A Story About Forgiveness by Sara Wright

Every morning I write a little meditation with attached images that in some way reflects what’s going on in my life. I do this for three reasons. To experience gratitude for something I have learned, to share my thoughts with others and to consciously align myself with LIFE while participating, albeit unwillingly, in a death destroying culture.

As a naturalist my focus is usually on some gift received resulting from my reciprocal relationship with nature. But I wrote this meditation to articulate one of the most important aspects of relating to other humans – perhaps the most important. Forgiveness. And I wrote it after experiencing the freedom and gratitude that followed a powerful act of forgiveness associated with a long-term friendship.

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Legacy of Carol P. Christ: Can You Kill the Spirit? What Happened to Female Imagery for God in Christian Worship?

This was originally posted March 16, 2015

When I first began to think about female language and images for God I imagined that changing God-He to God-She and speaking of God as Mother some of the time would be a widespread practice in churches and synagogues by now. I was more worried about whether or not images of God as a dominating Other would remain intact. Would God-She be imaged as a Queen or a Woman of War who at Her whim or will could wreak havoc on Her own people?

Forty years later, very little progress has been made on the question of female imagery for God. I suspect that most people in the pews today have never even had to confront prayers to Sophia, God the Mother, or God-She. Most people consider the issue of female language in the churches to have been resolved with inclusive language liturgies and translations of the Bible that use gender neutral rather than female inclusive language.

Continue reading “Legacy of Carol P. Christ: Can You Kill the Spirit? What Happened to Female Imagery for God in Christian Worship?”

From the Archives: The Hunger Games, Holy Week, and Re-imaging Ritual by Xochitl Alvizo

This was originally posted on April 3, 2012 and serves as a nice follow up to my recent posts, and to the Christian holy days being celebrated this week.

Being passive spectators of violence and injustice, even if mournfully so, is not just a thing of Panem, it is our everyday reality.

In The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins takes the reality of an unjust society and gives it an imaginative makeover. In Panem, most people are kept at such extreme levels of hunger that even when they do eat they cannot fill the hollowness that has settled in their stomachs, while others are deciding on the next cosmetic alteration they will undertake – whiskers, jewel implants, or green-tone skin color? The disparate conditions between the rich and the poor, the few and the many are absurdly and starkly portrayed but done so in a way that we can still recognize our world in theirs. And at the center of this world is the state imposed ritual of punishment and control, the yearly Hunger Games – a nationally televised competition that all the people of Panem are required to watch. The 12 districts watch mournfully as two kids from each of their districts compete to the death, and the wealthy watch gleefully, for the games are the height of their excesses and entertainment. The yearly Games conclude when one kid, the lone ‘victor’, is left standing. All while the nation watches.

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Re-imagining the Ritual of Communion by Xochitl Alvizo

I remember the words so clearly: “I know what it’s like to have my body broken, I know what it’s like to have my blood spilt. I won’t celebrate anyone else’s broken body or spilt blood, and I don’t want anyone doing that on my behalf.” Sitting in the pew next to me, my friend spoke her truth in a soft and tentative, but somehow still firm, voice. She then slumped in her seat and folded up her legs, hugging them against her body. While everyone else got up to take communion, I stayed in place beside her.

There was a period of time in my life when I was not willing to participate in communion. My friend’s words stayed with me, transforming the communion table from one of hospitality to one of violence. “Celebrating” communion didn’t feel celebratory anymore. I chose not to take communion for several years. I let my friend’s words guide and deepen my reflection on the practice of communion—especially in light of the trauma suffered by all too many bodies.

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Radical Joy by Beth Bartlett

On Christmas mornings my brother, sister, and I had to wait patiently upstairs until we heard the music playing. Then, at last, the trumpets and voices singing “Joy to the world!” beckoned us down to the living room, with presents piled high under the brightly lit Christmas tree and stockings filled to the brim hung by the roaring fire.  As a child, I experienced Christmas as a most magical and wonderful time of year, but it wasn’t just about getting presents. Strangers greeted each other with good cheer, wishing each other a “Merry Christmas.” Children visited the homes of the elderly and housebound, brought them cookies and sang carols.  People were different – kinder, friendlier, more open-hearted, more forgiving. These are the true gifts invoked by the Christmas season, and I often wondered why we couldn’t continue these all year. I still do. 

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Solstice Stories : Fire and Ice by Sara Wright

The winter solstice is almost upon us just as the first heavy snow buries the forest and house under 28 inches of snow. I never look forward to this shift into the cold, ice, and snow, although I do wrap myself in peaceful silence, sitting by the fire dreaming as twilight turns to night. My Norfolk Island pine and tipped balsam wreath shimmer with tiny stars. The scent of balsam soothes my senses and purifies the air. This month above all others is my time to honor the trees… I am keenly aware that Bone Woman and Old Man Winter are rising with the moon, whipped up by Northwest winds.

My scientist and naturalist friend, a member of one of the seven Indigenous Sioux tribes agrees with me that winter solstice is a dangerous time, one of the reasons in the old European way that everyone is masked while acting out winter solstice stories. These tales may vary in content but all have the same root. Shadow is on the move. Masks protect the people, the risk of exposure to danger is minimized in this way.

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From the Archives: Thanksgiving and Service by Sara Frykenberg

This was originally posted on December 3, 2103

Growing up in an evangelical Christian church, I was taught that human beings should serve one another and put others before themselves.  These two different teachings, paired with patriarchal misogyny, have sometimes been very problematic for me.  I tend(ed) to give too much.  Too many demands with which I complied were self-negating (which after all, helped me to make other people more important than myself).  It took me a long time to learn how to appropriately prioritize my own needs, to stop mistaking self-esteem for the”‘sin of pride,” and how to say no when I needed to… Actually, I am still learning some of these lessons.

Conversely, my ritualized service to the church was sometimes confusing, awkward or embarrassing.  I clearly remember having the opportunity to serve as something like an usher during Thanksgiving at our family’s church as a child.  This involved wearing a pilgrim costume, which for me meant finding a Puritan style costume in the church’s closet that fit my overweight childhood frame.  This was not an easy task and left me feeling ashamed.  Later as an adolescent, my youth group asked us to wash one another’s feet as Jesus did for his disciples.  Now, don’t misunderstand me here— I do believe that this ritual has the potential to be very powerful and meaningful for those involved.  However, my teenage self could not identify with the symbolic gesture beyond realizing that:

1)    I thought touching other people’s feet was gross, as was having my dirty feet touched and,
2)    I knew I ‘should’ get something out of the ritual but did not, so I felt spiritually guilty or inadequate.

Overall, I often associated Christian service with guilt, inadequacy, my role as a daughter or woman or my sacrificial duty.

Despite these issues, I usually genuinely enjoy serving others and giving to other people.  I love to host people and care for them.  I like to help.  I even prefer to help.  Serving one another we can express and allow others to express love.  But this past week, one day before Thanksgiving, a dear friend of mine gently challenged me to allow myself to be served or, as she put it, “to give someone else the gift of giving to me.”  Specifically, she was referring to a pending holiday meal for which I expressed my anxiety and frustration with not being allowed to help—which somehow makes me feel like a child.  Even writing this phrase, “makes me feel like a child,” I know that I have touched deeper feelings of helplessness or vulnerability that at some point, I learned to battle with competence and over-achievement.  I do often feel like a child or guilty when other people do for me what I think I could or should do for myself; and my friend’s brief words encouraged me to explore this relationship to being served.

“Service” can sometimes feel uncomfortable for the reasons I mention above, but more so, for its connection to the coercive “servitude” required by existent hierarchies within andro-kyriarchal oppressive systems.  I have been subject to this coercive servitude, and also, its beneficiary.  As a white, middle class, Western woman I have far too much privilege that is contingent upon the forced labor and oppression of other people.  This kind of forced servitude is very wrong; and I am still learning how and where to choose other than to be complicit in this abuse.  But, there have also been many distinctive instances in my life where I have felt reciprocally and undeniably “served” by people around me, without abuse and without manipulation.

Driving to Colorado one summer to see the friend I mentioned above, my two companions and I served one another.  The individual in the back seat was responsible for cutting bagels and spreading cream cheese on them for the driver and navigator, while the navigator held the drink, food or whatever other item that the driver could not.  This may sound like a small thing, but it wasn’t.  I felt taken care of and loved in this small and traveling community.  We also had a safe word that meant, “leave me alone, I’m grumpy” on our long trip.  We made agreements to account for one another’s  discomfort and effort.  We respected one another and cared for each other.

Beginning my work as an adjunct professor, I encountered a great deal of stress and often long and awkward work hours.  Many times I felt like I needed help, but there was nothing I could ask for help with when it came to my job: I needed to grade my own papers, plan my own lectures, and yes, write my own blogs.  My husband has responded by taking care of me in other ways.  He makes me dinner, goes to the store and makes sure I take breaks.  We take turns taking care of one another, and I am grateful for him.

This past week after talking to my friend, I noticed how willing people were to touch me to soothe aching muscles.  I’m not sure how to describe what I felt, but it was like something invisible in certain spaces was suddenly visible.  I also realized that it had been a very long time since I had freely and openly received this touch.  Later during the weekend, a friend came to my house  and she made me dinner!  My husband rubbed my chest after a long night of coughing yesterday because I still haven’t completely rid myself of the smoldering in my lungs.  I was defensive for so long.  Shedding my defender allows me to rediscover all those things for which I am thankful.

Gratefulness is an action.  It can be found in those expressions that return, receive and allow for mutual loving.  I am learning new rituals that help me to remember that this kind of mutual serving and being served is sacred.  In a summer ritual, my friend and I washed one another’s hair instead of our feet.  I am still learning to ask for assistance from the goddess after freeing myself from an abusive omnipotent god, but I am starting to ask.

I am starting to pray again.

BIO: Sara Frykenberg, Ph.D.: Graduate of the women studies in religion program at Claremont Graduate University, Sara’s research considers the way in which process feminist theo/alogies reveal a kind transitory violence present in the liminal space between abusive paradigms and new non-abusive creations: a counter-necessary violence.  In addition to her feminist, theo/alogical and pedagogical pursuits, Sara is also an avid fan of science fiction and fantasy literature, and a level one Kundalini yoga teacher.

The People Who Have Always Had Questions by Liz Cooledge Jenkins

A few weeks back, author and historian Jemar Tisby tweeted that an acquaintance of his “described their general experience with white evangelicals as ‘people who don’t have any questions.’ I immediately knew what they meant.” The tweet gained some traction, with 62.1k “likes” at the time I’m writing this. The next week, Tisby followed up with a thoughtful reflection piece, expanding on his own experience with white evangelicals needing to have answers to every question, from “How old is the earth?” to “How should Christians vote?” Tisby unpacks the dangers of this kind of arrogant certainty, inviting Christians instead to embrace mystery, curiosity, and learning.

I resonate with many of Tisby’s observations and reflections. From my experience (including thirteen years in evangelical churches and a Master of Divinity degree from an evangelical seminary), I wouldn’t say these things are true of every single white evangelical—but they’re definitely true enough of the movement as a whole that they are very much worth naming, engaging, and challenging. I appreciate Tisby’s work.

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SpiritualiTEA with Chasity Podcast, Episode 3 by Chasity Jones

An excerpt from SpiritualiTEA with Chasity Podcast Episode 3: Why are we afraid of Divination??? What is divination?

Divination is from Latin divinare “to foresee, to be inspired by a god”. (Goleman, David. The Varieties of the Meditative Experience. London: Rider, 1975.)


This is beautiful to me because it reminds me of how when the prophets would begin to prophesy in the bible or even the explosive forward movement of the spread of the gospel- driven by the Holy Spirit, as well as those who documented the gospel are all described as being inspired by God. 

The most popular form of divination right now is tarot cards but we will discuss how there are many other forms- including forms that are acceptable in the church RIGHT NOW.

There are many bible verses cursing those who divine but I want to reiterate that one bible verse cannot be a comprehensive ethic or set of ethics, especially when there are other verses that contradict that verse.

Continue reading “SpiritualiTEA with Chasity Podcast, Episode 3 by Chasity Jones”

Can I get an “Amen” up in here? by Laura Montoya 

I am a great evangelist. I used to evangelize in Pentecostal settings until I was 22. Then, I left my church to evangelize about feminist issues to every woman that crossed my path. Rhetoric is a gift I received when I was a kid and that I inherited from my grandpa and my dad. But during the COVID lockdowns, it was hard to socialize, and my evangelization skills turned toward making my friends and family join the privileged fan base of Ru Paul’s Drag Race. One by one, I convinced my sister, cousins, neighbors, and best friends to watch the reality show, and they did with astonishing devotion. Every week, two or three of us gather in someone’s living room wearing masks to watch episode after episode after episode. Our debates about the queens in the show could last all night long. Who had the best performance? Did you like their lip-synching? “That elimination was so fair/unfair!” 

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From the Archives: Politicians Make Dangerous Theologians by Katey Zeh

This was originally posted November 21, 2017


Accounts and allegations of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse perpetrated by mostly straight white men in power have flooded the U.S. news cycle for months. Each new revelation confirms that sexual violence is an epidemic fueled by systems of unchecked power and authority, including patriarchy, white supremacy, and Christian supremacy.

After The Washington Post published the story of Leigh Corfman who recounted the sexual abuse she suffered as a teenager at the hands of Roy Moore, Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler came to his defense and argued that this would have no political impact since Moore “never had sexual intercourse with any of these girls.”

We all ought know by now that such allegations of sexual abuse, even when the perpetrator admits to them, bear little weight on the electability of white male politicians (see: November 8, 2016). Even so, I was stunned by a poll that revealed that 29% of Alabama voters answered that they are now more likely to vote for Roy Moore since allegations were made against him.  

Continue reading “From the Archives: Politicians Make Dangerous Theologians by Katey Zeh”

The Legacy of Carol P. Christ: Weaving and Spinning Women: Witches and Pagans by Max Dashu A Review

Moderator’s Note: This was originally posted on September 19, 2016

Max Dashu’s  Witches and Pagans: Women in European Folk Religion 700-1000 challenges the assumption that Europe was fully Christianized within a few short centuries as traditional historians tell us. Most of us were taught not only that Europe became Christian very rapidly, but also that Europeans were more than willing to adopt a new religion that was “superior” to “paganism” in every way. Careful readers of Dashu’s important new work will be challenged to revise their views. When the full 15 volumes of the projected series are in print, historians may be forced to hang their heads in shame. This of course assumes that scholars will read Dashu’s work. More likely they will ignore or dismiss it, but sooner or later–I dare to hope–the truth will out.


History has been written by the victors—in the case of Europe by elite Christian men. These men may have wanted to believe that their views were widely held, but Dashu suggests that they were not. Combing artistic and archaeological records, Dashu finds (to give one example) that images of Mother Earth nursing a snake are far from uncommon and can even be found as illustrations in Christian documents and on Christian monuments. Clerics rage against people—particularly women–who continue to visit holy wells and sacred trees and to practice divination and healing rituals invoking pagan powers. To paraphrase Shakespeare: “Methinks the cleric doth protest too much.” Were these things not happening and happening often, there would have been no need to condemn them.  Using these clues, Dashu provides intriguing new readings of the Poetic Edda and Norse sagas.

Continue reading “The Legacy of Carol P. Christ: Weaving and Spinning Women: Witches and Pagans by Max Dashu A Review”

I’m Not “Fit” to Judge Another Woman’s “Fit”ness by Liz Cooledge Jenkins

In recent conversations around abortion rights—spurred by a leaked draft of a Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade—everyone has opinions. The financially comfortable, often-white, often-evangelical women in my circles have opinions. And these opinions often involve the lives and choices of materially poor women and women of color.

            In her recent book The Trouble with White Women: A Counterhistory of Feminism, Rutgers University professor Kyla Schuller profiles seven pairs of feminist activists over the last two hundred years. Each pair includes one woman who operated from a framework of white feminism—a framework that, according to Schuller, “consistently…wins more rights and opportunities for white women through further dispossessing the most marginalized.” And each pair includes a woman who embodied intersectional feminism—a feminism that “expose[s] sexism to be a powerful structure of systemic inequality and attempt[s] to untangle its deep threads with other forms of domination, while also building new practices of care, coalition, faith, and solidarity.”[1] This is not just history but a live tension in the present day.

Continue reading “I’m Not “Fit” to Judge Another Woman’s “Fit”ness by Liz Cooledge Jenkins”

Carol P. Christ’s Legacy: Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

This was originally posted on Sept. 9, 2011

In my last blog I wrote that the image of God as a dominating other who enforces his will through violence–found in the Bible and in the Christian tradition up to the present day–is one of the reasons I do not choose to work within the Christian tradition.  To be fair, there is another image of God in Christian tradition that I continue to embrace.  “Love divine, all loves excelling” is the opening line of a well-known hymn by Charles WesleyCharles Hartshorne invoked these words and by implication the melody with which they are sung as expressing the feelings at the heart of the understanding of God that he wrote about in The Divine Relativity.

Love divine, all loves excelling also expresses my understanding of Goddess or as I sometimes write Goddess/God.  Though I am no longer a Christian, but rather an earth-based Goddess feminist, I freely admit that I learned about the love of God while singing in Christian churches.  Hartshorne wrote that he knew the love of God best through the love of his own mother, and I can say that this is true for me as well.  My mother was not perfect, and she did not understand why I wanted to go to graduate school, my feminism, or my adult political views, but I never doubted her love or my grandmothers’ love for me.  (I count myself lucky.  I know others did not have this experience.)  Like Hartshorne, I also learned about the love of God through the world that I always understood to be God’s body.  Running in fields and hills, swimming in the sea, standing under redwood trees, and encountering peacocks in my grandmother’s garden, I felt connected to a power greater than myself.


Continue reading “Carol P. Christ’s Legacy: Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”

From the Archives: Frozen 2: Can the Christian Church Hear its Gospel Song? by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir

This was originally posted on March 5, 2020

The first time I saw Frozen 2, I was impressed by the ecofeminism and the efforts to respect the Sami culture. The second time, I thoroughly enjoyed the superb music and the character development. The third time… was a religious experience.

Other contrubutors have written wonderful reviews of Frozen 2, and I agree wholeheartedly that its animation reinforces the sexist idea that females should be tiny compared to males, except for our eyes, which should be larger than our wrists. These disempowering representations saturate today’s media, and I regularly spend a whole lot of time deconstructing them with my daughters.

However, there is a lot to love about Frozen 2, and as a Christian, I found myself resonating with several of the symbolic truths the film offers. I spent some time looking into the Sami religion, to see how much of it was incorporated into portrayals of the Northumbra. I knew that Disney had consulted with Sami representatives to portray their culture with respectful accuracy. The Sami history is an all too familiar tale of violent imperial conquest allied with Fundamentalist Christian Dominionism. The wounds of Sami history certainly give me terrible grief as a white American and a Christian, and I hope that the anti-colonialist messages of the film spread awareness of such violence in my country. 

Continue reading “From the Archives: Frozen 2: Can the Christian Church Hear its Gospel Song? by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir”

Carol P. Christ’s Legacy: Kassiani: Placing a Woman at the Center of the Easter Drama

This blog was originally posted on April 13, 2015. You can read the original comments here.

For many years I been told of the beautiful Hymn of Kassiani, sung only on Easter Tuesday night, but I had never heard it until this week. For many this song is the high point of Easter week.

Kassiani, also known as St. Kassia, was a Greek woman born into a wealthy family in Constantinople (now Istanbul) about 805 to 810 AD. According to three historians of the time, she was intelligent and beautiful and selected as a potential bride for the Emperor Theophilos. The chroniclers state that the Theophilos approached her and said: “Through woman, the worst,” referring to the sin of Eve. Clever Kassiani responded, “Through woman, the best,” referring to the birth of the Savior through Mary.

Apparently unable to accept being put in his place by a woman, Theophilos chose another bride. Kassiani founded a monastery in Constantinople becoming its first abbess. She was an outspoken theological advocate of icons during the iconoclastic crisis (for which she was flogged). One of only two women to publish under her own name during the Byzantine Middle Ages, Kassiani wrote both poetry and hymns. Up to 50 of her hymns are known today, with 23 of them being part of the Greek Orthodox liturgy


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From the Archives: Resistance and the Religious Left by Gina Messina

This was originally posted on June 21, 2017, you can read the original comments here.

For the last forty years, the Christian Right has influenced the conversation in American politics. Where is the Religious Left and how are they impacting our nation’s moral agenda? It is an important question, and now, more than ever, we need a progressive religious viewpoint in the conversation.

We are living in an era where the morality of our society is at stake and the soul of our nation is being bought by billionaires who have an insatiable appetite for money, power, and control. With an alt-right movement growing and nationalism becoming the Trump Administration theme, we are in danger of losing our humanity.

It is time for a serious response to the Christian Right. Why must we associate Christianity with bigoted policies? This ongoing movement has dominated our nation’s political agenda and led to the idea that you are either religious and conservative or liberal and atheist. Don’t get me wrong, every person’s belief system is their own and should not be judged.  However, studies well demonstrate that many Americans are walking away from religion all together because of the Christian Right’s political influence. It is time that Christianity be recognized as more than a conservative movement seeking to highjack policies and victimize the disenfranchised.

The true message of Jesus is founded on love, inclusion, liberation, and social justice. No Christian Right position resembles this. In fact, they are in direct conflict. Rather than focusing on condemning those who are deemed “the other,” why not focus on caring for the poor, welcoming the stranger, and healing the sick?

Likewise, conservative Christian stances have been historically anti-feminist and anti-woman. Those clinging to such beliefs would rather elect a president that has openly discussed grabbing women by the “pussy” than risk giving up privilege.

As the Women’s March has challenged Trump and his policies on gender, an anti-feminist backlash has strengthened with Evangelical women arguing that feminists have created their own oppression by whining rather than taking responsibilities for themselves.

The Christian Right would be surprised to find out that Jesus’ politics and teachings mirror the values of feminism – calling for an end to all oppression and creating a society that is just and fair for every person regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age, religion, etc. Jesus welcomed women to his community and women played a critical role in his ministry.  Jesus not only had women disciplines; but also selected women as prominent recipients of his revelation. Most notably, Jesus chose women as the first witnesses of his resurrection. And while the apostles did not believe Mary Magdalene’s testimony, nevertheless, she persisted.

It is time not only for a resistance but a religious resistance where those who try to abide by the message of Jesus stand up to the Christian Right.  I acknowledge that no one is a perfect Christian; we all fail. But what is important is that we recognize the message of the Gospels and keep trying. Thus, we must reject the oppressive regime of the Trump Administration and the bigoted claims of the Christian Right. We must reclaim the Christian faith in its true form and live out its message the way it was intended.

We are living in a difficult time, but let us claim this moment to energize and unify the Religious Left. In the name of the Lord, let us challenge those who manipulate the Christian message as means to claim power and privilege while oppressing everyone else. It is time to make humanity great again.

On The Baby and The Bathwater by Liz Cooledge Jenkins

It wasn’t until seminary—and even then, only sporadically—that I learned that many of the foundational figures in Western Christianity held some incredibly sexist attitudes. Somehow, in all my years of attending church, hearing sermons, participating in (and leading) Bible study groups, reading Christian books, and working in ministry, I had missed this historical reality. I just hadn’t thought about it. And the (mostly white male) Christian leaders who shaped my own faith apparently hadn’t thought about it, either. That, or they didn’t think it was important enough to talk about. Or they intentionally tried to keep it on the down low. Or some combination of these things.

In seminary, when influential theologians’ sexist views came up in class, inevitably someone would say—in a wise-sounding tone—“Well, we don’t want to throw out the baby with the bathwater, do we?”

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Women’s Speaking Justified: Reflections on Fell, Feminism and History by Liz Cooledge Jenkins

Moderator’s note: Today’s post has been paired deliberately with yesterday’s archival post by Mary Sharratt. Both pay homage to Margaret Fell in very different yet complementary ways.

In the conservative evangelical church world—a world I was deeply invested in for most of my twenties—people often spoke of Christian feminism as if it appeared for the first time in our generation, or maybe one generation prior. I’m not totally sure why I accepted this as true—but I did, for a long time. It wasn’t until seminary that I learned otherwise.

It turns out that the dream of full, real, felt equality for women within Christianity is a very, very old dream. The history of women in church is a great deal more complex than I had assumed, or been led to believe. Over the course of two thousand years of Christian history, women have fought for, and sometimes experienced, freedom to lead and minister and be fully human.

Continue reading “Women’s Speaking Justified: Reflections on Fell, Feminism and History by Liz Cooledge Jenkins”

From the Archives:“Vaginas are Everywhere!”: The Power of the Female Reproductive System by John Erickson

Moderator’s note: This marvelous FAR site has been running for 10 years and has had more than 3,600 posts in that time. There are so many treasures that have been posted in this decade that they tend to get lost in the archives. We are beginning this column so that we can all revisit some of these gems. Today’s blogpost was originally posted June 19, 2012. You can visit it to see the original comments here.

I have a beautiful picture of vagina hanging on my wall.  However, for the longest time it was in the back of my closet, with a plastic bag covering it.  I wasn’t ashamed of it but my ex-boyfriend, like most gay men, refused to have it on the wall where he could see it.  He is now long gone; the vagina is now out and proud.

I bid on the picture one fall during a showing of the Vagina Monologues at Claremont School of Theology.  One of my best friends was in the show and I had always loved its powerful message.  I walked out of the theatre, waiting for my friend, and there it was: the picture of the vagina.  I found myself caught up in its beauty.  Its gaze had mesmerized me.  The outlying layers of red, the contours of its shape, they all began to mold into a figure before my eyes.  While I have never thought of myself as a religious person, I realized that at that moment I was no longer looking the old photo but rather I was staring at the outline of the Virgin Mary.  At that moment, I realized that I had to have the picture.

Continue reading “From the Archives:“Vaginas are Everywhere!”: The Power of the Female Reproductive System by John Erickson”

The Celtic Cross and the Compassing of the Divine Womb, Part 1 by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir

No one knows why Celtic Crosses have a circle. Guesses include pragmatic utilitarianism (to hold the arms up),1 the sun, Greek laurel wreath, Egyptian ankh, circle of creation,2 the Chi-Ro Greek monogram for Christ,3 the divine light that imbues all creation,4 the “Celestial Sphere” found in earlier Eastern Christianity,5 and a range of fanciful inventions based on modern imagination and pseudo-scholarship about Celtic “paganism.” [Leading scholars of pagan history agree that almost nothing is known about pre-Christian beliefs in Britain and Ireland. The few, conflicting descriptions we have, all come from highly tendentious, frequently incorrect foreigners (such as Julius Caesar, who also claimed that German forests were full of unicorns) or from Christian writers of later periods with strong agendas of their own (such as creating a native pagan history and mythology to rival their snobby Greek and Roman “Classical” neighbors).6] The circles on Celtic crosses remain a mystery.

With that in mind, I do not suggest an historical hypothesis here; rather, I offer a theological insight from a modern Feminist Christian perspective. I ask the invitational question: “What happens when modern Christians allow Celtic Crosses to symbolize the Compassing of the Divine Womb?” 

Continue reading “The Celtic Cross and the Compassing of the Divine Womb, Part 1 by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir”

If You Remove the Yoke: the Hidden Home in Life’s Pilgrimage by Tallessyn Zawn Grenfell-Lee

(Note: This post briefly references genocide and brothels.)

Every year we can, we go visit my amazing Korean parents in law, Halmeoni and Harabeoji (‘Grandmother’ and ‘Grandfather’). Now in their 80s, they consistently embody the kind of radical trust that I’m trying to build. Their lives tell like a movie script, one dramatic, heartbreaking story after another, interwoven with incredible courage, faithfulness, and generosity. Hunger and genocide, robbery and abandonment, occupation and persecution – and, unexpected, powerful sources of support and inspiration.

Against all odds, their journeys brought them together; then across the world to Germany, a haven to raise their children and minister to lonely Korean workers, far from kin and homeland. Then, uprooted again to chilly Alberta, to learn yet another language and culture, ecosystem and way.

Continue reading “If You Remove the Yoke: the Hidden Home in Life’s Pilgrimage by Tallessyn Zawn Grenfell-Lee”

Talking about Death with my Daughter & Remembering Carol Christ

Recently, facing the reality that I do not have definitive or perhaps, static “answers” for my little one when she asks me about death, I find comfort in Carol’s words—in the idea that I don’t have to “answer” my daughter with one, forever “truth.” Because I have to ability to give her “enough,” at least for now.

As I sit down to write, I am reminded of a post I wrote many years ago entitled “Where Do Cat’s Go,” about my mother’s cat, Mimi, who passed away at the age of twenty-four. At that time, I was struggling with what death meant outside of an Evangelical Christian ideology. I had rejected the doctrine of heaven (and hell) itself; but doubt lingered. Fear still held sway over my emotions. I wanted to “believe in,” something else. Whether to regain control or simply for comfort, I hoped for new belief.

Carol Christ, who has touched so many of us, who was my teacher and whom I miss, replied to that post (paraphrasing here), “Why does [Mimi] have to go anywhere? Isn’t it enough that she is a loved and remembered part of life?”

At the time it was not enough. But recently, facing the reality that I do not have definitive or perhaps, static “answers” for my little one when she asks me about death, I find comfort in Carol’s words—in the idea that I don’t have to “answer” my daughter with one, forever “truth.” Because I have to ability to give her “enough,” at least for now.

 As a feminist mom, I frequently think about what will give my daughter strength and a sense of her value outside of hetero-patriarchal standards. I am also an ex-vangelical agnostic married to an atheist. He and I want our daughter to have choice in her spirituality and freedom to explore her own directions. I think this is a good commitment, though it is frequently a little more difficult in practice. My partner wants to protect our daughter from all religion and Christianity in particular. I tend to take an educational approach, answering her questions about spiritual matters with, “well, people believe all sorts of things about that,” then listing several beliefs or mythologies that might give her some information on the matter.

Continue reading “Talking about Death with my Daughter & Remembering Carol Christ”

Looking for Home by Esther Nelson

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been looking for home—home being both a beautiful, comfortable, geographic space as well as a peaceful state of mind/being.  For most of my life, I’ve “made do,” settling for wherever or whatever appeared before me.  I thought that was “good” and selfless behavior—shrinking my desires and wants to a size that made other people happy.  For women in our patriarchal society, shrinkage is a highly-prized quality, useful not just as a survival skill, but as a way of being in the world that allows things to run smoothly for somebody other than yourself. 

Recently, I’ve been trying to find some kind of balance while slogging through several major changes in my life that include loss of family, friends, and job.  Part of that balancing act involves looking for an esthetically-pleasing shelter/home in a place surrounded with natural beauty.  In addition, I would like to live in community with people who are adventurous, open to new ideas, and kind.

Continue reading “Looking for Home by Esther Nelson”

All We Have is Our Heart by Esther Nelson

One of my former students recommended UNFOLLOW to me, a memoir written by Megan Phelps-Roper, granddaughter of Fred Phelps (1929 – 2014), the (in)famous pastor of Westboro Baptist Church, Topeka, Kansas.

Some people may not be aware that Fred Phelps began his career as a civil rights attorney—someone who, in the 1960s, took on racial discrimination cases no other lawyer would touch.  Today, he is best remembered as a preacher who vociferously opposed homosexuality, spreading his message “God Hates Fags” both in the pulpit and while picketing in public spaces.  He and his followers also picketed the funerals of fallen soldiers with signs that read “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.” Phelps believed soldiers’ deaths (as well as natural disasters) to be God’s punishment for the country’s “bankrupt values,” especially the “sin” of homosexuality.  Hence, God unleashes calamity and catastrophe on the United States, a nation in dire need of repentance.

Continue reading “All We Have is Our Heart by Esther Nelson”

A Problem of Design by Laura Casasbuenas

When I was invited to create this post, a number of topics came to mind. But I decided to start our conversation with my response to the question: why do I write?

I am a Colombian woman designer who promotes venture projects in a region in which it is difficult to grow a business. In my daily work life, I ask entrepreneurs why they do what they do; why do they take the risk of possible failure? Usually, once we know the why, finding the how is much easier.

Continue reading “A Problem of Design by Laura Casasbuenas”

Feminist Holy Week Vaginal Christology Devotional, Part 1 by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir


Thought for the day:

In Matthew 21, Jesus rides a mother donkey, her baby beside her, into Jerusalem in blatant condemnation and contrast to the militaristic entry of Roman military leaders and soldiers on war horses through a different gate. The point of Palm Sunday was activism: a political protest against war and the domination systems of oppression. The symbol Jesus chose for his protest was a mother and child. When the people shouted “Hosannah,” which means “save us,” they were asking to be liberated from the terrible economic and political oppression of imperial injustice. Jesus’ message of egalitarian Common Good and a kin-dom of JustPeace brought people hope and inspiration for a better future of mutual thriving and wellness.


Divine Source, You who Conceive and Birth and Nourish all Creation, open our hearts to the Way of Salvation that will bring liberation and mutual thriving to our Earth today. To honor Christ with Palm branches, may we protect Palm forest habitats for the orangutans who cry “Hosanna! Save us!” To honor the mother donkey and her baby, may we advocate for mothers everywhere, who are the most impoverished people in our society. May we always remember that You are Mother of All, ever ready to embrace us, cradle us, tend our wounds, nourish our spirits, and remind us that we, ourselves, are the Way of Salvation, growing over and over from your Dark Soil to your Light and back, nourished and nourishing, healed and healing, always giving away the Love we receive, and becoming our true, Divine selves through the power of healing Love.

Continue reading “Feminist Holy Week Vaginal Christology Devotional, Part 1 by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir”

Is Authoritarianism a Christian Value? by Esther Nelson

Many Americans described the recent (January 6, 2021) attack on the Capitol in Washington DC as shocking.  I believe the event reflected one of the many times we’ve reaped the fruit of what we’ve sown throughout the course of American history.  Thomas Edsall, in a New York Times article (1/28/21), wrote an excellent piece titled, “The Capitol Insurrection is as Christian Nationalist as it Gets.”  He quotes a variety of experts on religion and other disciplines while contextualizing the incident within a religious narrative—something that is sorely lacking from our news outlets.

I think many people think of religion as something inherently good or at least as a neutral phenomenon belonging for the most part to an unearthly, apolitical realm.  Charles Kimball writes in his book When Religion Becomes Evil: “History clearly shows that religion has often been linked directly to the worst examples of human behavior… more wars have been waged, more people killed…in the name of religion than by any other institutional force in human history.” Continue reading “Is Authoritarianism a Christian Value? by Esther Nelson”

Glimpsing La Vièio ié Danso – “The Untouchable Wild Goddess” – in Jóusè d’Arbaud’s Beast of Vacarés by Joyce Zonana

Nearly a century later, d’Arbaud’s words still have the power to startle and delight, vividly evoking Earth’s sacredness.


Early in Jóusè d’Arbaud’s 1926 Provençal novella, The Beast of Vacarés, the narrator, a 15th century gardian or bull herder, describes how in summer la Vièio ié danso—the Old Dancer— “can be glimpsed on the dazzling salt flats” that surround the Vacarés lagoon in the Camargue region of Southern France.

In a note, d’Arbaud explains that la Vièio is how locals refer to mirages in this liminal landscape where earth, sea, and sky merge. “Mirages are common in the Camargue,” he tells us:

They begin with a vibration in the air, a trembling that runs along the ground and seems to make the images dance; it spreads into the distance in great waves that reflect the dark thickets. How not to see in this mysterious Vièio, dancing in the desert sun, a folk memory of the untouchable wild goddess, ancient power, spirit of solitude, once considered divine, that remains the soul of this great wild land?

The untouchable wild goddess . . . once considered divine . . .”

Nearly a century later, d’Arbaud’s words still have the power to startle and move us, vividly evoking Earth’s sacredness. Here is a man, himself a bull herder in the region he so lovingly describes, who seems to have been a devotee of the Goddess, the “ancient power” he venerates and bring to life for his readers. Indeed, in an early poem, “Esperit de la Terro” — “Spirit of the Earth”— d’Arbaud explicitly dedicates himself to the old gods sleeping below the earth, vowing to “defend” and “aid” them. How extraordinary to discover this writer making such a commitment, well before the rise of our recent feminist spirituality and ecofeminist movements. D’Arbaud speaks directly to our current environmental, theological, social, and political concerns.

Continue reading “Glimpsing La Vièio ié Danso – “The Untouchable Wild Goddess” – in Jóusè d’Arbaud’s Beast of Vacarés by Joyce Zonana”

Poem: In These United States- The Court Supreme By Marie Cartier

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.

Continue reading “Poem: In These United States- The Court Supreme By Marie Cartier”

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