Sunday, September 18, 2011

What If Women Had a Voice at Nicea?

What if women had been given a voice at Nicea? What if the Apostle Junia had written an epistle that survived, even if only in references by ancient critics? What if the cult of Jesus had not won the economic and political turf war against the mystic gnostics? What if the Acts of Paul and Thecla had made the canon? What if we still believed Jesus really was a totally flesh-and-blood, sweaty, sexy man?

Would women have not become second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Would we have quit making excuses for ignoring "male and female, created He them" and "in Christ there is no slave nor free, male or female"? Would women be respected in the Christian community as whole, complex people instead of wombs with legs?

What if we had taken Jesus seriously when he honored the whore, the women disciples, the adulteress, the mother, the rich patroness, rather than only following his example as the destroyer of the temple?

Who would we think God is? Who would we think we are?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In Memoriam

Matishayahu "One Day"

It’s not about win or lose because we all lose when we feed on the souls of the innocent.

There is, however, a difference between memory—the snapshots that stay in our minds always—and RE-membering.  Remembering means to “put back together” the pieces of the past, to rearrange the pictures of memory in order to make meaning, to heal, to forgive, or to inspire.

Today is not for politicians fighting the culture wars. It is not for religious leaders to try to score converts or demonize those who believe differently. It is not for posturing for the 2012 election. Today is for those who were there, for those who made it home, and for the families of those who didn't. It's for heroes and victims alike, and the people they left behind. Today is THEIR day.

But "living in the shadow of 9/11" means something very different to at least 16 children who grew up in Lower Manhattan. It means being engulfed in the "shadow" of the dust cloud, then watching it hover over your home for months (if your home wasn't destroyed). It means standing in the "shadow" of your apartment building whose entire north side had been burned off, allowing you to look directly into people's apartments. It means living in the "shadow" of your health that's been compromised from breathing toxic fumes. It means living in the "shadow" of the person you could have been, which was more than just interrupted.

For ten years after 9/11, the Arab Spring is here, reminding us that the future need not look anything like the past. Yet the past hasn't gone anywhere. It still demands its day of reckoning. But first, let us say Kaddish for the dead.

Our innocence is over, and if we try to protect our children or the flying public or the nation in general, we are going to see the beginning of a new dark ages.

Scott Morizot, Faith and Food "Reflections from September 11, 2001"
From my perspective, sadly, we did allow the terrorists to win. I don’t think in their wildest dreams they ever though they could provoke such drastic and lasting change in our nation from a single attack. They successfully instilled fear in our nation and acting under the impetus of that fear, we changed in ways that would have been inconceivable before that attack.

in that hour of inconceivable terror
when you take back your name
from all things.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Counterfeit Spirit

As I have become more comfortable in my own heretical skin this last year, embracing all of who and what I am as wholly Holy, I had begun to doubt how seriously I would have been spiritually annihilated as a child if I had come out of the mystical closet.  I castigated myself for hiding in that closet for 40 years.  I reprimanded my self with “See?  It hasn’t been that bad coming out! What were you so afraid of?” 

The writing of someone who had embraced everything that I have spent a lifetime struggling to integrate before she threw it away on a limited, exclusionary, superstitious Christianity.  Her words are echoes, resounding gongs, screeching nails on the blackboard of my memory, of the teachings I heard over and over in my childhood.  Everything I was trying to convince myself was overblown, childish hyperbole is right there calmly damning me from my computer screen.

Even the calmly logical, condescendingly simple explanations of how Satan takes over the mind and will of the unsuspecting mystic who uses prayer beads, walks a labyrinth, prays with imagination, or meets with a spiritual mentor sounds like the patronizing, self-righteous, religious know-it-alls of my childhood.   Did I risk a verbal, emotional, if not literally physical, stoning as a witch, a dupe of Satan, evil incarnate, if I had freely shared my psychic knowledge, my awareness of mystical union with God?

Hell, yes.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Come to Church This Weekend

Wanna experience something like never before?  Tonight at 7 at Two Rivers.  I think you will be shocked to NOT find what you expect.  Come and see.  Yes, it’s prayer and praise night at church, but I don’t think you’ve ever experienced such a “church” like this.  You love to stretch your mind regarding religion?

Dear G_____,

Thank you for the invitation to your praise and worship service tonight.  I don’t think we will be coming.  

I could tell you that I have been too busy for what my Hysterical Illness lets me do (have I told you about that?) or that this is our first free At-Home Day in three weeks (we usually try to keep one a week as a kind of Sabbath) or that with Thom out of town for the weekend we are going to keep everything very slow and low-key—and all those things are true.  But they really would only be excuses.

Although I have been doing a lot of work this last year reconciling my spiritual understanding of the Divine with the Christian God and figuring out who Jesus is for me, I still have enormous and unhealthy prejudices against anything that even sounds like Evangelical Christianity.  The thought of attending a Praise and Worship service make me a little sick to my stomach.

Your particular church may be none of the things I identify with evangelical church but I’m not in a place spiritually or psychologically where I am ready to risk it.  Not long ago I wrote a couple of blog posts about how I am keen to continue working to resolve my knee-jerk revulsion to Evangelicalism but that it is not something I can even attempt at this time.  I wrote about needing to step back from all my inner work of the last year and just rest alone with my God for another long while.

Even the fact that I feel compelled to write this very long explanation for declining your invitation instead of a simple “no, thank you” is indication that there are still huge issues for me to address.  But I can’t do it just now.  It may be months or years before I can face those particular demons.  I haven’t set foot inside a Protestant church in almost ten years.  It has only been this summer that I found I could read a Bible without physiological unpleasantness (after nearly two decades of being outside Christianity).

I do want you to know that I appreciate the invitation and the friendship that inspired the offer.  It is nothing personal to you, your family, or even your particular church that keeps me from accepting.  It’s not you; it’s me (weak chuckle).  Please try again in a few months.  Who knows the timing of God? I may be able to consider such invitations sooner than I think.

Thanks for understanding,

Sandra the Heretic