Category: Random Goodness

Modesty & Christian Life

Lately there have been a few posts on some popular news outlets and blogs about “modesty”. Some conservative, calling on women to “help their Christian brother’s” by dressing in modest, Christ-pleasing ways. Some a bit more “progressive”, putting the responsibility for men’s “stumbling and impure thoughts” squarely where they belong … on the men who think them. And some just trying to make sense of what Jesus calls Christian’s – men and women both – to in terms of appearance. Congressmen in Montana aside, the issue of modesty (Christian or otherwise) has long been debated and answers, much less the culture shift I believe is needed, are slow in coming.

I will admit that some of the more conservative posts and articles have had me seeing red, but as I strive to discern what Jesus calls Christians to I realize this issue has a long and complicated history and like many polarizing issues, is fraught with deeply held convictions and a bit of fear and loathing. So why am I writing about this? Partly because I’m frustrated with one conservative blogger’s avoidance and partly because the more research I did, the more I felt this issue isn’t merely a Christian issue … unfortunately it extends far beyond than that.

Let me say, I moderate the comments on my blog. People are all over the spectrum on this issue. Here is why I moderate. I’m not serious enough or well-known enough (aka well followed or followed at all) for real people to actually comment on my posts. Currently, I get the spam comments from bots, you know, the ones that promise ‘male enhancement’ or ‘stronger hair and nails’. Truly nothing I want appearing on my blog. So I choose to moderate my comments, hoping against hope that someday someone real will actually comment on something I’ve written. If there ever is a real, honest comment I will quickly and excitedly approve it, regardless of how I feel about it personally because to me one of the goals of a blog is to engage. It will be an amazing day … the day I get a real person commenting on something I’ve shared here.

So, back to my topic. The blog post that kicked this whole thing off lives here. The first comment I wrote was not approved (hence the talk about moderated comments) until I wrote a second comment asking why my first comment wasn’t being approved. Within 5 minutes of my second comment, the first was approved. A portion of my comment appears below and you can read the full comment (along with some other interesting thoughts) here (mine is the 2nd comment on page 2).

In your post you mention “The truth is, we don’t need to see something that was meant to be shared with someone the context of marriage…” and I agree with you! So to this point I ask, shouldn’t that include the male torso? When you go swimming, Jarrid, do you wear a swim shirt and modest swim trunks? When you join a pickup basketball game at the gym, do you strip that shirt off when you get hot?

Does knowing (and prayerfully considering) this fact change the way you plan dress for the gym, beach, or pool? Does it alter what you will tell the young men in your church about dressing modestly?

How many of the men who have commented in wholehearted agreement to this post appear shirtless in public? Would these men be willing to alter their attire to a more Christ-pleasing, modest style now that they know their naked torsos are stumbling blocks for their sisters in Christ? I wonder.

As you can see I ask the blogger several questions, to which he gives this answer:

“Totally see where you’re coming from. And yeah, I definitely agree that men need to be careful too.”

To say I was underwhelmed by this response would be the understatement of the century. Needless to say, I wrote a follow-up reply on 1/31, which as of today, still has not appeared in the comments section of the post. Either the author deleted it or is leaving it in moderation limbo. Before you say “maybe he’s been out of town” I honestly don’t believe that to be the case, though in all fairness I suppose that might be a possibility.

In my heart, I believe he doesn’t want to approve my comment because he doesn’t agree and doesn’t want to say so on his blog – he believes that the responsibility for modesty falls squarely on the shoulders of women, despite all his “…men need to be careful too” lip service. He doesn’t want to engage in thoughtful, Christ-centered debate … debate that might illuminate and provide true Christian growth. He want’s to be read, followed, and perhaps quoted.

Unfortunately, I didn’t copy the follow-up comment before I hit submit. If he doesn’t approve it, it will never be seen again. Basically, the gist was, “Why didn’t you answer the question, ‘Do you appear in public (at the gym, lake, or pool) with a bare torso?’. If you do, will you be adopting a more modest, Christ-pleasing dress since you now know the bare torso is a stumbling block for your sisters in Christ?”

I can only assume (it is impossible to know for sure since he won’t answer) he thinks men appearing in public with bare torsos isn’t an issue of modesty and more generally the responsibility for modesty lies with women. I suspect that e disregards the fact that it makes his fellow sister’s in Christ stumble is, “our problem” because he doesn’t want to have to alter his swim or gym wear.

If I’m honest, he is entitled to have these beliefs, but having them makes his railing about “painting a new standard” look silly and chauvinistic since he clearly doesn’t hold men to the same standards he does women. Add this to the fact that he is a “Christian leader” (a person others follow, believe, and rely on) and you might begin to see the danger. What is the danger?, you ask? Here is the crux…

Our society is staggering under a pervasive and sneaky gender bias (against women). Don’t believe me? I hope you will read on, dear friend.

Society has forever been calling on women to “dress modestly”, placing all the responsibility for appearing modest and making sure men don’t stumble on our shoulders. Both men and women (yes, we do this to ourselves) perpetuate gender bias. I would like to direct you to the fruits of my research surrounding modesty and its role in perpetuating gender bias:

There are literally hundreds of articles on popular Christian sites (modesty articles) and blogs across the web that, by in large, all focus on the responsibility of women when it comes to “modesty”. A Google image search on the phrase “modesty of dress” reveals hundreds of images … all of women. Even celebrities have begun addressing the disparity between how women and men are treated while walking the red carpet, one notable example by Cate Blanchette. Even the dictionary is complicit in gender bias as illustrated by two of the top three definitions of modesty, which portray gender negative illustrations (women be modest in dress, men be modest in your achievements).

modesty forbade HER ...
With typical modesty HE insisted...









And we wonder why so many women have self-esteem issues, suffer from body-dysmorphic disorder, or fail to report being raped – I believe it’s a direct result of the gender biased, “women are responsible” culture so pervasive today; that somehow women are responsible if men think impure thoughts or take improper actions when seeing women they perceive as immodestly dressed. For me, it begs the question, “In what other area do we place the burden of our purity on another person?”, instead of where it belongs with ourselves.

I will confess, it all makes me crazy because I don’t believe that dressing modestly or helping our fellow man avoid stumbling should be the province of women – it should be the province of everyone. As Christians, we are called (men and women alike) to model Christ-like behavior and I, for one, would love to see a shift in how this issue is portrayed to Christians before another generation of Christian women and men are tainted by the idea that it is women who are responsible for modesty.

How can we possibly begin to dismantle such a systemic gender bias surrounding modesty? It seems daunting when I think about it, but as with most things, it happens in small increments … with a myriad of small steps, one right after another. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day and we have no reason to expect something so pervasive as gender bias would be easily dismantled either, but it’s worth the work … for ourselves and all the women who come after.

Spring Forward…

In a few short weekends Daylight Saving Time and the dread “Spring Forward” returns. That day when an hour of our day is taken from us, not coincidentally mind you, while we are asleep. Something like 2 am is the official time to move your clocks forward one hour. We go to sleep in one world and awake in another, often late for church, brunch, or other Sunday activities. I awake with a sadness that my day is one hour shorter and find myself watching the clock and silently cursing the evil DST.

I’ve read a lot on the origins of DST. One theory holds that it was a joke by Benjamin Franklin – one he never meant be adopted. Regardless of the original intent, Daylight Saving Time (no ‘s’ on the end of saving) or Summer Time as it is known outside the US has become a part of our lives but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Yes, the logical part of me knows spring forward means it will be light when I get home at night and as we move toward summer and our relationship to the sun changes, it will be light later and later. When I was a kid I will confess I LOVED this. I remember playing outside until late in the evening and it was still light; that beautiful summer, 9 pm “dusk” sort of light. To the young Christine it was glorious but the “old” Christine views it through a different lens.

Interested in learning more about DST?

I did receive some interesting news today out of Olympia, WA. Apparently, there are some lawmakers who would like Washington to cease springing forward and falling back (read the article). If adopted, Washington would join Arizona and Hawaii (currently the only two states that don’t observe DST) in year-round standard time. This taxpayer would embrace such a change. Until that blessed day, I will just have to grumble my way through “spring forward” (coming up on March 8th this year) and hope that the “wonder of late night dusk” magically transports me back to that time when play was outside, seat belt’s were optional, and bicycles were ridden without a helmet. Yes, the “good ole days” when you were kicked out of the house after breakfast, to play in the neighborhood all day long….

No is a Complete Sentence

Typically I am not a fan of the “New Year’s Resolution” (NYR) having, over the past three decades, tried to make (and keep) a dizzying array of them with very little success.

A friend posted a link to this article by Sydney McBride on her Facebook wall and when I read it, thought, “Surely I could try to accomplish one or two of these in 2015.” After all there are 365 days…

Fifteen, given my NYR track record, is far too many, but as I read the article three (4,5, & 8) seemed to form a theme that resonated with me: “Get off your butt (stop waiting and doubting) and get out of your own way.” This is something I’ve long wanted to to do. I have dreams, ideas, and plans. Perhaps 2015 could be the year that I move one (or more) of those things forward. I want to try.

The last one from the article that really resonated with me was number 12, “Stop saying yes all the time” and it’s the inspiration for the title of this post. Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to remember. I want to let my “no” stand alone, without some explanation that (in all honestly) is born out of my guilt at having said no in the first place. Typically, I end up saying yes by the time my explanation is over. This needs to stop. I need to let my no stand alone, without some guilt-driven excuse hanging all over it.

“Just like the lens of a camera, you have the power to adjust your vision. And, even on the darkness days, where you can’t see anything, just keep moving forward. It’s the only constant and forever the direction in which we all must go.” -Sydney McBride

So, I’m adjusting my vision. I’m ready to step out and pursue a dream and to say no sometimes. I don’t know how successful I will be but I am looking forward to the journey.

Back to Bootcamp with Jen Starr

A few weeks ago I decided it was time for me to jumpstart my creativity with a trip back to “bootcamp”. No, I’ve never been in the military, but over the years I’ve had a few opportunities to participate in a learning intensive, lovingly called bootcamp.

This 4-part bootcamp (Paint Bootcamp, Colorful Effects Bootcamp, Stencil Bootcamp and Inka Gold Canvas) focused mostly on background techniques, but the final class we created a 6 x 12 canvas, on which we were encouraged to use what we’d learned during the last day and a half.

Our teacher, Jen Starr, was visiting the PNW from New Jersey. Jen is on the design teams for Art Anthology, Viva, Ranger, and Copic.

  1. Paint: the dread color theory, including creating our own color wheel and understanding how to avoid ending up with mud when you mix colors.
  2. Colorful Effects: Using salt, Vaseline, molding paste, and other fun stuff to add dimension and interest to your backgrounds.
  3. Stencil: Further work focusing on different ways to incorporate stencils into your backgrounds.

I had a great, albeit, exhausting experience and met some neat ladies (Dale my table mate is a very talented artist). Below are some of the things I created at bootcamp.

What matters most…

I originally started writing this 4 years ago, in 2010. In the intervening years a lot has happened, the Boston Marathon bombing, the Sandyhook shooting, earthquakes, typhoons, hurricanes, tornadoes … there never seems to be a shortage of tragedy in the world. I liked my start so I am going to post it as it links to one of the best rants about something near and dear to my heart, STUPID DRIVERS. In that respect, I have not changed one iota. I’m going to create a calendar of blog ideas and see if I can get off my duff and actually blog about life and art. It’s a test … let’s see how I do.

January 26th, 2010 – Ask 100 people “What matters most…” and you will likely get 100 different answers. There will be themes: family, love, money, success, God, but most likely all slightly different. I’ve been all over the place with this my first blog of the new decade. For some reason I’d put all this “importance” over this blog and unwittingly given myself writer’s block and I began to worry. Why, I’m not sure since I’m convinced that no one besides my best friend and her computer-loving cat, Emma Bean, actually reads this blog. But I did begin to sweat. To keep me honest, I’m sharing my 1 New Year’s resolution: to write at least 1 blog entry each month in 2010. -EPIC FAIL

A few days ago I thought of writing about Haiti and why it seems we only reveal the “better angels of our nature” in the face of unspeakable tragedy. Then (thanks to my friend, The Sessionista, who so eloquently wrote about it) I thought to write about stupid drivers in metro Seattle, a topic that can escalate my BP like no other (read The Sessionista’s blog here). Last night I’d nearly decided to write about Teflon and ethics. I know what you’re thinking … Teflon is a non-stick surface. It is, but it can also be a descriptor for someone to whom nothing sticks. I mean nothing. Not bad deeds, not ethics, not morals, not emotions, not conscience, nothing. Then I thought, “Who am I to judge someone?” What makes me think I know best? and then it hit me, “I’m a blogger.” I’m supposed to take stands, spout opinions, and make judgments, right?

Get ready for a roller coaster ride of my opinions.

I Resolve…

Okay, so it’s once again time to observe that long held tradition of setting (and eventually breaking) New Year’s resolutions. There’s nothing like a new year and in this case a new decade to make millions of people stop, take stock and set some goals. I am no stranger to the resolution racket. I’ve made them all: exercise more, get a new job, lose weight, find a boyfriend, you name it, I’ve probably sworn to achieve it in the new year.

So why do we feel compelled to make (and break) these grand resolutions? In thinking about it, I decided to ask a few friends (via Twitter and Facebook). Here are a few common (and sometimes colorful) responses…

“Cause I can’t accept the fact that I’m unable to change.”

“I don’t make ’em. If I did, I would probably make them on my birthday, not the new year. New Year’s is so arbitrary somehow.”

“Because I’m a masochist. Because sometimes I surprise myself and get them done. Because I love lists.”

“To break them. lol.”

“I don’t make them. I know my habits are stronger than I am.”

Ryan Mitofsky says in his post ( “We reminisce over the year that has passed and our thoughts wander to what we could have done better. The “if only” statements flood the actual memories that we hold onto and the thought of change permeates our desires.” He further states, “In creating these arbitrary goals with no significance behind them there is no fuel to feed the fire of change.”

All this “make life better”, “let’s walk down a 365-day long memory lane” and “it’s a new year, time for a new beginning” aside, what if we made (and kept) silly, even nonsensical resolutions? Enter two of my favorite online mentors: @Mashable and @unmarketing. About an hour ago a blog post appeared on titled “A Boon to the Indecisive: A New Year’s Resolution Generator”. A short blog post for, yep, you guessed it the indecisive (not to mention the Internet-addicted).

Get Jiggy Wit It
My 1st 2010 resolution!

Of course I had to click on the bright yellow box that promised to hold the key to a complete overhaul of my life in 2010. My first New Year’s resolution: Get Jiggy Wit It.

No offense, Mr. Will Smith, but somehow I’d hoped for something a wee bit more “substantial”. I wasn’t expecting “solve world hunger” or “create world peace” or “provide healthcare for all Americans”. I’m not deluded, at least not THAT deluded. Alas, it seems the indecisive can’t be choosers. Here’s hoping 2010 is a fulfillment of your dreams, but in case it’s not, just for fun, you should give the 2010 New Year’s Resolution Generator a spin (or 2)! Happy New Year!