Moderator’s Note: Carol Christ died from cancer in July, 2021. Her work continues through her non-profit foundation, the Ariadne Institute for the Study of Myth and Ritual and the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete. This blog was originally posted March 2, 2015. You can read its original comments here. It is being paired with an archive post tomorrow from Dr. John Erickson who responded to Carol with his own blogpost.
“It seems to me that calling oneself queer can be a way of affirming the parts (or all) of oneself that do not fit into the heteronormative paradigm. In my case, though I am white and straight, I am too tall, too smart, too assertive, too strong, too bold, too flashy, too unwilling to be controlled by men to fit the heteronormative paradigm of woman as in every way a little less than man–not as tall, not as smart, not disagreeing too much, not putting herself forward too much, not taking too many risks, not standing out in a crowd, and at least letting men think they are in charge. From this perspective, a whole lot of women are queer.”*
“I want you to see this new piece I wrote for our newsletter,” said Sister Ann.
We were safe inside the dining room of the Episcopal convent where she lived and I was an extended guest, and yet she spoke in hushed tones that suggested she realized the controversial nature of what she was about to say.
“This whole piece – it’s about the idea that being ‘born again’ clearly indicates the concept of God as mother.” She laid out her argument about wombs and motherhood and the feminine divine. It was a fairly essentialist argument (being the mid-nineties), but it was the first time I’d heard any modern Christian reference God as anything other than father, son, male. Before finding the Episcopal cathedral where I regularly attended services, I’d had two general experiences of the divine: the evangelical, conservative, patriarchal God of my father’s church, and the gender-creative spirit found in practices that were fairly alternative for my small, South Carolina town. Continue reading “Gendered Only In Expression by Chris Ash”
I tried a new spiritual practice yesterday. I wore a tallit katan. It is commonly worn by Orthodox, Hasidic and other Ultra Orthodox men and boys from the age of 3 onward and usually not worn by women within these communities. Occasionally, one can see Jews (mostly men) from Conservative shuls wearing these garments and rarely from Reform congregations. They seem to be a marker of a more observant Jewish practice that reads much of the Torah literally. One is commanded to wear fringes (tzitziyot) when wearing four-cornered garments as reminders of the covenant between G-d and the Jews and more specifically of the 613 commandments.
There are a number of reasons women and men from Orthodox and ultra Orthodox communities give for discouraging women from the wearing of tallit katan and tallit gadol. First, women are said to be exempt from time-bound mitzvot, or commandments . Wearing tzitziyot are considered time-bound because the Torah says one should be able to see them which has been interpreted to mean that they be worn during the day. The reason given that women are not held to time-sensitive mitzvot has to do primarily with their childcare responsibilities. Children and fulfilling their needs often requires much time and may not allow one to complete a task within a given time frame. A related ideology says that women are often generally thought to be more spiritually attuned, and therefore do not need such physical reminders to follow the mitzvot. Continue reading “How literal is too literal? My Experience with Tallit Katan. By Ivy Helman”