What Can We Do to Weaken Privilege? by Elise M. Edwards

elise-edwardsIn my previous post, I talked about discussing the concept of privilege (male privilege, white privilege, and class privilege) with nuance.  Earlier that week, I had led a workshop at a local church on “Fine-tuning Privilege,” using Peggy McIntosh’s 1989 essay “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” as a resource.  (If you are unfamiliar with it, take a few minutes to read it and reflect upon it.)  Part of my talk was about naming and understanding privilege.  Discussion and comprehension are not enough, though.  We must counter it.

One strategy for fighting privilege is making it visible. The recipients of privilege are often unaware that they have to systemic advantage over others. Privilege, used in the context of racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, and religious dominance, is not something earned on merit alone. In the essay linked above, McIntosh describes it like this: “I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets which I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was meant to remain oblivious.” These are conditions built into our culture that some groups receive which benefit them to the detriment of others. Making privilege visible means naming it and calling it out. Wage gaps, digital divides, and racial profiling practices exist; ignoring them perpetrates the problems.

Continue reading “What Can We Do to Weaken Privilege? by Elise M. Edwards”

Learning Compassion from Inmate Number 74799 by Cynthia Garrity-Bond

Technically I was employed as a lab assistant at our community hospital. This position entailed multiple responsibilities, from receptionist to actual bench work within the laboratory. The task I dreaded most was my assistance at autopsies. Beyond a strong constitution, it required no measurable skill set. This job was not the high-tech, immaculate setting of any of the CSI programs of today; instead the morgue was a stark, condensed room with two pullout refrigerators for the deceased, a stainless steel table the autopsy was performed on, and the necessary instruments and accouterments, some suspended from what appeared thin air. These tools of the trade ranged from the expected scalpels and retractors to saws and garden-like shears.

Fast-forward fifteen years. It is the morning of July 11, 1991. Prisoner number 74799 has just been transferred from the Department of Corrections, Arizona State Prison in Florence to Tucson County General Hospital in critical condition. Eight months prior to his admittance to the prison hospital, Prisoner 74799 was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer. While considered inoperable, he was administered the customary chemotherapy treatments until four months later when the cancer spread to his brain, taking most if not all of his cognitive abilities away. Within one hour of his transport, Prisoner 74799, my brother, Michael Paul, died at the age of thirty-nine.

Continue reading “Learning Compassion from Inmate Number 74799 by Cynthia Garrity-Bond”

I Used to Paint All the Time by Natalie Weaver

Natalie Weaver editedI used to paint and draw all the time as a child.  I thought about majoring in art as a college student, but I went to an institution that did not have any applied arts courses in the curriculum.  I had gone to college on a scholarship that I could not duplicate elsewhere, so I settled for a number of art history classes and gave up any formal pursuit of art.  However, when I had my children, I rediscovered art.  More accurately, I did not rediscover it so much as I fell in love anew.  For, I found in working with my children a tremendous liberation.  It did not matter if it was “good” or not, had the “right” form or not, used the medium “correctly” or not, or said something “properly.”  I learned all over again that people could have hearts for heads; skies could rain jellybeans; and skin could be blue just because you like it that way.

Doing art with my children opened up my courage to recognize creative expression as a sacramental act.  Both when it is done for overtly sacred purposes as well as when it is done for more secular ones, art of all media can be an outpouring of the spirit into the material world that allows one to say to another: here I am, this is what I have felt, did you see this, I’ve been there too.  Once freed from norms about how something ought to be used or made or discussed or interpreted, art has the potential to become revelatory, both of the human and also of the divine (or, perhaps better, of the human as divine). Continue reading “I Used to Paint All the Time by Natalie Weaver”

Why a Kippah Reminds Me that Rationality Should Not Be Our Only Imago Dei By Ivy Helman

Neil Gilman in his book Sacred Fragments writes, “Since our faculty of reason is G-d-given, since it is the quality that distinguishes us from the rest of creation, and since all human beings share that same innate faculty, what better way to establish the veracity of a religious tradition than by demonstrating its inherent rationality?”  To be fair, Gilman is not the only and definitely not the first to support this position.  Many theologians, especially those influenced by various Greek philosophers like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, have said the same thing.  In the Roman Catholic tradition, Thomas Aquinas is adamant that rationality is humanity’s imago dei, how we are made in the image of God – what the beginning of Bereshit (Genesis) suggests.  Descartes argues, “I think therefore I am.

Patriarchy emphasizes rationality as divinely given over and above other attributes that humans share with non-human life – like instinct, growth and maturity, life and death, memory, caring, empathy, dependence, interconnectedness, relationality, and communication (in all its forms, not just speech).  Continue reading “Why a Kippah Reminds Me that Rationality Should Not Be Our Only Imago Dei By Ivy Helman”

Sex as a Weapon of Sustenance By Cynthia Garrity-Bond

In a recent news post, Filipino women went on a sex-strike in order to bring peace to their rural village. “If you keep fighting,” warned Aninon E. Kamanza, of the Dado Village Sewing Cooperative, “you’ll be cut off.”  It seems their cottage business of sewing made delivery of goods impossible due to road closures brought on by the violence.  Dado, the small village of 102 families mostly affected, is a town caught in the middle of conflict involving clan feuds and land disputes. The ultimatum worked. Vis-a-vie the threat of no sex, the violence has stopped, the roads are open, the women can transport their goods and the men can breath a sigh of relief.  What I find so compelling about this story is the resourcefulness of the women. Understanding the nature of their men, they used the withholding of sex to accomplish their goal of making money in order to care for their families.  But what about the reverse? What about women who also use sex to care for their families but as sex workers?  Can we applaud their resourcefulness and commitment to family as well?   Continue reading “Sex as a Weapon of Sustenance By Cynthia Garrity-Bond”

%d bloggers like this: