Marketing was my thing in college. And my first professional job out of college was in Marketing at the Regional Headquarters of Canon in Dallas. And then my life took me out into the weeds: a marriage to an Airforce pilot following him to the snow filled tundra of North Dakota, the swamps of Mississippi, two divorces, four children, twists and turns and ups and downs all landing smack dab to where I sit in front of my computer at the moment outside of Huntsville, Alabama at 53 finally feeling like I’ve got somewhat of a handle on this crazy ride called Life or at least a better idea of how to buckle in and enjoy the ups and get through the downs.Continue reading “Marketing in the New World and Karen Tate’s New Book on Normalizing Abuse by Caryn MacGrandle”
#SharetheMicNow: Social Justice and Christianity by Laurel E. Brown and Anjeanette LeBoeuf
In the midst of recent events and protests, a social media campaign entitled #sharethemicnow has emerged. The campaign asked white people and people of influence to use their platforms, quiet their voices, and highlight, heighten, and listen to their Black counterparts. I have been honored and privileged to be a monthly contributor here at FAR for 5 years. This month’s post will be in participation with the #sharethemicnow campaign. This campaign seeks to keep the momentum for the realization and implementation of equality and just treatment for all peoples – regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. I asked a dear friend of mine, whom I had the pleasure of working with at Whittier College, to write this post. Dr. Laurel Brown, whose discipline is in Social Work, shares with us some thoughts on Christianity and Social Justice in midst of our current issues.
Continue reading “#SharetheMicNow: Social Justice and Christianity by Laurel E. Brown and Anjeanette LeBoeuf”
Stand Your Ground: An Interview with Kelly Brown Douglas by Gina Messina
Following the murders of Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice, Kelly Brown Douglas released her book, Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God. In this critical work, she details the embedding of structural violence within the doctrine of American Exceptionalism and the deep rooted racial injustice that our nation was founded upon.
Over the last several months, our world has changed. We’ve witnessed great tragedy and there is so much to grieve. COVID-19 intruded upon our lives abruptly forcing the realization of our misplaced priorities. However, systemic racism has always been here, tightly woven into the fabric of our society; yet privileged voices have failed to answer the call for justice.
As so many risk their health and safety to march for racial justice; to exclaim that Black Lives Matter and that George Floyd’s life was indeed sacred (as was Raychard Brooks, Breonna Taylor, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Philandro Castile, Alton Sterling, Eric Garner…#SayTheirNames), we must consider our own responsibility in perpetuating oppressive structures that condone the trend of public lynchings.
Following the murders of Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice, Kelly Brown Douglas released her book, Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God. In this critical work, she details the embedding of structural violence within the doctrine of American Exceptionalism and the deep rooted racial injustice that our nation was founded upon. She explains it was not a book that she wanted to write; rather, as a mother of an African American son, it is a book she was compelled to write. In doing so, Kelly has laid bare the sin of our nation. Five years later, her witness continues to demand our attention.
I reached out to Kelly and asked if she would be willing to talk with me about her book and she graciously agreed. Thus, for this post, I am sharing the wisdom of Kelly Brown Douglas, vlog style, knowing that, in this moment, it is her words that we all need to hear.
Gina Messina, Ph.D. is an American feminist scholar, Catholic theologian, activist, and mom. She serves as Associate Professor and Department Chair of Religious Studies at Ursuline College and is co-founder of FeminismAndReligion.com. She has written for the Huffington Post and is author or editor of five books including Women Religion Revolution. Messina is a widely sought after speaker and has presented across the US at universities, organizations, conferences and on national platforms including appearances on MSNBC, Tavis Smiley, NPR and the TEDx stage. She has also spoken at the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations to discuss matters impacting the lives of women around the globe. Messina is active in movements to end violence against women and explores opportunities for spiritual healing. Connect with her on Twitter @GMessinaPhD, Instagram: @GinaMessinaPhD, Facebook, and her website ginamessina.com.
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”
Coming to Terms with Privilege: A Personal Reflection by Elise M. Edwards
In my two previous posts, I shared my recent experience talking about privilege at a church near me. Today, I will wrap up this short series with a more personal reflection about privilege from a Christian perspective. Last month, I was thinking theologically about what those of us who have privilege should do with it. But, as feminists and womanists, acknowledging our privilege can be complicated. Most of us in this FAR community do possess some forms of privilege while, at the same time, we lack other forms of privilege. Each of us remains the same person wherever we go, yet our status can change when we switch contexts. As a black woman, I do not have white privilege or male privilege. But I am privileged when it comes to education and class and physical ability. I am a Christian who works at a Christian university in a part of Texas that is culturally predominantly Christian. So that’s a form of privilege. Although as a single woman without children, I don’t fit the cultural norm where I live, my sexual orientation and cis-gendered identity afford me some privilege, too.
Continue reading “Coming to Terms with Privilege: A Personal Reflection by Elise M. Edwards”
What Can We Do to Weaken Privilege? by Elise M. Edwards
In my previous post, I talked about discussing the concept of privilege (male privilege, white privilege, and class privilege) with nuance. Earlier that week, I had led a workshop at a local church on “Fine-tuning Privilege,” using Peggy McIntosh’s 1989 essay “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” as a resource. (If you are unfamiliar with it, take a few minutes to read it and reflect upon it.) Part of my talk was about naming and understanding privilege. Discussion and comprehension are not enough, though. We must counter it.
One strategy for fighting privilege is making it visible. The recipients of privilege are often unaware that they have to systemic advantage over others. Privilege, used in the context of racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, and religious dominance, is not something earned on merit alone. In the essay linked above, McIntosh describes it like this: “I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets which I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was meant to remain oblivious.” These are conditions built into our culture that some groups receive which benefit them to the detriment of others. Making privilege visible means naming it and calling it out. Wage gaps, digital divides, and racial profiling practices exist; ignoring them perpetrates the problems.
Continue reading “What Can We Do to Weaken Privilege? by Elise M. Edwards”
Talking about Privilege with Nuance by Elise M. Edwards
Yesterday evening, I led a seminar at a local church as part of their series on “Unpacking Privilege.” Once before, I’d been invited to this church, Lake Shore Baptist Church, to speak about intersectional feminism with one of my colleagues, so I expected them to be open-minded and welcoming. They were. Although the attendees were overwhelmingly white and older than me, they were attentive and engaged. We had an enriching time together diving into topics like male privilege, white privilege, and class privilege with Peggy McIntosh’s 1989 essay “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” as a resource. (If you are unfamiliar with it, I recommend taking a few minutes to read it and reflect.)
In the essay, McIntosh writes about becoming critical of male privilege and men’s obliviousness to it through her work in Women’s Studies, which then led her to see her own race privilege (as a white woman) and her obliviousness to it. The essay does not offer a precise definition of white privilege, but the entire piece is a reflection about it. She explains:
“I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets which I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was ‘meant’ to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks.”
Continue reading “Talking about Privilege with Nuance by Elise M. Edwards”
Privilege and Hierarchy in Community Care by Chris Ash
This is part one of a multi-part series on privilege, dehumanization, and hierarchy in organizing, activist, and ministry circles.
Early in my training at my current job, my boss explained our agency’s position on social justice and intersectionality to me: “When we center the margins in our work, everybody gets served.” Framed differently: When we expand the circle of who can access service, be treated with dignity, and have their humanity affirmed by others, those already within the circle get served, respected, and affirmed as well. Nobody gets excluded. Everyone gets support. In our work, we recognize that all oppressions are interlinked, and that you cannot effectively advocate for the abolition of one form of oppression without working to end them all.
I think there is a fear within circles of people who experience one or more forms of oppression that in order to allow care for those who are more marginalized, or marginalized in different ways, we must turn our focus outward to the margins, away from the center. And sometimes we do. Sometimes we need to stop talking about the needs of cis men long enough to really focus on harm experienced by women and femmes. Sometimes we need to stop talking about the experiences of white women long enough to recognize the unique oppressions experienced by Black, Latinx, and Native women. Sometimes we need to stop talking about the experiences of straight cis people to recognize the daily microaggressions, direct aggression, and harm experienced by trans and nonbinary people. Continue reading “Privilege and Hierarchy in Community Care by Chris Ash”
The Four Phases of the Feminine Way by Elisabeth S.
For so long I’ve been wandering in the maiden stage, but now I am a mother, to myself, since I’ve made hard decisions to loosen or cut ties with people who have not always acted in my best interest in their attached and, at least to me, manipulative ways; I have long felt a mother to whatever group of students I have the honor of guiding; and I moonlight as a card reader/astrological guide where I feel I can nurture and provide compassionate advice to those who desire a connection from the universe. The way I practice is that I allow my empathy and research about ourselves to encounter the client’s own internal wisdom. There is not anything that qualifies me to be a teacher or reader any more than anyone else. We are all guru to each other when we listen closely.
I am not sure why I have never wanted to be a mother of a child. Not-wanting has felt very natural to me. Now that I have put some distance between myself and my own mother, her voice and so her desires are not so much hovering over me. I feel free and good about my decisions, about following the path that is normal for me.
But what I really love about the four phases of the feminine way – maiden, mother, maga, and crone — is that we do not necessarily need to always identify with the stage that aligns with our age or any rites of passage. I remember going to a goddess ceremony in California where we could speak from any of the perspectives we felt aligned with that at the time and explain why.
Continue reading “The Four Phases of the Feminine Way by Elisabeth S.”
Celtic Myth, Moon Blood, and the White Beauty Standard by Marisa Goudy
My woman’s body is entering the dark time of the moon, even with blinding white snow lashing the windows, even with a full moon tracing its way far above thick clouds. My mood is black and soon I’ll be flowing red, and the snow will just drive on white, white, white.
In The White Goddess, Robert Graves tells us: “…the New Moon is the white goddess of birth and growth; the Full Moon, the red goddess of love and battle; the Old Moon, the black goddess of death and divination.”
The Celt in me feels cradled by this imagery, even if, as Judith Shaw and Carol P. Christ have pointed out elsewhere on this site, the idea of maid, mother, and crone is a modern invention, not gift from the past. I agree with Christ: “My suggestion is that we give up the idea that the details of contemporary Goddess Spirituality are rooted in and authorized by tradition. We can instead acknowledge that though we are inspired by the past, we are the ones who are creating contemporary Goddess Spirituality.”
Continue reading “Celtic Myth, Moon Blood, and the White Beauty Standard by Marisa Goudy”
On the ‘Naturalness’ of Inequality by Ivy Helman
In some regards, life on Earth seems to depend on some basic inequalities. For example, differences in size, height, strength, speed and endurance advantages some and disadvantages others. Depending on another for survival is another type of inequality. Being able to adapt to change increases one’s likelihood of survival as well.
In this regard, inequality is natural, a normal part of existence. In fact, the exploitation of such inequalities supports and perpetuates life on this planet. Darwin said as much. Evolutionary theory does as well. At one point, we, homo sapiens, replaced our Neanderthal cousins. Lions kill and eat gazelles. Some iguanas in the Galapagos Islands were able to become great underwater swimmers in order to reach edibles; those who couldn’t died. Continue reading “On the ‘Naturalness’ of Inequality by Ivy Helman”
#MeToo by Michele Stopera Freyhauf
Once again it is time for another blog post, and once again I find it difficult to write. The news embroils you in a landslide of negativity and you feel like all common sense and rationality has dissipated – I even made the comment that I am glad I am not young because I fear the state of the world in the future.
With that said, the one thing discussed and needs to be discussed is the #MeToo movement. First, yes, I have several stories, and yes, I stayed silent for over 25 years. Did I attempt to resolve the issues with the remedies available? Yes. Did I suffer backlash? Yes. To the detriment of losing my job? Yes. Did I consult an attorney? Yes. What was I told – move on or risk being blacklisted from your field – as a new career professional in her twenties, there was no choice? Yes. Did it happen again? Did I out of fear, just try to stay away from the person but never reported it? Yes. Continue reading “#MeToo by Michele Stopera Freyhauf”
Pride by John Erickson
When we come together, we are the Divine. I didn’t think I could experience that twice in one year; clearly, I was wrong.
If you’re anything like me you not only hate opening up your Twitter feed each morning but also feel compelled to in order to make sure you didn’t miss whatever new atrocity to come out of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. After the Women’s March, I felt charged. I felt that whatever this administration threw at the proverbial “us,” I knew we could and would overcome it. Although that charge kept me going for a few months, there came a time where I just couldn’t go on anymore and that I was completely drained; then walked in a man named Brian Pendleton.
After the Women’s March on January 21, I didn’t know what to expect. The event was truly so successful that many of the organizers and coordinators were on an activist high as a result of what was a truly magical and divine moment. A few months came and went and the 45th President of the United States continued (much to our surprise) to be as awful as we all knew and expected. However, while I am able to exist in a world, no matter how oppressive, as a cisgendered white male and the full on privilege and power that comes along with that territory, many of the individuals and communities being attacked did not have those same freedoms; and like with the Women’s March and how that all took shape, in walked Brian Pendleton to my life to talk to me about the #ResistMarch.
Although my involvement during the 120 days or more that led up to the #ResistMarch happened in a flash, one thing is for certain: miracles exist not because of divine intervention but because G-d places people on this Earth to make positive impacts. The beauty of the #ResistMarch was not just the passion of the organizers but the beauty of the rainbow that came out in full force on June 11
The strength shown by our community was one that, for all intensive purposes, proves that love does conquer all. RuPaul couldn’t have expressed the common and conquering theme better than when he said: “It’s all about love; giving love and being able to receive love. That’s our secret weapon; that’s the one thing they don’t have: our love and our music. That is our activism. That is what we use and what we always use to fight the ugliness.”
That is the one experience that I took most out of the #ResistMarch: the power of love and friendship; the beauty in the unexpected conversation that leads to changing the world, again. Thank you, Brian. Thank you, for bringing us all together to resist, recharge, and love.
When we come together, we are the Divine. I didn’t think I could experience that twice in one year; clearly, I was wrong.
John Erickson is the President of the Hollywood Chapter of the National Organization for Women. John is a Ph.D. Candidate in American Religious History at Claremont Graduate University where he is finishing up his dissertation tentatively titled “Step Sons and Step Daughter”: Chosen Communities, Religion, and LGBT Liberation.” John holds a MA in Women’s Studies in Religion; an MA in Applied Women’s Studies; and a BA in English and Women’s Studies. He is the Founding and Past President of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s LGBTQA+ Alumni Association and currently serves as the Chair of the Legislative Committee for the Stonewall Democratic Club, a Diversity and Inclusion Fellow at Claremont Graduate University. He is a permanent contributor to the blog Feminism and Religion, a Co-Founder of the blog The Engaged Gaze, and the Co-Chair of the Queer Studies in Religion Section of the American Academy of Religion’s Western Region, the only regional section of the American Academy of Religion that is dedicated to the exploration of queer studies in religion and other relevant fields in the nation. In April 2017, he was the first openly gay athlete to be inducted into the Wisconsin Volleyball Conference Hall of Fame. Most recently, John was one of the coordinators of the Women’s March Los Angeles, which brought together 750,000 people in downtown Los Angeles on January 21, 2017, and a Committee Member for the #ResistMarch, which brought together 100,000 people from Hollywood to West Hollywood in honor of LA Pride on June 11, 2017.
Painting, Privilege, and “Going Tiny” in Hawai’i by Angela Yarber
It started with Pelé, the Hawai’ian Volcano Goddess who governs fire, lightning, volcanoes, and the flow of lava. When my little family set off on a big adventure in June 2015, I knew I’d research and paint her as a Holy Woman Icon, but I wanted to get to Hawai’i first so that I could experience her power firsthand. After three months volunteering without running water in Vermont, a month in southern Virginia’s finest fall foliage, and a holiday season traversing the country from east to west in a camper named Freya, we crossed the Pacific in search of Pelé.
The long-term goal of nearly two years of full-time travel was to discern next steps for our queer little family, and to find land to open an intersectionally ecofeminist retreat center. We always imagined returning to the southeast, likely buying land and creating the retreat center in the North Carolina mountains. Pelé had something else in store.
After three wild months volunteering on the Big Island, we fell in love, enlivened by this place we now call home: its beauty, the diversity of people, access to living off-grid, access to growing your own food, its rich culture and history, access to a vegan lifestyle, and the ability to live the majority of our life outside. In short, all of our plans were upended and recreated in the most beautiful and challenging ways because we knew Hawai’i must become our home. Continue reading “Painting, Privilege, and “Going Tiny” in Hawai’i by Angela Yarber”