Tuesday, July 22, 2008

spouses subsumed

How many jobs are there where your spouse comes to the interview with you? Where one partner is hired to do the job, but the other is expected to take on certain roles and responsibilities within the organization? The only one I know is ministry – it is common practice for the position of “pastor’s wife” to be viewed in the church as a vocation, in a way that no other spousal role is. I don’t expect that I will ever be expected to show up at PJ’s place of work and tutor because I am the professor’s wife . . . and as a lawyer’s partner, he might have to go to boring dinner parties, but he’ll never have to come to the office and type up my submissions – nor was he called upon to give his opinion on the carriage of justice before I could be called to the Bar.

I know that Ministry isn’t like any other job –your role is to be a spiritual and moral leader, and this makes a pastor’s home-life more relevant to his job than it is for most other professions (I am referring to pastors as men and their affected spouses as women throughout this post because I have not seen the same dynamic play out in situations in which the wife is the one in ministry).

However, it still makes me uncomfortable. I am sure that there are couples where the man is in ministry and the wife’s true calling is to be in ministry along-side him. However, I suspect that there are an equal number of families in which the wife has a passion and calling that is separate from her husband’s. By relegating her to the role of “pastor’s wife,” she cannot follow her own passions, and her identity is subsumed in his.

A marriage should be a partnership in which each person supports the other in becoming the best individual they can be. I worry that by making pastors wives an annex to their husbands’ ministries, churches (which generally consider marriage to be a sacred and important thing) are undermining the very foundation of this relationship in their leaders, by expecting the support to flow only one way.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

dancing around the world

I just came across this strange video , which in some ways is hilarious, but in others is totally touching. It's by the guy named Matt, and basically what he does is goes around the world and does this silly dance, and gets people to dance with him. He dances in the rain in Montreal, with kids in the Philippines, in the DMZ in Korea (they guard does not dance too . . .), on the beach in Rio, in the mountains of Bhutan, etc etc etc. It's always the same silly dance. But what's so cool about it is that he looks so happy doing it, and this very silly dance becomes an expression of profound joy. Dancing happens across cultures - I think it's a fundamental human experience, and Matt catches this, by dancing badly, but having so much fun doing it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Canada the irrelevant

Poor Canada. Like any nation, we want to believe that we’re leaders on the world stage. When we manage to escape the usual trap of negative identity definition (i.e., we don’t know what we are, but we sure aren’t America . . .), we have relied on some pretty tired images to define ourselves. Lester Pearson came up with the idea of a UN peace-keeping force back in the 50s, so we define ourselves as a nation of peace-keepers. We have a lot of rocks and lakes and trees, which we quite enjoy, so we define ourselves as environmental leaders. If you look at the evidence, though, neither of these characterizations are exactly true in 2008.

Not only are these tired and not-so-true definitions becoming globally revealed as the empty shells they are, but by hanging onto them so strongly we are quickly moving to – horrors – global irrelevance. I was looking at international coverage of the G8 summit, which is currently taking place in Japan, and the pundits were weighing in on whether the G8 serves a useful function and, if it does, whether its membership should be amended. In the discussion about amendment, Canada was one of the main targets for questions about the relevance of the current membership. Canada has a smaller economy than Spain – why is one included and the other isn’t? Canada “brings nothing to the table,” and emerging super-powers like India, China, Brazil and South Africa have as much right to be there as we do, if not more. Apparently, PM Harper has been talking about the importance of the G8 as bringing together “the major advanced democratic nations of the world,” but it seems that fewer and fewer people are buying the benefit of these annual summits.

It seems like it’s time for us to look long and hard at what we do, and how it’s perceived, if we really want to continue to be a “leader on the world stage” – or maybe we don’t, and we should just strive to be a middle power with the best domestic policy possible, in which case we are still going to have to take that good long look in the mirror, and figure out what facets of our identity actually stand up to scrutiny.