Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Are We Making Any Progress?

I woke up at three A. M. praying that no one would molest her at church camp. 


I have written about this before. I thought once I admitted it to myself and others I would be fine. Then I woke to this early morning prayer. My great-niece left for a week at church camp the day before. I am exited for her. Church camp was a very special part of growing up. My last year as a camper the director of the camp grabber me between my legs much as the current inhabitant of the White House brags about doing to women. 

I have received many comments and questions about the cover of my book, Prostitutes, Virgins and Mothers: Questioning Teachings About Biblical Women.
I
I gave answers like, "Women have been hurt by patriarchal interpretations of women's biblical stories. The woman on the cover represents the pain I have seen in my own eyes after a particularly harsh chastisement of women based on patriarchal interpretations." I gave an answer like that to  Marg Herder, a woman I greatly respect and the Director of Public Information for the Evangelical Ecumenical Women's Caucus: Christian Feminism Today. She was writing a review of my book for the EEWC web page. The review can be found at this link. https://eewc.com/prostitutes-virgins-mothers-questioning-teachings-biblical-women/

Muscles Have Memory

After that correspondence with Marg I went to the gym. It is a good thing that the weight was really heavy and the music was really loud because I burst into tears. Not just tears, but the ugly cry. The flood of memory and emotion surrounding the grabbing incident and what followed, overwhelmed me. That was the first time I wrote or even talked about the experience. First to Marg, then on this blog. 

What Has Changed?

Almost 50 years later and I am praying for the safety of a fourteen-year-old girl at church camp. Almost 50 years later and the occupant of the White House brags about grabbing women's private parts. When I asked Marg if I could use her name in this blog she told me of a therapist friend who has seen an increase of women with PTSD because of experiences like mine. Having a man in the White House, who brags about molesting women has brought all those long buried feelings to the surface.
I am a Christian Feminist and I pray no one molests her or any other little girl or woman. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Dangerous Women


It's Biblical

"If a man come upon a maiden that is not betrothed, takes her and has relations with her, and their deed is discovered, the man who had relations with her shall pay the girl's father fifty silver shekels and take her as his wife, because he has deflowered her. Moreover, he may not divorce her as long as he lives."
Deuteronomy 23:29

This art exhibit was created by Mirelle Honein to protest a law in Lebanon which, "allows rapist to avoid jail terms if they marry their victims." John, Tara; Time Magazine: May 15, 2017.  The exhibit features wedding dresses hanging by nooses. In April the cabinet of Lebanon revoked the law and  Parliament is scheduled to vote on it in May. 
What kind of horror would that be for a women to have to marry a man who has so horribly violated her? After a 16-year-old girl committed suicide when she was forced to marry her rapist the law was overturned in Morocco. According to the Time Magazine article referenced above, at least six countries in the region, "retail the loophole."

And now in Manchester, England

"Women should adorn themselves with proper conduct, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hairstyles and gold ornaments, or pearls, or expensive clothes, but rather, as befits women who profess reverence for God, with good deeds." 
1 Timothy 2:9-11


Under Taliban rule women may not go out of the house without a male family member to escort them. They must be covered from head to toe, their shoes must not make noise, their laughter must not be heard. The moment I heard of the bombing at the Ariana Grande concert I believed those young women and girls were targeted because they were not controlled by a man, they were not covered from head to toe and they were not silent. Ariana's concert tour is called, "Dangerous Woman Tour." These young women and girls are dangerous to the men who want to control their lives, their bodies and their reproductive abilities. 

Holy Books Used to Control Women

As a Christian I have experienced patriarchal interpretations of the Bible that are used to control and subordinate women and girls. I will not critique the Koran because it is not my holy book. I will critique the inhuman results of patriarchal interpretations of holy books which harm, seeks to control, subordinates or marginalize women. I will not be controlled!! I am a dangerous woman!





Monday, May 1, 2017

Why Do We Believe What We Believe?

Who were the Apostles?


Why do we believe what we believe? That was the original subtitle for Prostitutes, Virgins and Mothers.  I was inspired to use that title while listening to a radio preacher. I don't do that very often but sometimes I torture myself. He asked, "Why do we believe that?"  And answered, "I don't know why we believe that, we just do. You don't have to know why we believe that,  just believe." I don't know what they were believing, I was busy screaming at the radio, "You don't know why you believe what you believe?" YIKES!!!

 The April 23, 2017 bulletin of St. Joseph Catholic Church brings to mind that radio preacher.  It states, "Today we listen to the teachings of three apostles - Luke, Peter, and John - who remind us that even though we have not seen Christ, we nonetheless are filled with joy as we place our belief in his saving death and resurrection." I believe the implication is that these three men were friends and contemporaries of Jesus.  If a parishioner took the bulletin at face value, they would be deceived.  

Luke is not recorded in any list of Apostles found in the Gospels. Some traditions say he was a doctor who traveled with Paul, others that he was a late second century Christian from Antioch. We know he was not an eyewitness to the life of Jesus because he tells his reader he is attempting to compile a narrative, "Just as those who were eyewitnesses." The approximative date for Luke's Gospel is between 80 - 130 C.E. That would mean the Gospel was written 50 -100 years after the crucifixion of Jesus.

Scholars believe that 1 Peter was written by a follower of Peter based on "language, content, style and theological development." An example of  this is the polished Greek in which the letter was composed and allusions to persecutions which date between 81- 96 C.E. Peter was an unlettered and probably illiterate Galilean fisherman martyred in Rome between 64 - 67 C.E. That would mean Peter was dead thirteen years before the persecutions started.  The date for 1 Peter is the same as the Gospel of Luke.

In the introduction to the Gospel of John, The New American Bible: St. Joseph Edition, a Catholic publication, states, "Other difficulties for any theory of eyewitness authorship of the Gospel in its present form are presented by its highly developed theology and by certain elements of its literary style." Scholars believe that this Gospel was written by a disciple of John between 90 - 120 C. E.

Scholars of the Roman Catholic Church know this.  The New American Bible for Catholics says of  
1 Peter, "Some Modern scholars however, on the basis of a number of features that they consider incompatible with Petrine authenticity, regard the letter as the work of a later Christian writer." The introduction to the Gospel of John says, "Critical analysis makes it difficult to accept the idea that the Gospel as it now stands was written by one person." And of Luke, "The prologue to the Gospel makes it clear that Luke is not part of the first generation of Christians disciples but is himself dependent upon the traditions he received from those who were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word." 

We did not see Christ and we are filled with joy.

Perhaps that is why the church bulletin reminds us of the joy of  believing without seeing. Whoever these ancient authors were, they did not know Jesus and are relying on the words of others for their writing. Does that disqualify them as Apostles? In the Greek Apostle means, "One who is sent." According to that definition these authors could be considered Apostles. Why does this matter? Because, we are being misled into believing that the authors of Luke, I Peter and John were eyewitnesses to the life and teaching of Jesus. Taught to believe something that is not true. Why do we believe what we believe? Because we read it on the front of the bulletin or hear a radio preacher tell us that is what we believe. 

In Matthew, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary are "sent" by an angel of the Lord to go quickly and tell the disciples. In Mark, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome are "sent" by a young man to go and tell the disciples and Peter. Luke says it is Mary Magdalene, Johanna and Mary the mother of James who are "sent" by two men in dazzling garments to the eleven and all the others.  Finally, in John's Gospel it is Jesus who "sent" Mary Magdalene to tell his brothers.  

What makes an Apostle an Apostle?

Is it gender? Is it being an eyewitness to the life and teaching of Jesus? Does being sent to proclaim the life and teaching of Jesus or the resurrection make one an apostle? Romans 16:7 refers to Junia as, "prominent among the apostles" and in I Cor. 15:8-9 Paul calls himself an apostle. 

So what is the answer? If the authors of Luke, John and I Peter, are apostles, if Paul is an apostle, if Junia is an apostle then Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, Mary the mother of James, Salome, and Johanna are all apostles. They were eyewitnesses to the life, teaching and resurrection of Jesus and they were sent! 
Why is this important? Because gender is so often used to deny women full participation in their faith communities and deny their importance in the development of the Christian Church.  Believing the authors of Luke, John, and 1Peter were contemporaries of Jesus is Biblical  illiteracy and a contributing factor to limits on the full participation of women. 







Monday, April 10, 2017

Body Language

 The Toast Masters' (I call them Toast Mavens') handbook, uses as the title for each speech the new skill to be learned. This is the speech I will be giving at the next Toast Mavens' meeting.

Bodies Talk

The title of this assignment in our Competent Communication handbook is,"Your Body Speaks" and they are not talking about bad gas or hunger rumblings. When I was teaching kindergarten I would ask the children if hands could talk. They would always assure me that hands can not talk. So I would put my finger to my lips and ask, "What is my hand saying?" They would respond, "Shh." I would hold my arm out with the palm of my hand facing them and ask, "What is my hand saying?" and they would respond, "Stop." Then I would close my hand except for my index finger and wag it from side to side and ask, "What is my hand saying now and they would answer, "No." At the end of this lesson we all agreed, hands can tell us many things. 

Facial expressions are as important as hand movements in communication. One of my kindergarten mommies teaches American Sign Language at College of the Desert. Her face is fascinating to watch as she signs. Her expressions are extreme. I suppose those facial expressions, fill in the communication blank that vocal variety would fill.

Hands talk, faces talk, bodies talk. Women are taught to stand small. We stand with our legs together, our arms at our side or clutching our hand bag. I was at a gas station the other day and a man was approaching every women who was either pumping gas, sitting in her car or going into the mini mart. He was asking them for money and he was very insistent because he had a dog that needed food. I did not want him to approach me so, I spread my feet apart, put one hand on my hip and the other hand on my car, making  sure I took up as much space as possible. When he looked over at me I looked right back. He did not approach me.

Women are taught to sit small with our legs together, crossed at the ankles, our hands in our laps, so as not to take up too much space. Have you ever sat in a plane, or a train, or a theater where you have to share the arm rest? Men are allowed, even encouraged to sit and stand big. Have you ever had to walk down the aisle in a plane or a bus or a theater, or a church and the men are sitting with their arms across the back of the seats beside them, both legs spread wide and sticking out as far as they will reach? Are men trained to take up as much space as possible?

Women are warned that when we are walking alone we should walk with confidence, our back straight and our head up as if we know where we are going. The irony is, we do know where we are going. This warning is usually given on the evening news in the context of another woman found dead, or disappeared, or raped. 

Patriarchy, especially religious patriarchy likes to control women's bodies which effectively controls their movement, their self expression and their reproductive freedom. When I was a lector at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, the lector coordinator asked me if it were appropriate for me to cross my legs when I was sitting behind the altar. I told him to find out and let me know. If the church has a problem with me closing my legs he could take me off the lector roster. I never heard another word about it. That was just his little way of trying to control my movement. 

The Taliban put sever restrictions on women's movement and self expression. Women can not laugh in public, their shoes can not make noise, they have to be accompanied by a male family member and they must be covered from head to toe by a burka. The burka has a tiny slit, covered by mesh, for them to see through. I often wonder what it must be like to breath inside a burka, in the summer, in Afghanistan. Have you ever pulled the sheets up over your head? How long did it take before you had to pop your head out because it was hard to breath?

Bodies Liberated


We all know I am a feminist and we feminist have a saying, "The personal is political." Body movement, body language, self expression and reproductive choices do not get much more personal and therefore not much more political than that. So sisters, don't stand small, don't sit small, cross your legs if you feel like it, laugh out loud, wear clacity shoes and take up space. After all, it is your space too. 


 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Independent Americans

The Declaration of Independence

Written in 1776 to announce reasons for leaving the government of King George 111.

Fascinating Reading 

This is not the order in which it appears in the Declaration of Independence. It is the what I found most fascinating for today.


"The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world. He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws of naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of land. He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers. He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their office, and the amount and payments their salaries." 

Fast Forward

The short history of the forty-fifth president of the United States is a history of repeated denigrations and deceptions, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts (not alternative facts) be submitted to a candid world. He has promised to arrest populations in these states rather than enact laws of naturalization for immigrants. The Republican held Congress has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing to consider the Supreme Court Justice recommended by President Obama.  They have endangered the education of America's children by confirming a woman to head the Department of Education who possesses no apparent qualifications for that job.

Suggestion

Get a copy of  The Declaration of Independence, The Articles of Confederation, The Constitution of the United States of America and the Amendments to the Constitution.  Know our laws and our rights.










Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Tragedy in the United States

Life Changing Events

John F. Kennedy was killed when I was in fifth grade. That experience of national grief changed my childhood. Five years later Dr. Martin Luther King was murdered, followed shortly by Robert Kennedy.  The Kennedy brothers were practicing Roman Catholics. Dr King was an American Baptist minister.

On November 9, 2016 many Americans experienced another day of national grief. One of my friends stayed in bed and cried all day. Another moved forward with plans to relocate to Canada. Some lashed out in anger at white feminists who did not do enough to get out the vote and elect the candidate that would have protected women of color and women's rights in general. Others expressed fear that their right to marriage and family would be taken away from them.  The list of fears and anger could be much longer. Many of us are experiencing the grief that often accompanies the death of a loved one.

I am a progressive, liberal, left of center, feminist Christian. The national mourning for John, Martin, Robert and my Christian faith have shaped my concern for human rights and dignity. O am also a patriot who abhors the horrible division that grips our country. 

Commandments from the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy tell us to love God, love our neighbor and love ourselves. When Jesus was asked whom to consider a neighbor he chose as an example, a man from a despised group of people, a Samaritan. What made the Samaritans abhorrent? They worshipped God in a different place than the Hebrews. Leviticus also commands. "When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land..." That's a commandment no-one is fighting to put in the court house rotunda. It is easy, for me at least, to draw a comparison between undocumented people in the United States and the aliens we are commanded to love. It is easy, for me at least, to draw a comparison between the Samaritan neighbor and the Muslim neighbor. 

As always, in times like this, I look to faith leaders and feminist friends, who are ofter one-in-the same, for their words of wisdom, peace and healing. A pastoral letter from the United Church of Christ states, "We were built to heal bodies broken and divide. This is our calling. Our core values of love, hospitality, and justice for all must be fully embraced in the days to come. It could be that we were called into being for just such a time and this."

And finally the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, "Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Oh, Divine Master, grant that I may never seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is dying that we are born again to eternal life." 

I must confess I feel the need to be consoled and we are better together.

Monday, June 20, 2016

More Thoughts on Mother's Day

Single Mother on Mother's Day

Poet, Donna Fitzgerald, shared her memories of a Mother's Day past.  She said, "This Mother's Day I was reminded of going to church when Jen was little and how all the women earned praise except for the single mothers."

Mother's Day Poem by Donna Fitzgerald

The minister delivered his sermon 
to the overflowing congregation.
He mentions several biblical mothers:
Mary, the most honored.
Naomi, Rachel, Sarah.
He touts just how magnificent the
great pain and suffering needed 
to bring life into the world
and how
women so joyfully, 
bear the punishment for eating
that deadly apple.

He then asks the men 
to stand and bestow 
their praise on their wives of
whom they proudly boast
"The mother of my children"
as if they owned them,
their wives their private vessel.
These puffed-up men
who stand and honor their wives
on this one day of the year,
dressed in their very best,
waiting for the service to end 
and brunch to begin.

In the very last pew
sits a single woman and her child.
No praise is heaped 
upon her.

The service finished she returns home 
waiting for hypocrisy to end.

Why Do We Believe What We Believe About Biblical Women?

 So often the stories of biblical women are reduced to the lowest common denominator.  It wasn't a, "deadly apple." It was the fruit from The Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Eve wanted to be more like God knowing good from evil. She couldn't have known it was wrong because she didn't know the difference between good and evil.  

Mary must have been the most incredible person! The Gospel of Luke calls her the favored one. She raised a young man on whose teaching a world religion is based and we have been taught to focus on her virginity.  What did Jesus learn from his mother?

Sarah, a mother well after menopause, was the only women through home the promise could be fulfilled. It was her only son Abraham considered sacrificing.

Bitter and cunning Naomi, who was saved by the love of her daughter-in-law.

Rachel, who took the family idols and hid them from her angry father by pretending she was having her period.

All mothers, yes, and so much more. Donna, like so many women, have been hurt by simplistic interpretations of biblical women.  I am thankful for Donna's creativity and how she has used her pain to share her talent with the rest of us.