Category Archives: Divinity Dispatches

Finishings and Endings.., and Beginnings

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This past month, I have been finishing a lot of things: I finished my classes at school; I finished the class that I taught this semester. I finished another year of life (that counts!) And I switched out my summer and winter clothes (that counts, too!) And these past two weeks I have been riding a rolling avalanche of endings. I ended three years of seminary last week. Two days ago, I preached my final sermon for the congregation where I have been serving as Intern Minister; that service will end soon too. Earlier today, I finished an online class that I have been taking. Last weekend, I bid farewell, to my parents who relocated to another part of the country.

So much ending. So much loss.

But amid these endings, and in truth—because of them, there are also new beginnings. My parents are embarking on a new leg of their journey together. I am a Master of Divinity (yes, I know that’s not how you actually say it, but it’s more fun this way). And next month, I will probably don religious vestments for the first time as we honor and celebrate my own minister—who is ending a 20-year ministry with my congregation.

Amidst so much loss, there are also new beginnings. I have been returning again and again to this mediation by Nancy Shaffer

On Leaving Home

Leaving, I have wanted also
A going toward: something that
catches me on the other side.
Wanted not just leaving but
arriving.

So I have been grieving.

I form relationships with things:
the height of doorways, plum-colored
wool at the edge of a weaving,
the way shadows fall at night
and still I can see. I am anchored
by the physical: muse for what is within.
Move as I move, because of such holding.

It is not enough to say, Well,
I am going toward God.

There must be particulars—
a bright blue cloth besides a window
beside acacia; loved arms
of the human sort; deep wells of knowing,
only guessed at before.

Silly of Me: Deniece Williams, Indecent Theology, and Sexual Power

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I heard a song on the radio today that I haven’t heard in a long time, so I sat myself down and listened to the whole thing – even though I thought I was in a hurry: Deniece Williams, Silly. That piercingly high song reminds me of summer when I was a kid. The song was released in 1981, so I was probably listening to it on the radio.  I was young, so I don’t know what I thought of the lyrics back then. But since I spent the whole day reading Marcella Althaus-Reid’s Indecent Theology, it certainly resonated.

Williams is lamenting her attachment to a lover who is not really hers:

Silly of me to think that I, could ever really have you for my guy.

But it’s the third verse that really reminded me of Althaus-Reid:

Silly of me to go around and brag about the love I found
And say you’re the best, well, I can’t tell the rest

In Indecent Theology, Althaus-Reid writes about the ways that  liberation theology, while exposing relationships of power and domination, is unable, inadequate, or just plain unwilling to account for relationships of sexual power and domination that shapes the lives of poor women.

I imagine those women – the Argentinian lemon vendors that Althaus-Reid writes of – singing Deniece Williams.

Silly of me to brag about the love I found, and say you’re the best: to brag about this awesome new way of thinking about, talking about, and doing religion that recognizes the parts of my life – colonialism and economic exploitation – that have gone unrecognized.

When I can’t tell the rest: but, I can’t talk about how liberation theology still relies on and reinforces a patriarchal and heterosexist sexual narrative that leaves me holding the short end of the stick. Or more plainly, leaves me in the closet or under the thumb of an abusive husband or father.

I’ve been really drawn to liberation theology for years, but now I’m kind of digging Althaus-Reid’s Indecent Theology. Speaking truth to sexual power?  Or maybe I just liked listening to Deniece Williams and being reminded of summers when I didn’t have to read and think so much.

It’s Been A Long Time

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If you’re older than 30, that probably makes you think of Eric B & Rakim:

It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you
Without a strong rhyme to step to

Well, it has been a long time. But despite my forays into hiphop karaoke (awesome!), I have not been thinking of a master plan.

Check out that tagline: on race, gender, religion, and how life is. I’ve been spending my time getting started on my new path toward UU Ministry. I got myself accepted to Meadville Lombard Theological School (with an assist from some lovely recommendations).

So, I”m officially enrolled as a full time seminary student in Meadville’s new TouchPoint program: lots of reading, intensive classes three times a year, local & online connections, and an emphasis on praxis, Hardly any time at all for blogging. And, ever industrious, I’ll just have to try out all my book learning and fancy new theological ideas here.

This summer, I’m taking Art & Aesthetics and Liberal Theology. In preparation, I spent much of the weekend tracking down my reading material and investigating travel and lodging for the summer session which starts on June 1. Now it’s time to get cracking.