Charity Is Not Enough by Susan de Gaia

Gift giving is an important focus this time of year, along with reflection, reconciliation, and renewal. This spirit of charity is needed now more than ever. And yet, charity is not enough.

Thousands of women, maybe even millions, re-experienced the trauma of sexual assault when the American public heard and ignored Donald Trump’s admission of grabbing women “by the pussy” and the accusations of forced kissing by numerous women, electing him to office in 2016. This was followed by additional revelations of his immorality and corruption and, in a show of conscience by one political party, his impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Many have wondered how such a man could get elected and remain in office despite the many revelations of illegal activities, and complete lack of honesty, repentance, and conscience. The recent response by Trump and his allies to an editorial in Christianity Today favoring impeachment yields a clue: criticize Trump, and risk losing politically, financially, or worse. Today, one can’t even speak out. How many of Trump’s accusers received death threats? How many of his extramarital liaisons received a bribe to keep quiet?

The waters are muddy in the Trump era: politics divide us into winners and losers, and “our” administration sides with those who praise one man and against those who dare to disagree, aided by conservative religious leaders and institutions. This is a situation that our founders meant to prevent. But it is happening.

Also happening are racial and gender inequality on the rise. To many feminists this seems nightmarish and unexpected. Some of us saw it coming, but the extent of its public acceptance and open justification was something few could foresee.

At the same time, women and men are coming together; I have seen my networks and others expand more than ever. The increasing support and understanding for women’s issues by people of conscience, and the promotion of compassion and activism for all those who suffer, is a form of charity, one that is greatly needed now.

But such charity is not enough.  And charity from those who remain quiet about the corruption, immorality, and bullying in and outside of our government is not even welcome.

What we need is acknowledgement. This would be an important first step. And it is that which Trump and his allies push against the hardest, perhaps because they realize it can lead to the next steps, repentance and then change.

Trump’s perfect flawless existence is a thin veneer that most of us can see through. And yet, here we remain, at a standstill that is supported by willful ignoring of his true face by those with something to gain.

Acknowledgement, not charity, is needed now. No one is perfect, least of all one who claims that he is.



Susan de Gaia teaches Religion and Philosophy online for Central Michigan University and is General Editor of Encyclopedia of Women in World Religions: Faith and Culture across History (ABC-CLIO, 2018/2019). Susan lives in California and is active in social and environmental justice, peace, and women’s spirituality movements. She works locally to promote environmental sustainability, cultural diversity, and political action. She holds a Ph.D. in Religion-Social Ethics with a Graduate Certificate in the Study of Women and Men in Society (USC), and B.A. in Women’s Studies (UCSB).

Eros, Caritas, and Relationship by Chris Ash

Christy CroftIn 2011, the Anglican Theological Review published arguments for and against same-sex marriage. “A Theology of Marriage including Same-Sex Couples: A View from the Liberals,” co-written by Deirdre Good, Cynthia Kittredge, Eugene Rogers, and Willis Jenkins, presents a rationale for same-sex marriage that is surprisingly traditional, grounded in scripture and doctrine, understood and interpreted “in the company of patristic interpreters as well as in the company of readers long silenced by the tradition.” Part of the liberal view explores the relationship between eros and caritas, and how the marriage vows, which “mark marriage as an arduous form of training in virtue,” teach us to love and “offer a means by which God may turn eros into charity.”

As someone for whom eros is both a modality of intimate communion and manifest expression of divine love, the idea that it would need to be transformed into something less sensual, more socially acceptable, seems an arbitrary sanitization that positions eros as untamed and dangerous, in need of redemption by sexless ideals of Christian charity. Admittedly, my aversion to scrubbing eros of its rawness likely comes from my own understanding of the word, which might differ from that of traditional Christian theology, and which is inherently tied to the ways in which I’ve known the divine more deeply through expansive, mystical, erotic experiences that engaged my every sense in the coolness of rivers and grazing touch of mountain breezes.

We know through the body; we sense through our skin and parts and cells and perceive through nerves and fibers and tissue – seismic shocks of color and sound reverberating through our beings in the abstract, or the specific, deep, and warming awareness of divine love washing over our grief, fear, or loneliness. Each of these teaches us about the nature of the universe and of love, about bodies and subjectivity, and (by extension) about God and God’s action in the cosmos. My experience of eros – of the sensual explosion of erotic energy that makes me tremble, lays gooseflesh across every inch of me, and takes my breath as it rises inside my chest and belly – is not limited to sexuality, but comes through nature, art, song, movement, and touch. It is my primary way of experiencing divine love, and needs no purification. Continue reading “Eros, Caritas, and Relationship by Chris Ash”

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