Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right by John Erickson

Kim Davis does need a lot of things but saying of suggesting that she needs a haircut, a makeover, or even to lose weight, makes you and those that continue to repeat it no better than she is; to state such statements doesn’t purport the ideal that #LoveWins, which took over social media just mere months ago, but changes the whole narrative to symbolize that sexism and hate are more important than love and equality.

John Erickson, sports, coming out.Kim Davis, the defiant county clerk, is currently sitting in isolation in a jail cell after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Rowan County, Kentucky, even after she was ordered by a judge to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage or be held in contempt of court.

Everywhere I turn on both social media or in person people are talking about Ms. Davis, her actions, personal history and for some weird reason her hair and looks.   I’m all for individuals taking a virulent stand against an individual who chooses to not uphold the law of the land as well as continually acting in an unjust discriminatory way but bringing her looks or anything else about her physical appearance into the narrative is not only just plain wrong it is sexism in its worst form. Continue reading “Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right by John Erickson”

Painting Perpetua and Felicity: Patron Saints of Same-Sex Couples by Angela Yarber

angelaRecently, I realized the heart’s capacity to hold both extreme tragedy and utmost joy simultaneously. Surely this is something I’ve experienced in the past, but both personal and nation-wide events have served as poignant reminders. First, the racism that primarily persists in microaggressive forms—in the underbelly of a society that too often prides itself in the heinous sin of “colorblindness,” claiming that racism no longer exists in the United States—reared its violent head in the most blatant and painful ways in the slaughter of nine innocent people in Charleston. Because the shooting took place in a church, some media outlets have tried to claim that the shooter’s intentions were to attack persons of faith. It is clear, however, based on Dylann Roof’s words, photos, and history, that these killings were hate crimes targeted specifically at black people. Hearts broke. Lives ended. We, as a nation, were reminded, all too soon and yet again, that the lives of black people are valued less. Racism is present, evil, persistent, both blatant and hidden. It is more than hearts can hold.

Only days later SCOTUS ruled that same-sex marriage is now the law of the land. As my wife and I were packing to leave on a year-long journey throughout the country, we had already made copies of our marriage license (from Maryland before North Carolina recognized the legality of our love), two separate adoption decrees because our state did not recognize us as a family when my wife first adopted our child a brief 20 months ago, and all of the other legal paperwork that we could use to “prove” the legitimacy of our family in the case of an emergency (if medical staff wouldn’t permit us both to be in a hospital room with our child, for example). With those files copied and stored neatly in a suitcase, everything changed for us. Now, no matter what state we visit, our family is legally recognized. And while I’d like to think that our paperwork is no longer necessary, I know that the legality of the court’s decision doesn’t automatically change the hearts and minds of everyone in the country. Heteronormativity still reigns supreme. While we rejoiced at the ruling, we simultaneously acknowledged that marriage is only one small step in dismantling straight supremacy. Though countless couples can now marry, receiving all the legal rights and privileges therein, many may still live in states that allow LGBTQs to be fired for their sexual orientation or gender identity, where housing may be denied, where hate crime protections do not include sexual orientation or gender identity, and the list could continue. Still many queer people, myself included, found ourselves reveling in utter joy. Continue reading “Painting Perpetua and Felicity: Patron Saints of Same-Sex Couples by Angela Yarber”

The Danger of the Patriarchal Domination Mindset: Can We Do Anything About It? by Thea Iberall

The Danger of the Patriarchal Domination Mindset: Can We Do Anything About It? By Thea Iberall The Swallow and the Nightingale

At the confluence of misogyny, prejudice, homophobia, religious intolerance, environmental destruction, and violence is the patriarchy. We all know this and talk about it here from our own perspectives. I come as a scientist and writer. I have a love of history and science as well as a skill at simplifying complicated things. I abhor what some people are doing to our planet and the arrogance with which they do it. Unfortunately, because we want the stuff they are manufacturing, because there are too many of us, and because we are letting them do it, they do it with our blessings. I want to help change this situation with a novel I’ve been working on for almost 15 years.

In the year 2000, I sat in a dinghy in the caldera of the active underwater volcano at Santorini helping my geologist sister count the bubbles coming from below us. The experiment was part of my father’s research into the origins of life. I had had the seed for a novel thirteen years earlier when I heard Mimi Fariña sing The Swallow Song, talking with her about her deceased husband Richard Fariña and how lost his music has become. I began developing ideas, learning about the nightingale connection and discovering a 12th century Sufi master’s epic allegory about god. Sitting in that dinghy, everything coalesced: the story of how western civilization went off course. My book of contextual poems, The Sanctuary of Artemis, explores the roots of Western patriarchal culture and tells some of it. The novel would have a backdrop of a world collapsing as ornithologist Dr. Deborah Wright is unwittingly guided by the Sufi to figure out why the Capistrano swallows are dying. It would include an underlying history of an egalitarian world lost when this volcano erupted in 1628 BC. Richard Farina’s song would be playing throughout the pages.  Continue reading “The Danger of the Patriarchal Domination Mindset: Can We Do Anything About It? by Thea Iberall”

I Dream of Pope Francis by Gina Messina-Dysert

Gina Messina-Dysert profileIt was just last week that I received an email from Pope Francis.  He wrote me having seen my interview with Tavis Smiley and said he sympathized with my appeal for a Church that serves the needs of the people.  Pope Francis requested that I come to the Vatican to meet with him to discuss the papacy and his efforts to redirect the Church’s attention.  Of course, I immediately accepted and began to create my agenda for our meeting: women’s ordination, same-sex marriage, reproductive justice, and…my alarm went off.  It was just a dream. Sigh…

Totally disappointed at the realization of its ridiculousness, I wondered why Pope Francis had invaded my dreams.  Could it have been prophetic as my good friend and colleague (jokingly) suggested?  Or perhaps I’m narcissistic enough to fantasize that I have such wisdom to share.   Either way, no other pope has ever occupied my thoughts in such a way. Continue reading “I Dream of Pope Francis by Gina Messina-Dysert”

The Black Church, the Blues, and Black Bodies by Kelly Brown Douglas

“Ooh, Ohh there’s something going all wrong”,   Ma Rainey sang.  There is indeed something going all wrong in the black church. This church, which is born out of the commitment to safeguard the life and freedom of all black people, has gained a reputation for repudiating if not demonizing certain black bodies, namely LGBT bodies.  While there are certainly significant black church leaders who have vigorously defended LGBTQ person’s struggle for justice and equal treatment under the law, including support of marriage equality, those black church voices against LGBTQ rights have been vociferous  and unrelenting. Continue reading “The Black Church, the Blues, and Black Bodies by Kelly Brown Douglas”

Breaking Up with Chick-fil-A by Gina Messina-Dysert

I haven’t eaten fast food in many years; however as a new mom Chick-fil-A offered something quite different than other fast food chains: healthy options, freshly made food, clean space, and a great spot for play dates; not to mention the organization’s commitment to the environment.  My daughter and I have made many trips to our local franchise in the last year.  It became a usual spot for play dates, the go to place for dinner when I was on a time crunch (grilled chicken nuggets, fresh fruit, and chocolate milk has saved the day many times over!), and let’s not forget the perfect option for Baby S to get some play time in while Mommy connected to the free Wifi to get some work done.  Yes, Chick-fil-A felt like a mommy’s dream come true.

I am embarrassed to say that I had heard rumors that Chick-fil-A was anti-same sex marriage; but I ignored all the warning signs trying to hold on to the many positives I thought the chicken chain brought to my life.  With the recent blow up of Dan Cathy’s response “guilty as charged,” when asked about Chick-fil-A’s support for families led by heterosexual couples, I can no longer turn a blind eye.     Continue reading “Breaking Up with Chick-fil-A by Gina Messina-Dysert”

Grasping for Truth, Arriving at Wisdom by Leanne Dedrick

“Quite apart from explicit religious belief, every time that a human being succeeds in making an effort of attention with the sole idea of increasing [her] grasp of truth, [she] acquires a greater aptitude for grasping it, even if [her] efforts produce no visible fruit.”  Simone Weil, Waiting For God

I think and write a lot about ‘truth.’ I love truth and I hate truth. I love truth for its security, for its comfort, for its ease at organizing thoughts and feelings and, of course, for its honesty. Relationships are never simple however, and I find that all the reasons I love truth are also the reasons I hate truth. This dichotomy speaks also to the relationship I have with myself; one woman in two worlds, or in other words, an ordinary woman and a philosopher of religion.

Truth is fundamentally tricky in its deceptive simplicity. There are three basic ways the dictionary describes the word truth. The first has to do with a quality – the quality or state of being true. The second references fact – that which is in line with reality. The third becomes more problematic; it includes the language of belief – a fact or belief accepted as true. Continue reading “Grasping for Truth, Arriving at Wisdom by Leanne Dedrick”

On Being a Gay Male Theologian During the War on Women by Dirk von der Horst

For some time, a prominent strand of gay and feminist theory and theology has taken it almost as axiomatic that gay men, lesbians, and straight women have a common stake in dismantling patriarchy.  While I have always understood my own work as a gay theologian in terms of that common struggle, recent developments point to a significant challenge to keeping that bond intact in the larger sphere of political activism.

At the end of last year, National Public Radio deemed 2011 an extraordinary year for gay rights.    Buzzfeed listed 40 reasons why it was the best year for gays ever, beginning with a Gallup poll showing that for the first time a majority of Americans supported same-sex marriage.  The list also included the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and several firsts for openly gay elected officials.  Even the world of professional sports is becoming more accepting: in a recent tweet, Ravens’ linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo equated support for same-sex marriage with playing in a Super Bowl when asked about his life’s greatest accomplishments.

Simultaneously, we saw a steady legislative assault on women’s reproductive freedom.   Continue reading “On Being a Gay Male Theologian During the War on Women by Dirk von der Horst”

Progressive Religion to the Rescue By Mary E. Hunt

The happy hoopla surrounding the lifting of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell had a shadow side. Close inspection revealed a lot of partners and spouses of LGBTIQ military people who had been cloaked in secrecy and euphemism (“Meet my cousin”) for years. Now they, too, can come out. But they remain second-class citizens whose marriages don’t count because of the Defense of Marriage Act. They are not eligible for health care and other benefits routinely provided for dependents of military members. This injustice is a new and important front in the struggle for full human rights, one that has a unique religious twist that bears watching.

In late September, I attended a moving celebration hosted by the Military Partners and Families Coalition called “Beyond 61.” It was a celebration of the new lease on life that these folks experienced after the 60-day waiting period following the repeal of DADT. It took place at Arlington Cemetery, fittingly at the Women in Military Service Memorial, since women have a long history of unequal treatment in the military, as well.

Unaccustomed as I am to military anything (I continue to serve my country in the peace movement), I was impressed by the diversity among the participants and their singular commitment to justice. I was alarmed by the fact that, after decades of struggle, today’s young people are still subject to indignities due to their sexuality even when they enlist for military service. Given the current economic situation, their options for education and other kinds of work are limited. This only makes discrimination against the queer ones nastier. Continue reading “Progressive Religion to the Rescue By Mary E. Hunt”

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