From the Archives: The Hunger Games, Holy Week, and Re-imaging Ritual by Xochitl Alvizo

This was originally posted on April 3, 2012 and serves as a nice follow up to my recent posts, and to the Christian holy days being celebrated this week.

Being passive spectators of violence and injustice, even if mournfully so, is not just a thing of Panem, it is our everyday reality.

In The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins takes the reality of an unjust society and gives it an imaginative makeover. In Panem, most people are kept at such extreme levels of hunger that even when they do eat they cannot fill the hollowness that has settled in their stomachs, while others are deciding on the next cosmetic alteration they will undertake – whiskers, jewel implants, or green-tone skin color? The disparate conditions between the rich and the poor, the few and the many are absurdly and starkly portrayed but done so in a way that we can still recognize our world in theirs. And at the center of this world is the state imposed ritual of punishment and control, the yearly Hunger Games – a nationally televised competition that all the people of Panem are required to watch. The 12 districts watch mournfully as two kids from each of their districts compete to the death, and the wealthy watch gleefully, for the games are the height of their excesses and entertainment. The yearly Games conclude when one kid, the lone ‘victor’, is left standing. All while the nation watches.

Continue reading “From the Archives: The Hunger Games, Holy Week, and Re-imaging Ritual by Xochitl Alvizo”

My Encounter with the Venus of Dolní Věstonice by Ivy Helman.

Marija Gimbutas, in her book Language of the Goddess, mentions only one goddess figurine from what was, at the time of her writing, Czechoslovakia (pages 31-32).  That figurine comes from Předmosti, in the very eastern part of what is now the Czech Republic.  However, there are more, and I would like to introduce you to the one that I encountered during a visit to another part of the Czech Republic several weeks ago.

Meet what Czechs refer to as the Venus of Dolní Věstonice.  There is not a lot of information about her, so I have pieced together what I can find.  Said to be the oldest known fired terracotta figurine (some 29,000 years old), she was first unearthed in 1925.  She was found broken into two pieces at the site of the Stone Age settlement known as Dolní Věstonice, in the southeastern part of the Czech Republic.  This settlement, according to Archeo Park Pavlov, was part of the Pavlovian culture, a Stone Age culture local to the area.  

Author’s photograph of a replica of the Venus on display at Archeo Park Pavlov.
Continue reading “My Encounter with the Venus of Dolní Věstonice by Ivy Helman.”

Happiness Habits by Katey Zeh

derek-thomson-406050Finding joy has never been a priority for me in terms of how I structure my life. A long-term goal? Certainly, yes. My path to getting there, however, has been misguided. I’ve held the common belief that if I can achieve and succeed enough, joy–or at the very least, contentment–will find its way to me.

Sometimes I wonder if I was drawn initially to the field of faith-based advocacy because the nature of the work is to resist complacency. The successes are few and far between, and they are never sufficient for achieving the ultimate goal of justice for all. My proclivity to be dissatisfied with progress and to keep on pushing aligns well with the vision of many social justice movements.  

My permanent state of dissatisfaction, which was for some time a motivational force, seeped into how I felt about nearly everything. Whenever feelings of joy or happiness would arise, particularly around work, I often attributed them to a false sense of pride that had caused me to lose focus on the long game. In short, I didn’t believe I deserved to feel joy. Continue reading “Happiness Habits by Katey Zeh”

Revolution Through Rituals by Jann Aldredge-Clanton

Jann's pictureA revolution is happening through Divine Feminine rituals! More and more faith communities are reclaiming the power of the Divine Feminine in sacred rituals.

Rituals move feminist theory and theology/thealogy from the head to the heart. Words and visual symbols in rituals shape our deepest beliefs and values, which drive our actions. Multicultural female divine images in our sacred rituals affirm the sacred value of females throughout the world who continue to suffer from violence, abuse, and discrimination. For feminism to transform our culture, we need Divine Feminine rituals in faith communities. In Women-Church: Theology and Practice, Rosemary Radford Ruether writes: “One needs communities of nurture to guide one through death to the old symbolic order of patriarchy to rebirth into a new community of being and living. One needs not only to engage in rational theoretical discourse about this journey; one also needs deep symbols and symbolic actions to guide and interpret the actual experience of the journey from sexism to liberated humanity” (p. 3).

As I was growing up in the Baptist tradition, hymns were my favorite part of our rituals. One of the hymns I loved singing was “He Lives,” increasing in volume along with the congregation as we came to the refrain which repeated over and over the words “He lives.” Not until many years later could I even imagine singing or saying, “She lives.” I had learned to worship a God who was named and imaged as male. But while studying in a conservative seminary, I was surprised to find Her. I discovered female names and images of Deity in scripture and in Christian history. As an ordained minister, my call has included writing, preaching, and teaching to persuade people that we need multicultural female divine names and images in rituals if we are to have social justice, peace, and equality. My call expanded to writing Divine Feminine rituals, including lyrics to familiar hymn tunes. Continue reading “Revolution Through Rituals by Jann Aldredge-Clanton”

Cancel Christmas? By Elise M. Edwards

Elise EdwardsDespite the time and energy it takes to participate in the religious and social rituals associated with Christmas, the result is that I am spiritually grounded, emotionally provoked, mentally rested, and physically fed.   Advent, Christmas, New Year’s, and the last week of the year are times when I reconnect to what is important to me, and the holiday rituals help me do this.

The “holiday season” is upon us, and I’m still busy and exhausted, as I’m sure many of you are.  Although my life isn’t as stressful as it was in October, I am still juggling multiple commitments while trying to make significant progress on my dissertation.  This past weekend, I spent some time with other dissertation writers in the same predicament, and quite a few of them were thinking of cancelling Christmas in their households in response.

My immediate reaction to canceling Christmas (or another alternative they mentioned, micro-Christmas) was to inwardly scream “THAT’S RIDICULOUS!!!!”  To be honest, I’m not sure my facial expression didn’t make my reaction plain.  But since I value my relationships with these people and I genuinely respect their insights, I decided to keep my reaction to myself and to give the matter more thought.  I realized later on that all of the “cancel Christmas” advocates were women.  So I began to consider what the implications of cancelling Christmas would be for women. Continue reading “Cancel Christmas? By Elise M. Edwards”

The Hunger Games, Holy Week, and Re-imaging Ritual by Xochitl Alvizo

Being passive spectators of violence and injustice, even if mournfully so, is not just a thing of Panem, it is our everyday reality.

In The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins takes the reality of an unjust society and gives it an imaginative makeover. In Panem, most people are kept at such extreme levels of hunger that even when they do eat they cannot fill the hollowness that has settled in their stomachs, while others are deciding on the next cosmetic alteration they will undertake – whiskers, jewel implants, or green-tone skin color? The disparate conditions between the rich and the poor, the few and the many are absurdly and starkly portrayed but done so in a way that we can still recognize our world in theirs. And at the center of this world is the state imposed ritual of punishment and control, the yearly Hunger Games – a nationally televised competition that all the people of Panem are required to watch. The 12 districts watch mournfully as two kids from each of their districts compete to the death, and the wealthy watch gleefully, for the games are the height of their excesses and entertainment. The yearly Games conclude when one kid, the lone ‘victor’, is left standing. All while the nation watches. Continue reading “The Hunger Games, Holy Week, and Re-imaging Ritual by Xochitl Alvizo”

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