Queering the American Dream by Angela Yarber

As Florida politicians try to ban teachers from including LGBTQ+ issues in the curriculum, admonishing them, “Don’t Say Gay” at school, I’m shouting “GAY!” from the rooftops. Because I’m celebrating the release of my eighth book and first memoir, Queering the American Dream. It’s my queer family’s story of leaving it all and the revolutionary women who taught us how.

Our story began the day the Supreme Court ruled our marriage legal and ended the moment my younger brother’s addiction spiraled into a deadly overdose. In-between were eighteen months of full-time travel with a toddler in tow. Criss-crossing the American landscape, my wife and I came face to face with jaw dropping natural beauty on the one hand, which contrasted with the politics, policies, and people who continued to discriminate against marginalized families like ours on the other. At each stop along the way, a different revolutionary woman from history or mythology guided our footsteps, reminding us that it’s not simply our family who dared to queer the American dream, but a subversive sisterhood of saints who have upended the status quo for centuries. From Vermont to Hawai’i, and everywhere in between, the beauty of the American landscape bore witness to a queer clergywoman whose faith tradition was not enough to sustain her. But the revolutionary women were.

Continue reading “Queering the American Dream by Angela Yarber”

Freedom and Speech by Sara Frykenberg

Feminist theories and theo/alogies are often concerned with voice, naming and re-membering. Many feminists do this work, again and again, because of persistent silence and silencing, invisibility, erasure of stories, desires, religions and ways of being, because of missing histories, and a dominating culture’s inability and unwillingness to hear those they marginalize. We “hear each other into speech,” to counteract and recreate, to find power in ourselves and with those whom we share common cause.

We hear each other into ….speech.

Speech is treated as a sacred thing; and certainly, I hold the stories and voices of those with whom I’ve shared parts of my own feminist journey very sacred. I find the ability ‘to voice’ sacred. But I am also aware that as a citizen of the United States, “speech” or more specifically, “freedom of speech,” is sacralized as a part of my national mythology.

It is an implicit myth: all one needs to do is utter the word “speech” in the United States to conjure images of protest, civil rights, the free press, revolution, etc. There are many heroes in this mythology, most of whom “spoke truth to power,” rebuffing domination for the “common good.” The ‘free speaker,’ is often cast as the subjugated “everyman” (sic) whose autonomy and purpose drive society towards greater freedom. “He” and “his” subjugation, real or “alternative fact,” are then made to serve the larger myth of the American Dream. There is a major problem here: “the American Dream” is about freedom and independence for the white, Western male. So is it any wonder, then, that the myths surrounding “freedom of speech,” are so easily turned around to villianize those who might challenge this hegemonic power? Continue reading “Freedom and Speech by Sara Frykenberg”

Should Our Children and Grandchildren Live Better Than Us? And Whatever Happened to Our Dreams? By Carol P. Christ

Carol P. Christ is a founding mother in the study of women and religion, feminist theology, women’s spirituality, and the Goddess movement.  She teaches in the Women’s Spirituality program at CIIS and through Ariadne Institute offers Goddess Pilgrimages to Crete. Her books include She Who Changes and Rebirth of the Goddess and the widely used anthologies Womanspirit Rising and Weaving the Visions.

Last Sunday on Meet the Press Tom Brokaw spoke about the breakdown of what he felt had been a common consensus about American life. He said that Americans are questioning the American dream which tells us that “our children and grandchildren will live better than us.”  He found it disturbing that people now feel their children will not be better off than they were.  The poor no longer see a way out of poverty and the middle class fear that their children will be unemployed for long periods in their lives, burdened with college debt, and unable to afford mortgages and college educations for their children.  I have heard this idea expressed many times in the recent economic crisis, including by progressive journalist Adrianna Huffington.

What Brokaw and others do not mention is that a few generations ago, this American dream was the hope that one’s children would not live in poverty.  Now, for the middle class if this dream means anything, it means having a bigger house, more cars, $2000 suits, botox and plastic surgery, expensive vacations, weddings costing tens of thousands of dollars, store-bought Halloween costumes, and so many Christmas presents that children step on their new toys to get to the tree for more packages.  What Brokaw and others did not address is whether the desire for your children to have “more” than you had, once your family is out of poverty is a valid, good, or sustainable desire to have.  Of course we should all hope that our children and children’s children will find employment and not live in poverty, but an endless upward spiral cannot be sustained and there is no evidence that it makes anyone any happier. Continue reading “Should Our Children and Grandchildren Live Better Than Us? And Whatever Happened to Our Dreams? By Carol P. Christ”

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