Talking about Death with my Daughter & Remembering Carol Christ

Recently, facing the reality that I do not have definitive or perhaps, static “answers” for my little one when she asks me about death, I find comfort in Carol’s words—in the idea that I don’t have to “answer” my daughter with one, forever “truth.” Because I have to ability to give her “enough,” at least for now.

As I sit down to write, I am reminded of a post I wrote many years ago entitled “Where Do Cat’s Go,” about my mother’s cat, Mimi, who passed away at the age of twenty-four. At that time, I was struggling with what death meant outside of an Evangelical Christian ideology. I had rejected the doctrine of heaven (and hell) itself; but doubt lingered. Fear still held sway over my emotions. I wanted to “believe in,” something else. Whether to regain control or simply for comfort, I hoped for new belief.

Carol Christ, who has touched so many of us, who was my teacher and whom I miss, replied to that post (paraphrasing here), “Why does [Mimi] have to go anywhere? Isn’t it enough that she is a loved and remembered part of life?”

At the time it was not enough. But recently, facing the reality that I do not have definitive or perhaps, static “answers” for my little one when she asks me about death, I find comfort in Carol’s words—in the idea that I don’t have to “answer” my daughter with one, forever “truth.” Because I have to ability to give her “enough,” at least for now.

 As a feminist mom, I frequently think about what will give my daughter strength and a sense of her value outside of hetero-patriarchal standards. I am also an ex-vangelical agnostic married to an atheist. He and I want our daughter to have choice in her spirituality and freedom to explore her own directions. I think this is a good commitment, though it is frequently a little more difficult in practice. My partner wants to protect our daughter from all religion and Christianity in particular. I tend to take an educational approach, answering her questions about spiritual matters with, “well, people believe all sorts of things about that,” then listing several beliefs or mythologies that might give her some information on the matter.

Continue reading “Talking about Death with my Daughter & Remembering Carol Christ”

Acting Out by Esther Nelson

I’ve had two distinct vocations during my lifetime—so far.  Three, really, if you count parenting a vocation.  Parenting took up a lot of my time for many years.  There were aspects to it that were fulfilling, enlightening, and satisfying, but parenting doesn’t last a lifetime.  Children grow up before long and then what?

I grew up in Temperley, a suburb of Buenos Aires, Argentina, with fundamentalist, evangelical missionary parents, the second of five children.  My parents met at Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, Illinois, an ultra-conservative, Bible-believing school that encouraged and prepared students to go into the world and preach the Gospel.  My parents were zealous to reach Jews for Jesus and sailed to Argentina in 1941, a country where many Jews from Europe emigrated to in the 19th century to escape various upheavals. Continue reading “Acting Out by Esther Nelson”

Virgins with Pregnancy Scares: Feminist Reflections on the Annunciation by Lauren D. Sawyer

There I was in the bathroom, peeing on a stick. “It’s a rite of passage,” my friend Kelsey told me. She was the one wishing me luck from the other side of the door; she was the one who brought me the pregnancy test—and a pound of chocolate—after my panicked tears suggested I could not buy one on my own.

I came from a world of virgins with pregnancy scares. Growing up a girl in a conservative evangelical church, I was taught that all sexual sins—from kissing in the dark, to “petting” (whatever that was), to oral sex, to intercourse—were equally bad, were just as likely to risk my salvation. So many of us began imagining that the consequences were all the same too, that we might become pregnant by unconventional means. Lying naked together. Making out. Continue reading “Virgins with Pregnancy Scares: Feminist Reflections on the Annunciation by Lauren D. Sawyer”

God Says No Moore by Gina Messina

Doug Jones victory in the Alabama Senate election last Tuesday is certainly something to celebrate. Although many claimed God supported Roy Moore for Senate, his defeat says otherwise.

However, it must be noted that this narrow victory ended with 48% of the vote in Roy Moore’s favor. In addition, 80% of white evangelicals cast their votes for Moore. This begs the question, what should our votes be based on, particularly if we are claiming the Christian faith as the foundation of our values? While we should all value the separation of church and state, and it is true that government needs to be protected from religion, sometimes religion also needs protecting from government. Continue reading “God Says No Moore by Gina Messina”

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”

The Religiosity of Silence by John Erickson

In a repetitive culture of abuse and silence, is it really shocking to find out that an individual who preached such hate and discontent for others actually perpetuated other forms of heinous abuse against others?

John Erickson, sports, coming out.In 2013, I wrote an article about the then latest reality TV scandal featuring A&E’s Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson and his rampant foot-in-mouth disease that caused him to express, in the pages of GQ, his true distaste for the LGBT community and specifically for the sexual proclivities of gay men.

Now, two years later in another reality TV show, TLC’s ’19 Kids and Counting’, it isn’t star Josh Duggar’s anti-LGBT statements getting him into trouble but rather his sexual assault and molestation of 5 girls, including two of his sisters. However, while the Internet explodes with attacks against Josh Duggar and his Quiverfull background, it is vital to remember that the silence that he and his family inflicted upon his victims since 2006 has not only been ongoing since then but is also being reemphasized today with each keystroke focusing on the assailant rather than the victims. Continue reading “The Religiosity of Silence by John Erickson”

Mark Driscoll and Toxic Christian Masculinity by Kate Davis

Kate DavisMars Hill Church in Seattle has been a large-scale experiment to shape the future of the Evangelical Movement, for good or ill. In recent months the controversy surrounding the Mars Hill founder, Mark Driscoll, gained national attention. Driscoll’s version of radical conservatism wherein he advocates a return to more conservative and traditional faith (with a particular emphasis on gender and gender roles), has long drawn criticism from more mainstream Evangelical factions, but it endeared him to many young Evangelicals.

Recently, Driscoll has been involved in a controversy regarding plagiarism within many of his books, resulting in a flurry of accusations against him (and against the leadership at Mars Hill), spanning everything from attempting to game the New York Times Bestsellers list to misuse of church funds to bullying his fellow pastors at Mars Hill into signing non-compete clauses (which would, ostensibly, prevent them from ministering at any church within 10 miles of Mars Hill in Seattle). Continue reading “Mark Driscoll and Toxic Christian Masculinity by Kate Davis”

BOOK REVIEW: Jonathan Merritt’s A Faith of Our Own by Gina Messina-Dysert

Have you been a victim of the “Culture Wars”?  Jonathan Merritt was, and it inspired him to write his latest book A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars.  According to Merritt, the culture wars have led each of us (who identify as Christian) to define Christ in terms of our political party.  The Religious Right have claimed a political and pietistic Christ who must be protected from liberals who have sought to chase Jesus out of our “God-Blessed” nation.  And Christians on the left have fought against the oppressive theocracy they believe the right wing seeks to implement.  Neither side’s Jesus likes the other, and according to Merritt, neither represents the Jesus of the Bible.

Merritt argues that participating in politics foolishly gets churches into trouble and results in a divide within community.  Christians must answer Jesus’ question, “Who do you say I am?” for themselves.  By transcending the culture wars, we can return to the Bible, see Jesus with “fresh eyes,” and find a “faith of our own.”  Merritt explains Christians who are reclaiming their faith are doing so in search of life transformation and unity among those once divided by politics. Continue reading “BOOK REVIEW: Jonathan Merritt’s A Faith of Our Own by Gina Messina-Dysert”

A Prayer From the Privileged by Grace Yia-Hei Kao

“As we approach Memorial Day Weekend (and the militaristic patriotism it promotes), as the 2012 election cycle heats up, and as I meditate more deeply upon my and my country’s many riches, one of [Walter] Brueggemann’s prayers in particular spoke to me.”

One of the three books I took with me on vacation is by the world’s leading interpreter of the Old Testament, Walter Brueggemann. It’s not actually on the Bible, but something he published in 2008 called Prayers for a Privileged People.

Continue reading “A Prayer From the Privileged by Grace Yia-Hei Kao”

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