¡La Vida es la Lucha! – Women in the Colombian Protests by Laura Montoya

*Trigger Warning – Reference and description of distressing violence against women at the hands of police*

Alison Melendez was 17 when she was sexually abused last week by a group of Colombian policemen. She was captured for allegedly being part of the protest groups in Popayán, a city in the south of my country Colombia, South America. The next day Alison was found dead. The official version states that she committed suicide. In the social networks, there is a video of four policemen carrying Alison to the detention center, each holding one of her extremities. One can hear Alison screaming, “Four were necessary to carry me? Four against one woman? Cowards!” The next day – before she was found dead – she posted on Instagram that she was not part of the protests that night. She was walking to a friend’s house when the police showed up. She started recording their actions, they saw her and went mad, so they captured her. When she resisted, four of them took her to the police station. In the post, Alison mentions how they groped her to the soul.” In the video, one can see how her pants came off while they were carrying her, and the policemen did not care. They just kept walking. The last time we see Alison in the video is inside the station. Then cameras were turned off.

*End Trigger Warning*

Alison is one of the 18 cases of sexual violence reported during the protests that started last April 28 in different cities of Colombia. In addition, there are 87 reports of violence and abusive behavior against women protesting. Alison’s case has been more visible, but it is easy to find several videos of police officers beating, harassing, and capturing women in the protests on social media. We have been witnessing this terrible violence full of indignation and impotence, despite protesting is our legitimate right as citizens. 

Continue reading “¡La Vida es la Lucha! – Women in the Colombian Protests by Laura Montoya”

Feminist Parenting About Sexuality Part 2 – pornography by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir

As I said in Part 1 – this topic will be difficult to discuss. As I said, I promise I AM NOT SAYING ALL MEN ARE BAD. Please re-read Part 1 if this post causes you to feel defensive or protective toward males.

Unfortunately, we live in a deeply, horrifically misogynist culture. Our culture is so dystopian that it has normalized a mass butchery of violence against females. I can say these words, and most people either nod or look skeptical, but they don’t actually understand what I am talking about. People do not understand because they have so normalized horrific misogynist violence – they have been so brainwashed – that they cannot recognize brutal attacks against women, even when those attacks are right before their eyes… or happen to their own bodies.

Continue reading “Feminist Parenting About Sexuality Part 2 – pornography by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir”

Bamidbar: Our Role in the In-Dwelling by Ivy Helman.

This week’s Torah portion is Bamidbar (Numbers 1:1-4:20).  Mostly, it concerns itself with: a census; the organization of the Isrealites in camp as well as while traveling; who is responsible for which parts of the Tabernacle; and the redemption of the firstborn males.  The parshah contains only two allusions to the existence of women. As Jewish feminists, what are we to make of it?

Before we get to answering that, let us look at where women are in the parshah.  The first indirect reference to women (and children) is hidden within the census.  In 2:34, the text describes how the camp should be organized according to the tribes of male descendants.  The verse also explains, that even though the camp is organized around men, their families should live with them.  The other indication of the very existence of women can be found in verse 3:12.  Here, the firstborns are described as the ones “who open the womb.”  It is disheartening that, here, women appear only as a body part.  Likewise, there is no acknowledgement that firstborns may be female.

Continue reading “Bamidbar: Our Role in the In-Dwelling by Ivy Helman.”

Crow and the Pornographic Gaze by Sara Wright

Once she believed that
it was her fault
they came on to her,
that she owed them
They owned her?
Secretly the
girl was pleased
because any kind of attention
was better than none,
or being so “different” –
stitched into an Indian skin.

She was a pretty shell,
an abandoned spiral
worn down by waves –
assaulted from within
by the pornographic gaze.
How she hated being young.

Continue reading “Crow and the Pornographic Gaze by Sara Wright”

Ancient Mother by Sara Wright


On the path
through the pines
I see clumps of
moss scattered,
an old tree trunk
is raked as if
with claws;
clumps of downed bark
food for the earth.
My heart soars.
Wild hope pours
through me like honey.

Continue reading “Ancient Mother by Sara Wright”

From Military Wife to Peacebuilder – Learning from the Greenham Common Peace Women by Karen Leslie Hernandez

There’s a pinnacle moment, I believe, when everyone’s path is laid before them. The funny thing about that, is that we usually don’t see that moment, until many years later. It is then, at that sudden moment of clarity, in that epiphany, that it all comes together.

My former husband was in the United States Air Force and from 1990-1992, we were stationed at RAF Greenham Common, in the United Kingdom. When we first received our orders, not even ten minutes after, other service members started to inform us: “You’re going to where all those crazy ass bitches are.” “You’re gonna have to deal with those dike peaceniks.” “Wait until you get a load of those nasty, dirty women. They live at the base, camp out there, never shower, stop the convoys – they’re disgusting pigs.” Continue reading “From Military Wife to Peacebuilder – Learning from the Greenham Common Peace Women by Karen Leslie Hernandez”

Patriarchy as a System of Male Dominance Created at the Intersection of the Control of Women, Private Property, and War by Carol P. Christ


Recently feminist scholar Vicki Noble said this is the best definition of patriarchy she has read–but she hadn’t known of it earlier! I am am republishing it now in hopes that all of you will share it on your social media so that it becomes more widely known. Thanks!

Patriarchy is often defined as a system of male dominance. This definition does not illuminate, but rather obscures, the complex set of factors that function together in the patriarchal system.  We need more complex definition if we are to understand and challenge the the patriarchal system in all of its aspects.

Patriarchy is a system of male dominance, rooted in the ethos of war which legitimates violence, sanctified by religious symbols, in which men dominate women through the control of female sexuality, with the intent of passing property to male heirs, and in which men who are heroes of war are told to kill men, and are permitted to rape women, to seize land and treasures, to exploit resources, and to own or otherwise dominate conquered people.* Continue reading “Patriarchy as a System of Male Dominance Created at the Intersection of the Control of Women, Private Property, and War by Carol P. Christ”

What We Lost When We Became Monotheists by Ivy Helman

imageThe Tanakh, Jewish scriptures, predominately call the deity king and lord and use the masculine pronoun.  These images evoke a certain level of power. Just how powerful the deity is in then multiplied when “he” is addressed as  “G-d of Gods,” “Lord of Lords,” judge, almighty, all-powerful, and warrior-like with vengeance, fury and flaring nostrils. Events like war, army invasion, disease, drought,  and famine are often described as divine punishments for wrongs done throughout the Tanakh.

All of these images bring forth a certain mindset regarding who the divine is and what “he” does.  Indeed, such images may well have been crucial in those ancient days when famine, drought, war, and disease  were ever present and, day-to-day survival was often extremely difficult. People sought understanding as to why they were suffering, and the workings of divine beings offered such explanations.   Continue reading “What We Lost When We Became Monotheists by Ivy Helman”

I Hope “This Changes Everything” by Elise M. Edwards

elise-edwardsLast week, I attended a film festival in Waco, Texas that showed the 2019 documentary This Changes Everything. Spending Friday evening at a film festival seemed like an enjoyable and appropriate way to kick off a weekend that would culminate with the Academy Awards (the Oscars).  I had no idea that this film would inform the way I viewed the movie industry and its most celebrated awards show.  It did change everything for me.

This Changes Everything is about the representation of women in film, particularly their underrepresentation and misrepresentation on screen and in the film- and television-making process.  It is not the first time this theme has been explored in a documentary. What struck me at this viewing, though, was the way the film portrayed patterns that resonated with my experiences in academia and in religious communities.  There are parallels between the way sexism manifests in entertainment and  I, along with other members in the (predominantly female) audience, couldn’t help but see parallels in Hollywood’s patterns of exclusion and the discriminatory conditions we confront in numerous other industries and professions.  What were these patterns?

Continue reading “I Hope “This Changes Everything” by Elise M. Edwards”

When Every Day Will Be Tu B’Shevat by Ivy Helman.

ivy tree huggingTomorrow is Tu B’Shevat, the New Year of the Trees, or their birthday.  It is the day of the year when all trees, regardless of when they have been planted, turn another year older.  The rabbis standardized this day in an effort to minimize complexities, since in the land of Israel, fruit can only be eaten from trees that are four or older (Leviticus 23-25).  Tu B’Shevat, then, on a practical level, marks how old fruit bearing trees are.   

The holiday has evolved since then.  In the 16th century, Kabbalistic mystics developed a seder to celebrate the holiday, which involved eating certain fruits, drinking both red and white wine, saying blessings, and reading certain mystical texts.  Each type of fruit one eats has a specific mystical meaning whether the fruit is completely edible (i.e. apple), has an inedible pit (i.e. olive), has an inedible shell (i.e. pistachio) or has a covering one generally wouldn’t eat, but could (i.e. orange). To this day, many congregations observe the holiday by hosting their own Tu B’Shevat seders often ripe with such kabbalistic overtones.  Continue reading “When Every Day Will Be Tu B’Shevat by Ivy Helman.”

The Matricide Basic to Patriarchy’s Birth by Carol P. Christ

About 20 years ago I witnessed a performance of the 3 plays of the Oresteia (the Orestes plays) by Aeschylus. I was stunned. Watching them in sequence, I understood that the plays were one of patriarchy’s “just so stories” and that their continuing performance was part and parcel of patriarchy’s perpetuation and legitimation.

According to the myths, Helen, the wife of King Menelaus of Sparta, ran off to Troy with its prince, Paris. In revenge for his lost honor, Menelaus called the Greeks to attack Troy and bring her back. Agamemnon, brother of Menelaus and king of Mycenae, assembled his ships, but the wind refused to fill their sails. He was told that his army would be allowed to depart only if he killed his daughter Iphigenia. He lured his daughter and her mother Clytemnestra to the place where his ships were waiting with the promise of marriage to Achilles. When they arrived, he killed his daughter and the ships sailed.

The myths do not tell us that in matrilineal and egalitarian matriarchal cultures the mother-daughter bond is the sacred because it represents the continuation of life. Continue reading “The Matricide Basic to Patriarchy’s Birth by Carol P. Christ”

Vayera and Women’s Agency by Ivy Helman

imageThis week’s Torah parshah is Vayera (Genesis 18:1– 22:24).  The parshah contains the the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the questionable hospitality of Lot, the incestual sexual relationships between a drunken Lot and his daughters, the revelation of Sarah’s pregnancy, the birth of Issac, the expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael from Abraham’s family, and the legendary story of the binding of Isaac.  Needless to say, there is much that can be said, but today I want to focus on the women from Lot’s and Abraham’s families.

Women figure prominently in Lot’s family.  In the parshah, we first meet Lot as host. Two male visitors (angels) come to stay at Lot’s house.  When some of the male inhabitants of Sodom learn of this, they come to Lot’s door wanting to harass and sexually assault the guests.  To protect his guests, Lot offers his unmarried daughters to the men instead. Later in the text, we learn that Lot can safely leave Sodom because he is righteous (although what may have spared his life more is the fact that Abraham is his uncle). Continue reading “Vayera and Women’s Agency by Ivy Helman”

Untapped Communal Potential and Yom Kippur by Ivy Helman

imageYom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, was the 9th of October 2019.  On this day, Jews typically attend shul, offer various prayers, and participate in some form of fasting.  The day is meant to be a reflection on the ways in which we, as individuals and as a community, have not been our best selves.  In this reflection, we speak aloud our objectionable behavior and ask for the Divine’s forgiveness.

In some Jewish communities, the ashamnu prayer, which we use to acknowledge our harmful and destructive behavior, has been the same for centuries.  Its particular form and composition is a stylized, alphabetized list of misdeeds. For example, one can find on the list stealing, lying, being rude, disobeying the Torah, participating in abominations, turning away from G-d and so on.  

That being said, many communities have rewritten the prayer to speak to modern-day failings.  For example, one can find concern for racism and anti-Semitism.  Another ashamnu highlights the need to end war.  I even found an ashmanu that was considerably more personal in its reflection.  It problematized self-doubt and supported self-care. Continue reading “Untapped Communal Potential and Yom Kippur by Ivy Helman”

On Va’etchanan: Do Not Murder, Rather Love by Ivy Helman

29662350_10155723099993089_8391051315166448776_oVa’etchanan (Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11) gives us pause for thought in its contradictions.  First, the parshah (Torah portion) contains the aseret hadibrot (Ten Commandments), among which is:  you shouldn’t murder (5:17). Then, pasukim (verses) 6:4-5 contain the shema (Hear O Israel! The L-rd is Our G-d.  The L-rd is One!) followed by the admonishment to: “love the L-rd, your G-d, with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your might,” (Deut. 6:4-5).  Finally, pasuk 7:2 instructs the Isrealites, upon entry into the Promised Land, to kill and “utterly destroy” the various groups of people living there.   

In other words, one is supposed to not murder.  One is reminded to love G-d.  And, then, G-d commands the Israelites to commit mass murder. I can’t help but think about the mass murders in the United States. Continue reading “On Va’etchanan: Do Not Murder, Rather Love by Ivy Helman”

How Can Change Happen If We Can’t Imagine It First? by Darla Graves Palmer

More than one hundred years ago, a small group of women joined together and decided to create their own village, one rooted in relationship and guided by spirit. They weren’t the first such women-led town in the country – there was a web of sister villages throughout America, some formed as early as the seventeenth century – but Chantilly Lace was unique. Rising out of the dust of an abandoned Gold Rush era in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, a time when many women were abandoned by men seeking further adventures or widowed when husbands lost their lives in the mines, this mostly female community determined its own fate. Now the modern women (and a minority of men) faced new challenges in the twenty-first century: how would they adapt and thrive?

If this had been true, how might things be different now for all of us?

The above sets the stage for a fictional series of books I’ve been writing (the first book is complete). The locale was always going to be a small town in the Rockies (because I’ve lived there), but the broader ideas about the town’s development have been evolving steadily, especially since the last presidential election. I keep asking myself how a culture based upon principles of peace and values of belonging, established firmly upon a spiritual core, might function in our capitalist patriarchy.

How can change happen in real life if we can’t imagine it in fiction? I’m challenging myself to make it happen.

Continue reading “How Can Change Happen If We Can’t Imagine It First? by Darla Graves Palmer”

Patriarchy is a pedophile – Why else does “feminine” always mean “sexualized little girl”? **TW rape** by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir

I used to love to wear makeup. My mother (Goddess rest her wonderful soul) wore a ton of makeup; she was known as a beauty – compared by friends and acquaintances to Elizabeth Taylor her entire life. So when I neared puberty, I happily reached for the mascara, eyeshadow, and lipstick, assuming this was just a natural and fun part of growing up. It being the 80’s, eye shadow was plentiful… much of it blue.

I got better at making my painted face look more “natural” throughout the 90’s, but I still wore makeup almost every day, as a routine part of getting dressed. It seemed fun, but harmless. Then I dated an abusive man for four years in college, and he encouraged (pressured, shamed) me to wear yet more makeup, in much more dramatic (sleazy) styles. To please (appease, placate) him, I was soon sporting shiny red lipstick, long red-polished fingernails, high spiky heels, bleached hair, and tiny dresses from the Frederik’s of Hollywood catalog. And lots, and lots of makeup. I perfected the posture of chin down, eyes looking up through my lashes, dainty steps and swaying hips, voice soft and high pitched. I knew at the time that he demanded I look and act that way for two reasons: Continue reading “Patriarchy is a pedophile – Why else does “feminine” always mean “sexualized little girl”? **TW rape** by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir”

Ruminations on Emor by Ivy Helman

29662350_10155723099993089_8391051315166448776_oThis week’s Torah portion is Emor, or Leviticus 21:1 – 24:23.  It details purity and the priesthood including whose funeral a priest can attend, who can marry a priest, bodily blemishes and temple services, and under what circumstances daughters of priests can still eat temple food.  Emor also discusses the treatment of animals. A baby animal must be 7 days old before it can be sacrificed and cannot be killed the same day as its mother. In addition, the parshah describes the holiday calendar, including the counting of the Omer, how to harvest fields, and what type of oil should be used in the Temple’s Menorah.  Finally, it outlines punishments for various crimes including blasphemy and murder.

To say that there is a lot there would be an understatement.  In fact, a good question about this parshah is where does one begin?  An obvious place would be the mention of the named woman, Shelomit bat Dibri of the tribe of Dan, almost at the end of the parshah.  First, it is remarkable that a woman has been named and more so that her name has been remembered as significant. It begs the question of who was she?  Why remember her name? Why mention her at all? The discussion about her son’s crimes could easily not have needed any mention of her name! So why is it there? Continue reading “Ruminations on Emor by Ivy Helman”

Vaginas Matter by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir

I’ll never forget the first time I heard Eve Ensler say those famed opening words, “I’m worried about vaginas.” As she went on to speak about the way our culture talks about and treats vaginas with terrible violence and shame, that phrase vibrated through me like the chime of a deep, deep bell… she said it. She really said it. She said it ALL.

I was working hard in intensive trauma therapy at the time, working on all the trauma stored in my body from the times various men had molested, raped, and abused me, and let me tell you – it was only through years of mind-body therapy focused on the trauma stored in my vagina that I was eventually, finally able to have a happy and fulfilling sexual life. Years of EMDR therapy, countless occasions in which I missed work, huddled under my bedcovers trembling and weeping due to the depth of agony uncovered by the therapy, screaming so hard I vomited, repeating to myself every single night for hours, “I, Trelawney, am safe. I Trelawney can relax and go to sleep. You, Trelawney, are safe. You, Trelawney, can relax and go to sleep. She, Trelawney, is safe. She, Trelawney, can relax and go to sleep.”

All because I was born… with a vagina. Continue reading “Vaginas Matter by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir”

Storytelling as a Spiritual Practice by Nurete Brenner

“The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” Audre Lorde

Question: What tools do we have that are powerful enough to dismantle the Master’s house?

Answer: Storytelling.

Storytelling does not belong to the “master.” Storytelling is subversive because it belongs to the collective and not to the individual; it gives agency to the powerless; it is not dependent on time or money, and it makes visible those who are overlooked and ignored in our globalized industrialized system. Continue reading “Storytelling as a Spiritual Practice by Nurete Brenner”

Superstorm (a poem of feminist rage) by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir

Sometimes it whirls together, a superstorm of pain and despair,
and the shittiness of it all is just too damned much to bear

girls and women beaten, raped, abused, and all you nice guys don’t care
and my little daughter starts saying how she doesn’t want underarm hair

it’s weird, she said, and I know none of the tv women have any
because one goddamn sign of humanity in females is too many

and the amount of makeup my other little girl is wearing is uncanny
almost every villain in Disney is basically a strong granny Continue reading “Superstorm (a poem of feminist rage) by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir”

The Modern Problematic Nature of the Sabarimala Temple, Part 2 by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

AnjeanetteThe Sabarimala Temple has received an influx of global attention since last October. In my last FAR post, I researched the origin story of the Sabarimala Temple and its dedicated deity, Ayyappan. Ayyappan’s unusual parentage and chosen attributes and patronage made him adverse to all forms of sexual activity and more importantly, not very keen in having female devotees.

Ayyappan, also known as Dharmasastha, is devoted to protecting the dharma, living a yogic life, and more importantly, a celibate life. Ayyappan demands that all his followers when undertaking his pilgrimage, take a vow of celibacy for the duration. No form of sexual impurity must enter Ayyappan’s Sabarimala temple. This is where the problematic elements really start to come to head. Due to the restriction of sexual impurities, females from the age of 10-50 are denied access, as their very biological state of being female, makes them sexually impure. Their ability to menstruate makes them vessels of this apparent sexual impurity that the god Ayyappan does not want. Continue reading “The Modern Problematic Nature of the Sabarimala Temple, Part 2 by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

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”

Gendered Only In Expression by Chris Ash

“I want you to see this new piece I wrote for our newsletter,” said Sister Ann.

We were safe inside the dining room of the Episcopal convent where she lived and I was an extended guest, and yet she spoke in hushed tones that suggested she realized the controversial nature of what she was about to say.

“This whole piece – it’s about the idea that being ‘born again’ clearly indicates the concept of God as mother.” She laid out her argument about wombs and motherhood and the feminine divine. It was a fairly essentialist argument (being the mid-nineties), but it was the first time I’d heard any modern Christian reference God as anything other than father, son, male. Before finding the Episcopal cathedral where I regularly attended services, I’d had two general experiences of the divine: the evangelical, conservative, patriarchal God of my father’s church, and the gender-creative spirit found in practices that were fairly alternative for my small, South Carolina town. Continue reading “Gendered Only In Expression by Chris Ash”

Re-reading Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN by Joyce Zonana

And so is born the “monster” most people associate with the name Frankenstein–a lone and lonely terrorist who lashes out against a world that has no place for him. One by one, he strangles all the people his “maker” holds dear: his brother William, his best friend Clerval, and his cousin/bride Elizabeth. Yet the novel invites us to have compassion for the creature, even while it condemns the society that makes him as he is. Victor, raised by a devoted mother and tenderly loved by a doting cousin, should have known better. As should we.

jz-headshotA few weeks ago, a former colleague invited me to visit one of his classes, to discuss Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus and the essay I’d published about it almost thirty years ago, “‘They Will Prove the Truth of My Tale: Safie’s Letters as the Feminist Core of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.”  To prepare for that visit, I’ve spent the past few days re-reading the book, and I’m overwhelmed anew by the beauty of Shelley’s language, the brilliance of her plot, and the profoundness of her themes. The book moves me even more today than when I first read it.

Continue reading “Re-reading Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN by Joyce Zonana”

Part One: The God Ayyappan and The Sabarimala Temple by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

AnjeanetteThe Sabarimala Temple in Kerala, India has been recently thrown into the news. It has made world news due to the two centuries long tradition of denying females from the age of 10-50 entrance into the Temple. As of September 2018, the Indian Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing women entrance into the Temple. Needless to say, this ruling was met by both large numbers of supporters and protestors.  But what makes the Sabarimala Temple so controversial?

Continue reading “Part One: The God Ayyappan and The Sabarimala Temple by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

I’m [Not] Batman by Sara Frykenberg

A little tongue-in-cheek, somewhat punchy, somewhat angry reflection for your consideration. Thank you for reading.

Ever have trouble speaking your mind? I do. I do, particularly in situations where I was taught (in all sorts of ways, violent and nonviolent alike, religious, patriarchal) to be “a good girl.” The “good girl” training I received is so deeply ingrained in me that I often don’t realize when I’m doing it. I catch myself being agreeable with people when I want to be arguing. I use extra exclamation points in communications with my online classes to appear more likable, friendly or non-threatening. I also have a peculiar habit of, unconsciously, changing my clothes repeatedly until I ‘match’ someone around me, usually in color. I honestly don’t mean to do this, and only became aware of the habit in the last decade because my husband started pointing it out to me ALL THE TIME.

But I’m working on it. “Be authentic, Sara.” “Be yourself.” That’s got to be different than being good, right? I probe my habits and relationships for the tell-tale signs of this “good girl.” Continue reading “I’m [Not] Batman by Sara Frykenberg”

On Tetzaveh by Ivy Helman

29662350_10155723099993089_8391051315166448776_oThe Torah parshah for this week is Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20 – 30:10).  Mostly it describes the priesthood, both of Aaron and his sons. It details how they should be consecrated, what they should wear, the difference between the garb of the high priest and the others, institutes the daily burnt offerings of rams, and provides instructions for the construction of an altar for locally-sourced incense.  

The parshah works to establish differences between members of the Israelite community through consecration as well as in function and in dress by decreeing the institutionalized of the priesthood.  Priests undergo an elaborate consecration ceremony which includes the sacrifice of animals, the smearing of their blood, the waving of various animals parts into the air and the burning/cooking of the sacrificed animals’ flesh.  In addition to the blood smearing and animal sacrifices, the priests are also anointed with oil and offer oil and grain offerings to the divine. In terms of function, priests should offer daily sacrifices to the divine in the form of two rams (one in the morning and one in the evening).  Also, all priests have four items of similar clothing: tunic, girdle, turban and short pants. However, the high priest has four special items only he wears, like the breastplate and a golden forehead piece. His clothes are laden with gold, precious stones, and royal dyes.   Continue reading “On Tetzaveh by Ivy Helman”

Beshalach and Liberating Models of G-d by Ivy Helman

29662350_10155723099993089_8391051315166448776_oThe parshah for next week is Beshalach (Exodus 13:17 – 17:16).  There are a lot of very important events happening in just four chapters.  In fact, one could write a blog on any one of the following topics: the Israelite escape from Egypt; the parting of the Red Sea (literally the sea of Reeds); the Israelites being pursued by the Pharaoh and his army; the death of Pharaoh and his army in the sea; the incessant complaints of the Israelites in the desert; and the first descriptions of Shabbat observance.

Yet, this post will not focus on any of those topics.  Rather, I want to examine chapter 15, the Song of the Sea.  It is one of the oldest sections of the Torah and contains some of the most iconic images of the divine.

Yet, the Song of the Sea is a patriarchal text if ever there was one.  G-d is a strong and vengeful (ver. 2) warrior (ver. 3), who has fury or is wrathful (ver. 7), and wields a mighty arm that kills enemies (ver. 6 &12).  This in-your-face power of the deity inspires fear in those who threaten the deity’s chosen people (ver. 14-15), and the Israelites are grateful for it (ver. 11).  Because of the power of this deity, one can rest assured that this warrior deity will rule (be the King) forever (ver. 18). Continue reading “Beshalach and Liberating Models of G-d by Ivy Helman”

Men Just “Know Things” by Esther Nelson

One of my Facebook friends, a young woman academic, recently posed a question, inviting discussion. (I’ve abbreviated her post for the sake of space.)

“What is it about white male liberals that just MUST have me buy [into] their ideas when they diverge from mine? I am struck that over the years, I have had a handful of white male liberals make it a mission to convince me that I am WRONG about Hillary. When I say, listen, the case is closed, she cheer led the Iraq war, I am done, [t]hey just cannot handle it.” Continue reading “Men Just “Know Things” by Esther Nelson”

Mary Daly and Simone de Beauvoir: Sister Diagnosticians by Xochitl Alvizo

Xochitl Alvizo; Photo by http://www.chrispinkham.com/

Mary Daly still causes me awe. I think about the way she was so keenly able to diagnose the Catholic Church’s collusion in creating, sustaining, the oppressive structures that directly impact women (and men, as she always affirmed). Mary Daly knew that the situation of women’s second-class status, outlined at the time most powerfully by Simone de Beauvoir in her book The Second Sex,[1] was in great part made possible by the Catholic Church. The church used Christianity to justify the creation of gender hierarchies (for it can be used otherwise), and regarded a category of humans as having greater value and worth than others by default. So much so that it comes to be understood as “god ordained” or “natural” – the right order of things.

At the time of her early writing, Mary Daly still identified as part of the Catholic Church – but she did not hesitate to call out her church. Building on the work of existentialist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir, Daly made a powerful case against the church. She described the antagonism between the Catholic Church and women as based on the fact that the Church’s teachings perpetuated a “traditional view of woman” that both “pretends to put woman on a pedestal but which in reality prevents her from genuine self-fulfillment and from active, adult-size participation in society.”[2] She drew on insights from de Beauvoir to make her case and wrote her book The Church and the Second Sex with the conviction that there were “harmful distortions of doctrine and practice” in the Catholic Church. Continue reading “Mary Daly and Simone de Beauvoir: Sister Diagnosticians by Xochitl Alvizo”

%d bloggers like this: