Jesus’ #transfiguration motto for today
May thanks to my AMAZING sister who wrote this essay in response to my questions!!!!
What is your favorite series to read? How does it relate to your real life experience? Does it help to inform who you are/want to be?
Well any week that you ask me this I’m likely to have a different answer, but right now I’d say I’m really fond of the quartets that Tamora Pierce has written. There’s a lot in there about strength in yourself and through friends, and showing strength in different ways. Alanna is fiery and forward, Keladry is more reserved and protective. Daine is compassionate and driven, Aly is resourceful and wily. But in the end, they each have some strength that pushes them forward and towards great heights. I identify with each of these women, in part for their strength and in part for how hard they fight. I’ve faced my own challenges, and I have learned to never stop and don’t accept defeat.
What can I say, my sister has great taste in books..what is interesting about all of Pierce is that all of her characters “Come Out” Alanna as a girl (can’t imagine how my sister relates), Daine as a wild Mage and Aly as a spy…Their coming out is natural, it is a growing into themselves and their strength, and what I appreciate about my sister’s answer’s is that its these gifts and strengths that are highlighted, the fact that they are women to look up to….that and HOPE and PERSEVERANCE which are traits that I find to be essential and what should be what we love about the Bible as much as fantasy and PS is why I read fantasy….
As Joss Whedon notes, this shouldn’t be noteworthy (Query: why do you write strong heroines? Whedon: because you keep asking me that), but it is! (PS Favorite book is a totally cheating question, one I can never answer, can I pick a favorite star in the sky?)
The story God gives us is that we are both female and male in God’s image. Do you experience yourself as being in God’s image? (I like to think that transsexual’s have a more (w)holistic sense of what God’s image is)
So there’s this weird conflict here where, on the one hand, God must be both genders- and some representations of the Holy Ghost/Spirit interpret that as female. But I can’t view God that way- because there’s distinctly more than two genders. If the purpose of the question is to establish that God shares their gender with everyone, I think of it like this. Jesus was pretty clearly male- to the best of our knowledge, he’s the son and had no issues with his body in that way. (Which is an entirely different conversation one could have, but that’s not the point here.) So if the physical manifestation was male, then to me the logical next step is that the part we cannot grasp or understand is, as the physical manifestation’s natural opposite, female and comfortable with that. Well then, what is God, both? No. God can’t be both. God must be all. Male, Female, Trans* Genderqueer, Genderfluid, Bi-Gender, Agender, Third Gender (I can’t possibly list all of them…) They must be all of them and thensome. Part of what makes me uncomfortable in most churches is the interpretation of God as Father, Christ as Son and ignore the Holy Spirit completely. What, you mean it should all be male? God and Christ don’t understand women, and have nothing to share with them? Because sometimes that’s what it feels like. And the more a church focuses on Christ as son and redeemer, the less attached I feel to the words they’re speaking, because they’re only speaking from one viewpoint and ignoring the rest.
I will try not to rant here, but there are all kinds of mistranslations of the Bible that slant God towards masculine, when God isn’t. The word for Holy Spirit (Ruach) in Hebrew is a feminine word. The word Almighty in Hebrew means the God of many mounds (i.e. BREASTS to feed all of her children) etc. etc. This is a problem most females have with Christianity, that my sister has a VERY perceptive and unique focus on. God MUST BE ALL (which I bolded above), God is all, and its too much for us to understand so we compartmentalize so our little brains can handle it, but really, God must be all! PS I have always been a Kinsey 1-6 scale advocate, where completely straight is 0, completely bi is 6 and most people are 1-5…not a gendering issue, but still brings in the issues of God, Sexuality, Gender and Sex. Hey if we can’t talk about our embodied experience, why the heck are we even worrying about religion, am i right?
My son drew God, because he wanted to know what God looked like, he said that God is both a boy and a girl and not a boy in a girl and….”I think God is very big, because God takes care of everybody, and I think God is a rainbow, because God likes all colors. See these dots? These are all the people, they are all different kinds too…” ..and a child shall lead them, anyone, anyone?
How important was naming yourself as female? How did the naming effect the embodiment? Or how did the embodiment effect the naming? Was there an order to it, or did all come together?
Okay, there’s a lot of questions to this question and I just have to address them one at a time.
Hehehehe, I told my sister I wrote only 4 questions, but of course I cheated, layering question upon question, luckily my sister is brilliant (really brilliant she is the smartest one by far in my family) and she was able to pull apart my meaning…good thing she has practice, being related to me and all.
Naming myself as female changed my whole world. It was about comfort and knowledge as much as anything else. I collect stories, including those I experience, and there was always something wrong with the story of me as a male. It would be like reading Harry Potter but instead of the proper ending Voldemort kills all the muggles and takes over the world. It’s still a pretty good story, but it’s not right. It’s not the way that the story should go, and we know that somewhere in us. In a similar way, being male wasn’t ruining my life. It just wasn’t right, and somewhere within me knew that. So the naming and identifying put me back to the right story, and changed…well, everything to some extent. As for the naming/embodiment dynamic, I’d say it was (and still is) a pretty consistent back and forth. I’d look at my past- realize that I’d been skipping around in skirts at age 8 and pinning down my arm movements since age 10- and see how I’d been living it my whole life. Then I’d start doing something and the driving feeling would be “screw it, I feel like doing x-y-z because that’s what my gender says is comfortable, so I will.” In the past, I was still learning what made me comfortable and my physical actions in the past helped guide that. As I look more toward the future, and being a woman is an unshakeable part of my identity, I’d say the balance is more towards the naming- I chose this title and this gender and this life (well, I chose to act on it, anyway) So I might as well embrace the parts of it I like.
YAY! I love how the “naming” piece of my sister’s identity has brought her more into SELF….I can’t add to this
What questions and wonderings do you have about God or the human existence that are informed by your being/experience/embodiment on earth?
I have a very important, unanswerable question that involves only one word. Why? Why put people through rigors and trials? Why challenge people in ways that they sometimes cannot handle, or cannot handle at the time? Why love, why hate, why trust, why lie? In short, my question out of all of my gender and sexuality struggles, out of dysphoria, out of watching my friends and my family is the most basic and most complex question of all. Why do it? Why was I born into the wrong body? What did I need to learn or understand? What did I gain? What did I lose? Was it worth the cost? I have no answers. I’m left with just the resounding question, sounding a bit like a petulant five year old. Why?
Shepherd: What are we up to, sweetheart?
River: Fixing your Bible.
Shepherd: I, um.. what?
River: Bible’s broken. Contradictions, false logistics.. doesn’t make sense.
Shepherd: No, no, you can’t..
River: So we’ll integrate non-progressional evolution theory with God’s creation of Eden. Eleven inherent metaphoric parallels
already there. Eleven, important number, prime number. One goes into the house of eleven eleven times but always comes out one.
River: Noah’s Ark is a problem.
River: We’ll have to call it “early quantum state phenomenon”. Only way to fit 5,000 species of mammal on the same boat.
Shepherd: Give me that. River, you don’t… fix the Bible.
River: It’s broken! It doesn’t make sense.
Shepherd: It’s not about making sense, it’s about believing in something and letting that belief be real enough to change your life.
It’s about faith. You don’t fix faith, River, it fixes you.
See we are related! We love tough questions….My sister has a great quest ahead of her. Of course, I don’t have an answer…its just too good a question.
Here’s what I think, I know its not all bubbles and sunshine (though I wish that were the case–to see a bubbles and sunshine version of events read here). But I am honored to witness to it, I hope that I am deepened by it, and I am SO proud of her! I think she is an amazing, strong, brave and resilient person who NEVER GIVES UP already, and she’s 10 years younger than me. I can’t wait to see what she does next!
Read the Other Queer Synchoblog Posts!
Queering Our Reading of the Bible by Dwight Welch
Queer Creation in art: Who says God didn’t create Adam and Steve? by Kittrdge Cherry
Of The Creation of Identity (Also the Creation of Religion) by Colin & Terri
God, the Garden, & Gays: Homosexuality in Genesis by Brian G. Murphy, for Queer Theology
Created Queerly–Living My Truth by Casey O’Leary
Creating Theology by Fr. Shannon Kearns
Initiation by Blessed Harlot
B’reishit: The Divine Act of Self-Creation by Emily Aviva Kapor
Queer Creation: Queering the Image of God by Alan Hooker
Queer Creation by Ric Stott
Eunuch-Inclusive Esther–Queer Theology 101 by Peterson Toscano
Valley of Dry Bones by Jane Brazelle
Queer Creation: Queer Angel by Tony Street
The Great Welcoming by Anna Spencer
Queer Creation by Billy Flood
The Mystery of an Outlandishly Queer Creation by Susan Cottrell
We’ve Been Here All Along by Brian Gerald Murphy
God Hirself: A Theology by T. Thorn Coyle
The Objectification of God by Marg Herder
Coming Out As Embodiments of God Herself by Virginia Ramey Mollenkott
An Interview by Katy
On Creation and Belonging by Andrew Watson
Creation by Liam Haakon Smith
Practically Creating Practical Queer Theology by Talia Johnson
Inspired Possibility: Opening the Gift of the Queer Soul by Keisha McKenzie
Oh What A Difference A Pope Makes! by Hilary Howes
I’m Really Angry by John Smid
Focus on the (Chosen) Family by Brian Cubbage
The Goddex by Thorin Sorensen
Good Examples of Embodied Spirituality tend to be as follows
and Mr. Rogers (because he’s the Presbyterian Superhero of faith 🙂
Here is the Spiritual but not religious issue in sum:
Christianity–more and more abstracted and spiritualized religion, emphasizing the moral lessons of the Bible, essentializing Jesus as love and pursuing faith. Like good Augustine-type-people we have more and more distanced ourselves from the body, turning communion into a remembering of Christ. Barb Hedges-Goettl concludes that we have moved away from the reality of the broken, embodied Divinity present in Jesus Christ. A particular example of this can be found in how communion is celebrated (more about this below/in the thesis)
Hence Christianity is about being “spiritual” and has almost nothing to do with our bodies
If anything we should deny our bodily needs, giving quick and easy solutions to issues of 1. addiction: denial, proof that worldly wants are addictive and evil 2. homosexuality: denial its just a bodily impulse and the body is evil 3. Health Issues: If you are truly pure your body will be healed, otherwise better luck in heaven. These are broad generalizations, but you get the idea.
Hence we have an entire generation of the spiritual not religious, because if Jesus is only love, and we should deny the body, why do we need to gather and/or embody Christ through the church? The church doesn’t embody Christ, in fact, it doesn’t even consider embodiment important, so bodies are–literally–gone from the church. Spiritual but not religious people can do all that from home. So that’s it, they’ll be Spiritual, they don’t need to be religious.
If what we eat, how we care for our bodies, where we are present and how we are active are spiritual activities, then spirituality very quickly turns religious….
Barb Hedges-Goettl suggests to us that a vital piece is missing, and that is the living body of Christ. My question is : If we say Christ’s body is both present in communion and embodied by the church, what does this do to our faith: God is NOT JUST present when we see love, God is calling us to presently embody love as a corporate (ie enfleshed/embodied/living-flesh-corpse) of Christ that is out in the community….I find this especially interesting in a digital world, where embodiment is finding new expression–and yet still nothing beats a face to face meeting (you can’t hug on skype)
“In my dissertation I wrote that faith is about meeting God and God acting upon us. God is the life-changing agent/subject, not the object of belief. The living resurrected Christ changes us; he is not just an example to emulate or the purveyor of an ethic or value”–Barb Hedges-Goettl
Dr. Barb Hedges-Goettl ‘s thesis is : The Body is Missing: Eucharistic Theology of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in Conversation with Zwingli, Calvin, and Nevin” (10107), has been submitted to Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in preparation for posting on ProQuest)
PS Shepherd is the best fictional clergy, EVER
(in other words, what’s with your obsession with females with swords..oh wait it might not be an obsession…it might just be awesome writing!)
I always thought that about shepherd, plus do you notice how often tv ministers are women (very rare). Love this list…didn’t include Father Ted though 😉
Too often, clergy in fictional media are portrayed as either demonic, judgmental hypocrites or sincere, mostly nice, but still basically useless. Hardly ever are we played as real, full human beings in our own right, complete with hopes and flaws. Here are a few that shatter such misconceptions:
Book: River, you don’t fix the Bible.
River: It’s broken. It doesn’t make sense.
Book: It’s not about making sense. It’s about believing in something, and letting that belief be real enough to change your life. It’s about faith. You don’t fix faith, River. It fixes you.
Not technically a member of the clergy, but I included him anyway because Eli’s acupuncturist doubles as his spiritual advisor.
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