We Are More Than A Vagina & Womb

Posted by on Saturday, Mar 21, 2015 in Blog | 3 comments

We like wine and cheese and meaningful conversation in our home. So we host “wine and cheese” gatherings on a regular basic. Here is how they work: A blind copy email is sent to a long list of people with a list of dates. People respond to a date they would like to come. No one knows who else is on the list. They show up at the door with a bottle of wine and a wonderful cheese. Each person sits around our table, never with the person they came with, and a meaningful conversation ensues spurred on by questions my husband has worked through for the night. This year our invites include a book to read prior to coming. A few weeks ago eleven of us gathered to drink wine eat cheese and discuss the book, The Underground Girls of Kabul. It takes place in Afghanistan, a place where boys are preferred over girls. In a male preferred society – a baby boy brings celebration and honor – a baby girl brings shame and burden. A woman’s value lies in her ability to marry and provide a son. To put it more bluntly her value is in her vagina (purity) and her womb (male heir). One of the women at our table was a doctor, the one they call in when a newborn baby is blue – not breathing – going to die. Her job is to make them “yelp,” she said. “I’m good at what I do,” she said. “I can’t imagine feeling shame over hearing the yelp of a baby girl.” Girls are often kept inside away from activities that might expose them to men or boys and therefore bring an appearance of impurity. Adolescent girls can’t be around boys. Period. Purity is crucial. After marriage it’s crucial she bare a son. It’s assumed her body decides the gender, if no son is provided she’s shamed. The husband is shamed as well. Without a son he is less likely to find a job or get a promotion and more likely to be harassed by the community. A son is everything. In a way I hurt for the Afghan men. They live in a country where there’s deep poverty and little employment or advancement. How emasculating to not be able to work or provide. Deprivation is everywhere. Honor and dishonor are tenuous. At any moment what little honor there is can be snatched away. In many ways the honor of a man is totally dependent on another – his wife. If she is pure … if she provides a son … I wonder if deprivation leads to domination over what few things one can control. It might...

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What Does Our Body Image?

Posted by on Monday, Nov 17, 2014 in Blog | 1 comment

Tonight The Marcella Project will host a salon discussion on body image. For several years I’ve been researching, noodling and studying the theological importance of the body. One of the most prolific writers on the subject was Pope John Paul II. He spoke on the body at 129 addresses within a five year period. We Protestants have some catching up to do! Recently I had the good fortune of attending  Christopher West’s seminar on body theology. (More on that in a later blog.) West writes extensively on the body – much of his work stems from Pope John Paul’s teachings. One of the questions I’ve asked  is “How does the body image our Triune God?” Scripture said, “Let us make mankind in our image – male and female..” (my paraphrase Genesis 1:26-28) There’s something significant about the fact that God placed our soul, spirit,and mind into a gendered body. We are gendered embodied spirits. Plato taught the body was bad (needed to rid ourselves of it) – but in fact if we separate the body and soul – well, we are dead. Today our culture says the opposite “our bodies are everything” particularly if you’re a woman. Well – that is if they are thin enough, sexy enough and beautiful enough. You get the point. We are our bodies but we are more than our bodies too. Neither Plato nor todays media have it right. Why did God give us gendered bodies? What about them reflects the Godhead? There’s something there because God gave us gendered embodied spirits in the beginning. Jesus came in the flesh (deity embodied) and we have new bodies in the new heavens and new earth. So what it is that’s so important about being embodied? I confess, I haven’t fully come to it yet – I continue to dig but I found something Carlo Maria Martini in his book On The Body, both fascinating and thought provoking. He said, According to the Scared Scriptures, the human being is a whole and the human body is at once part of earth and of heaven. It is clay come alive by God’s breath of life, “The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being” (Gen. 2:7). We usually refer to the human body as “flesh” – basar in Hebrew – flesh that lives for the “spirit,” which is ruah in Hebrew. The human being is fashioned of earth and of life-giving breath, and both come from God and were created by God’s Word. While it is said that each living being was created “according to its species,” there...

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Age, Shoes & Hair

Posted by on Sunday, Oct 20, 2013 in Blog | 4 comments

Today is my 48th birthday. There’s freedom in aging.  When I was in my thirties a woman shared the following piece of advise. She said, “Jackie, as you age take care of your hair and your shoes. Then no one will notice what’s in between.” I chuckled then tucked away her advise for another day. Now that I’m almost 50 I realize the wisdom in what she shared. As many of you know – I have long curly hair. Most people are so busy noticing my unique hair that they forget to focus on my crows feet and wrinkled forehead. I love my hair for its distraction. And because it requires little care which benefits a farm girl like me who doesn’t like to primp. This past month while in NYC I bought some sassy red boots. They were a bit more than I liked to spend but then again the lady did said to take care of my hair and shoes. So on my birthday I want to pass along the gift this woman gave to me years ago. As you age embrace the freedom it affords you. And get a great hair do and some shoes that put a bounce in your step.    Aging is...

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I love Aging!

Posted by on Wednesday, Apr 24, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

I love aging. There’s freedom in it. I tell women that all the time. I don’t think they believe me. I’ve always been very upfront and blunt. I put forth my life. Most of it. It can make other Christians uncomfortable. Mostly because we don’t like it when someone takes off the mask and exposes the real us. I’ve noticed people receive my bluntness better now that I’m older. And I find I care less and less if I offend as I age. I can’t wait to see what happens when I’m 70. But that’s not all because I also find I fight less with those I love. You tire of trying to change things…others and get more excepting of imperfections. Perhaps because you realize you’re imperfections aren’t going away either. And marriage is sweet in it’s older stage. People say young love is beautiful, I’m finding old love is more so. And now I look at my body and think, “not bad for almost 50.” I sag. But I’m suppose to sag. No more pressure to keep up the youthful, sexy body image. Freedom. And my eyes can’t see as well. That means less house cleaning because I can’t see the cobwebs anymore. Freedom. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/08/booming/at-ease-with-a-body-fighting-gravity.html?_r=0 There’s freedom with age. So here’s a cheer for us older women. Let’s go buy some bathing suits 🙂...

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Salon Body Image: What Color Are You?

Posted by on Monday, May 21, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

At the last Marcella salon we discussed body image, the theology of the body, where I shared the following illustration about being the “color” God made us.     My first church experience as a new believer was at a church located in a wealthy area. The women there were godly women, they were quiet, refined, and very well dressed (make up, jewelry and all). And there I was…loud, assertive, a farm girl with three little ones in tow; I was lucky if I got matching socks on!     I was nothing like them. These ladies were light pink and I was lime green. And I kept thinking, “I need to be quieter, dress nicer, be kinder…I need to be light pink.” Then God spoke to me with an image of him being color. If God were color he would be every color we know and every shade of those colors and he would be colors we’ve never even seen before. Because he’s huge, big, more, it was as if God was saying to me, “Jackie, I make people different colors because it takes all of those colors to express who I am to the world.” In other words, if all of God is to be reflected to the world we have to be our color rather than trying to be a different color. So I need to be lime green. Lime green is strong, warrior like. And there’s a part of God that roars. And we need light Pink, like wonderful my mom. She shows the peace of God. I need her to be her color because I’m not peaceful. She lets me see that about my God…he is peace. And I suspect she needs to see her God as fighter, warrior at times too. Our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139) They are a word about God. The visible pointing to the invisible. Eugene Peterson said, “God’s creative genius is endless. He never, fatigued and unable to maintain the rigors of creativity, resorts to mass-producing copies. Each life is a fresh canvas on which He uses lines and colors, shades and lights, textures and proportions that He has never used before.” So think for a minute. How does your body – including your soul, personality, everything about you – speak of God (remember we aren’t separate but whole beings)? In other words, what characteristic of God do you think you emulate in ways others don’t? There’s a lot to be known about God isn’t there? Our bodies help make him known…I need to know him more so please be your...

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