Violent Virtue by Esther Nelson

esther-nelsonI just got home from the first yoga class I’ve attended since the recent (11/8/16) U.S. presidential election.  I cried for the entire 75 minutes—through forward folds, downward facing dogs, exalted warriors, and especially shavasana (corpse pose).  The young man (probably in his thirties) doing his yoga practice next to me asked after the closing Namaste, “Are you all right?”  “No, not really. I’m very upset.”  He nodded his head as if to say he understood.

Ever since the nation’s president-elect declared victory, I’ve felt a huge sense of angst.  Why?  A huge percentage (81%) of white evangelical voters propelled him to that victory. I grew up in a branch of the evangelical church.  The church, to a large degree, is all about translating a particular understanding of God’s will as “revealed” in Scripture into public policy and law, keen on imposing that interpretation on our pluralistic society. Continue reading “Violent Virtue by Esther Nelson”

“Vaginas are Everywhere!”: The Power of the Female Reproductive System by John Erickson

Nice girls don’t say the word vagina.

I have a beautiful picture of vagina hanging on my wall.  However, for the longest time it was in the back of my closet, with a plastic bag covering it.  I wasn’t ashamed of it but my ex-boyfriend, like most gay men, refused to have it on the wall where he could see it.  He is now long gone; the vagina is now out and proud.

I bid on the picture one fall during a showing of the Vagina Monologues at Claremont School of Theology.  One of my best friends was in the show and I had always loved its powerful message.  I walked out of the theatre, waiting for my friend, and there it was: the picture of the vagina.  I found myself caught up in its beauty.  Its gaze had mesmerized me.  The outlying layers of red, the contours of its shape, they all began to mold into a figure before my eyes.  While I have never thought of myself as a religious person, I realized that at that moment I was no longer looking the old photo but rather I was staring at the outline of the Virgin Mary.  At that moment, I realized that I had to have the picture.

My ex boyfriend was ashamed of the photo.  I let him shame me into putting it in the back of my closet and cast it away like it was nothing.  Like the experience, call it religious or not, had never happened.  When we ended our relationship, I found myself inconsolable and pacing up and down my stairs in a never-ending cycle of sadness and downheartedness.   As I was pilfering through our items, I came about the picture.  I saw it and for a split second, I was no longer sad. Continue reading ““Vaginas are Everywhere!”: The Power of the Female Reproductive System by John Erickson”

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