The Larijanis Meet Lisa Anderson and Martha Krienke of Boundless

Yesterday, MrsLarijani and I met Lisa Anderson and Martha Krienke of Boundless, at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. They were in town for the Radical conference. We live in the vicinity, so we decided to drop in and see them.

What struck me about them?

(1) Lisa and Martha were each quite amiable. There was no “stick it to the guys” attitude. They were in fact very conciliatory and personable. They were very enthusiastic about our take on what has been going on at Boundless.

That leads me to my second point…

(2) They came across as very humble. They explained the approach they have been taking at the site, and–in all honesty–what they are doing is very sensible. Initially, when the reorganization happened, I had my doubts. It seemed that they were running out all the married folks–Ted, Motte, Steve–and letting the single women take over. Cynics would have been understandably alarmed, as I was. (I have my theories as to why Ted isn’t there, but I’m keeping those assessments private.)

At the time, though, I was quite concerned that Boundless was slouching toward irrelevance at the worst possible time.

To Lisa and Martha’s credit, they have made some good strategic decisions, and the results have been pleasantly surprising.

They have managed to get a good lineup out there, and have put out some surprisingly good balance. Suzanne Hadley Gosselin has been a fine writer there. Glenn Stanton has put out some well-researched perspectives, and Matt Kaufman and Adam Holz have been very strong. Denise Morris has returned to Boundless, and is providing good material.

While initial cynicism–of which I was guilty–was warranted, to their credit Lisa and Martha have kept things well-balanced. Boundless hasn’t turned into a full-court press of Headship Theology. Nor are they blaming men for all the evils in the world.

Yesterday, they discussed some upcoming ideas they have for the site, but I won’t divulge the details here. I like their ideas, but I don’t want to steal their thunder.

(3) I’m very surprised that none of the male commenters at Boundless have given Lisa or Martha a chase. Martha was a tad quiet, but neither of them copped an attitude. Neither seemed plastic or artificially “nice”. Neither seemed to be bitter or angry. In fact, both were very pleasant.

I realize that, for many, geography may be an issue: Lisa and Martha are in Colorado Springs. But–other things being equal–Lisa and Martha would make good catches.

And no, they didn’t pay me to say that.

21 thoughts on “The Larijanis Meet Lisa Anderson and Martha Krienke of Boundless

  1. most of the time, when we meet people in person and get to know them even a little bit, we are always pleasantly surprised. most people are good with good intentions. sometimes we don’t care for a person’s personality, but that’s preference, not usually character. it’s the few who are idiots who ruin it for the rest of us.

    so glad they are in the most here.

    may some good men garnish the guts and courage to seek out these good women 🙂

  2. @Ame
    Yep. Geography may work against them, but–like I said–the guys and gals ought to do some more networking.

    I’ve long suggested that bloggers on Boundless friend Lisa or Martha on Facebook. I’m FB friends with Lisa (as well as Denise Morris, and those who aren’t there: Ted, Motte, and Steve); that’s how I learned she was going to be in L-ville.

    I realize that some guys around here have a certain perception of her based on the podcasts and the occasional “step in it” moments. But let’s be honest here: ANYONE in her position is going to step in it every now and then.

    The fact that she represents FotF probably puts two strikes on her from the get-go. This is because FotF leaves many folks with the (unfair) perception that (a) they only hire people who have everything together, and (b) anyone who is going to marry them is going to have to have everything together. Guys with ANY baggage deserved or not–which would include every guy over 30–may be a tad intimidated.

    Honestly, I think her take in this post probably includes the subtle message: “Hey look, guys, News Flash: We’re not perfectionists! You can pursue us and we will give you the benefit of a doubt!”

    Personally, I think a decent guy who pursues Lisa or Martha will be pleasantly surprised.

  3. i totally get that. i was always perceived very different (inhuman) from who i am (very human).

    the guys willing to take the risk to find out who they really are will ‘win’ all-around here.

  4. @Ame
    Yep. That it is.

    Oh, and what I’m saying about Lisa and Martha has less to do with having met them, but more to do with the fact that what has been coming out at Boundless is jibing with the way they came across.

    Anyone can put up a good front. Still, I’m all about intellectual honesty. Like I said, Boundless has not turned into a slam dunk of Headship Theology–or, more accurately, the overstretches thereof. It has not turned into the single women ganging up on the guys. I would also submit that it hasn’t turned into the single women advising single women about how to get married. Nor have they called for churches to kiss dating goodbye or embrace someone’s idea of “Biblical dating”.

    The balance is as good as one can reasonably expect. While Ted had more debating firepower–Lisa and Martha have shied away from a lot of that part of the fray–they have done a good job of letting other authors lay down their perspectives, and let singles decide what to make of it.

    When you’re dealing with the world of singles–which is an ugly world–that is probably the best approach you can take.

    So, in a nutshell, while there are legitimate criticisms to be made, I’d say Lisa and Martha–after some initial gaffes–have done a fairly good job.

    Martha has sort of been blown away by the harshness of the comments. (We don’t get to see what wasn’t posted.) Arguably, she wasn’t prepared for that.

    At the same time, the world of Christian singles is an ugly one. I bluntly told Lisa, “That world sucks.” She nodded in agreement.

    To engage it, you cannot afford to have thin skin.

  5. i’m really glad you were able to spend some time with them. i know you were an encouragement to them. you have first hand experience, great perspective, and strong wisdom. they really need someone like you giving them encouragement and perspective and wisdom.

  6. @Ame
    Thanks. I get the impression that they are a little on the battle-weary side.

    For Lisa, I have a significant degree of empathy. She’s a couple years younger than myself, and never-married. She has every reason–at face value–to be a cynical male-basher. At the same time, she doesn’t come across that way.

    Does that mean she has nothing to own for her singleness? I don’t know the answer to that; I don’t know her well enough to make that judgment.

    If I were a betting man, I’d say there are a few things she probably wishes she had done differently, while there were probably a lot of things that she did not have control over. That would probably encompass most of the single folks–male and female–who blog over here, as well as myself.

    Sadly, in our generation the margin of error is tighter than advertised, and the time window for optimum marriageability is shorter than advertised.

    Lisa–like any one of us–has her share of issues.

    At the same time, given that she is–in many ways–not altogether different from a lot of us here who are/were single for a long time, I’d say she comports herself better than the guys give her credit for. Think of how many times we’ve gone on rants, how many times we get into online squabbles over this issue and that issue.

    If Lisa had done it the way we have, she would have been tossed out of FotF.

    (Thus my rationale for why Ted isn’t there: the bald truth is that he was too much like us. The obesity post was the final nail in his coffin, but–the way he engaged other commenters in the prior months, he had me worried because I KNEW he had to be pissing the HR folks off.)

    There is no way Lisa could do what we do and get away with it.

  7. If Lisa had done it the way we have, she would have been tossed out of FotF.

    (Thus my rationale for why Ted isn’t there: the bald truth is that he was too much like us. The obesity post was the final nail in his coffin, but–the way he engaged other commenters in the prior months, he had me worried because I KNEW he had to be pissing the HR folks off.)

    Should that be seen as a weakness of FotF? If Ted’s statement being something along the lines of ‘well, maybe you are fat’ (can’t recall the exact wording) was enough to get him fired, is FotF then shying away from some things that might need to be said?

  8. @Dave
    No question. I was thinking along different lines, though: the engagement of the commenters.

    There were/are no small number of very obnoxious, antagonistic proverbial bomb-throwers who chime in over there. They’ll put up great fronts, while having an ulterior agenda that they are passive-aggressively trying to promote. An example of this was a particular lesbian rights blogger–Lia–who made a very aggressive attempt to promote gay marriage.

    Ted–in his own way–called BS on her. His slapdown was quite aggressive while being mild by Amir Larijani/Farmer Tom standards. I was quite impressed.

    At the same time, it was totally out of character for someone with FotF. When I saw him do it, I started worrying that his days were probably numbered.

    Is that a weakness of FotF? I would answer in the affirmative, although it is less an indictment of them as it is an indictment of the larger Christian culture in the U.S., which has no sense of proportion.

    If I slam a car door on my hand and scream, “Oh S***!” in the middle of a Baptist church parking lot, I guaran-freaking-tee you that I will have no small number of people calling for my head on a plate, while showing not an ounce of concern that I just freaking broke my hand.

  9. I’m glad you met them. I might have to consider doing the same if they’re ever in this neck of the woods.

    I’m very surprised that none of the male commenters at Boundless have given Lisa or Martha a chase.

    Geography might be an issue. I also wonder if said male commenters don’t want to risk creeping them out by chasing them, at least without meeting them in person.

    I’m guessing that Martha is closest to the age of most male commenters, although she’s young enough that she could be my daughter. As for Lisa, I’d have to see.

  10. @singleman

    Geography might be an issue. I also wonder if said male commenters don’t want to risk creeping them out by chasing them, at least without meeting them in person.

    That’s the thing: a guy could easily be concerned about this. At the same time, there is a way to do this and not be creepy. They could friend Lisa on FB, exchange emails and so forth. If one of them is traveling and in the vicinity, they could arrange to meet at a neutral site (like Starbucks or, like MrsLarijani and I did, Cracker Barrel).

    At that point, it’s ok: the worst she can do is say no. If she does, it’s no skin off anyone’s back. If she’s receptive, then things progress.

    With someone like Lisa, I would definitely stress intentionality if you really are interested. Maybe get a pastor friend involved to help with the process. (She’s a PCA Presbyterian, so I would bet money she’ll do that.)

    While there never are guarantees, I am willing to bet money that a guy with the stones to make the pursuit will score points with her.

  11. “Thanks. I get the impression that they are a little on the battle-weary side.”

    i’m sure they are … working in ‘christian’ circles is, at minimum, exhausting. i have no desire (nor have i ever) to work in ‘christian’ circles … it’s an area w/very little mercy, and i would personally cave in that environment.

  12. It is hard to read into people’s motivations. That is why I have learned to simply deal with the arguments.

    I guess my biggest concern is the whole “celebrity culture” that modern Christianity has produced. That is my only explanation for how a book like Debbie Maken’s could ever get published. Let’s put it this way; if the name “R. Albert Mohler Jr.” did not appear on the back of that book, it doesn’t get published. Boundless picked up the book, and ran with its message, even though it was a one sided rant. In fact, the effects of this can still be found on Boundless’ website today.

    The problem is that all human beings are finite. I really appreciate the work that Albert Mohler has done on liberal and humanistic theologies. I have not yet had a chance to hear his debate with Jim Wallis on social justice right at TEDS where I finished my coursework, but those who attended said Mohler did an excellent job, and that is exactly what I would expect given that this is his main area of expertise. However, he is not a Hebraist. His interpretation of Genesis 2:18 in his sermon at the New Attitude conference is simply wrong. His interpretation of Genesis 1:28 as forbidding deliberate childlessness is simply wrong. His interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7:9 and “burning with passion” is questionable at least, but probably wrong as well. Also, it is not just me saying this. I was talking with several exegetes at Trinity, and they all said the same thing. When it comes to liberal and humanistic theologies, there is hardly anyone better than Albert Mohler. However, his main area of weakness is exegetical.

    What this means is what it means for anyone else. We all have areas we are competent in, other areas in which we may have some competence, but our knowledge of them is supplementary to our main field of expertise, and other areas where we are simply not competent at all. Hence, when you listen to Mohler or anyone for that matter, you have to use a critical ear. That is why you can’t go off promoting a book like Debbie Maken simply because Albert Mohler has endorsed it. I am concerned, given the celebrity climate, that if Albert Mohler, Mark Driscoll, Mark Dever, John Piper, John MacArthur or R.C. Sproul wrote a book on neuroscience, and it were endorsed by the rest of the men on that list, Christians would take it as gospel truth.

    I certainly understand the desire for singles ministries to look to various teachers. Certainly, one of the ways we learn is by listening to what others have to say. However, what concerns me is the way in which you have these teachers creating these fads, which they then push with their name. Singles ministries then don’t give a critical analysis, and, instead, eat it up because of the name on the back and because it is pragmatic. My concern is that singles ministries like Boundless do a better job in being discerning when it comes to popular teachers. Yes, these men have a lot of good things to say, but they are human just like us. They make mistakes, and it is up to the leaders of these singles ministries to catch those mistakes when they come, and, even if it is a fad started by a well respected teacher, say that they will not follow it.

    God Bless,

  13. I’m sure they’re very nice people, working very hard for a cause they believe in. I do have a hard time believing, though, that a 39-year-old woman (working in Colorado Springs!) has not had any reasonable opportunities. It just does not comport with my common sense or life experience.

  14. @Craig M.
    I dunno; you’d have to ask her. Personally, if I were a betting man, I’d say it’s a combination of things.

    (1) Remember that the margin of error is very slim. If you’re coming out of college, you’re at age 22 or 23. You are now right in the middle of your optimal time for marriageability. Ideally, a lot of folks don’t want to marry until they’ve been dating for at least 2 years. (I think that requirement is ridiculous, but Dr. Laura doesn’t think so.)

    So if you have a potential mate–and it goes about a year and then fizzles, that leaves you a year older and no closer to getting married.

    Also, keep in mind that not all women are going to have potential suitors lining up. If you have a breakup, it may take a few months before a guy shows up interested. That time may take longer depending on the type of church you are attending.

    (She’s a PCA Presbyterian, so it’s hit or miss on that front. Some churches, the men will be aggressively pursuing marriage; other churches, it’s the other way around.)

    That clock can tick down a few years before you think about it. That leads me to my second point…

    (2) The time window for optimal marriageability is smaller than advertised. Once a gal hits 27, optimal marriageability starts fading slowly, before accelerating once she hits the 30s.

    If you make ANY mistakes along the way–and who over here can say they’ve NEVER done that?–and if you have a few prospects who turn out to be duds or disasters, you can end up falling through the cracks.

    Combine that with the possibility that she may have had some expectations–going into adulthood–that didn’t completely materialize the way she had hoped. Adjusting to that isn’t easy, and often requires some robust counsel. How much of that do you think goes on in churches today? (I’ll give you a layman’s answer: almost none.)

    Ergo, I’m empathetic with Lisa. Good people fall through the cracks. Does that mean she’s totally pristine? Hardly. No one over here can claim that about themselves either.

    Trouble is, these days–and folks like Lisa and Martha can thank the feminists for this, and I’ll bet they are mostly in agreement with me–the margin of error is worse than it ever was.

    But you know what? If you’re a single guy in her bracket and pass her up–assuming the worst about her–then there is no logical reason why she can’t assume the same thing about you.

    The end-result: people who want to be married–and could otherwise make good matches for each other–remain single.

  15. @ReconsDad

    I guess that’s possible. But the gap between 22 and 39 is a big chunk of life. I find it hard to believe that — if one makes it a priority, and absent any glaring personality defect – one can’t get it done in that time period. I also find it a bit incongruous that Focus has these ladies running a site focused largely on advice for single folks on how to achieve marriage. As if they have any idea. Meh.

  16. @Craig

    I also find it a bit incongruous that Focus has these ladies running a site focused largely on advice for single folks on how to achieve marriage. As if they have any idea.

    Where I’d disagree with that statement is that a lot of a job of that sort seems to come down to networking. i.e. if you haven’t got expertise in an area yourself do you know (a) who to ask, (b) are you willing to do so, and (c) are you willing to let them speak? It does seem a bit odd though, and the situation with Ted there makes me a bit hesitant as you get to (c).

  17. i do not see it unlikely, in this day and time, for anyone to make it to 39 and still be single, even if they had wanted all along to get married. i know several beautiful women in this category, and it’s not b/c they’re failures at life or did it wrong, or anymore wrong than those who are married. as Amir said, we’re all products of depravity and we all have ‘something.’ why some get married and others don’t is what this whole debate, and even debacle, are all about.

  18. i do not see it unlikely, in this day and time, for anyone to make it to 39 and still be single, even if they had wanted all along to get married.

    Great point, Ame. I know a woman who was (and still is) godly, attractive, and financially successful, yet she didn’t meet the man she eventually married until she was already 40. Perhaps some men were like me in being intimidated by her income level; she’s a real estate agent whose commission from the sale of two average-priced DC area homes was greater than my annual salary in her single days.

    Of course, marrying and having children, as she desired, that late in life can have a tradeoff. Both she and her husband will be pushing 70 by the time her youngest graduates form college. Both children are girls, so there will also be wedding costs to consider should their daughters eventually marry.

  19. singleman … when i first “met” Amir out here in bog world, God began to open my eyes not simply to the realities of single adults and single men, but also to many others. we get these perceptions of what certain kinds of people are and why they are that way, and i’ve learned, through hard experience, that these perceptions are 99% false. being a single, recently divorced, mom, at the time, i was drowning in other’s perceptions of who i was and why i was and fighting to survive in the truth. Amir became an immediate kindred spirit. we got it. we were coming from vastly different pov’s, but we were experiencing much of the same adversity.

    it is extremely difficult to shed our false perceptions of reality and to allow ourselves to open our eyes to see the truth of reality.

    when we play the “IF game,” we all have very different lives. we have all made choices that have unpleasant consequences we have to live with. often the difference is when we choose to face our choices and consequences rather than to excuse them … to face our own truth and reality, to lay it before the feet of Jesus, to ask for forgiveness, and to repent.

    and we all have to live with the consequences of the choices of others … consequences we must face and accept … and people we must forgive.

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