What is Wrong with This Picture? Rewriting Eve by Caryn MacGrandle

One of my oldest friends who I met when I was eight years old reached out to me the other day saying that if there was ever anything she could do, please let her know. She lives in another state far away but is a subscriber to one of my blogs so she has been aware of the various things going on in my life (second divorce, so many changes and transitions in my life yet again, etc.)

Her note said if there was ever anything she could do to help, just let her know.

And I thought to myself: hmmmmmm.

You see I just put a new feature on my app where it emails local events to local users, and one of the first steps in getting this to work is having those local events on the app. So I asked her if she would mind helping me put local events on the app.

We had not actually talked in a long time, and when we had a zoom call to discuss this, I broke down crying.

I felt the pity from her. I also saw just how far I had departed from ‘normal.’ 

But I don’t want to be ‘normal’. 

Continue reading “What is Wrong with This Picture? Rewriting Eve by Caryn MacGrandle”

A Christmas Story by Sara Wright

My deeply devout French- Italian Catholic Grandmother held my hand as we walked into the village at dusk. We were going to see the crèche. I recall feeling very excited. I loved the story that she had just told me about Mary birthing Jesus in a manger surrounded by animals and doves while Joseph looked on.

 I was eight years old. Until this Christmas I had never spent any time with my paternal grandmother. This year things were different. My parents were in Europe for a year and I had also been separated from my little brother who was staying with my maternal grandparents while I attended school in the east. My grandparents had sent me back to stay with my great aunts because they didn’t want me to go to Catholic school in California. I missed my little brother so much it hurt. My grandmother’s sisters were kind to me, but I was in a state of perpetual longing…  How I ended up staying with this unknown grandmother remains a mystery to this day.

Continue reading “A Christmas Story by Sara Wright”

Fierce Friendship and the Holidays by Stephanie Arel

It is the weekend before Thanksgiving, in the ominous year of 2020. The CDC urges people not to gather with others outside of the household on Thursday. COVID infections rise exponentially. Schools are closing, and in the much of the country, winter is foreboding.

If you live in a cold climate, Thanksgiving dinner outdoors is hardly an option. For, Chanukah, Christmas, and New Year’s, we will likely endure the same conditions. I have tried to center myself, mediate, do things to calm my nervous system, using some of my personal tools for stimulating the vagus nerve so as to not feel toxic. I think that is what the cortisol in my body is telling me: slow down, gather, go inward. But I also sense a missingness – a loneliness – alongside a desire to reach out, call people, and connect. (See the effects and remedies for social isolation here.) Away from people, traditions, anticipation of my favorite time of year, I brace for a deeper sense of loss. Continue reading “Fierce Friendship and the Holidays by Stephanie Arel”

Mother – Daughter Betrayal by Sara Wright


Today is my mother’s birthday and although she has been dead for more than a decade I still think of her almost every day. At the time of her death I had not seen her for twelve years. Not by choice. After my father’s sudden demise my mother chose my children, her two adult grandsons to be her protectors, and dismissed me from her life, permanently.

When she died, my mother divided her assets evenly between my children and me, forcing her only daughter to live beneath the poverty level for the remainder of her life.

The final betrayal.

At the time of her death I was teaching Women’s Studies at the University.

Continue reading “Mother – Daughter Betrayal by Sara Wright”

Re-Imaging Three Marys by Janet Sunderland

The recent #metoo movement, along with young women entering Congress, has pointed to an important question. Why, in this 21st Century, are these achievements remarkable? Why has it taken so long for women to be recognized as capable for these positions? One possible reason is the Christian mythology around women. However, to recreate the way women are viewed, we must re-imagine the women who have been standard-bearers for two thousand years.


Continue reading “Re-Imaging Three Marys by Janet Sunderland”

The Gift by Sara Wright

We drifted through

the green

hungrily absorbing

plant souls,

each twig, flower, and tree

has her own story to tell…


Such a joyful way

for me

to spend a

‘mother’s day.’

Being with him

when family

extends sharp claws

is an antidote to suffering.


“This is my church”

He said,

not for the first time.

I nodded.

He and I are almost

always in agreement

when it comes

to plants

and people.

Continue reading “The Gift by Sara Wright”

May is the Month of Mary by Mary Jane Miller

 Mary Icons

There are three classic prototypes of Mary Icons, their collective messages point toward a new contemporary kind of trinity. Perhaps the concept of Mary is still undeveloped, as our society has changed her message is still provocative and meaningful. It has been through contemplating her image, and painting icons of her that I have come to realize a deeper mystical message. Her popular iconography may have the keys to how we are to care for creation and one another in the world.

Mary Icon of the Panagia

Mary looks directly at the viewer, beckoning us towards poised stillness and constant prayer with palms extended outward in total surrender to what she receives. She contains the Creator of the Universe in her womb.

Mary Icons of the Theotokos

She is the feminine energy which tenderly nurtures Jesus to become a teacher, rabbi, master and lord. She is the icon which reminds us to love one another, to love life, and to love creation.

Mary Icons of the Hodegitria

Mary becomes a mystical location where we can be taught to give ourselves to God and one another. There, held by the church tradition, we like Mary are called to release to the world what we most love and cherish.

Continue reading “May is the Month of Mary by Mary Jane Miller”

Dear Mary by Sara Wright

This piece was written in response to Gina Messina’s recent Feminism and Religion piece “Who is God?”

Dear Mary,

When I responded to a post on feminism and religion this morning I wrote that you were my first goddess. As a child I knew little beyond that you were the “Mother of God,” and I found your presence immensely comforting, even seeking you out in secret, entering your rose garden in a local monastery. I needed you so.

Early in adolescence I learned that your life was one of purity, sacrifice, and loss. Your purity left me bereft. How could a young Victorian girl be “good enough” to serve such a figure? I was fierce and passionate – a thorny red rose – with an empty hole in my heart.

Sadly, I released you and chose your sister the whore, the Black Goddess in disguise… but I didn’t know that then; I only knew that the “black” woman succumbed to her flesh as I did, covered herself in shame…What lies Patriarchy tells…

Continue reading “Dear Mary by Sara Wright”

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”

Depicting Mary by Natalie Weaver

In October I had the opportunity to travel to the Louvre Museum on a free day I had from a conference I was attending in Leuven, Belgium.  I went predisposed to consider images of the Madonna as I had been thinking about her representations in art for some time.  In my own painting, I have been developing a version of the Annunciation that depicts Mary as a teenage girl reading a pregnancy test.  Her fear and consternation, coupled by the shock of the event of learning of her pregnancy strikes me as a more accessible telling of the true vulnerability and risk of the unwed child Mary than classic depictions of Mary as a reclining queenly figure quietly receiving the angel’s message.  I likewise had been working on a wood burnt figure of a Black Madonna as a study in both icon making and also understanding the tradition of Black Madonnas found throughout Eastern Europe.

I am deeply aware that representing this figure is a culturally laden task because the Madonna speaks both to some of the deepest spiritual needs and inclinations of many faithful Christians world over, just as she is almost shorthand for division among Christian communities.  Her presentation is tremendously political as it is received by fans and critics simultaneously as at once championing women (and the divine within women) and also condemning real women whose maternity and bodies can never be as morally or physically pristine as Mary’s.  Mary’s skin, clothing, age, gesturing, posture, gaze, and more speak volumes about the social location of her patrons and creators as well as the manner in which the viewer is being invited to receive her.

Continue reading “Depicting Mary by Natalie Weaver”

What I Believe (Post-2016) by John Erickson

Ever since the election of You-Know-Who, I have been doing a lot of creative writing.

Ever since the election of You-Know-Who, I have been doing a lot of creative writing. Unlike academic publications, policy reports, or my dissertation, creative writing, much like my mentor Dr. Marie Cartier has written about, provided me with a needed escape from a world that seems to grow darker with each passing day.  In college, I served as Poetry Editor for the Wisconsin Review, the oldest literary journal in Wisconsin. Continue reading “What I Believe (Post-2016) by John Erickson”

Painting Mary(s), Queering Mary(s) by Angela Yarber

Mary 1

It’s no secret that the holidays are often a difficult time for queer people. Disproportionately estranged from family, we often must create our own family. While these chosen families can be tremendously life-giving, it’s tough not to long for our families of origin during Christmas time. Many still in relationship with family are forced to retreat to the closet for fear of safety or exclusion this season.

Queer folk who have affirming families of origin still experience the twang of heteronormativity in holiday commercials, family events, and church services throughout December. There’s a reason why many refer to it as “Blue Christmas,” because, well, the holidays can leave us feeling pretty blue when our identities are invalidated, excluded, questioned, or marginalized.

In every nativity scene, we see images of a so-called “holy family” that likely doesn’t look very much like the family’s most queer folk create: a straight, cisgender couple, and a baby. This family is lauded by the Church as the quintessential iteration of what family should look like. When our families don’t look anything like this, it’s easy to see how celebrating the birth of Jesus is fraught with emotional and spiritual hardship.

Mary 5
Virgin de la Regla

There is good news, though. We can subvert this narrative of traditional family by queering the story. So, I’d like to talk a bit about the revolutionary power of queering Mary. Abolitionist and Women’s Rights Activist, Sojourner Truth, said it best at the 1851 Ohio Women’s Convention. Once a slave, Truth questioned the whitewashing done to women of color by white women working only for white women’s right to vote by asking the famed question, “Ain’t I a woman?” In that same speech, she notes that male clergy claim that women “can’t have as much rights as men ‘cause Christ was a man.”

This adage is familiar, not only to women, but also to LGBTQs who have been told that our iterations of family aren’t real or true or right because they don’t reflect the so-called holy family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. In an act of theological brilliance and subversion, Sojourner Truth poses this question to the male clergy gathered at the convention: “Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman. Man had nothing to do with him!” Continue reading “Painting Mary(s), Queering Mary(s) by Angela Yarber”

What If Jesus Had Gone to Daycare? by Katey Zeh

Screenshot 2015-12-08 09.47.34

As a maternal health advocate, I cherish the season of Advent as an opportunity to connect a beloved Christian story to the lives of women today who struggle to bring new life into the world under horrific circumstances. Every year I write something about Mary’s pregnancy and birth. In many ways she is no different from the “Marys” around the world who are young, poor, and unexpectedly pregnant, and who go on to give birth in unclean environments. I often pose the question to communities of faith, wasn’t the Christmas miracle equally that Mary survived the birth? How different would Jesus’s life have been if he’d never known his mother?

I continue asking these questions, but after my daughter was born last October, I have found my Advent reflections shifting to mirror my own parenting experiences. I began to think beyond Mary’s birth and into her early months of motherhood. One morning last December, after a particularly awful night’s sleep, I came downstairs to hear “Away in a Manger” playing on the radio. When it got to the line “But little Lord Jesus/No crying he makes,” I rolled my eyes dramatically and pictured Mary doing the same as she bounced a screaming baby Jesus in her arms. Continue reading “What If Jesus Had Gone to Daycare? by Katey Zeh”

Painting Marys, Welcoming Refugees by Angela Yarber

angelaThis holiday season, in the midst of our ever-repeating mass shootings and debates about the welcoming of Syrian refugees, I have seen a meme, a pithy quote, a bumper sticker time and time again amidst my fellow liberals:

“If only we had a seasonally appropriate story about Middle Eastern people seeking refuge being turned away by the heartless.”

Similarly, many have posted pictures of nativity scenes with a tongue-in-cheek quip, “I’m so glad people are placing these lawn ornaments in their yards to indicate that they welcome refugees into their homes.”

Myriad articles have been published encouraging Christians to remember our calling to welcome the refugee, and as an ordained clergywoman, I affirm these thoughts. I believe it is our responsibility, as Christians and particularly as feminist Christians, to welcome the marginalized, the oppressed, the refugee. I am also a strong believer in the separation of church and state, a distinctive imperative both to my Baptist tradition and to my home country of the United States. So, in many ways, it doesn’t really matter politically that my faith tradition teaches me to welcome the refugee because my country is not a Christian nation, but it does matter that the primary symbol of my country—the Statue of Liberty—proclaims boldly and without apology: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Continue reading “Painting Marys, Welcoming Refugees by Angela Yarber”

Hail Mary: The Rosary and Why I Keep Praying by Marie Cartier

MarieCartierforKCETa-thumb-300x448-72405My mother-in-law is currently in hospice and expected to cross over any time now. My wife is with her. Those two sentences alone—since I am a woman writing this blog—signify historic/herstoric change. I am a woman and I am writing about my mother in law and I am writing that my wife is with her. We are in a sea change regarding gay marriage. I will be allowed bereavement to go with my wife, when the time comes, for the services.

What has not changed in my life is my dependence on traditional prayer. Although I am a witch/Wiccan, have done all kinds of meditation from Transcendental Meditation, and Buddhist chanting, to visualization, spell work, and New Age affirmation—when push comes to shove as they say, I get out the Rosary.

Why? Continue reading “Hail Mary: The Rosary and Why I Keep Praying by Marie Cartier”

A Family Conceived, Lost, and Resurrected by Gina Messina-Dysert

Gina and SarahGood Friday marks the second anniversary of one of the most significant dates in my life – the adoption of my daughter, Baby S – who by the way is no longer a baby (she will be turning 5 this May).  On Easter Sunday, 2012 I wrote about the resurrection of my family.  In the last few years that I have been blogging, this is by far my favorite post and I have been so grateful for the many wonderful responses I have received from it.  With today being Good Friday, it seems an appropriate time to revisit this incredible experience and once again, give thanks for the blessings in my life.  Continue reading “A Family Conceived, Lost, and Resurrected by Gina Messina-Dysert”

Blessed is the Womb By Dawn DiPrince

Dawn, jpgAs a Catholic, a feminist, and the grown-up version of my third grade self who dreamed of being a priest (and eventually Pope), I am simultaneously elated and deflated by the promise of Pope Francis. His bold criticisms of capitalism and inequality are breathtaking. 

Yet, much like the eager waiting that marks the season of Advent, I (naively) hold my breath awaiting the papal inclusion of women on the altar — not merely as servants — but as leaders and interpreters of scripture.

Whenever women’s ordination is raised, the Church trots out the dusty and inadequate argument that men are priests because Jesus was a man. This seemingly irrefutable based-on-biology conclusion is really a simple argument based on a difference of body parts. This ideal — something I’ve labeled the St. Peter Principle — suggests that our penislessness means that women (by natural law, of course) are to be denied priesthood. Continue reading “Blessed is the Womb By Dawn DiPrince”

Truly Our Sister by Laura Grimes

Laura GrimesMiriam of Nazareth, the fiery and courageous Jewish prophet who single-handedly enabled the incarnation of God/dess, is a profoundly ambivalent figure for Catholic feminists.  Her racist and patriarchal deformation as a sexless European Barbie has often been used to club and control other women.  Yet she refuses to be silenced or appropriated by oppressors, carrying the lost image of God/dess through the centuries and empowering women to know the sacredness of their own physical and spiritual life–giving labors in Her image.  I composed this hymn to celebrate the feast of the brown and pregnant Guadalupe/Tonantzin, and to mark the Marian feastdays of the Assumption (Aug. 15) and Queenship of Mary (August 22).  It reflects a long journey of exorcising the false misogynist Mary from my own mind and heart and claiming her as role model and mentor in my own call as thealogian, mother of four, and spiritual director.  It may be used in ritual or republished with the inclusion of author and copyright information (Laura M. Grimes, copyright 2010).

Image from: http://www.fisheaters.com/images/marialactans160020.jpg
Image from: http://www.fisheaters.com/images/marialactans160020.jpg

My original inspiration, after the birth of my younger daughter, was the traditional Litany of Loreto.  I came to love its eloquent images when I was studying in Rome and prayed it daily with the old Italian women who had the last liturgical word by leading it, in Latin and from memory, after each day’s mass.   It also includes key scriptural passages about Mary and many of the traditional mysteries of the rosary.  But the work’s gestation was incomplete until I became involved in an interfaith women’s spirituality church, the Goddess Temple of Orange County, and encountered the fourfold Goddess for the first time.  Rev. Ava Park, Presiding Priestess, has been a leader in the recent movement to add the missing image of the wise and loving Queen to the traditional Maiden, Mother, and Crone as a celebration of midlife and a model for women’s leadership.  The second through fifth verses of the hymn highlight Mary’s experience in each stage of women’s life and affirm every woman’s power and beauty as an icon of these four aspects of the Divine.  The title will be recognized by many as a reference to Elizabeth Johnson’s groundbreaking book on Mary—criticized by traditionalists for a cover depicting her scripturally as the mother of a large family!
Continue reading “Truly Our Sister by Laura Grimes”

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”

Working to Bring about the End by Elise M. Edwards

I was reminded that the idea of eschatological reversal can be a powerful image in the promotion of justice if we believe that we already are, or that we should be moving towards the ultimate end that remedies current injustices.

I started teaching a course in Introduction to Christian Ethics a couple weeks ago for a class of graduate students who are pursuing their M.Div. and other Masters in religion degrees.  We are spending some time talking about the use of Scripture in ethics, so I reviewed Richard Hays’ 1996 text The Moral Vision of the New Testament: A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics.  It got me thinking a lot about the role of eschatology in ethics. (Eschatology is the area of theology concerned with “last things,” like the end of the world, heaven, hell, death and eternal judgment.)

Continue reading “Working to Bring about the End by Elise M. Edwards”

Remembering My Grandmother: Not as a Suffering Servant but as a Devoted and Loving Mother By Michele Stopera Freyhauf

The last week-and-a-half has been probably the most heart wrenching time I remember having in my life.  You see, my grandmother passed from this life June 19th and the void in my heart is huge.  I have to admit that I am lucky that my grandmother was a huge part of my life and the last family funeral I attended was in 1983.  Certainly one expects grandparents to pass away, even when they live a healthy long life.  Nothing prepares you for the time that you must say good-bye.  You yearn for one more conversation, one more hug, one more kiss – the thoughts churn and churn robbing you of sleep or peace.  At some point, a level of acceptance or at least the ability to cope will occur – when is a mystery, but for now I just try to be strong – for my mom, my sister, and my children.

Driving home from vacation, I received the news from my sister, Lisa:

Lisa:    Nanny has lymphoma, which they found in her stomach and invaded her spine, paralyzing her from the hips down.  It is fast moving.

Me:     How long?

Lisa:    2-4 weeks. Hospice was called and is making her comfortable.

The news was jolting, but I did not realize that the initial expectation 3 days earlier was 6-8 weeks.  She had tests for a bleeding ulcer, so this diagnosis was jolting.  Over the last year, we dealt with dementia and health issues.  These either were false alarms or cured thanks to the love of her family, care from the people at the nursing home, and her nurse practitioner and physician.  I wished that this was also a false alarm – but it was not, this time it was real and the end was eminent.

Seeing my mother at Father’s Day celebration, the news was even more grim – Nanny is no longer alert, can no longer open her eyes – they are making her comfortable.  The last time her eyes opened was after her priest gave her last rites.  He turned to leave, she opened her eyes, said “Hi Father,” and went back to sleep.  This was the last time her eyes would open.  My mother tells me that she is not expected to live through the week.

I took my children over to say good-bye.  I know I should be grateful that my girls have a close relationship with their great-grandmother, one that spanned 19 years.  I know I should be grateful that I had her in every facet of my life.  It is no secret that family was important to my grandmother, and she adored all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  This is a trait handed to my mother, my sister, and me.  Something I strive to instill in my children.

The good-byes were difficult as she was essentially unconscious and her breathing was noisy.

My sister called, how is she?

Me:     Breathing is labored and gaps between breaths are getting longer.

Lisa:    Will she be o.k. tomorrow?

Me:     I have no idea.  You may want to visit tonight just in case.

My sister and her husband appeared about 10 minutes later.  Wanting to give her time, I left with my family.  Going home was hard.  I was afraid she may not make it through the night.  I hoped with all my heart that this was not the end.

The next morning I returned to work.  She made it through the night.  I was in my office for a few hours before when I received a call from my dad.

Dad:    I am just calling to tell you Nanny is declining pretty fast.  They are saying minutes to hours – we are all here.  No need for you to come, I just wanted to let you know.

Me:     I am on my way.

Depending on traffic, I had a 40 – 60 minute drive.  I had to be with the woman that helped care for me and loved me.  The person that I took trips with, would talk hours on the phone with, cook with.  My grandmother was at every event, every family function, every holiday, and every birthday.  She was a huge part of my life and very important to me.  I needed to get there before she took her last breath – thankfully, I did.

The goodbyes continued.  Staff and residents alike came down to say goodbye. She was loved my so many.  Tears flowed for this petite woman with beautiful blue eyes, a contagious smile, and a heart of gold.  Her three children, my father, my sister, a few friends, and I kept vigil by her bedside.  I held her hand, sponged her neck and forehead to help with the fever, and kissed her forehead.  This went on all day and all night.

It was now midnight.  Everyone left the room to have a snack.  It was a long day and we forgot to eat dinner.  The staff was nice enough to provide us with muffins, water, pop, and coffee but this was no longer enough.  Every time someone would leave to use the restroom, you did not know if she would still be there when you came back.  Even running to a fast-food restaurant to grab a few sandwiches was done with angst and concern. Continue reading “Remembering My Grandmother: Not as a Suffering Servant but as a Devoted and Loving Mother By Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

A Family Conceived, Lost, and Resurrected by Gina Messina-Dysert

As I had written about in a previous post, my husband and I had a very long struggle with infertility.  After nine years, multiple failed rounds of infertility treatments, and much heartache, we decided to look at alternative options to grow our family.  Once we had made the decision to adopt, I felt new hope.  There was a light at the end of the tunnel and I knew a child would be coming home to us before long.  I had a dream that Mary, the mother of Jesus, had come to me and told me that I would be a mother.  She promised that a child was waiting that needed our love and would arrive soon.  I began praying to a shrine of Mary at a local parish near my home; she became my source of strength and solace.

Not long after we had been approved for the adoption waiting list, we took a family trip to Italy to visit my father’s hometown and meet our relatives.  It was quite an adventure and during our excursion I stopped in every church we passed to say a prayer to Mary.  Half way through the trip we received a call that a child had been matched with us.  To say we were overjoyed would be a complete understatement.  We tried to catch an earlier flight home but were unable.  A once in a lifetime trip to Italy was suddenly of no interest to us as we sat around our hotel room looking at baby items, reading parenting info, and preparing for the homecoming of our first child.   Continue reading “A Family Conceived, Lost, and Resurrected by Gina Messina-Dysert”

Do Man-Made Laws Trump the Authority of Jesus? Reflecting on the Meaning of Humility, Priestly Service, and the Issue of Women’s Ordination by Michele Stopera Freyhauf

Maundy Thursday – the imitation of Jesus’ act of service and submission is re-created.  Controversy surrounds the “disciples” – must they be all men?  Are women allowed?  Who steps into Jesus’ role?  Men, women, or both?  Why, when it comes to imitating the act of  humility and priestly service (rooted in our baptismal call), does a distinction of gender need to made at all?

As I progressed towards the intersection, I looked up to witness a grand procession of men dressed in white albs with stoles that often contained subtle hints of gold, worn in a manner to distinguish their role as priests and deacons.  They moved slowly down the sidewalk entering the Cathedral to begin their celebration of the Chrism Mass – a celebration of priesthood and priestly service within the Diocese where all priests and deacons gather to celebrate and re-affirm their commitment to ministry and service to the Church.  It is also during this Mass that the oils used in sacramental celebrations, used by each church, are blessed by the Bishop.

As I continued to watch, I could not help but search the processional line for those with a hair color other than gray.  I wanted to see  how many young priests were in that processional line.  What I found was no surprise –  an aging group of men with the sporadic appearance of younger priests.   The numbers stood as a staunch reminder that we, as a Church, may be faced with a severe shortage of priests in the future.  Something already known and planned for by the Diocese in its campaign to consolidate and close parishes.

Another sad observation was put on public display  –  the absolute absence of women. Continue reading “Do Man-Made Laws Trump the Authority of Jesus? Reflecting on the Meaning of Humility, Priestly Service, and the Issue of Women’s Ordination by Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

My First Experience at a Women-Only Conference by Grace Yia-Hei Kao

“This ain’t your daddy’s conference!”

I knew that I was going to be attending a totally different type of conference than I had ever been to before when I received the following instructions on additional items to pack: (1) my own mug with which to drink coffee or tea (“we will go green in this conference as much as possible”), (2) 3 oz. of water “from a source of nature near your home” to be offered during “opening worship,” and (3) a small, modest, pre-owned, homemade, or inexpensive “earth-honoring gift for exchange.”

Continue reading “My First Experience at a Women-Only Conference by Grace Yia-Hei Kao”

Walking in the Footsteps of Mary by Najeeba Syeed Miller

As I walked into the “House of Mary”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_the_Virgin_Mary
in Turkey, our guide said, “As many Muslims as Christians come to visit this last home of Sayyidah Maryam (form of respectful way to refer to Mary, Mother of Jesus). The veracity of the historical claims of whether this was her home continue to be debated, but the relevance of her role in Muslim narratives continues to inform my community, and is also cherished by those of us who are mothers.

A Mother’s Heart
The verses of Surah Maryam in the Qur’an are oft recited throughout the history of Muslims and at times had great significance. Some scholars point to the bridge that these verses helped to build between the Muslims who were fleeing persecution and the Christian Abyssinian Negus (king) who gave these early Muslims asylum and safety in his Christian country.Beyond the way that the Jesus (or Prophet Esa, upon him be peace is referred to in Arabic and by Muslims) figures into Muslim religious history, so too does his mother hold a place of significance. Continue reading “Walking in the Footsteps of Mary by Najeeba Syeed Miller”

Son of Man: An Updated Gospel Story of Jesus Set in South Africa by Michele Stopera Freyhauf

January 12, 2012

Son of Man is an updated story of the life of Jesus set in the fictional State of Judea that is modern day South Africa – complete with warlords and child soldiers.    It could easily be mistaken for modern day Rwanda or Darfur with its modern issues and political overtonesRoger Ebert stated, “The secret of the movie is that it doesn’t strain to draw parallels with current world events – because it doesn’t have to.”  The director draws parallels between the gospels and 21st century Africa.  According to Dartford-May, “we wanted to look at the Gospels as if they were written by spin doctors and to strip that away and look at the truth.”  The director “captures the rhythms of African life in both rural settings and sprawling townships.”  “Feather-clad young angels offer an eerie echo and reminder of Africa’s lost generations.”

The movie also sticks with what Eric Snider calls “Traditional African trial music, dance, and costumes” as a type of worship or or allusion to Jesus’ godhood.  Judea is in flux; warlords and corruption take center stage.  Poverty, violence, and oppression affect the all of the people.  The key idea is that Jesus is a freedom fighter – one that fights injustice and oppression.  The director does not emphasize “Jesus’ divinity so much as his leadership, good sense and compassion.”  Jesus is not violent and his followers, most of whom were former child soldiers, are encouraged to respond non-violently, which goes against their upbringing and training. Continue reading “Son of Man: An Updated Gospel Story of Jesus Set in South Africa by Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

Birthing God at the Edges of Life, Death, and Beyond: Reflections on Mary, Motherhood, and Kali Part III By Tracy Sayuki Tiemeier

Tracy Sayuki Tiemeier, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA. She teaches and researches in the areas of women and religion, interreligious dialogue, comparative theology, Asian and Asian American theology, and Hindu-Christian studies. Tracy also co-chairs the Los Angeles Hindu-Catholic Dialogue.

When I began my studies of Hinduism, I marveled in a dizzying array of gods and goddesses. While non-Hindus assume that Hinduism is polytheistic because of the multitude of gods and goddesses, the reality is far more interesting and complex. Hinduism really isn’t one religion, but a cluster of them. For some, there is one personal, divine God or Goddess, and all other gods and goddesses are either different forms of the ultimate divine or are lower, created beings (like angels). For others, there is one divine reality, but it isn’t a personal God or Goddess. For them, the different deities illustrate or symbolize different aspects of the divine, but are not themselves the one Ultimate Reality. What all Hindus recognize, however, is that there is one Ultimate, Divine Reality and that that divinity pervades all things. But that divine Oneness is so profound, so deep, so real, that no one image can capture the divine essence. Thus, even as Hindus are more monotheists than polytheists, they resolutely celebrate the multiplicity that inevitably comes when finite humans imagine the infinite divine. Continue reading “Birthing God at the Edges of Life, Death, and Beyond: Reflections on Mary, Motherhood, and Kali Part III By Tracy Sayuki Tiemeier”

Birthing God at the Edges of Life, Death, and Beyond: Reflections on Mary, Motherhood, and Kali Part II By Tracy Sayuki Tiemeier

Tracy Sayuki Tiemeier, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA. She teaches and researches in the areas of women and religion, interreligious dialogue, comparative theology, Asian and Asian American theology, and Hindu-Christian studies. Tracy also co-chairs the Los Angeles Hindu-Catholic Dialogue.

Mary, her purity, and her role as Virgin Mother have become the primary language for talking about women and women’s place in the Church. The late Pope John Paul II held up Mary, both virgin and mother, as the perfect model for women. For the Pope, women’s sexuality and spirituality are united in a vision of woman’s personhood as that of nurturing self-gift. The calling of physical and spiritual motherhood is connected to women’s more receptive and nurturing nature. Men lead the Church, as Christ did, while women receive Christ and others in their homes and in the world, as Mary did. Mary’s receptive openness to God is manifest from the beginning in her consent to Jesus’ conception. Such receptivity is both biologically natural and spiritually essential. Mary as Virgin Mother shows both women and men the value and depth of the receptive, self-giving reality of womanhood. Continue reading “Birthing God at the Edges of Life, Death, and Beyond: Reflections on Mary, Motherhood, and Kali Part II By Tracy Sayuki Tiemeier”

Birthing God at the Edges of Life, Death, and Beyond: Reflections on Mary, Motherhood, and Kali Part I By Tracy Sayuki Tiemeier

Tracy Sayuki Tiemeier, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA. She teaches and researches in the areas of women and religion, interreligious dialogue, comparative theology, Asian and Asian American theology, and Hindu-Christian studies. Tracy also co-chairs the Los Angeles Hindu-Catholic Dialogue.

I grew up in St. Louis, MO, in the decades following Vatican II. My parish, like many at the time, was an odd mash-up of old and new. Contemporary praise music co-existed with smells and bells, informal homilies by hip priests with solemn novenas. It was an exciting time to grow up Catholic. I was on fire for God, but the opportunities for ministry as a little girl were limited. Boys were taught to follow Christ and were groomed to be priests. They got to skip class to receive training as altar boys. We all knew that boys were special. Girls were taught to be like Mary.  While shut out of most ministries at the church, we were essential for the yearly May crowning. Every year, I prayed I would be chosen to crown Mary. I was never chosen; but I nevertheless became incredibly devoted to Mary, talking with her often and leaving little gifts outside my door for her to take to heaven. My favorite game was to pretend to be Mary.  Continue reading “Birthing God at the Edges of Life, Death, and Beyond: Reflections on Mary, Motherhood, and Kali Part I By Tracy Sayuki Tiemeier”

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