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”

Gentle Moments in a Violent World by Marcia Mount Shoop

mms headshot 2015“Be gentle with yourself.”

It may be some of the most redemptive guidance I have ever received.  And I share that invitation daily with people in painful situations.

“Be gentle with yourself.”

In a world seemingly hell bent on self-destruction, being gentle even for a moment is a radical act of resistance. A moment of tenderness. A moment of trust. A moment of attentiveness to need.

But really, what good does gentleness do in a world as brutal as ours can be?  How does being gentle provide any kind of answer to the assault of being commodified or objectified or betrayed or assaulted or oppressed or erased or abused or discarded or exploited? Continue reading “Gentle Moments in a Violent World by Marcia Mount Shoop”

Vayikra: No Temple Required by Ivy Helman

29662350_10155723099993089_8391051315166448776_oThis week’s Torah portion is Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1 – 5:26).  Vayikra is essentially one long discourse on animal sacrifice with an occasional grain or oil offering included.  This killing of animals, their subsequent burning and the shared eating of their flesh was the predominate way deities were worshipped in ancient Canaan.  It was believed that the smell of cooking meat appeased the gods and most importantly stifled their anger. It is no wonder then that the ancient Israelites so integrated within the surrounding culture adopted similar methods of worship.

Yet, there was always present within Israelite society a minority opinion that the deity didn’t desire sacrifice.  The prophets, who strived to create the most just society possible, often said that sacrifice had little effect.  Sometimes they even suggested that the divine has never requested sacrifices, such as in Jeremiah 7:22 which says, For neither did I speak with your forefathers nor did I command them on the day I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning a burnt offering or a sacrifice.”  Yet, most of the time, the prophets argue that what is most important is how one behaves and the type of society the Israelites create more so than the offering of sacrifices.  Prime examples of this line of thinking are the prophet Amos (5:14-15 and 21-24), Isaiah (1:11-17 and 27), Hosea (6:6), Micah (6:6-8) and Jeremiah (6:20).   Continue reading “Vayikra: No Temple Required by Ivy Helman”

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”

Tikvah v’hashamayim (Hope and the Heavens): A Jewish Perspective on Redemption by Ivy Helman.

headshotThe Torah is bursting with hopes over-fulfilled.  Abraham and Sarah hoped for a child and gave birth to a nation.  The Israelites hoped for freedom from slavery and eventually received an entire Promised Land.  We understand hope and, in so many ways, we live on it, as hope has sustained us for thousands of years.  Today, our hopes inspire our actions and motivate us to work for peace, justice and equality.   In Jewish terms, we call this goal or vision of a better world in the here-and-now: redemption.

Yet, redemption does not just appear out of thin air or because we wish it.  Redemption and the hope of it requires work and cooperation with the Source of All Life.  As Deuteronomy 30:19 says, “I have put before you life and death… [therefore] choose life…”  This cooperation could be a simple commitment to tikkun olam, repairing the world (some times translated as social justice).  For others, choosing life could mean more observant religious practice.  It could also be a combination of the two.  In the end, though, I think both hope and redemption require choosing life in some form or another.

Just as how we choose life depends on who we are, how we achieve this redeemed world depends on how we understand G-d’s redemptive power.  Some of us think redemption will come through the moshiach (a savior), Continue reading “Tikvah v’hashamayim (Hope and the Heavens): A Jewish Perspective on Redemption by Ivy Helman.”

Feminism, Impasse, and the Redemption of Hugo Schwyzer by Cynthia Garrity-Bond

In Constance FitzGerald’s article Impasse and Dark Night,* she draws from sixteenth century Spanish mystic and reformer St. John of the Cross-and his Dark Night of the Soul.  FitzGerald moves from the individual’s experience of impasse to a larger societal impasse.  By impasse she means those experiences that bring life as you know it to a stand still, where every attempt of extracting the self from suffering is a lost cause. In what is known as the principles of  “first order change”—reason, logic, analysis, and planning, do not work to move the self forward and out of impasse. In other words, the skill set you have come to rely upon to move you out of the grip of darkness no longer works. Continue reading “Feminism, Impasse, and the Redemption of Hugo Schwyzer by Cynthia Garrity-Bond”

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