Sunday, January 20, 2013

Privilege and grace, part I

***This post is for the benefit of the privileged; Not for the oppressed. At least, for educational purposes. So, if you need to call me out, please feel free to do so. I'm not asking to be educated; if I got something wrong, this is just my promise to you that I will check my own privilege, to take it seriously, and to work hard dealing with my shit. Thank you for reading.***

Over at Rachel Held Evan's blog, Rachel recently asked some tough questions about how to dialogue with Others in a respectful way; whether or not the privileged should be afforded grace by the Other and where and when anger is appropriate. She also asked about education: is it okay to ask a question in good faith?

She put her heart out, like she so often does, with her post.

And it isn't any surprise Rachel is the one who brought it up, in good faith. She is a woman of valor. Christian culture, from the creepy, apparently pro-assault writing to the creepy pro-perp bias (in the name of Grace) is just scary sometimes (let alone inclusive in any kind of meaningful way).

I hear there is also a dialogue in the Christian blogosphere about privilege and whether the P word needs to go. Actually, there have been several conversations about call out culture lately.

This has gotten me thinking about privilege and how messed up it is. And find a grace filled way through the mire.

Godde is big. Big enough to create a vast panorama of diversity in the world of "nature". So, why not in humankind as well? We can do better with this as a community. We have to...

Since this is written by a Christian blogger, I will get to privilege from a Xian perspective; For, well, cis white Christians who want to get more intersectional with their feminism. And for those who want my special snowflake perspective on grace in this context. But, we probably need to define some terms here.

This isn't easy stuff and this blog isn't the right place to get a comprehensive grasp of these things, so google all you can later and find out more. Read first hand accounts. Heck, read everything. And observe. But, not in a creepy way...

I'm cis, white, middle just know this post is only the tip of the ice burg. it lays out some things social justice bloggers write about and refer to outside the Christian blogosphere. And, when you google, you'll get access to much better, first hand information. Ok, here we go.

Privileges are unearned advantages given to members of a group. Usually, they go unnoticed by those that possess them. Certain "unalienable" rights aren't. Some people get to exercise them, while others can't or are punished by society for exercising them. Hint: google the invisible knapsack.

For instance, a straight couple can walk down the street holding hands. Without even thinking twice. A gay couple holding hands down the street may be harassed or threatened.

Or, other people will readily acknowledge a cis woman's gender identity (be called she, addressed by the right name).

Or when a person who doesn't identify as a woman or man, after repeatedly telling others they prefer the pronoun ze, goes ignored. Cis people call zr "him" anyway. Or, cis strangers ask zr really personal questions no one should ever have to answer, let alone in the first interaction.

In these cases, respect, safety, and privacy are "privileges" held by some and withheld from others.

Patriarchy is "rule by the fathers". Men (cis men) are the generic human beings and everyone else is derivative. When you see a congress full of old white guys domineering legislation about women's rights, that's patriarchy.

Kyriarchy is similar, but much more expansive. This term was coined by catholic feminist liberation theologian Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza. It's concerns social structures as the Great Chain of Being. It's all about authority: who rules. It follows first from God to white cis men to white cis women, to cis PoC, down and down and down. Since gender variant folk are largely invisible, they're generally pretty low on the chain, especially if they are people of color. (More on intersectionality later).

The binary is, well, a two system, system. One is either/or. Male or female. Man or woman.

People of color is the word chosen by non white people to refer to themselves. So, my advice? Respect the term.

Just because a person of color has reclaimed a word historically used to dehumanize them, doesn't give white people a right to use the word. If the slur or epithet isn't yours, if you've never been on the receiving end, either historically or in your personal experience, it isn't yours to use. Please respect that.

Gender variant people are those who don't fit in the binary (m/f-man/woman) system. Same thing with terms, here. If it's not yours, don't use it.

There are endless kinds of human difference under the word gender variance. Some people are bigender (identify with two genders), genderqueer (don't identify as man or woman withiin the binary), genderfluid (move easily between genders), agender (don't identify with a gender). Trans* people cross over genders, often these are the folks who are assigned as female or male at birth but who don't identify with the sex (or gender) they were assigned. Sometimes the stereotype of a woman being born "in a man's body" holds true for some (see amazing writer Julia Serano). Others will say that if they feel like women in their "man's" body, it makes it a woman's body ultimately. If they feel this way, it is true for them.
Some trans* individuals choose gender affirmation surgery so they feel right in their bodies, though not everyone wants or needs this. There is no right or wrong way to be trans*.

Sometimes, genitalia and secondary sex characteristics are referred to as sex assigned at birth. Or, sex coercively assigned at birth. Sex is something you can't tell from looking at someone.

It also isn't possible to tell someone's gender identity from looking at them.

If you can, ask which pronouns an individual prefers others to use in reference to them. This is a polite way of showing respect without the oppressive "are you a girl or a boy?" conversation. Never, ever, ever ask invasive questions about someone else's body or orientation. Don't ask anything more than the person in front of you wants to share. Unless they make it clear they want to educate you.

Always respect pronouns. To you, Bo may "look" like a "man." If Bo tells you otherwise, believe them. And respect them by respecting their privacy, desires, wishes, and requests concerning their gender identity. So, if they come out as gender variant, make sure they're out to everyone before you say anything to anyone else.

Sexual orientation is one's sexual and romantic orientation to others: who do I love; who do I want to have sex with. Sexual orientation, also, is not determined by gender identity. There are lesbians, gay men, bisexuals (who are attracted to both genders in the binary gendrr system), pansexuals are those who are attracted to all genders. Demisexuals are those who only become sexually attracted to others after forming close relationships.

Asexuals are those who don't want to have sex or who have "lower than ususal" sex drives. Some experience sexual arousal, but don't want partnered sex. Some have sex, but infrequently. These people aren't unicorns. And asexuality is as natural and normal as any other kind of orientation. For some reason, it seems asexuals get a lot of crap for their orientation. From other oppressed groups. And it's like...what?

Just be aware, just because you want sex twice a day, doesn't mean everyone does. If someone confides they are asexual, don't shame them.

White supremacy is the implicit or explicit belief that white people and white culture are inherently better than PoC and various other cultures. A great example of this is when a white person acts like hip-hop is the worst thing ever.

Racism is a system in which prejudice and discrimination are practiced by an entire society.

Heterosexism is the system in which when the dominant group is straight; the implicit or explicit assumption that heterosexuality is better, more normal, natural, ideal, or right than other kinds of sexual orientation.

Ableism is the system in which a society adopts the assumption that some bodies are better, or more normal, ideal, or natural than other bodies. For instance, when someone who can walk without assistance is considered more whole than someone who uses mobility aids. Ableism also covers the stigma around "mental health issues". Or, neurally atypical people. Though things like depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia can cause distress for people, what makes them "disabilities" is the fear and loathing of those with these "disorders". With ableism, need becomes pathological or wrong, and in the system needing help is seen as weakness. Also, those with mental health impairments or differences aren't violent as a rule!!!

An impairment is a difficulty. Like, depression or chronic pain. Or, being a wheelchair user, like moi!

A disability is what happens when schools, businesses, and other institutions won't accommodate impairment. Or, when impairment is raised to an ontological category, a state of being, that makes an individual less-than the non-impaired. Disability is a social category. Also, if we're lucky enough to age, we all become disabled. Sometimes disability rights activists call "able bodied" people, "temporarily able bodied people" to point out that everyone has or will have "special needs" and that this fact of life shouldn't be stigmatized

Classism is the social system in which people who are poor or are underprivileged are considered worse people than those from "higher" classes." Poor people are lazy/don't want to work/deserve what they get in life" are examples of this attitude.

Being cis is having one's sex assigned at birth and gender "match up".

Intersex people are those who are born with characteristics of the two traditionally accepted sexes. It isn't talked about often, but more people are intersex than the general public believe.

Cissexism is cis supremacy, the societal belief that being cis is better or more right or normal or "natural" than being gender variant.

In sociology, the accepted rule is power + prejudice = _____. Pick a system.

A black individual can have prejudices against white people as a group, but since black people have less institutional power, as a group, than white people, they cannot be racists. It's a sociological truth.

Prejudice =/= discrimination.

There is no such thing as reverse racism. The worst thing a PoC can do to a white person is usually to call then names or mock them. Even in cases of murder, all black people are accused: not individuals. And certainly not the system.

White people have a legacy of killing, marginalizing, and unfairly imprisoning PoC. For instance, while white and black people are equally likely to use drugs, black people are something like twice more likely to be imprisoned (see the New Jim Crow for more info.). Or, in other words, white judges and juries are more likely to convict PoC than whites, and to hand down heavier sentences.

Also, when white people kill people, they are never asked to represent the white race. It was just one "whack job" (ableism alert here) who snapped. How many times does a white person have to snap for us, as a culture, to see a pattern? It has taken us a long, long, loooong time. Like, 400 years?

The same principle applies to sexism, heterosexism, ableism, classism, cissexism, and racism.

There is no reverse anything. The quickest way to shut down dialogue with social justice advocates is to insist your problems are equal with others systematic oppression. For instance, it doesn't work (because it's so flagrantly intellectually dishonest) to insist that

I took a blogging break.

I think because a lot of what I have written in the past came from a place of deep insecurity. I'm no less insecure in some ways, but at the same time, there have been changes in me. It's time to unsheath the pen again.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Reflections on Bakerwoman Godde

Based on the poem Baker Woman God by Bozarth Campbell:
Bakerwoman God, I am your living bread. Strong, brown, bakerwoman God, I am your low, soft and being-shaped loaf.
I am your rising bread, well-kneaded by some divine and knotty pair of knuckles, by your warm earth-hands. I am bread well-kneaded.
Put me in fire, bakerwoman God, put me in your own bright fire. I am warm, warm as you.
From fire, I am white and gold,
soft and hard, brown and round. I am so warm from fire
Break me, Bakerwoman God. I am broken under your caring Word.
Drop me in your special juice in pieces. Drop me in your blood. Drunken me in the great red flood Self-giving chalice, swallow me.
My skin shines in the divine wine. My face is cup-covered and I drown. I fall up in a red pool in a gold world where your warm sunskin hand is there to catch and hold me.
Bakerwoman God, remake me.

This poem is beautiful to me. It elaborates on Jesus comparison to Godde as a woman kneading the kingdom into the world as a baker woman kneads yeast into bread. Godde here is a homemaker, someone who "keeps house" in the world.

Since Jesus has been called the True Mana in scriptures, this image of Godde makes such beautiful, poetic sense to me. Jesus was the true manna, and we are nourished by Him. It's all very beautiful, to imagine Godde with brown, sun stained hands preparing True Manna for the world. Very hands on, down to earth. Bakerwoman Godde reminds me of my own mother: always working, always hands in the the dirt in the garden, or up to her arms in "doing what needs to be done." Even if it means coming down as a Galilean Hick, taking up His cross, and dying for us all. Though Godde is royalty, S/He who is, is also extremely humble. No task is beneath Her. Even washing smelly feet. Even calling His Betrayer "friend." Even forgiving His murderers as He died. 

I (k)need this image more than ever lately. At church these past few weeks, we've been preparing for a conference on The Holy Spirit. Lately, because of so much prayer, something in me has become completely broken. I can't say it's pride, because Lord knows I have an excess of that, but I feel like somebody is "kneading" me. Godde (Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer) have me on the kitchen table, pounding on me with knuckles, elbows, and rolling pins. I feel the yeast spreading, and the struggle of rising up.

I've longed for union with Godde all my life. This has been the driving motivation in everything: to taste and see. And though it seems that this prayer is being deferred. In reality, it's not. I just haven't been able to realize that the darkness I've struggled with most of my life does not mean El-Roi/El-Shaddai/YHWH/Yeshua, is not there. It might just be a blessing in disguise. I'm communing in the darkness Jesus experienced in his last hours. Or, at the very least, it's the outer darkness of purification. The fire of love in its severe form, burning away the chaff in me.

The rough edges are being softened. My impatience denied. My anger unraveling. I feel absolutely "stricken and afflicted." Not that I can compare myself to Job, my friend Cindy gets that honor, or Mother Teresa who experienced such inward darkness (oh, please, no no no no), but "though he slays me, still will I trust Him."

There will be a resurrection eventually.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

My Christian Universalism

*trigger warnings for mention of rape. I apologize for comparing non-rape to rape, something I usually detests. But, given the scope of what's at stake, I feel the end justifies the means*

I just wanted to blog a bit about my recent "conversion" to Christian Universalism. In this one, I'll tackle my "reason" and "experience" and a tiny bit about "scripture." In later posts, I'll elucidate more on tradition.

Caveat: For Christians who have become concerned about my soul, and I say this in the kindest way possible, really, there is no need. If, in fact, one is "saved" through a relationship with Jesus, through his death and resurrection, and by being empowered by His Spirit to follow the Way, I'm committed to this path. If there IS an eternal hell, which I highly doubt, I'm committed to Jesus and his Godde, so the point, for my personal soul, is moot.

Since I find it disrespectful, in most cases, to attempt to evangelize (unless one displays explicit interest in knowing more about my beliefs), it will not change my behavior. Nor will it make me complacent. I believe that showing love, undeserved, lavish, generous and selfless love! is the best way to relate to other people in any situation. I also believe there can be no strings attached when it comes to loving someone. Loving someone, with strings attached, even "Goddely strings," because you want to save their soul, I feel, is ultimately selfish...More for me than them.

Ok. Caveat over.

The other day I went to an orientation to volunteer with domestic violence survivors. The other women, all fellow volunteer hopefuls, seemed strong, and resolute, and beautiful in a way that transcended physical attractiveness. As the volunteer coordinator spoke, I sensed Godde's spirit in the room. Specifically in the form of wings like a brooding, mother bird.

The VC talked about helping survivors, getting them on their feet, providing care for them and their children. And, of course, to me, at that moment, this lady was the most beautiful woman in the world. And then, a disturbing thought entered my mind: "what's the point of helping people in this world who are hurting when, probably, at least some are going to go to Hell anyway? Who cares if women are getting beat up on this side when, at the end, Godde is gonna have to punish them some more?"

And then another thought exploded in my head: "What the HELL is my theology of Hell doing to me?"

There had to be something wrong with it, I knew, if it could ever lead to such a heartless, though thankfully, momentary, sense of apathy. Why care about victims of state sanctioned torture? Or rape victims? Why care about the starvation in the horn of Africa? Why care about earthly suffering at all? Why not just sit back in my wheelchair and wait for Jesus to return and blast all his enemies (very hypocritically, I thought), whilst he commands me to forgive mine. I mean, there's a lot of ass kicking my flesh would like to be doing lately...although that wouldn't be very Christ like.

Right? Or, it wouldn't be very like the pre-Easter Christ. But yannow, when the Resurrected Lord returns, he's gonna be a very, very angry rambo...

My BS detector started sounding at its loudest setting. And, I knew, the Godde of Jesus was in that room. Even if Jesus' name was never mentioned. The hesed, womb-love, or compassion, of Godde which motivated Her to send Her son in the first place was...The blessed trinity squatted down in the middle of our table...

Of course, this got me thinking. As I'm wont to do anyway. But, my thoughts pushed me over the edge this time...I've been flirting with this "heresy" for a while anyway but with therapy and with my new volunteerism, the light bulb went on...

Something had to give. I couldn't worship or love Godde with everything I had, nor could I love my neighbor as myself, if I held on to a belief I've been coming more and more to disbelieve. Ok. So, every theological belief, traditionally sits on reason, experience, tradition, and scripture. All of the above describes some of my experience. I'd like to talk about scripture and reason now.

1. My Reasons:

Theologically, as well as philosophically, eternal conscious torment in Hell does not make sense knowing what we "know" about Godde's character...

Let's just say, as many Christians believe, Godde is a just, all-knowing, all-wise, all-loving, and all-powerful being and that this Godde decided to create a world. In this world, He limited themselves and allowed their creatures to reject them: the source of being. Let's grant, that from the beginning, She knew (the actual or metaphorical) Adam and Eve would mess up and eat the (actual or metaphorical) fruit and that as Jesus, She'd have to incarnate, suffer and die for every sin committed on the Earth.

Now, She will have, also, not doubt, been aware that a vast majority of people in the world would reject Jesus. We're talking billions here who have either never heard of Jesus, or who have rejected Jesus because of 1) Christian hypocrisy or church scandals or because they, as LGBT folks, have felt condemned by Christ followers 2) who have rejected Jesus because they were raised to believe their religion was the only right one (just like many Christians have been) or 4) religion sounds supersticious to them 5) any other reason one could imagine.

It does not follow that an all wise, all loving, or even a just Godde would create a world in which a majority of its inhabitants would be punished forever. Even if, as many will assert, he assumed the maximum risk by becoming human and allowing himself to be killed, he still gambled with the lives of billions. Not one of us chose to be born.

We may choose to sin knowingly, or unknowingly. This doesn't leave us guiltless or innocent. It leaves us dependent on Godde's care and compassion. Which, at least as I have experienced, is kind, immediate, and ungrudgingly given.

But, as orthodox Christianity holds, since Adam and Eve, we've been born with a tendency toward choosing sin. Nobody chose that either. Now, factor in all the bad parenting, religious indoctrination,  abuse, injustice, and messed up stuff in the world. Nobody chose that either. All that life stuff also clouds one's view of life and relationships. And even Godde. It just doesn't make sense Godde would create a world in which all this could go SO WRONG, without also knowing there'd be a happy ending for everyone, ultimately. Godde, I believe, is strong enough to save everyone. Loving enough to want to. And wise enough to figure out how without short-circuiting our free will.

Of course, one could say of eternal conscious torment in Hell, "God's ways our not our ways." Although, in context, verses like these in the Bible invariably refer to Godde's ways being more merciful and compassionate ways than ours...

2. Scripture

There are many texts to support universalism, especially ones in Colossians which speak of all things reconciled in Christ (ALL things? Even unrepentant, vile, filthy sinners??? *note sarcasm*). But I'm not gonna sit here and prooftext at great length. Any yahoo can pick up a Bible and interpret selectively, can make it say whatever they want. (See Lydia Pearl and To Train Up A Child...)

I just want to claim here that it's a legitimate interpretative framework from which to read the Bible. Or, I don't believe it's heresy.

Calvinists pick it up and have to ignore the fact that in some places it seems to claim Godde's love is universal. Calvinists do it. And gracefully.
Arminians pick it up and have to ignore the fact that in some places it seems to claim that Godde is both able and willing to save everyone. Arminians do it. And gracefully.
Christian Universalists have to deal with places in which it seems to claim punishment is forever. It has be done. And gracefully. But I don't really have the energy to get into that here. See

There's a sense of unknowing and tension that each belief system has to deal with, and so I can't with complete integrity say: THIS IS WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS. It's just what makes most sense with my reading.

Of course, there is one scripture I'd like to discuss (PROOFTEXT ALERT). The one that says "every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father" Romans 14:11. This is the one that clinches it for me, personally.

Some human kings would make their conquered foes bow and humiliate themselves before the victors. They would be forced to do this. It doesn't make sense that the Jesus, as recorded in the scriptures, would somehow magically enjoy "lording" his victory over (in John 13 (I think), he says the greatest disciple is the servant of all) his human foes at the end of time. Especially if the "Godhead was pleased to dwell in him bodily" and especially if he was "the image of the invisible God." If, as we believe, all sin was placed on him, why is punishment eternal? Throughout the gospels, Jesus served and loved others. And taught his disciples to do the same. Why, at the end of time, will Jesus change?

Furthermore, what kind of forced worship of Jesus would be glorifying to Godde? (Especially since as my Arminian background insists, Godde prizes and respects our free will...)

An abused wife could have sex with her husband against her will but who would say that is glorifying to the rapist husband? We'd say he was acting like a jerk and was probably abused himself and we'd try to get him some therapy...There's no glory there at all. Even if it is Godde.

To my mind, with Godde to maintain consistancy in his character, She'd only accept freely given, and freely chosen worship. Since worship, after all is an act of the heart. Which leads me to suspect eventually, everyone will love her, and see Jesus as he is: the Shepherd who leaves the 99 and goes after the lost one until he finds it.

Rob Bell is not a universalist. But I am. It's my conviction that love wins...

Friday, July 1, 2011

You're (Not) Too Sensitive: For the Survivor

*trigger warnings for rape/sexual assault, racial epithets*

(I don't like the word victim, nor do I particularly like the word survivor. The word victim completely robs someone of agency, while the word survivor implies unmitigated, unflagging strength. Triumphalism. Or some kind of grandiose state in which You Shall PWN Forever. Most likely, if you've experienced trauma, you're just a regular Jo(e) with hir good and bad days like everyone else. Some 'survivors' are able to function "well." Others struggle everyday to regain equilibrium, inner peace. It really does depend on the person. I will use the word 'survivor' with scare quotes here for ease.)

Often, the most assinine thing one might tell a person who has survived trauma (or even a feminist for that matter) is that s/he is too sensitive about x,y, or z. The conversation which follow often goes like this:

Person X: shut up, bitch/n***er/faggot (with a laugh)/*makes a joke about rape/sexual assault/smacking their significant other
Person Y: Please don't use that word/language, please don't tell those jokes. They're demeaning: and/or they're personally painful for me. 
Person X: Ah, c'mon. It was just a joke. Don't you have a sense of humor? Can't you even take a joke???
(usually, at this point person X knows zie can't reason at this point with person Y. Zie is labeled humorless and is discredited...)

Sometimes, the conversation is more subtle, nuanced. Person X just implies it; hints that person Y's perception *may be* clouded by "emotion." And, emotion, of course, is always less reliable than "logic"  (everyone tends to think their "logic"is normative). Any said comment/joke/epithet/careless remark should be freely able to stand alone. It should be able to float in the atmosphere, unanchored in the context of a world in which bad shit is done to people and where real, live actual people are still dealing with that bad shit.

(This is nothing the feminist blogosphere hasn't tackled before. Feminists have gotten this routine since time immemorial, as have many 'survivors.' Of course, one might be both feminist and 'survivor.' Many survivors are feminists because, I believe, they have come face to face with the ugly reality of kyriarchy. They've seen the Emperor, and he wasn't wearing any skivvies).

The cryin' shame here is that if we listened to "too sensitive" people, we'd, as a culture, have excellent resources for ascertaining what, and what is not, harmful. We'd have human bullshit detectors. A "too sensitive" person knows hir stuff.

A badass chick who's been sexually assaulted can probably point out a million things around her that allowed her attacker to operate. She can point out patterns and make associations between what happened to her, and the nonchalant sexist joke said at that party; or the or the way the media portrays women's bodies as perpetually available for sex.

Same thing with someone who has endured any kind of hate crime (And yes. Rape IS a hate crime). The "faggot," "dyke," or "tranny" knows that they threaten everyone else's gender/sexual identities and know exactly where the fear comes from.

A person verbally/emotionally abused posseses an uncannily keen ear for maladaptive forms of communication. Zie can point out exactly at what point a request becomes manipulative, or when zie's being gaslighted. Zie can usually assess relationship dynamics in the blink of an eye.

A person who has been spiritually abused (give me all your money or you'll go to hell/obey your husband even if he beats the snot out of you) can glean the "good faith" from "bad faith." Those who have been spiritually abused has a perfect frame of reference from which to discern "Is this healthy? Life giving? Hopeful? Does it make the world a better place instead of a worse one?" If we listened to the spiritually abused, we'd probably have less (Godde help us all) gay teen suicides.

Instead, we place the burden of proof on the one who has experienced trauma, the oppression. We ask them to step away from their experiences in order to gain "clarity" instead of stepping inside their experiences and seeing what they see. Bullshit.

As far as I'm concerned, if you're "too sensitive," you're not. You just have a superpower that the world is to ignorant to acknowledge.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Midrash of Ephesians 2:19-22

The other night, after reading this passage, I had a "vision," or momentary mental flash about Godde as Seamstress. I allowed my mind to play with the scripture, write something unique and yet orthodox. I wanted to experiment with feminine language for Godde, and to place the idea of Godde in us into explicitly feminine experience. Being a seamstress is a historically feminine profession. Anyway, I love the idea of Godde as Divine Artist, Someone Who Creates. This is what I came up with...

 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

We, as Godde's new creation, are a diverse bunch. We were once a bunch of loose bolts of cloth discarded by the world. Now, with our foremothers and forefathers of faith, we are painstakingly being sewn by Godde, the Great Seamstress, into a beautiful dress. Her patient and steady hands are working to arrange us around Christ as the most brilliant red silk empire waist. For some, this bright red seems to clash. It is altogether too extravagant, too lavish to be surrounded by such other ordinary fabric. But for Godde, it is this love colored red that makes the whole piece's design cohere. We are being formed into Godde's respledent gown, one the Spirit delights to slip into. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Uneasy about The Life Zone...


Written by republican senate candidate Ken Del Vecchio, The Life Zone tackles some controversial material. Women, who had been on the table about to have abortions, awaken to find themselves jailed by a "mad man." When they give birth, simultaneously, they are free to go. You can watch the trailer here:

*SPOILER* Later, we find out the jail is purgatory. The women who give birth go to Heaven, but the one who refuses and kills her fetus goes...well, ya know, straight to Hell (Cos that's where all baby-killers go amirite? Straight to Hell. Do not pass go, do not collect $200).

Personally, I'm uneasily pro-choice. Meaning, were I to become unexpectedly pregnant (heaven knows I can barely take care of myself), abortion would probably (because even I'm not sure how I'd react in a given situation) not be an option my conscience would allow. However, I don't feel anyone has the right to legislate what another woman or a trans man (abortion is not just a women's issue) what to do with their bodies.

Furthermore, I've resolved never to judge another person on whether or not they've had an abortion. Especially Christian women, because, from the statistics I've seen, 1/3 of women have had an abortion, in America. ONE THIRD. Can you imagine, in your church or parish, most likely someone you know has probably made the choice to terminate a pregnancy...

It just goes to show no one knows how they'd react in a given situation, even Christian women who have such taboos about it leveled at them.

The reasoning given for this choice, contrary to popular caricature, is not "the child would be an inconvienence so let's just kill it!"

It's "do I have resources to take care of the child? Enough money? Do I have a supportive partner? Am I psychologically stable enough to deal with (another) child?

It's usually never as simple as "just get rid of it." From what I understand, it's an agonizing decision made after deep soul searching.

(For stats, go here:

Often, when anti-choice Christians fight for the rights of the unborn child, they barely take the rights of the mother into consideration. I feel lucky. In my church, people are insanely loving, putting their money and time where their mouths are. They're anti-choice, but they realize there are many complex factors in any one person's situation. They also allow the person the choice to think things through. I thank Godde for them. But, unfortunately, I get the sense not all anti-choice Christians are like this. They'll fight to the teeth for the baby to be born, but after that, the mom/dad is on their own...

The Life Zone, I suspect, would clinch my pro-choice position if I wasn't there already.

Think about, if you're a woman or trans man who has given birth, how difficult pregnancy is. You're body changes, you swell, you get sore everywhere, you may throw up, you get moody. Then, imagine giving birth. The pain that entails, the hours in labor. Then, imagine you might suffer afterward post partum depression. You're not necessarily thrilled about this new life. At the moment, you might just want to die...

Now, imagine that you really can't take care of a child, for whatever reason. You're working three jobs as it is. You're struggling just to get dinner on the table. Maybe it triggers extreme gender dysphoria for you...Perhaps, you've been struggling with depressive episodes and you find you just can't deal with any more stress. Maybe you've been raped. Or, a family member has molested you, and you're extremely young and terrified.

Now, imagine what it would be like to go through all this against your will. Imagine that you have no choice in what happens to your body.

This is why the movie disturbs me. This is where we were before 1973, and before contraceptives were widely available. Women, with two, three, four kids, who couldn't have anymore or couldn't afford to feed any more children would perform their own, dangerous, often lethal abortion. Del Vecchio seems to think this would be a better thing for women. Or, at least, a more Godly situation...

I have a hard time thinking forcing a person to give birth is Godde glorifying, since Godde never forces us to do anything against our wills. It sounds like mental, physical, and spiritual torture to me.

Of course, I'm not saying abortion itself is a "moral good." Perhaps, though, it is the lesser of two evils...


There was also one more piece of food for thought I'd like to throw out there about "abortion is murder." Hugo Schwyzer in one of his lectures made a point about whether or not people who believe abortion is murder really do. He said that if we really believed that it WAS murder, people wouldn't just be picketing abortion clinics, they'd also be killing abortion doctors. If I really believe that abortion is murder, a genocide of the unborn akin to Hitler's of the Jews, I should be killing abortion doctors...Though, most of my extended Christian family would decry me as a killer, they would still laud Bonhoeffer's attempt at assanating Adolph Hitler. This is something I'm just thinking about.

Of course, on the other hand, I, a pacifist don't believe in even justified violence. Though, I also think that Bonhoeffer should have been celebrated if he had killed Hitler. One could argue that abortion is a form of violence.

Of course, this is irrelevent to my above points. A woman who has become unexpectedly pregant deserves respect, understanding, and compassion.