On Anti-Muslim Sentiment in the United States

In the following, we at Women In Theology offer a statement of solidarity with all victims of Islamophobia.  We encourage you to “sign” this letter by re-posting it in full on your blogs, facebook pages, and other social media platforms.

We, as Christian theologians in the public sphere, stand together in solidarity with Muslims in the United States in support of all Muslim citizens and residents of the United States.   We do so not despite our deep Christian faith, but precisely because of it.

Recent statements in the wake of the horrific actions of violence in Paris and San Bernardino have once again raised the threshold of acceptable actions in this country.  We reject and abhor any and all statements or actions that respond to these acts of violence with indiscriminate fear, suspicion, and hatred against our Muslim sisters and brothers.

We unequivocally oppose all acts of violence against Muslim places of worship.  We oppose all acts of violence–verbal, physical, or otherwise– against Muslims. We oppose all acts of violence against people perceived to be Muslim.  We oppose all attempts to establish any sort of religious test for citizenship or immigration status.  We oppose all attempts to deny the fact that Muslims have been present in the Americas since the 16th century, living as enslaved people, soldiers, politicians, leaders, sports heroes, rockstars, and faithful citizens.

As December is a time of holy preparation for Christ Who Redeems not through violence or fear, but through love, sacrifice, and hope, we call upon all Christians to be mindful of your neighbor in a special way this season.  Affirm your Muslim neighbors, who live in fear of the hateful stranger in a way we can never know.  Affirm and support those who have accepted Syrian refugees, even against the wishes of state authorities.  Affirm and support those who offer mercy, love, and support for those who flee persecution around the world.

Source: On Anti-Muslim Sentiment in the United States

Good pace

Today was the first legitimate day of spring. No tights, no boots, no coat.

I’m back in Boston, as I am every week now. Trudging toward finals, and grumbling at the undergrads who I haven’t seen all year who are basking their (overwhelming majority) translucent legs on the quad. Topsiders, coral shorts and all.

Two years ago I was staring out my window at melting snow, vacillating between driving immediately to Copley or encouraging my friends to get up north. As the days, the lockdowns, the uncertainty drug on, I felt like a piece of me was getting torn apart.

From where we sit now, we still don’t have answers. We may have a conviction, but we don’t have understanding.

I want you to know that tonight my voice is still sore from shouting for four hours at mile 23:

“you got this” and “you can do it” and

“we believe in you” and “bring it home” and “keep going,”

and I want you to know that that is exactly what I plan to keep saying, over and over again, to this weary, hurting city. [more]

We’re struggling to find out who we are – an admittedly unique question so often robbed from victims in this age of secretive terrorism prosecution, relocation of trials, and, in fact, a choice taken away from almost every victim/survivor. The right to decide what to do with such harm. With actions that defy our very orientation in the world.

Just before the bombing I left my job in victim rights to move to the woods. To explore and understand myself, my vocation, my love, my future.

The violence that ripped through the city made me question everything. Now, I find myself in a unique, somewhat double life – half rural, half urban; half academic, half professional; half Boston, half Maine.

Yet each time I crest over 93, get that view of the city, I remember I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I hear my wise friend’s words:

My friends and I cheered for thousands yesterday at Mile 23. Then some really horrifying shit happened. It doesn’t change what we said yesterday—


“Don’t Give Up!”

“We believe in you!”

“Good pace!”

Je Suis Viola

As a teenager I thought I was born in the wrong time. Reading Howard Zinn I became obsessed with the activism I saw reverberating through history, especially in 1960s America. Yet from my perch in suburban Oregon I wasn’t sure there was any way I would ever be a part of something so important.

Throughout college I struggled to put my feet behind my emerging beliefs – beliefs I at times could not articulate but knew were the same type of earth-shattering, world-moving efforts. I wanted justice. I wanted peace. But, as we all know, the early to mid 2000s did not make the change I sought.

I marched with thousands against Iraq, joined with hundreds of laborers on May Day, eventually even found myself living in Louisiana marching with Jesse Jackson and meeting with Ambassador Andrew Young.

I even had a t-shirt that (no joke) stated: “This is what an activist looks like.”

But in the past few years, somewhere, I lost that activist spirit.

Throughout the mucky, difficult waters of accompaniment, solidarity became a warped concept. Ego-driven leadership, questionable methods, and haphazard organization were rampant.

Blame it on grad school, getting older, burn out, living in the woods, discouragement – whatever it is, or a combination of everything, my feet are now largely off the front lines.

Yes, I still write, think, value, and promote the central tenets of what drove my activism in the first place. But I’m not out there. I’m not singing in city halls or making witty march placards.

In the wake of Ferguson, Trayvon, Cleveland, New York, Boston, the Paris massacres, and ISIS beheadings, I am anxious.

I cry. I lament. But this is not action. It is groping in the dark for some small shard of hope.

Yesterday, I saw Selma and learned of Viola Liuzzo. Although a small part of this film, I saw a woman I could be – a courage that a large part of me still desires.

When asked, she showed up. And was killed for taking part.

Although not perfect, the film depicts ordinary citizens, who fought long before Martin showed up, and had the fortitude to stand behind him when he called. Viola is shown doing small things, handing out sandwiches, offering greetings, a simple smile.

She displays the type of quiet, humble action I find most important – service that relinquishes undeserved societal power and provides what is most needed: support, resources, and any advantage her fate of birth may be able to provide to those so long denied their rights.

Last week’s Charlie Hebdo killings inspired a saying that has layered meanings. Rather than simply “I am” or a sense of standing with, the phrase can be interpreted as: “Follow until you become.

While I do not want to wade into the waters of debate around Charlie‘s choices of publication material, this concept resonates deeply.

Show up. Pass out sandwiches. Smile.

I’m going to try.

Je suis Viola.


Squirrels are performing acts of high-wire gluttony outside my window.

Rushing across power lines toward the gigantic oak; knocking down the nuts it has worked so long to grow, rushing across the grass with cheeks blown out.

A thicket pushes against my desk view to the world and trembles with sparrows.

Their smudged bodies cock heads this way and that, tuning in for better reception. They settle on my sill, chattering. When they catch my eye they fly away as if I am about to breach the glass between us.

Cooky greats me at the train, counting the hour, minute and second it arrives; scratching the record on a wad of wrinkled paper as I wonder where he files his data of ten years of trains.

And then I’m on another couch.

At another bar.

Welcomed with love, with grace, with obligation, into homes, businesses, libraries.

Finding my place of settling in a space not my own.

Stretching these new morning kinks, carrying the ‘important’ things on my back.

Tumbleweeds of dried hydrangea heads, browned from the cold, bounce across the frost-hardened ground. The sparrows greet me on the path to my door.

They burst from the hedge, flying as a group – in fear, in search, in everything.

Brunswick, ME

Brunswick, ME

Other People’s Couches

I was inspired today by Grace. That is her entire presence of being, this good soul. And in that spirit I am asking myself to follow through.  To just do, instead of question. That was how I found myself here in the first place. So forgive this jilting re-entry, but here we go:

2014 was rocky. Full of missteps, new adventures, questions, and not too little confusion.

But there is one thing that shines through the slog: the generosity and great heartedness of my community. And their couches. Literally.

Beginning my PhD was tough, not in the least because my home is in Maine, and my school in Boston. So each week I asked for hospitality. For people to take this jumbled mess of books and stress into their homes. And they said yes.

Yes to my banter about Aquinas or Derrida or the twists and turns of the academy. Yes to a disruption in their week, their evening, their routine. Yes to random calls, texts, meet ups, beers and conversations.

What I love about new years is the excuse to give myself a new slate, a new start. The marker may be arbitrary but the outcome can be glorious. So here, amidst a new beginning I want to begin with gratitude, and offer a litany of my saints over the past year:

Bonnie, Smashley, Allison, Pegasi, Eric, Lindsey, KMHC, Kee, Aly, Courtney, Al and Pat, Donna, Megan, Rooster, Lauren, Tony and Sarah, Dave, Blake, Shawn, Em and Kati, Matthew, Remy, Hans, Sarah and Chuck, Tuesday, Jedi, Tim and Annie, John, “Other” Megan, Pete, Newman House, Eden, Craig, the Broadwillies, Mom and Dad, DJ, Melody, Kim, Dan, Banker Jim, Meredith, The Carter Clan, Sara and David, Kay, Sophito, Cooky, Wyatt, Catherine, Spud, and everyone else I have forgotten.

Thank you for everything. For the hugs, the dinners, the music, the laughter, the honesty, the joy, the pho, the drinks, and, of course, the couches.

Alright, 2015. Let’s go.

Starting a PhD Program: Or, Why I Can’t Stop Crying

Life is oh so big, awe-full and awful, but remains so, so small.

The angled, late morning sunlight hits one small square on the wooden floor. It slowly extends its reach with dappled warmth.

A miniature naval ship sits above a working fireplace; evidence strewn in ashes on the otherwise immaculate wood floor. There are paintings of ships everywhere.

You would’ve been 30.

And I’m on another new adventure. One that right now makes me feel small, inconsequential, struggling. One where I would love to hear you say: it’s not everything. Let’s get a drink.

I feel so much pressure, and I hope, I know, you are exquisitely free.

The crutch of self-doubt is one I know you would kick out from under my shoulder, and tell me to be big – but also remember that I am small.

That small is precious and good and kind and beautiful. That big is laughter and love and amazing and mystery.

That somehow, somewhere, sometime I might find myself.

Through the sea of words, and jargon, and ego, and fight.

But the not knowing is scary.

The risk feels perilous, the task daunting.

The tug, the pull, the questions remain.

A portly, formally attired man gazes out of his oil portrait, immense gilded frame and all, looking somewhat compassionate.

Perhaps he loves these boat paintings, or perhaps I just need the things in my world today to speak to me of love.


Flagstaff Lake, ME

I held this piece for a while. A piece of my new home, a piece of Kristin, a piece of Marie Howe. Love more, y’all.

One More Time With Feeling

Oh. Hey. Well. This is awkward.

I haven’t seen you around.

Yea I know I didn’t answer your call. Or your text. Or your email. Since April. I mean, I thought about it? Does that count?

I’m here now?

Lovers, bloggers, countrypeople. I’m back. [maybe, not really, I hope so, DON’T PRESSURE ME]

The mania of being up against mid-terms in my first semester of my PhD is the perfect time to get back on the blog train, right? Right?

Well, you can’t stop me.

Or take my mid-day gin drink from me. (I don’t want to hear your comments, or I am going to call you and read Aquinas at you. In Latin. Note: I don’t speak Latin. Then you can cast aspersions upon my chosen drinking times).

Also, I’m thinking about getting a cat and a dog. To be friends. And make millions off of Instagram fame (seriously do y’all follow Tuna? Or Yogurt? This is my retirement plan).

Wait. Back. Back on track! So, as you may have noticed I did a big overhaul; catalogued all Manresa posts with the ManresaMaine tag – and we’re going to start fresh(ish). In this fun format you can click on those fun black boxes in the upper left and right corners to see navigation options around the site.

The last six months has been constant change: we moved to southern coastal Maine (Brunswick), P got a new job, we moved apartments in the same town, we went to Oregon, I started my PhD, and now commute down to Boston a couple times a week.

All of this is a tad crazy-making and I miss writing silliness as my outlet from christology (which, P still thinks is the new-age study of crystals and their mystical power).

So, as my new bestie Andre would say (we hung out in a rooftop bar in STL after my godmothers’ gay barn wedding, obvs): So fresh. So fresh and so clean, clean.

Here we go!

Just sharing some gin and midnight thoughts.

Just sharing some gin and midnight thoughts.


Today has told me I am lesser than.

That I am, as a 29-year-old woman, unable to make my own decisions about my faith, my health, or my individual conscience.

That rather than work toward a depth of understanding about my deepest self, I must remain subject to others’ whims. My hard-fought realizations, decisions, needs and desires are invalid and will not be supported.

With rage and a depth of utter sadness I barely recognized, I stared at my laptop, thinking if I just read more, the words would somehow change.

That the pain and struggle and ongoing work I live within, in this body, would be honored – not so easily dismissed.

Regardless if driven by greed or ardent belief (and I’d hedge my bets on the side of avarice), I found instead that I am to bow in the most intimate of ways to my corporate overlords.

“Well, don’t work for Hobby Lobby.”

Well, now the precedent for any of my employers is that they are allowed, even encouraged, to offend and encroach both my female body and my chosen religion.

My employer, a ‘person’ as determined by this court, is empowered to force ‘their’ beliefs on me – that a purely capitalist enterprise, built to remove any responsibility from individuals, is taking on the mantle of salvific Christianity.

I’d be surprised if they even know the word Eucharist, let alone practice it.


I did not choose to be born a woman.

I did not choose to live in debilitating pain every 28 days for 15 years until I found what is now listed, in the highest court of my country, as “abortion.”

I did not choose this battle, I thought won by my mother.

But I do choose to stand.

To stand again, and again, and yet again, with those who feel this pain in ways I will never and can never know.

To be galvanized.

To rage.

To say: Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.


Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

~ Maya Angelou, 1978

patriarchy hammer

Not Doing What You Love

I am not doing what I love.

I don’t really know what that means. I have many loves.

The most, the ultimate, the WHAT I AM MEANT TO DO (kanyecaps for epicness) still evades me.

Or at least, the feeling of fulfillment does. Reading an NYT op-ed today really got me thinking – not that just not knowing is acceptable, but that doing things we do not love is really important.

Now I’m not talking self-flagellation for flagellation’s sake, but rather work that emanates from necessity, from duty, from responsibility.

Slinging lattes and raising money for syringa vulgaris is certainly not anything I ever pictured myself doing at 29. However,

“Our desires should not be the ultimate arbiters of vocation. Sometimes we should do what we hate, or what most needs doing, and do it as best we can.” (not that an espresso is what most needs doing…)

Even as I move toward beginning my PhD this fall, I am dogged by a sense of questioning – of academic self indulgence, of vocational self indulgence (read: privilege), of public service, of duty.

A re-run of TAL this week also piqued this part of my soul. In Act III, a woman who has adopted Paris as her home speaks about the completely refreshing way of life in France. That even as a corporate lawyer her work hours are expected to form a part of life, not its entirety.

That seeking pleasure through life – food, wine, loved ones – slows the pace to one where one can appreciate it, and find fulfillment through those outlets. (that’s just so, so French).

And perhaps that’s the ultimate question: how does one balance society’s needs with our talents, our duties and our desires?

lilacs and compost


May 19, 2014: Hiatus Break. I’m still grappling around what I’m doing here on the blog, but I will say this month has been bonkers. I think I’m going to start posting more when something hits me (hopefully not literally) and I have the time. Who knows – best laid plans right?