Posted on Friday, May 04, 2007 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Phil's blog got me thinking about the whole issue of women in Reformed and conservative evangelical circles in general.   On the whole, I don't think the church provides the kind of environment that helps.  Two examples: in Britain, certain denominations don't pay their ministers a proper living wage (though this is often due to sheer economic hardship, not miserly giving); yet those same denominations, in my experience, have a culture which heavily criticises the minister's wife for then going out to work to make ends meet. Result: ministerial bitterness and burn-out; women who feel guilty either that they bring in no money, or that they do and are thus not proper pastor's wives.

In the US (and it is the US -- I have not seen this so much in the UK) , I have lost count of the number of women I have come across, particularly in presbyterian circles, who feel the need to conform to some Reformed cultural norm.  You can tell them on the Sundays: the exhausted and haggard mothers whose husbands expect them not only to cook and to clean, but also to home-school the kids. For every omnicompetent wife who seems to be able to run the world and then some, and still look like a million dollars when hubbie gets home for dinner (already on the table, of course), there are ten or more who look crushed and dispirited, who really need to send their kids out of the house in the morning so they can get some rest and some mental sanity, who need their husbands to see the problem and take steps to help them.  Are they inadequate as Christian mothers?  No.  They are crushed by a "Christian" culture that demands their all and gives no slack.

I am no feminist (my wife will confirm my impeccable Neanderthal credentials); I have strong views on women's ordination; but I am saddened by the way Reformed church culture so often tramples its women underfoot with its mindless identification of biblical manhood with something akin to John Wayne and its assumption that all Christian women should make Mary Poppins look domestically incompetent. 

Posted on Tuesday, May 01, 2007 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

My friend, the modest, quiet, peaceable master of understatement, Rev David Robertson, has posted an interesting article on the dire situation of ministry in modern Scotland, particularly from a Free Church of Scotland pespective.  Not all will agree with every comment he makes, but it gives an insight into the tough road which British ministers now tread:  Next time, David, tell us what you really think.

I find it hard not to share his despair: as one who owes almost everything theologically and pastorally to the ministry of the Free Church, I find his his words extremely depressing.  And the Free Church should be the only real hope for orthodox presbyterianism (both theological and practical) in Scotland.  Those to the right have lost the catholic spirit and social concern of Free Church fathers such as Chalmers and Guthrie (and even James Begg -- appropriated by the right who tend to forget that he argued for state subsidies of secular entertainment so that men would go out with their wives on Saturday nights, rather than head to the pub).  And what can one say about the C of S?  Some great guys who have fine congregations; but at denominational level it's all smoke and mirrors -- apparent minor victories on ministerial training etc only ever won at the huge cost of compromise on issues such as women's ordination, keeping shtum in prebyteries as candidates go to the wall on the gay issue etc. etc. Sometimes it seems that the only thing C of S evangelicals are really prepared to get angry about is the Free Church of Scotland!!! 

Last year, I wrote that the Scottish glass really is half empty.  That might have been an upbeat assessment.

Posted on Monday, April 30, 2007 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

What profit?  Here's a few ideas:

Posted on Saturday, April 21, 2007 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

A noteworthy book that's just come out in English translation: Regis Debray's Praised Be Our Lords: The Autobiography (Verso).  Debray, a student of Althusser, a companion of Che Guevara in Bolivia, and an advisor to the Mitterand government, is an interesting character.  Why should Ref21 readers give him a look?  He's one of those thinkers who has come to see theism (at least, the idiom of theism) as providing a response to postmodern thinking.  A French Eagleton who has led a more exciting life but lacks the sense of humour.  `I seek truth: that is my mental tropism.  My body itself wanted power.'   If that isn't a good statement of the human condition, I don't know what is. 

Posted on Thursday, April 12, 2007 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

With the great demographic shift to the southern hemisphere in terms of evangelical Christianity, the issue of listening to the voices of brothers and sisters from these newly significant areas is a pressing one.  But I want to raise some concerns.

Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

History is important; but the current distaste for history doesn't fill one with much confidence that this kind of thing can be reversed. 

Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Having spent a jolly couple of days reading through pages and pages and pages of web-based Holocaust Denial while simultaneously gagging and preparing a chapter for a book on historical method, I confess to being totally depressed by the number of such sites which connect to the `Christian' world.  Why the connection? 

Posted on Thursday, March 29, 2007 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

As no-one took up the last question, I'll take a stab at it before we move on to ignoring the next topic.  Revision of creeds: this is huge question which really defies reduction to a blog, but here are some thoughts:

Posted on Wednesday, March 21, 2007 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Preparing a lecture which touches on the philosophy of Hannah Arendt, especially her understanding of evil as epitomised in the Nazi war criminal, Adolf Eichmann (who, contra some Reformed "thinkers," -- ahem! -- seemed to think that the Holocaust really did happen.....) I was struck by Arendt's comment on his testimony in his own defence, when he apologized for the fact that so much of what he had to say was dressed up in the language of Nazi civil servanthood:

Posted on Saturday, March 17, 2007 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Yes, I acknowledge the defeat.  A source of national shame, and I humbly call on Tony Blair to make Monday a national day of prayer and humiliation.  I console myself only with the thought that, the occasional loss to Wales notwithstanding, it is still better, on balance, to be born English.  On that at least both English and Welsh can agree.