Monday, June 29, 2009

How About A Little Labeling, Straw Man?

I don't always have a lot of spare time to just surf the web. I have a set number of places I usually go, things I do, and then I'm off to play with Bobby, cook, knit, sew, pick up (okay, not often, but sometimes), run errands, or any of the other myriad things that life involves. But, since I've been procrastinating on this whole packing thing, I suddenly found myself with several free hours after Bobby was soundly asleep for the last two nights. Because of my necessarily (and only relative to others) limited number of favorite places, if I have more time, but nowhere I necessarily want to or think of going I usually start ferreting around the site lists on blogs I visit. It's sort of like a really specific search for "Things You Might Actually Like and Find Interesting," because often my friends and I have similar interests (imagine that!).

So, two nights ago I was doing just that. Through a series of links I ended up at White Washed Feminists. I had never heard of this label before. I poked around a bit and found some very interesting reading. Then, I followed another link to True Womanhood, and found even more interesting reading. I was also introduced to a whole new jargon and group of labels. I'm pretty familiar with most of the cultural study jargon, but I'm not as aware of the currents and trends in the larger Christian community.

(On a side note: I just learned yesterday about something called the "Emergent Church." When Bob was explaining the sermon to me (I was in the nursery with a very clingy Bobby) I had to get him to back track to this term. I thought he was referring to the "emerging" church or the beginning of the church age in Acts, that's the term I'm used to hearing and the passage we were on, but it wasn't meshing with the rest of what he was saying. Luckily we got it straightened out! Back to my bigger point.)

One common thread through both of these sites was a denouncement of groups and individuals for certain ideas they espoused. While I tend to agree with the philosophies of both of these sites I also have a very strong aversion to only getting one side of the story.

I believe naming is very powerful and when you put a label on something and categorize it as "wrong" it can become very easy to vilify it, take things said in its defense or explanation, out of context, and assume that you have it all figured out. Labels are convenient, neat little ways to group things and makes sense of the world. Unfortunately, they often become a way of undermining the other side(s) of the dialogue. And I can think of little else that annoys me as much as an individual or group of people not being allowed to express who they are for themselves, to voice their positions, and to create their own labels.

But, this is the age of the web, and blogs abound, so these people and groups are out there saying their piece as well. I wended my web-y way to two sites kept by individuals they oppose: Lydia Sherman and Stacy McDonald. I poked around on these sites and tried to look specifically for their responses to their opposition. Which may have been a bit of a set-up. After all, we're more likely to use labels and misrepresent those we are disagreeing with when we're directly discussing them, and I found even more labels. Of course these were aimed at those first groups I found.

I'm not sure where exactly I stand on all of the issues the different groups bring up. I do know, though, that I stand with those first two sites, though I think the others offer some interesting viewpoints.

Overall it was an educational couple of nights. I love reading about ideas and theory. I loved my literary, critical, and rhetorical theory classes. Ideas are fun, and thinking is fun. Hard sometimes, but fun. Language, labels, and the ways we use them are outright amazing. Even as children we learn the power of calling things by certain names, and we become very attached to those labels and names. It's fascinating and I'm going to keep reading and poking around these sites and others when I get the chance. Hopefully I'll learn even more.

Downside, this is making me regret getting rid of some of those theory books ahead of the move. I think, and hope, it's more of a recovering pack rat reaction though.


Northern Lights Fiber Co. said...

Great thoughts! I always find labeling extremely interesting especially when it come to religion. Hmmm I already have more to talk with you about regarding this that there really isn't room to say here ;P Talk to you soon then!! :)

alaskamommy said...

Did you happen to find some of those links from my blog? Adventures in Mercy links to the White Washed Feminist etc sites. There's a very strong patriarchal movement out there, some of it good, some of it very very bad. Like many things in life, I have strong opinions about it that you can get just for the asking =). Hope to see you sometime soon! -Ruth