Hope: What is a heart transplant if not hope? In granting the possibility of new life out of death, it is the essence of hope. Yet, hopefulness is also knowing death is imminent and finding a way to live well into that knowledge. The impulse of hope encourages us to go on despite the odds. Hope indeed seems to spring eternal. In my darkest days, something would come along and lift me up. Hope is a testimony of the human spirit, lifting us up, refusing to refuse us. This new heart brought hope to me, and I believe that in our going on together, we carry the hopes of my donor’s loved ones as well.
Note: This is based on a podcast which can be heard here.
What is love? What’s love got to do with pain and suffering? Are they related? Pain and love? Must one always be present with the other? In this blogpost I explore pain and suffering through a womanist perspective (centering the perspectives and lived experiences of Black women) and discuss how to live into wholeness and wellness. This is especially important because the Black community/women in particular’s experience in the US (and globally) has been and continues to be defined by pain and suffering. What are the theological implications?
How have Christian frameworks at associating love with sacrifice and pain justified the pain and suffering of Black women? How can we decolonize love so that liberated Black women are empowered to embrace a love that does not hurt first with false promises of rewards later in life or afterlife? Black women, pain does not equal love.
A few weeks back, author and historian Jemar Tisby tweeted that an acquaintance of his “described their general experience with white evangelicals as ‘people who don’t have any questions.’ I immediately knew what they meant.” The tweet gained some traction, with 62.1k “likes” at the time I’m writing this. The next week, Tisby followed up with a thoughtful reflection piece, expanding on his own experience with white evangelicals needing to have answers to every question, from “How old is the earth?” to “How should Christians vote?” Tisby unpacks the dangers of this kind of arrogant certainty, inviting Christians instead to embrace mystery, curiosity, and learning.
I resonate with many of Tisby’s observations and reflections. From my experience (including thirteen years in evangelical churches and a Master of Divinity degree from an evangelical seminary), I wouldn’t say these things are true of every single white evangelical—but they’re definitely true enough of the movement as a whole that they are very much worth naming, engaging, and challenging. I appreciate Tisby’s work.
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.
I started writing this post a day after news broke that beloved activist, poet, feminist, and academic, bell hooks had passed away. This news comes months after our FAR community lost Carol Christ; another academic, feminist, writer, and maker of history. This post was finished as almost three weeks into a new year has gone by. The advent of 2022 is filled with the last two years’ heavy, unbelievable, heartbreaking, and extraordinary experiences and events.
In a world where the words of black women writers, even our very names are often soon forgotten, it is essential and necessary that we live through writing and teaching the words of our great and good writers, whose voices must no longer be silenced, even by death.[i]
– bell hooks
On December 15, 2021, the world lost the great feminist theorist, teacher, activist, and writer bell hooks. As a white feminist theorist, I valued immensely the ways her work widened my partial perspective, challenged my blind sports, and gave me important viewpoints on everything from sexism, racism, classism, pedagogy, militarism, work, and parenting. Her piece on feminist solidarity is the best I know — examining not just the ways we are divided by classism and racism, but also by sexism, addressing the very real and destructive ways that women undermine, abuse, and disregard each other, and how important it is to unlearn this with each other. She used the term “feminist movement,” rather than the feminist movement, knowing it not to be one thing, but rather a verb, a process of moving, changing, and transforming. Championing the power of coming to voice, she spoke truth to power, engaging in honest exploration of often difficult and divisive topics. It was this honest, liberatory voice that spoke throughout her work and made her voice so compelling, and so valuable.
When I moved to Minnesota, everyone back home voiced concern about how cold the winters would be. Nobody warned me about how dark they would be, nor how long the dark would last. For years, I complained, but gradually I have come to embrace the dark. The dark invites us to slow down, to rest, to sleep, to dream. It is a time to open to our depths, and to others. There is a kind of magic in the dark. Without the harsh light of judgment, in the dark we are more likely to share our secrets and stories, our wounds and our wonderings, our hearts and hopes with each other. As the deciduous trees lose their leaves, the sky opens as well, giving birth to the night sky. The winter dark gives us the gift of stars, giving me a sense of my place in the universe. They arrive like old friends. The Seven Sisters of the Pleiades appear in the evening, and Orion greets me every morning. When Hale-Bopp was visible from earth, I looked for her on my late-night drives home, and there she would be, my constant companion on those cold winter nights. The stars remind us that we are not alone, that we are all related, for we are all made of the stuff of stars.
There, I said it. I know that we are supposed to “use our words” or “take the high road” but I no longer can. I am completely and totally done with the fact that it is Sunday night and I sit here wondering whether or not our Democracy will be around by the end of the week.
If you are like me, you have found yourself, more times than one I am guessing, watching the news, mouths agape, mind in disbelief, and your heart heavy with grief and sadness. While these great travesties occur, I find myself wondering what is the cost? How many children must be locked in cages? How many women must come forward with accusations of sexual assault and rape? How many more people must accuse the President of harassment and assault? How many more anonymous op-eds and faulty promises must be made before we finally all see that the real cost, is that these great travesties themselves (too many to recall here) are what it really takes to take down imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.Continue reading “The Cost by John Erickson”
Last year, the leader of the (un)Free World was elected by ‘right choice’, much to the collective dismay of liberal leftists, a huge proportion of people of colour, progressive educationists, environmental conservationists, human rights defenders, religious reformists, and a large fragment of the developing world in the south of the globe. Today, Donald Trump has brought the world to the brink of World War III. Amidst accusations of undeclared tax returns and unabashed grabbing of female genitalia, the term ‘toxic masculinity’ is thrown about in a variety of media platforms. Many critiques lament how “inflammatory” the term is, one that is not quite “hopeful” for men, whilst the criticisms by media oligarchs reflect a hatred towards femininity.
Entitlement, sexism and narcissism can no longer be virtues of a millennial masculinity – we have lost so much already to corporate greed, warlords and racist bigots. Traditional, armorial masculinity is breaking our homes and our planet. At the ecological scale, the lungs of the earth mother are clogged. Wisdom-keepers decry the daily rape and plunder of their lands. The planet’s heart valves bleed toxins that can no longer sustain flora, fauna, fungi. Continue reading “What Could ‘Masculinity’ Mean in 2017? by Meghana Bahar”
I believe that we can restore our hope in a world that transcends race by building communities where self-esteem comes from not feeling superior to any group, but from one’s relationship to the land, to the people, to the place, wherever that may be.—bell hooks
In these words from her poignant memoir-reflection-analysis Belonging, bell hooks suggests that rather than creating identity by comparing ourselves to others, whether in the academy, in communities, or in the larger society, we would do better to root our identity in the land.
Hooks “left home” in rural Appalachia in order to pursue “higher” (why do we call it that?) education including a Ph.D. which enabled her to teach at prestigious universities in the urban north. Despite her considerable success as an academic and a black feminist, hooks suffered persistent depression in the cities where she taught. Eventually she diagnosed her dis-ease as a longing for the home she had left behind, specifically as a need to connect with the traditions of her ancestors, the mountains, and the land that had sustained them since the end of slavery. Continue reading “Belonging to the Land by Carol P. Christ”
I still remember the first time I read Mary Daly’s Gyn/Ecology. It awoke something within me. Her use of language, the power of her writing and the ease with which she created new words taught me so much about the world around me and about the way the language, and subsequently its use in writing, shapes lives, choices, abilities and destinies. She also taught me about myself.
I was hooked, but not just on Mary Daly. Shortly after I finished her book, I moved onto other feminists writing about religion like Katie Cannon, Judith Plaskow, Alice Walker, Carol Christ, Rita Gross, Gloria Anzaldua, Audre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, Margaret Farley and Starhawk to name just a few. All of them, in fact every feminist I’ve ever read, has shown me the way in which words have power and how words speak truth to power. Ever since, I’ve wanted to be the kind of writer whose words carry a power that not only affects people but also inspires a more just, more equal, more compassionate and more humane world. In other words, I wanted to be a writer activist.
Yet, I’ve always carried around with me a sneaky suspicion that people don’t consider writers true activists. If you aren’t holding a sign, screaming or participating in some sort of public demonstration or civil disobedience, then you have no right to call yourself an activist. Is that really true? Continue reading “Writing: Changing the World and Ourselves. By Ivy Helman”
The underlying principle that links a feminist critique to every other critical lens since the rise of feminist discourse is the “hermeneutic of suspicion.” Essentially, a hermeneutic of suspicion identifies the disconnect between rhetoric and a lived reality. The lived lives of women are different than the pontifications espoused directly and indirectly by the traditionally patriarchal social, political, cultural, religious, and educational structures in which individuals participate.
I like to think that I live my life bucking these structures whenever possible because the roles a woman plays in her own life should: 1) be determined by her; and 2) if she negotiates more “traditional practices” (e.g. marriage, motherhood, etc.) then these practices do not limit her to traditionalist practices (e.g. staying at home, spousal servitude, etc.). Granted, I used the two most generic examples of traditional and traditionalist practices, but the point is still valid. When I go to holidays with my extended family there are very few questions or comments about my PhD program, but many comments about the fact that I do not make a plate of food for my husband. Continue reading “Practice What You Preach by Corinna Guerrero”