do we interpret it
41:34
but what is it um so
41:37
i um i'm developing this book that tries
41:41
to take that question on
41:43
in in a very sort of robust way of
41:46
that from my from my opinion we have a
41:49
disenchanted text
41:51
for the modern bible's a flat
41:53
disenchanted text that
41:54
you try to nobody wants to read it if
41:58
you you know you tell people to read it
41:59
to have a world view or to
42:01
as george barner says uh think like
42:04
jesus
42:04
it's like jesus was plato or something
42:07
or put on your worldview glasses
42:09
all that evangelical stuff
42:12
but for me the ontology of scripture
42:14
comes out of what webster would say
42:17
uh the revelation of god and the trying
42:20
life and it has to have a robust
42:21
pneumatology
42:22
and so the for the primary ontological
42:25
identity of scripture is spirit
42:27
hyphenated word and so that for me
42:32
scripture is is a it's a space
42:35
as much as a text or a portal or an icon
42:39
as much as words and
42:42
this gets back into where we were going
42:44
to make kyle nervous right in this
42:45
mystery thing
42:48
um so that's what i'm working on
42:52
and man i just think that we
42:55
have a very disenchanted bible today
42:57
well the world is disenchanted
42:59
man sign me up i'm ready for that book
43:02
um
43:03
cheryl we didn't tell you we were gonna
43:05
ask this but can you can you
43:07
explain for for us and for our listeners
43:09
your idea your
43:11
concept of the feminine divine and where
43:13
the where femininity
43:15
fits into the divine life yeah you know
43:18
protestantism
43:19
just has not only had it become rational
43:22
but just
43:23
totally masculine in the sense that you
43:26
know we
43:27
did away with any sense of mary or
43:31
venerating mary and looking back and
43:33
they
43:34
say the old testament and the jewish
43:36
tradition there's so many good feminine
43:38
elements there of of wisdom
43:41
personification of wisdom in proverbs 8
43:44
and 9
43:45
which is very feminized very much a
43:48
feminine voice speaking there
43:50
uh shabbat is the sabbath which is
43:53
feminine and so
43:56
you have queen sabbath you have lady
43:59
wisdom
44:00
and you have shekinah that developed in
44:02
the talmud
44:04
which is the willed presence of god and
44:07
that was a feminine representation of
44:10
god
44:11
and isn't the the ruach yeah
44:15
basic yeah that very basic understanding
44:18
of the ruach
44:19
being the a feminine term there
44:22
you know for spirit you had pneuma
44:25
and then it sort of became in the latin
44:29
and other ways it became neuter but then
44:32
masculine so it went sort of more from
44:34
feminine to
44:35
neuter to masculine and ancient syriac
44:38
christianity
44:40
would have rich images of referring to
44:43
the holy spirit as a mother spread your
44:45
wings over
44:46
our troubled times was one of the
44:47
prayers
44:49
and we have lost a lot of that in
44:52
our romanized westernized very highly
44:55
masculine
44:56
world and so
44:59
it's just hard-pressed to find any any
45:02
glimmer of light for any feminine
45:06
sense of of the world of time masculine
45:10
time one over i got a whole section in
45:12
my book on
45:13
midlife and menopause about how
45:15
masculine time won
45:16
out over feminine time solar time over
45:19
lunar time so it's just
45:23
hard in our present time to
45:26
find the feminine and one of the ways i
45:29
like to do that in the trinity
45:31
is not you can you know referring to the
45:33
spirit in feminine form
45:35
is fine i do that too but i like what
45:38
ann
45:39
bedford ulinov has done in the sort of
45:42
psychoanalytical stuff that she's done
45:44
and then i tagged that into miroslav
45:46
wolf's work on the trinity as
45:48
the eye and the not i or the one and
45:52
the plural and if we see
45:55
the masculine as the eye that is
45:58
sort of the individuation the
46:00
transcendence of god
46:02
if we see the feminine in god as the
46:06
unity of god the we of god
46:09
let us make humankind
46:12
it is the imminence of god so that god
46:15
has both masculine and feminine
46:18
characteristics
46:20
of the imminent the transcendent and
46:23
radically imminent feminist god i just
46:25
get all
46:26
suffocating in that body of you know the
46:29
universe is the body of god
46:31
i'm it's like when you get into the
46:34
extreme feminist
46:35
understanding of god and goddess stuff
46:38
i feel like i'm just in this god is my
46:41
body
46:42
and where does god end and you know it's
46:44
just too radically imminent
46:46
but the radically transcendence
46:48
transcendence of god
46:49
is problematic and that's where most
46:52
protestant evangelicals are
46:54
is that it's a highly romanized
46:57
god more like a roman god than the
47:00
hebraic god
47:02
so we've got a lot of work to do to be
47:06
comfortable
47:07
with seeing god is masculine and
47:09
feminine god is not man or god is not
47:12
woman god is not male god is not
47:15
female but god is masculine god is
47:18
feminine
47:19
and if you were to say to a woman if you
47:22
were to ask her do you believe you're
47:23
made in the image of god she would say
47:25
yeah
47:26
but deep down she doesn't really she
47:29
doesn't
47:32
i mean when you that picture of you
47:35
talking about the ancient syriac
47:37
christians
47:37
saying you know divine mother the spirit
47:40
would you
47:40
cover us with your wings in these
47:41
troubling times as soon as you said that
47:43
i was like
47:44
i got chills and thought that's what
47:46
we're missing right now
47:47
as church leaders are wrangling for
47:49
power and
47:50
you know cozying up to political parties
47:53
and
47:54
and people and we're hollering at each
47:55
other because of masks and there's
47:57
guys who formed a militia to try to
47:59
kidnap and execute a governor and
48:01
there's all this chaos
48:04
maybe what we're missing is that divine
48:05
feminine that says
48:07
divine mother would you cover us in your
48:09
wings in these troubling times
48:12
that sounds needed right now i'm very
48:14
much needed i'm in an ecumenical prayer
48:16
service
48:17
associated out of the national cathedral
48:19
on
48:20
the day before the election and i had a
48:23
contributor about a 30-second prayer and
48:26
i included those words
48:28
in that prayer for our nation and
48:31
yeah and you know you talk about the
48:33
militias and we talk about this
48:35
the new book that christine dumous has
48:38
on
48:39
jesus and john wayne and how
48:41
evangelicalism has just
48:43
tried to go more and more hyper
48:45
masculine each generation
48:47
trying to out do the other to to where
48:49
trump is
48:50
not an aberration but he is the
48:52
fulfillment
48:54
of biblical manhood so to speak so
48:57
that's a
48:58
deadly and dangerous place to be yep
49:01
yep so going you know talking trump is
49:04
kind of the opposite of what
49:05
i'm going to ask you about now which is
49:06
this idea that you've coined
49:08
benevolent patriarchy benevolent
49:11
patriarchy could you describe that for
49:12
us
49:13
cheryl yeah benevolent patriarchy you
49:16
know there's hardcore patriarchy
49:18
that's the uh what you see in the middle
49:19
east in some countries today but
49:22
what was part of uh the era in which
49:24
scripture was written
49:26
and you know that's where it is the root
49:29
you know patriarchy just literally means
49:31
the rule of man
49:32
and the potter familia is the household
49:36
ruler
49:36
so that's more of the women are chattel
49:39
they're owned
49:40
they have no will of their own they're
49:41
not they're sort of sub-human
49:43
you see you see that in some forms today
49:47
but benevolent patriarchy i think is
49:49
what you see in the western world and
49:52
evangelicalism is kind of sort of the
49:54
champion of that
49:55
is what is it the council of biblical
49:57
manhood and womanhood and
50:00
john piper and wade grudem and all it's
50:02
like
50:03
you lovingly lead sort of
50:07
but then you have all these scandals and
50:09
which kind of still flow out of the
50:11
patriarchy but instead of saying
50:13
patriarchy is the problem
50:15
they'll just say well we're not kind
50:17
enough or we're not loving enough so
50:19
benevolent patriarchy is i think the
50:21
context of most
50:23
traditional conservative evangelicalism
50:26
so when we think about patriarchy or
50:28
when we think about
50:29
misogyny in the church we're thinking
50:31
more probably about the extremes about
50:33
not letting your wife wear makeup or
50:36
have this long skirt on or we think in
50:38
these antiquated
50:39
terms but you're saying no patriarchy
50:41
exists even if it comes with a smile and
50:44
some you know and some compassion and
50:45
love
50:46
it's still patriarchy right yeah
50:49
and in my book i have a whole section on
50:52
that
50:53
in which i talk about what it's like to
50:56
live in benevolent patriarchy
50:59
and you know i i say that i've spent my
51:03
whole
51:04
adult life working in the context of
51:06
benevolent patriarchy so i know it quite
51:08
well
51:09
and most evangelical women know it well
51:13
and you know i think the whole image
51:16
there
51:16
of what they would call god's design for
51:20
women
51:21
to be under the leadership of men and
51:23
women are safer
51:24
under the protection of men and
51:28
in benevolent patriarchy the type of
51:31
woman that they call for
51:33
is the what i call you know you move
51:36
from the nice girl
51:37
to the good woman and benevolent
51:40
patriarchs love good women
51:42
i mean they're the women you know i give
51:44
a list in my book of
51:46
good women who work behind the scenes to
51:48
make things happen
51:50
good women who stand behind their men
51:52
good women who don't ask too many
51:53
questions
51:55
good women who are hard-working
51:56
god-fearing and dispensable of all
51:58
things dispensable
52:00
they're the smiling assistants they work
52:04
to make themselves thin
52:05
unseen and unheard and they
52:08
believe that their value comes from the
52:11
men they serve and is derived out of
52:14
that
52:15
and most women in evangelical
52:18
culture they believe that god is the
52:21
great benevolent patriarch and
52:23
god expects all of these things god
52:25
expects them to be
52:27
the good woman so they have these
52:29
spiritual holding containers using
52:31
richard roar
52:32
language so the spiritual holding
52:34
containers for women
52:36
in most evangelical churches is you
52:39
never outgrow them
52:40
you never you you you're in it at 25
52:43
and if beth moore wants to get out of it
52:45
a bit at 59
52:47
you know all hell breaks looks because
52:50
that that holding container that space
52:53
that
52:54
that's given to you for the good woman
52:56
you know is
52:57
you don't get to transverse out of it so
53:00
in this book that i did
53:01
seven transforming gifts of menopause
53:03
and that for women at midlife
53:05
i have a whole chapter on the gift of
53:08
spiritual freedom
53:10
and try to help women have the courage
53:13
and
53:14
get permission to get out of those
53:16
holding containers
53:19
as you talk about that cheryl i'm a
53:21
little bit overwhelmed in
53:22
thinking putting myself into that world
53:25
how scary would that be to think about
53:28
breaking out of that container right
53:30
when your whole
53:31
world has been built by the inside of
53:33
that container and your
53:35
probably your family lives in that
53:37
container and
53:38
the minute you try to get out of it
53:40
you're going to be seen as
53:41
a heretic you're going to be seen as you
53:44
know a liberal
53:45
crazy person who doesn't fill in the
53:47
blank that just sounds terrifying to
53:49
think about getting out of even though
53:50
it feels
53:51
even more terrifying and suffocating to
53:53
stay inside of that's a really really
53:54
hard place
53:55
it's a hard place because there's a lot
53:58
of rewards by staying
53:59
to stay inside and because the good
54:02
women are really you know kind of
54:04
rewarded
54:04
and but on the other hand you know that
54:07
you can only make yourself so small
54:09
without dying and
54:11
so getting out of them though you know
54:14
as you were saying
54:15
very aptly they're the guardians of the
54:18
holding containers
54:19
there's the ideology that's behind it
54:21
and then they throw scripture in and
54:23
doses about god's
54:25
god's design god's you know
54:28
place god's place god's purpose and boy
54:32
you know just moving out of it can it's
54:35
a frightening
54:36
experience but i've seen a lot of women
54:38
do it lately
54:40
i think one of the maybe byproducts of a
54:42
redemptive way of the trump era and
54:44
other things
54:45
and the scandals of sexual abuse and
54:48
things is that
54:49
women are getting out of those holding
54:51
containers they're finding them that
54:54
they're more toxic than they first
54:55
thought and
54:57
therefore they're willing to maybe pay a
54:59
price
55:00
more so than our mothers were maybe to
55:03
do that
55:05
cheryl when when george floyd was
55:08
murdered and
55:08
this black lives matter movement
55:10
exploded you know i've talked about race
55:12
as a pastor for a
55:14
long long time but the first thing the
55:17
first and the only thing that i wanted
55:18
to do was just listen to my black
55:20
pastor friends and say i'll go where you
55:22
go i'll follow your lead
55:24
and i'm still convinced that was the
55:25
right thing to do and i'm sensing the
55:27
same
55:28
necessity here as we as we talk of
55:30
saying
55:32
men particularly white american men
55:36
don't have the capacity to understand
55:38
what an experience would be like being a
55:40
woman in the church
55:41
particularly the evangelical church in
55:43
america in the last
55:45
70 years say so seeing that the more and
55:48
more i read my bible with women present
55:51
the more i'm realizing this must have
55:53
sucked to read and grow up in
55:55
with this extremely masculinized
55:58
you know patriarchal world that the
56:00
bible was created and written
56:02
and so we're part of a faith tradition
56:03
that was formed and originated in an
56:05
extremely patriarchal world our god
56:07
is seen as masculine and if you talk
56:08
about god as feminine you're seen as a
56:10
heretic in many of these circles we give
56:12
god masculine pronouns over and over
56:14
again the bible was written primarily by
56:16
men
56:17
daughters aren't written about in
56:18
scriptures most of the time you hear
56:20
about women in the scripture that's who
56:21
they're told to submit to
56:22
or what they've done wrong right i mean
56:24
there's all these things and i'm
56:26
i'm fairly convinced we men don't get it
56:29
it's really hard for us to get what it
56:31
would be like to be formed in a faith
56:32
tradition that doesn't make much room
56:34
for you
56:35
and a god that you can't identify with
56:37
in many ways because of
56:38
your gender so how do these realities
56:41
shape girls and women in the church how
56:43
do they shape
56:44
boys and men in the church what's your
56:45
perception on this world that i'm
56:47
speaking to that most of us in the
56:48
church especially those in power in the
56:50
church
56:51
just don't realize have no idea about it
56:52
yeah it's kind of like the air we
56:54
breathe and the water we drink and
56:56
it's sort of a unacknowledged sometimes
56:59
but yet there and i think for men
57:01
as you were saying it's just natural
57:04
god is like you and and they're heroes
57:07
of men in the bible and they all have
57:09
names
57:10
for the most part and on and on women
57:13
develop what i call the skill of
57:14
insertion
57:16
you know growing up we saying uh father
57:18
abraham had many sons
57:20
a little girl standing there you know
57:22
father abraham had many sons and she'll
57:24
go
57:24
me too and i am one of them you know
57:28
um and then they'll hear the pastor say
57:32
you know they'll read a scripture that
57:34
says and all men
57:35
and this man and and and then a woman
57:38
has to do this
57:39
she has to go that means me too
57:43
so it's a constant skill that you
57:46
develop of
57:46
insertion but then if you get wary of
57:50
insertion
57:51
what may happen is that you give up
57:55
and you just say it's a man's world and
57:59
i'm tired of inserting and it must
58:02
mean that i'm on the outside of this
58:04
tradition
58:06
that's when you can find women leaving
58:08
the church in the tradition
58:10
because they're just weary it takes a
58:12
lot of
58:13
work to remain in that context
58:17
and there are women who may just have
58:21
learned to be part of that culture
58:24
and say yeah that i know all that means
58:27
me too but i'm just happy that men are
58:29
the
58:29
you know that the language is all male
58:31
and the characters are all male
58:34
they they have acclimated to it
58:38
so how do we then you know i'm a church
58:41
leader
58:42
and i'm interested in knowing how do we
58:44
do better
58:45
how do how do we how do we ch the church
58:48
and i'm not just saying how do we men in
58:49
the church but how do we in the church
58:51
how do we do better cheryl yeah well i
58:53
have a former student
58:56
grad of the seminary pastors in
58:57
pennsylvania a very
58:59
wonderful digest church and he was doing
59:02
a series recently on
59:04
the women in david's life and he
59:07
he gets with his staff which is women
59:10
men
59:10
black white but he called me and he said
59:13
i'm going to be preaching about tomorrow
59:15
what do you see in that passage and we
59:17
had a long talk about that
59:19
you know that it's just a horrific
59:21
horrific passage
59:22
in terms of the role of women in david's
59:25
life and
59:26
that he loved his son the rapist more
59:29
than he did his daughter who was raped
59:31
and
59:32
you got to come to grips with that and
59:34
he's helping the congregation come to
59:35
grips with the trauma
59:37
in the in that and i find that very rare
59:40
because
59:40
normally the preaching is from the
59:43
standpoint of
59:44
david not tomorrow and
59:48
that women maybe can help you find the
59:51
back door
59:52
of a text like a there's the servants
59:55
door
59:56
there's the back door there's the hidden
59:59
doors the trapdoors
60:01
they're the the women standing in the
60:03
room when lot
60:05
is willing to throw out his daughters
60:09
imagine being a woman in that room that
60:11
night
60:12
so yeah i i think that just
60:15
asking women to help you interpret the
60:19
text
60:20
is helpful because you you you can see
60:23
it but then
60:24
i think they have a particular angle
60:26
maybe that
60:28
certain women would others would not
60:30
because they have not been
60:32
aware that they have permission to to go
60:40
there
60:43
friends before we continue we want to
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storyhillbkc.com
61:19
so one of your areas of research is
61:21
spiritual renewal
61:23
or spiritual transformation i'm not sure
61:25
but i think it's maybe in part of your
61:26
professorship title
61:28
yeah and that's something that you know
61:30
the pentecostals that
61:31
i was formed under talked a lot about
61:34
and i've never quite been able to
61:36
understand just for myself the
61:39
difference between spiritual
61:40
transformation as a christian
61:42
and what an ethicist would just call
61:44
moral development or the progress
61:45
towards virtue
61:47
and so as as a christian who wants to
61:50
say there's something distinctive that
61:52
jesus can offer you or the holy spirit
61:54
can offer you over
61:56
what you could get from studying kant
61:57
say what is
61:59
what is the distinction in your mind
62:00
between spiritual
62:02
transformation or renewal and
62:06
just straightforward becoming a good
62:08
person
62:09
yeah you know i years ago i did a lot of
62:12
dialoguing with lawrence colbert
62:14
and that whole understanding of moral
62:16
reasoning and moral development
62:19
and the way i see it is that the
62:22
spiritual
62:23
transformation we undergo very much
62:27
colors our moral reasoning
62:30
so i'll give you an illustration my
62:33
mother-in-law
62:34
never went past the 10th grade and in
62:37
terms
62:37
of moral reasoning
62:40
she did not do a lot of formal
62:42
operational thinking
62:45
her thoughts were more in the
62:47
interpersonal
62:48
i'll be a good person and the golden
62:51
rule and
62:52
we'll all love one another but you it
62:54
was hard to get her to talk about
62:57
systems of like justice racism
63:01
etc but i think she was the most moral
63:05
person i knew
63:07
and why did i you know i see that it's
63:10
because i think
63:11
she was a woman of deep mystical prayer
63:14
i mean she prayed hours a day in the
63:16
presence of god and
63:18
she was a woman of suffering uh she
63:21
would pray for people to be healed and
63:22
in the mystery of god she would be
63:25
she would not be healed great suffering
63:28
you know that deep mystery she lived in
63:30
suffering
63:32
so if i were to want to
63:35
have a really good conversation with her
63:39
about the higher good or something it
63:43
it would fall flat and so it
63:46
would have to keep it on the
63:47
interpersonal level but
63:50
she had a what craig dykstra would call
63:53
the capacity for the moral imagination
63:56
and the imagination is that part of us
63:59
that's beyond reason in some ways it's
64:01
that
64:01
part of us that can see possibilities
64:04
that we can't explain
64:05
or alfred north whitehead is the ability
64:08
to prehend
64:09
the good so she could prehend the good
64:12
better than anybody i knew and i would
64:15
say
64:15
to someone and my students i would say
64:19
if people a lot of times were dying and
64:21
they said you know you can only have one
64:23
person here to pray for you they would
64:24
call for my mother-in-law
64:26
and in great times of crises she was
64:29
always the one that
64:30
we called and therefore
64:34
you know you can take kant and shove it
64:37
in terms of
64:38
that it's like um
64:42
it was frustrating at times because she
64:45
didn't understand maybe why uh
64:48
let's talk about palestinian issues or
64:51
whatever
64:52
you know justice issues but
64:56
once she saw that there was a moral
65:00
course that maybe the spirit would
65:02
reveal to her
65:04
about it she became she became
65:08
more than she could describe that in
65:10
terms of craig's
65:11
dijkstra's work you know she became
65:14
capacitated beyond
65:16
herself and that's why i think the
65:20
spiritual transformation
65:21
is important on the other hand i
65:24
know that it handicaps you
65:28
if you cannot do good moral reasoning
65:32
and i see that everywhere today good
65:35
church mothers
65:37
sharing russian means
65:40
you know on facebook and they
65:43
they are not reasoning it out and the
65:46
pentecostal tradition
65:48
is almost getting worse in its
65:51
anti-intellectualism
65:52
and dichotomizing intellect versus
65:54
spirit
65:55
and it's not an in-spirited intellect
65:58
you know so
65:59
we are more likely than any group right
66:03
now
66:03
to be hoodwinked by conspiracy theories
66:07
and
66:08
the low level of education as a whole in
66:10
our in our movement
66:12
so i believe that another problem
66:15
is not all these people are as
66:17
capacitated spiritually as my
66:19
mother-in-law was
66:21
they're more capacitated by fox news
66:25
and so their deficit on both sides their
66:27
deficit on moral reasoning
66:29
skills higher level critical thinking
66:32
dialectical thinking but they're also
66:34
deficit
66:35
in spiritual depth and and
66:38
and spiritual wisdom and so they're not
66:41
capacitated on either side
66:44
that is that's a
66:47
where we are right now that's given me a
66:49
lot of grief keeping me up at night my
66:51
husband and i talk about this
66:53
is that you know who's catechizing who
66:57
there's there's a lack of critical
66:59
reasoning but there's also
67:01
a lack of spiritual depth and those two
67:04
things are a perfect
67:05
storm i hate
67:08
you know ending on that down well i've
67:11
got
67:12
just two questions on on your most
67:14
recent book cheryl you published your
67:16
new book called seven transforming gifts
67:18
of menopause which i will tell you
67:20
is the first time in my life as a man
67:22
that i've ever been
67:23
a little bit jealous of the menopause
67:25
process
67:26
that women experience because
67:29
you do this amazing job of describing
67:32
this
67:33
transformational process which is
67:36
menopause but also this
67:38
coming of coming into just new spaces as
67:41
a woman
67:42
in this book so can you tell us a little
67:43
bit about what the book is and where it
67:44
came from
67:45
yeah you know my own journey a lot of
67:47
books kind of begin there
67:49
but then and also looking at women's
67:51
studies and women's development
67:53
feminist work and and seeing that
67:57
women at midlife i think are given uh
68:00
sort of this built-in biological
68:03
opportunity
68:04
to remake their life in the second half
68:07
of life
68:08
and to get out like we were just talking
68:12
go go beyond the spiritual holding
68:13
containers
68:14
find a renewed vision for life the
68:17
second half of life
68:18
being uh somewhat different and more
68:21
more expansive than the first half of
68:23
life
68:24
that women can actually not just age
68:27
and be you know older versions of their
68:30
younger self
68:31
but they can actually mature and become
68:33
wise elders and
68:35
they can they can become the leaders in
68:39
in society and in churches and if you
68:41
look at the women who
68:43
years ago would start running for
68:45
congress it was uh women who were in
68:47
that
68:47
period of life you've called it kind of
68:50
a falling upward for women
68:52
which is really fun can you describe for
68:54
us the first half of life
68:56
for for a woman and then the second half
68:58
of life that relationship there yeah i
69:00
think
69:00
uh kind of dialoguing with roar there
69:02
the first half of life he
69:04
he i think has worked so much with men
69:06
and i listened to something that he
69:08
some lectures he gave years ago where he
69:11
said that
69:12
you know for men the first half of life
69:14
is ascent
69:15
and then the second half of life is
69:17
learning to descend
69:19
well let me go back to what i said about
69:22
the eye
69:23
for men individuation and the eye
69:26
is a big deal of the first part of life
69:29
identity vocation work and then
69:32
as rohr said then the second part of
69:34
life is more of
69:36
a humbling and experience of
69:39
relationships
69:40
he says you know in some cultures men
69:43
are humbled
69:44
by initiation rights but we don't have
69:47
any of those things
69:48
for women and he kind of just lightly
69:51
touched on it
69:52
was that for women the second half of
69:54
life is
69:55
ascent and they their first half of life
69:59
is what i call the relational self well
70:02
carol gilligan and others have you know
70:04
i'm not not i'm the one
70:05
calling it but women have been defined
70:08
as the we
70:09
or the relational self that develops at
70:11
puberty this sort of
70:12
drugged estrogen that makes her
70:16
want to marry have babies give up her
70:19
college and put her husband through
70:20
school and
70:21
everything she lets things go it's all
70:24
for the sake of relationship
70:25
and she's just drugged she's got all
70:28
this hormone and
70:29
of progesterone and estrogen coursing
70:31
through her body and
70:32
she has her rose-colored glasses on and
70:35
and then at
70:36
perimenopause all that hormonal balance
70:39
starts shifting
70:41
and dissipates and there's a really
70:44
kind of rocky ride and parts of the
70:46
brain
70:47
of memory and anger are actually
70:50
activated during that time
70:52
wow and a woman's rose-colored glasses
70:54
come off and she said you mean i
70:57
i gave up college for you
71:00
i must have been a fool for doing that
71:03
you know like what was that thinking
71:05
so what i try to do is help women
71:08
embrace that
71:09
relational self that at that time of
71:12
your life that was really good and never
71:14
give away the relational self
71:16
the we but the second half of life is
71:19
more of the ascent of who
71:22
am i that i and so one of the gifts of
71:25
menopause i call the authentic self
71:28
and women need to what harriet lerner
71:30
calls re-self
71:32
they have given bits and pieces of their
71:34
self away to
71:36
what she says they are by midlife
71:39
completely depleted selves
71:42
so reselfing is important but society
71:45
let's go back to the traditional
71:46
churches
71:47
um they make that sound selfish and they
71:50
expect to keep
71:51
being this relational self and keep
71:54
smiling and so what happens is a lot of
71:56
the anger
71:57
and other things get sublimated in women
72:00
and they develop all types of autoimmune
72:03
disease and
72:04
you know anger never dies it it just
72:08
gets
72:09
submerged sometimes you know and mm-hmm
72:12
if it's buried alive it stays alive so
72:15
there is uh you know for me i want to
72:17
help
72:18
help women see anger as a as a gift
72:22
and how to become competent in using
72:24
anger
72:25
not manage anger but become competent in
72:28
it
72:29
become a competent individuated self
72:32
while keeping the relational self find a
72:35
renewed vision
72:37
and then the last chapter is the gift of
72:39
the dragon and if
72:40
you know that's the if a woman makes it
72:43
to that last chapter
72:46
he'll get the dragon tattoo i've known
72:47
some women who make it there and go get
72:49
a dragon tattoo so
72:50
love it love it yeah i mean i'm i'm
72:53
imagining that there's
72:55
a bunch of young moms listening right
72:57
now listening to you talk
72:58
about that period of life that they're
73:01
in and they're feeling
73:02
so hopeful hopefully
73:05
resonating with what you're saying and
73:08
finding meaning in what
73:09
in where they are right now because
73:11
that's what they're that's their
73:12
vocation but
73:13
feeling so hopeful that there's more for
73:15
me than this yeah and then i bet there's
73:17
a lot of middle-aged women who are
73:18
listening thinking
73:19
i've never thought about this i've never
73:21
seen this potential here in the second
73:24
half of my life like you said
73:26
you kind of so many women i i can see it
73:29
see themselves as just an aging version
73:31
of their their younger self
73:33
and man there's so much more there so
73:35
i'm i would love
73:37
not only our female listeners but our
73:38
male listeners to read this book as well
73:40
to be able to understand and empower the
73:43
woman in your life and to be able to to
73:45
see where they
73:46
are and to speak to where they are call
73:48
them out and call them into more
73:50
so beautiful yeah i have a friend who i
73:52
gave the copy to
73:53
for his wife and he said because she's
73:56
turning 50.
73:57
and he said oh no she's not getting it
73:59
until i finish it
74:00
and so he read the book and he was
74:02
texting me things you know
74:04
sometimes all caps and so finally you
74:07
know he gave it to his wife and
74:09
and and he said you know now we can talk
74:10
about it you read this
74:12
i and i've read it and i think that's a
74:14
really
74:15
odd way but yet a good thing i mean he
74:17
wanted to know what
74:19
what i was saying and after talking with
74:21
him about the book he
74:23
he resonated with that and i appreciated
74:26
it
74:28
awesome well uh we're at the end of our
74:30
time here so
74:31
is there anything else you'd like to say
74:33
to our listeners where they can find you
74:35
online or what you're
74:36
currently doing if they want to keep up
74:37
with the book that you're working on now
74:39
yeah i have the website uh you know
74:42
cheryl b
74:43
johns.com and i've got some things there
74:47
and every now and then i'll put a little
74:49
blog post out but
74:51
that's where they can find me awesome
74:55
thank you so much for spending the
74:56
evening with us cheryl
74:58
so wonderful that's wonderful for me i
75:00
just i could go on and on so thanks for
75:02
the opportunity we could too
75:03
maybe after the next book comes out
75:04
we'll have you on again that sounds
75:06
really exciting
75:06
oh yeah it's got to come out editor is
75:09
um not happy
75:12
when can we isn't that their job i feel
75:14
like that's part of the job description
75:15
of it
75:16
yeah i haven't even opened the last
75:17
email so they know what they're getting
75:19
yeah it's got to get actually it was um
75:22
the book that reincarnating the text i
75:24
started on it before the menopause book
75:26
and was talking to my editor i about not
75:28
getting the
75:29
re-enchanting to him i said well i can't
75:32
because i'm doing the menopause book
75:34
so he published that i think just to get
75:36
it out of the way so i would do that
75:45
thanks for spending this time with us we
75:47
really hope that you're enjoying these
75:48
conversations as much as we are
75:51
and if you are help us get the word out
75:53
before you close your podcast app leave
75:55
a rating or a review
75:56
that helps new listeners find us maybe
75:58
for the first time
75:59
if you'd like to share the episode you
76:00
just heard with a friend or a family
76:02
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76:02
you can find those links on our social
76:04
media pages you can also find us over on
76:06
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76:07
at patreon.com a pastor and a
76:09
philosopher
76:10
thanks again for listening until next
76:12
time this has been a pastor and a
76:14
philosopher
76:14
walk into a bar
76:38
[Music]