Allison Wordes and Ashley Huizinga—Staff Writers
Laticia “Tish” Harrison Warren spoke on one aspect of faith most people do not think much about in her recent First Monday lecture “How We Spend Our Lives: Christian Formation in the Everyday.”
As the title suggests, she encouraged her audience to notice what we often fail to recognize: our daily habits. She began her First Mondays lecture with a prayer from Psalm 19:14: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”
Warren challenged her listeners to remember we are all ordinary, and to think about how much of our calendar year consists of us living out the ordinary.
When it comes down to practice, daily patterns (like the routine in a church service) shape life as much as dogma and creeds. Even good doctrine, Warren said, has the potential to distract people from good discipleship—that is, good living. Christians tend to think abstractly; however, she emphasized that good doctrine “does not magically shape you.” She argued that there is also something important about the boring stuff. Only five percent of a person’s brain makes conscious decisions on a daily basis – the other 95 percent of what they do happens unconsciously. She encouraged her audience to analyze their habits and think of what happens “below our minds.”
“Everyone wants a revolution, but nobody wants to do the dishes,” she said, quoting writer Shane Claiborne.
Warren is currently an Anglican priest, serving in a church with her husband in Pittsburgh, PA. She writes regularly for The Well, CT Women, and Christianity Today. She is also the author of Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life.
In her 20s, Warren began feeling like something was not quite right with the church as she watched fellow Christians in the mission field burn out around her. We admire active ministers, she said, who are worn out after a couple years of evangelizing. But why don’t we work to keep them from that burnout, to offer them the support they need in their daily lives as well as their pastoral work?
She continued her discussion with a 7:30p.m. session titled “Daughters Who Prophesy: Women, Discipleship, and the Church.” In attendance were many faculty, staff, and community members, including Howard Wilson and theology professors David Henreckson and Justin Bailey. The panel presented questions about women and their roles in the church. As Warren spoke, her love for the church and her community became apparent, especially in her recognition that the church should be thankful for what theologians past have taught even while being aware that things might need to change.
“Women are humans,” Warren said. Unfortunately, while the church used to recognize that—Jesus respected women in a way that was radical to his time—all too many church members discount the services women do and can do for the church body besides caring for their families and the next generation of believers. Warren asserted that other services women can—and should be doing—include teaching, training other women, and educating themselves about theology.
While it seems like an obvious statement, she said that women have the same spiritual needs as men and are also fully made in the image of God. Throughout church history, women have fought to make themselves recognized and have suffered in the church because of it. Most importantly, women are fast becoming leaders in the church sphere in their own ways—blogging and writing, especially. So, we should encourage the same amount of theological training for women that we do for men, whether we believe women have the Biblical precedent to be pastors or not.
“We need trained, ordained women,” Warren said. In other words, we need women well-versed in theology, with institutional credentials and the accountability that consistories and synods offer male pastors and seminary students.
More than just making “corn husk dolls” in Bible study groups, she argued that female leadership needs to be developed so that the next generation has examples of great women to look up to.
First Monday speakers are something Dordt promotes so that students and faculty can “enrich their education experience.” The ideas that Tish brought to the table challenged professors and students alike to consider how they manage their lives as Christians.
“I don’t know what the future holds,” Warren said.
These conversations—over discipleship, women in office, and mission work—have been happening since Biblical times. Women ordination has always been complicated, and cannot be solved with an uneducated “yes” or “no.” The “right” answer, Warren seemed to say, is far from simple. But in the end, she quoted Martin Luther King Jr. in concluding that “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”