Thursday, October 19, 2017

For if You Keep Silent at Such a Time as This Esther 4:14

For Such Times as These

When I started writing this I was angry. I asked the sisters and brothers of EEWC Christian Feminism Today to talk me off the ledge. I was afraid I would post a picture of MT, standing on the wing of an airplane, wearing only a thong, holding a gun with the words, "N**** Woman" under it and that is not me. I felt angry, frustrated, helpless and humorless. That was a dark place. The continued attempts to roll back women's control of their own bodies, the threat to children who have grown up in the United States, some of whom I know and love, gun violence and the sick, misguided people who perpetrate that violence, the continued assault to health care that could help mentally ill people and so many other atrocities of the current administration had me near the edge. 

Then I read some tweets from women that made me laugh and helped me realize that if I loose my mind it will not help anyone. The funniest tweet was, "Maybe if we tell the Republicans that the pill is like a tiny, little gun that protects the vagina they will quit trying to regulate it."
So, hopefully on the lighter side...

"We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced any more." DT

In 1843 Joseph Smith announced that, "God had revealed to him that no virgin could enter Mormon heaven."1 That's bloody convenient isn't it? Is that the person of faith DT is talking about?

"Women who appear in public, with uncovered ankles, are to be whipped." Taliban
Are these the people DT is defending?

The people of faith DT and his administration are protecting are the Christian, Religious Right who want to have control over women's bodies and reproductive powers. Don't get me wrong, patriarchal religions and governments have always tried to control women's bodies. They decide what we can or can't wear, where our voices or our laughter can be heard, where we can sit or stand or pray.

Other Times Like These

In 1877 Annie Wood Besant was arrested for printing and distributing a pamphlet on conception. The British court found the pamphlet to be a, "Dirty, filthy book." Ms Besant "lost custody of her daughter because the court decided she was a bad influence on a growing girl."2
In 1916 Margaret Sanger founded the first American birth-control clinic, "for which she was imprisoned."3 On January, 21 2017 women and men around the world marched. We imagined what lay ahead. Some of our worst expectations have been realized. We will not go back to a world where women are to be kept barefoot and pregnant. Our lives and reproductive powers can no longer be a political football.

1. Jean F. Blashfield, Hellraisers, Heroines, and Holy Women: Women's Most Remarkable Contributions to History (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1981), 7.
2. Ibid. 12
3. Melanie Parry, ed., Larousse Dictionary of Women (New York: Larousse, 1996), 581.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Save the Children of DACA

Children of the American Dream

Their parents brought them to the United States when she was in preschool and he was a toddler. Their brother was born a couple of years later. She plays basket ball and has plans to go to Pepperdine University on a scholarship. He is a baseball fanatic with plans to go to the local community college before pursuing his physical therapy license. Their parents were lawyers in Mexico. They did not want their children raised in the corruption they observed in the Mexican government. It was never their intention to be undocumented. Through a series of errors, theirs and the governments, they found themselves undocumented with no legal option but to return to Mexico and start over.

They have a successful business. Their children are in school and living in the only home they have ever known. They are members of a community with friends and family. They are members of a church. They made the difficult decision to stay. A decision that meant living in fear of being discovered, of being arrested, of being deported.


When President Obama instituted the Dream Act (DACA) the two older children signed up immediately. When the opportunity to get a drivers license presented itself they went right down and took the test. When Trump was elected they went to the Mexican Conciliate to make sure their papers were in order in case they needed to take the family to Canada.

Their story is not an isolated incident. I taught kindergarten for thirty-plus years and stories like this abound in my memory. Parents who desperately want the best for their children and get caught in a system they cannot navigate. My friends, mentioned above, are smart, educated people and the system overwhelmed them.


 Many Sunday mornings you will find a San Diego priest saying mass on the beach by the fence that separates the United States from Mexico. Separated families come to that mass. They cannot touch each other but they can pray together. Some of the people, on the other side of the fence, are deported  retired U.S. military. I pray for all the people who are being harmed by a heartless administration. 

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 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.

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.


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.