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”

From the Archives: They Really Do Hate Us* by Esther Nelson

This was originally posted on Nov. 20, 2020

A year or so before the November 2020 U.S. presidential election, a private Facebook group now titled “Wives of the Deplorables! Go Vote!” came together because many women were distraught about the political ideological rift between them and their husbands—a rift that became more evident as Election Day 2020 drew nigh.  Women, stunned and disappointed by the Trump-like behavior (angry, petty, and argumentative) of their Trump-supporting husbands or partners, encouraged each other virtually as Biden (now President-elect) moved closer and closer to winning the White House.

From the group’s private Facebook page: “This is a group created after a CNN report about the wives of Trump Supporters. This is not a politically affiliated group….This females only group is created to support each other and help women share their thoughts.”My sister Betty joined the group. Her Trump-supporting husband, she said, had been brainwashed by Fox News. One need not have a Trumpster spouse to be part of the group, but one must be supportive of the members who are upset, even devastated, by having become the target of their partner’s anger and rage when they discover “their women” voted (or planned to vote) for Biden.  Thanks to her invitation to join the group, I have been able to get a glimpse into the lives of these 2,000 or so members who feel demeaned—and yes, even hated, by their spouses. The group remains active post-Election.

Continue reading “From the Archives: They Really Do Hate Us* by Esther Nelson”

The Uses of Color On Screen by Freia Serafina

We have to thank a woman named Natalie M. Kalmus for her contributions to the development of color on screen. Being a woman and the executive head of the Technicolor art department in the 1930’s was nothing short of extraordinary, and, in 1935 she released a document titled Color Consciousness in which she explored color theory and the use of color on screen. And, while this was illuminating and groundbreaking at a time, we also have some serious problems with the document that need to be re-examined from an anti-racist and feminist perspective.

Kalmus tells us how and when to use color given that particular color’s moral and psychological associations. She tells us that different colors evoke emotional reactions from the audience because these colors paint a realistic worldview. This presents a problem because, if, as Kalmus suggests, the usage of color and its associations represent a realistic worldview then the worldview Kalmus presents is an inherently racist one. Kalmus writes that black “… has a distinctly negative and destructive aspect. Black instinctively recalls night, fear, darkness, crime. It suggests funerals, mourning. It is impenetrable, comfortless, secretive.” In stark contrast to the color black, Kalmus writes that white “… reflects the greatest amount of light, it emanates a luminosity which symbolizes spirit. White represents purity, cleanliness, peace, marriage… White uplifts and ennobles, while black lowers and renders more base and evil any color.” To put it simply: black is evil and white is good. What does any of this have to do with spirituality? Well, the way we think and feel about color and how characters are depicted on screen taps into our psychological understanding of how “good” or “bad” a color is. This trickles over into our magical and spiritual practices with the notions of “Black Magic” vs. “White Magic.”  We often associate someone who practices black magic as someone who works with dark or evil forces, and white magic with someone who practices magic for the good of others.

Continue reading “The Uses of Color On Screen by Freia Serafina”

From the Archives: I Believe Anita! by Marie Cartier

This was originally posted on April 7, 2014

During the past week I attended a Los Angeles premiere of a new documentary Anita: Speaking Truth to Power (Dir: Freida Lee Mock USA, 2013). The screening was sold out and I had great seats saved for me– sitting with a friend who works at Samuel Goldwyn, the distributor of this fine film.

In 1991, Anita Hill provided testimony she hoped would serve to dissemble the nomination of Clarence Thomas as a Supreme Court justice. Although the vote would end up being close (52-48) Hill’s testimony did not serve to dissuade the decision — Clarence Thomas’ nomination was confirmed and he was appointed to a life term on the Supreme Court four days after Hill’s testimony concluded. Here is an outline of the debate.


I remember watching the hearings in 1991 at a friend’s house in Sacramento, CA where I was couch-surfing with another friend while we were in Sacramento from Los Angeles to protest for gay rights—to speak our truth to power. I remember being amazed that she was doing this—and that it was being televised. We were glued to the set before we went off to the protest we were attending.

Continue reading “From the Archives: I Believe Anita! by Marie Cartier”

From the Archives: Does the Term “Women of Color” Bother You? By Grace Yia-Hei Kao

Moderator’s note: This marvelous FAR site has been running for 10 years and has had more than 3,600 posts in that time. There are so many treasures that have been posted in this decade that they tend to get lost in the archives. We are beginning this column so that we can all revisit some of these gems. Today’s blogpost was originally posted August 11, 2015. You can visit it here to see the original comments.

Grace Kao

I recently came back from a weeklong camping retreat for Christian faculty and their families in beautiful Catalina (an island an hour’s boat ride away from the Southern Californian mainland). This year’s conference theme was “Power Revealed: Gifts, Dangers, and Possibilities.” Not surprisingly, the topics of race, race relations, and institutional racism came-up repeatedly in sessions and informal conversations.

Continue reading “From the Archives: Does the Term “Women of Color” Bother You? By Grace Yia-Hei Kao”

We Are Not Oppressed Because We Remember pt. 3: Sowing Seeds and Braiding Hair by Chasity Jones

Today, once again, I got to touch the earth!

While planting and constructing my indoor container garden, I thought about how my ancestors put seeds into their children’s hair so that in case they were taken away to live and die in chains, they would at least be able to sustain themselves with a piece of the motherland. Rice, okra, yams, watermelon, and so MANY more crops that would go on to make white slaveholding Americans so rich (passing their wealth to their descendants and zero reparations for the descendants of enslaved Africans), that they were willing to fight a war to sustain their evil practices of owning human beings as chattel (Check out High on the Hog Netflix documentary which was adapted from a book by Dr. Jessica B. Harris). Enslaved Africans brought these foods to the new world, a direct result of slavery.

As I wash my daughter’s hair (which for Black women and girls is a PROCESS!!), as I moisturize her hair, and as I braid my hair, I am thankful that no one has a right to my child and that I do not need to fear her enslavement. Instead, I manifest her revolutionary future to carry the torch of our ancestors. A Torch and a commitment to elevate our community and move the community forward. I leave it up to her to choose how she will carry that torch forward!

Continue reading “We Are Not Oppressed Because We Remember pt. 3: Sowing Seeds and Braiding Hair by Chasity Jones”

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”

Confessions of a White Feminist by Marcia Mount Shoop

Last week I had a vivid and visceral dream.  I woke from it feeling body sensations as if I had just had the experience I dreamt about. 

In my dream I am pregnant—or I am supposed to be pregnant. But I look down at my belly and there is no movement. Nothing. And my belly isn’t very big. I think the baby must have died. Then I feel movement—the feelings of a baby turning over and moving inside me. And I can see right through my skin, like an ultrasound image. 

I can see the baby positioning herself to engage the birth canal. She actually uses her hands to click her head into engagement. I realize she is face up and that this will be a painful delivery. I know that she is a girl. Then I see a reflection of myself in the mirror and see that my belly is still high and that the baby has decided to wait. She is not ready to be born. 

Continue reading “Confessions of a White Feminist by Marcia Mount Shoop”

They Really Do Hate Us* by Esther Nelson

A year or so before the November 2020 U.S. presidential election, a private Facebook group now titled “Wives of the Deplorables! Go Vote!” came together because many women were distraught about the political ideological rift between them and their husbands—a rift that became more evident as Election Day 2020 drew nigh.  Women, stunned and disappointed by the Trump-like behavior (angry, petty, and argumentative) of their Trump-supporting husbands or partners, encouraged each other virtually as Biden (now President-elect) moved closer and closer to winning the White House.

From the group’s private Facebook page:  “This is a group created after a CNN report about the wives of Trump Supporters. This is not a politically affiliated group….This females only group is created to support each other and help women share their thoughts.” Continue reading “They Really Do Hate Us* by Esther Nelson”

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”

Listening to the Noise: The Connections between Milada Horáková, Anti-Semitism, and the Black Lives Matter Movement by Ivy Helman.

20200627_112934This month more than most, I feel like I have so much to say that I don’t really know where to begin.  It doesn’t help that next door they are remodelling an apartment and, outside my window, there is a crew drilling up the sidewalk and another roofing the house across the street.  The noise and its echoing are overwhelming on Prague’s narrow streets.  

Perhaps the best place to start is with a similarly loud occurrence.  On June 27th, Prague commemorated the 70th anniversary of the execution of Milada Horáková using the city-wide intercom system.  Minute-long excerpts from her trial and execution were broadcast throughout the day.  Horáková, the only woman to be executed during the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia, was a long-time proponent of democracy and  women’s rights.  In the field of women’s rights,  she focused on the status of women and children, spending considerable effort on women in the workplace and reconciling their work with family responsibilities.  She was also an outspoken critic of the Nazi Regime, having spent time as a political prisoner in Terezin.  When the war ended, she joined parliament, but resigned right after the communist take-over.  After continuing to speak out against the Communists,  she was arrested in September of 1949 and charged with attempting to overthrown the government.  She along with 12 others were interrogated and tried.  Four of them, including Horáková were sentenced to death.  She was publicly hanged on the 27th of June 1950.  Eighteen long years later, she was posthumously exonerated, and in 2000, the Czech Republic unveiled a commemorative tombstone for her in the National Cemetery at Vyšehrad Castle.  In 2017, a film was made about her life and legacy. Continue reading “Listening to the Noise: The Connections between Milada Horáková, Anti-Semitism, and the Black Lives Matter Movement by Ivy Helman.”

Dear Cousin: Can We Talk about Structural Racism? by Carol P. Christ

,A few years ago, I visited the family farm founded by ancestors from Germany in the Pokonos with a newly discovered cousin. The woman I met was delightful: warm and friendly and very much connected to family still living in the area. Her mother had vivid memories of the farm. In contrast, my great-grandmother left home to marry in Brooklyn. My father had fond memories of visiting the farm as a child, but lost touch with the relatives there when his family moved to California in the 1930s.

My cousin was working as a department manager at Walmart. She seemed smart as a button, so I asked her why she had not gone to college. She said that though she had the grades no one encouraged her to do so. Her response made me wonder if I would have gone to college if my part of the family had remained close to the family farm. I was stunned by the roles chance and the choices of others play in our lives. Though I had more education than my cousin, I was not sure that mine was a happier life. I envied the family ties that shaped and defined her days.

About two weeks ago my cousin wrote on facebook:

I have often wondered about why Whites are racists, and no other race is. Someone finally said it. How many are actually paying attention to this? Continue reading “Dear Cousin: Can We Talk about Structural Racism? by Carol P. Christ”

#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 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

The Terrible-Horrible, Wonderful-Beautiful, Superbowl Halftime Show by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir

A lof of people have been raving about the Superbowl Halftime show, and for good reasons.

A lot of people have been raging about the Superbowl Halftime show, and for good reasons.

[Please hang in there with me as I conduct a back and forth exercise in this blog post; try to read it all the way through.]

Two famous, talented women of color performed impressive, culturally rich songs and dances, and along with children of color, they denounced the racism and cruel policies of the current administration. In many ways, it was the most progressive, ethically compelling Halftime show in history.

That’s all wonderful. It’s so wonderful, that one might ask whether anything more should be said. Why bring negativity into such a fabulous, fantastic celebration of culture and denunciation of racism? Continue reading “The Terrible-Horrible, Wonderful-Beautiful, Superbowl Halftime Show by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir”

Where’s the Love by Gina Messina

In a recent post I wrote about finding God in music. I confess, I cannot remember the last time I set foot in a church. As a woman, I continually grapple with the foundational messages of Jesus and Catholic Social Teaching and the disconnect with the power structures that seek to control the ways we love and find justice. I long to participate in the culture I grew up in, but cannot support the weaponization of the tradition. 

Lately, I’ve come to realize that the messages I connect to I find in music. There are particular songs that offer me the guidance, philosophy, and ideas around meaning and purpose that I resonate with. One of those is “Where’s the Love?” by the Black Eyed Peas.  

I’ve been listening to it on repeat lately because it is the sermon I need to hear; it speaks to me and even though it was recorded quite a while ago, it is still relevant. I think it is fair to say that in our current socio-political culture, people are “acting like they got no mamas.”  And by the way, I include myself in that statement. Like anyone, I sometimes get so caught up in believing that my way is the only way, I forget to listen to what others have to say.

We are in the midst of a political civil war and are so busy yelling past each other, we’ve forgotten how critical unity is to shaping a healthy government that serves its purpose – caring for the people. Continue reading “Where’s the Love by Gina Messina”

Greenness, Whiteness, Blackness, and the Nature of the World by Marisa Goudy

There’s magic in hiking alone, but as women, we’ve been taught to worry about venturing far on our own. In fact, we’ve been taught to worry about a lot more than that.

Though once I merely shrugged off the warnings and the horror stories, confident that I was wrapped in some sort of “not me” protective veil, I don’t usually take my safety for granted anymore. Maybe it’s because I’ve outgrown the belief that I’m invincible. Maybe it’s because I’m a mother and have a different understanding of the fragility of life and the female body. Maybe it’s because that murderer on the Appalachian Trail went by the nickname “Sovereign,” appropriating the powerful, beautiful word that is so essential to my life’s work.

This particular day, however, my desire to be outside was more compelling than my new bend toward caution. I called my husband to tell him just where I’d be, joking that he needed to know where to look for me if I didn’t pick up the girls from camp on time.

Continue reading “Greenness, Whiteness, Blackness, and the Nature of the World by Marisa Goudy”

“Go Back to your Country!” OK. But … I’m From San Francisco! by Karen Leslie Hernandez

On December 15, 2018, at 10:22PM, I received a call and a voicemail from someone I didn’t know. The charming message left for me? “Hello, Karen. You fat, disgusting slob. Go back to your country. I hope your new year’s is great. You fat, disgusting slob. Goodbye.”

What to say?

With just the right amount of racism, misogyny and stereotyping, at first, I was scared. I remember sitting in my apartment, with the lights off thinking that no one should see I was at home – wondering who this person is? Was he close? Did he live in San Francisco? How does he know my name? How did he get my number? Does he know where I live? It completely freaked me out. I listened to the voicemail several times, wondering if I knew this person – perhaps he was someone I angered because I didn’t want to date him – I had no idea.

In the coming days, after a conversation with Verizon and a friend who works with AT&T, I got the caller’s name and some other pertinent information. An 18 year-old kid named Dominic, from Ohio, was the culprit, and after a bit of sleuthing on Facebook, I contacted Dominic’s dad. I left a voicemail at his dad’s work, sent his dad an email with a copy of the voicemail, and I called the Youngstown police – and I never heard back from anyone.

Continue reading ““Go Back to your Country!” OK. But … I’m From San Francisco! by Karen Leslie Hernandez”

Just When We Thought It Couldn’t Get Worse, It Did by Carol P. Christ

Like many of you I have been following discussions of the revelation that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam dressed in blackface or as a member of the Ku Klux Klan when he was a medical student. It was reported that Northam was earlier known as “coonman,” an epithet which suggests that he had blackened his face more than once. His later admission that he put only a little bit of black shoe polish on his face because it is hard to get off, when he dressed up as Michael Jackson, seems to confirm that blackface was something he had tried before. There was also the fact that students had been asked by the yearbook committee to submit photographs for their pages: Northam did not say if he submitted the photographs on his page.

Some commented that Northam’s was not a (possibly forgivable) youthful offense, but one committed by a twenty-six year-old adult. Others said that Northam’s failure to take full responsibility for his apparently repeated behavior and the hurt and harm his actions and actions like them had caused was the more serious offense. Perhaps he could still have governed if he had apologized fully, told the story of how he came to understand race relations on a deeper level, and immediately offered to meet with black leaders and restorative justice experts to discuss what he could to earn back the trust of the people who elected him.

Everyone seemed relieved that Northam would be replaced by a young progressive black man. It seemed like a happy ending to a very sad story.

And then the other shoe dropped. Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax was accused of forcible sexual assault by a black woman named Dr. Vanessa Tyson who had absolutely nothing to gain by telling her story. Continue reading “Just When We Thought It Couldn’t Get Worse, It Did by Carol P. Christ”

Past Transgressions by Esther Nelson

Governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat in the state of Virginia, has many people calling for his resignation after a picture from a 1984 medical school yearbook surfaced showing what some people assert to be Northam wearing blackface or a KKK costume.  (Northam insists he is neither one of the people in the photograph and he, as I write this, vows to fulfill his term in office.) This is a link to the recent firestorm along with other people in the public eye who have been censored due to their racial insensitivity. 

Recently I posted an essay on this blog (FAR) titled, “All Are Welcome—Even Tom.”  One of the broad questions I raise in the piece dealing with sexual assault surrounds our shared human dignity.  “If we are all one (as many people assert), do we not hurt and diminish our own selves when we seek revenge or become embittered instead of practicing compassion towards both parties—the one who has inflicted an injury as well as the one who has been injured? [Here is the link]. Continue reading “Past Transgressions by Esther Nelson”

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”

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”

Not Yet the Death Rattle by Marcia Mount Shoop

Marcia Mount ShoopI have had the honor of sitting vigil with dying people. And I have prayed through the coming of the death rattle. It can be painful to witness, especially for those witnessing death for the first time. Sometimes the person can hang on, seemingly fighting the inevitable final step of their transition into death.

In those times, I have encouraged families to share affirming words with their loved one, to tell them that it’s ok for them to go, that they are going to miss them, but that they will be ok.

I have listened as wives tell husbands thank you for all the years, for all the love, for the life they have lived together. I have been there with parents forcing themselves to say the excruciating goodbye to a child passing too soon, so the child won’t have to suffer anymore—telling them it is ok to rest, it’s ok to stop fighting. And I have listened as adult children find the courage to release the parent who has so deeply formed them.  “I love you, dad. You have taken good care of me. Thank you for loving me. It’s ok for you to go now.”

It is a sacred passage. These are Holy moments.

Continue reading “Not Yet the Death Rattle by Marcia Mount Shoop”

Priestess at the Crossroads by Joyce Zonana

In order to transform what is happening at the Mexico/U.S. “border” (and elsewhere) we must first break down the borders within our heads—all the borders in all our heads. Mr. Trump tells us “If you don’t have Borders, you don’t have a Country”; my response today is: “Who needs countries? Who needs genders? Who needs races or competing religions? What we need is Coatlicue.”

jz-headshotAs so many of us recoil in horror at the Trump administration’s cruel attempts  to enforce an impenetrable border between the U.S. and Mexico, I find myself struggling to understand what he and his supporters mean by “borders,” and why they are so invested in maintaining them. The administration’s vicious immigration policy, recently epitomized in a brief tweet on June 19th, 2018—Juneteenth, the day in 1865 when slaves were finally freed throughout the U.S. at the end of the Civil War—“If you don’t have Borders, you don’t have a Country” has sent me back to Gloria Anzaldúa’s visionary 1987 book, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza.

Grounded in her experience as a queer mestiza raised in the Texas/Mexico borderlands, Anzaldúa’s bilingual, cross-genre manifesto argues for the transformative role of the mestiza, no longer “sacrificial goat” but “officiating priestess at the crossroads”:

Continue reading “Priestess at the Crossroads by Joyce Zonana”

Don’t Look Away by John Erickson

Why can’t social media be fun anymore? Why can’t we spread happy pictures of puppies, babies, and rainbows? While the answer may be simple to many of us, let me state it plainly to my relative: Because the world is on fire and we have a racist in the White House creating edicts that call for babies and children to be placed in ‘tender age’ facilities.

WEHO CA (June 7, 2015)©2015 Rebecca Dru Photography All Rights Reserved

Don’t look away. I know how hard it is to say this but don’t look away. All of those images, recordings, and other horrific accounts of the deplorable, sickening, and unconstitutional events at the camps they have set up along the southern border need to be your fuel to take action, get fired up, and take back this country from those that would want to destroy everything we hold dear.

I’ve written a lot about how the 2016 election has impacted my family. If you want to catch up on any of those posts, you can click here:
         * A Letter to Those I’ve Lost
         * Happy Anniversary

I didn’t think I’d be writing a series about my family post-2016, but if I learned anything, it is that the personal is political, and sadly, things don’t seem to be getting any better. Continue reading “Don’t Look Away by John Erickson”

Is God Breathing? by Karen Leslie Hernandez

Another mass shooting. Syria. #MeToo. Hunger. Animal extinction. Iraq. Climate change. Deportation. Slavery. Central African Republic. Hate crimes. Rape. Animal cruelty. Oppression. Accidental nuclear war alerts. Homeless encampments. “Illegal immigrants.” Afghanistan. More mass shootings. Sex robots. Trafficking. Russian bots. Racism. Police brutality. Myanmar. Child abuse. Prostitution. Torture. Poverty. The war in Chicago. The privatization of water. Patriarchy. Prison industry. Islamophobia. Migrants.

This is our world. And I can’t breathe.

I often wonder – is God breathing? Does God care anymore? Does She wonder why we can’t stop harming each other? Has She given up on us? I certainly wouldn’t blame her.

As I sit writing this, the world outside continues. As we awake to more news that numbs us to the every day atrocities we commit upon each other, I believe, inside each and every one of us, we are screaming. We want out. We want this to stop. We are scared. We can’t breathe.

But, we don’t know how to stop. So we keep moving. We keep going. Because that’s what humans do. We keep hoping. We wonder how much time the universe will give us. Will we get a break? Will something or someone finally stop us? Are we even deserving of the chance after chance we continually receive – to get it right?

Are we worthy of saving?

Continue reading “Is God Breathing? by Karen Leslie Hernandez”

Of Monument(al) Importance by Esther Nelson

I remember being blown away when I read Judith Plaskow’s book, Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective, shortly after it was published in 1990. She writes, “The need for a feminist Judaism begins with hearing silence.” She notes it’s a “silence so vast [it] tends to fade into the natural order….”  Women’s presence throughout Judaism has not been reflected in Jewish scripture, Jewish law, or in liturgical expression.

Plaskow zeroes in on the story in Exodus where the entire Israelite congregation, gathered at the base of Mt. Sinai, eagerly anticipates entry into the covenant, “the central event that established the Jewish people.” Before this communal event, the covenant had been entered into by way of the individual patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The particularly disturbing verse for Plaskow is Exodus 19:15: “Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman.”

The specific issue Moses addresses is ritual impurity since the emission of semen renders both parties that engage in coitus temporarily unfit to engage with the sacred.  Both women and men need to be ceremonially purified before approaching the holy.  However, Moses does not say “Men and women do not go near each other.”  At this crucial juncture in Jewish history, “Moses addresses the community only as men.” The text makes women invisible. Clearly it was men’s experience that shaped Torah.

Plaskow writes that “[Jewish] women have always known or assumed our presence at Sinai.” Exodus 19:15 “is painful because it seems to deny what we have always taken for granted. Of course we were at Sinai; how is it then that the text could imply we were not there?”

Why make a big deal of this? Can’t the text, asks Plaskow, be relegated to a time in history “way back then” when people and communities accepted gender inequality as the natural order?  Why not just accept the past for what it was and get on with things?  Because Torah (Hebrew Bible) is not “just” history, “but also living memory.” When the story of Sinai is read and recited in services as part of the lectionary reading over and over again, year after year, “women each time hear ourselves thrust aside anew, eavesdropping on a conversation among men and between men and God.” Continue reading “Of Monument(al) Importance by Esther Nelson”

An Algorithm for Capturing White Heteropatriarchy: The Woman Caught in Adultery and the Failure of the Civil Rights and Feminist Movements to Embrace Intersectionality by Blanche Cook


The church occasioned one of my first conscious experiences with inequality — Sunday school to be exact. I was nine and bedecked in black platform shoes and a bright pink polyester suit.  It was the 70s, a moment in fashion history never to be revisited.  My Sunday school teacher, a spiritually angelic woman, was explaining the demise of the Woman Caught in Adultery. According to the story, the leaders of law and religion wanted to stone the woman to death for having intercourse with a man that was not her husband.  Although she was vulnerable to the death penalty, the man was not exposed to any punishment.  This lopsided sanctioning plagued my young mind.  Little did I know, I would spend my legal career, as a federal sex trafficking prosecutor and as a legal scholar, trying to vindicate the Woman Caught in Adultery.

Continue reading “An Algorithm for Capturing White Heteropatriarchy: The Woman Caught in Adultery and the Failure of the Civil Rights and Feminist Movements to Embrace Intersectionality by Blanche Cook”

White Christianity, Flags, and Football by Gina Messina

While Puerto Rico has faced its worst natural disaster in over a century; Trump has once again used trumpfoolery to distract his base from his failed action in assisting Americans in crisis by starting a fight with the NFL. It seems a fitting plot for the reality show television host turned fake politician/president.

People are dying in the streets with no access to water or medication. It is expected to take four months to restore power to the island and everyday mothers take their children to stand in line for a minimum of twelve hours to get two packs of ice – hopefully, a few more if their children are allowed a share as well.

Rather than mobilizing efforts to bring aid to Puerto Ricans, Trump has diverted attention from his failure by ranting that NFL players should be fired for disrespecting the American flag by taking a knee during the national anthem. It is no surprise that our fake president is unable to make the connection between the peaceful protests and lack of rights for every American – he likely thinks that Rosa Parks was protesting the transportation system. Continue reading “White Christianity, Flags, and Football by Gina Messina”

#NotYourWedge: Asian Americans and Affirmative Action by Grace Yia-Hei Kao

Asian Americans are making headline news as the nation once again grapples with affirmative action.

There are two precipitating incidents this time around:

Continue reading “#NotYourWedge: Asian Americans and Affirmative Action by Grace Yia-Hei Kao”

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