Her name was Tricia Meili. Their names were Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, Korey Wise and Kevin Richardson. On April 19, 1989 all of their lives were irrevocably changed. They would never meet, but their lives would become forever linked. When they entered into Central Park on that night, did they know that they were stepping into a haunting history of dismembered bodies? Tragically, their bodies would become another story to be told in that history.
On that April day in history some 34 years ago one white female body went into Central Park for her routine jog. Five black and brown male teenage bodies went into Central Park to hang out, but soon became a part of a crowd engaged in mischievous if not dangerous and out-of-control harassment of other park visitors. As the night wore on, police were called and arrests were made. It would later be discovered that Tricia was brutally and sadistically raped, but not by Yusef, Raymond, Antron, Korey or Kevin. Yet, the five young teenagers were badgered into confessions, charged with the rape and sentenced to prison. Read more…
This is a response to Carol P. Christ’s blog of April 29, 2013 on why she decided to leave the Christian tradition. Carol and I discuss these questions further in our forthcoming book Goddess and God Since Feminism: Body, Nature, and Power.
You raise the important question of what factors lead feminists to leave or remain within the religion of their birth. Your central challenge to me is how I can commit myself to a tradition in which God is imagined as a violent warrior when these images have harmed and continue to harm women and the world. How can I not recoil from using such images in worship? Why is the power of symbols less important to me than to you?
The first thing I would say is that, like you, I find these images profoundly problematic. One of the projects I have taken on in my retirement is reading the Bible from cover to cover, and I was appalled in going through all the prophets together at the amount of violence in their teachings. When I have spoken on the topic of dealing with difficult texts in the Jewish and Christian traditions—a subject that is dear to my heart—I always talk about God’s violence in addition to texts that demean women. And, yes, I have sometimes asked myself how I can remain part of a tradition in which God is depicted in this way. So I do not disagree with your critique of this imagery, but obviously for me, it is not decisive. Why not? Read more…
The Cooptation of Relational Theology: Another Example of the Erasure of Women’s Contributions to Theology by Dirk von der Horst
Over the last couple of years, I started to notice “relational theology” crop up in what I considered unlikely contexts. I had previously associated the term primarily with the feminist and womanist work of Carter Heyward, Catherine Keller, Rita Nakashima Brock, Katie Geneva Canon, Karen Baker-Fletcher, Kelly Brown Douglas, and Sharon Welch, as well as the gay/feminist work of Gary David Comstock. In each of these thinkers, the pursuit of relationality as divinity was always linked to a profound wrestling with suffering and oppression. Furthermore, a clear diagnosis of individualism, transcendence, and other forms of disconnection as manifestations of patriarchal/hierarchal forms of subjectivity was central to the rationale for doing relational theology. As I experienced it in the 1990s, relational theology was simply a dimension of feminist theology. Forging through the searing pain of oppression to the roots of problems in order to propose radical solutions to real social evil, not general ruminations on divine being, was the first step. Read more…
In Part I of this post I started asking questions about whether Buddhism in the West is part of patriarchy. Today I offer a possible link between practices of men’s Initiation Rites and some of the elements of Buddhism.
Men’s Initiation Rites
When we consider principle practices of Western Buddhists, primarily daily meditation and meditation retreats we might enquire something like this: since monastic practice is a model for our Western lay practice, do Buddhist monasteries constitute an extension and continuation of men’s long houses, places of men’s initiation rites?
Recently I had the great pleasure of presenting on the WATER Teleconference Series and dialoguing with women from around the world about how to promote healing in a rape culture. Likewise, in a previous post I discussed rape culture in the Church and its impact on victims of sexual violence and the greater community. Within a rape culture, those who experience sexual victimization endure physical, emotional, and spiritual wounding. It is a victimization unlike any other, and one that we must continue to discuss in search of healing.
This topic is important to me for obvious reasons. As a woman, mother, and social justice activist, I am passionate about eradicating gender based violence. This said, I also have direct experience with this brutality that plagues our society. Having worked with rape survivors for more than a decade, I have witnessed the suffering endured as a result of such violence. My own mother died prematurely as a result of sexual and domestic violence; having come to learn of the horrors she lived through has greatly impacted my understanding of the deep spiritual wounding experienced due to our culture of shaming and blaming – our rape culture.