The Finish Line by John Erickson

I see it…do you?

It’s just within reach and I’m almost there…the proverbial finish line to my Ph.D.

That’s right folks, I’m graduating.

To say that this has been an easy journey, one that many of you have read about and witnessed, would be an understatement.  For many of us, that finish line is far away or getting there seems more like a hope and dream rather than a reality.  Whether or not it is because of economic hardships, life in general, or the regular types of “isms” that so many of us face while trying to better ourselves via academic enrichment, the struggle is real. Continue reading “The Finish Line by John Erickson”

Sawbonna: Godde and Another Route to Forgiveness by Margot Van Sluytman

From the day my Father, Theodore, was brutally and callously murdered in Toronto, on Easter Monday, March 27, 1978, I wanted to meet his killer. I wanted to know how it was possible to do such a horrific thing. I wanted to know how he felt about destroying the lives of so many; my family’s, and his own.

We did meet. The meeting occurred in July of 2007. Because of reading about an award I received for my Therapeutic Writing Workshops and the publication of my books about healing, voice, and agency, he emailed me. Our meeting, our reconciliation, even those many years after that dark, dark day, was a rich blessing in my life, and proved helpful for him too.

The word forgiveness, is one that can lead to great suffering for victims and offenders alike. Victims are told that if they do not forgive, they cannot heal. Offenders are told that if they are not forgiven, they cannot move on from the crime they have committed. Forgiveness is a loaded word, with as many understandings, expectations, and definitions as there are experiences of savage loss, savage grief, savage pain.

Continue reading “Sawbonna: Godde and Another Route to Forgiveness by Margot Van Sluytman”

Exercising Women’s Religious Voice and Authority – Why is this Still an Issue? by Elise M. Edwards

elise-edwardsOver the past few days, I’ve been spending time at a church in Alexandria, Virginia conducting oral history interviews.  I’m doing research for a project about the arts and the church that has me diving deep into the church’s congregants’ and leaders’ experiences. Yesterday’s conversations offered insight about many theological topics that interest me, but what was particularly encouraging was what I witnessed concerning women in ministry.  That’s not what I was looking for, but it is what I needed to see.

Before beginning these interviews, I had already been thinking about the ways women’s authority and voice are often challenged.  This past weekend, I attended a regional religion conference where I assumed a leadership position and my voice was sought out for advice and insight.  I had great conversations with other women in academia about wellness and success while I was there.  Attending the conference provoked fond memories of a similar conference many years ago, when I connected with many colleagues in this FAR community and we discussed the theme of “Women and Authority.” Those were positive experiences.  But I had an unpleasant encounter, too, when I was on the receiving end of a male colleague’s condescending remarks.  I was also made aware of a disturbing incident in which a woman of color was publicly disrespected while speaking at a university event and subsequently trolled.  Those experiences triggered anger and deep sadness. To be honest, I also felt a sense of resignation and defeat.  Patriarchy is just so persistent.

Continue reading “Exercising Women’s Religious Voice and Authority – Why is this Still an Issue? by Elise M. Edwards”

A Meditation on Revolution In the Vagina Monologues by Marie Cartier

Photos by Kimberly Esslinger

“It’s like feminist summer camp, except it’s in February,” said Shaina, the director, “I’m not sure how to re-enter the world.”

I agreed. How to re-enter the world where vaginas have little voice? Where asking a woman what her vagina would wear does not make sense. Or what would it say? It’s not just what would it say, it’s not having a voice at all.  My vagina.

I have performed in West Hollywood, California’s production of the Vagina Monologues (to benefit Planned Parenthood, check it out here and here) for the past three years. This year we raised over $5,000.

Continue reading “A Meditation on Revolution In the Vagina Monologues by Marie Cartier”

I Celebrate Love by Elise M. Edwards

Happy Valentine’s Day!  I know, I know… so many of us do not like this holiday.  It’s too commercialized, we say.  We don’t need card-makers or florists to tell us how or when to show affection.  Some of us don’t like Valentine’s Day because it reminds us of loves we have lost or never found.  I get it.  This day can seem shallow, overhyped, and falsely sentimental.  It can be lonely.  And yet, I won’t let today pass without celebrating and honoring love.  Love is too important to concede to commercial interests.

Love, in its many forms, keep us alive and able to endure. Love is powerful because it is expansive, growing in unexpected places and ways.  We tend to separate our celebrations of romantic love, friendship, familial love, self-love, and religious devotion.  We make distinctions between our valentines and “galentines.”  Rarely do we shout for joy in ecstatic worship while also celebrating the passionate longings of our innermost desires.  But occasionally, in my religious tradition, we let our disparate loves come together.  We unite them on holy feast days, enjoying the sensual pleasures of good food and company to mark spiritual occasions.  So that’s my inspiration.  Today, I’m celebrating love by reflecting on various forms of love merged together and sharing insight from poets and mystics about the power and beauty experienced in love.

Continue reading “I Celebrate Love by Elise M. Edwards”

Find Your Warrior Archetype, Sisters: We are in the Fight of our Lives by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir

I read a news story this week about dozens of children sex trafficked at an auto show in Detroit. I read about a young man getting no jail time for sexually assaulting a six year old girl… sex traffickers targeting and grooming girls through internet apps for children… white women still earn $0.80 for every dollar men earn, and women of color even less… the Supreme Court may kill Roe v. Wade this week… five women executed in a bank, and the media ignored it… many men used the government shutdown to coerce (rape) poor, desperate mothers into trading sex for money or food… yet another gunman shot his ex-girlfriend and four other people…

There’s plenty more bad news. We live in a collapsing, apocalyptic dystopian misogynistic nightmare. Misogynist violence floods to us in a toxic deluge from billboards, magazines, movies, TV shows, ads, games, and most interactions with family, friends, and our culture.

How do we survive in this holocaust? How do we keep sane? How do we protect that which we hold most dear?

Continue reading “Find Your Warrior Archetype, Sisters: We are in the Fight of our Lives by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir”

Holly Near’s Music and a Holistic Feminist Perspective of Peace by Elisabeth Schilling

It’s hard for me to be dignified and peaceful sometimes. To produce and sacrifice without rewards, making sure I’m not “sacrificing” in a way that quells my truth and power, making sure I look at dignity in a liberating way. Words continually need to be unpacked, and I do that. I know the work. According to the OED, it means “The quality of being worthy.” For me, ‘dignity’ is just being aware of your self-worth and celebrating that. It feels hopeful and romantic and raw. To sacrifice, to me, in the way I’m using it in this moment, is to be life-giving and co-creator; I think of it in the same way as what the earth does, so that it can continue. Like a leaf fallen to nourish its own soil.

The OED definition of ‘sacrifice’ I like is “The destruction or surrender of something valued or desired for the sake of something regarded as having a higher or more pressing claim.” We can decide what is more pressing. For me it is the ethic of generosity and production in a non-greedy way. I do not sacrifice in this more self-empowered, law-of-the-universe way I’ve recently come to understand much. But I would like to. Sometimes, though, I feel tired in my production, like I need more feedback, even if it is another woman willing to listen to me, which is why posting on FAR is so healing and life-giving because there is all of you.

I’m glad I have wisdom in my body. Even if “I” (my mind?) goes chaotic, feels overwhelmed and lost, my body has this natural intelligence to heal and regain balance if I can listen and get out of its way. That reminds me a lot of the earth—regions harmed by human mindlessness have been known to restore itself, even after radiation or toxic explosions, when humans leave for awhile. But if “I” equate myself with my mind, isn’t that also a part of the body? Wouldn’t the mind (the brain? the processes that help mental consciousness and thoughts arise?) then be wise, seeking balance? It just does not feel like it. So if anyone can weigh in on that. . . why so easy for my body-body but not my mind-body?

Continue reading “Holly Near’s Music and a Holistic Feminist Perspective of Peace by Elisabeth Schilling”

All Are Welcome – Including Tom by Esther Nelson

It’s between semesters so am back in Las Cruces, New Mexico, but just for two weeks.  Due to circumstances out of my control, I’m not able to spend my usual month—mid-December to mid-January—here in the high desert.   When I am here, though, I usually visit the Unitarian Universalist Church (UUC) of Las Cruces and so drove over there last Sunday to attend the 10:30 a.m. service.  Some of the faces were familiar. There were many folks I did not recognize. The place was packed—standing-room only.

One of the familiar faces belonged to Tom Packard, a retired pediatrician, from New Hampshire.  I remember Tom from a couple of years ago when he stood up during the “Joys and Sorrows” portion of the service to adamantly deny “charges of aggravated felonious sexual assault” that had been brought against him by several young girls.  During “Joys and Sorrows,” people are free to tell their own stories in a supportive environment. I remember last year as well when Tom reported to the congregation regarding his upcoming trial—all the while claiming his innocence. Continue reading “All Are Welcome – Including Tom by Esther Nelson”

A Review of Decembers Past before We Move into the New Year by Marie Cartier

Last month I looked back over six years of postings I have done for FAR. In November,  I noticed that I usually during that month tend to review the year and find something to be grateful for.

I decided this month to follow that up by looking back at the posts I have done for the past six years at this time of year, right before the wheel turns into the New Year. I have the privilege of writing for FAR usually right after Thanksgiving and right after Christmas and before New Year’s. I tend to think of this time as a time of looking forward, and Thanksgiving as a time of looking back.

Continue reading “A Review of Decembers Past before We Move into the New Year by Marie Cartier”

Christmastime for the Self by John Erickson

We’ve all been there.

Sitting around the tree watching the kids open presents.  Attempting to enjoy a holiday meal with extended and immediate family that you may or may not have traveled thousands of miles to see.  Trying with every fiber of your being to not talk about the elephant, or red hat, in the room.

We’ve all been there.
Sitting around the tree watching the kids open presents.  Attempting to enjoy a holiday meal with extended and immediate family that you may or may not have traveled thousands of miles to see.  Trying with every fiber of your being to not talk about the elephant, or red hat, in the room.

Alyssa Edwards

I get it.  It is hard to not go home for the holidays. It’s also hard to sit at home and watch every one of your friends post online about their dinners, get-togethers, and other joyous events while you sit at home.  I also understand that many of us, as a result of our sexual and/or gender identity, or maybe our political preference, don’t feel comfortable going home or, can’t go home.  This is not ok and that is why it is so important that we all have our chosen families to be with during these times of communal gathering or more importantly, ways to cope while we are at home in these uncomfortable situations to make sure we take care of ourselves and make it out the other end.
Because this blog comes out on Christmas Day, I wanted to give you a few tips that I do to self-care in these situations.  Remember, there is no right or wrong thing to do.  I encourage you all to make your own list.  The only thing that matters is you take care of yourself!
John’s Top 5 Tips for Dealing with “Those” People
  1. Your car is your friend – Seriously, I cannot count the # of times that I have found myself driving around for that extra 5 minutes to just collect my thoughts or calm myself down.  If you need to, jump out to your car and sit back and relax for a second or drive to a gas station (Kwik Trip in Wisconsin is my go-to) and pick up a soda to drink.
  2. Drink (if you can)  – look, I know not everyone drinks (or is from Wisconsin) but sometimes you just need to make yourself a cocktail (responsibly).  However, if you are going to drink, remember that old adage: loose lips sink ships.  If you get too loose, you may say something you regret (or didn’t plan on saying; I’ve been there).
  3. Bathroom Sanctuary – Sometimes you may not need to use the restroom but you need a place to go and just lock the door, check Facebook, call a friend, or simply breath.  The bathroom is the perfect place to do that.  Find it.  Use it (even if you don’t have to).
  4. Dinner Conversation – Before I go anywhere, I always brush up on a few facts.  How are the Packers doing? How about the Milwaukee Bucks?  Can you believe they STILL haven’t finished that construction?  No matter if you’re traveling somewhere near or far, if you think you need to make sure you can participate in dinner conversation without bringing up the two forbidden topics (Politics and Religion), then do so!
  5. Push Back – Ok, sometimes it is ok to engage.  I mean, how are we ever going to get out of this great divide if we don’t talk to each other.  Now, that doesn’t mean it will go over or there will be some type of magical aha moment but it is ok to say something, especially when your crazy Aunt/Uncle/Cousin/Second Cousin/Random Friend of Cousin who no one invited starts spouting off some nonsense (like Mexico 1nlYpaying for Trump’s wall because that just isn’t going to happen).  If you feel safe enough to push back and say something, especially when someone if being completely and totally rude and inappropriate, always make sure you have an exit strategy. That is either a friend you can call, a room you can go to, or a nap you suddenly want to take.  No matter what, if you do choose to engage always remember to a.) Speak calmly and slowly at all times (Republicans are triggered when you yell and provide them with too many facts too fast); b.)  Make direct eye contact; c.) Make sure you always have something to take a long sip from afterward to prove you made your point.
I have to admit, I am quite lucky.  I know I have written a lot on this site about what has happened to my family since the election of the Fascist-in-Chief.  Luckily for me, I surround myself during these times with people who openly love me, my views (for the most part), and allow me to be myself, or simply, we just don’t talk about “it” because they clearly know now that we were right about Trump and his cronies. I don’t have to use these tips because the people they apply to, don’t really come around our holiday gatherings.
However, if there is one thing that I learned, it is that this election has cost us each something.  Whether that was a friend, family member, or a part of yourself that you never think you’ll be able to get back, we need to respect these losses and the pain that comes with them.  I promise you that it will get better (heck, better starts on January 3, 2019).  We have a long way to go until 2020 (I mean, a LONG way to go) but I know we will all get there together, one way or another because there are better Christmas and holidays to come where we won’t have to use these tips and tricks to survive anymore.
So, from my family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!  I’m thankful for each and every one of you this holiday season (unless you voted for Trump).

John Erickson is a Ph.D. Candidate in American Religious History and holds two MA’s from Claremont Graduate University. John serves as a commissioner on the California Commission on the Status of Women. He is President of the Hollywood Chapter for the National Organization for Women, a boardmember for the City of West Hollywood’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board, a board member for the ACLU of Southern California, the Legislative Action Chair for Stonewall Democratic Club, and a board member for the National Organization for Women.

Emotional Policing from Within: Choosing Right Relationship Over Being Right on FAR by Elisabeth Schilling

I have something hard to say. It is about some of ourselves, some of the time.

Let me start by offering you my perspective on negativity on the internet: people are not always conscious or mindful. We let our bitter wounds affect our ability to listen to each other and respond in compassionate ways. Being compassionate does not mean we have to agree with each other. But it means that we shelf our ego and do not immediately jump to disregarding another’s experience or perspective; we can disagree without being harsh. We can be honest, while being kind.

There is some negativity in the comments from regular FAR readers and contributors that I want to speak to in hopes we can become a more supportive community and a better model of peaceful difference. Support simply means that we will create a more safe space for people to share their experiences, give their opinions, and be able to disagree. Diplomacy is the key. If diplomacy does not feel authentic to you. If it feels repressive and you equate it with being polite, then let’s look at the definition of the term:

Diplomacy: “The art of dealing with people in a sensitive and tactful way.” Continue reading “Emotional Policing from Within: Choosing Right Relationship Over Being Right on FAR by Elisabeth Schilling”

Celebrating the Winter Solstice by Barbara Ardinger

Even though Jesus was born during the reign of Augustus, first Roman emperor, the empire didn’t celebrate that birth until three centuries later when his birth date was moved to mid-winter to match the birth date of the sun god Mithra. The Romans already had a long tradition of celebrating the winter solstice. This celebration was called the Saturnalia. Here are three days in December, taken from my daybook, Pagan Every Day. (When I wrote this book in 2003, I wrote longer days. The publisher demanded that I reduce every day to 300 words. I edited them all down to 301 words.)

December 17: Saturnalia begins

Saturn, who was conflated with the Greek Titan, Cronus, was an ancient Latin agricultural god whose name may derive from satur, “stuffed,” or sator, “a sower”; in either case he stands for abundance. He was a working god who oversaw viniculture and farming, the king of Italy during the golden age. When Jupiter conquered him, he hid himself (latuit) in the region that came to be called Latium. The Romans said Saturn’s body lay beneath the Capitol in Rome. Because his reign brought prosperity to the city, the state treasury and the standards of the Roman legions were kept in his temple when the army was at home. Saturn’s statue was bound in woolen strips to keep him from leaving Rome.

Continue reading “Celebrating the Winter Solstice by Barbara Ardinger”

Navigating Social Space as Power-Struggle, Pt. 2 by Elisabeth Schilling

Disclaimer/Trigger Warning: This post contains details about unwanted sexual advances. Read Part I here.

After Sicily, I went to the English countryside for an intended two weeks in a work exchange. A retired, but part-time, lecturer of Greek and Latin in his 60s was moving house and needed help packing and cleaning and cooking. There would, in a day or two, also be a male student from Lithuania and a Brazilian couple joining the communal house, and I found the position through, a site one must pay for that I used three years ago with no problem.

On one hand, I have to use sites like this from time to time due to financial reasons. On the other hand, after traveling alone for awhile, I long for the communal exchange. I enjoy helping someone learn a language, cook for their family, organize their clutter because of the conversations along the way. They have a house and extra food. I have the time (my two classes I teach at university online do not take much) to help. If the people involved are mindful and truly grateful for community and shared work and resources, it can be a sacred return to a way of life where people can practice sharing, non-greed, and carrying each other’s burdens. We practice living with strangers, with all the challenges that presents, instead of isolating ourselves in presumed comfort. Continue reading “Navigating Social Space as Power-Struggle, Pt. 2 by Elisabeth Schilling”

And the Pies! Ongoing Grateful Thanks for Tradition by Marie Cartier

In November 2017 I wrote about pie baking. 

And in November 2015 I also wrote about pie baking.

Photo by Lisa Hartouni

In November 2016, I was destroyed by the “election” and wrote a post in November of that year “For Strong Women” just to help many of us keep going.

Continue reading “And the Pies! Ongoing Grateful Thanks for Tradition by Marie Cartier”

Compassion. Simply Be. by Karen Leslie Hernandez

Karen Leslie Hernandez and Arun Gandhi

From November 1-7, I attended the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto, Canada. With a myriad of religions and spiritual traditions represented, this was my third Parliament. Inspiring people from all over the planet gathered to teach, to listen, to learn, and to grow as human beings. From there, we take that wisdom and knowledge back to our communities and live by example – at least I try.

I was struck this Parliament by two things: That our planet is in peril. Literally. And, Compassion is something that needs to be taught? I am asking, not stating.

Continue reading “Compassion. Simply Be. by Karen Leslie Hernandez”

The Hate U Give by Esther Nelson

These days I live in a perpetual state of simmering outrage given the popular support of the “goings on” and happenings within our current administration.  The lies, the deceit, the xenophobia, the racism, the misogyny, the homophobia, the anti-intellectualism—things that have been around a good long time, but now seem to have settled in comfortably with those who have the power to keep it all in place.  I’m discouraged.

But then, there’s this:

The Hate U Give, a YA (Young Adult) novel authored by Angie Thomas, spent 50 weeks at the top of the New York Times bestseller list after its publication in February 2017. The book has received numerous awards and also has enjoyed an immense popularity.  It has also generated considerable controversy.

The following is the author’s profile from Amazon’s website:  “Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi as indicated by her accent. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine with a picture included. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Myers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books.”

Continue reading “The Hate U Give by Esther Nelson”

The Hershee Bar: Saving A Lesbian Sacred Place (While there is still one left) by Marie Cartier (Part II)

(l to r) Bartender Burt, Marie Cartier, and owner Annette Stone

Why is this bar still important? (Read Part I)

For the gender queer, marginalized community who are testing the waters of gender difference by frequenting this bar, many for the first time, for the pool leagues, and yes, the college folks, but also the working class people, and the tentative younger folks, this may be “the only place.” For the democracy of a gay bar creates a conversational cauldron for marginalized people to “hear themselves into speech” to quote the theological Nelle  Morton.

I am quoted in an article done by Virginia Pilot report Amy Poulter saying that “LGBTQ bars are also tasked with filling in the gaps as religious spaces, support groups and the go-to location to celebrate milestones and mourn losses. Bars like Hershee are often the only place LGBTQ people feel at ease and comfortable in their own skin.”

And I added, “And the council, they need to realize what they have before they destroy it.” Continue reading “The Hershee Bar: Saving A Lesbian Sacred Place (While there is still one left) by Marie Cartier (Part II)”

The Hershee Bar: Saving A Lesbian Sacred Place (while there is still one left) by Marie Cartier (Part I)

(l to r) Bartender Burt, Marie Cartier, and owner Annette Stone

I spent last weekend in Norfolk, Virginia.  I was brought there by the folks at Old Dominion University; my visit was brainstormed and facilitated by y Professor Cathleen Rhodes who teaches in the Women’s Studies Department and also manages a magnificent archive of historic LGBTQ+ spaces The Tidewater Queer History Project. This project has a walking tour of significant LGBTQ+ spaces in the area, an online archive, and graduate students intensely interested in archiving the remains of past and current LGBTQ+ sites for study, and community.

I was brought to the area because I wrote the book Baby, You Are My Religion:  Women, Gay Bas and Theology Before Stonewall. The thesis of my book is that gay bars before 1975 (pre-Stonewall) served as alternate church spaces and community centers for people exiled from all other spaces. There was literally no other public space for gay women to go in the 40s through the early 70s, as so attested to by 100+ informants that I interviewed for the book. Continue reading “The Hershee Bar: Saving A Lesbian Sacred Place (while there is still one left) by Marie Cartier (Part I)”

…and The Pub Church, Boston was Born by Xochitl Alvizo

Incarnation, Goddess spirituality, Xochitl Alvizo, god became fleshSee Part I of Pub Church series here

The question arising among a group of friends gathering for fish and chips on Fridays – why can’t church be more like this? – was the clarion call that sparked the birth of The Pub Church, Boston. This was the fumbling out of which pub church began: the reality that church had been the opposite of embodied Good News in many people’s lives, and the glimpse, the experience, that it could be otherwise.

Birth: Some of how pub church was formed was in direct response to people’s past negative experiences with church and Christianity, but much was also shaped by the “good news” people experienced at the weekly Friday gathering for fish and chips at the local pub. There, people experienced a weekly gathering in which all were invited to gather around the table, express themselves without fear of judgement, and, perhaps more importantly, experience the merry sharing of food and drink!

This, the sharing of food and drink, became the foundation for what pub church would become. Food made it possible to feel more at home, to create a relaxed environment, inspire conversation, and satisfy a need. Being at the pub with access to food and drink created an organic way to share and make new connections with one another. It facilitated the act of inviting and treating someone to a beer or to share fish and chips or a slice of pizza, often with a newly met friend. People got to know one another. Over a beer, new friends would end up sharing about the rough week they had, their past or current sorrows, or sharing a good laugh about something mundane and fun. Continue reading “…and The Pub Church, Boston was Born by Xochitl Alvizo”

Women v. Religion: The Case Against Faith and for Freedom BOOK REVIEW by Katie M. Deaver

In the book, Women v. Religion: The Case Against Faith and for Freedom, editor Karen L. Garst puts together the voices of women from a variety of backgrounds in an effort to present a case against faith.

While the introduction to the full volume suggests that women ought to turn away from all forms of religion the majority of the individual pieces that the book features focus on the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  The included pieces are written from a variety of disciplines and viewpoints, some feature historical facts and timelines, while others are the raw and difficult personal stories of women struggling to leave the religions they were raised within.

Most of the articles dig into many of the traditional critiques of religion.  For example that the Abrahamic faiths are inherently patriarchal, and cannot be redeemed for women.  Others take these traditional arguments against religion a step further and argue that in addition to religion being a tool for female subjugation, religion has in fact inhibited Western progression and is a key reason why the United States has not yet had a female president, and why women continue to have to fight for their bodily and human rights.

Continue reading “Women v. Religion: The Case Against Faith and for Freedom BOOK REVIEW by Katie M. Deaver”

“First Blood” Celebration by Esther Nelson

This semester I’m teaching a course titled “The Abrahamic Traditions: Women and Society.”  Because I believe story is one of the best ways to understand a point of view, I use a novel or memoir to accompany each tradition. The novel I use in the Judaism unit is Anita Diamant’s, The Red Tent.

The Red Tent focuses on Dinah, Leah and Jacob’s daughter.  Early in the novel, the narrator says, “My name [Dinah] means nothing to you.  My memory is dust….The chain connecting mother to daughter was broken and the word passed to the keeping of men who had no way of knowing.”

The biblical account (Genesis 34) tells us that Shechem, King Hamor’s son, “seized her [Dinah] and lay with her by force.”  It also says that Shechem’s “soul was drawn to Dinah” and “he loved the girl,” and insisted that his father arrange things so Dinah could be his wife.  Nowhere in the biblical account do we hear Dinah’s voice. She’s portrayed as a victim and used as a bartering tool by Jacob and his sons in their attempt to gain power in the region.  Jacob and his sons required that Hamor and all the men within his kingdom be circumcised as a condition for the marriage between Dinah and Shechem.  King Hamor agreed, but on the third day after the men were circumcised and in pain, Simeon and Levi, two of Jacob’s sons, entered the city “and killed all the males,” for “defiling” their sister.  “Should our sister be treated like a whore?” Dinah then disappears from the narrative.

Continue reading ““First Blood” Celebration by Esther Nelson”

The Cost by John Erickson

Brett Kavanaugh is a piece of shit.

Brett Kavanaugh is a piece of shit.


There, I said it. I know that we are supposed to “use our words” or “take the high road” but I no longer can. I am completely and totally done with the fact that it is Sunday night and I sit here wondering whether or not our Democracy will be around by the end of the week.

If you are like me, you have found yourself, more times than one I am guessing, watching the news, mouths agape, mind in disbelief, and your heart heavy with grief and sadness. While these great travesties occur, I find myself wondering what is the cost? How many children must be locked in cages? How many women must come forward with accusations of sexual assault and rape? How many more people must accuse the President of harassment and assault? How many more anonymous op-eds and faulty promises must be made before we finally all see that the real cost, is that these great travesties themselves (too many to recall here) are what it really takes to take down imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Continue reading “The Cost by John Erickson”

Kingdom of Women BOOK REVIEW by Katie M. Deaver

In her novel, Kingdom of Women, Rosalie Morales Kearns imagines a reality that is post-patriarchy, and post male violence while showing us what near-future women had to go through in order to get to that reality.  Morales Kearns weaves this story through the voices of multiple characters.  One of these characters is Averil Parnell, a female Catholic priest. Part I of the book opens with a woman visiting Averil to seek her counsel in regards to taking revenge on her male college professor who has been harassing her ever since she refused to sleep with him.

While Averil seems to be of little help with this particular conversation, we learn that Averil was one of the twenty three original female priests that were to be ordained by the Catholic Church. On the day of their joint ordination however, the Cathedral Massacre took place and twenty two of the female seminarians were killed in cold blood.  Averil then, is most definitely a woman who understands the yearning for revenge, the feeling of survivors guilt, and the expectation to be a wonderful priest for her dear friends who had that chance ripped away from them.

At the same time this conversation is taking place it has become clear that small groups of vigilante women are popping up around the world and punishing men for acts of violence against women.  The male dominated government of course sees all these punishing acts as coincidental, explaining them away in one way or another, or ignoring them completely, never imagining that it is in fact the beginning of women rising up to truly end male dominance and violence.

Continue reading “Kingdom of Women BOOK REVIEW by Katie M. Deaver”

On Vayelech, Its Context and Theodicy by Ivy Helman

29662350_10155723099993089_8391051315166448776_oThe Torah parshah for this week (to be read on 15 September) is Vayelech (Devarim/Deut. 31:1 – 30).  September 15th is also Shabbat Shuvah (return), the Shabbat that falls between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  It is the time of the year when we focus on repentance for all of the ways in which we have failed to live up to G-d’s standards.

Perhaps it is fitting then that this parshah is also preeminently about how our ancestors believed they continually failed to live up to G-d’s standards.  It concerns itself quite repetitively with three things: one, the passing of the leadership of the Israelite community to Joshua and G-d’s last requests of Moses, two, the rants of a jealous G-d who already knows of the Israelites betrayal and, three, an invitation for the entire community (Israelite and non-Israelite men and women and children) to hear the words of the Torah and Moses’ song (which follows in Duet. 32).  This is prefaced by the occasion of Moses’ birthday as well as the reminder that Moses can’t enter the Promised Land. Continue reading “On Vayelech, Its Context and Theodicy by Ivy Helman”

Open Letter to the Pope and all the King’s Men by Natalie Weaver

Dear Sirs,

It breaks me down.  My anger, my revulsion, my powerlessness.   I have been searching for the way since I was a child old enough to remember my mind.  For a time, I thought Jesus was a white guy knocking on my door after having seen a religious pamphlet placed under our windshield wiper.  I’m not sure he has blond hair anymore, but I still feel him knocking.  I have been in love with him for as long as I have been a self, so much so that I baptized myself as a little girl.

Somewhere along the way, I figured my little, lonely way wasn’t good enough, and I wanted a church home.  I finished a doctoral dissertation trying to find some place I could hang my hat.  I picked the Roman Catholic Church, despite what I knew of it and what I had to defend about its patriarchy and history to family and friends.  I loved the conversation, the so-called “Catholic Intellectual Tradition.”  I always felt myself to be a covert, a conversa, a definitive outsider, and someone not to be trusted entirely as a cradle Catholic might be trusted, yet I tried to be family. I’ve been bringing up my kids in the Church, volunteering, working in Catholic education, paying the boys’ tuition.  I do work-arounds, making excuses for the exclusion of women, defying the Church’s stance on sexuality with a critical repertoire of cross-disciplinary scholarship.  Lord, I even had to help my Seventh-Day Adventist mom with a hostile annulment process that was dropped on her unsuspecting by a horrendously insensitive marriage tribunal.  It wounded us all. Yet, here I have sat, until this.

Continue reading “Open Letter to the Pope and all the King’s Men by Natalie Weaver”

A Ritual to Bless Our Children by Barbara Ardinger

It was maybe twenty-five years ago that I first got addicted to the Sunday morning news/talk shows. I’d turn on the TV at 7 a.m., watch an hour of local news, then Stephanopoulos at 8 a.m., then MSNBC until noon or later. Not anymore. This morning, I turned the TV off at 10:00 and immediately got into the shower to wash off what I’d been hearing. I’m worn out by the news!

Now don’t get me wrong. I am totally against any “normalizing” of the Troll-in-Chief. In fact, I’m convinced we ought to pack him into capsule with about a hundred cheeseburgers and without his phone and fire him off to one of the outer planets. Maybe Saturn, which astrologically forces us to face ourselves and to get to work and learn our life lessons.

Continue reading “A Ritual to Bless Our Children by Barbara Ardinger”

Vengeance Is Mine, Saith the Holy: Fear, Faith, and Divine Wisdom by Tallessyn Zawn Grenfell-Lee

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

That seems to be the refrain these days, particularly in politics. The more you terrify people, the more likely they are to vote, protest, and otherwise engage in political activism.

Well, maybe not. Apparently, hammering people with more and more reasons to live in terror actually tends to demoralize and paralyze us.[1] A little bit of fear goes a very long way. A certain amount does indeed motivate people – like a deadline, for example; that nervous energy can make us highly productive, efficient, and focused. Moreover, Gavin de Becker, author of The Gift of Fear, argues that we need to listen carefully to our bodies’ fear response, because our society has trained people – particularly women – to suppress gut instincts that otherwise would have saved them from violent situations.

Interestingly, when we understand not only how to recognize warning signs but also how to trust our intuition to identify potential danger, we feel empowered and live with less anxiety and fear the rest of the time. Validating the ‘gift of fear’ makes us less fearful. Nonetheless, there must be something lucrative to the politics of fear, because studies have shown fear is at an all time high in America, particularly the use of fearmongering as a political strategy. It turns out, fear sells, big time, and it is a pretty great way to further ideas of us vs. them and to undermine a sense of community, of the “neighborhood.”

Continue reading “Vengeance Is Mine, Saith the Holy: Fear, Faith, and Divine Wisdom by Tallessyn Zawn Grenfell-Lee”

Some Thoughts from Experience by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente


I am a woman, a feminist, a Muslim. These three things are me, they are things that I have become, in that order. One is born with feminine sex, but it is only a biological determinism. I was born female and I have chosen to continue living as a woman. I decided to be and live as a feminist. I felt called to be a Muslim and I chose to listen to that call.

I love to be a woman, even in a world that hates me. The woman that I am, with my way of thinking, acting and feeling, my way of seeing the world and myself, is not a product of my sex, but of the story that I have gone through since I left my mother’s womb. The same goes for all women. Even beings born in the same country, city, year, even those who are sisters of blood, do not have the exact same story.

Continue reading “Some Thoughts from Experience by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Knowing my Voice through Writing by Elise M. Edwards

elise-edwardsOver the summer, I’ve been writing more than I do during the traditional academic year when other tasks consume the bulk of my workday.  I have spent more time experiencing the joy of creative discovery and production, but I’ve also had more time confronting the difficulties of creative work as I’ve wrestled with some of its unique challenges.  One of those challenges has been to refine my academic writing voice. I’ve approaches the challenge of developing my voice as both a spiritual and feminist practice and this has helped me find confidence in my work.

Continue reading “Knowing my Voice through Writing by Elise M. Edwards”

The Pub Church, Boston by Xochitl Alvizo

At times I am invited to speak about The Pub Church. When I lived in Boston, I was part of a church that met in a pub. A church in a pub is not a typical form of church, obviously; so, people curious about or interested in forming an alternative form of church invite me to speak about it. The invitation is usually for me to share how I started The Pub Church – and that is how people first think of it, that it was started by one person, which was definitely not the case. So, in those moments, I stumble as I try to disabuse people of that idea and try to find the best way to enter the topic of how a new church starts, a topic about which I have strong opinions (more on that later). The Pub Church, Boston grew unexpectedly out of its context. It began with three friends venturing to the local pub to eat fish and chips on Fridays and ended in an experience of community that caused someone to reflect, “why can’t church be more like this?” Continue reading “The Pub Church, Boston by Xochitl Alvizo”

%d bloggers like this: