Resurrection by Sara Wright

Tufted Titmous

 This morning the skin of the earth turns white and wild winds howl.

Yesterday, rain, fog and mist lifted the snow into sweet moisture – laden air.

I rest in peace.

Continue reading “Resurrection by Sara Wright”

What If Jesus Is Dead (And It’s A Good Thing)? by Tallessyn Zawn Grenfell-Lee

Bear with me.

I know that most Christians accept some version of the idea that Jesus, the person, died, and then ‘rose from the dead’ in a supernatural, miraculous way – probably the most common definition of what Christians celebrate at Easter. I grew up in progressive Christian churches, where I, too, was taught this idea, which I found fascinating and inspiring. Many people (both Christians and others) still find it healing and inspirational; and I want to state clearly that I think that’s well and good.


What I would like to suggest, however, is that this approach may miss the main point of Easter, of resurrection, and of these narratives. Here goes.

Continue reading “What If Jesus Is Dead (And It’s A Good Thing)? by Tallessyn Zawn Grenfell-Lee”

Resurrections by Elizabeth Cunningham

Photo by: Douglas C. Smyth

As a minister’s daughter, I grew up almost literally in the church, its red door and ivied walls across the driveway from the rectory. On Easter the church was packed; every family received a pink or red geranium. There were Easter egg hunts, baskets stocked with chocolate rabbits and the jelly beans these magical creatures laid. The church rang with triumphant hymns: Jesus Christ is risen today. Although like all children I reveled in holidays involving excessive sweets, it was not the candy or the or the requisite rejoicing that moved me most.

It was the women, or in the Gospel according to John, the woman, bereft and brave, who went to the tomb to tend Jesus’s body. The male disciples had scattered and gone into hiding. In the Protestant Episcopal Church, Christmas Eve and Easter were the only times women played a prominent role in the story. Those were not the loud, triumphant moments. They lived in my child’s imagination as the quiet, mysterious times, Mary giving birth in the night attended by cows, donkeys, and stars. Dawn in a garden, wet with dew, the only sound birds waking and singing, the only people, the women, or the one woman who captured my imagination and, in my story, has her own apotheosis on that morning.

I did not question the miracle of resurrection. Miracles and magic made sense to me as a child. Theology didn’t. My father liked to expound on Jesus’s utterance from the cross “My God, my God why hast though forsaken me.” He insisted that Jesus was not crying out in despair but quoting Psalm 22, which ends in triumph. The Gospel narratives emphasize Jesus’s rising again “in accordance with the scriptures,” implying that he knew he would come back to life on the third day.

Continue reading “Resurrections by Elizabeth Cunningham”

The Doubt of the Empty Tomb and the Hope for Tomorrow by Katie M. Deaver

I recently had the opportunity to travel to my undergrad institution on a student recruitment trip.  During this trip I was able to preach during the college’s weekday chapel service.  Despite the fact that I have lived, studied, and worked within a seminary community for the last seven years I had not actually written (not to mention preached!) a sermon since I was a senior at this very college… to say the least I was a bit nervous.  As it turned out the sermon writing went well, and I also felt positively about the preaching experience.  But even though the writing and preaching are over I can’t stop thinking about the topics I choose to speak about.

The scripture lesson I used was Luke chapter 24 verses 22-24 “Moreover, some women of our group astounded us.  They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive.  Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.”

These verses offer a quick recap of the Easter story that comes earlier in chapter 24 of Luke.  The women go to the tomb with the spices that they have prepared, but when they arrive they discover that the stone has been rolled away and the body of their friend and teacher is not there.  Instead, there are two men in dazzling clothes who ask the women “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”

Continue reading “The Doubt of the Empty Tomb and the Hope for Tomorrow by Katie M. Deaver”

A Middle: Understanding the Relationship between Violence and Power by Katie M. Deaver

In my last post here on Feminism and Religion I unpacked the three primary understandings of atonement theology as well as some of the feminist critiques of those understandings.  In this post I’d like to focus a bit more on how the relationship between power and violence influences how Christian women view the atonement.

In her book, On Violence, Hannah Arendt puts forth a new analysis of the relationship between power and violence.  Arendt’s analysis, though primarily focused around concepts of the potential for worldwide destruction and war following major global occurrences such as the Second World War and the struggles for civil and women’s rights within the United States context, supplies an interesting framework with which to consider this relationship as it relates to domestic violence.    Continue reading “A Middle: Understanding the Relationship between Violence and Power by Katie M. Deaver”

A Beginning: Atonement Theology and the Feminist Critique by Katie M. Deaver

Since many of the comments on my last post expressed interest in my dissertation topic I will use my next couple of posts to talk a little bit more about my work and research in that area.  When we talk about theories of the atonement we are trying to describe a narrative structure of what took place within the Christian cross event.  Generally speaking, Christians believe that atonement serves at the reconciliation between God and humanity and that this reconciliation is realized through the person of Jesus Christ.  The three primary theories that try to explain this event are Substitutionary/Satisfaction, Moral Influence, and Christus Victor.

The Substitutionary/Satisfaction theory of atonement suggests that Christ takes on the guilt and punishment that humanity deserves because of our sinfulness and so becomes our substitute, paying the debt we owe for our sins.  Because of humanity’s sinfulness we deserve death, but instead of giving us what we deserve God instead offers God’s son as a sacrifice to pay our debt, to atone for our sinfulness, and to save us from the eternal punishment of death.

The Moral Influence theory of the atonement focuses primarily on the life and ministry of Christ rather than on his suffering and death.  This theory is centered on the belief that God loves God’s creation so much that God would hold back nothing from us, God would even give God’s own Son in order to save us and remain in relationship with us.  As a result this theory encourages Christians to live as Christ lived and focuses on imitating his life and ministry in order to bring about justice in our own world.

Continue reading “A Beginning: Atonement Theology and the Feminist Critique by Katie M. Deaver”

The Importance of Rituals (Part 2) by Elise M. Edwards


In my previous post, I wrote about the importance of rituals. The rituals of the Easter season helped me process some difficult emotions. The way that rituals mark time and demonstrate consistency has been a comfort for me when facing new challenges and settings. But I am quite aware that rituals can become empty.   In one of the comments to that post, a woman named Barbara responded, “There came a time for me when familiar and meaningful ritual no longer made sense. I had changed in understanding of what the ritual symbolized and celebrated. And haven’t found new rituals that make sense for me now…or at least I’m not aware of any.” Barbara’s remarks capture not only the loss from no longer being able to relate to existing rituals after life changes, but also the difficulty in finding or creating new rituals to take their place. I thanked Barbara for her honesty and decided that this post would continue the discussion, focusing more on discovery and creation of new rituals.

As I was preparing that post, I watched an episode of Call the Midwife that prompted me to reflect on the need to create rituals when existing ones just don’t work. Call the Midwife is a BBC-PBS show about nurses and midwives living in a convent in London’s East End at the end of the 1950s and early 1960s. The show is based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, and it does a better job than most primetime dramas of showing female characters’ experiences the joys and challenges of their professional lives and personal lives. As it is set in a convent with several characters who are both nuns and midwives, the show also explores the theme of vocation. What does it mean to be called to the religious life? Called to nursing? What does motherhood demand? Continue reading “The Importance of Rituals (Part 2) by Elise M. Edwards”

The Importance of Rituals by Elise M. Edwards

elise-edwardsMy sister once said about me, “One thing you have to understand about Elise—she takes the ritual of whole thing very seriously.” My sister was right and her words helped me see this quality about myself. What ritual was she talking about me taking so seriously? Happy hour on Fridays.

It was a different season of my life when she said this. I don’t have Friday happy hours regularly anymore, although I did gather with my friends nearly every week for food and drinks for many years throughout my 20s and 30s. It was often on Fridays, but at one point it was Wednesdays and then, for about a year, it was Thursday nights after a late shift at work.

More recently, I would meet a friend for crepes at the farmers’ market on Saturday mornings. Although the day and the time and specifics of these gatherings would vary, the act of setting aside a weekly time to connect with people dear to me and relax as we indulged in good food or drink was a ritual to me.

Continue reading “The Importance of Rituals by Elise M. Edwards”

Resurrection Garden, Resurrection Feast by Elizabeth Cunningham

Elizabeth Cunningham headshot jpegIn John’s account of the Resurrection, Mary Magdalen mistakes Jesus for the gardener.  Or perhaps it is not a mistake or not just a mistake but also a poetic truth. In any event, John’s Gospel makes clear:  the Resurrection takes place in a garden!

(For the feminist significance of horticulture, I refer you to Carol Christ’s recent post on this site: Women and Weeding, the first 10,000 years .)

Many  prominent (male) theologians, historians, anthropologists, and psychoanalysts among them James Frazer, Jung, and C.S. Lewis made the case for and/or against (in Lewis’ case) Jesus being another dying rising god of vegetation with Christianity borrowing imagery and ritual from earlier or even contemporary cults. The argument against insists that Jesus’s life, death and resurrection is historical, redemptive, and unique.  From a tour of Bloglandia, the debate pro and con appears to continue unabated.  I say better to pull weeds (if you are lucky enough to have a garden) than pontificate. Continue reading “Resurrection Garden, Resurrection Feast by Elizabeth Cunningham”

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”

Seeing Death and Resurrection by Linn Marie Tonstad

Linn Marie TonstadYesterday, I visited the Capuchin catacombs in Palermo, Sicily. In a grotto about a mile or so from the center of the modern city are found the preserved remains of about 2,000 people who paid the monks to preserve their bodies after death, dress them in their finest clothing, and put them on display. Each of them is placed in its own niche along the wall, held up by iron bands, and has a tag around its neck with its name and date of death. The bodies are not displayed in random order: they are sorted (to some extent) by sex, profession, and familial status. In one large recess, a number of children’s skeletons are on display, many of them in heartbreakingly tiny coffins. In another corridor, friar after friar hangs in his robes, some with cords around their necks signifying their adherence to a Franciscan order. Almost indistinguishable from the cords are the braids still hanging from the heads of some of the women’s bodies. Some families are arranged together; in another corridor doctors and lawyers are segregated and in yet another female virgins are gathered together. The oldest body I saw dated from 1599 – high on a wall hangs the body of a monk whose name was almost illegible but who hailed from the Umbrian hill town of Gubbio.

Some of the skeletons presented death’s heads; others had skin dried to a leathery tightness over remaining bony protuberances. Some of their outfits are well preserved; others have disintegrated under the relentless assault of the years. The practice became illegal around 1880, but until then, people chose – or perhaps their relatives chose for them – to be preserved in this seemingly macabre manner. Continue reading “Seeing Death and Resurrection by Linn Marie Tonstad”

Losing my Mother and Realizing her Resurrection by Gina Messina-Dysert

Gina and momFive years ago today I buried my mother.  Violence took her life; however because of this patriarchal culture we live in, there was no prosecution in her death.  Violence against women is of little consequence in our society.

She died at the very young age of 56 on June 29, 2008, the same day I was moving to California.  I was just about to get into our moving truck when I got the call.  I will never forget the moment I heard the words, “your mom passed away last night.”  It was as if I felt her dying in that moment, as if my heart was falling from my body.  I cried out so violently and fell to the floor.  How could this be real?  How could my mom be gone?  The day before we had stood in my kitchen, danced, sang, laughed, embraced.  She was so alive, but in a moment, she was gone.  I begged and pleaded with God, I thought it was a mistake, Continue reading “Losing my Mother and Realizing her Resurrection by Gina Messina-Dysert”

Re-Imagining Resurrection in Light of The Hunger Games by Tiffany L. Steinwert

Love is defiant. In a cruel world of violence and vengeance, love is the ultimate rebellion: the only thing that can beat back the forces of death and destruction.

It is an interesting coincidence that when both Jewish and Christian communities were rehearsing our respective salvation narratives, the world outside of synagogues and congregations was consumed with the story of The Hunger Games, a young adult novel turned Hollywood hit. This trilogy chronicles the coming of age and struggle for freedom of Katniss Everdeen, a 16 year old citizen of the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem.

As we in the Christian tradition journey through the Easter season, the dystopic world of the Hunger Games invites us to re-imagine resurrection in light of a crucified world.

We first meet Katniss as she sets off for the annual Hunger Games, a state sponsored television show, a cross between the pseudo-reality shows of Survivor and Fear Factor and the very real, ancient Roman gladiator battles. Invented by the Capitol as a form of perpetual discipline and punish for a past rebellion of the 12 (once 13) districts, the Games require each district to send two children, or tributes, to star in a live broadcast battle in which the adolescent scapegoats kill one another until only one remains.

There is a reason why our nation has been captivated by this tale and it is not because it is so fantastical that we cannot imagine it. Continue reading “Re-Imagining Resurrection in Light of The Hunger Games by Tiffany L. Steinwert”

Resurrecting Scars by Shelly Rambo

What does it mean to be created through the scars of a (m)other? And what does it mean to be made new—to be recreated—by them?

It is my first Easter without my mother. My sister Jody reminded me of how much my mother loved religious holidays, especially Easter. One of my striking last moments with my mother was in the hospital operating room when the nurse was preparing her for a surgical procedure. As the nurse opened up the back of the hospital gown, she exclaimed: “What beautiful markings you have.” She was referring to the scars on my mother’s back from a previous heart surgery. “It’s like a work of art.” My mother never viewed them like that. Instead, she often kept her multiple scars hidden from us. But there were moments, as a young girl, when I would glimpse them, those in the front between the buttons of her tightly starched blouses, and those on her back when she’d be ironing her Sunday dress in her satin slip. I was both intrigued and scared by these tracks on my mother’s body, just as I was by the ticking of her mechanical heart valve that I could hear when I stood next to her, the traffic in the house at a standstill. Both were reminders to us that her life was sustained yet fragile.

Much of Western literature tells the stories of fathers and son. And the dominant Christian storyline has also been patrilineal. Continue reading “Resurrecting Scars by Shelly Rambo”

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