when voices are silenced

middayMany of you are familiar with Midday Connection, a long-running live program on Moody radio “designed to build relationships and mentor women.” The gals of Midday (clockwise from left: Lori, Anita, Caryn, Melinda) interviewed me about one of my books a few years ago, and then in 2012, they did a Live Recording of a show in Springfield, Ohio and asked me to be one of two guests.

What they didn’t know was that my life at that exact moment was a complete TRAIN WRECK.

I had to meet with Melinda and Anita (the hosts) the evening before the live recording just to chat about how things would go the next day.

I cried pretty much the entire time.

And they still wanted me on the air. (You can read part of the story here.)

Unfortunately, that show (October 10, 2012)  is no longer available online (boo), but basically, I talked about our trip to Cambodia, Gabe’s anxiety, our shattered dreams, and how we had no idea what was going to become of us.

Melinda and Anita made something beautiful of my train wreck and, from that point on, we became good friends–encouraging each other, sharing prayer requests, and being honest about our struggles. They had me on another show the following year about Skipping Christmas–it was a fun one.

Anyway. Enough about me.

As of this coming Friday, Midday Connection has been terminated by Moody Radio and Melinda, Anita, Lori, and Caryn have been let go.

Why?

That’s anyone’s guess. And many, many, many people are shocked and want answers.

Was it money? Yeah, I don’t think so. They have a TON of faithful listeners who were passionate about the show. And many many of them are financial supporters.

Was it because they want to appeal to a younger audience? Yeah, young people don’t even listen to the radio.

Hmmm… what could it be?

Carolyn Custis James wrote a blog post yesterday about it (inspiring me to write this one) and said that, in the Vice President’s announcement, he spoke of “a change of seasons” and “the need to address seismic shifts in our culture.”

You know what I say?

BULL CRAP.

Carolyn agrees. She just uses nicer words. “I find that explanation a bit strange,” she writes, “given the fact that Midday has been doing that very thing—thoughtfully, even fearlessly, engaging a wide range of seismic cultural changes and issues that impact their listeners.”

She’s so right. Midday has totally addressed seismic shifts in our culture. This is probably actually the problem. Methinks Moody Radio might mean that they would prefer not to address seismic shifts in our culture.

I’ll give you my explanation for the termination (while we wait for Moody to offer something more plausible than their previous statements).

Here’s the problem as I see it. Historically (like the past many decades), Conservative Christianity has had a very tight script its adherents are expected to follow. There is jargon you must know and use exclusively (and buzzwords you must avoid). Much of this jargon is in the Bible. Some of it is not (rapture, inerrant, pray-this-prayer-and-accept-Jesus-in-your-heart, drinking-alcohol-is-a-sin, vote-Republican-or-you’re-not-a-real-Christian, etc etc etc).

There are key verses used for blessing and encouragement (even if they’re often taken out of context) and others used to convict people of sin (certain sins get way more airtime).

And there are thousands virtually ignored because 1.) they cannot be explained (God is God. That’s all we need to know.) or 2.) they are very hard to obey without cramping our style as comfortable-go-lucky Christians. (Those verses were probably for another time anyway. A time when it was more convenient to care for the poor, visit the prisoner, clothe the homeless, welcome the refugee, and love your enemies.)

(Note: I have a SLEW of dear friends–and many, many family members–that would label themselves conservative Christians. Just because I don’t label myself that anymore doesn’t mean I don’t love and respect them. I still hold most of their values dear to my heart. I just can’t be lumped in with people who cling to a my-way-or-the-highway interpretation of the Bible, when I think they’ve missed the Jesus-boat on so many things. There is a very wide spectrum of Christianity–from super-conservative to uber-liberal–and I can’t tell you exactly where I fall. I would need some sort of survey or bar graph to figure that out. I love Jesus and want to follow his ways & serve him with my life. That about sums it up.)

Any. Way.

When I raise questions or doubts about conservative sacred cows, people get squirmy, some get angry, but friends, GOD IS SOOOO BIG ENOUGH TO HANDLE MY CONCERNS.

God is not worried about slippery slopes or whatever it is people are so afraid of. He listens to my questions, he sees my heart, he knows how much I love him and his Word. I think God likes the fact that I want to know what his Word really says, really means, that I want to know the cultural context, instead of reading it through 21st century American eyes.

I don’t think he’s threatened when I ask why it’s okay that we’ve decided slavery is bad (the Bible supports it) but that women still aren’t allowed to speak in church. I don’t think he gets upset when I wonder why long hair on men and short hair on women is now okay, even though it’s not cool in the New Testament. I think he understands (and agrees) when I wonder why we’ve turned “dress modestly” into code for “don’t wear short skirts or show cleavage” when Paul was talking about modesty as in not flaunting your wealth by wearing really expensive clothes and jewelry.

And on and on and on on on.

Bottom line? GOD IS SO BIG ENOUGH TO HANDLE MY WRESTLING.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I think Moody Radio was afraid of the wrestling being done on Midday Connection. These ladies were brave, engaging real issues that real people are facing in today’s world. They were bold, delving into cutting edge topics where the answers aren’t so black and white.

The Midday Connection Team was not afraid to ask questions, to probe into long-held beliefs, to bring the mess of people’s lives out into the light. They didn’t have the sense to stay away from truth that might ruffle feathers. They went places many conservative Christians fear to tread, because it just isn’t safe.

It’s not that they drifted away from faith, from God, from the Bible. They just went off script.

And that is a dangerous thing to do.

And do you know what else is dangerous?

Strong women.

They always have been, always will be.

The strong, brave women of Midday Connection love Jesus, love his Word, love his world, love people. And people love them back (oh, you should read the outpouring of love & praise–and the stories of lives touched–on Facebook).

Yes, their jobs, their careers, their livelihood, has been taken from them, but God will not leave them.

This is not the end for them.

They will not be silenced.

(Follow their fb page to see what God has planned for this new season in their lives. It’s going to be exciting!)

14 thoughts on “when voices are silenced

  1. Steve

    I cannot think of anything positive that the feminist movement has done for women family country church. However it has advanced the problems found in our social structure the need for more government and socialism. I write this on tax day because every decline from the traditional family ends up costing me family country and church. Liberalism would be a wonderful concept if it was self sustaining.

  2. Daniel Billingsly

    Why do you not want to be a conservative Christian. Our society is falling apart and immorality is flourishing. Christians are bashed and trashed and made fun of, ridiculed and harassed while sin and evil is upheld, glorified, and praised. And most all of this has been caused by liberals and people who basically hate God and Christianity and want to remove every trace of God from American society.
    I noticed in your article you touted some of the favorite liberal ideas and themes. You also said “….. Some of it is not (rapture, inerrant, pray-this-prayer-and-accept-Jesus-in-your-heart, drinking-alcohol-is-a-sin, vote-Republican-or-you’re-not-a-real-Christian, etc etc etc).” Does this mean you think since those things are not in the Bible they are not good guidelines for Christians to live by and so ” don’t pray this prayer and accept Jesus in your heart”, “get drunk on Saturday night and go to church on Sunday”, vote for the anti-Christian Democratic Party”, etc etc etc?
    God does not change, He doesn’t adapt His ways because of culture rot and immorality. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We don’t adjust our Christian principles to appease a fallen sinful world. Through love we try to make an impact on a fallen sinful world to help lift them out of the moral decay and to show them the love of God and His mercies to those who look to Him for answers to the world’s problems and not to man and government.
    There is so much more I could say. I found your site looking for a reason Midday Connection has been cancelled. I have been a listener for about 20 years, even though I didn’t listen every day. I was shocked that it was ending, even though over the past few years I have been surprised at some of the things I have heard on Midday Connection. For example, they would talk about worldly Hollywood movies that I wouldn’t carry my children to see, and talk as if there was no problems supporting Christian-hating Hollywood producers movies.
    Hollywood even black balled Mel Gibson just for making a movie about Jesus Christ. So I sure am not going to support Hollywood and their trash if they have that much hatred for my faith and Jesus Christ.
    Also sometime on Midday they would talk about other pop-culture things that I felt Christians shouldn’t be embracing and talking about, especially on a nationwide religious radio network. So I believe there were areas where the hosts could have been a little more spiritual in their conversations since they were supposedly a Christian radio program. There are a few other things I could mention, but I guess they don’t matter now.
    Anyway as you do, I regret that the program has come to an end. And will be curious to find out what the real reasons the program was cancelled. May God bless you and keep you and help America turn back to Him for the problems we face.
    Daniel

  3. Linda

    Midday Connection has neen a true lifeline for me…an oasis in the desert and my geart is breaking! I am losing confidence in Moody…I have been a supporter & listener of Moody for 35 years and am praying about & rethinking my loyalty. Love each of the ladies on Midday & will continue to lift them up in prayer.

  4. Rachelle

    I loved Midday because they didn’t base their show on platitudes. The discussions were real and I appreciated the open format for discussion. I agree with Melinda, so much of what is being propagated as so-called theology is actually coming from our sub-culture and not from the Bible.

  5. Becky

    As soon as I heard the announcement on Moody and the way it was presented I too thought this was to eliminate the open discussion and authenticity of the issues. I’ve been surprised Moody didn’t do this earlier coming to the wrong conclusion I thought Mood (saw the light so to speak) supporting and realizing the desperate need for women to hear and participate these broadcasts and discussions. I misjudged Moody and it has lost me as a listener and supporter.

    Midday offered women a glimpse into the real world faced by women at home, in work place, as mothers, wives, friends and in the church.

    It is the real world and Jesus was meeting these topics for hurting or inquiring women full force thru the brave and Christian focused women of Midday. This is how people learn and trust to accept God’s strength and direction…through honest dialogue. Not syrupy sweet “just have faith”. What I heard from the pulpit and Moody’s male and female programs wasn’t the world as I was experiencing it. It wasn’t working out for me. I needed help knowing how to keep my faith through a nasty divorce and at same time my strength and faith when my oldest son was seriously injured in a snowboarding accident. This wasn’t the life the Church said I would experience as a believer.

    God expects action from us…he will help us and sometimes carry us but he expects us to move. And to support and love one another. I am a strong woman who loves Jesus with all my heart and finally at 61 I no longer apologize for it.

    The evangelical Church has let me down being male focused, married focus, happy family focused and I believe feeling threatened by womens intellect, leadership, strength and uprising. Kudos to the Bill Hybels and Rick Warrens and Andy Stanley’s helping lead the change. And the Christine Caines, Shana Neiquist, Kay Warrens, Melinda Schmidts. Anita Lustreas, Lori Neff and Caryn Rivadeneira. I love you all and because of you I haven’t left Jesus. Thank you.

  6. Cindi

    I too am so disappointed and am waiting for a “real” explanation. You mentioned wrestling. I too am very uncomfortable when a subject makes me wrestle, BUT it was the forum of Midday Connection that I was able to wrestle with other women, hearing different perspectives from those hosting and being interviewed. It forced me to wrestle when fear wanted me to avoid. I so need to hear another side with Biblical backing because the world is yelling pretty loud trying it’s best to confuse and mottle the truth in my life. I needed to hear the honesty when so many Christians still want their peers to believe they do not wrestle with their lives and the confusion this culture brings. I learned a lot through MC. This decision is so wrong on so many levels.

  7. Margaret

    I believe you are probably right! But oh, Isn’t honesty among Christians so wonderful! Freedom in Christ is about being real, honest and being there to encourage and help one another! How I will miss Midday Connection.

  8. Tammy

    Insightful, brave message. A lot more lives can be reached by the type of message you describe than status quo. And another generation walks away from organized religion . . . . . . Thank you, Marla!

    -From someone who has had her own train wreck –

  9. Crystal

    I know this article is about Midday but it’s so good and so right on so many levels. I found myself nodding my head through the entire read. Had to subscribe – you are a great writer to boot!

  10. Cathy Schaefer

    I think you hit the nail on the head, girlfriend! I am beyond disappointed that this show is ending. The ladies at midday have strengthened, encouraged and empowered me to find my own voice as a Christian woman, and they have tackled many difficult and sensitive topics with incredible grace and compassion. This program has educated me, challenged me, and caused me to think deeply about many different issues on a regular basis. It fed my mind and spirit, and it will be sorely missed!

  11. Diane Sutton

    Well said! I agree! No way was Midday not relevant! So in hopes that they will each have podcasts! I predict Moody will realize their error down the road!

  12. brooke

    marla, I love you so much!!! I can’t even tell you.
    I was just informed (like this week), that because I don’t believe that Jesus turned the water into grape juice, and won’t sign a contract He couldn’t have signed, I cannot teach a ladies Bible study class.
    as I pray thru what that means for me and my ministry-which-never-was, i’ll lift these ladies up. I can’t image having a platform, a career, and having it taken away.
    thank you for sharing their story.

    1. Melinda

      Brooke – so sweet. Thank you for your prayers for us. You can keep up with us on FB at Friends of Midday Connection.
      A book that is helping me to figure out God’s more simple theology than that of traditional evangelical theology is “Simply Christian” by N.T Wright. Perhaps you are already familiar with him? I am concerned we are filling our theology with more and more sub-culture rules, a la the Pharisees. You might like taking a look at Wright’s book which is both theologically sound yet exciting, really, and moves beyond non-thinking rules theology. IMO.

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