Tuesday, October 26, 2004

That there's some good readin'

Here are some fine examples of work by a few of my favorite writers:

(Amy Sullivan)

(Jeff Sharlet)

(Diane Winston)

(Rod Dreher)

(Chris Lehmann)

You are probably noticing the repetition of stuff from the revealer...well, it's a good clearinghouse for religious news. The other best blog for keeping up with news involving religion (which is most news these days) is Christianity Today. Seriously. Just ignore the editorial blather and skip straight to the sometimes-overwhelming collection of stories from around the world: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ctmag/features/weblog

(Ayelish McGarvey - this is actually the first thing I read by her but it's darned impressive)

Here's one more tidbit that I recently found on the Revealer:

25 October 2004: 380 tons of explosives -- one pound of which is enough to destroy a 747 -- have gone "missing" from a known bomb-making factory left unguarded by U.S. forces. Department of Defense explains that bad guys "stored weapons in mosques, schools, hospitals and countless other locations." Right. Such as bomb-making factories. NYT and "60 Minutes" will get kudos for this important scoop, but we're just as pissed at the press as we are at our secretary of "defense," whose title must be from now on written at all times with "irony quotes." Maybe it's because we just watched the second season of "24," which includes both a terrorist nuclear bomb and a mosque-stomping scene, but we're thinking: Couldn't someone have interrupted the very important mosque-and-school searches to say, "Hey -- who's keeping an eye on the bomb-making factory?"

Monday, October 25, 2004

What to think about when voting

I want to add one thought to the political frenzy. The majority of my thoughts have already been represented in one way or another by someone more eloquent or experienced than I. But one thing has become increasingly clear to me and I don't see it in the religious or secular press.

The term "conservative Christian" is an oxymoron. One cannot hold to conservatism and still be a Christian. Conservatives accept the status quo and resist change - that is what it means to be conservative. Christians are called to the opposite: we are called to change the world, to transform it, by God's grace and power.

Notice it is not by our own power. It is not by our getting our commentaries published or our leaders elected or ourselves into the government.

Our job is to effect change by loving. Our neighbor, our enemy, those who persecute us. Our call from our fearless leader is to live fearlessly in the Kingdom of Heaven - which is at hand, here already.

If Christians were supposed to be conservative then the world would be utterly different than it is. Christianity would not have survived the Roman Empire, for one thing. But being strictly American, we would still have slavery had Christians not been progressive. Women may still be second-class citizens and minorities almost certainly would be.

Should we not consider leading the charge for our generation's oppressed - namely, the GLBT community?

And should we not call for an end to war and a commitment to radical peacemaking in the world, including feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, providing shelter and water and clothing?

And should we not give to our church and our community and our neighbor freely and without remorse, realizing that any earthly treasure we have will only rot? I mean, really, how can a Christian rightly give a rip about how much they pay in taxes?!

This is not idealism. This is what the Church is supposed to be. If these are not in your mind when you vote, you are not a Christian. If you are conservative, you are not following Jesus' example.

Jesus came to transform the world and calls his followers to do the same. Never accept the world's status quo. Never resist change. Never believe for a millisecond that a terrorist or an activist judge or a liberal politician can somehow overpower God's will for the world.

God has already won his battle, we are already on the winning side. So quit hemming and hawing over temporal things and start loving your neighbor as yourself. And love God first and most of all.

Do not vote in fear. Do not vote for someone who will "protect" you. Your heavenly father will protect you. Do not vote for someone who will shelter your wealth. Man does not live by bread alone. Do not vote for someone because they will further the conservative, status quo, slow-to-change causes. God is not about our status quo. God is not about the world never changing. God Godself is consistent but we can never suppose that our beliefs are equally inerrant.

Vote as if God were really in charge, not the President. And see whose name you check.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Prozac Nation

Yesterday was a really weird day. Because it was raining (akin to a blizzard or hurricane in LA), our power had gone out in the night, and the backup generator outside our window was so loud that I couldn't hear the alarm. My husband poked me and said, "It's 7:00, you better get up". This to the person who usually leaves at 7:15 am. And what was he doing there? Oh, it was raining, so he decided not to go to school. Nice.

Anyway I got myself out the door and up to school and of course was one of the first people there. Even our prof was 20 minutes late (but being good grad schoolers, we didn't leave). He announced that it was the Seminary's "Day of Prayer" and thus we'd only have class until 10 a.m. Awesome.

On our quiz there was a really poorly worded question. I questioned him on it and he stood firm in there being only one interpretation. I was so pissed. My new friends were a little shocked at how pissed I was. I was a little shocked. I don't usually let that kind of thing get to me.

I went home to crawl back into bed with hubby, but of course there was a huge accident on the road and it took forever. I got home in a foul mood with a piercing headache, wrote an angry email to my prof, did a little homework, and watched some more of "Angels in America". Then I had to drive back up to school for small group discussion time.

During our session I was just testy and annoyed with everyone. We weren't staying on topic and we weren't respecting the time restraints, so as usual, we skipped half the session. People were being really preachy. Preaching to the preachers, not even the choir.

I left the group and got a call from my mother, who said something that upset me, and I proceeded to go slightly insane. I cried and shouted and swore. Then I got back on the freeway and wouldn't you know at the exact same spot the traffic stopped dead. Then I swore a lot. And cried and screamed. And my head was pounding and I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. I mean, PMS is at least a week away.

Getting off the freeway and onto surface streets, I started thinking about the little white pills I take every morning and night. They are Paxil, for my depression. And I had taken a 1/2 dose the night before (because I am always telling myself I want to work off the pills), but then I'd forgotten to take any that morning.

Ah-hah!! This explained everything. The headache is the first effect of the meds running out of my system. The attitude followed by insanity is next. I was so relieved. I had simply forgotten to take the medicine which keeps me normal.

And I knew I needed to write about it. Because it is SO important. At least I know that I have this disease and I need to take my medicine. But so many people, especially women, are just assumed to be emotional or hysterical or bad-tempered when in reality they are just depressed.

When I was diagnosed just over a year ago, it was a huge revelation. It explained so much about me. I learned that at any given time, 1 in 10 people have it; the number drops to 1 in 5 when you're only talking about women. We're talking common cold here, people. It's nothing to be ashamed about - it's a medical condition. Something in the body is not working properly, like if you had the flu, and like that situation you take your meds and it goes away. Or rather, it gets under control. It never completely goes away, which is the struggle.

It is genetic and not. It is related to life situations and not. It is chemical and not. It is a strange thing to live with. And not the kind of thing you can do much about getting over. It is a problem that requires medication sometimes, but mostly it requires you to take better care of yourself. Which is extremely hard to do with 2 jobs and full-time school.

Please, if your emotions are running wild, or if you don't want to get up in the morning, or if you are not yourself and you know it, see a doctor - a psychiatrist, not a general practitioner. They can tell you if you have this way-too-common condition and they can make it better.

The depression has been, in my life, not a "test of faith" or evidence that I've sinned or something stupid like that. It was, in fact, a gift from God. Without the depression last year I never would have realized that I was unhappy with my outwardly perfect life - unhappy in the sense of being unfulfilled. And that was what made me apply to seminary, which changed the course of my whole life, for the way better.

Depression is a curse and a blessing and I believe it has afflicted many a saint and prophet. It is a reaction of the body to being in a world that is not home. It is a physical manifestation of our longing for wholeness. It is more evidence of our need for God.

And it is just a medical thing that medicine fixes. Thank God for Paxil, and Prozac, and all the other wonderful drugs that he has helped humankind come up with. Thank you for the salvation from the darkness. For saving me from the pit. For turning my mourning into dancing. Weeping may last for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Or after taking your meds.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Things to be checked out by you, the faithful Feminarian

My church is on the verge of splitting, or so the mainstream press would have us believe. In truth, the commission handed down a really quite fair and appropriate recommendation to the Anglican Communion. Even as a supporter of the move to make Robinson a bishop, I feel that their beef with us is justified. America needs to watch its unilateral tendencies. Anyway, it's interesting how the press is reporting this document different ways. Conservative people seem to think that they got the short end of the stick, whereas mainstream press seems to think it was the liberals who were taken to task. I suppose that means it's probably well-balanced, like a fine wine or my seminary.

If you haven't read Ron Suskind's article on Bush's Faith-based presidency yet (NYT magazine) go there right now and read it, you bad person.

Speaking of, an interesting dude has come to my attention, who has written a book about the whole Bush religious rhetoric phenomenon. His name is David Domke and his website is http://www.com.washington.edu/god_willing/

Turns out he is speaking in LA on Monday (25) at the University of Southern California. Seeing as how he asked me to, I have now officially plugged him. I look forward to meeting you there David...but you won't know who I am. Mwah ha ha ha!!

What else do I recommend right now? Watched some good stuff lately. Here's a random list:
Iron Jawed Angels (the HBO movie - annoying filmmaking but great story)
Mean Girls (yes I am serious)
Angels in America (notice the HBO theme)
Lost (the TV show)

That's all for now folks. Please for the love of God I hope you are planning to vote. You only are excused if you are not a citizen of this country (and even then you should be working on becoming one). Anyway, vote your hopes, not your fears, as a good bumper sticker tells us. And remember that God is not a republican (or a democrat) as my own car's butt will tell you.

OK, laundry beckons. The Feminarian's work is never done.

It's a complicated case, Maude, lotta ins, lotta outs

Hello, I haven't written in a while. Things have been busy. New shit's come to light, man. Here's a spot of news: my dad flunked out of seminary! Talk about your trippy discoveries. Yes, Hebrew did him in at (famous) Texas seminary and he had to finish his degree at (less famous) Texas seminary. Um...oops.

Geez, I'm such a bad girl, I totally want to lord it over him. IF I don't flunk Hebrew too.

Anyway I rocked my mid-term so thank you for the prayers, good wishes, donations to Ganesha, whatever. I don't think it was very hard but please don't tell my professor. Besides, verbage is currently kicking my ass.

Note how I say currently kicking. Because I just finished my workbook exercises and summarily forgot to use the "continuous aspect" in all my translations. That means I said "I say" instead of "I am saying". But the latter just sounds weird! Ah, such are the travails of one learning Greek from William Mounce (his text, not him personally - although he seems like a quirky guy - on the cdrom that came with my book he actually sings little songs to help remember the vocab).

So these are the new shits that are currently basking in my light. I will now make a new post of some cool things that you should check out.

Peace love harmony and veggies.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Thank you!!

I just looked at my own blog (something I don't know if I'm supposed to be doing more often) and noticed that I'm getting comments. Really NICE comments from feminarians across the country! WOW. That is just awesome. I am humbled and blessed by your comments. Please keep writing to me. The encouragement helps so much.

And those of you who pray, I have a mid-term on Monday *sound of nails being bitten*!

Peace, blessings, and love,
The Baby Feminist Seminarian

Give it up for the guys

I have to say I've been remiss in not mentioning the men I'm coming into contact with here at school. For the most part, they are really great guys. They laugh good-naturedly about the school's requirement that we always translate and write in gender-inclusive language, but they take it seriously. They listen and I haven't yet felt like they disrespect my opinions.

Of course, I haven't yet gotten into a theology class, where women have traditionally been viewed as incapable or at least unworthy of leadership. In Greek, they have to listen to me, because I'm kicking all their butts in learning the language. So's my friend Jo, the cool girl from New York who came into the class after it had begun but is totally keeping up with the current.

It's going back to the comment I made about how female seminarians tend to be really smart women. They have to be! And not just because there is an unspoken fear about women not being good enough to be church leaders; I also believe we have a strong desire to best the boys.

Maybe it comes from being part of a generation that grew up watching women fight big battles for freedom and leadership. Just in my life I've gone from a church that wouldn't let a woman be an usher to now being at one where a woman is essentially CEO. And so we have learned from our spiritual mothers that we are not just required to be as good as the men, but better than.

But I think it's also that the Lion has roared within us (to paraphrase a title of a favorite book about mysticism). It's the uniquely female contribution to theology, which involves harder work, greater ambition, more sensitivity, more tolerance. And a deeper sense of God within. A literally physical sensation of God within. God entered the world through a woman in the first place, and somehow perhaps we are linked to Mary as conduits of his presence in the world.

In the end, perhaps, it's not that we want or need to be better (although men need to recognize us so we can contribute). Perhaps it is that we are just different. We have something new to bring to theology. We are finely attuned to God's mother nature; we are aware of our own nature as child-bearers and by extension God-bearers to the earth.

At any rate, thanks be to God for male feminarians!

Thursday, October 07, 2004

I Art Loosed!

The Feminarian is delighted to get props from one of her favorite blogs, The Revealer.

Read The Revealer. Sign up for their daily email. And I don't just say this because they say nice things about me....it's a serious and important voice calling for better religion coverage in the press.


Feminarians Unite!

I'm just so Norma Rae lately.

Had a GREAT small group yesterday. Wow. I don't usually like it when people attribute coincidences in their lives to God's hand (I mean, does the Almighty Eternal one really care enough to make these things happen?), but I have to admit that the synchronicity of the group is amazing. We have three former film industry people and two psych people (which isn't too far off from the skills used in filmmaking and criticism). We have a great diversity of belief. I totally freaked them out by talking about the "yoga ministry" at my church. That was pretty funny.

There is an awesome Sister in the group. I call her that because she is just one of those amazing African-American women who is full of God's spirit. She comes from a family that is almost entirely pastors and missionaries (including her sister and mother). We got to talking about the Spirit running in families. Did I ever mention that my cousin, who really has no religious identity, has somehow always felt a "call" to be a pastor? Ah, the force runs strongly in our family.

Anyway, she and I had a long talk about war and peace, the church and society, women's roles, and more. Wow! How totally lucky am I that I get to spend my days discussing these things. Seminary is really worth the money, just to get to have this opportunity.

There is something happening among the women of the Church. Every one that I have met at Fuller is strong, opinionated, brilliant, studious, and very much called. And we are fortunate to not be fighting the fight to just be heard (our sisters 30 or so years ago did that), but to lead.

What can the female worldview bring to the church? What are the maternal instincts that the patriarchy has been missing out on for 2000 years? How do we get back to respecting women like Jesus did: who kept company with women like Mary and Martha, who marched up and demanded to know why he let their brother die when women weren't even supposed to talk to men in public! Jesus liked fiesty women. The Samaratan cynic at the well. The woman of ill repute who broke the perfume jar over his feet in the middle of a dinner party. The women who were the only ones (save John) who had the stomach to watch him die. The first people who saw his empty tomb.

Probably a lot of this respect was learned from his mother, who in her magnificat called for a world of peace and justice that is radically different from what we know now.

Women have so much to offer the church. I only pray the church is ready. Because even if they are not, God's doing something with us. He's never been one to wait for "global approval".

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Give 'em hell!

I got on my teacher's case today because he always lectures to us straight from the book. We hit a section of three complicated things, and he told us to read it on our own and figure it out when the need arose. I can see how he wouldn't want to confuse people who are lost further. But I read the book beforehand, like we're supposed to, and in class I wanted my questions answered, not the book just read to me over again. And if you must read the book to us, at LEAST read through and explain the hard stuff!

I don't mind him going over the chapters - it actually helps to cement what I've read. But it does get tedious. And when I think about $3000 tuition plus a couple hundred on books (one of which was $100 by itself) versus taking the bookwriter's online class which is probably not as much, I wonder why I'm doing it here. I mean, I can and do read the book to myself. I want class time to be time for deeper explanation and going over things that aren't clear just from the reading.

After our break, he actually said I was right in front of everyone and answered my question. Score one for me! I really sympathize with his plight - there are probably people in the class at all different levels and it's hard to figure out the balance of what group to teach to. But at the same time, I want to get my money's worth from the class. So I pushed a little. Maybe that makes me a nag, but I prefer to think of myself as a responsible consumer.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Did I mention that I've already had the Gay Talk with someone? I thought it went pretty well but my husband said I was weak. Well I wasn't trying to argue to win, my main purpose is usually just to get people to even consider the possibility that there may be christian people out there who are gay, and people who are not but who support them in their faith AND orientation. The one bummer is that I let them bringup the argument that gay people are like disabled people: that is, they are "not perfect" just like a handicapped person. Not God's original blueprint, but that doesn't mean theyare necessarily sinning. They arejust doing the best they can with what they've got in this fallen world. This argument is only slightly less offensive than "it's part of the sin nature that we all struggle with". No, it may be worse. Basically it is saying that gay people are made wrong. That it's like something that is wrong with you. And justice will never come until people start accepting that nothing is wrong, nothing falls short of the good, it's just different. And I am ashamed I didn't think to say that just then. Although I could not have convinced him. That last bit takes a loooong time to accept and a lot of good evidence, mostly in the form of personally knowing good christian gay people.

On a happy note, I met another strong democrat in Greek today. Also a libertarian. This guy takes offense that the government asks people to wear seatbelts. Yikes.