Sunday, September 30, 2012

2012.09.30 Jesus Married? OH, Scandal...

Jesus woulda, shoulda, coulda been married—but was he? The Risen Christ is obviously “married” soulfully to every Christian, but in the flesh?

Who really cares?  I value Jesus for his historic presence and all the ministry he did in his short time on earth, and I value all the teachings and accounts that were later written, as history goes, and published in time in the Bible. Maybe the four gospels didn't  mention much about Jesus’ personal life because he was too busy, or because they were too busy just trying to tag onto this dynamo of Love with the far-reaching transformative vision. They must have been pretty single-minded just to keep up.

On the other hand, they might not have written about it because it was the norm in first century Palestine for a Jewish man to be married. Wives weren't mentioned much.

I know scholars will ascertain the authenticity, or not, of Harvard Professor Karen King’s papyrus fragment with its wifely references for Jesus, so I’ll wait. I’m too old for another vocation but if I weren’t I might be a papyrologist.

I confess I’d love it if Jesus did have a personal helpmate who is just now getting her say about things in a fragment provocatively, tentatively titled,  “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.”

Now that would be a best selling memoir, maybe give my own memoir a boost. This is how women are finally getting onto the scene these days.  They speak and write and act like Jesus, whose ethic of compassionate equivalency demands its due.

The breadth and depth of the One Holy Godde as fully male and fully female is my image.

Jesus married doesn’t matter much to me. However, that Jesus called and trusted women disciples does matter. And that patriarchal cultures and religions squished women’s words and presence does matter.  And that this historical error be corrected matters. And that Roman Catholic men and women get to loosen the stays on their sexual corseted religious vocations (forced celibacy and the all-male priesthood)  matters.

I bet Jesus did call women as well as men.  I woulda been in the group I’m sure.  Or I might’ve been too timid; or I’d have insistently dragged my best friend or my own marriage partner along. If I weren’t married I’d have tried to get Jesus to propose to me for sure. 

That’s how smitten I am with his presence and his ideas and his ongoing Christic energy.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

2012.09.26 Outrageous!!??

I had an outrageous thought just this morning, one so heretical I gave it a mental cancellation—but it wouldn’t go null or void. 

I thought: What if writing were not all that important and as crucial to communications as educators and others, writers for example, think?

I’d been reading laments and worrisome statistics about the high percentages of today’s college students who simply don’t know how to write, that is to construct an intelligible sentence with decent grammar and punctuation.  It seemed a catastrophe. How would they get jobs? Get along in their relationships? Write papers?  Sermons?  Be a professional of any kind???—and more.

I’m a word person. I love words all by themselves,  and words strung together to make a meaning. I’m also someone who has always loved to read which is how I learned that writing was important.  I’m also a wordy, and sometime last-wordy, person. AND I write books—not for a living I’d starve. Still, to say in writing what I mean so that other literate persons can understand means my life to me—it’s a sacred practice.

Could my heretical insight mean that a whole new language, way of writing is emergent? A whole new language evolving thanks to the internet and texting? What if abbreviations and shorthands and acronyms become the way to write—for everyone? 

Esperanto didn’t work well as a universal language. Language is too personal, a sign of one’s identity, one’s flavor.  Who would sing their ABC’s?  Or practice each stroke of lovely symbolic letters of Eastern languages?  Will we have a language called Unitext? Scriptext? OMGI<3u br="br" dlt="dlt" pos.="pos.">
This is crazy. Or is it?

If it’s not nutz (see?) I hope I’ll be dead to “see” it.  And even more dead if Robo-books (books put together by googling a title of interest and then compiling all the data on that topic into a book which Nimble Books will then print and bind and sell for cents—automated publishing and a proliferation of books of all kinds) becomes the norm. 

Ah well LOL..........what the wise priest in the Bible, Qoheleth of Ecclesiastes, wrote is true: There is  nothing new under the sun.  Thank Godde everything IS under the sun.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

2012.09.23 Politics de Jour

Watching the recent Elizabeth Warren/Scott Brown debate, I decided I did not know anymore what a debate was, because this felt more personal than political— unwinnable war. Now there’s a familiar term. (Think Afghanistan, Iraq, et. al. )  Nor did I know what politics was really good for.

This putative “debate” between the two candidates for the U.S.Senate seat now occupied by Brown, a Republican who advertises himself as the most bipartisan Republican since the beginning of time and led off this “debate” with a challenge to his Democratic opponent Warren. He said she’d checked off the box declaring herself Native American, which “clearly she’s not” (just look at her blond hair and cute pug nose—she should’ve left her hair its naturally dark color perhaps?).......and this “lie” besmirched her character. He wondered why she didn’t release her personnel records.

I  wondered why, too,  but maybe Harvard where she teaches law doesn’t do that. I don’t know.  Warren said she believed her parents who told her her father’s parents disapproved of the marriage because her mother was Native American. She never did a fact check. Statements from her employers testified she was hired on merit.

But...did she check the box to give herself an edge?  Godde knows....and probably Godde doesn’t care.  And certainly I don’t either.  If she did use her heritage as a qualification, so what? I doubt Harvard would hire anyone who wasn’t fully qualified. They have a rep. Still, Warren was a woman breaking into a patriarchal system. Shouldn’t she use every legitimate edge she can?  She, like many women, has proved herself. I hope I have too in the patriarchal church that ordained me almost against its almighty will.

To Warren’s credit she tried to steer the debate to a creative exchange of position statements on issues.  I noticed her tongue swirling inside her closed lips.  Was that nerves or a “be still my tongue” gesture? She cited Brown’s voting record on issues as opposed to putting down his good guy image, big gas-guzzling truck, his victim story, or the fact that he based his pro-women politics on being on the side of women since he was six in an abusive family system. Is he using that line to get elected? 

Both candidates made some points and counterpoints and left unanswered questions, but the tone of the non-debate was one of hostility, the tension camouflaged by too many thank-you’s for the “great questions” etc. and ridiculous acknowledgements that each was a “nice woman” and a “nice man.”

Not a true debate. No grit on the guts of policy,  and not enough opportunity for honest articulation of the visions for the future of the country each candidate stands behind and why. 

Maybe the rules for political debating these days need to be altered to be more in line with true debate, or the moderator, who did a good job of refereeing, should have more freedom to intervene, to cry foul.   There should be no need for a referee.

Two true confessions: 1) I’m a Democrat and lean toward the vision of that party right now in history because the values of justice for the disadvantaged aided by government policies and programs are more in line with the gospel of Jesus Christ, my plumb line. (I remember the day I snuck into Town Hall in a small CT. town to change my party affiliation, looking around every corner to make sure my father, a staunch Republican I loved and thought I should follow, was nowhere in sight. I bet if he were alive now he might follow me.
And 2) ...I’m a feminist who believes that the personal IS the political. (I first got political with intention when I joined the League of Women voters in midlife. I hated it, not because I didn’t believe in its purposes but because I’m really bad at standing on street corners flailing big signs about and waving, knocking on doors, or calling strangers who might yell at me or hang up.  Thin skin.)  Still, I didn’t think the principle meant politicians should snipe in such personal ways,  the media joining the fray with glee. Feminism meant that decisions made in the halls of government deeply affected women’s personal lives, and therefore all people's lives, so politics mattered, not as a sport but as a way to serve humanity, the common good, and Godde. 

Women have the vote, but political discourse needs some cleaning up. I guess all women are called to be suffragettes all the time really, and in their own ways.

I could actually stump for Jesus—and debate the politics of the “kingdom” without snark.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

2012.09.19 Spinning Spider Spirit

I have just today observed, or should I say noticed, an astounding phenomenon.

Under my home altar there is a box, the cover of a computer paper box from Staples. In it are mementoes, small spiritual tchotchkes, all of significance to me and a few with universal symbolic meaning.

Here are a few of my favorite things: my first pair of brilliant red shiny party shoes, now dulled, the leather cracked; a tiny red plastic bull I took from some pep-you-up drink maybe even Red Bull—he represents the anger I buried from, say 4 to 34; a small glass dancing owl (my totem,) missing one jauntily flung leg, sitting in my maternal grandmother’s china teacup now filled with old award pins I earned for good memorization of holy texts and creeds in Presbyterian Sunday School; a two inch high tri-fold wooden triptych with Mary ever blessed in the centerfold flanked by two adoring angels; wooden statues of Don Quijote, one of my christs, and Sancho Panza, his acolyte and himself a christ, from a shop in a grand cathedral in Toledo, Spain in 1960; a postcard propped against the edge of my box painted by a monastic artist and picturing a woman, meant to be Mary giving birth to a baby, meant to be Jesus, and a hand, meant to be Joseph’s or Godde’s, cradling the small dark emerging head; my first tiny and meekly bristled hair brush; a photo in a miniscule frame: me at three and my mother at 25+ dressed alike in pinafores with wings, me scowling and mom smiling; a photo of dad in his National Guard uniform, so handsome and so sad he missed the war;  and a cross of Jesus fully alive—an obvious impossibility.

There’s more but you get the picture.

I saw what I thought was dust and thought, it’s time to dust! Under closer scrutiny the dust turned out to be a spider web. I followed its tracings and marveled at the miniature spider in its midst. ( I call all spiders Charlotte and imagine they speak in the dulcet tones of Julia Roberts.)  This Charlotte had practiced her spinning art and with the daintiest ingenuity had connected every single one of my sacred items each to each and all in one.  The web image riveted my attention on the glories of life itself.

I won’t be dusting my holy under-altar box or its contents any time soon.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

2012.09.16 Spiritual Massage

I heard an unusual comment recently, a compliment to the rector of a neighboring parish from one of the parishioners. The woman said, “He’s great. He’s not a pulpit hog.”

I also heard from a woman priest colleague that it was nice to see girls on the altar  (not dancing of course, or scantily clad)  at a notably conservative patriarchal parish that’s trying to be more open. My friend has also been invited to preach and celebrate there. 

And then I heard from a colleague woman priest and friend that the bishop who 35 years ago had turned me down for ordination just told her that being against the ordination of women had been the biggest mistake he’d ever made. Bravo!

These tiny epiphanies felt hopeful: the Church will continue to chip away at patriarchy, and full inclusion of every person in the worship and politics and vocabulary of the institution will happen. Am I delusional? 

Our current political field in this country is NOT really about the economy,  it is about women—keeping them in their traditional places, or not. You could even say barefoot and pregnant.  Yet after this presidential election the US congress will NOT be, for the first time in history, dominated by white straight men.   

I’m  firmly committed to the idea that as many different voices as possible should grace ALL our "pulpits" and altars and podiums.  It builds community, neighborliness and peace.

Christians are far from uniform in their styles of worship, politics, and theology. We desperately need to talk. We need to cut through assumptions and get to know who we really are.  Distance is no excuse with the internet.

I’ve been trying to promote such connections for years, including interfaith ones. The miles between us are short but the walls are thick and so parochial it’s shocking.

The Holy Spirit, She whom I call Sophie,  eventually works things for the best even when it all looks lousy and hopeless to us and our efforts fail. How does She do it? 

She is a mysterious masseuse of relational connective tissues.  And you know how long it takes   muscles and joints to loosen up and let go—and then pop back tight, over and over.   It’s easier to ease stiff muscles than it is to get stiff people to let go,  and even worse with religious people.  BUT not impossible.

Pray for a massage—full body and spirit.   You may be surprised!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

2012.09.12 Back To Basics

 I met Joan Chittister, OSB, up close and personal over a bathroom sink at Regis college where she was about to deliver an address to hundreds of fans—hers and Godde’s. She was frantically searching the sink bowl for her contact lens. I told her to stop up the drain and secretly thanked heaven this wasn’t a toilet bowl.  We peered in, groped about, seeking a tiny transparent flap of plastic, essential to Sister Joan’s full vision. We saw nothing.

THERE IT IS! she suddenly shrieked with the joy of a child, scooped it up gingerly, indelicately slapped it into her eye, gave me a hug, and whisk! she was gone—at a near gallop, still a filly at 75.  

Her talk was swoonable: classic religio-spiritual themes of love, justice, peace for all, the Godde-given power of women to transform the world and church, disloyalty as obedience, feminist theology, and a God who delivers the goods with the help of good men AND good women.

Here is Joan Chittister as a newly minted nun with the Benedictine sisters of Erie PA. The photo is old, her face and body young, and her soul eternal. Her proclamations and vision are the same yesterday today and tomorrow, even though the traditional nuns' habit has been replaced by civvies and her eyes need contacts to see—but not to have vision.

Text:  I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion that that makes you pro-life. I fact, I think in many cases your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed.       And why would I think that you don't?       Because you don't want any tax money to go there.   That's not pro-life.  That's pro-birth.  We need a much broader conversation on the morality of pro-life"                  -We the People


(Myself, I'm pro-life—all life . . . AND pro-choice.)


Sunday, September 9, 2012

2012.09.09 Back To Church

“It is a mistake to believe that God is primarily concerned with religion.” 

I read this quote recently in May Sarton’s book A House by the Sea. She attributed it to an archbishop of Canterbury but omitted his name. Even Google didn’t know. Hence, the wisdom stands on its own: “It is a mistake to believe that God is primarily concerned with religion.”

“It is also a mistake to believe that God is negligently concerned with religion.”  (This author I know because it’s moi, more properly, I.)

Defending religion? What hubris!  What I really want to do is jump in the currently popular spirituality pool with the cultural gang.  But I need religion and the church, for better or worse.  

I got religion in church, an extracurricular activity I’d flirted with for years and found boring so I fell in love with cute priests and flirted with the trappings. Still, I couldn’t stop wondering—and wondering what really is the point? 

When the time came for my authentic midlife crisis I’d sunk into moral turpitude— Ok I exaggerate here. Still, only something divine was persuasive enough to drop-kick me back into life-in-God. Call me lost, depressed, stuck in a role, “called” a term the church overuses, whatever,  it really doesn’t matter. I just had to find my first “lover” God, the one I’d met as a young child.

There was no FaceBook then and it didn’t make sense to go God-hunting in a library, City Hall, a bar, or on a bed, though I tried all these options: reading the Bible compulsively from cover to cover, changing my political party, alcohol, sex. At last I rediscovered the Episcopal church, the one that had the most sensory appeal, the one that had colors, smells, bells and human bodies that weren’t screwed to the pews—and, I noticed,  hope for women to be ordained.

Religion in a church community gave me something to DO, a VOCABULARY, and a way to THINK. These structures enhanced what I already FELT about God. I didn’t agree with everything but at least I had something to argue with. I met Jesus on directed religious retreats. As I prayed in silence and into the depth only solitude can allow, Jesus coached me into the radical idea that God’s Love lived inside me, so close I ate, slept and breathed it.

The Episcopal religion gave me a lot of grief and patriarchal baloney about women’s roles. It also gave me guidance without guilt, gravitas with flexibility, sin and  grace, elegant prayers to say in a community, a Big Book Bible, rich in stories that read better than any racy spellbinding novel and were, mercifully, lame on self-help, sacraments, and backbone theology—the bend but not break kind. 

Finally, my church gave me ordination to the priesthood.

God IS concerned with religion. Maybe not primarily, and maybe out of frustration over human meanderings. But it mistaken to believe God is not concerned with religion. In fact, Godde may just be leading the charge for change in the churches of all religions.

Monday, September 3, 2012

2012.09.03 Back to School

Can you guess which of these four beautiful children is headed off to school tomorrow? 

Not too hard to know, but what is wonderful is that the other two will be eagerly awaiting the return of the schoolers every afternoon and there will be a reunion of glee before the inevitably normal sibling squabbles begin. This is a loving family.  Maggie the dog sits quietly ready to be a lap of love or a lick of promise whenever it's needed. 

If your kids don’t fight, worry. The art of a good spat is essential to the maturation and lastingness of a good relationship and to helping a kid establish his or her identity but not her superiority.  Spiritually, it teaches the art of forgiveness and the joy of reconciliation and the appreciation of differences and  individuality. 

I remember the anticipation of the first day of a new school year. In my all girls’ school in New York city we had uniforms, gunny sack navy blue serge pleated jumpers—sturdy but ugly.  They had tie belts that always slid up or down and didn’t at all enhance what I aspired to have and didn’t—a budding wasp waist. So there was no fun in laying out new clothes for the first day, unless I had new saddle shoes that sparkled.

For me the joy of the first school day of a new school year was the summer reading list. I’d usually read almost all the books on it and checked them off twice with buoyant pride, as any developing professional book nerd would do.

School in fact was a little holy for me. It made me feel like the God of my early childhood had made me feel, good about being myself. It made me feel successful and proud to be a smart girl, even if sometimes I was a smartypants girl, trying to know it all and have the last word on everything. I had plenty of playground battles over whose way was the right way. Mine of course. But I stayed friends with my friends, and I don’t know why, or how, exactly, except that I wanted to have friends more than be right. 

It’s the same in a family.  Trying to boss my younger sister didn’t work at all. For one thing she was soon bigger and stronger than me,  and for another I secretly admired her un-schoolish non-nerdy ways. I thought she had more fun. She did, but she also got into more trouble.  School wasn’t her bailiwick the way it was mine.  She found different ways to feel good about herself—like by trying to be a “son” to Dad and pissing Mom off.  We broke up and got back together more times than I can count.

You don’t learn all of life in school. You learn it by fighting and making up—all your life.  And you learn by being alone. It helps to have a dog, or a doll, or a favorite stuffed animal, or a book, a thumb to suck, a diary with a lock and key, or an invisible God who listens.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

2012.09.02 What a Hoooot!!

Now that I’ve figured out how to get a photo on my blog I am feeling like fun. Also, I’m sick of the heaviness of politics and religion right now!!  So I got this photo of the Holy Trinity. 
Just look at these three wunderkind.  They peer out at me. I see a metaphor for Christianity’s oft-thought idiotic idea of supreme Oneness with a multiple personality disorder.  Can you think of a better way of making sure you get through to a bunch of devoted, hopeful but blundering, earthlings than giving them multiple choice, all options divine?  (OK I know owls are raptors but it's a metaphor!—and my cuddly stuffed owls guide me waking and guard me sleeping; they just don't smile much:)

Three lookalikes with three divine ways of being Being-in-being.
     Check the enormous inquisitive eyes, far-seeing, able to spot, know, and love, even the tiniest critter.
     And the gigundra wing-span—enough to swoop above and into the universe with angel-power.  
    All this and the wisdom to be nocturnal, enough humility to be quiet, only an occasional hoot to let us know She is still there while the weary world sleeps in peace.

 Who said three was a difficult arrangement?