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

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Rage

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.

“BLUE LIGHT SPECIAL ON AISLE THREE! DIET BODY OF CHRIST, TWO FOR ONE!”

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

Just this.

XeIkh2g

 

It’s been a few weeks of manic crazy over here, and I think I’ve gone through the full range of human emotions at least three times. (I may also be binge-watching The Killing on Netflix).

That aside, there are some big moves in real life happening and while all positive, they’ve inspired a bit of a rethinking about what I’m doing here and why I do it.

The blog as it is will be taking a tiny rest, I’m sure to return in some form, but I gotsta get my good ole fashioned think on.

***

The Art of the Everyday – April 14: Inspiration.

Ugly, Stinky Llama Face

All too often, we become things we don’t want to be.

Unwittingly, to some extent, we are drug into a job, a living situation, a path, that causes us to look around, bewildered, and ask: how the hell did I get here?

And while there’s power in reshaping your story – taking control – it’s often the acceptance of the odd, the crazy and the unexpected that makes a real difference in our lives.

As one of my favorite yoga teachers says – ‘it is a letting go.’

A letting go of what is so far beyond control, and an embrace of our true power.

Revolutionary, almost, to not expect everything from yourself, but ‘do what you can, where you are, with what you have.’

This freedom let’s us shape our lives slowly, gently, in ways that can actually be sustained. Building love, for ourselves or others, is not a one-off, quick fix deal.

It is a daily task, sometimes joyful and sometimes not.

Finding our love will involve big, massive, adventuresome days where we do things we never imagined. It will also involve slow nights drinking a beer, looking at the fire and listening to the radio.

Large or small days all go toward finding the understanding and acceptance of our lives. Letting joy in, finding new, amazing ways of being.

Even if we’re still llamas.

***

The Art of the Everyday – March 12: Silver screen, Take a quote from your favorite movie — there’s the title of your post. Now, write!

Missing

My childhood friend is missing.

Depending on what you read, or who you ask, he somehow “wandered” away after he hit a guardrail, into the woods near the crash.

It’s just such a strange, upsetting, bizarre situation and I am on the mere fringes of it.

For Kyle’s family, his close friends, and our community back home, I can’t imagine how scary it all feels. And especially now that police are no longer searching themselves.

Whatever his reasons for walking away, or whatever eventuality actually occurred, it is the not knowing, the void, the absolute open-ended nature of it that persists.

Early on in elementary school, I was, shall we say, strong-willed. As such, I played rough and made friends with mostly boys. Kyle told me I could never be tough enough to win a fight…I subsequently made him bleed with my fingernails.

Needless to say, I earned his respect that day and I got to play with the boys after that. 

We’ve lost touch since I moved away post-GHS, but some of my best, most fun childhood memories have KP in them.

I don’t even care what happened, really, I just want his family to be able to hold him again, to laugh with him, and to find their way back to each other.

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***

The Art of the Everyday – March 2: Uncategorized, these ones always end up being about trauma. If you’re in the Gresham/Portland area, a Facebook page has been started for the search and for sharing stories and photos.

Uncategorized

There’s a theme emerging in my writing. One I definitely did not see coming. Although, I should have.

When I started this project, I assumed that it would be an exercise in concise writing, reflection and motivation for new activities. As I reviewed the blog up to this point (this is POST 100!) I noticed that all my “uncategorized” posts are about trauma.

About the pain that can’t neatly fit into the boxes I laid out for myself. Of unexpectedly pushing beyond where I thought I could go or would go.

All my posts outside the bounds fall into the blog-default of “Uncategorized.” I couldn’t think of a more appropriate title.

In my study, preoccupation, and fascination with trauma (weird, I know), one of the most common definitions is how traumatic events surpass, and at times destroy, all categories of understanding and capacity.

This does not mean those who experience trauma are not resilient. Amazingly, it is quite the opposite.

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The tendency toward exploring this realm is nothing new in my life – in fact, it’s what I want to study and eventually teach. I’m unendingly curious about how we treat each other in this life, how chance encounters and events alter us forever, and how we can heal together.

I am encouraged and emboldened by my family, partner and friends who offer companionship and truly express love, by authors long dead who remind me these are the oldest questions, and by sitting with and among fellow seekers, creators and passionate be-ers (with beers, too).

In this vein, I want to try something a bit new.

In a couple weeks, P and I will head out to the Best Coast for wedding fun, a day in Oregon, and a drive back across the grand ‘ole USA. For that time the blog will probably go a bit more silent (I hear they don’t have free wifi in the Badlands – what gives?) but then pick back up with part travel, part creative memoir/creative fiction, and perhaps even a few videos?

This form has brought me this far, but everything needs a shot of energy once in a while.

I’m still healing from a lot that’s happened this summer (excerpt from a night this week: Why are you crying to Terry Gross? I don’t know!) and reorienting myself – it feels right as we head into my favorite season of Fall to take some new risks and try out some new things.

I’m oh so glad to have you all along.

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***

Dispatch this week to Smash!

Eight Years

I forgot.

Something I never thought I would ever forget. Today, thank you NPR, is the 8-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Stepping, sight-unseen into the August heat six years ago, I had no idea what I was getting into.

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New Orleans brought heartbreak, confusion, struggle, rebirth, midnight street dancing, soul-vibrating music and the best transition into post-college adulthood I didn’t know I needed.

Moving in with three strangers to share space, food money, loosely-defined spirituality nights was about as far from the Real World as you can imagine (okay, we did shotgun some beers). Although hindsight offers rose-colored glasses, that year with those women was one of the most difficult, but most rewarding experiences of my life.

Witnessing the recovery of a city that still housed FEMA trailers on my block in 2008 profoundly altered the vision of my country – what we can, or really what we will, do for each other.

For most, it was just too difficult. Too removed. Too far from daily life to be watched closely. Such a unique and long-troubled city maybe should just be “relocated” (to use one of the nicer things I heard from people when I said where I lived).

Words said without empathy or an understanding of New Orleans as the tortured, beautiful, pulsing heart of this nation.

You can take New York, LA, San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, even my beloved Portland – no other city lays bare the strange, sad, ridiculous state of America, but parades in the face of it.

No other place have I been swung onto a dance floor by multiple strangers only to be swung off when the next Zydeco song started with a simple “Thank you, baby.”

No other place could keep me up for a 3am start time for a show after a day of Mardi Gras grilling, laughing and catching.

No other place stares real, deep, pain in the face and lets Kermit loose with jambalaya and a trumpet.

No other place embraced this lost, questioning, unmoored person; righted her, and sent her on her way – with a little lagniappe stitched forever on her soul.

Gun or Skittles

black-square

Now, I get being frustrated. I get loving your brother. I get believing in him, defending him, and truly knowing for yourself that he was correct in his actions.

But a gun and a bag of candy are not the same thing.

This morning on my drive to work, I was greeted by the harsh, saddening news of George Zimmerman’s acquittal. I’m honestly not sure how they found the jury of six women in Florida who were not influenced or had not heard of the Trayvon Martin killing.

I hope in my heart of hearts that they actually weighed the evidence in the trail and made the decision based on their honest interpretation of the facts (and FL’s effed “Stand Your Ground” law). But something tugs at my heart saying that’s not true.

As I listened to Zimmerman’s brother on NPR, he argued that Trayvon was armed because he “used the sidewalk” and that “the rage inside him was arms enough.”

I got so sad and uncomfortable that I had to take a two-second classic rock break, just to breathe. I quickly switched back to hear the end of the interview and was astounded. Robert Zimmerman, Jr. said that what was in their pockets: “a gun or a bag of skittles” did not matter.

The interviewer cut him off to transition the coverage but I could not believe what I just heard.

My dad is a black-powder gun enthusiast. He is an NRA-certified rifle instructor. I think the .22 when I first shot it was taller than me.

But I respect guns. I have a healthy fear of guns. I feel that a gun’s place is nowhere in the home, but locked nine ways from Sunday in the garage; to be used for sport shooting or responsible hunting. There is no reason for me to keep a handgun in my purse, in my bag or in my car. God knows, I’d shoot my own foot. Or worse, be involved in a gun-related accident.

Beyond what you think about gun laws, Zimmerman is playing on the all-too-common “black rage” stereotype and the notion that Trayvon inherently would have killed someone – anyone – that he encountered.

This blatant racism negates what he earlier states: that civil rights advocates used this case inappropriately and that Zimmerman was improperly profiled by the media. Well, sir, you might be right but…pot, kettle, you get it.

Living in a 98% white state after the urban centers of the Bay Area, New Orleans and Boston, I hear a lot more of this bullshit than I care to reflect on. However, I do know how long-term and intentional my own internal anti-racism work is, and that this is not easy for anyone.

I hope that this ruling doesn’t cause people to turn away, or write off what happened to Trayvon. I hope that we instead take it as hard-won inspiration to examine how we view and treat others; how we interpret each other’s actions, cultures, races and ethnicities; and how we can work productively together to make us all truly safer.