Wednesday, January 29, 2014

It Was Worth It, Right?

This is the first time I'm sharing an audio version of a poem. I think speaking it is indispensable to conveying the full meaning, so if you'd like, click play and give it a listen. Transcript provided below. 

video

You're trying to bait her into sharing her deepest truth
But she's a privilege not a right
And her secrets are not your purview.
But you're going to keep pounding away
Until you get what you want
Which is full access
And her admission that she's wrong

Now she's broken in the corner
screaming at the God you say you represent
Now she'll never speak to you or Him again

But it was worth it, right?
It was worth it to be right.
Yes, it was worth it, right?
It was worth it to be right.

You don't know him anymore
And if you tried you'd just shut the door
in his face
before he could finish his story
because if he's not a carbon copy of you he deserves slander
not glory.

Now he'd rather be alone and he won't pick up the phone
No matter what you say he's content
With the knowledge that he's innocent

But it was worth it, right?
It was worth it to be right.
Yeah, it was worth it, right?
It was worth it to be right.

You rejected me because I dared to disagree.
Because the way of Jesus is to make outcasts
out of heretics
until they come crawling back on their hands and knees.
No, the human church does that shit
God's strong enough to listen to little ones like me
and our crayon drawings of majesty.
Errant people excommunicated me in the name of that unholy trinity
of Dogma, Word, and Infallible Pastor,
And now I can't darken your door.

But it was worth it, right?
It was worth it to be right.
Sure, it was worth it, right?
It was worth it to be right.

Stand up for your convictions
Say what you believe is right
But don't you think for one minute
That fighting like the Devil
is gonna make me see the light.

You're on top of a mountain
Alone with the wind and the cold and your firm grasp on the truth
And the valley is littered with the bodies
of everyone who used to know you.
Friend, sister, brother, son, daughter
crying out for mercy and water
but it was worth it, right?
It was so worth it
to be right.
There are people in every group who idolize hate over love and vilify those who disagree with them.

What makes it so maddening when Christians do it is that they claim that God approves of their tactics.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Would You Prefer If I Left Christ?

When you tell people they have to choose between your understanding of God and their own, when you tell them that their hearts are desperately wicked but that your heart is pure enough that you've figured out what God's word clearly says, and you say those are the only options on the table, well, many people will leave Christianity. And I wonder, is that what everyone wants? For me to leave Christianity behind rather than wrestle with it in my liberal, heretical way? They'd prefer I was an atheist or agnostic than a liberal person who really believes in the Gospel, who can say the Nicene Creed without crossing her fingers behind her back, and who loves the sacramental traditions of her Anglican rite? Who wants to love God and neighbor? They'd rather I just leave?
Sorry, but Christ is not getting rid of me that easily. 

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
-The Apostle Paul



Saturday, January 18, 2014

Friday, January 17, 2014

Anglican Rosary Prayers: Thy Waves Over Me

As a devotional practice, I have begun writing or adapting prayers to use with the Anglican rosary. If you'd like to know more about how prayer beads work, one of my favorite resources is Full Circle Beads. (I am in no way affiliated with Full Circle Beads, I'm just a huge fan of their resources and the beautiful prayer beads they sell. My personal beads are pictured here). All scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version Bible, but for this set of prayers I have used the text of Jonah 2 from the King James Version, because I love the phrasing. 

The Scriptures are filled with water imagery. Water is essential to the Sacrament of baptism, through which God touches us through the material and immaterial to mark us as members of Christ's mystical body.

To quote Florence Welch, "Water is the great overwhelmer." It sustains us and cleanses us but it can also drown us, and the depths of the seas are filled with many mysteries we have yet to plumb. In this set of prayers, I've pulled together some of these Scriptures, including the one the title of this blog comes from. Underneath the great power of God's waves, Jonah learned humility and cried out to God. When I am submerged, it helps to remember that God was good and faithful to Jonah, who, like me, was prone to cowardice, brooding, and a vengeful spirit. The rain falls on the good and bad alike, and the water is for all of us.

The Cross

The earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 

The Invitatory

And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

The Cruciforms

And all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.

The Weeks (say each phrase on a different bead) 

1. I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.
2. For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.
3. Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.
4. The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.
5. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: 
6. Yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God.
7. When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.

Scriptures: Genesis 1:2, Matthew 3:16, 1 Corinthians 10:2, and selections from Jonah 2:1-7


I'm An Animal Advocate, and God Cares About What I Do

As I explored and fought for the cries of my heart and championed for the causes that torched me, evangelicals cried back,

"God doesn't care about these things, or at least not as much as you."

I find the latter part of that sentence more infuriating, because I can handle someone who disagrees with me better than I can fathom how someone thinks that I care too much. As if God cares only a little bit about these things, and I need to measure out my care to more "appropriate" causes. The one most frequently cited to me as better than a career in animal welfare is orphan care. I suppose because, if I'm a woman who wants to help dependent and homeless creatures, I should be helping human ones full time and animals only a little bit or not at all.

I have a feeling if I worked a regular 9-5 as a job and devoted a lot of free time to church and the other "approved" causes, no one would blink an eye. But because I dare to say that the full-time work I do for animals is my holy vocation, I am accused of having disordered priorities.

These people have figured out that God cares a lot about certain things, and not very much or not at all about others. It's time to stop listening to people who are trying to win the world to their own miniaturized human-gospel that they created on their own fallible shoulders, a lesser gospel that insists God cares only about certain "higher" things (humans specifically, which betrays a severely egotistical myopia), and not everything that was lovingly created from the Divine Being and called good.

Which to me, is simply absurd. Especially considering that all of these issues are interconnected. We compartmentalize the work that's to be done for the cause of good in this world, missing the fact that what we do for one part of God's creation--be it humans, animals or trees--impacts the rest of that creation, often times in ways we never would have imagined.

God cares about all things, at all times, more than any human ever could. To do anything less would be to betray Divine character.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

We're All Heretics

We're all heretics. Making crayon pictures of God, which She loves, because what good parent doesn't adore the crude renderings of themselves made by the fingers of their trusting child? The lie was ever thinking any one person could be 100% orthodox. Of all the things I think God meant to give us, certainty about how right we are about the Divine Flame wasn't one of them.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Anglican Rosary Prayers: Comfort for Bruised Reeds

As a devotional practice, I have begun writing or adapting prayers to use with the Anglican rosary. If you'd like to know more about how prayer beads work, one of my favorite resources is Full Circle Beads. (I am in no way affiliated with Full Circle Beads, I'm just a huge fan of their resources and the beautiful prayer beads they sell). All scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version Bible. 

This set of prayers is for anyone who is hurting. But I did compile these scriptures specifically for those who have been wounded by the church. I had been contemplating adapting this passage from Isaiah into a prayer for a while now, and a friend who has a similar background to mine shared with me today about a great sermon she heard on this passage, which inspired me to finally finish the compilation. So many times those of us who have experienced pain at the hands of the church feel like bruised reeds, whom, like the people who have hurt us, God malevolently desires to crush. Or we feel that our abusers are correct and God agrees with them about us. But that is the furthest thing from the truth about God. May these prayers bring some modicum of comfort to those who bear in their souls gaping wounds from people and institutions who should have been safe.

Edit: Per the excellent suggestion of my freind Aletheianna, in italics I have added an alternative set of prayers that are phrased in the second person. Feel free to use whichever set is most helpful for you.

The Cross

Take my yoke upon you,
and learn from me;
for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Help me take your yoke upon me
and learn from you
for you are gentle and lowly in heart
and you will give me rest to my soul.
For your yoke is easy
and your burden is light. 

The Invitatory

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in mercy to all who call on you.

The Cruciforms

Fear not, for I have redeemed you
I have called you by name, you are mine.

Help me to fear not, because you have redeemed me,
You have called me by my name, [name], I am yours. 

The Weeks 

A bruised reed he will not break,
And a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.

This bruised reed you will not break
And this dimly burning wick you will not quench.
You will faithfully bring forth justice. 


Scriptures: Matthew 11:28-30, Psalm 86:5, Isaiah 43:1, Isaiah 42:3 

Anglican Rosary Prayers: Psalm 27

As a devotional practice, I have begun writing or adapting prayers to use with the Anglican rosary. If you'd like to know more about how prayer beads work, one of my favorite resources is Full Circle Beads. (I am in no way affiliated with Full Circle Beads, I'm just a huge fan of their resources and the beautiful prayer beads they sell). All scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version Bible. 


This first set of prayers is simply an adaption of some of my favorite verses from Psalm 27. As someone who struggles with anxiety, Psalm 27 has long been a favorite of mine. And since I find meditating on prayer beads helps calm my anxious mind, I thought I'd combine the two.

The Cross

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after;
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.

The Invitatory

You have said, "Seek my face."
My heart says to you,
"Your face, Lord, do I seek.
Hide not your face from me."

The Cruciforms

I believe I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
yes, wait for the Lord!


The Weeks

The Lord is my light and my salvation
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life
of whom shall I be afraid?


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Heretic's Feast

Respect for the tradition that has come before me
Must mean something other than simply taking onto my plate all that was said
And feasting on it as if it the taste wasn't bitter to me.

Some of the spread on this vast table is nourishing, to be sure, 
But perhaps I can accept that with time, 
tastes change,
and that this is no sin within me, 
it simply is. 

After all, 
every sect in this vast Christendom holds some as saints that others hold as heretics.
So I doubt that anyone has the lines of orthodoxy as clearly demarcated as they imagine.

I've been told that fences* need to stay up if I don't know what they're there for,
But I've searched the ground inside and out this enclosed space, 
Tested the health of timber used,
And still don't know what this fence was intended to protect me from.
I also know it's human nature to build fences where God has planted
sunlit, flower filled meadows. 
For we are much afraid of what we don't understand
and what we can't control.



______________________________________________________________________________

*A reference to what GK Chesterton said about modern reformers wanting to tear down fences without knowing the intended purpose of the fence: "In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it." The Thing, 1929. This passage was quoted to me quite a bit when I was researching Catholicism. 

Mother

All this time, I loved a book, and having all the answers, more than I loved God.

So God took away the Book, took away the answers, took away institutions who said they had all the answers,

And gave me only Herself, with all Her mystery and uncertainty
beauty and nourishment.

And in clinging to that divine breast, She gave me back everything else I ever loved.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Don't You Ever Lie to Me Again

You are culpable for the words you speak.
Even if you don't know the words are a lie.
Even if you're just being a parrot.
Even if you think I shouldn't take your words so seriously.

It's your responsibility to know the veracity of what you're saying. 

And of course I'm going to take you seriously, you've been telling me this whole time that you have the infallible truth sorted out, you have the mystery of God written down to a science of certitude. You have maps and charts laying out the path, you have a perfect compass.

Of course I was going to take you seriously. 

Until every brick in the wall crumbled, because I met other people.

People who weren't incarnate straw men fallacies,
People spouting complicated ideas, not platitudes.
People living complicated lives.

Flesh and blood beings who are bearing the image of God as perfectly and imperfectly as
YOU. 

You can backtrack now and say you didn't mean any of it as a gross generalization, but you didn't just paint with a broad brush:
You painted with the wrong colors.
Painting people who dared to disagree with you or live differently than you as caricatures, and yourself as the manifestation of truth.
(And we both know there's only one Body whose ever been that).

I don't trust one word that comes from your mouth.
If you ever try to lie to me again
I will bring down the full fury of whips against the table of a merchant
selling atonement
for the one-time low price
of everything I have
while his fingers are crossed behind his back. 



But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.
And the tongue is a flame of fire.
It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

-St. James



This Passage Means A Lot When You're Working Long Hours Against A Tide of Death


Also, this is the first passage from Paul I've been able to read without looking back on the way people used to twist these words. Instead I was able to look forward, to new and better readings. 

"Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we not lose heart...For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show the the surpassing power belongs to God, and not to us.   We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death it as work in us, but life in you." 
-Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 4, verses 1, 6-12

Saturday, January 4, 2014

What Do You Think About Ambition and Contentment?

I've been trying to write something deep and thoughtful about ambition and contentment,
ambition versus contentment,
ambition in spite of contentment,
ambition or contentment,
ambition wedded to contentment.

These two pieces have come across my screen several times recently, and I'd love your feedback: What do you think of them? What is ambition to you? Is it a word brimming with promise? Is it an evil word  of selfishness stripped of all good intent?  Is it what fuels you? Is what eludes you?

What about contentment? Is it possible? Is it like death to you? Is it a word brimming with rest and nourishment? Is it what fuels you? Is it what eludes you?

There are so many stories out there that people like to tell about each of these words. What are yours?

The first piece is an artist's rendering of a commencement address given by Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson: http://zenpencils.com/comic/128-bill-watterson-a-cartoonists-advice/

The second piece is a satirical article by The Onion: http://www.theonion.com/articles/unambitious-loser-with-happy-fulfilling-life-still,33233/

Friday, January 3, 2014

Lying for the Truth

A lesbian poet’s words once saved my life,

and since then

I’ve had trouble saying it’s wrong to be gay.

Women blessing the Eucharist fed my soul

and since then

I’ve had trouble saying it’s wrong to be a woman ordained to serve the Holy Bread. 

The beauty of their lives touched me, torched me,

And I don’t want to be against reason,

but doctrinal purity,

an inability to admit the sacred text and its tradition could be limited by culture, era, its own human authors,

seems an excuse to never apologize, to never admit wrong. 

To stand for orthodoxy while everyone around you dies in the Inquisition

seems the opposite of love.

You demand compliance for your shouted dogma

Shun anyone who disagrees and delight that you’ve consigned them to hell.

This is hatred. This is loving your neighbor as your enemy.

It seems in other ideologies, the trappings of culture can be shed for truth. Not so with Christianity. It seems entrenched. And anything limited by culture becomes limited by doctrine and can never be rescinded. 

Or, if we do, we rewrite our history. 

And in doing so we lie. 

I'd rather be an honest heretic
than a lying believer. 

source


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Guilty Girl




Take away my ability to trust myself
my instincts, ambitions, feelings.
Because they're desperately wicked
since they come from my heart.

Take away my worthiness
Take away love, hope, comfort, safety, security
For I deserve none of it
I deserve only to suffer
Being so hopelessly guilty.
(Anything good is a crumb from the table)

Take away my mind
Take away the red lights warning me
to get out of here
Because a woman's intuition is more easily deceived.

Tell me everything about me
Is not as it should be.

Replace me with dogma
A clear understanding of a holy book
Replace me with platitudes about how everyone is wrong
and hanging just above hell.
Replace me with the smug superiority
that I've got God figured out.

Replace me with political beliefs
pulled straight from the mouth of God.
Replace me with a replica
of the good girl I ought to be.
Replace me with a confused girl
Who thinks that an abusive boy
Is all that she deserves.

Take His Holy Wrath
Take eternal punishment
Take His angry Hands
that we are hopelessly in

and put them in the place
you think
I go
for saying that all you ever said about God
was a lie.