By Truth the Earth Endures by Carolyn Lee Boyd

Door to Truth, Sri Rangnath Swamy Temple, Pushkar

“By truth the Earth endures.” This Old Irish pronouncement quoted by Peter Berresford Ellis in  The Druids (p. 162) holds such hope. In this moment when the survival of humans and other living beings on our planet is uncertain, when we wonder how we can ensure a future we want our descendants to live in, this centuries-old statement tells us exactly what to do. Revere truth, speak truth, live truth, and the Earth will endure.

The “truth” by which the Earth endures is not simply the state of being factually correct, but, to the ancient Irish, as well as other cultures, also a mighty force that is an element of all that is good.  “…The old Irish word for Truth is also the basis for linguistic concepts of holiness, righteousness, faithfulness, for religion, and for, above all, for justice (p.169)” according to Ellis. What gives truth this immense authority is the power of the Word. Ellis tells us “Truth was the Word and the Word was sacred and divine and not to be profaned…’Truth is the foundation of speech and all words are founded upon Truth’” (p. 162).

Continue reading “By Truth the Earth Endures by Carolyn Lee Boyd”

Unorthodox: How Looking for “Truth” Misses the Point by Ivy Helman.


ivy tree huggingA few weeks ago a Slovak journalist reached out to me about the new Netflix four-part series entitled Unorthodox.  In the email, the journalist wrote that they had read about my work as a Jewish feminist and wanted some insight into the new series.  Their main question was: how accurate is the portrayal of the Satmar community?

I was slightly surprised.  The journalist wasn’t looking for my opinion on Esty as a young Jewish woman who takes control over her life and works tirelessly to quite literally have her voice heard.  Rather, the questions were: is the Satmar community really like that; do they not use the internet or have smart phones; is quality education so lacking; is marriage arranged; would a woman really be that clueless about her own body; is sex like that; and, do they really have no privacy?  

Fast forward.  I did the interview.  I figured that if I could offer the article’s Slovak and Czech readers a better understanding of Jewish life, my efforts were worth it.  I tried to focus the interview toward those  goals and my feminist take on the story.  The piece was published, and somewhat proud of my efforts, I posted a link to the article on my Facebook page.  Continue reading “Unorthodox: How Looking for “Truth” Misses the Point by Ivy Helman.”

The Brass Tacks of the Trump Impeachment by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

AnjeanetteFrom the very moment after the dust settled from the 2016 elections, notions of impeachment started to break. Now three years into the Trump Presidency, impeachment proceedings have been launched. To start, Impeachment is a Constitutionally supported right. It is an element of the “Checks and Balances” system to ensure that no one branch of the government holds too much power. Instigating impeachment processes is not treason, nor is it unpatriotic – it is a testament to the democratic procedures established by the founding fathers and maintained for the last 230 years.

Continue reading “The Brass Tacks of the Trump Impeachment by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

Unpacking the Midterm Elections by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

Anjeanette

As the dust is settling, with the mixture of finishing counting ballots and races being conceded, the true realities of what happened in the 2018 Midterm Elections is taking concrete form. From the earliest hours of November 6, numbers showed that both Democrats and Republicans, old and new, were taking to the polls, flexing their democratic rights, and showing the political regimes from local, state, and federal levels that the current state of being is not acceptable.

Continue reading “Unpacking the Midterm Elections by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

God, Gender Violence and The Male Ego by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

maxresdefault

We live in a world in which women are the preferred target of different types of violence: physical, sexual, psychological, economic, symbolic and structural, among others. A type of violence we are not talking so much about is spiritual violence. This can be defined as using a person’s spiritual beliefs to harm, manipulate, dominate or control the person.

Spiritual violence includes, but is not limited to: disallowing the person to follow his or her preferred spiritual or religious tradition; forcing a spiritual or religious path or practice on another; belittling or making fun of a person’s spiritual or religious tradition, beliefs or practices; and, using one’s spiritual or religious position, rituals or practices to manipulate or alienate a person. Continue reading “God, Gender Violence and The Male Ego by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Creating Space for Wisdom Sharing by Katey Zeh

dingzeyu-li-773-unsplash

Along with spending more time in silence, another spiritual practice I’m cultivating is creating space for the wisdom of the room to emerge. At a basic level this involves talking less and listening more.

Keeping quiet is a discipline I’ve had to learn. I was the type of kid who raised my hand to speak in class at every opportunity.  One day in fifth grade I was especially especially eager to give the right answer to our class’s math problem. The moment I heard my name called I promptly began articulating the solution. I was so caught up in sharing that I didn’t realize that my teacher actually hadn’t called on me to respond, but instead had called on on another student with the same name. Whoops

A decade later in a different classroom, I sat silently and a bit uncomfortably while the woman across from me talked for what seemed like an eternity. This exercise for our pastoral care class was for my conversation partner to speak for two full minutes (not quite an eternity) while I maintained eye contact and nodded but gave no verbal feedback. Afterwards I was to share with her what I had heard her say. That simple act of mirroring revealed how unnatural it was for me to listen. For so much of my life I had been jockeying for more space to speak. Not talking took focus and listening attentively required skill, but there were also great rewards in doing so: better understanding, deeper truth, and more compassion.

Last week I received this fitting bit of wisdom in an email from the Enneagram Institute:

Listen to others: they are often right, too. And even if they are not, there is almost always a kernel of truth to the point of view they are expressing. By listening to others, you not only will learn more but will become more informed and sensitive. Don Richard Riso, Understanding the Enneagram

Since graduating from seminary ten years ago I have found myself applying the discipline of sacred listening in my group facilitation work and while presenting at conferences. How many of us have attended a workshop or conference breakout session only to spend the majority of the time listening to one person lecture? I’ve decided that I no longer want to reinforce that kind of lopsided dynamic, which leaves little space for others to share their truth. How much wisdom have we all been missing as a result?

Recently, in a room full of wise women gathered for the United Methodist Women’s Assembly, I invited those attending my workshops to dive into the same biblical texts that I focus on in my forthcoming book Women Rise Up.  I divided them into small groups, assigned each one a story, and asked them to explore together two simple, though not necessarily easy questions about the passage:

  • What about this story troubles you?
  • What about it inspires you?

As I passed the mic from table to table, I was moved by the thoughtful reflections they shared, and I was heartened to hear that some of their understandings aligned with my own. But then one woman shared an insight about the Book of Ruth that was so profound that it sent a shiver down my spine. In all the time I had spent studying and reflecting on this story I had never read the passage in quite that way.

Her wisdom-sharing transformed and deepened the conversation in the room. And it reinforced for me the importance of cultivating space for the wisdom held in the room to emerge. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve approached a text, even a situation, with the belief that nothing new could come from it. I was thankful to be proven wrong once again by the wisdom in the room.  

RA82Rev. Katey Zeh is an ordained Baptist minister, a nonprofit strategist, writer, and speaker at the intersections of faith and gender justice.  She is the co-host of Kindreds, a podcast for soul sisters. Her book Women Rise Up will be published by the FAR Press this year.  Find her on Twitter at @kateyzeh or on her website kateyzeh.com.

Finding Peace in the Wait by Katey Zeh

In Flux Katey ZehHave you ever tried to download a number of large files to your computer at the same time? If you’ve purchased a TV series through iTunes or received high-resolution pictures from an important event that you couldn’t wait to view, you can probably identify with this scenario.

You sit impatiently as the progress bar barely creeps toward completion—one painful percentage point by painful percentage point. Maybe you get up from your chair, spend a few minutes doing something to take your mind off of the files, and return a bit later only to find that not a single file is complete yet. Argh! If you can manage somehow to sit long enough to watch this mind-numbing process, one file eventually finishes. Hurrah! Then another. And another. Soon enough the progress accelerates as fewer files remain in the queue and eventually the download is complete. The waiting is over.

Lately my life has been feeling like a collection of slow simultaneous computer downloads. My “files” include a book, a podcast, a new professional website, a training, and a number of consulting ventures. Although I’m disciplined enough to work on each of them at least semi-regularly, each effort gets a much smaller portion of my attention than if I were to focus on a single project. Even if I were able to shift my energies to completing only one of these at a time, all of them are collaborative endeavors involving other people. In the end a lot of the progress is beyond my control.

Over the last several months I’ve wasted a lot of energy feeling annoyed with this overall lack of progress in my life. Some of these projects have been going on for years at this point, those pesky “to do” items that I can never cross off my list. I can’t count how many times I’ve expressed to others, “I just want one of these to be done!” Like painfully watching the slowly downloading files, I’ve been sitting anxiously with an inner sense of dread: this process will never, ever be over.

Sometimes I find it somewhat amusing if not entirely useful to entertain briefly the worst-case scenario brought to the surface by my anxiety du jour. What will happen if every single one of these efforts fails? If my book is never published, how will I feel? If my new website is never launched, what will that mean for my life?

I keep coming back to this hard reality: I’ve got big stakes in a future that I have no control over. As long as I believe my self-worth lies in what is beyond my ability to shape, I am destined for a lifetime of suffering.

My go-to coping strategy in these situations is to make myself busy and do a bunch of stuff to make me feel like I’m holding everything together. This time I’m trying something different.

With the guidance and encouragement of wise women in my life, I have been attempting to shift my perspective on this period of anticipation and waiting. Rather than spin my wheels trying to find another strategy to try or project to start, I am beginning to experiment with doing less. Releasing expectations. Holding with curiosity and gentle attention the anxiety and fear of not measuring up to my perfectionistic standards. Instead of doing something to distract myself from them, I’m holding them in my heart with love—or at least tolerance.

Inhale. Breathe in compassion. Exhale. Breathe out love.

My perfectionism runs deep, but the Spirit of love runs deeper.

RA82Katey Zeh, M.Div is a strategist, writer,  and educator who inspires communities to create a more just, compassionate world.  She has written for outlets including Huffington Post, Sojourners, Religion Dispatches, Response magazine, the Good Mother Project, the Journal for Feminist Studies in Religion, and the United Methodist News Service. Her book Women Rise Up will be published by the FAR Press in March of 2018.  Find her on Twitter at @kateyzeh or on her website kateyzeh.com

The Inter-Faith Youth Initiative and Feminism by Ivy Helman

ivyFrom June 25th through July 2nd 2013, I participated, as one of three Jewish mentors, in IFYI (Inter-Faith Youth Initiative), an inter-faith immersion experience for high school and college-age youth sponsored by Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries (CMM). The mentors and the rest of the staff guided, encouraged, empowered and supported 30 participants. Throughout the week, I also led an art interest group and co-led an affinity group with Beau Scurich, the Muslim chaplain at Northeastern. The entire community of participants and staff gathered around the week’s theme: the ways of truth and love. As Mahatma Gandhi said: “When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always,” (emphasis added).

IFYI was not only an exercise in how to live out the ways of truth and love, but it also became a vehicle through which the participants and staff expressed to the larger world what the ways of truth and love meant to us. Here is some of what the ways of truth and love came to mean throughout our journey together. Continue reading “The Inter-Faith Youth Initiative and Feminism by Ivy Helman”

Truth and Consequences–This Feminist’s Perspective? by Marcia Mount Shoop

Marcia headshotIn John’s Gospel, Pilate’s response to Jesus’ self-identification as the one who “came into the world to testify to the truth” is a simple question:  “What is truth?”  His question hangs in the air as he moves from that conversation to the throngs he sought to please.  Pilate took the temperature of that crowd to decide Jesus’ fate even though he, himself, found no reason to charge Jesus with a crime.  Pilate asks the question from a position of power—literally holding life and death in the ambivalence and maybe even in the sincerity of his words.

The “t” word has been center stage in our collective conversation of late with Lance Armstrong’s Oprah-event confession  and the Manti Te‘o girlfriend-dying-of-cancer hoax at Notre Dame .   The Internet is abuzz with reactions to both confessional moments.  Lance Armstrong’s confession apparently didn’t play well with the general public.   And people are weighing in about whether Manti Te‘o could really be so naïve or if he just didn’t know how to tell everyone the truth when the story got out of hand.   Continue reading “Truth and Consequences–This Feminist’s Perspective? by Marcia Mount Shoop”

Things That Make Me Cry: The Practice of Unbelief by Leanne Dedrick

I have been doing a lot of unpacking lately, both literally and figuratively. I have recently moved to a different city, and returned to a place I once knew well, many years ago. It hasn’t been a case of ‘going home again’ as much as it has been an expression of self awareness of my preferences, but as with other significant life events, there are surprises waiting around each corner — surprises that carry with them hidden issues that require figurative unpacking. For the purposes of this post, however, I will only address one. It is the one that left my FB friends scratching their heads and sending me comments like, “WTF?” and “Wow. You surprise me!” and “Have you lost your mind?” It also led to the most annoying statement anyone can ever hear, “Obviously, you have issues you aren’t dealing with…” I don’t know about you, and maybe it is just my age, or the fact that I am a philosopher, but it is damn near the biggest insult you can pay me. The way I see it, and live it, my obsessively organized and compulsively compartmentalized mind is constantly on hyper-drive when it comes to analyzing and ‘dealing’ with my ‘issues.’ So after a few days of sitting with (read: doing anything but calmly sitting with) my annoyance and reviewing my own out of character posts, I have gotten to a place where I can begin to unpack the responses of others, rather than perseverate on my own insecurities. Continue reading “Things That Make Me Cry: The Practice of Unbelief by Leanne Dedrick”

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”

%d bloggers like this: