Feminist Holy Week Vaginal Christology Daily Devotional — Part 2 by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir

See here to read Part I of the Devotional.

Friday:

Thought for the day:

The Roman authorities executed Jesus for sedition because he posed a threat to their hegemony: their wealth and their oppressive, imperial domination system of exploiting others for profit. Jesus spoke out against their injustice, and his message resonated with the 99%. People were beginning to listen; momentum was growing. So the Empire snuffed out that “Rebel Scum” in their most excruciating, punishing, degrading form of execution. According to the logic of imperial domination, Jesus’ death should have been a humiliating, final defeat.

Instead, his movement lived on and on, grew and grew. The symbol of Imperial execution — the cross — should have symbolized the wrongness, the lack of Divine sanction, the complete Divine rejection of Jesus’ ideas, according to Empire. Instead, the Jesus Movement reclaimed the cross from an Imperial symbol of shame and turned it into a symbol of victory. Paul, the feminist liberationist prophet most responsible for the survival and spread of the Jesus Movement, repeatedly wrote that the Jesus Movement follows Christ Crucified. Paul’s message seemed scandalous and confusing— lifting up a symbol of horror, death, and defeat as proof of victory? Why? How?

Because Empire is evil, that’s why. Domination systems are forces of evil in our world; they are systemic powers of violence, oppression, exploitation, and death. And how do you know that the Divine Source of Love-Life-Good is on your side? You know it most strongly when Evil tries to silence you. Domination systems try to forbid critique: they call environmental activists terrorists, make it illegal to film inside factory farms, make it a felony to participate in anti-government protests, physically assault and injure those who try to protect Indigenous Water rights, threaten to kill, punch, or beat feminists with studded baseball bats, label anti-fascism as an enemy of the state.

Domination systems are sneaky, too. Just as they try to shame rebels with violence and criminalization, they also try to shame rebels with cultural pressure. Thus, people who challenge the horrifying brutality of porn, prostitution, and the normalization of misogynist sexual violence are denounced as “sex-negative” or “kink-shaming.” Lesbians who try to live true to their sexual orientation are called “transphobes.” In a world where the single most dangerous thing that can happen to a human is to be female (I won’t even say “to be born female” because selective abortion murders millions of the female unborn), I have been called a TERF just for advocating against Female Genital Mutilation.

***Trigger Warning – Descriptions of distressing violence against women and children.***

Today, on Good Friday, Christ is the mutilated vagina of a young girl in Mali, and Christ is the raped vagina of a trafficked Romanian girl in the mega-brothels of Germany, and Christ is the traumatized vagina of a young woman lured into prostitution because of poverty in New Zealand, and Christ is the murdered vagina of a Korean woman in an Atlanta “massage parlor.” Christ is the underdeveloped vagina of a fetus selectively aborted in China, and Christ is the tiny infant vagina of a female infanticide victim in India. Christ is the vaginas of the countless young women seeking therapy because they think there is something wrong with them… their male partners want to choke them and penetrate them anally, to slap them, to call them degrading names, to cause them pain in their most tender, vulnerable places, and they think they are failing their partners because they do not “enjoy sex.” Christ is all the females who are killed, brutalized, and traumatized simply because they have a vagina.

***End Trigger Warning***

Christ, a vagina? How scandalous. How shocking. How dare you call Christ a vagina?

I DARE, SISTERS. I dare. I will keep daring, louder and louder, and I will not be silenced. Will you dare with me? Let Patriarchal Domination Systems just try to snuff us out. This Good Friday, I follow Christ Crucified: the lips of Her Sacred, Wounded Vulva are speaking Truths that Evil does not want spoken. Oh, sometimes I tremble, tremble, tremble. By foes derided, by thine own rejected! Were you there when they crucified my Love?

Prayer:

Divine Love, Love who suffers with us, who knows our pain and anguish, Love who counts our every tear, who walks with us in every single moment of our grief and shame weighed down, you who holds us, weeps with us, and never, ever abandons us… Cleft for us. May we hide ourselves in Thee. Shelter us, heal us, strengthen us. We need thee every hour. O Wondrous Love, may our souls feel you in the clasped hands and joined voices of compassion everywhere, see you in the kind eyes and spring flowers, hear you in the songs of liberation and the waves on the shore, smell you in the fresh green Earth and the embrace of a beloved friend, taste you in the bread of Life and cup of Salvation, broken and poured out that all Creation may be Free and Healed and One in Love Everlasting.

Saturday:

There are times when all seems lost. All seems over. The weight of a stone heavy upon us. The coldness, the isolation, the darkness of despair.

We are never alone.

No matter what.

We are never forsaken.

We are held, so gently and tenderly, with such reverent adoration, such embracing compassion, such complete and total cherishing devotion, it is beyond our imagining.

No matter how heavy the burden, we are held in Love.

No matter how lost, how cold, how dark, how alone we feel, we are held in Love.

There is nothing we could ever do to lose that Love, or even diminish it one drop.

Love is the Source, Form, and Breath of All.

Rest in Love.

Feel Her cradle you.

Just rest.

Sunday:

Thought for the day:

Have you noticed that ruins all over the Middle East are covered with carvings of eggs? I loved seeing them in lots of ruins in Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey. I loved cupping my hand over the life-sized eggs carved along doorways of ancient holy sites. They fit into my hand so nicely, and I could feel the reverence for Life in the ancient stone shape. Many cultures throughout the world have used eggs as a symbol of life, in diverse ways.

The oral storytelling traditions of early Christianity also honor eggs. In one ancient story, when Mary Magdalene went to the tomb of Jesus early on the third day to anoint his body, she had a basket of eggs with her. The eggs turned bright colors when Mary reached the empty tomb. In another story, Mary Magdalene went to the Emperor Tiberius, held out an egg to him and proclaimed “Christ is risen!” He mocked her, saying Christ was no more risen than the egg in her hand was red. Immediately, the egg she held turned bright red.

Mary Magdalene is the disciple of Jesus who told the other disciples of Christ’s resurrection. She preached the very first Easter sermon, to the other women and men who were Jesus’ disciples. I believe Mary was the first disciple to understand that Jesus’ death did not mean the death of Christ. The execution of the man Jesus, their beloved friend and teacher, did not mean the death of the Truths to which he bore witness. Perhaps her experience as a female gave her the insight to understand that the Truths Jesus taught still lived on in the community, in a new body, just as eggs symbolize Eternal Life. Eternal Divine Life cycles and flows on and on from our human and nonhuman ancestors, through us, to our descendants – all the plants, animals, and offspring we become. We are all One. All Life, joined by one Eternal Source. Every one of your ancestors lives in you, the Love in them an unbreakable, boundless, pulsing force of Becoming. Infinite Divine Energy thrums through your every cell. You are starlight, the ocean tide, the soaring eagle, the towering tree, the humming hive of honeybees. You are the Egg: Perfect and Beautiful.

Hold yourself. Cup yourself in your hand. You are Christ, Alive and Divine. You are Eternity. You are Life. You are Holy. Rise and Shine, Dayspring of Love!

Trelawney Grenfell-Muir teaches courses about Sex, Dating, Marriage, and Work in the Religion and Theological Studies Department at Merrimack College and about Cross Cultural Conflict in the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A Senior Discussant at the Religion and the Practices of Peace Initiative at Harvard University, she holds an M.Div. from the Boston University School of Theology with a concentration in Religion and Conflict, and a Ph.D. in Conflict Studies and Religion with the University Professors Program at Boston University. She currently writes articles, book chapters, and liturgical resources about feminist, nature-based Christianity.

For an excellent book about the events of Holy Week in Scripture, and how Jesus led a liberationist political movement, see https://www.harpercollins.com/products/the-last-week-marcus-j-borgjohn-dominic-crossan?variant=32205677133858

For an excellent book about how Paul was a feminist liberationist, see https://www.harpercollins.com/products/the-first-paul-marcus-j-borgjohn-dominic-crossan?variant=32122694959138

For more on my theology of Christ as Cosmic Vagina see https://feminismandreligion.com/2019/05/03/vaginas-matter-by-trelawney-grenfell-muir/ and https://www.fsrinc.org/book/women-religion-revolution/ 



Categories: General, holiday, Lent, Ritual, Women's Power, Women's Voices

Tags: , ,

15 replies

  1. This took my breath away! Powerful, original, transformative. Thank you, Trelawney.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much. I’m glad you found it helpful. It was intense writing it, tbh. Just trusting the Spirit to hold me and let my voice run free at last, free at last… <3 Blessings to you.

      Like

  2. Empire is indeed evil. The American empire that isn’t ownership of lands and peoples anymore but influence was and mostly still is as evil as Rome, the British Empire, the Spanish Empire, the Soviet Union. Thank Goddess, these are mostly gone now.

    Calling Christ a vagina and naming patriarchy and misogyny are indeed breathtaking. Well, someone had to say it, and (as you write) you dared to say it. I’m not altogether sure I’d put the declaration in Christian terms, but I admire you for doing so in the context of your religion. Brava! And bright blessings for the holiday that Christians mostly stole from pagans. Even the eggs.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Barbara. I wish bright blessings to you, too! I admit I find it a bit odd what you say at the end about stealing Easter from pagans. I mean… most of the world calls the holiday Passover. Only the Germans started calling it Easter, and thus the English, but not the British or Irish. So a small percentage of Christians, and a minscule percentage of languages. Moreover, linguists tend to believe Easter did not come from the German goddess Eostre. They point out that the words have different roots, and only one guy in the 7th century ever proposed that hypothesis.
      “In contrast to most European languages, English and German have a different root word for “Easter,” which is called “Ostern” in German. And the root word is a little less certain. One theory was suggested by the 7th-century scholar Bede. He stated that Easter was named after a pagan goddess of the dawn, Eostre, whose festival was celebrated around the spring equinox… But, it’s probably not true. Historians haven’t found any other sources that support this idea. It’s more likely that “Easter” came from the Old Germanic word “oster,” meaning “East,” which in turn came from the classical Latin word “aurora,” meaning dawn… it’s the best etymological explanation we’ve got.” –Samantha Enslen, professional editor/writer about grammar and etymology

      Early Christians celebrated Passover, they just included a focus on what happened to Jesus at Passover. Some of them celebrated it on the actual day of Passover, some on the following Sunday. It eventually became officially on Sunday after centuries of diversity. But was based on Jewish Passover, which included pastoral rites around paschal lambs, etc, and a celebration of spring. So… I guess one could say that the Jews “stole passover from pagans,” but most religious scholars see that ancient period as more intermixing and cross pollination. I certainly never heard that idea from pagan scholars or academic experts in pagan history. As for eggs, they weren’t pagan, they were Zoroastrian. They still are, sort of — in that Iranians still put eggs on their Now Ruz tables on the Spring Equinox, their New Year. But they aren’t pagan, and Zoroastrianism is considered by many to be the world’s first monotheistic faith. They consider themselves more monotheistic than Christians, at any rate! So pagans may have “stolen” the idea of eggs from Zoroastrians, and Jewish people certainly started putting eggs on their Passover tables at some point too long ago for anyone to get a clear idea when it began. Things that long ago can be very murky. Here’s an interesting article on the subject.
      https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-are-passover-eggs-and-easter-eggs-related-1.5461517

      Anyway, I know that the “Christians stole everything from pagans” narrative, though rejected by scholars, is common among pagan adherents. I asked why, at the gathering of the top pagan scholars from around the world, the American Academy of Religion Pagan Studies group. These scholars are adherents of paganism as well. They basically said: yes, it’s frustrating when there’s scholarly consensus about something but it stubbornly refuses to trickle down to the adherents for one reason or another. Margaret Murray was totally wrong and out of her lane, and pagan scholars have all known that for many decades. So… I sympathize with their frustration — there’s a lot of scholarship about Christianity that doesn’t make it into the pews, either. For example, that Paul was a feminist, liberationist radical, or that the Jesus movement started out as dramatically feminist, or that stories in scripture of the divine doing bad things are often satire about political leaders of the time. I know a lot of Christian-Pagans who really struggle with all of these issues – aggressive rejection from either Christians or Pagans who angrily tell them that they can’t be both, that the “other” religion is “wrong” or “bad.” It makes me sad. But then, I have a lot of Unitarian Universalist friends, and they do a lot of blending, so I suppose I tend to see the potential for peaceful and harmonious interfaith cooperation and support. Celtic Christianity, from folks like Pelagius, was pretty chill, and that’s where my own path got its roots in my family background. Peace to you! I hope your celebration of spring and life and all good things is full of blessings and beauty and joy! <3

      Liked by 3 people

  3. As you say, Barbara even the eggs –

    Like

  4. So many times it is so hard to see the divine feminine in Christianity dogma and patriarchal sociey. Thank you for this. I appreciated reading it.

    Like

    • Thank you, too, I’m glad. I find it hard to see female honor and dignity in most of our culture, tbh… I hope we can all lift it up everywhere until it is obvious and clear to all. <3

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you, so much, Trelawney, for your passion and the teachings…Red Eggs! Red is the color of Woman! Thank you for re-introducing Rabbi Jesus, separate from the institutions of monotheistic religions, and for calling out the so-called “progressive”, contemporary gender thinking that is just misogyny in spandex–one more thing we have to talk back to–or just ignore and go into the garden and dig. Bless you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, too, Stephanie! After reading your comment I really wanted to make red eggs this year, even more than I already did! But alas, I didn’t get the chance to boil onion skins and get that rich dye. Maybe next year. I love the way you phrase this: “misogyny in spandex” — perfect summary. I love having a space where we can hang on to the lifeline of feminism amidst the storm. And get the strength to fight on, or the wisdom to go garden, as needed. Bless you, friend. <3 <3

      Like

  6. Wow! Thank you! Wishing you joy of the resurrection!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for showing how the Christian tradition embodies justice and liberation, at its core, in such powerful and holy ways. I am more grateful every year for my beautiful, healing tradition, and I will continue to refuse to let domination systems have the final say. Yndella re bo, ow hwor; yma Awen genes yn gwir. <3

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi, Trelawney.

    I’m really uncomfortable with what appears to be your inclusion of trans rights in a list of sneaky domination systems when you say:

    > Lesbians who try to live true to their sexual orientation are called “transphobes.”

    Can you help me understand what you mean by this? Because the only interpretations I can think of are ones that make me really sad about your opinions about trans women.

    In a Holy Saturday spirit of watching and waiting for the Resurrection,
    Elizabeth

    Like

  9. Hi, Elizabeth – I am happy to help you understand. My perspective is pretty simple: no one owes anyone else sex, ever, for any reason. So when I read tweets that say “not wanting to date trans women stems from y’all not viewing them as “real” women… so yes your “preference is transphobic” (retweeted 29.8K, hearted 116K), I agree with the tweet that responded “Man, we went from “someone else’s sexual preferences are none of your business” to “shut up and take the d—, lesbians” real fast.”
    I have great sympathy for any identity group that wants equal rights, compassion, and dignity. My sympathy comes to a screeching halt when their demands extend to pressuring or demanding access to other people’s bodies, especially for sexual intimacy. I know too many lesbians who are facing this pressure nowadays, and they experience it as just another form of conversion therapy and denial of the legitimacy of their sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is sexual orientation. It isn’t a “preference” or a “fetish” or an “obsession with genitals.” Denying lesbians the right to their own sexual orientation goes against everything I have ever fought for as a bisexual in the queer community for the past several decades. What’s more, most trans people I know agree with me.
    So the widespread shaming of lesbians for having a homosexual orientation is just the latest way patriarchy tries to commodify female bodies and present them as the property of other people, to be used for other people’s gratification or agendas, and it is very sneaky indeed. Very violent and causing a backlash in transphobia that has my trans friends quite worried. But if they speak up against it, they are aggressively silenced and shamed themselves. So I’m taking that risk myself, in hopes that I can lessen transphobia and lessen the shaming and bigotry against lesbians that is becoming more and more widespread.
    I hope this helps! And I hope you had a blessed Easter.
    Trelawney

    Like

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