For many years, I knew very few women who liked to discuss theology; who were even all that interested in it. Yes, there were women I attended Bible study with, but I had a frustration with some of the directions the studies went: more about me than about God.
When I began homeschooling and visiting a parent forum, I met other like-minded women. Then I began blogging. Then there was Twitter and Facebook, and the rest, as they say, is history. Over time, though, I am afraid that I have been tempted to stay more within the circles with whom I agree, and shown reluctance to interact with those I disagree with. At times, there was criticism directed to those who went outside the circle. And in true female fashion, there was often the cold shoulder to the one who dared question the status quo. That discouraged me. I didn't want to be frozen out or or criticized. I'm afraid I have tended to live in a bit of an echo chamber, and it's something I'm trying to remedy.
It is not an quick or easy process. I am a creature of habit. Mentioning that I agree with something an egalitarian says may cause people to question if I have abandoned complementarianism (I am wondering if that word has gone the way of "evangelical" and has become meaningless) or even worse, *whisper* become a feminist. In the past couple of years, I have braved the waters and sampled from voices outside of the echo chamber in which I often take refuge. It's been very educational, and I have lost my fear that I will spontaneously combust if I read an egalitarian writer.
Going to seminary has really helpled in that regard. We are encouraged to read outside where our convictions may lie. We are encouraged to evaluate our presuppositions. My theology prof, in relation to the Trinity controversy, suggested we read all views, not just the ones by the popular writers. In addition, being in seminary takes me out of a strictly female, married with children venue.
My theology class this semester has more women than lasts semester: there are five of us. One of the ladies is not originally from North America. There are men young enough to be my children, men with young families, retired men, and single women. It is more ethnically diverse than my own local church. This is what I like about this class. There are varieties of opinions and backgrounds. Yes, we all chose to attend this institution, and that probably says something about what we believe, but there are still differences in experience, and that means we all see things a little differently. And we can learn from one another. There are writers I read, both male and female, who attract large audiences to their writing who could learn from my classmates. And everyone is gracious, respectful, and kind. That isn't always the case when one gets her theology talk fix from social media.
Some may say I'm just in a different echo chamber, and that's partly true. All of us in the class are focused on a similar goal: getting a theological education. Every private group runs the risk of becoming an echo chamber. However, this group has provided a breath of fresh air for me, and I'm thankful to God for being able to interact regularly.