Love and The Last of Us

I was excited and thought I knew what to expect. I know what happens in the game after all. But after watching episode three, Long, Long Time (aired Jan. 29, 2023), I found myself considering what seems like something new in a zombie story as well.

Warning: Contains spoilers for The Last of Us video game and HBO series! (Oh, and for The Walking Dead… And maybe a few other zombie films too.)

I remember when Naughty Dog released the first iteration of its popular game, The Last of Us (2013) because a friend of mine worked with the sound design team for the game. This friend started out as a game tester and through years of effort, was eventually creating game sound and dialogue. The release was a BDF for his personal success and at the time, felt like something new in gaming: it was realistic, cinematic, and emotional. (And incidentally, it was reviewed very, very well.) This past month HBO released The Last of Us as a TV series. I was excited and thought I knew what to expect. I know what happens in the game after all. But after watching episode three, Long, Long Time (aired Jan. 29, 2023), I found myself considering what seems like something new in a zombie story as well.

Continue reading “Love and The Last of Us”

Women’s March in CA 1/22/23 by Marie Cartier

WOMENS MARCH, Long Beach, California on the 50th anniversary of the passing of Roe v Wade,
January 22, 2023

Continue reading “Women’s March in CA 1/22/23 by Marie Cartier”

From the Archives: Spill that Tea: Let’s talk about Harry and Meghan by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

***In light of the recent passing of Queen Elizabeth II and the continual attacks on Harry and Meghan, it seems fitting to revisit this post***

For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with all things Royal. On March 7th, the world sat enraptured as two members of the British Royal Family had a tell-all interview about their experiences over the last 3 years. There is so much to deconstruct, digest, and explore in this interview and why it matters. There is so much about the March 7th interview that is compelling. The interview hosted by Oprah is the first sit down for Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan. For many, this interview was a bombshell, revelatory, and earth shattering. For me, it was mainly a confirmation of things that I had read into over the years, confirmation over the fact that Meghan was pushed out by the British Crown, and that Diana’s ending could very likely have happened again.

Continue reading “From the Archives: Spill that Tea: Let’s talk about Harry and Meghan by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

The Norns, Spiritual Mystery and Me, Part 2 by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

Part 1 was posted yesterday. You can read it here. The Norns were explaining the mess they had made when they got drunk at a Valhalla party.

The Norns looked at me with sadness. “We knocked over one of our looms/templates/arrangements” 

Their tone changed, they looked at each other and I thought I could see emotion churning. They were arguing and then they stopped. They turned toward me and looked sheepish, that is if divinities can look sheepish. “It was a disaster/calamity/debacle.”

“Tell me then,” I was growing impatient.

Verdandi: “Well you see the loom we knocked over was . . .”

“What?” I almost shouted at them.

Urd: “It was the loom holding the pattern from Salim/Jerusalem.”

Continue reading “The Norns, Spiritual Mystery and Me, Part 2 by Janet Maika’i Rudolph”

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!” 

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

Let’s Talk about Consent and Hulu’s “Pam and Tommy” Series by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

The internet and social media has been eagerly anticipating the release of Hulu’s fictional/non-fictional docuseries based around events in the lives of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. For many of us who lived through the 1990s, the scandals surrounding the love and fall out of Baywatch actress Pamela Anderson and rockstar Tommy Lee was a huge turning point in conversations of how media is never truly private nor is it ever truly gone.

Continue reading “Let’s Talk about Consent and Hulu’s “Pam and Tommy” Series by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

Diversifying Marvel and the Monolith of Superheroes by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

It’s been some time since I penned a FAR post. Much has changed and much has stayed the same. I have since moved to a different part of the United States and have started a new teaching position at a large university. Yet, I am still a scholar who seeks out the connection between feminism, gender representation, religion, and popular culture. Which brings me to this new post.

Continue reading “Diversifying Marvel and the Monolith of Superheroes by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

The Return of the Exile by Mary Gelfand

A few years ago I encountered a Norwegian folktale titled “Prince Lindworm.” This tale was completely new to me and aspects of it have lingered as I contemplate the future of my country.  

In “Prince Lindworm,” a childless Queen wants an heir and follows the advice of the Wise Woman she meets in her garden.  The Wise Woman tells the Queen where to find two magical roses, instructs her to eat only one, and warns that she “will be sorry” if she eats both.  The Queen, of course, eats both and gives birth to twin boys.  The elder child emerges as a serpent or lindworm and immediately disappears into the forest.  Only the Queen witnesses this birth and, as this is not the child she wants to parent, she remains silent.  The second boy is beautiful and healthy and grows into a fine young man.  When he is of age to seek a wife, his path is blocked by his unknown exiled brother, Prince Lindworm, who has grown into a massive, repulsive serpent and claims his right to have a bride first.  The Queen admits her failure to follow the Wise Woman’s advice and the kingdom must cope with the knowledge that the heir to the throne is an exile.

Continue reading “The Return of the Exile by Mary Gelfand”

Star Trek: Discovery Season Two: On Characters, Action, and Faith by Ivy Helman.

Season two of Star Trek: Discovery incorporates religion differently than season one.  While there are religious overarching themes running throughout, like how actions to shape the future and faith not as convictions but as empowerment, a more fitting and interesting way of addressing religion throughout this season is to look at the individual characters and what their stories have to stay about religion.  

Captain Pike knows and understands religion.  He also often believes.  Michael is the persistent skeptic.  The Red Angel plays many roles: an illogical mystery, a revelation, a savior or a intentional sign. Saru is the convert, physically transformed with a newfound confidence and power, while Hugh is the reincarnated, whose bodily existence begets loneliness and struggle.  Spock is the logic wrestler, who as Pike says asks “amazing questions.”  Finally, not a character per se, episode two, entitled “New Eden,” represents a typical Western understanding of organized religion, replete with sacred writings and a church.  

Like season one, religion is present in the opening scene of the season, this time in the form of mythology, as Michael tells a tale of an African girl who threw embers from a fire into the air creating the Milky Way.  Michael says that she left a message in the stars if one was willing and open to receiving it.  

Continue reading “Star Trek: Discovery Season Two: On Characters, Action, and Faith by Ivy Helman.”

The Via Feminina: Revisioning the Heroine’s Journey by Mary Sharratt

Campbell’s Hero’s Journey

Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, the Hero’s Journey, is outlined in his 1949 book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Drawn from his studies of comparative mythology and Jungian psychology, the Hero’s Journey has become a foundation myth of modern culture. The hero, generally young and vigorous, sets off into the unknown to battle antagonistic forces and returns transformed, a hero and guide to his people.

As Campbell writes in The Hero with a Thousand Faces:

A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.

The Hero’s Journey has served as the go-to template for Hollywood screenwriters and bestselling novelists. We see this mythic pattern of the conquering male hero played over and over again in popular culture. Think Luke Skywalker in the original 1977 Star Wars—or any protagonist in a George Lucas or Steven Spielberg movie. Creative writing teachers encourage their students to pattern their story arcs on the Hero’s Journey to give a sense of archetypal depth and resonance. But this technique has been overused to the point of becoming a cliché. A deeply sexist cliché. Continue reading “The Via Feminina: Revisioning the Heroine’s Journey by Mary Sharratt”

Netflix Pandemic Show binge-a-thon by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

Given the progressively dismal state of affairs in the nation currently, I have relied heavily on binge watching shows on Netflix. One of my coping strategies I started using in graduate school was having tv shows or movies playing in the background. More often then not, it was something I had already watched or something I was not truly invested in so it would become a form of white noise while I did work. During this pandemic, I have found not only have I continued using Netflix as my white noise, it has also become a source of coping, self-care mechanism. From watching the ridiculous “Tiger King” docuseries, re-watching the “Great British Bake Off”, and the hilarious movie “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga.”

Continue reading “Netflix Pandemic Show binge-a-thon by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

A Case for Context by Sara Frykenberg

I have a close family member who is staunchly Republican and frequently posts videos from the conservative platform PragerU or “Prager University.” Video topics include: why the Democratic Party is the “real” racist party (as though either party is innocent of racism), the “war on boys” and masculinity, and how feminists don’t care about Muslim women (as though some Muslim women aren’t also feminists), among other issues. You get the picture. It is a propaganda media source founded by radio talk show hosts which creates short videos on every topic there is, presenting the conservative viewpoint as the simple “God’s honest truth” about the issue.

I’ve seen some of these videos. They are as offensive as they are misleading. But one element that is particularly egregious to me is their complete disregard for larger context. Continue reading “A Case for Context by Sara Frykenberg”

TikTok, the Pandemic platform for community, resistance, and activism by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

AnjeanetteIt’s July which means we have collectively endured 7 months of uncertainty, turmoil, darkness, and light. America, we are still battling all aspects of the virus: rising numbers of infected, those that deny its existence, those refusing to wear masks to help to stop the spread, and everyone else doing their duty by staying at home, washing their hands, and wearing masks. Yet, something else has added to the mix and the COVID19 pandemic; social media. Social media has taken on a whole new level for activism and resistance.

Continue reading “TikTok, the Pandemic platform for community, resistance, and activism by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

When Life Hands You Lemons… by John Erickson

“When life hands you lemons, sometimes you have to make applesauce.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about something my grandmother would always tell me: “When life hands you lemons, sometimes you have to make applesauce.” I know, it sounds crazy, but life right now appears to be more on the crazy than the sane side.

We’re all in a state of uncertainty right now. The news is scary. Twitter is scary. Heck, even TikTok is losing parts of its humor. Everywhere we seem to turn, it’s more information about COVID-19, new cases, new lockdowns, and new things that we shouldn’t do for the foreseeable future. Continue reading “When Life Hands You Lemons… by John Erickson”

Reviewing Current Holocaust Popular Culture Materials By: Anjeanette LeBoeuf

AnjeanetteI contemplated doing a post on the current rising issues of the Coronavirus but as so much of life has been stopped, altered, and/or rearranged, that I figured I would embody the proverbial statement of “Just Keep Calm and Carry On.” So, this month’s post is a mixture of observation/product review on recent Holocaust narratives, especially found in movies, TV shows, and books.

Continue reading “Reviewing Current Holocaust Popular Culture Materials By: Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

Let’s Talk about Frozen 2 by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

AnjeanetteWhile facetiming my brother, I heard my two-year-old niece shout at the top of her lungs that she was “Queen Elsa” and was coming to save me. I had started writing about the Frozen films, when Sara posted on them. So let us continue on this Frozen journey.

Continue reading “Let’s Talk about Frozen 2 by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

Beth March and the Courage of the Gentle Giver by Cathleen Flynn

As someone who spent my prepubescent years watching director Gillian Armstrong’s “Little Women”, I was eager to see Greta Gerwig’s newly released version. Previously unexplored contours of each character, and of my changed perceptions, were made visible through this iteration. The most difficult and touching part of the film that lingers with me is the story of Beth, pianist and caretaker. Beth’s untimely death brings grief into the center of the March family narrative, and Gerwig’s portrayal brought up grief in me about my experiences with invisibility as a paced introvert in a culture that celebrates speed and extroversion.

I grew up wanting to be like Jo March, the outspoken, reactive protagonist. Jo was the rebel, the obvious feminist, and, mostly importantly to me, the brave one. Beth seemed to me to be boring, relegated to a life at home, bound by illness and a preoccupation with the needs of neighbors. Her steadiness looked to me like obedience; she could not fight away the disease that eventually killed her, and I wished to be everything besides her, the introvert who observed and cared and loved music and then died. As I grew into my own introverted, observant, caregiving tendencies, I began to wonder if I had been tricked by my culture, by my upbringing, to think I was Beth when I was really Jo! While social pressures certainly influenced my personality, as they do for us all, I didn’t want to believe that perhaps I was growing into my natural temperament, endowed by the Universe, expressed in my mind and body. As a woman in the 21st century, as a feminist, I was supposed to be like Jo, not the way I was (am). To have a deliberate or tender nature was, in my subconscious perception, to betray the spontaneous, assertive natures of those more worthwhile feminists who got things done. Continue reading “Beth March and the Courage of the Gentle Giver by Cathleen Flynn”

Staying Un-Frozen by Sara Frykenberg

It is February 14th, Valentines Day. So, today I want to explore my daughter’s love affair with Frozen; a story that I did not like, but that I learned to love by watching it through her eyes. A story which through her eyes, has taught me a lot about how to stay and be un-frozen.

I did not understand the phenomenon that was Disney’s Frozen in 2013. I did not like film’s premier song Let it Go, which you could hear e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. The film wasn’t even about Elsa; the queen with magical powers who sings this song while reveling in the new-found freedom of her isolation. It’s about Elsa’s sister, Anna, and her quest to find Elsa. So really, I thought, the song was misleading. I also didn’t like the ‘loveable Olaf;’ and while switching up the “true love’s kiss” narrative was a positive change for Disney (Anna saves herself and Elsa with her love, instead of that of a man), I just didn’t get the widespread appeal. Continue reading “Staying Un-Frozen by Sara Frykenberg”

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”

The Boots on the Ground People of Queer Eye: Part 3 by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

AnjeanetteThis month is the trilogy to my Queer Eye series. The last two posts talked about the significance of the current reboot Netflix series and the Fab Five. This post will highlight some of the people who were made over. What has also been truly fascinating to see is how much the “heroes” have used their experiences on Queer Eye to ‘pay it forward’ and become their own Fab Fives for others.

Continue reading “The Boots on the Ground People of Queer Eye: Part 3 by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

Metamorphosis and a Press Conference: A Kafkaesque and Shakespearean Fantasy about an Unreal Individual by Barbara Ardinger

Donald wakes up too early. Feeling confused and disoriented, he looks around the room. His bed has disappeared! He seems to be lying on the floor. Why? he asks himself, how’d I fall off my king-size bed? The floor (uncarpeted??) seems to go on around him forever, sans furniture, sans TVs, sans his solid gold toilet, sans even the doors and windows. It’s all a great big blank. All around him. Where am I? he asks himself.

He had disturbing dreams all night, and not just last night, but for…well, awhile. Since the subpoenas. He keeps seeing big, strong, silent men wearing jackets with initials on the back carrying big boxes out of his various offices. All of them. All over the world. In one repeating dream, a man dropped a box. It fell open, scattering papers filled with names and numbers. The men picked everything up, put the papers back in chronological order, and resealed the box. They kept carrying the boxes out to black vans that didn’t have names painted on them.

Continue reading “Metamorphosis and a Press Conference: A Kafkaesque and Shakespearean Fantasy about an Unreal Individual by Barbara Ardinger”

The Important Work of Netflix’s Queer Eye: Part 2 by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

AnjeanetteLast month’s FAR post detailed the blockbuster hit show Queer Eye. The Fab Five – Karamo, Tan, Bobby, Jonathan, and Antoni, not only inspire the people they are making over, but are using their growing fan base to become true agents of change.

Continue reading “The Important Work of Netflix’s Queer Eye: Part 2 by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

The Explosion of the TV Show Queer Eye: Part One By Anjeanette LeBoeuf

AnjeanetteIn 2019, when mentioning Queer Eye, Queer Theory isn’t on the table, but the Global Netflix hit show is. Responses will range from how each episode gets the viewer to cry, the love of avocado, the French Tuck, and how much this new show means for representation, visibility, and the ardent need for these types of conversations to take place on television screens and homes globally.

Continue reading “The Explosion of the TV Show Queer Eye: Part One By Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

We Won’t Go Back by John Erickson

Bottom line: abortion is healthcare. Nearly a fourth of women in America will have an abortion by age 45. Every day, people across the United States make deeply personal decisions about their pregnancies. Those decisions deserve respect.

Someone once asked me: John, why are you a feminist?  It is always a jarring question because I believe all people should be feminists and we should all fight for gender equality no matter what.  I’ve been drawn to Martin Niemöller’s prolific quote:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Right now, it seems like a full on frontal assault against all of us.  No matter what community you’re in, you can draw back to an instance of discrimination you’ve faced both pre-2016 as well as after the election of President Trump. Continue reading “We Won’t Go Back by John Erickson”

Game of Thrones is Over, Now What? By Anjeanette LeBoeuf

This post contains spoilers on the Game of Thrones series


AnjeanetteFor many, this past week saw the MASSIVE HBO hit, Game of Thrones, air its last episode. Thousands were left unsatisfied with the ending and even the entire last season. There was an online petition signed by over 1 million people demanding a season rewrite/reshoot. I have seen on countless social media accounts the amount of people seemingly bereft now that the show is over. I have also seen other shows and tv channels banking on people searching for a new show to immerse themselves in. So why, Game of Thrones? And what will replace it now that it is over?

Continue reading “Game of Thrones is Over, Now What? By Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

Avengers Vs. Sailor Moon Vs. … maybe… all that GOT *stuff

Spoilers ahead for Avengers: Endgame and Game of Thrones, so read at your own risk! Continue reading “Avengers Vs. Sailor Moon Vs. … maybe… all that GOT *stuff”

“Closer to Fine:” Trans Femme Reflections on the Sacred Found in Lesbian Music Culture by Nathan Bakken

“I’m trying to tell you something about my life.” I joke with my friends that if the 1990’s weren’t so transphobic, I would have thrived as a trans lesbian. Citing my knowledge of the L Word, Pacific Northwest flannel sensibilities, and Spotify playlists as my reasoning; I embody a millennial genderqueer take on lesbian stereotypes. The only thing missing is an exclusive attraction to women which― I would argue―is the main factor holding me back from waving the lesbian pride flag high. Though I write with a particular levity, I cannot deny the role that lesbian singer songwriters and folk/rock singers have played in cultivating my sense of self and my sense of the Divine. The Holy, for me, is wrapped up in the the harmonies of the Indigo Girls, the raspy blues of Melissa Etheridge, the heart-breaking riffs of Tracy Chapman, and the tear-jerking truths of Brandi Carlile.  These women have gifted me Divine Imaginaries of what justice is, who God is, and how I fit in.

In full trans-parency (pun intended), I hold a small level of fear in writing this piece. As the rhetorics of Transgender Exclusive Radical Feminists (TERF) appear to be touching the mainstream, I am reminded that these rhetorics are deeply tied to lesbian music culture. The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival holds itself as a historic cultural object created by the amazing and radical work of lesbians and feminists and lasted from 1976 – 2015. MichFest, as it was later known, also uplifted and validated the concept of “womyn-born-womyn” only spaces. A concept with the intention to center the experiences of cis women, and the impact of  discriminating against trans people.  I reference this not to tear at the scabs of these two communities as we continue healing. Rather, I am naming the irony that my anthems for my survival are also the songs that have historical ties to mindsets and movements that prohibited my community from experiencing them first hand.

But this piece isn’t about trans exclusive feminists. This piece is about the soundtrack of my survival, and the powerful women who’s wise words guide that experience. The following four songs are invitations into my survival.

Closer to Fine – Indigo Girls

“The less I seek my source for some definitive, the closer I am to fine.” Since I was 17, this lyric has echoed in my mind. I would drive around Seattle listening to this song on a mix CD, wondering if I would ever get close to fine. Masked in their flawless harmonies, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers words gave me comfort and language to articulate my experiences. They mixed joy and laughter with the harsh truth of growing older. They gave room for a multiplicity of perspective and called out institutions and dominant epistemologies as inefficient modes of knowledge gaining. I was gifted a queer critical lens, a slightly Gnostic view of God, and an acknowledgement that “[t]here’s more than one answer to these questions/ Pointing me in a crooked line.”

Silent Legacy- Melissa Etheridge

To say that Melissa Etheridge’s 1993 album “Yes I Am” is not one of the best albums―let alone queer albums―ever created is homophobic. I wish I could tell you I’m being facetious. I am not. While her singles “I’m the Only One” and “Come to My Window” remain as her most popular hits; the song “Silent Legacy” is a testimony to queer feminist survival. I encourage you to set aside some time to listen to this song as if it were a prayer. In five minutes, Etheridge manages to describe and enflesh the impact of spiritual trauma on the queered body. Each verse unpacking the silent internalization of misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia. Each chorus echoing a prayer to heaven. Only to finish with Etheridge repeating the phrase “Oh my child,” building her emotions from tenderness to rage as if she, herself, embodies God calling us home to protect us.

Talkin’ Bout a Revolution – Tracy Chapman

I confess, my conversion to the Gospel of Tracy Chapman occurred later than I would prefer. Knowing her for her iconic lesbian anthem “Fast Car,” it wasn’t until I discovered her full discography about two years ago that I felt held in her words. With “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution” as the first track on her first album, “Tracy Chapman.” Chapman sets a specific tone for the album. The album is a protest. She reveals a portrait of her experiences of the United States in 1988, one that does not shy away from harsh realities of racial injustice and domestic violence. And at the same time gives tender insights into how to love someone. Chapman’s wisdom grounds my survival in the hardest truths of our world. That if I am to survive, I must ensure others’ survival as well.

The Joke- Brandi Carlile

Brandi Carlile feels like home. As an out lesbian musician of my home state of Washington, Carlile’s music reaches the depths where few dare to dive.  I recognize the majority of this soundtrack dates to the late ‘80’s and early ‘90s, Brandi Carlile’s “The Joke” is from her Grammy Award winning 2018 Album “By the Way I Forgive You.” Carlile is contemporary, current, and continuing the legacy paved before her. Her song―“The Joke”―echos like a ghost of queer future. Carlile’s voice is moving forwards while reaching back. She gives assurance, not that it gets better, rather that it gets different. Carlile invites the listener into the act of survival.

As a queer theologian, I tend to search for scripture in the most secular of places. These women have formed a gospel where the Divine Imaginary provided is an invitation to all people to the radical act of survival. As a trans femme person, I know, and these women testify, that one can survive and thrive simultaneously. Because “there’s more than one answer to these questions/ Pointing me in a crooked line/ And the less I seek my source for some definitive / The closer I am to fine.”

P.S. I believe that my fair, sincere, and soft mention of the “TERF/trans exclusion” conversation can spark strong push back from some of the readership of this blog. I am aware that we (cis and trans) who are in Feminist theological spaces need to continue engaging seriously in conversation around this topic and start working together to construct something from it. I would like for my post to be a part of starting that conversation. The heart of my post is that there is something profound in the liberative music created by these amazing and powerful women. Part of that profundity, is that I, a trans feminine queer person, heard an invitation into a legacy of liberation and justice. So I invite you, whoever you are, reading this to reread my piece. Reread it, knowing this is a small part of a larger conversation, and the heart of the conversation is a painful history of exclusion and transphobia and simultaneously a history of liberation and justice.


Nathan Bakken (they/them), originally from Seattle, WA, has found home in Boston, MA. Raised Roman Catholic, Nathan stands firm in the intersection of Christianity and Esoteric Spirituality. They earned their Master of Divinity, and Master Certificate in Religious Conflict Transformation, from Boston University School of Theology with particular focus in trans and queer theologies, queer spiritual practice, and the intersection of pop culture and theology.

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”

Emotional Labor, Elastigirl, & Me

Last year, I turned 40 and started grad school while working part time at the public library as the Children’s Services Manager, living in a cohousing community, volunteering with my Sisterhood, and raising three teenagers. I’m between semesters at the moment and I’ve had a chance to do some reading by choice instead of reading by syllabus. One of the titles I picked up during this semester break was Fed Up: Emotional Labor, Women, and the Way Forward by Gemma Hartley.

I’ve also had the chance to curl up with my family and watch a few movies. In addition to our epic Marvel chronology review project, we decided to snag the library’s copy of Incredibles 2 (2018) for family movie night. Despite the fact that the original movie released when our eldest child was only a year old, my teenagers have always been fans of Baby Jack-Jack and were excited to see this sequel fourteen years in the making.

I was about halfway through Hartley’s book when we sat down to watch the Parr family pick up right where they left off at the end of The Incredibles (2004). And less than a quarter of the way through the film when Fed Up and Incredibles 2 collided spectacularly inside my head. I spent the rest of the film thinking about emotional labor, parenting, and midlife career change. Continue reading “Emotional Labor, Elastigirl, & Me”

Beyond Human Rights by Esther Nelson

For way too long, the only meaning I found in my life happened when peering through one specific, religious prism. Then I discovered what’s called the academic study of religion.  Observing the many ways people find meaning through their own experiences with God (or their “ultimate concern”) shattered the tightly-sealed insulation around my worldview.  Those things that comprise religion (stories, concepts of the holy, ritual, symbols, social structures), coupled with our individual experiences create a powerful reality affecting us individually and communally.

Some of my students identify as agnostic or atheist. They’re happy to have shed (or never put on) garments they perceive as obstacles.  Rarely do they realize that religious “truths,” because they are taken to heart by people and implemented into the social fabric, shape the world they inhabit. When we discuss the ways religion affects women within society, they are far more likely to think about women’s lived realities in terms of human rights, not religious identity.  Religion is seen as something superfluous (at best) or an impediment towards progress (at worst).

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