Hersistence

By Ched Myers and Elaine Enns

 Note: The gospel reading for this Sunday, October 16, the 19th Sunday after Pentecost in the Revised Common Lectionary, is a poignant and amazing text focusing on the agency of women. We shared these reflections last month with pastors in the Greater Minneapolis Synod of the ELCA, and invite you to delight in this story of persistence that pertains both to our prayers and our politics. 

The story is introduced as a parable. Jesus tended to tackle tough issue by speaking in this particular rhetorical form, as did the Hebrew prophets before him. Unfortunately, most of our congregations still spiritualize this kind of grassroots pedagogy, typically understanding them as—see if you’ve heard this one before—”earthly stories with heavenly meanings.” Thus tales about landless peasants and rich land-owners, or lords and slaves, or lepers and lawyers—or persistent women—are lifted out of their social and historical context and reshaped into theological allegories or moralistic fables that are bereft of any political or economic edge—or consequence.  This functions to thoroughly domesticate the parable under our status quo, such that stories meant to challenge our preconceptions about the world are instead deployed by us to legitimate them. In this way, we effectively disarm one of the Bible’s most powerful rhetorical weapons, whose purpose is to rescue us from our domestication and dehumanization under that very status quo.  But what if parables were actually “earthy stories with heavy meanings” as Ched’s teacher Bill Herzog argued in his wonderful book, now a quarter century old, about Jesus as a pedagogue of poor communities?

Continue reading “Hersistence”

Contagious

An excerpt from adrienne maree brown’s article in Yes! Magazine called “Murmurations: Love Looks Like Accountability.”

It’s intentional that we think about internal accountability as a solo practice. So much of being in relationship with another is about being able to have deep awareness of what it is we want and need in a given moment, and what we’re feeling—be it safety or vigilance. 

This can be immensely uncomfortable. We might be feeling some combination of vulnerable, insecure, scared, disrespected, angry, or other emotions that we aren’t always raised to hold with dignity. If we can’t be aware of—and responsible for—our own feelings, then anyone else we are relating to can easily become a site of our projections or unharnessed energy. We can have negative and harmful impacts we did not intend. 

Continue reading “Contagious”

The Plumb Line

By Rev. Roslyn Bouier (above on the mic), the Executive Director of the Brightmoor Connection Food Pantry, Pastor of Trinity-St. Mark’s, UCC, and new church start founder The Beloved Community, UCC. These remarks were given at a press conference yesterday (July 7, 2022) where community leaders called out the latest counterfeit report coming from the Detroit water department, which has shut-off water to more than 170,000 homes over the past decade. The water department just approved an “affordability plan” with little input from experts and few details about how it will be funded and implemented. They refuse to release the full plan to the public.

I am a frontline provider—

I am a Detroit resident—

I am a pastor—

Community leader, advocate for food, water, housing, and basic needs—

I am a mother, grandmother—

But above all of these I am first and foremost a human-being and responsible for my neighbor and doesn’t that count for something?

Continue reading “The Plumb Line”

Not Without a Fight

By Alicia Crosby Mack, re-posted with permission from Facebook (June 24, 2022)

It is not lost on me that the architects of our present harm are using the Christian faith tradition as their vehicle for violence.

This is my tradition. This is my Christianity.

I will not distance myself from them as a form of absolution but will say this is violent & wrong.

In this moment I resolve to more fervently commit myself to justice, freedom, and agency for all because faith should be a balm for healing, not a bludgeon for to gain & keep control or force others into submission.

Continue reading “Not Without a Fight”

A Whole Range of Oppressions

An excerpt from the 45-year-old Combahee River Collective.

The major source of difficulty in our political work is that we are not just trying to fight oppression on one front or even two, but instead to address a whole range of oppressions. We do not have racial, sexual, heterosexual, or class privilege to rely upon, nor do we have even the minimal access to resources and power that groups who possess anyone of these types of privilege have.

The psychological toll of being a Black woman and the difficulties this presents in reaching political consciousness and doing political work can never be underestimated. There is a very low value placed upon Black women’s psyches in this society, which is both racist and sexist. As an early group member once said, “We are all damaged people merely by virtue of being Black women.” We are dispossessed psychologically and on every other level, and yet we feel the necessity to struggle to change the condition of all Black women. In “A Black Feminist’s Search for Sisterhood,” Michele Wallace arrives at this conclusion:

Continue reading “A Whole Range of Oppressions”

Abolition Feminism

A few words from Angela Davis, from a recent Democracy Now interview.

…as a consequence of the developments over the last two years, we think it is even more important to insist that abolitionist strategies also be feminist strategies, that we assume as broad a perspective as possible. I mean, we’re not simply talking about myopically examining what is happening in jails and prisons. And, of course, that’s a huge issue, so I probably should not have even used that word, “myopic.” But we’re thinking about the interconnectedness, the interrelationality between the predicament in jails and prisons and detention facilities, the violence of the police, the intimate violence that happens to so many women and gender-nonconforming people all over the world. That is, as a matter of fact, the most pervasive form of violence in the world. And we want to be able to imagine a different world. We want to be able to imagine a world in which that violence has been reduced and eventually eradicated. And we think that abolition feminism is the perspective that allows us to move in that direction.

Relinquishing the Patriarchy

ambLast year, Detroit-based author and activist adrienne maree brown poured out an epic post on patriarchy. The entire post is required reading for men on the radical journey. This is her conclusion, a list of 14 practices.

the good news is, there are practices that work. here are steps i guarantee will help you to relinquish patriarchy.

1. recognize that as a man, you are a part of patriarchy. even if you have made some effort to break out of it, the system/insanity of patriarchy is still there for you to fall back into under pressure or duress.

2. be particularly vigilant about your masculinity growing toxic in your 30-50s age range. those are the years for many of us where the weight of adulting gets real and feels too heavy, and the dreams we had for our lives may not be coming true – hence the pattern of midlife crises. this is when men can become strangers to the women who trust them. yes, change is constant, and we all deserve space to change. none of us deserve a pass to change in ways that make us more harmful to those with less systemic power than we have, especially not those who have carried us. Continue reading “Relinquishing the Patriarchy”

Pride: 51 Years After Stonewall

Stonewall InnFrom Richard Cleaver in Know My Name: A Gay Liberation Theology (1995):

I believe that almost any passage of scripture could be used to show that lesbians and gay men have a vital place in the body of Christ. I believe this because of an article of my faith that I hope I can lead you to share. It is this: if Jesus, in his passion and death, freely chose to become a victim of injustice, his sharing of our oppression entitles those of us who are still victims of injustice to demand that any pronouncement of scripture or ecclesiastical authority be judged by whether it helps or hinders our liberation, our becoming subjects of history, not victims only.

 

A Kind of Consciousness

anzalduaGloria Anzaldúa describing “the new Mestiza” in her book Borderlands/ La Frontera: The New Mestiza (1987).

She puts history through a sieve, winnows out the lies, looks at the forces that we as a race, as women, have been a part of. . . She reinterprets history and, using new symbols, she shapes new myths. She adopts new perspectives toward the dark-skinned, women and queers. She strengthens her tolerance (and intolerance) for ambiguity. She is willing to share, to make herself vulnerable to foreign ways of seeing and thinking. She surrenders all notions of safety, of the familiar. Deconstruct, construct. She becomes a nahual, able to transform herself into a tree, a coyote, into another person. She learns to transform the small “I” into the total self.

**In an interview in 1991, Anzaldúa elaborated:

Typically, for me, the “new Mestiza” is a kind of border woman who is able to negotiate between different cultures and cross over from one to the other and therefore has a perspective of all those different worlds that someone who is mono-cultural cannot have. And because she has that kind of perspective, tiene conocimiento: she has an understanding of what’s going on in all these different terrains. And so her interpretation is based on perceiving more about the different realities in this world than someone who is just mono-cultural…The new Mestiza for me is a feminist, is definitely a feminist, whether she calls herself that or not. And she’s different from the old mestiza because it’s no longer just a question of blood, it’s no longer a matter of one being Indian or black or Asian or Spanish; you may have those bloods and be raised in a white, middle-class world, or you may be a white woman but be raised in a Chicano community. So it goes beyond just the biological mestiza… there’s such a thing as a cultural mestiza. It’s a kind of consciousness.