Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Please Insert your logical explanation.

I walked out onto the sky-walk.  the network of bridges connection the 2nd and 3rd stories of PSU's main buildings.  In the distance was someone yelling.  I pass the sign that prohibits painting on the sky-walk.  Is that a thing?  Following the sound to the intersection I see another section of the bridge parallel to me at the next light.  The adjunct teachers are demonstrating.  There are rumors about a strike.  The tenured teachers are supposedly behind them, roomers about a bigger strike.  The student union is also involved.  I'm a part of the union.  *Smile for the NSA.*

The air is brilliantly vibrating.  With finals, foreign tongues, and people trying to change things.  It's the kind of thing that makes the idealist crazy.  Contract season for teachers is like mating season for jumping gazelle.  A frenzy of want.  As if this week, of all weeks, the culmination of injustice leading us here could all stop soon.

The skeptic wants for hope.  But in a school of single mothers, two job holders, and foreign exchange, who has time to haggle tuition?  The teacher's union will demand fair pay, the administrative staff will demand bonuses, and the students won't show up to the rally, too busy paying for child care and your mothers SSI.

The Occupy-brand-name students will call and scream and refuse to shower. While others will borrow money from their parents to dye deep blue hair.  The rest will simply live in struggle.  They will not sleep until Christmas.  Their finals will count for only one small portion of life on the agenda.  All too well they know the world will not end.  Like a bike gear shifting up wards their legs will again buckle, they will stand to the peddle, to the hill, to the mountain.  They will go onward.  There's is indeed not to wonder why.  "Why" is a privilege for kids with free time.  There's is but to do, in ever onward hope for something better than today.

It's cold.  I retrace my steps.  From a window near by is a set of signs reading, "Please Insert Your Logical Explanation."  I follow it inside.  The room is bare with a few small art installations.  Some interesting techniques lacking difficulty.  All plain and seen and done before. I hear a banging sound from a small room adjacent to the room.  A TV plays on loop as the only item in the dim lit little space.  A man stands a moment on the film.  He, stark naked, begins hitting the walls and floor of the concrete room he abides with a giant bar of twisted mettle. Over and over and over.

Please Insert your logical explanation.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Why I think I might be done with talking about feminism.

 This week Redemption Pictures posted a blog satirically describing how feminism hurts men.  As a great internet person once said, 'to be convinced of the need for feminism one should look at the comments of a feminist blog post.'  And look we all did.  The startling group of people who thought that the post was serious was concerning but the miraculous numbers of people who felt it some calling to explain to Micheal Murray that men are oppressed too, was the real show piece.  It's frustrating because it really isn't about the poor oppressed men of the world, it's a rejecting of any responsibility and to own up to a system of power that we currently live in.

First take out the oppression men get along side their women and children, you know, shitty work conditions, discrimination because of race, or religious intolerance, and homophobia.  That should pair down most of the oppression experienced by men.  Oppression for just being a man and you're looking at 1. Higher car insurance, and 2. Feminist thinking you're a pig.  It's frustrating that these arguments get so much traction when it's simple inability to deduce clear conclusions.  Like algebra, social science looks at all the variables going on and tries to eliminate the universal experience to reveal the experience of some that is different from others.

This is frustrating.  because we're not even discussing anything.  I'm just trying to get to a baseline in which to have a coherent conversation.

In other news, apparently there's a big ol' theological leadership conference going on now which, out of 120 speakers, only 4 are female.  Rachel Held Evans made a comment on twitter and got this response.  It sucks, but does make one point.  At a certain level should we assume that people will not change their minds about women in church?  Should we then start to focus on having something to say to those who will listen?  I mean, is this the point I start revisiting Trinitarianism so I have something to say?  Because it looks as though I'm never going to get a fair fight over feminism, but under a pen name I'm likely to get a real conversation about missional theological ethics...

I don't know, I just don't know.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Rage Against Modesty Salesmen...Rape Culture for the Laymen Evangelical

"By saying "avert your eyes lest ye stumble", they taught me to fear the female body and in fear objectify it. I reduced women to nothing but a sexual trap. This is a reality, but it is a LEARNED REALITY and something that should be unlearned NOT ACCOMMODATED."  Micah J. Murray

And now it gets interesting...  Awesome chain of blogs here I want to walk through and talk about some of the comments.  As a person once said "proof that 'rape culture' exists is made evident not in what feminists write but what the comments reply."  So skim through these and we'll use them for references.

Rape Culture 101:
So the major theme through the comment thread is, "how is this rape culture?"  Much to my dismay, most of the people who know what they're talking about don't explain the phrase.  The term is a short hand for several pervasive thoughts that can be identified in the original blog post and in our culture.  The short hand term "rape culture" does not encapsulate the argument it refers to the writings and understandings a lot of people have put tons of time into.  Let me sum it up.  Rape culture is the idea women a responsibility to not get raped.  i.e. the court cases were people have argued that, "she was asking for it," based on how she was dressed or because she was in a sketchy part of town.  Here's a MAJOR problem. This SHOULD disturb you.  

Some people say well, she's increasing her statistical likeliness.  
Statistically  most rape occurs between people who know each other.  Not the "stranger in the bushes" scenario movies sensationalize.  Further more it's not a 'class thing.' Rich or poor rape and sexual harassment actually transcend social classes. So being on the street at night or born in red-neck-land is not increasing your statistical likeliness of getting raped by much.  At any rate people don't get to pick what class they're born into so how was she "asking for it" by having no control over her statistical placement?

Some people say, "she was dressed provocatively," 
This is also a little slippery.  What's provocative at church isn't at a club.  Further more if she didn't want to have sex, indicated by not saying that she wanted sex, there was no communication of her wanting sex.  The dress code is a terrible indicator because there are so many variables.  What if her shirt looks fine, but then it rained and looks sexy?  What if her skirt rips?  What if she's borrowing a friends clothes and they're too tight?  All of these things have nothing to do with sex or the desire of the woman to have sex.

BOTH of these arguments are often made to blame a woman for why she was raped instead of the rapist who violated another person's free will.  It is the belief that men can't control themselves and women are endangering themselves by being looked at by another person.  In other words, "boys will be boys."  As another blogger put it, "the underlying message of modesty culture is, Women’s bodies are sexual and must be hidden from men, or it will make the men have sex thoughts and that is bad. The message is, If a woman is showing skin/bedroom/evidence of her own embodiment or (gasp!) sexuality, she is being sexy AT men." This is were the male-egocentric comes into why I have a problem with "modesty" as the church calls it.  It really isn't about women.  Women are always sexy 100% of the time and must hide it with their clothes.  They're like the minor characters in a book that only shows a  glimpse of the person to the reader because they're not as important as the main characters.  Like the bad guys in cartoons, we don't usually hear about the villain's family, emotional state, love life, hobbies, or personal feelings of any kind.  The only time they are on screen is when they are talking about, thinking about, or acting with, the main character.  In the same way women's bodies are just sexy and made for men.  They're always sexy and have to be covered and made less visible *for a future husband and the other men who might stumble*.  Men act as main characters in this line of thought which means that they exist with a sex drive, an ability to have sex, sexual preferences, be sexy to women, and have a personal sexual identity but also have bodies that can used their strength for sports, building things, and playing.  But a woman's body is only one thing, sexy for men. I.e. "sexy tennis player--fierce" "sexy pose on a ladder building something--tough girl." Men can be shirtless for fun, the weather, or sports, but it is assumed that women wear bikinis to be sexy for men (not the nasty sand that gets in a one-piece--yuck!).

Don't believe me.  Here's a prominent church leader in Portland telling wives, "not to let themselves go," and stay pretty for their husbands.  But encouraging women to "see yourself through his eyes."  Why?  because he's the multidimensional character that we have built our theology around.  Women play the supporting role in providing someone beautiful.  Because of this Ryan, the first blogger, assumes that women are the property of their multifaceted future husband, completely ignoring the people who stay single.  In this we see how little assumptions that don't seem like a big deal are like angles in geometry that are only hairs away when they start out but are revealed as time goes on.  45 degrees in a one inch square, sounds like "what will your future spouse think of you if you do X," but further down the line that thought is a mile away from anything Christian with Ryan's very twisted sense of spousal ownership.  There is no submission to a person who owns you.  There's no glory in being enslaved, that's why we have Jesus and choices, and all the free will Christianity has been singing about for centuries.

Here's the thing no one is going to like, I don't think we should continue teaching "modesty" or "purity," at all.  I think we should tell youth group kids what marriage could look like.  How monogamy is awesome.  How God is glorified in life long partnership in marriage.  I think kids should be taught about how anti-gospel it is for Christians to engage in the American rape culture we live in.  That women are not always trying to look sexy because they're not just Sexy covered up with clothes or Sexy who needs to put more clothes on.  I think sex should be treated as sacred not scary.  

We've got to bury the 1980's d-day mentality.  The hysteria that started with shunning Disney movies and democrats and ended with purity balls and bad christian pop music.  This is not an example of "not being of this world," this is theological suicide.  Why don't we worry about why our kids don't know that the book of Amos exists, or that most church members can't answer to why we don't follow the rules of Leviticus.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Normal. Ordinary. Grand.

Life in community is, Normal.  It is the exceedingly plain, the 'good mornings,' 'good evenings,' and 'whatcha' doing today...'

It is in the Ordinary that we find something about ourselves.  We grow closer until the space between us disappears and with think, 'my God, I love these people."

There's nothing more glorious, more grand than the communion of believer, met with belief and doubt, peace and chaos.  God is seen in community.

I can't decide if relationships are the antidote of binaries or the antithesis.  If the tensions and the joys are locked some sort of cosmic battle or in progressing glory. In a way the fondness and closeness seems inseparable to the agonizing months, the days crying, the weeks angry.  Something bad is what shapes the good.  Like plaster molds shaping porcelain only to be crushed and flaked away.  A worthless, and broken thing, doomed to be broken and ripped away is crucial to making what we know as community.  I don't want to be a community member leaning in one direction or the other in order to counteract something, at the cost of furthering a culture of reaction rather than reality.

So what is it? Is it normal or extraordinary? Is it grand or grotesque?

For those who've experienced the transcendence of community most eventually shrug and just say it just was.  Because 'it' was so many things.  The people they know best and who know them best are most detailed with faults.  That something so great in its whole consists of a bunch of stories about stomach flues, watching movies on laptops, lonely Christmases and fights about doing dishes.  But when it happens it happens, and something catches your eye when you realize 'this is it,'

and maybe 'this' is love.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The memories of a woman.

If you're going to read blogs about the church you find a few basic themes.  You have the nice folks who say nice things about Jesus and the bible and what they're learning lately.  You have the political types who want to talk about who is doing something Christian or anti-Christian.  You have the dooms-dayers who want to talk about the next up and coming anti-Christ.  You have the social justice folks who have a new cause or a new tidbit of info on how we're furthering injustice.  And then you have the peculiar strand of people who don't go to church, don’t like to call themselves Christian, and disagree with 87% of everything anyone says about God, but still have blogs on Christian websites like Patheos and Christianity Today.

More and more I'm finding these self-proclaimed emergents are rather odd facet of Christian writing.  Firstly because I can't see what their motive in writing is to begin with.  

Let’s say you hate knitting.  You hate the cattiness of all the knitting clubs you used to be a part of.  You think that the sweaters your parents made you wear were constricting.  You think wool is out of fashion and irrelevant.  You think that the process of knitting is tedious and the anger and frustration of not knitting well enough is unhealthy for your emotional state.  Now imagine you then decide to create a blog centered around critiquing knitting patterns.

In the same way I'd like to ask, what's it to you? As someone in the knitting club, wouldn't it be a little justified to get a few feathers rumpled about an entire online community devoted to thinking about what a terrible group of people the knitters are?

Then realize for a moment that the church discussing community is not in some sort of Oceans 13 where these anti-knitters will sneak into the cassino-knitting-club-church and get the "bad guys."  Because the Bad Guys don't exist, your misinformed aunt, abused pastor, and financially struggling family, are not the conniving crooks of emergent fetish.

 I'm personally becoming so fed up with what I read about the church.  In the end there is no such thing as ivory tower sharp shooters.  No one relevant to the discussion is reading a scathing blog post and thinking "oh wow, that's so true, I am a terrible person."  I don’t want to write to people who agree and yet draw their personal experiences of when they visited a church 15 years ago.  I get the pain I get the frustration, but I refuse to make a straw-man of my past experiences.  As C.S. Lewis reminisced about the passing of his wife and what "still having her memory" meant, "A corpse, a memory, and (in some versions) a ghost. All mockeries or horrors. Three more ways of spelling the word dead. It was H. I loved. As if I wanted to fall in love with my memory of her, an image in my own mind! It would be a sort of incest."

In a sense it is the same with the church.  Those who have loved and those who love still the memory does only a small service.  It is not the church now or even the church then as nostalgia has had its way in all of our minds.  The church is not a building or a specific denomination, though it is both experientially.  I'm not against experiential wisdom, only the complete disconnect to what is and what was and the assumed right to criticize after divorce.  In a word, your ex-wife doesn't care if you think she looks good or not when you meet her on the street.  She is all a combination of your past memories, your past fights, your present distance, and your new standards of womanhood--as she exists in a grid of your understanding, as everyone in our lives does--but she is not your wife.  And the divide, be in in humiliation, heartbreak, or freedom, must be observed as a concrete fact within the relationship.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Faith of Marred Beauty and the Irony of Faith and Justice

I want to talk about how we talk when we talk about Christians.

 No body wants to be a "main-liner" and as such if you're reading this blog and favor yourself a culturally relevant Christian, emergent, millennial, or simply as a thoughtful person, I have a feeling you know what I mean.  If you're reading this as a person part of the blogsphere of Christian thinkers, proudly daring, excitingly new, expressive of your opinions on gender neutral language and inclusive church building, I know you've done this too.  Within the circle that the medium of blogging self selects we are often the violent reactions to a faith of marred beauty.  We are striving to change the traditions and abuses our predecessors of two thousand years have left for us.  We are translating the beauty and mysticism handed down to new nations and generations.  We are challenging our brethren to leave the city of Jerusalem "to go out to all the nations."

But we are reactionary
and this is no way to build a community.

I've been thinking a lot about community.  The craigslist ad. is posted, interviews in progress.  We are about to fill our home.  To stretch out of our introverted tenancies to practice Jesus just a little more.  In that the shocking discovery is the 'me' about to be necessary in 'community.'  The rhythm and words that set the atmosphere, and with that, what do I say?

In a world of binaries and relativism what do I say?  Like the words of Solomon I find myself talking out of both sides of my mouth.  There is a time for weeping, and a time for dancing.  There is a time to question God and a time to be faithful.  There is a time--

Far too often I've observed well meant Christians living like blog posts, in argument and opposition to a facet of injustice in an all or nothing demand.  Like the woman I read about today who had decided to not breastfeed because it furthers the gender labor inequality.  Life with all of its facets is ignored in the pursuit of righting one wrong.

We do this again and again with words trying to find new words for ones that have been wasted in hypocrisy, we hate "Christianese" words like faith, hope, the flesh, and selflessness.  How many times have we heard, "father is a bad word for God because of those with bad fathers."  But I'd argue that 'father' is an imperfect word for anyone from male semen, for any father who's made mistakes, any father who was abusive, any father who was absent, and any father who was awesome but was also human and therefore not God.  Father is a word and words seem to be inherently flawed, full of our perceptions and definitions.

****In all of this we tailspin in to a blogshpere of asterisks, endless explanations, and politically correct forewarning that do nothing but require a higher standard of social manors and petty communication patterns.***

Often I've observed that one's heart is in the right place to receive a new thought when the first words in response to a blog post are not "balancing words."  The "yes, but remember," or "just think about," all keeping the message of the article muted in a sea of social context which competes for our attention.  We live within context and so the addition of "contextual information" is a guise of "me too!"  It is the rejection of healthy confrontation of things that are unjust for the feel good feeling of everyone being the victim.

Within the exchange of reader and writer, the confrontation of new ideas is within the context of the relationship.  The knowledge one has of the writer and the subject matter in its whole is a context for criticism.  Within this is a vibrant conversation of other minds taking the context and argument presented.  Ignoring this truth is a remarkably slippery-slope into the troll-fest of today.  The disbelief in something because of personal experience is circular, and I see it all the time.

"I shouldn't be objectified in my pj's, I'm covered from head to toe in flannel, I am a person."
"You just don't know how men are wired...we have a really hard time..."

Your flu is no worse than anyone else's, and neither is your stubbed toe. The experience of someone else is not nullified by your experienced, that's just your inner narcissist speaking...

So instead of telling women its just the way the world (which men control) works and to get over it.  I kindly suggest we start thinking about how both experiences might be a problem.  Because being objectified and being susceptible to objectifying are both problems, perhaps the same problem (rape culture anyone?)

On an even large note within Christianity, the emergent church must end the battle to be more holy *politically correct* than thou. The war is getting old.

We are, 
kicking and screaming, 
joyfully and tearfully, 

We are a religion with thousands of years of history.  We are a people who speak the language of the people, but are not understood infacto to our language.  We own both the creation of the hospital and all of the crusades. And we're a damn large part of the worlds religion pie chart.  We exist in context, conflict and consecration.  We take up space, leave our mark on the world.  We do a lot of good and a lot of evil.

More than anything I'm again reminded of Kierkegaard's infamous quote, "Faith expects victory in one thing."

 Rather than the balance of many things, the disclaimers of everything, we should be of "one thing."  

May He be the balance, the justice we bring, the mercy we receive, the objectivity we muster.  
May we live in relationship with our God and with others, not above or below but beyond any law or regulation.  
May we see that past the good-bad east-west, right-left, moral-immoral--May we go from glory to glory.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Hiking out of the Dark Valley.

I realized gender in the church was a bum deal.

When people started asking my if I liked being a girl.  I was in a ministry school, which advocated women in leadership, but everything I did seemed to indicate that I wanted to be a boy.  The questions always came out of the blue.  I wasn't trying to 'be a boy.'  I liked being me.  I also liked talking to men because it happened that the people around me interested in theology and capable of debating with out getting their feelings hurt  were (mostly) men.  I didn't mind watching people play video games in exchange for the lighthearted company I wasn't finding with the women I was around.  I liked that I wasn't competing to be pretty and affirming. I didn't feel like I needed to be anyone in the circle of men I became friends with.

Then there were was the gay question.  Realize this was like asking if I were The Satan in my church, but every once in a while it would happen.
"Weren't you and so-and-so-female like 'a thing'"
Um, no, we were like, friends, 
and she wore dresses and I liked pants.

And then there were men.  Men who made it clear it was my fault that they liked me. My fault that they wanted to be with me when "God said they couldn't."  Perhaps the most nerve-wracking thing I've ever heard/read was a facebook chat a stalker had with my friend about me.  Line by line dissecting my person, explaining thoughts that left me numb and scared.  Simpler, was the man who explained that I should take the passengers seat rather than stuff in the back of the compact car myself and 5 other guys were cramming into "so that it wouldn't be awkward."  How was rubbing elbows awkward? Did the 6' 7" guy need the leg room more than me?

Last the woman who spoke with tears in her eyes at our ministry schools "dating week," who asked why anyone would want to marry or be in a relationship in which men and women traded sex for love and intimacy for respect.  I wasn't the only one who thought the "great mystery of marriage" and becoming one flesh ought not resemble pilgrims trading with native Americans.

That was gender, that was the church.

Then there was the internet.

Yep...you didn't expect that turn.  Spend any amount of time with people who use the meem "the internets" and you realize a lot of things.  There are far more bad words than you imagined.  There are way more techy people in the world than the US government would like.  And, lust.  It was weird meeting people (men) who existed in the gap of the sexual-predatory-monster of what Christians expect of men and the friends and companions these people became in my life.  In a weird way I've witnessed every wretched thing an evangelical ever told me about the mind of a man, and "these people" became my best friends.

When faced with a similar dichotomy many Evangelical women simply shrugged and agreed as if to say, "they're horny, scary, monsters, but we love them, that's our lot in life."  The more I asked questions the weirder the responses. "It isn't too bad." "You'll love him any way."  "It's the way they're wired."

 It was all a little spooky.
Ok, no, it scared the pants off of me.

I mean, I obviously wasn't like everyone else, but I wasn't going to marry a rapist....

This is rape culture.  Or at least the significantly deep cultural beliefs about sexuality that feminists call "rape culture."  This is the culture of allowing men to believe in remarkably violent urges in a way that makes women responsible for being on a constant defensive.  Because, I might get raped in the dark on a side walk, turns to, I can't sit in the back of a full car, to "its your fault that I like you," to "this is what I want to do with you."

This, as Christians, is unacceptable.  It denies the existence of God's kingdom--but more so, it partners with sin to further the bondage it has on women. We can all readily agree on this.  

The question we need to be asking is how then should we live? 

In a world when female sexuality is feed into our cultural water like shark chum---- 
how do we paint a picture of a fuller female person and a balanced male person?
In a church without female sexual ethics---- 
can we surrender the false power of purity and sexual moral superiority to admit that lust is a road both sexes walk down?
In a culture written about men, by men, for men,----
 can we react without becoming apart of the reactionary gender war?

Modesty becomes a none issue when we realize the valley of darkness in which we exists.  We need not repair the fences of modesty and legalism when what we desperately need is to hike out of this place.  To leave the binaries and stigma behind.  To become co-hires we must leave behind the battle lines of old.  To move beyond the purity movement is lay our pride and control down to pick up a cross that we left everything for.  We must hike out of this place and begin a sexual ethic that doesn't look like it did in the valley.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Why I am a "feminist"...because Grace is too

I have wrestled with God.  God is irremovable. He's not deconstructable   You can run away, but He's not leaving.

There’s something interesting in the God of Genesis.  God, breaths things into being.  When God speaks things exist.  His speech =fact.  Our reality of language is fundamentally flawed to this principle.  We think we speak things into existence.  We think that a parent who says “clean your room” (good) child then cleans his room, speaks something into existence.  But a parent’s voice does not make the room clean.  You called asking for the obedience but not the being. 

You may call a thing something that it isn't, but that changes nothing of what it is. 

You can say the sky is purple, but it does not change because you speak, it cannot change colors.  Even if you were to reinvent the labels of the colors to our own language where in yourspeak purple =blue, it would not change the color of the sky.  You can speak your mind into agreement, but not your existence to change.  There is no time in between for God.  His will can be perfect truly.  His reaction to our failure can be so perfect that it is indistinguishable to His first option.  He can have perfection.
We demand out constraints of 'carrying out' principle to God.  Foolish enough to think that we must believe something into existence because it is not without our agreement.  God spoke into void and there was light. He did not open his eyes. He did not name what was into words that we can explain as light. 

There was nothing, and then there was. 
(The Opening of the Bible- Scene One.)

For some this is something we can ‘get’, but it does not end.  God keeps speaking.  This book is about a redefined existence, not a redefined dictionary, or a redefined perspective.  A reality spoken.  It is the unity of causality and cause.

And so He makes male and female.
Human and equal. 
Beautiful. Good.
We were made 'very good.'
And then, we effed it up...
And then, we get this curse...

Unto the woman he said,"I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in sorrow you shall bring forth children; and your desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you."

What a strange curse.  So so so taken for granted as immovable fate.  That we, must obey as the good-children. That (gladly) we must punish the woman as man finds himself punished in his work, we find ourselves so endowed to bring God's word into being.  Because while He spoke us into being surely He cannot bring this curse about. 

And this is the causality of sin.  That we are both the curse and the cursed locked in a spiral downward, into entropy we inflict just as we are afflicted.

Isn't this the definition of sin, to rejoice in another's sorrow, to laugh while another mourns, to weep while others rejoice, to take pleasure in the punishment of another? Is that not the definition!

The opposite of sin is not obedience but love

To walk with God in the garden, or hide from him in the bushes. 

To rejoice in the unity and love of man and woman and God, or demand distance.

Patriarchy is the distance of God and sin made manifest.  The disbelief in God at His word, leads to disbelief of His words.  His curses are made manifest by His speech and then broken in the grace speech of Christ's life.

The sin is the picture of a woman longing for her husband and cursed to be ruled over.  To live a servant in distance, longing for a lover. It is the festering of sin in the world not just to women.

"It’s about justice for the college student facing expulsion from her school for ever so bravely speaking up about being raped by a fellow student.

It’s about justice for the young woman in Delhi who was brutally raped and murdered last December on her way home from a movie.

It’s about justice for the women who are paid only 77 cents on average for every dollar her male colleagues do for the same exact work.

It’s about justice for those who identify outside of traditional gender norms and orientations to be who they are without fear of bullying, harassment, abuse, or even murder.

It’s about justice for the one-third of servicewomen who have courageously and heroically defended our country, only to be sexually assaulted and harassed by their fellow comrades.

It’s about justice for the men, women, and children who are bought and sold in brick kilns and brothels and farms every day.

It’s about justice for the young men and women stepping out from abusive church communities and seeking true freedom in Christ."
--Danielle (blog: fromtwotoone.com)

It is the reconciliation of Christ and His bride as we are brides to man. That thousands of years lived and died longing and sorrow, thousands of years in brokenhearted distance, from billions of voiceless, the property and enslaved, would come to an end—and could only come to an end as God speaks and we respond to speak,

Christ in me, the hope of glory

To carry out a curse upon another, is to drink the cup ourselves, it is to join with the sin and brokenness of a human short fall and deny the cup of grace, of blood spilled out for us.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Simplicity and Slavery

If you have been on the internetthe last five years, you've at least heard about the enormous forced labor and sex trade taking place just about everywhere.  Primarily the debate has been pragmatic, with activists fighting for safe, paid labor for factory workers, and rescue of kidnapped and coursed workers.  If you have lived under a rock, this link: http://www.fromtwotoone.com/2013/07/consumerism.html.

In the mist of this discussion is a tone of defeatism I haven't been able to shake.  We would like to, and often do, feel that slavery is an offence to our society, it is the antithesis of democracy; the concept that you are born into a fate of injustice is something we like to chalk up to Stalin and Hitler.  Yet within the happily idealized side of our patriotism is sense of the "necessary evil" of slavery. Even within the activism against slave labor, I cannot escape the tone that regretfully admits that people will always want in excess and cheapness.  That we are dependent on slavery is held in tension to the admittance of our gluttonous appetites.  You will notice several contradictions within this frame of thinking, but I believe, like me you've probably heard several of them.

To even look at slavery from a free person's perspective is a privilege.  When we equate the gross over purchase of slave-made goods we first assume that 'we' (royally speaking) have over purchased.  What this over looks are the millions around the world buying slave-goods with no other option.  The palm oil industry, for instance, is a staple import from Indonesia to China.  This is slavery begetting slavery.  This is misery.  The lives of thousands in grotesque and dangerous conditions making a good to send to others in equally wretched conditions.  The absurdity, and hopelessness of the cycle is beyond what we've ever experienced as literate people reading and writing from the internet. 

And then there is us.

 You. Yes, you dear reader, the stuff you got at Dollar Tree, and Wal-Mart, and tomatoes you bought at Safeway.  Are we able to escape the contribution to slavery that we do make? The irony is simple, we are quick to admit our excess, and our frivolousness in expensive purchases, but we are slow to spend more on things we can get cheaper.

Part of this has to do with the privilege we assume everyone in America has.  The ridiculous belief that we're all able to look at our purchases with critical glances and well informed understandings of global trade and sigh blissfully at our petty quandary that causes the pain and suffering of millions.  You are not all of America, or the grand sum of the western world if you know about modern day slavery, you are privileged with the ability to recognize choice.

To me this also speaks to a deeper problem, the way we feel about trade and market and our desires.  We have attached prestige to the purchases we make.  Today's activism against slavery has worked with this bent, attaching values of "responsible," and "socially aware" to the consumption of fair-trade goods.  But a fair-trade sweater you could have gone without is an excess to the groceries and household items you bought like any other day.  We have responsible excess, and perhaps that's a start.  But rather than using allotted "excess money" for what is unnecessary we should rather advocate for simplicity.  To buy our daily bread well.  This might mean the lack of excessive pleasures, and that should be okay.

Out of this is the well-spring of real, ethical business.  When the privileged who are able demand their necessities, not their indulgences, to come from ethical labor is a chance for change.  We as Americans consume staples that are the same throughout the world.  Here we have a chance to place our vote in ways that would sway a global market.  Our demand for ethical soap, food staples, and household goods, is a vote for worldwide producers.  Here is the use of privilege to advocate with our choice.

So today I resolve to buy a little less chocolate, because Real chocolate is not a .99 cent Hersey's bar.  But more so, I'll use the less than convenient house hold cleaning powder (bet your grandma knows what this is) because its made in a country with labor laws, with rags from an old t-shirt, because they're reusable enough to spend money on local vegetables not paper towels.  Real Goods, demand, Real Change.  Real Goods, don't need to be made convenient to a western world with more leisure than any other time in history.  Our privilege is Real, our choices are Real, the things we buy should be too.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

In Which I Talk of Theory and Justice

This month I feel like my brain was stuck an "Intersectionality 101 dishwasher" and run on the "pots and pans setting."  It's a bit like looking into the matrix, or for those for us enlightened enough to have watched every episode of Battle Star Galactica, its a bit like becoming a hybrid and seeing the patterns of the universe.

Feminism, and it causes, seem to run in two circles, and unfortunately mix indiscriminately.  The first is the major emphasis on justice and shedding light on injustice.  I think that it's safe to say, if you're a mildly involved Christian you can can get behind 99% of this.  Justice is a fundamental of Christianity, well accepted.  I mean, if you want to pick a fight with any Christian, or between two Christians simply accuse one of their being apathetic to justice.  It's something of a heartbeat of Christian culture.  I remember feeling shocked meeting non-Christians in school who didn't know about the Ugandan genocides or the child soldiers of the Congo.  I remember a time when the Church also had the corner on sex-trafficking awareness.  Missionaries and food drives are a normal facet of Christianity, or at least it should be.  I realized working at subway I had developed a way to talk to people who were homeless from my experiences in soup kitchens that my coworkers hadn't.  It was a cultural experience.  To bring things back, the intersectionality of Justice sees more than the particular need or situation of a person but the multifaceted causes and correlations to that problem.  That homelessness is not just a person lacking a house, but about job skill, stigma, social prejudiced, race, and the ethics our culture has about work.

Second, here's where it gets tricky, feminism has a fundamentally theoretical aspect.  Becuase theory exists in the golrious vacume of thought.  It's a bit like one of those sciency glove tanks for viruses.  In theory (lol, theoreticly) you add and subtract certian values to creat an outcome you like.  It's problem solving and experimenting.  Theory in feminism is a bit of a homemade social algebra.  Personally, I think it's rather fun.  Intersectionalism in theory looks at the many components of a situation, it's the reinvisioning that gives acctivisim a direction.  Activism in tern lends invaluable data points to this calculation, the real expereinces of people and the facts about their lives.

The trouble with theory and Justice, is that often theory runs down hill...  Terms of Theory get put into practice of Justice and then put out of place.  As one of my professors so clearly described, "once you begin using a self-identified label you don't get to have total control over how others will use it."  Once again, there is something more at play in the dichotomy between Theoretical Feminism and Justice, language is a tool no one has control over.  It is a communal exchange, it exists to express, but that expression is not entirely for the sake of the speaker.  Were language only for the person expressing themselves through speech, we might all speak only to our diaries and private blogs.  Language is an exchange, and there is no way to guarantee the receiver of our expression will receive the message we hope to, nor behave the way we want them to.

It's a fundamental of language and expression, and yet so far removed from the way we view both Theory and Justice.  In Justice activism has prided its self in surprisingly conservative fundamentals.  "Be seen," "be heard," a demand for acceptance, is often more than "live and let live," but a demand to be given privilege within the mainframe of another person's thoughts.  Looking at it from a theoretical lens, and with the premise of language, I have just described this seems quite audacious.  But it's not far from our expectations of activism.

 Living in what could be called the "awareness age" rather than the Information Age, 'awareness' has taken on a different meaning.  To be 'aware' assumes some level of understanding but far too often campaigns have focused on bold, blunt, physical perception.  The demand to see the LGBTQ community visibly, but lacking any verbal understanding for what physically stands before many protesters.  Again we see it with the concept of Privilege and the Theory behind it that is far more complex than anyone is willing to admit.  Privilege is now something to be seen and not understood, a half awareness that weakens the terms and concepts into labels used to discredit the experiences of one group over another.  We have created a sort of pulp-gender-theory, mixing our capitalist American value system with privilege we have a point system for how credible someone's perception is. +2 points for minority, -5 for having a penis +4 for being a woman -6 for being cisgender...  This isn't privilege, this is down right anti-human rights.  A long history stretching hundreds of years simply to prove to political theorists that people have some inalienable equality and should be treated the same.  Privilege was never meant to appose this, if anything, Justice is fueled by this singular belief.  Privilege is a tool of critique towards human equality, not a diagnostic system of less favorable people.  As such we have more to say then "White Privilege!" to cases like Zimmerman, there's so much more going on than one man, and so many messages being expressed, but in the light of so many messages is one man, and that's the difference.  As activists we should never strive to form a world where the messages of the crowds overwhelm the life of the one.  Because while "the Zimmerman case" means so many things, "Zimmerman" means one man.  To fight for the equality of minorities the individual must never be forgotten.

and that was a post about correlation, that turning into intersectionality, and ended in popmedia...sorry

Friday, May 31, 2013

Modesty and the Immodest Culture

In looking at modesty I'm beginning to look more and more to our culture.  It seems rather obvious, there would be no concept of "modesty" without culture. Modesty is the tango of who we are on the inside, and who we're perceived as.  It's communication, but it's also assimilation.  It's not just how you want others to see you, it’s how you see them and what you believe they will think of your appearance.  This "how you see them," is an interesting hidden factor.  How do we see the people looking at us? 

 Are you a conservative, to whom I will rebel? A progressive who will respect me for my choices? Are you a man, for which I'm afraid--or ashamed--or causing to "stumble."  I'm not saying any or all of it is okay.  With "perception" we need values and beliefs that then shape what we see into the landscape we navigate.  I believe X about how men should be held accountable, I believe Y about what I should wear in regards to other women, and I believe Z about pushing boundaries.  In a lot of this I see a sliding scale of just how much we want to push certain extremes.  The battles we choose to fight matter just as much as why we fight them.

 Reality and vision.  With a lot of feminism we run into a major divide between what is and what should be.  In part I think this has to do with the feminist movement being the starting place for feminist theory.  When talking about feminism, more than any other movement, justice and advocacy is interchangeable to the metaphysical theory.  I've always found this to be impossibly frustrating.  We need Justice, but part of theory is the “open lab” volatility, the "anything is possible," and thinking openly in general, is meant to be about extremes.  This is where communication lines turn very quickly to battle lines because the movement and the philosophy are so interconnected.  For modesty I wish we could take a step back.  To define theory from movement, because extremes and visions are not the same as the nitty-gritty of pragmatism and policy and they shouldn't have to be.  This where we get a lot of confusion about having the “right” to do something and having the “safety” to use the right.  You may have the right to wear whatever you want.  As a free person with autonomy and "inalienable rights" you should, but in going on vacation to the middle-east it's probably a good idea to cover up.  I don’t think that interacting knowledgeably within your culture means recanting a right to act any other way.

Here I'm brought back to interaction with culture and the inevitable questions of where we draw the line.  There are more examples in life where this kind of line drawing is in practice while in constant change.  Children are raised by parents freely with their own unique values, but in abuse children are protected by the state (we at least attempt this).  The state exerts power, but is often reimagined by the people in revolution or political change when the government no longer does its job or exerts too much power.  This ebb and flow of control over one to the other.  The feminist/individualist and the cultural/communitarian, giving and taking, each bring back the other. 

Norms.  Norms have never ceased to fascinate me.  Norms are so "definite" but always changing.  Norms say a lot about us.  Norms are not what is normal, but what we want to be "normal," and what we want to be normal says volumes about how we see the world.   It sounds a little roundabout but here's the rub, knowing what our intentions and feelings are about “normal” speak to why and how we judge others.  A massive part of our culture is centered on Androcentrism or "male normativity."  That boys are the base line and everything else is an anomaly.  It's an unfortunate facet of our language that "man" is synonymous with "human" and "woman" is man+"wo." 

Man is normal, wo+man is the oddity.  

Note it’s not woman as the norm and man-"wo."  This gets even more evident with sexual temptation when men are taught that only they have sex drives and women are basically sexy warm bodies.  Doing so creates isolation for both sexes.  Both with men being told that they are evil monsters who think terrible things about women and women are never taught to understand about their sex-drive.  In a lot of cases I think more women struggle with the same “lust” that men do but are never taught to label their thoughts as such.  (As to what lust is let’s table that conversation for now.)

I recently had a pastor friend of mine explain how often she and other women pastors had been reprimanded for being too "provocative" while preaching.  One even being told by a congregant, "your hair was so pretty I couldn't hear a word you said."  As you can imagine this was not a very encouraging feedback about a sermon.  Again, I have to point the finger to androcentrisim.  Many men have never had to deal with sexual attraction to their pastors, something women have had to work through for as long as there have been good looking gents in the pulpit.  Finding a "spiritual" leader attractive feels wrong and strange because sex is so shamed within male Christian culture.  Furthermore spirituality is so separated from sexuality the interaction of the two feels like sacrilege.
This is where the modesty question gets interesting.  Deconstructing androcentrisim is the first step to understanding where mutual responsibility lies.  True mutuality is equal responsibility to the culture we participate in.  As people interacting in a world together, there is a give and take to be had.  What is normative (what we want to be normal) and what is self-centric is not mutual.  But beyond that is a healthy admittance that how we dress effects the opinions and the spirituality of others WHILE giving the liberty, rights, and safety back to those who wear the clothes.

This is modesty, and this is only the beginning of the conversation.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Finding Friday

I hate certainty.

There, I finally said it.

 I hate it because of how easily it so easily ceases to exist, no matter how many hopes you pin upon it.  No more could you sew your shadow to your feet can you keep your certainty.  None the less it must exist.  Something is there.  You certainty is what you think it is.

What you think and what is, creates the divide.  Don't worry, I hate all kinds of certainty.  The person in my class who asserts that homeschooling ill prepares people for college--tell it to my GPA lady!--to the Christian who finds it necessary to testify and D-clare on facebook that, "I know where I am going because my Jesus lives," (hallelujahs removed for ease of reading.)  I have a problem with it.  I have a problem with certainty because of the times that it isn't true.  The times that I ace a paper in college, and "your Jesus," doesn't quite add up.  I really have no problem with Jesus, just "your-Jesus,"  the guy who 'causes' tornadoes because of sin (Piper-Jesus), which doesn't even make sense if you think of His lost investment in killing people He died for in an attempt to save.  I mean, if you went through all that agony for a person, wouldn't you want them to live as long as possible to maximize the chance of salvation?

A pastor once told me, that if anyone I knew was still going to hell, I was a bad Christian.  But honestly, if I don't love someone who is going to hell, I probably have my head in my ass the sand.

I'm sitting in a coffee shop on a rainy Portland summer day, bluegrass playing.  Its the song of air from a man's deep within his lungs.  Sorrow.  Sorrow is the warm rug of certainty pulled from your feet.  The breath to laugh torn from your chest leaving that song of your gut and agony.  But Sorrow knows faith.  Sorrow's eyes are faith, the sight without certainty. Its a song of the dust and the people who come from it.  The song of the farmer who can only wait for rain.  The song of droughts and storms without reasons, the morning after battle, the words spoken after death.  Bluegrass, Sorrow, laughs at certainty.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

God of the Learning Curve.

I have never been more torn than where I stand now.  I feel like so much of my past and current life experience has lead me to a point of just being stuck in the middle.  I’m stuck, in so many was, a theological abyss. I can now resolutely say that there is an in-between between a Emergent apathy and fundamental hypocrisy, because it looks like me.  I sitting on the bus stop of an endless Sunday afternoon, where the busses only come once an hour and I still can’t decide to take the 9 across Powell and up 82nd, or to take the 19 down the city side and down Holgate.  I’m stuck. 

I’m sitting in a coffee shop rocking Billy Holiday and alike.  I’m drinking coffee, pounding 1.1 miles of pavement twice a day to one of the most secular inner cities in the U.S. To drink a cup of education I have worked my hands to the bone just to taste.  I wrote a paper in favor of legalized same-sex marriage, then defended deontology in a philosophy class—single handedly mind you!  I made friends with a lesbian, and critiqued Tony the beat-poet.

I’m in the middle, because at this finite point in life, I’m too liberal for a conservative, and too conservative for a liberal.  I’m to “wishy-washy” for a fundamentalist, and far too full of conviction for comfort.  I am stretched and tried and tying.

In a lot of ways God and I haven’t been “okay” in years.  I’m drinking through a fire-hose and in awe of the silence in my life.  The days dawning, the suns setting, the city in beat that I pound on ward.  The notes I keep dating further and further into the New Year—now an old year.  Life is passing, and I don’t know what is happening.  I’m numb and yet sensitive to everything, desperate to start saying whatever it is that I feel for the undefined 'it.'

I’m waiting.  Waiting the discipline, waiting the action, waiting the scream—cry—laughter. I am waiting.

And He is moving.

He is excited.  He is in the waiting, the building, the tension of earth like a tectonic plate He is waiting. Waiting like an earth quake, which is anything but motionless, He is building.  He is screaming.  He is laughing.  He is crying.

Christianity was built in the gap.  We do Christianity when we live while dead. It is the life we have until life in death.  Christianity was breed for the in-between.  We are not well in the comfortable ivory towers—we are lighthouses, castles of storms not sunny days of sheltered understanding.  We are a religion of care, of threat and rocky shores, not the calm harbor of fad relativity, of fundamental truths ignorance’s that get easier and easier to swallow.  We are at our best when the waves are too big to see the rocks of our foundations, too busy to brew tea and merely watch the sunset, too tired to sit down.  We are illuminated in storms and useless in pleasant weather.

And in all of this demand and daring is apathy, and summer days in coffee shops, and Saturdays spent sleeping in and making pancakes

and it’s ok
and its good
and it’s God

Friday, May 10, 2013

Look at my eyes.

I never knew how many faces I averted until I was challenged.  To look into others eyes.  Why can I ask a stranger in town what the time is, while another cannot?—I am not homeless.  What do we do with the so called “decent” people on the street?  To walk, to pass, to nod, we acknowledge existence.  We smile, because the sun is shining. We are courteous on the bus. 
We refuse to see other eyes.
The street kids with broken antidotes written on card board,
old men making friends at bus stops,
black men walking alone with you on an empty sidewalk.
                Crazy how I did this.  It’s not self-defense in the safety of the crowds of the city.  I am safe among the morning foot traffic.  I’m not about to get mugged in my classroom’s halls.  I hate the binary of privilege because we all have some privileges and we don't have other privileges, and we all get a say in the way the world will work.  I hate that I can’t talk about something that I am a part of, while I'm thrust into being as speaker ‘my kind’ in other instances.  In the age of communication we so easily become nebulous to other perspectives all in the name of privilege.  I am white, I am woman, I am Christian, I am married, I am student, I am INTJ, I am writing this now.
So smile at the person you normally wouldn’t
and burn with the shame of their surprise.
Their surprise,
that you smiled. You acknowledged. They were known.