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.
I have newly found myself a wife and in the throes of motherhood. In many feminist circles, I have encountered anti-family and anti-wifehood sentiments. The understanding is that to be a wife, and, to be a wife that chooses to start a family, is an oppressive position to occupy as well as the antithesis of the feminist movement. Though I am not typically a fan of tough physical, emotional, soulful labor, these two positions have been the highlights of my life so far.
My daughter embodies both my husband and me, physically. However, she is and will become her own person-soul. She is so young, but her soul is eternal, and has experienced eternity. I am here to help her navigate remembering who she is. She inhabits the intersection of Blackness, divinity, femininity, and infinity. Motherhood has greatly increased my capacity of appreciation for women and what women are capable of doing. Especially from the intersection of Blackness and woman-ness. From the capacity to create, labor, and deliver life to the task of raising Black children in a country that would have them annihilated, emotionally traumatized, and made to accept they are inferior.
Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf has reopened at the Public Theater in New York City to rave reviews.
I first saw for colored girls in 1976 after my friend Carolyn Broadaway, who was visiting me in the city, insisted that we must see it.
Here is what I wrote about that experience:
Each of the three times I saw for colored girls performed on Broadway and each of the many times I read it or heard it performed [on the original cast album] on my stereo, I have felt chills of recognition up and down my white woman’s spine—shocks of recognition that tell me that something deep within me has been unlocked as I hear my experience voiced. (103)
‘Someone needs to gather the stories, to keep the cauldron,’ said the late Goddess feminist artist Lydia Ruyle during one of the last times we spoke, at the 2014 Glastonbury Goddess Conference. I had hinted at my concerns around conducting doctoral research in the presence of ongoing conflict within the Glastonbury Goddess community (especially when my broadly-stated site of interest is ‘politics’), and in reply she had stressed the need to ‘hold space’ for the different voices and perspectives in the UK Goddess movement, and that conflict would be inevitable. ‘There needs to be a weaver,’ she said.
The following day I recorded an interview with Lydia and some of her friends at Café Galatea on the High Street, which she had been keen to ensure since the previous summer—with poignant foresight, given her death in March 2016. I’m not sure if she was expecting that I should fully take on the role of this ‘weaver’—there are more stories than one PhD thesis can claim to encompass—but the theme is present in my writing. Her words lead me to reflect on the weaving together of politics with memory and storytelling, and on the need to honour the plural histories of the British Goddess movement. Continue reading “Goddess Politics and the Cauldron of Memory by Kavita Maya”
I’ve been asked by both academics and Pagans what inspired me to pursue doctoral research on the British Goddess movement: of the many ways that people first click with feminist politics, a story entwined with a ‘spiritual’ impulse might seem unusual, given the slow-to-change secular assumptions of mainstream feminism.
When I reflect on my history, two threads at the core of my early feminist identity leap out: one, the value of thinking and asking questions; the other, ‘feminist spirituality’, which for me describes a profound emotional, intellectual and creative investment in the struggle for a fairer, more inclusive world. Two early ‘click’ moments: as a child, asking persistent questions about the sexist gender roles modeled by those around me (and being told “You’ll understand when you’re older,” which I now recall with a grim irony), and—perhaps unusually—coming across the concepts of patriarchy, feminism and the Goddess by way of 1990s teen fiction about witches. Continue reading “Reflections on Researching the Goddess Movement in Britain by Kavita Maya”
Elise M. Edwards is a Ph.D. candidate in Theology, Ethics, and Culture at Claremont Graduate University and registered architect in the State of Florida. She does interdisciplinary work in the fields of theology, ethics, and aesthetics, examining how they inform and shape each other and express the commitments of their communities.
“You should watch this. It’s inspiring,” my sister said to me about Born to Dance: Laurieann Gibson, the dance competition show on BET. So I watched. And I loved it. I can’t remember watching any other reality show–especially a competition-based one- that left me with such a sense of the spirituality of its star.
Laurieann Gibson fulfills many roles on Born to Dance: host, mentor, judge, and executive producer. Laurieann is a respected dancer and choreographer. TV viewers may remember her from MTV’s Making the Band franchise, in which she trained members of Dannity Kane in dance and sometimes clashed with P. Diddy, the star and producer of that show. In this show that features her name, we learn more about her approach to dance and to life. On Born to Dance, we see the same drive and demanding ethic that she displayed in other shows, but we also see her spirituality. She says grace before eating dinner with the contestants. She speaks of God and gifts. And most surprisingly, she prays in Jesus’ name before very elimination. These prayers are for the contestants that will be eliminated, that they may continue to grow in confidence and belief in their dreams to become dancers, and that they may have many opportunities and paths in the future to do so. Continue reading “A Spirit of Competition By Elise M. Edwards”