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The Blue Parakeet and Terms of Empowerment
by Cadet Erin Wikle


Book Reflection: The Blue Parakeet & Terms of Empowerment


The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight


From the beginning of time, God knew a great Story would be recounted and written that would feature a whole collection of stories and tales, chapters and verses that would feature the same theme within its many pages: oneness within otherness. I never grow tired of hearing this story. In his book, The Blue Parakeet, author Scot McKnight unites an academic explanation of Eikon (image/God’s likeness) with an altogether accessible account of the idea of oneness, and how “from the beginning” God’s intention was to create man and woman in his likeness and as one flesh, mutually submissive to each another, and in perfect fellowship and unity with one another, just as is modeled within the Trinity (McKnight 69).


God wastes no time expressing the importance of oneness, because before you know it, the story yields conflict and the beautiful and perfect covenant God establishes with his first created is horrifically and tragically broken, only to be magnificently and mercifully restored, one time, once and for all, by Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The End.


And yet, its beauty and simplicity brings such complication to “the rest of us.” Where we should simply see fit to rest in the knowledge that Jesus restored the “cracked Eikon” McKnight speaks of, we continue to struggle, unsettled with our “otherness” – in being Jew or Gentile, slave or free, and male or female. McKnight’s teaching of reconciliation and oneness reminds me that perhaps “it” does need to be that simple.


As I consider my life in Christ and the ministry that lies before me, I see more clearly God’s desire for me to remember the Story, the purpose, his intention. I am reminded that from the very beginning of time, God’s very intention was to establish that all (no exceptions) are created in his very image and likeness, and that God spared not even his own son to make it possible to have our broken image fully restored to him and to one another. If it weren’t quite as important to establish from the “get-go” that all of humanity was created thoughtfully and equally, it likely would not have been important to establish at all. Yet, the outflow this story is the very basis by which we are to live, operate, and interact with God and with others. As I consider my life as a woman in ministry, I am compelled to uncomplicate the theological debates, internal arguments, role confusion, and spiritual-giftedness timidity by remembering that I was designed for his purposes. McKnight writes, “the mutuality view, which taps into this “oneness-otherness-oneness” theme deeply, also believes a woman’s responsibility is to glorify God, to love God, to love others” (McKnight 161). That is my goal.


Terms of Empowerment: Female Ministry, Catherine Booth


The co-founder of The Salvation Army, Catherine Booth, makes no mistake in poignantly exposing, through careful evaluation and exegesis of scripture, the real roles of women in the home, church, and in society from her perspective. Written just four years after the holiness movement was established, the woman pulls no punches… and doesn’t need to, because her platform to speak has not been “given”, but rightfully belongs to her.


Though its archaic language was more difficult to engage, I found Booth’s argument against what is “natural” to man and woman intriguing. It seemed that women’s role in public ministry, specifically her pulpit ministry, was of great dispute, because it seems unnatural. Booth argued that “graceful form, attitude, winning manners, persuasive speech [… all seemed] natural qualifications for such an office (Booth 1). Booth spoke to the egregious accusations of it being unfeminine or of vain and ambitious pursuit to take up the pulpit, but swiftly makes mention that these same statements are near to nonexistent as it pertains to men taking the same stand in public ministry (Booth 3). Her argument was not that these women who took to preaching shouldn’t be deemed ambitious, but that there should be no reason to cast off such connotation simply because they were women – “would that the Lord’s people had more of this ambition” (Booth 3). According to Booth, if man could work towards a full and ambitious pulpit ministry, then so could woman – but not because man could, rather, because she was fully and completely capable of doing so herself.


Booth uses scripture extensively to show the validity of women in ministry – specifically to preach, teach, admonish, pray and prophesy, pointing out the examples of Deborah the prophetess and first judge of Israel, and Huldah, perhaps a lesser known prophetess, accounted for in 2 Kings, and Miriam in the story of the Israel exile from Egypt, etc. She continues to highlight how certain words whose meaning was inclusive of female company were even “lost in translation” over the years simply because the implications were too great (Booth 21).


In reading, I was most struck by Booth’s brave and bold statement about the oppression of women in ministry causing the “non-success” of advancing the Gospel during their time. She shares, “[this] has resulted in more loss to the Church, evil to the world, and dishonour to God, than any of the errors we have already referred to” (Booth 32). She pulls no punches. These statements open my mind to the sickening reality that any acts of oppression pitted against those operating within their gifting in order to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ is a direct affront to the Spirit of God at work within the world. I cringe at the fact that any decision made to withhold one’s right to preach, pray, prophesy, make decisions, and operate in authority, are likely rooted in deep fear of what is unfamiliar and perceived inappropriate, and I beg God for his forgiveness on behalf of those who would dare oppose the forceful advancement of God’s kingdom for fear of being uncomfortable. It is remarkable that even at the precipice of egalitarianism within the Church and at the onset of the Army, there was struggle – both within and without. Yet, a century and some years later, here we are, still struggling. Yes, perhaps to a lesser degree, but still – struggling.


Terms of Empowerment: Keeping the Dream Alive, Kay Rader


Commissioner Kay Rader spoke plainly of the problem of inequality amongst women worldwide through personal stories and encounters in places like Uganda, the Congo, India and other 3rd world nations. Rader highlights gender equality as a systemic problem of these 3rd world cultures – stemming from an inaccessibility of education, inadequate healthcare, and ineffective welfare systems. The statistics are staggering and show the reality of inequality: in Thailand, almost 50 percent of child prostitutes are HIV-positive, the number of women who die each year in childbirth numbers near 600,000, and almost (now, greater than) 60 million women are deemed “missing” due to gender discrimination  (Rader 74, 72, 76). Rader references Evangeline Booth, who in the 1930s believed transformation for women was imminent… and yet, here we are, nearly a century later, still fighting against the same powers of darkness and wide spread oppression (Rader 70).


Similar to McKnight’s argument in The Blue Parakeet, Rader reminds its reader that the biblical basis for equality emanates from the beginning, that “God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27 AMP). For many, it seems inherent, as Christiana and followers of Christ, that we would not consider or treat any man, woman, or child with any bias or discriminatory thought or action. Yet, I do not believe this is the reality within the vast majority of us live. Because the paradigm for which we view the world has been informed by the contexts with which we have been raised and because our own cultural backgrounds play such a large role in forming our thought pattern, it is pertinent we carefully consider any unexposed thoughts of degradation and discrimination towards others – because they do exist.


Rader shares, “It is about keeping alive the dream of the founders William and Catherine Booth. We have come a long way in recent years, but there is a road ahead, and we must keep it an open road, a road to the future for women and men, married and single. It’s about keeping the Army the Army” (Rader 98). Undoubtedly, the issue of equality, transcending all places and privileges and for all people, is one that assuredly is not “resolved”. Rather, it seems all the more urgent to aggressively fulfill the mandate to love God and love others – and in that order – before ever expecting to effect world-wide and lasting change towards the end of real biblical equality.





Works Cited

McKnight, Scot. The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2008. Print.

Terms of Empowerment: Salvation Army Women in Ministry. West Nyack, NY: The Salvation Army, USA Eastern Territory, 2001. Print.

The Amplified Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987. Print.








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