We have nine justices usually but one of our most beloved, and notorious,
Ruth Bader Ginsberg, RBG, has gone to the Summerland, across
the Rainbow Bridge, to the afterlife—wherever that is for her, she’s
gone there. May her memory be a blessing. May her memory be a revolution.
And we are left with eight, five conservatives and
three liberals. RBG was liberal. Our current Pennsylvania Avenue occupant has already
nominated someone to replace RBG. This someone believes that god
speaks to the wife through her husband, the wife is submissive to the husband in all things,
she must submit in all things to her husband.
Sigh. As someone joked, this someone is walking through and slamming shut,
all the doors that RBG kicked open.
This nominated replacement believes that a woman has no choice in the matter of pregnancy,
and being gay is (once again) a sin in the eyes of the law, as well as her church.
This RBG replacement is Catholic, I guess.
I’m Catholic, too.
Maybe you’ve seen that meme on social media?
“I’m Christian. Oh…classic Jesus or Republican Jesus?”
That’s a joke: Ha. Ha.
My mother stood on the rectory steps
when I was seven with four kids behind me; there would be
a sixth later on, which tells you a lot about how this story ends.
My mother tried to leave my father…
that tornado who blew into the house and almost
blew it down. Dinner thrown against the wall.
Kids thrown down stairs. And I will always
remember seeing our cat, Blackie, held by the neck, and
my father’s foot kicking her and her sailing
across the lawn. She lived, but I now know why
they accept animal x-rays in domestic
abuse trials today. Oh RBG, you saw my family way before I did.
RBG’s dying wish was that she not be replaced until the next hopefully new
President was elected.
The priest asked my mother if she would rather
never see her children in all eternity if she left my father…because
she would go to hell if she got divorced.
Or would she rather stay married so
that she could see her children later, forever, in eternity, and therefore…
she should stay with my father.
I stopped talking to my parents when I was thirty, and never saw my mother again– alive.
The last time I saw her she was in a coffin. I was fifty-nine and my father yelled at me
during her funeral mass, What the hell are you doing here?
Will we see each other in eternity, Mom? I don’t know.
Was it worth it? I don’t know that, either.
My mother said later when I was older, when I became a feminist,
when I was a member of the late 70s Women’s Liberation
Army (whatever miraculous-ness that was)
…if I’d had known back then, what I know now…
And she never finished that sentence. What Mom?
Would you have left? Gone before all that happened between when I was seven and
when I was eighteen and when I then …left? Would you have left before all of that?
If I had known then….
My mother marched with me in a Take Back the Night March
against domestic violence before I cut off contact with her, before I remembered everything.
Before forgiveness was not a trade we could make for my silence. For her complicity.
When I started talking about what happened in that white house
with the birch trees in the front,
and the green shutters on the windows looking out,
she wouldn’t let me talk about it without interrupting, without saying,
Oh, Marie, I have to forgive myself.
That didn’t happen. How could that happen? Of course,
that didn’t happen.
You can’t forgive if someone doesn’t admit it ever happened.
And it took me so long to re-member
my self. I’m still terrified of forgetting
her. Again. And again. I don’t use forgiveness as a balm for sin.
As a remedy for cruelty. As an excuse for danger.
Who are we in these United States?
ntozake shange wrote, i found god in myself and i loved her. i loved her fiercely.
It is no accident it is my favorite quote of so many
from that power place of 70s feminism.
i found god in myself. No man is my god and, in any case, I have no husband.
I have a wife and she is not my god. I will never have a husband.
Then who is my god? This time to write?
This day? This cat? This dog? This pen?
This blank page? I worship you.
This electric light? This hand resting on this pillow? This latte?
This life I have built, yes, with this wife? I worship you, this life.
This address of my body, upon which I have built sixty years? My own god,
my survivor self? My breath in and out? I worship you.
i found god in myself.
I want to know how in these United States that a woman who fought three kinds of cancer
until she was eighty-seven to stay alive so that the court supreme would not become a super
majority of conservatives and died with one dying wish of not being replaced until
a new president was elected…can be ignored?
Because the day after she died the current “president” said
he would “move quickly” to replace her.
Where was god in the Holocaust we asked in grad school? I studied process thought
which answered, god was in those who fought back.
Concrescent creativity is the ability to enter the cauldron of the present moment
and come out with something new.
If god is in every person, is god in me? I asked Sister Veronica in second grade.
Yes, she said.
Then I asked, If God is in every person then god is in me, right?
Then… is god a woman?
My eight-year-old self, wanted to know.
Marie, she said, there are some mysteries
we are not meant to understand.
A cosmology of not understanding. An eschatology of uncertainty.
A tornado of rage.
This is what I know. This pen. This paper. These words.
This hand. This voice.
I worship you.
This simple act of pen to paper. A god of my understanding.
Fighting back against oppression. This legacy we have.
This can be my Higher Power,
my spiritual center, my god. I pick up
RBG’s dying wish as a mandate: may it be so.
May your memory be a revolution.
Yes, I am a Catholic.
Jesus fed the poor, honored someone who today some might call a prostitute,
washed the feet of others and threw the wealthy from the Temple.
RBG was Jewish. So, this is not really about RBG or really even Jesus. And religion
should have nothing to do with the court supreme.
But if you do believe in the Bible, or at least its words…and if
you want to hold your hand on it and swear an oath…
Whatever you do to the least of these, you do unto me.
Yes, I am a Christian.
Classic or Republican Jesus?
October 2- October 18, 2020
In These United States
Marie Cartier has a Ph.D. in Religion with an emphasis on Women and Religion from Claremont Graduate University. She is the author of the critically acclaimed book Baby, You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall (Routledge 2013). She is a senior lecturer in Gender and Women’s Studies and Queer Studies at California State University Northridge, and in Film Studies at Univ. of CA Irvine.