On July 4 countless people in the United States celebrated Independence Day and many enjoyed a long leisurely Independence Day weekend. While there’s nothing wrong with celebrating freedom and all that is good in your country, I’ve become increasingly nervous about any form of unchecked, uncritical nationalism. Lately in global politics there’s been a resurgence of nationalism, populism, and isolationism of the ugliest kind. The kind that says, “Our own people first,” and “We need to build a wall,” and “Let’s drive out the immigrants,” and “Let’s start a trade war with China.” In Europe this sort of nationalism manifests itself in political movements like Brexit and in right wing populist parties like Front National in France.
To counter these divisive trends, I believe we need a new global holiday and a global Declaration of INTER-dependence. Our stark reality is that we inhabit an increasingly densely populated and fragile planet with finite resources. All human and non-human life on the planet is facing the specter of climate change and other environmental factors that threaten the fabric of our very existence. We live in an increasingly interdependent global economy. If China crashes, we will all feel the repercussions. Russian interference tipped the 2016 US election. A war in Syria and wars and grinding poverty in Africa have flooded Europe with refugees, which, in part, gave rise to this right wing, populist, anti-immigration push back. But if people in the developing world continue to suffer the worst ravages of climate change and the resulting famine, war, and poverty, our global refugee crisis is only going to escalate. Continue reading “Declaration of INTER-Dependence by Mary Sharratt”
I climbed trees and rode my bike and roller skated on sidewalks for hours on end when I was a child. As an adult, I have always been physically strong without having to work at it. Nor have I had to think much about my health. I have been able to trust my body to do pretty much everything I wanted it to do. I am also fiercely independent. And I don’t always like to be touched because my body is extremely sensitive to other people’s energies.
On the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete I was always the first one in and out of the caves and usually the first or one of the first up and down the mountains too. This changed when I injured my knee a few years ago in one of the caves and then six months later re-injured it in a fall on my front steps. I was told not to stress my knee by the pharmacist, and as a consequence stopped walking and doing yoga. I began to lose my physical strength. Continue reading “Asking for Help by Carol P. Christ”
Over the past few months, a precious person has come closer into my family’s life in such a way that their presence in my home, among my loved ones, has come to feel natural and easy. This is someone I love, someone who adores my children and appreciates my partner of 18 years and whose sweet spirit and vibrant laughter have added joy and mirth to our family home.
Yesterday, they rode with me to drop my freshly-mohawked teenager off at a farm to help with preparations for an upcoming arts camp. I introduced them by name to the camp assistant and walked over to chat with the camp director for a bit. Later, as we got back into the car to head to lunch, I asked what they thought of the farm.
“It was nice,” they said. “I’m glad your children have a place like that. Also, while I was chatting with the camp assistant, she asked if I was family.”
“What did you say?”
“I said yes.”
They weren’t wrong.
The meaning the word “family” holds for me is something I’ve given much consideration over the years. For generations, many of us have been expected to turn a blind eye to the ways patriarchal domination of women’s and children’s bodies perpetuates abuse in our own family systems. My inability to sweep these abuses under the carpet, to keep silence and pretend all is well, has led to my estrangement from one entire side of my family. It’s an estrangement I feel will be permanent, and while I grieve the loss of an ideal I never had, I welcome the opportunity to live authentically and boldly, confident in my dedication to my ideals, which include honesty, justice, and the unconditional protection of children and vulnerable populations.
For a while, I sat with the gap this estrangement created in my life, unwilling to fill it with harmful relationships with those to whom I am blood-related, yet hesitant to broadly redefine it in a way that negates the importance of those who have chosen to love and raise up a child, however imperfectly. Continue reading “Family, Interdependence, and Mutual Support by Chris Ash”
In 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”
I’m sitting in my parents’ balcony in Pune, India, on a quiet morning. Well, this being a bustling Indian city of six million, it can’t really be quiet. As I sit with cup of tea in hand, I try and meditate – I’ve been practicing mindful meditation of late, and so, rather than block out the noises, I embrace the various sounds that make up this Monday morning.
I count the variety – sparrows gently chirping away while a noisy crow tries to outdo them in a contest he easily wins, a street hawker starting his day (and ours) on a rather cacophonous note, the sweeper from the neighbouring complex pouring his heart and soul into cleaning the grounds that will need re-sweeping in an hour or two, the put-putting rickshaw carrying squawking kids to the school down the alley, chirping chipmonks that temporarily develop wings as they fly from branch to branch in a cheerful chase, the honking car warning of its over-the-limit speed (reaffirming the fact there are two things we Indians especially love: honking for no reason, and breaking traffic rules), my mother’s footsteps as she peers out to see what I’m doing by myself…nine in all.
In the past I would have tried hard to block these out, straining to keep my mind on my breathing, worrying I’ll never find a quiet enough spot to help me master (hah!) the art of meditation. But today, I am grateful. Grateful that I am a part of a larger picture. And as I scan my body from head to toe, feeling the tension most in my shoulders while the cold mosaic tiles below keep me momentarily grounded to the fullness of living, I remind myself that I am just a speck in this montage called life. Continue reading “Mindful of the Bond We Share in these Trying Times by Vibha Shetiya”
“Is self-promotion sinful?” Author Marlena Graves asked this question on Christianity Today’s Her.Meneutics blog back in 2010. Reflecting on her experience of having a manuscript rejected by publishers for being a “no name” and not having a big enough platform, she wrestles with questions like “how much of what we do as Christians and churches is about promoting ourselves?” and “are we using the church as a vehicle to make a name for ourselves?”
Graves never directly answers the question but she imples that most of the time self-promotion is sinful. She concludes that when we are presented with platform-building opportunities, most of the time the most righteous path is to for us to take a step back in order to revaluate and humble ourselves. But, other than turning down opportunities to grow our professional presence, what does humbling ourselves mean? Continue reading “From Competition to Collaboration: Reflections on Humility, Self-Promotion, and Gender”
Melissa Harris-Perry created a media flurry when she stated that if we as a society considered “all children” to be “our children,” we would spend more money on childhood education. Critics at Fox News and other pundits called Melissa Harris-Perry a communist socialist Marxist, accusing her of wanting the state to take children away from their parents.
Some commentators framed their critique of Harris-Perry using the model of “ownership,” insisting that parents own their children, not the state. To this charge Harris-Perry responded by quoting Kalil Gibran’s poem which rejects the idea that parents and by extension anyone else can “own” children:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
The poem continues:
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
This makes it clear that Gibran is telling parents that children have their own minds and individualities and will make their own choices. Children do not exist to fulfill the needs and wishes of their parents.
While in my opinion Gibran’s statement is true, this is not the main point Harris-Perry was making when she asked us to consider all children as “our children.” Harris-Perry was asking us whose children we care about. She was asking us to care for all children–not only the children in our own families and not only the children that look like them.
I saw this as a “teaching moment” in which process philosophy comes to the rescue—providing a way beyond a dead-end in the thinking that shapes US political debates and discussions. Continue reading “Whose Children Are Our Children? Whose Children Do We Care About? by Carol P. Christ”
The following is a guest post written by Carol Flinders, Ph.D. Carol received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of California at Berkeley and has authored multiple books including Enduring Grace: Living Portraits of Seven Women Mystics; At the Root of This Longing: Reconciling a Spiritual Hunger and a Feminist Thirst; Rebalancing the World; and Enduring Lives. She has taught at UC, Berkeley, and at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and gives workshops and lectures nationally and internationally. Carol is a Fellow of the Spirituality and Health Institute, Santa Clara University and is currently adjunct faculty at the Sophia Center in Culture and Spirituality, Holy Names University, Oakland, CA.
The word matrix comes, of course, from the Latin root mater. Its literal meaning is “womb,” but it can also refer to the fine-grained portion of aggregate rock, the “glue” that holds the rest together.
It was probably this latter sense of the word that a resident of Littleton, Colorado, had in mind when she was interviewed after the Columbine shootings in 1999 and spoke about “the stunning erosion of our social matrix.”
When we get it right, she seemed to be saying, in the family, or community, or nation, an invisible container or force field comes into being that keeps everyone safe. Something like this was implicit in the definition of matriarchy Peggy Sanday offered here a few weeks ago: “A balanced social system in which both sexes play key roles founded on maternal social principles.” Continue reading “In the Beginning was . . . The Mother By Carol Flinders”