#SubversiveJesus — Chapter 2

As much as we would like to deny it (or at least soften the blow), the negative effects of the patriarchy can be seen over and over again in the way fear often rules a woman’s behaviour — despite shared passion, shared faith, and shared conviction. It’s narrated here when Greenfield invites the first of the homeless into his house, without first telling his wife.

Flag #1: It’s always the men who think they can do anything they want without first informing their team. But what is teamwork and partnership without equal say and open, shared information? Why does male leadership (almost always) assume that if they approve of it everyone else will?

Okay, it’s awkward that I’m always referencing fiction, but I thought that this was slightly related. In The Mercy Seat, Xavier Stills has been struggling in his marriage ever since his wife, Felecia, started working because he felt that she was prioritising her job over him and their daughter. Felecia, on the other hand, feels that Xavier doesn’t value her as a person, with her own dreams and ambitions, but just looks at her as someone to keep house for him. There’s a big blow up at a church cook-out (where both accuse each other of having affairs) and Pastor Walston steps in to counsel Xavier, saying:

“Jesus was the first one to die on the cross for our sin. He loved us before we loved him; or even had the common sense to love ourselves. But because He sits on a seat called Mercy, He doesn’t give us what we deserve. He renders blessings because of His goodness. Even when you don’t feel like it, because you are the head of your house, you have to love that woman. You have to go to God and ask Him to show you how to cater to her emotionally. You have to set aside your own wants for the needs of this relationship.”

Both sides had their issues, both sides had their reasons, and part of the root cause was that he wasn’t listening to her or accepting what she said, resulting in her shutting him out.

Okay. This is a little off-tangent, but it’s just frustrating. Like, women are people. We have opinions that don’t always coincide with yours. Wives have valid opinions and worries and fears too. You don’t get to feel hurt just because she tells you frankly she has a problem with it.

So Nay, his wife, objects:

“I need more time to get used to this,” she continued. “I need some warning before you bring someone home, and I need to know that I can say no if I feel uncomfortable, or if I feel someone might be unsafe with the kids.” — Subversive Jesus; Craig Greenfield.

And I totally get this. I hate how much I get this. Like I hated the way my friend was worried that there was something wrong with her because when she didn’t want to walk through a dark, back alley “shortcut” to get to her car (At night! In San Francisco!), a male friend said to her that she was unnecessarily fearful and shouldn’t worry so much.

Flag #2: A woman (almost) always thinks of safety first. Not just in general, but specifically will this (or some other random) person attack me? Especially when inviting someone into her personal space, even if it’s shared, because when rape or violence happens, the general opinion is usually that if you invited them in, it’s your fault.

But this is not a rant about patriachy, though subverting mainstream culture, including Christian culture, would eventually mean addressing these issues in the lives of women, destitute or not.

If I could not delight in loving and serving my family in unseen ways, then what right did I have to be performing more public acts of love and service for the poor? — Subversive Jesus; Craig Greenfield.

Where pastors get it wrong. Sometimes.

Which is why PKs either end up as overachieving brats or end up leaving the church altogether.

Balance is hard.

This post is getting long and I’m getting diverted all over the place. Look, I know that this chapter is about how Greenfield and his family move from the slums of Cambodia to find that even in the affluent city of Vancouver, the same poverty and hunger is evident in the inner city, where the dregs of life, the unwanted and the destitute, eke out a living.

If I were reading this casually, I would have passed over this chapter a long time ago, but I’m letting it sit and sink. I like that they eventually worked out community guidelines that deal with security. I like that right from the outset Greenfield addresses money and resources.

If we allow money to be the determinant of how we spend our lives, the agenda of those with resources to pay us will always take precedent over the needs of the poor...
… Luke records that everyone had a different role within the body of believers, and in particular, Jesus allowed a group of wealthy women to pay the bills. — Subversive Jesus; Craig Greenfield.

It sounds conflicting, put together, but maybe it’s not. It addresses the fact that some people have the ability to make money, and a lot of it, but don’t have the ability or the call to live in the same way Greenfield and his community does. That doesn’t mean the resource holders get to dictate where the resources go — whilst there’s a web of accountability between those who go and those who send that the money is used rightly, it’s usually the people on the ground who know where it’s needed the most, or where it would have the most impact. There needs to be trust and accountability on both sides.

And yet it feels like I’m still dancing around the main point of this chapter, which is that we are all called to go.

In whatever way we can.