If I Only Had a Hammer…

if i only had a hammer

My friend-and-mentor, Rose Swetman, sent this clip to me this week. First I laughed uproariously…then I started to think. Do I, in fact, have a hammer? What might it be?

Have you got a hammer? What are you doing with it? Do tell!

20 Responses to “If I Only Had a Hammer…”

  1. Jennifer Says:


    I laughed hard at this too when I first saw it. But after thinking for a while, I don’t know, there is something about it that bothers me. I say this without wanting to take away anything from anyone who finds inspiration or hope in that picture though…

    I think that language of “smashing” and “hammers” is patriarchial language. To me, that speaks of trying to use their tools and their understanding to beat them at their own game…instead of developing my own understanding and my own tools to live in a way that affirms my belief in equality. Do I believe that view needs to be smashed? Yes. But I’d rather see it simply loose relevance by offering an alternative that is much more attractive to both women and men. Of course…I don’t have worked out exactly how that works yet :-) But I think it has something to do with playing off of strengths, instead of using the weakness of that side against them.

    Does that make any sense? Am I living in dream world?

  2. bostic Says:

    I’m wondering how this fits in with your Thursday night epiphany message on peace, etc.

  3. Rachelle Says:

    the reason i posted this is that it _did_ spark an ephiphany in my thinking.

    there is a large organization in my city that is patriarchal…actually, it’s downright misogynistic. this organization, and the man who leads it has a very powerful voice here, and nationally. in addition to the broad society influence of this man/institution, this fellow is also attacking a personal friend in a very violent manner.

    i’ve felt very stymied by this situation, very much the david in the face of a goliath, so to speak. so when rose sent me this picture two things went through my mind. first, am i really dedicated to seeking equality? that is, am i willing to take the blows/knock/consequences that working to create a more wholistic space will bring? and second, do i have a tool that could create change in this particular situation of injustice (which has to do with patriarchy?)

    the answer to the first is, yes…to the second, i think so.

    the reason i’m being vague here about what i think the tool in my kit might be is that, i’m stilll think about how to use the tool at my disposal. i want to use my tool in a peace-making way — not in a destructive way. a hammer can be a tool of destruction, or construction. (i think here, i’m echoing what jennifer said earlier about want to avoid a repetition of patriarchal patterns for change.) so what i’m mulling over these days is, how can i use my hammer in a constructive way?

  4. Pat Says:

    I do agree that hammers can be used in ways that are either desctructive or in subversive ways. It seems to me that as agents of the Kingdom, we should default to subversion. But I’m more of a Martin Luther King guy than a Malcom X guy, I guess :-) .

  5. AllenReloaded Says:

    By all means, smash the patriarchy, but while at it smash institutions that trade hatred of women for hatred of men.

    This message brought to you by a friend - a socialist, anarchist, communist, postmodern Christian alpha male. (Who prefers alpha females.)

  6. Jennifer Says:


    You are right….Misandry (hatred of men) is no better than misogyny (hatred of women). The problem is that Christianity doesnt have a long history of misandry, but it does with misogyny. Just look at many of the Church Fathers who wrote things like, “women are misbegotten men” and “women are like a temple built over a sewer”. No one of such influence was writing equally wrong things about men. While misandry is wrong, it hasnt really been the church’s struggle for the last 2000 years.

  7. bostic Says:

    It seems to me that putting down the hammer and ignoring the urge to take up the hammer is a test of faith.

    Maybe that is why the scripture says, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.”

    The question becomes do we really believe: “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peacable, gentle and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”

    Yeah, it takes some tears not to strike back to lay down one’s life by choice. It doesn’t sound too alpha male or female, but…

    And “He” shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke”‘many people:” and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruninghooks…neither shall they learn war no more.

  8. WendyC Says:

    Since when are hammers and smashing things “male”? I love the childlike feeling of destruction. What do you suggest women do when faced with a monolith like patriarchy? Poke at it? This is not a “swords into plowshares” situation. It is sin in the Church, which makes it a “Jesus throwing tables in the temple” situation.

    My hammer, is my voice. I confront patriarchy, sometimes with a hammer, sometimes with a joke. But I have the unique position of standing up for minority women in my University, and I take it seriously. You have to tear things down before you can build on a solid foundation.

  9. Rose Says:

    I have sat through too many conversations and debates on the issue of gender equality in the church. In many of them I have been silent, too tired to debate the issue. I have also felt the prejudice and have been accused of having a feminist agenda. With the recent publicity of the lead pastor of a church in my city that promotes blatant female submission and inequality, I too felt the cartoon was serious in the sense that I will use any tool necessary to fight the evil ideology of patriarchy in the church. I don’t see it as using the tools of patriarchy, I see it as using whatever is necessary to smash an injustice. By smashing an ideology I don’t think I am violating my conviction of a Kingdom of peace….the justice of the Kingdom makes right injustice.

  10. bostic Says:

    Well, I don’t think Jesus came to “smash ideology” nor do I think that throwing tables in the temple was a response to ideology either. Jesus’ paramount example was giving up his life. He humbled himself in submission to the father. It doesn’t look effective to the carnal mind, but the lamb of God takes away the sins of the world.

    We too should be lead like sheep to the slaughter. I guess one way to discern between sheep and goat, of whatever gender, is their assertion of self. I also guess we are free to follow God in the way that he leads us, if he is indeed leading us. Anyway, on a more humorous note, talk about patriarchy:


  11. bostic Says:

    You wrote:

    “With the recent publicity of the lead pastor of a church in my city that promotes blatant female submission and inequality, I too felt the cartoon was serious in the sense that I will use any tool necessary to fight the evil ideology of patriarchy in the church.”

    So who is this local pastor? Are there any news articles about him?

  12. mis Says:

    One of Ani DiFranco’s poems ends with
    “and I sing some times
    for the war that I fight
    cuz every tool is a weapon
    if you hold it right.”

    On my bathroom wall I have a drawing I made of a woman stabbing an androgenous person who is choking her. Her arms are poised above her head and she holds a very large pen that has penetrated her stranglers chest and the tip drips blood or ink…and oozes down to spell out “every tool is a weapon if you hold it right.”

    it’s actually not a very good drawing, to be honest. But even the idea of writing being my tool, I mostly feel like a fake or at least an inactive hopeful. I want writing to be my hammer, but it’s not.
    at least not yet.

  13. jen lemen Says:

    pish posh. i thought the cartoon was fantastic.
    and as for the question….
    if i had a hammer i’d smash defense spending.

  14. shannon Says:

    Jesus didn’t come to smash ideology…he came to fulfill God’s promise and redeem the world, and reveal the true nature of God to us. But in the process, he did quite a bit of smashing–and the temple-table-tossing isn’t the first thing that came to mind.
    I’m thinking of the whole Great Reversal…you know, the last shall be first, the idea that practicing faith came before the laws of Torah…I am sure that some of those guys with long beards perceived Jesus as holding a really big hammer–maybe two!

    I’d do some smashing to break down barriers to healthcare for the poor…this is what I do every day, calling and begging for specialists to see my patients. Wham! And now G.W. wants to eliminate WIC…

  15. cheryl Says:

    i was out the back using a hammer the other day to smash old, cracked china, to make a mosaic. i was thinking, as i was doing it, that it was a fantastic analogy for the realm of God…

  16. Pat Says:

    11. yes. wherever you look.

  17. AllenReloaded Says:

    10. i cannot connect to a Jesus that is only a sheep for slaughter. For me, he is both the Lamb that was slain but also the Lion of Judah. And I believe Jesus did assert Himself, regularly, with those who attempted to cover or deny the truth, and those who would have us in bondage under the Law, instead of free in Him.

    I accept that the concept of assertive Jesus does not sit well with many Christians, but it is an integral part of my faith.

  18. bostic Says:

    My Dear Allen,

    There is quite a bit of distance between a Jesus that is assertive and a Jesus that is self-assertive. Jesus was all about His father’s business, not saving Israel from the brutal roman imperialistic dogs. I love the idea of a God who takes dominion. Yet, I have problems with people of any sex, race or ethnicity, who are doing their own thing and using the name of the Lord.

    I say, do your thing! But keep our Lord’s name out of it. If you look at the link I put in it seems that a lot of what’s going on is just feminism and hippism revisisted. A lot of former hippies and feminists are just as oppressive as the “establishment” folks they once fought against and primarily self-interested. So, a lot of what’s said has nothing to do with God’s justice.

    God’s kids know that we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood. And the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but spiritual and mighty for the tearing down of strong holds. But, I’m going to let it go, ‘ cause I can see this is going nowhere.

  19. AllenReloaded Says:

    Dear bostic, Last Sunday, a friend was in the foyer of our church having a difficult conversation with another church member. Her roommate charged back into the church, swearing, ordering our mutual friend to get in the car. Ordering. Like you’d command a dog to heel.

    My Christian response was to tell the roomate to 1) not swear in front of my daughter and 2) encourage our mutual friend to complete her conversation and not submit to the roomate’s verbal abuse.

    And sadly, that means that sometimes God’s kids have to wrestle against flesh and blood, because each of us fall. And that is why I believe in an assertive Jesus, and that is why I rebuked the roomate for her unchristian behavior.

    So, sometimes, I think we need to smash stuff, like Rachelle alluded to.

    Respectfully, AllenReloaded

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