My Embodied Self Is Not To Be Feared

Posted by on Saturday, Sep 19, 2015 in Blog | 1 comment

My embodied self is not to be feared. Conservative faith communities tend to quote texts like 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 14 as biblical proof of why women shouldn’t be at the leadership table. Sadly, even if our male leaders won’t admit it, there are other reasons why women aren’t invited to the table. Sex being one of them. My body, her body and his body is feared. Female bodies present the possibility of moral failure therefore women are keep at bay. We live in a hyper-sexed world where Freud has convinced us that “every relationship” has sexual undertones. In Lime Green I discuss the sex thing. I challenge us to consider there’s another way besides believing the danger/romance narrative. Scripture offers another narrative, a brother sister narrative that harkens back to his creation mandate given to male and female in the Garden. Embracing a better, and dare I say a more biblical narrative, will force us to do a fundamental rethink about our sexual bodies. Is the sexual body only for sexual intercourse? I don’t know about you but my embodied self spends proportionally a small amount of time engaged in sexual intercourse compared to other activities. So what’s up with that? Why do I live in the body that spends most of its time engaged in activities other than the sex act? What does that reveal about our bodies? Why do you have a male body? Why do I have a female body?  I would argue if we are to work as allies, not adversaries, we need a new narrative about our sexual bodies. (By the way, sexuality and sex are not the same thing!) Below is an excerpt that forces us to think about why we have gendered bodies.  How does a rethink about our bodies impact who’s invited to the leadership table? Greater yet, how does it impact our ability to live out our calling as the Blessed Alliance? I was born sexual. Not in a sexual-intercourse way, but in an I-am-differentiated-by-my-genitalia-and-I-want-to-be-connected-to-others way. Roman Catholic priest, Ronald Rolheiser, defines sexuality like this: “Sexuality is the drive for love, communion, community, friendship, family, affection, wholeness, consummation, creativity. . . joy, delight, humor, and self-transcendence. It is not good to be alone . . . Sexuality is a beautiful, good, extremely powerful, sacred energy, given us by God and experienced in every cell of our being as an irrepressible urge to overcome our incompleteness, to move toward unity and consummation with that which is beyond us.” [1] Sexuality drives me to intimacy. Sexual intercourse may be a part of that intimacy, but we must remember that it is neither the goal nor the epitome of relational intimacy. Sexual intercourse alone...

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It’s My Turn to Listen & Learn

Posted by on Wednesday, Jun 17, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

I’m in Washington DC attending the Sojourner’s Summit at Catholic University. We start tonight with dinner and a casual reception with all the attendees and Senator Elizabeth Warren. Don’t freak, even though we are in DC, it’s not a political conference. Not sure I could handle that. Each year Sojourners invites 300 men and women from around the country to attend the Summit. The goal is to have people who fight for justice to meet, connect, listen, and learn from each other. It’s one of those times when I secretly think, “Why did they invite me?” I don’t ask, I’m just glad to sneak in under the radar. The first night always starts with a person from the House (Senator or Congressman/woman) speaking on a particular justice issue. Right out of the gate my mind is broadened and my eyes opened wider. Sometimes when I attend conferences like this I can start to wonder why Jesus just doesn’t put an end to all this evil and destruction. Just come Lord Jesus come. It’s hard to listen to the injustices of the world over and over again. And yet, we must otherwise we become numb and complacent. We have to keep going to the well and hear what breaks the heart our Savior. It’s here Jesus will join me as I sit, listen and learn – and he will speak to me – personally. About me. About how I live. About how I give. About The Marcella Project. And about his heart. I love these times with Jesus. I thought you might like to see just a few of the classes he and I will be attending. Implicit Bias – where we’ll explore the historical, theological, and structural impact of implicit bias in society and in the church. The Implicit Biases of Our Theology – how might we help churches, seminaries and Christian organizations see that the witness of Scripture points away from the logic of empire to an indigenous and communal way? We Will Speak Out – joining together to end the silence around sexual and gender based violence. The Art of Story – We will be discussing how to embody our message of justice, equality and spiritual wholeness within the art of story. A Holy Alliance – Women and men against gender-based violence. The Mask You Live In: A film screening and panel discussion about the messages boys face that encourage them to disconnect from their emotions, devalue authentic friendships, objectify and degrade women and girls and resolve conflicts through violence. I’ll keep you posted on how my time with Jesus...

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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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Sex, Power and Mixed Gendered Friendships

Posted by on Friday, Mar 20, 2015 in Blog | 5 comments

Last Monday night we had a salon discussion centered around the question, “Can men and women be friends?” (or does the sex thing always get in the way.) One man voiced that he thought sex always got in the way. A woman asked if power also played a part in why men and women aren’t friends (in corporate America or faith communities)? Approximately half of the people in the room had deep friendships with the opposite gender. It was acknowledged that sexual tension isn’t present in same-sex friendships where as it is in mix gendered friendships. Although, I argued we have to content with the fact that same-sex attractions also exist. I wondered what’s missing when only one gender is present (in our work place and faith communities?) We discussed the one another’s in Scripture: How do we live them out as brothers and sisters? Love one another, carry one another’s burden, encourage one another, wait on one another, comfort one another, mourn with one another, accept one another, rejoice with one another, etc. Have you ever read the Scriptures with the lens of “How do I carry this out with the other gender of faith?” It’s an interesting question. What do you think? Can we be friends? How does sex and or power play a role in how we answer it? And why are we asking it at all? What difference does our answer make? What is impacted by how we answer?...

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26 Men & Me – The Blessed Alliance

Posted by on Thursday, Feb 26, 2015 in Blog | 1 comment

“Your Life Story is not your testimony, it is the story of formative experiences that God has brought into your life. It is not just the facts of your story, but, a record of experiences that God used to form you. “Formative experiences” are experiences that impacted you strongly. As a result of such an experience, you were changed in some way.” There have been a “record of experiences that God has used” to form my passion for the Blessed Alliance. Here’s just one … Housing for my second year residency was a continued reminder that my female body was “a problem.” As the only woman in our doctoral program I would have to be housed in a separate place from the other pastors (26 male pastors). I stayed in a big, old, musty smelling inn with dark hallways just outside of the Boston city limits – alone, all by my self. The rest of the students stayed together in the yellow house adjacent from the inn. To attend class we would have to drive about fifteen minutes into the city to a building located in an area of town deemed not “all that safe.” At least that was the warning given by the seminary, which turned out to be warranted – a man was murdered outside our building during our residency. The night I arrived at the inn I made up my mind I was going to catch a ride with one of the guys, at least the first day or until I felt secure driving by myself. The next morning I walked into the breakfast area where all the guys were eating and immediately noticed Lou (not his real name), one of my cohorts, sitting a few tables back to my right. The fear of feeling unsafe must have been building because while standing at the entrance I blurted, “Lou can you give me a ride to class?” Suddenly the room was like a movie where everyone stops mid motion. Guys with spoons and coffee cups just suspended in mid air. I stood there thinking, “Oh brother you’ve got to be kidding me?” Once again I was facing down that damn romantic –danger narrative. You know that narrative that says, “Women tempt men, whether they intend it or not, and men by nature are lascivious.” I had it. I wasn’t going to let it dominant the landscape anymore. I wanted more for me – and them. So I did what I learned to do growing up – I called it out. Isn’t that what we teach, communication is key to relationships. I decided it was time to communicate a new narrative. Hopefully my narrative would put them...

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