Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Exciting Canadian Politics!

DP and I went to get our residency permits renewed today--the current ones expire at the end of December, so we thought we'd be ahead of the game and have plenty of time, just in case we didn't have the right paperwork or something, right? Nope. We were told to come back when it was closer to the expiration date, that they couldn't issue them yet. For once I thought I was ahead of the game, and I really wasn't, after all. The worst of it is that I was nervous about it all day, couldn't focus very well on anything (I had office hours today), and then--pfffft! It all goes flat, like my souffles. Ah, well, at least we know we have all the right paperwork--the clerk did check it over for us, while we were there!

The government was dissolved yesterday. I'm trying to get used to the idea of a government that doesn't exist, but continues to function... Although you'd think I would be, actually, having lived in Washington Dee Cee for many years--after all, the government functions between elections. On the other hand, there's always some carryover from one sitting of Congress to the next, and of course the Pres is the Pres until the new one is inaugurated. Anyway, here in Canada (where our South is North of the USA's North--aka Quit whining, North Dakota, eh?), we have no Parliament now. We do have a governor general, our provincial governments, and many many many civil servants ("and the civil servants you shall have always with you"), some of whom are close personal friends. No word yet on when the elections will be, but no one is keen on a campaign in the holidays. I saw my first campaign sign today though! And for the candidate I would support if I could vote!

Anyway, the significance of the new government to me and mine is that if the Conservatives take over, they will probably try to revoke the bill legalizing same-sex marriage. Or at least suspend same-sex marriages while they thrash it out in the courts. They'll have a hard time repealing it, because the bill was based on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and they would have to invoke the Notwithstanding Clause--which says that even though civil rights would be violated, a greater cause calls for those civil rights to be violated... It's never been invoked, for obvious reasons, and I don't honestly think they would get much support for it. Minorities of all kinds supported Bill C-38 (the same-sex marriage), because they recognized that depriving ANY minority of their civil rights threatens ALL minority groups (whether based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion, etc.). But nonetheless, it's exciting times here in Canada, if you're a political junkie like I am!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

When Biblical Literalists Don't Read the Bible Literally...

Read a great article in the December Vanity Fair magazine on the religious not-so-right's attitude towards the end-times and Israel and the role they (the RnsR) think Jews and Israel and Palestine will play in Armageddon. (I tried to find it online, but the link on VF's page is broken. VF's website is http://vanityfair.com, and the article's title is American Rapture; perhaps the link will be fixed in the next day or so)

I was thinking about that article as I read the lectionary scripture for today from Matthew. It clearly says, "no one knows the hour (of Christ's return), not the angels in heaven, not the Human One, but only God knows." So how do these supposed Bible literalists justify their predictions and parallels? I'm thinking especially of the Left Behind series. I'm not a literalist, but they claim to be--LaHaye and Falwell and Robertson et al.--so how do they explain their predictions in light of this verse from Matthew?

That was my sermon today--that no one knows the day or hour or how, when, why or where, and that God is very likely to sneak in through the back door, as subtly as the birth of a child to an unknown mother in a stable...

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Friendships and connections

We've been hearing from good friends in the last couple of days, and it is so good! One is a mentor/friend of ours, the kind of friend you feel so comfortable with, her house feels like your house. Very special, that sort of friend--they do not come along often!
And then one is a dear friend from seminary--we were in a Systematic Theology study group together, and if you haven't experienced it, let me tell you it is an intense personal experience! Choose your study group partners carefully, because you will get to know them on an intimate level. My friend and I stayed close even after I graduated, and then he graduated a year later and moved to the West Coast. We don't talk as often as we used to, but when we do, the connection is still there.
Then there's a friend from high school that I reconnected with late last year. He's doing well, and happy. We have to plan our phone calls because we will talk for hours if we aren't careful. We are re-making the connection we had once.
And finally, last night I was at a community meeting, and I realized that although I've been here only a year, I have friends here, real friends. What a marvelous feeling!
So I am wallowing in friendship feelings today--come on in, the water's great!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Monday morning musings

I've started reading The Bone People, and it is as good as I remember! I had forgotten the style--sort of stream of consciousness, but not exactly. And there's only one main male character, not two. But yes, very good. I am finding myself wishing I had a tower like Keriwen's with a spiral staircase in the middle and stained glass in the living room.

I'm feeling frustrated again at not being able to get ahead, to work on the sermon more. I feel that if I could get started on the sermon ten days ahead, then I could polish it more and clean it up. Yesterday I found myself (again) preaching the sermon and thinking halfway through, "Wait. that doesn't exactly follow," and "But if that's right, then this other must follow from it, and I don't think that's right." I can sometimes manage to get ahead for a week or even two, but then everything falls apart and I'm back to writing the sermon the week before the Sunday it's for.

TO is getting involved in student government at his high school. I'm very glad. He's been working with the cross country team as a manager, but of course that season is over now! I'm very glas to see him engaged with something that will serve him well for a long time--as XC will also!

The infamous Fred Phelps showed up at University of Michigan to protest the production of The Laramie Project. However, 400 supporters of the production also showed up. Apparently the police did their job well and kept the groups apart; there weren't any confrontations between the two groups. From what I've read, Phelps' group is mostly made up of his family, anyway. The struggle continues.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Books, books, and more books!

Just returned from a great book-reading at the University. The book is "Pink Blood: Homophobic Violence in Canada," by Douglas Victor Janoff. He looks at violent acts committed against GLBT people in Canada from (I think) 1990 to 2003. Very interesting conclusions.

There were more violent acts reported to the community centre in Toronto, for example, than were reported to police--some of that is because the incident may not have reached a point the police could legally call a crime, but a lot of the difference is because people did not report it, feeling that the police would not take them seriously and/or they would be harassed by the police as well. Some victims did not see the attack on them as homophobic. Many of the defendants (when the perpetrator[s] were found/arrested) pleaded "homosexual panic."Gay men were more likely to be attacked than women and almost all the attackers were men.

Often the attitudes towards the victim mirrored the attitudes towards female rape victims--"he asked for it, inviting someone he barely knew back to his house," or "if he weren't so swishy, no one would bother him." (which parallels "she shouldn't dress so sexily") and so on.

Also, in the cases of homicide, there was a high degree of "overkill;" the use of more than one method (knife and strangulation, for example) or many stab wounds, many more than would simply kill someone. And most of these cases the police tried to pass off as "robbery gone wrong!"

It reinforces a theory I came across early in my studies of gay theory, and that is that the root of homophobia is really misogyny. After all, what is it that many straight men think of gay men? That they are acting like women (either behaviorally or sexually), as if that were the worst thing to be in the world. Homophobia comes into play against lesbians because they don't need men in their lives, not even for sex (which is not to say that lesbians don't like men--I have a son I love very much, as does DP and many of our friends; and we have male friends who are GBT and straight; but we can get along without them). Therefore, they have to be "punished" because every "real" woman wants a man, and every "real" man has a woman at his beck and call.

Blaugh!!

Anyway, I'm now figuring ways I can save my ducats and buy the book. Like most university press books (it's published by the University of Toronto Press), it's pricey, at $32.50. However, I can probably scrape it together one way or another--I do have a wedding next week!

And on a slightly different note, with the reading I've been doing in women's issues and women's spirituality, I was reminded of another book (now there's a surprise!), "The Bone People," by Keri Hulme. It's very difficult to describe, but it's set in New Zealand, on one of the smaller islands, and concerns a woman, a couple of men, and a young boy whom the woman is trying to help. As I recall it, all the adults are alcoholic, and there are some very deep issues going on. I remember it as emotionally difficult to read but ultimately rewarding. So I picked it up from the library this morning--we'll see how it matches my memory!

I also picked up one of the books from my list: Alice Miller's "For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Childrearing and the Roots of Violence." It's something I'm interested in, since spanking was a bone of contention between me and my ex-husband. I grew up with very little spanking, and raised our son with the idea that you spanked very rarely--only in cases of danger to himself or others. My ex-husband felt otherwise, even though he had hated the physical punishment he had received as a kid. He thought it was a way to get the kid's attention. My feeling was that it just taught him that you can enforce your will with violence and greater strength--an especially dangerous concept for women who are around men who believe that. So I want to see what Miller is saying about the whole thing.

Well, I guess I'll be staying out of trouble for a few days--lots of reading to do!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Reading and Books

Bad blogger! Bad! Way too long since I've posted.

I finished reading Sue Monk Kidd's "Dance of the Dissident Daughter" Saturday. I loved it! Kidd does a wonderful job of showing you her journey, in lyrical prose, without sounding either whiny or overly mystical. She leads you with her on her journey, showing you very clearly how she came to believe what she believes, simply and undogmatically--and without insisting that you have to believe, too. Kidd was a "good" Baptist wife and mother, who came to realize that there was a wound in all women. She began to explore what that meant, especially spiritually, because she was a writer of "inspirational" literature. She started to really see how established Christianity has ignored and marginalized the feminine, making Mary, for example, a meek and mild passive figure, the good mother and no more. And she explores what it means to women to be told--not in so many words, but by church policies, dogma, and theology--that women do not measure up, can never measure up, and had better not try. She sees it in so many things--the churches that don't ordain women, of course, but in our God-language, in our images of God, in how we relate to God, what women do in church (very similar to what is expected of them at home, as it turns out). And as she journeys along, she uses Jungian psychology and the power of myth to help her elucidate what it is she is feeling. Kidd doesn't ignore the impact of her journey on her family, either--on her husband, for example, who was also freed, as she was freed--he left the chaplaincy and began a career in counseling.

Reading "Dissident Daughter" has inspired me to begin reading "Women Who Run with the Wolves," by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I had tried it at one point, and never got beyond the second or third chapter. Apparently I wasn't ready for it, because now I'm just gulping it down! One thing I appreciate about Estes--she doesn't assume heterosexuality! It's a small point, but just as women have felt marginalized when all the pronouns are "he," "his," and "him," so too have I (and my GLBT brothers and sisters) felt marginalized when the assumption is that you are in an opposite-sex relationship. "When, as a woman, you begin a journey like this, you hope your husband will follow you." Assuming you are interested in men, that you are married to one and that you are a woman married to a man...

I've gone through Estes' bibliography and pulled out a few books I want to read. Some of them I don't expect to agree with, others I've meant to read and I hope this will give me the push I need to actually read them! I'm hoping to do this systematically (hah!)...

Allen, Paula Gunn. The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions.

Anzaldua, Gloria, and Cherrie Moraga, eds. This Bridge Called My Back.

De Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex.

Bolen, Jean Shinoda. Goddesses in Everywoman.

Chicago, Judy. The Dinner Party.

Christ, Carol. Diving Deep and Surfacing: Women Writers in Spiritual Quest.

Craighead, Meinrad. The Mother’s Songs: Images of God the Mother.

Curb, Rosemary, and Nancy Manahan, eds. Lesbian Nuns.

Daly, Mary. Gyn/ecology.

Doniger, Wendy. Women, Androgynes, and Other Mythical Beasts.

Eisler, Riane. The Chalice and the Blade.

Erdrich, Louise. Love Medicine.

Foucalt, Michel. Madness and Civilization.

____________, History of Sexuality.

Fox, Matthew. Original Blessing.

Goldberg, Natalie. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within.

Heilbrun, Carolyn G. Writing a Woman’s Life.

Iglehart, Hallie. Womanspirit: A Guide to Women’s Wisdom.

Kolbenschlag, Madonna. Kiss Sleeping Beauty Goodbye: Breaking the Spell of Feminine Myths and Models.

Lorde, Audre. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches.

Mead, Margaret. Blackberry Winter.

Miller, Alice. For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Childrearing and the Roots of Violence.

_________, The Drama of the Gifted Child.

Orbach, Susie. Fat is a Feminist Issue.

Rich, Adrienne. Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution.

Shange, Ntozake. For colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf: a choreopoem.

Sheey, Gail. Passages.

Stone, Merlin. When God Was a Woman.

Walker, Barbara. The Woman’s Encyclopaedia of Myths and Secrets.

_____________, The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects.

Now I'm off to the local library's website to check the catalog for any of these.

When I ran the spellcheck on this post, the suggestion for replacing the unfamiliar (to the dictionary) "Everywoman" was "Everyman." However, for "womanspirit" the suggestion was "emancipate!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Joshua and what's important

Another Saturday--and I'm enjoying having the free time! My Saturdays, not surprisingly, are freer than my Sundays. Tomorrow is my last free Sunday for a while--meetings and bingo will take them up from now to Christmas, literally! And I am very tired after a service--a friend says it's from the work of channeling the Holy Spirit. And one of my mentors told me not to plan much for Sundays after service--"maybe a meeting, or a meet and greet, but don't try to have people over or go out to a big party, or go do all you hospital visits." And she was right!

Sometimes I think life is all about priorities--deciding what is important and focusing on that. What's most important to you? Then take care of that. What is next most important? Take care of that after you've taken care of the first one. If you run out of time or energy, then the things lower down the list don't happen. If they're things that need to happen, then you need to look at what's higher on the list and see what can be put to a lower place. There's a balance between taking care of yourself and doing what needs to be done in terms of daily living. It can be very easy to go too far one way or another. I've been there! The result is depression and exhaustion, even from taking too much care of yourself!

That's my sermon this week--what's important in your life? Really important? Not necessarily your work, although a lot of people really find fulfillment there; not only your family or your partner or your hobbies or your favorite TV show or your friends. What is it that matters most to you? I'm not talking about The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People or putting the big rocks in the jar first and fitting the smaller rocks around them--well, maybe the latter, a little bit. But what I'm trying to say in my sermon is that if we know what is important, really important, to us, then we can put the other stuff to one side, and focus on what is central to our lives. We can get rid of the clutter that takes up so much time and energy and psychological space. Joshua asked the Hebrews who they would worship. He was asking them, "what is important to you? What has just happened to you? You were brought out of Egypt, out of slavery. That would be pretty important. And who did that for you? God. Well, is God the most important thing in your life?"

Enough for today--I have a headache and sermon to finish!