No Makeup - It's all in a good cause

Without warning my Facebook feed seemed to be filled with photographs of women who had decided to take selfies whilst not wearing makeup. Was this some kind of feminist statement I thought!

No! It seems that each of these participants had felt compelled to do so in support of the charity Cancer Research; which at this point has raised in excess of £2 million.

At first I was quietly impressed by the willingness of these aspiring models to bare all; at least as far as their faces were concerned. Then it struck me that each of the photographs contained a freshness that I wasn't really used to.

Being the father of four daughters I was always aware that our culture contained some ingrained inequalities; I had even joked at how it is relatively easy to be a man when getting ready for social events. Even buying clothes was a stress free event compared with that endured by my wife and daughters. 'Shirt, tie, trousers, done!' I would exclaim after shopping as if I had triumphed at a major event.

Even with the awareness that living with five females is bound to bring I still found these photographs surprisingly refreshing. They seemed honest, open, and dare I say it beautiful.

Having had family members affected by the disease I am glad that Cancer Research have been helped by the campaign but I wonder whether there might be an added bonus to this.

Perhaps men like me who have hopes of supporting the fight the feminist cause might become more aware of how hidden inequality is in the ordinariness of everyday life.

I never, for one moment, feel the need to hide my true self behind makeup and yet my daughters and wife experience such pressures every day. This issue is not really about whether women should wear make up or not but about the unequal pressure placed upon women compared to men.

I wonder whether this new found freedom to be photographed without camouflage might make us realise that true beauty is shown by people being willing to be their true selves in order that those in real need might be helped.

These are very selfless selfies!

Peace, peace when there is no peace

The latest episode in the recent Mark Driscoll saga has produced predictable responses from those who have a tendency to support him and other high profile mega church pastors. I am sure that others could also have predicted the response from those, like me, who would offer a critique.

I am particular concerned with those who choose to call for a quieter response to his recent open letter of apology. Not withstanding that it could be suggested that his letter was neither open nor an apology, it seems that his supporters want us all to calm down and accept his humility as a sign that everything is rosy in the Mars Hill garden.

The calls for peace seem to fall in to two main categories:

Firstly, there are those that suggest we should remain quiet because the bible encourages us to speak to our sister or brother directly. If this fails we should include a few others as direct witnesses of our conversation.

Secondly, some are suggesting that now that Pastor Mark has apologised we should receive this with grace and move on. Of course this sounds like the Christian and noble thing to do. Keep the peace, act in a gracious way, look for unity. All the marks of good Christian advice.

But I, for one, have a considerable problem with this challenge for two main reasons:

1) Despite what his supporters suggests Mark is not acting in just a 'local church pastoral' context. He has used, and to some degree abused, the global system to his advantage. His motives may well have been to further the message that he believes in so passionately but he has gained personally in terms of both finance and notoriety. Mark has purposely placed himself into our context.

You may well argue that 'you don't need to buy his books' but that underplays the role that multi-site, multi-context ministries play in the life of a local church. As a leader in a church some several thousand miles away from Seattle I can see how his particular form of Christianity bleeds into the consciousness of people who read his words at face value without knowing the construct that governs his worldview. We would be perhaps acting in a negligent way if we remained silent in order to spare pastor Mark's feelings.

2) I may have been able to take the calls for peace, unity, and silence more seriously if many of Mark's supporters had previously spoken out on behalf do those hurt and damaged by some of his previous behaviour. Note here. I do not just mean those that have attended Mars Hill in the past but those who have been the subject of increased ridicule because they fall into the categories mark has chosen to ridicule in the past.

Surely the calls for peace can only be taken as seriously as the silence we have seen with regard to justice for those who have been hurt. You surely can't have one without the other.