Boundaries: A Poem Drawn from the Well of Jacob by Marcia Mount Shoop

kikuchi valley, waterfall and light lay in the forest, kikuchi, kumamoto, japan

Today is the day in the Christian church year that we remember Jesus’ last supper with his friends/chosen family before he was betrayed by some of those same friends/chosen family. He talked to his beloved circle that night about many things, including betrayal and their capacity to embody Divine Love in a broken world after his death. Just a few days later he was executed by the Roman government because his prophetic and compassionate life was a threat to the powers that be of his day–both governmental and religious. In honor of this day in my faith tradition, I share a poem I wrote about one of the women in Jesus’ life before he was executed by Empire. Since Jesus’ death, he was kidnapped again by multiple Empires who have used him to put an ecclesial and even divine seal of approval on systems of oppression and genocide. The woman at the well gives us a window into Jesus the liberator. May we have space to remember him today as another Easter Sunday approaches for Christians around the world.

Continue reading “Boundaries: A Poem Drawn from the Well of Jacob by Marcia Mount Shoop”

One-In-A-Million by Marcia Mount Shoop

Today I am fully vaccinated. It’s been two weeks since I got the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. The day after I got the vaccine was the day the New York Times headline read, “Johnson & Johnson Vaccinations Paused After Rare Clotting Cases Emerge.” People told me not to worry, “it happens to only one in a million people.”  

That “one-in-a-million” argument isn’t what calmed me down. The “one-in-a-million” odds had already struck once in our household over the pandemic when my husband was diagnosed with a rare kind of cancer. A one-in-a-million kind of cancer. And to top it off, it was his second cancer diagnosis during the pandemic. He turned 51 years old this past August and has spent most of the pandemic either waiting for treatment, receiving treatment, or in recovery from treatment. A lot of the year he has been and continues to be in considerable pain and discomfort. 

Continue reading “One-In-A-Million by Marcia Mount Shoop”

Redemptive Forgetfulness by Marcia Mount Shoop

MMS Headshot 2015Have you forgotten yet? Have you forgotten what it felt like to go about your life pre-pandemic?

My brain has switched to a different filter system. If I watch a movie or see an image from the pre-pandemic world, the first thing I notice is that people are standing too close to each other. Or I notice that they are touching each other. People are supposed to be in proximity to each other only in the boxes of Zoom or in the confines of their home or in a hospital where the staff has on protective equipment. That pandemic filter overlays itself onto everything now, even memories.

It’s hard to access the joy of greeting someone with a hug or handshake, because those things are something we must tell our bodies not to do. We have to resist that urge. We have to rewire our impulses. There are tiny threads of shared trauma in it all—how will we ever feel like we can be together again and not be afraid? Continue reading “Redemptive Forgetfulness by Marcia Mount Shoop”

Blinded by the White by Marcia Mount Shoop

mms headshot 2015White supremacy culture is on full display day in and day out in America.  You don’t have to strain to see it—the President’s recent comparison of the impeachment proceedings to a lynching is the latest example.

Of course, even such an extreme example is still defended by white people of all shapes and sizes: senators, voters, talking heads, and the offender himself.  The grotesquery of such a distorted perspective is emblematic of a sickness in our country to be sure.

But there are even more sinister forms of white supremacy that afflict our collective lives.  They are harder for many white people to see. And they are, therefore, harder for us to believe. This kind of whiteness is the whiteness that blinds us. This is the whiteness that creates the conditions for the extremes to be mistaken for the whole problem.  But more importantly, this is the kind of whiteness that creates the conditions for whiteness to be even more tenacious in some dangerous and annihilating ways.

Continue reading “Blinded by the White by Marcia Mount Shoop”

To Dread and To Savor: Mothering in Real Time by Marcia Mount Shoop

Marcia Mount ShoopIt happened in the blink of an eye. So much of how we got here is blurry. I try to parse out the moments that came together to add up to this many years. I pause to absorb fragments, moments of the past.

Hunkering down to watch a spider waiting patiently on her web.  I can see his tiny hands balancing on his knees peaking out from his blue overall shorts.

Driving to baseball practice forty minutes from our house and realizing he doesn’t have his shoes twenty-five minutes into the drive.  I hate the sound of my voice yelling at him in the car. Continue reading “To Dread and To Savor: Mothering in Real Time by Marcia Mount Shoop”

Just How Rotten Are Things in Denmark? by Marcia Mount Shoop

The Shakespearean quote, “something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” comes from a palace guard. After watching Prince Hamlet walk away with the ghost of Hamlet’s murdered father, the former King, the guard has a sinking feeling about how screwed up things are in his country.

And if you remember the play at all, things were pretty rotten. By the end of the story just about everybody dies. Revenge, misunderstandings, accidents, and lust for power are just a few of the causes of death. The guard was right. Something was rotting away at his country—something that was vacating people’s integrity and trust, something that was not afraid to use violence and lies to get its way, something that was blind with a hunger for more and more power no matter the cost.

Continue reading “Just How Rotten Are Things in Denmark? by Marcia Mount Shoop”

Why Not Me? by Marcia Mount Shoop

My “me too” went out for all to see way before Facebook existed, way before there were hash tags and internet pages for unveiling our secrets to the world. In all the years that have passed since I first spoke publicly and published about my experiences with sexual violence, there has been a steady stream of people (mostly, but not all, women) who have come to me with their #metoo.

Survivors tend to hold lots of secrets—they become heavier with time and the more the secrets stay secret, the more power they have to distort and rupture and isolate. I held mine for many years and I planned on never telling anyone. But, those memories began to disrupt my life more and more—and finally they had to come out. That was the only way I could ever be free, that is the only way I could truly be alive.

Continue reading “Why Not Me? by Marcia Mount Shoop”

My Turn: A Femifesto by Marcia Mount Shoop

It’s coming up on a year now that pretty much everything changed in my family’s life. My over twenty years of married life, up until last year around this time, our lives had been built around my husband’s job. John’s work as a coach in the NFL and Division I collegiate football had moved us all over the country—coast to coast and in between.

MMS Headshot 2015This time last year our move was for me to take a job. No more football. And a move not for football meant massive shifts in the daily life of our family.

I cannot count the number of times since I took this new job that people have said to me, “Finally, it’s your turn!” Continue reading “My Turn: A Femifesto by Marcia Mount Shoop”

Do You Know Why We Are Marching? by Marcia Mount Shoop

When we got into the car to go, I asked my twelve-year-old daughter, “Do you know why we are marching today?”

“To protest Donald Trump?” she replied.

I explained that some people may be going for that reason, but that was not the reason I was going.

“Are there any positive reasons you can think of for why we are marching?” I asked her.

She went on to name several things Donald Trump had said about women. “I guess those are all still anti-Trump things,” she said.

“I am marching because I am a mother, I am a sister, I am a daughter, I am a wife, and I am a survivor. That’s what I am saying if anyone asks me,” I told her.


I had already thought through this question. As a pastor of a church with people who have diverse political affiliations I am committed to being able to minister to everyone in my congregation. I have served churches in which my political views are in the minority and I have served churches in which my political views are in the majority. Both have challenging aspects, but nothing that I have experienced previously in terms of partisanship feels like it relates to what is happening in the United States right now. Those old partisan dynamics were difficult to navigate—it took discipline, but not one ounce of moral compromise.

The decision to march was not a partisan one, it was a moral one, and it was a spiritual one. If I didn’t march it I would be listening to a frightening interlocutor—and his name is despair.

Party affiliations are not creating the alienation at the root of what is happening. The challenges are much more painful—and if I stay silent or still in the face of this situation I would not be doing my job as a pastor or a mother. Continue reading “Do You Know Why We Are Marching? by Marcia Mount Shoop”

Elegy for An Old Life Gone: A Feminist Says Goodbye to Football by Marcia Mount Shoop

MMS Headshot 2015

I married into your strange cadence
A drumbeat that never felt natural
All consuming was your intention
But I protected pieces of myself from your designs
And more pieces retrieved me
As you showed me your true colors
You were a ruthless, untrustworthy friend
You were a harsh, seductive suitor
You gave me just enough of what
I never dreamed of
To capture my attention
My intentions, all these years
You, an adored brother of the one I love
You, a superlative dissembler
And people love you for the mythic way you tell
A story
Yours, ours, theirs
I gave into parts of you, I found some contorted freedom there istock-football
Some iteration of voice
Some impulse to make the best of you
Laying you to rest is cumbersome, Continue reading “Elegy for An Old Life Gone: A Feminist Says Goodbye to Football by Marcia Mount Shoop”

Painting Guadalupe and Mary by Angela Yarber

As we feminists struggle to elevate Mary and Guadalupe, we sometimes forget that speaking of birth and gestation is not always empowering or even essential to womanhood. 

It is early morning on the Hill of Tepeyak on December 9, 1531 when a wondering peasant named Juan Diego first caught a glimpse of her presence.  Diego sees a vision of a teenage girl surrounded by light; the young girl asks that a church be built on the hill in her honor.  After hearing her speak and seeing the light emanating from her presence, Diego recognizes her as the Virgin Mary.  He rushes to the Spanish archbishop who insists on a sign as proof of Diego’s vision.  The young girl instructs Diego to gather flowers from the top of the hill, even though it is past their growing season.  Upon climbing to the top of the Hill of Tepeyak, Diego discovers Castilian roses—a beautiful flower otherwise unheard of in Mexico—which the glowing young woman arranges in his cloak.  When Diego returns to the archbishop, he opens his cloak to reveal the miraculous flowers and they fall to floor; in their place was an image imprinted on the fabric of his cloak.  It was the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Guadalupe is one of Mexico’s most popular religious and cultural images and her icon, now on display at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, is one of the most visited Marian shrines in the entire world.  On December 12, countless Christians—particularly Catholics—celebrate her feast day.  Her feast day occurs within the four week celebration of Advent, which is the period of waiting, expectancy, and gestation before the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Continue reading “Painting Guadalupe and Mary by Angela Yarber”

The David Syndrome? By Marcia Mount Shoop

Is it just me, or does anyone else feel like we’re all in Junior High or High School again with the Petraeus scandal?  There is drama at every turn with boundaries crossed and accusations slung across every lunch table there is.

When I was a teenager we didn’t have emails, Facebook , and Twitter (thanks be to God).  We passed notes.  I remember getting a really mean one scrawled in deliberately messy handwriting to maintain anonymity about how annoying I was to the “populace” (yes I remember that word was in there) because I didn’t wear make up and I thought I was “so smart.”

Just like today’s cyber detectives who figured out Paula Broadwell’s identity from the fingerprints we all leave behind in the online lives we lead, I traced this note back to its source.  I did it the old fashioned way—I asked around.  Unfortunately I found out it was from a “friend” and teammate of mine.  When I went to her house and confronted her she admitted it.  Turns out she was envious about a boy.  Little did she know at the time that the boy she wished for was abusive and I was living in my own secret hell.  I remember thinking to myself “you can have him.”   The stakes seemed so high back then—friendships, acceptance, one’s whole sense of self were hopelessly tangled up in tenuous, even dangerous, relationships. Continue reading “The David Syndrome? By Marcia Mount Shoop”

Living Liminality: Of Thresholds and Dwelling Places by Marcia W. Mount Shoop

Sometimes I think it happened gradually.  Other times it feels like sudden change.  Either way I find myself in an in-between space that is my life.

With apologies to Victor Turner and his cultural anthropological appropriation of liminality as a threshold space, I have come to view my liminal living as a more permanent dwelling place these days.  Turner’s category of liminality locates subjects in the betwixt and between as they move from one manifestation of identity in community to a new kind of integration or role in community.   I am starting to wonder, however, if the thresholds are actually dwelling places for some of us in this world.

I don’t know if that means I am actually more marginal than I am liminal.  The margins are margins because they remain on the outskirts and they help define the boundaries.  Margins are permanent.  Am I marginalized if I live at the edges of the communities and identities I use to occupy, perhaps never to return to the bosom of the center? I hesitate to make such a claim mostly because I still occupy privileged spaces not the least of which are those constructed from how whiteness grants access and authority in this world. Continue reading “Living Liminality: Of Thresholds and Dwelling Places by Marcia W. Mount Shoop”

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