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It has been such a long time since I’ve written I have a dozen topics I would like to address. I would like to point people to other good writers and blogs, but for now I will strive to focus my thoughts and write on one of the most important things swirling in my mind.

(Note: Open this webpage, where you can listen to High Street Hymns’ new CD, “Love Lives Again” and listen while reading this blog, for the experience I’d like you to have. (Songs 1, 2, 3, 5, 7-10 particularly relate.)

When our hearts are saddened, grieving or in pain,
By Your touch You call us back to life again;
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green. (1)

Yesterday, the general synod of the Church of England—which includes, bishops, clergy, and laity—failed to pass the approval of women bishops by the two-thirds majority in all three of the houses.

In short, it means that 6 members of the House of Laity blocked the ordination of women to the episcopate (bishop) that got 90 percent approval of the bishops and 77 percent approval by the clergy. 64 percent of the laity voted yes. 2 percent of the laity blocked the whole measure.

Bishop of Durham Justin Welby, an evangelical, is in favor of ordained women as priests and bishops.

The soon to be Archbishop, Bishop of Durham Justin Welby, is considered an evangelical and his choice was widely praised by people of all backgrounds. After the vote, Bishop Welby tweeted: “Very grim day, most of all for women priests and supporters, need to surround all with prayer & love and co-operate with our healing God.”

None other Lamb, none other Name,
None other hope in Heav’n or earth or sea,
None other hiding place from guilt and shame,
None beside Thee! (2)

I found out first about the decision from Sarah Moon’s blog, where she mentions she isn’t Anglican or isn’t even attending church, but she was still watching it. Although her previous church communities have certainly let her down, Christ does not and will not. Sarah cried, sitting in the student union at her university, while she overheard two male students talking about “hot b—— who give them b—–.”

My faith burns low, my hope burns low;
Only my heart’s desire cries out in me
By the deep thunder of its want and woe,
Cries out to Thee. (2)

Yet, Sarah, in spite of not being “churched,” remembers hope. She writes:

But we hope for something different. “Let justice roll down like waters…” … We must call our oppressors out of the way that leads to death–the death of half the church, the death of the humanity of both men and women–and invite them to a new hope. 

Lord, Thou art Life, though I be dead;
Love’s fire Thou art, however cold I be:
Nor Heav’n have I, nor place to lay my head,
Nor home, but Thee. (2)

London walk sign/By Crystian Cruz/Flckr

I cried too in the car driving home from meeting with students. Earlier in the day, I caught a bright student’s use of the male singular pronoun in her paper as the substitute for “the viewer” … “He wonders how the running shoes can …” I circled the pronouns and asked Shanna (3) if she had noticed that.

“No!” she cried. “I’m a girl, and the ads are for women’s shoes!” She was not pleased with herself.

In Italy/By hugovk/Flckr

I explained that even in 2012 the white male is the “standard” so even people of color, even women, revert to that without even thinking. It clicked in Shanna’s mind and she nodded, mentioning examples. I explained we needed to critically reflect on and think through our own perspectives, prejudices, and biases.

“This really matters,” I said.

All who labor                                                                                                            And are heavy-laden                                                                                              Come unto me                                                                                                         And I will give you rest. (4)

After Shanna, I met with Ethan, a white male student. In his description of two advertisements, he didn’t mention the gender of two children (both male), and he only mentioned the ethnicity of one of the characters—the only African-American/ non-white actor. I tried to explain to him these ideas on race and gender. I think he tried to understand, but I didn’t get any assurances that he understood how important the ideas were. Then I met with an African-American student, Sarah, who was comparing two makeup ads. We discussed the fact that even though Beyonce and Rihanna were the celebrity faces, many African-American women are darker in tone than any of the makeup shades the one foundation offered.

Beyonce.

“My friend, who is lighter than me, uses the second to last shade of that makeup,” Sarah mentioned, visibly thinking. We wondered if the makeup really was made for all skin tones. Then we analyzed the mascara ad, which said it contained light-reflecting “hint of tint to make your baby blues, greens, browns, and hazels four times brighter.”

Rihanna, who is 24.

What color do you think Rihanna’s eyes are naturally, I asked Sarah. Why is blue and green first? Statistically speaking, Rihanna’s eyes are not likely to be blue or green. Some people might say I overanalyze or am being overly difficult. But when these examples are piled so high on people they don’t even know why they can’t breathe, then we must, we must, we must, analyze and call out truth.

Now the green blade rises from the buried grain,
Wheat that in the dark earth many years has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green. (1)

And then this morning, I heard Frank Deford talk about women and sports on NPR. He mentioned that “no woman has ever been selected to coach a major men’s team.”

None. Not one woman.

Copyright Photo by Luke Saagi/Flckr

In the grave they laid Him, Love Whom we had slain,
Thinking that He’d never wake to life again,
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green. (1)

I expect secular society like sports or advertising to not be egalitarian. But then I am surprised (!)—or crestfallen—when the Church acts like the world.

Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje

In September, Charles and I wrote a letter to the Archbishop of Rwanda, Onesphore Rwaje, Bishops Thad Barnum and Terrell Glenn, and Rev. Steve Breedlove (who was ordained as bishop a few weeks ago) asking for the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda in the U.S. (PEARUSA) to reconsider women’s ordination to the priesthood. We didn’t get a reply from any of them.

Up He sprang at Easter, like the risen grain,
He that for three days in the grave had lain;
Up from the dead my risen Lord is seen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green. (1)

I sang along to these two songs as I drove home, my heart heavy, but prompted that when we are sad, hurt, depressed, that the best and first thing is to go to Jesus. And that even when the world—and even our Church—fails to recognize the shared humanity of women,

We are called to sing out the truth—Alleluia

even if our voices crack and waver, even if no sound comes out but we move our mouths in affirmation of the Truth. When I sing “Now the Green Blade Rises,” I change one of the lines, to “When we die, we will rise to you.” Christ’s life, death, and resurrection gives us hope that this world cannot win—that Love will come again and that in Him, through Him, and because of Him, we will rise to Him.

(1) Words to the hymn, “Now the Green Blade Rises,” by John M.C. Crum, rearranged by High Street Hymns with added chorus.

(2) By Christina Rossetti, “None Other Lamb, None Other Name,” 1892, rearranged by High Street Hymns with added chorus (4).

(3) Student names changed.

(4) Chorus to “None Other Lamb” by High Street Hymns.

(5) Chorus to “Now the Green Blade Rises” by High Street Hymns.

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