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Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you w

Updated: 2014-09-30T23:59:00.181-07:00


The End.


Feminary hasn't been updated in a very long time, but I felt I should give a final send-off so that the last post on here is an official farewell and close to the blog.

This was a wonderful outlet for me during my seminary years (and a little bit beyond), and I see it as an archive of that experience, but something that is far more an artifact now than a representation of where I am heading or who I am today.

Please enjoy the blog as an example of one person's journey as a female encountering the Evangelical seminary world. I continue to read the comments and I love to hear from people who are still finding the blog.

Feminary was my place to vent and to rejoice over what I encountered as a seminarian, intern, very brief PhD student, and new mom. It was also a record of a person who felt called to full-time ministry and was pursuing that aim. While I still feel that is my true calling, it has become clear that the path is blocked and is not what I will be doing with my life, at least for the foreseeable future, or as long as I stubbornly remain Episcopalian, anyway. is time to move on. Become someone else (which I have already done). I am more focused these days on my writing projects, including writing liturgical pieces for the clayfire project (check it out!) and working on articles - maybe even a book - about the spirituality of food & eating. Hopefully my poor neglected foodievangelist blog will be a place where I can hash out those ideas, so feel free to check in over there in the near future.

I'm sure I won't be out of the blogsophere forever. It's been good to me and I think I fit well here. I certainly have enjoyed meeting friends through this medium. And it's not like I lack for things to talk about. Ever. Now finding the time to sit at the computer, that's another story...

So anyway, wish me luck & send up prayers as I continue on in this crazy call to parent now TWO children, and continue writing stuff that hopefully will help people connect to God in their worship, and try to find a market for the food & Christianity ideas I have, and even teach a little for Fuller now & then (I've really come full circle there - and will admit I'm flabberghasted that they let me actually instruct others!).

It's been fun. I promise, this time, this is really the last post. Bye!

Preacher Mama


Well last night was extremely interesting. And so Feminary. I was assigned to preach 5 mins at our worship service we're helping run at Church of our Savior, and then lead a discussion after, St. Gregory's style. I wrote what I thought was a very nice little sermon (I'll paste it below). But I guess I was thinking too much of my writing or preaching abilities, or something, because Somebody decided to take me down a few pegs. Well not really God, actually - my daughter. I was not two seconds into the thing when she decided to have a major meltdown of Biblical proportions. She'd never done this during a service before. J tried to remove her from the room, but she was screaming so loudly that everyone could still hear her a block away. I realized I was losing them fast, and I also couldn't keep it together (I was alternating between frantically trying to think of how to rescue my sermon and wanting to crack up at how ridiculous she was being - I did actually snort once, I believe).Anyway, round about paragraph four, when I was about to start quoting Jesus re: little children (what a fortuitous choice of text!), I said, "Excuse me" and I walked out of the church and went and got Maggie, brought her back in, and finished the sermon holding her in my arms. That was that. And of course she totally behaved (except when she tried to grab the candle behind me at one point but several kind congregants yelled out before she got it).It was totally not what I was hoping for, for my big return to preaching. But I guess it didn't bother anybody, from the comments I got afterwards. And although my perfectionist nature was disturbed, J said he almost could have thought it was all planned, that Maggie was my dramatic illustration of the text.When I got to the end, about how crazy trusting you have to be as a child - how you have to completely throw yourself on the mercy of those around you - having a sniffling, but now content, baby in my arms was the perfect picture. I could not have planned that better.So hats off to the kiddo. Guess she & God had that planned better than I did.Anyway, here is what I intended to preach. I got through about 2/3 of it, skipping a lot of the middle section (the depressing stuff anyway, ha ha), and focusing on the bits about being like a child. Enjoy. Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age--houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions--and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” [Mark 10:29-31, NRSV] Leave your house, your family, your fields, for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, and you will receive it back – a hundredfold – now in this age. Leaving your family meant losing your place in society, your inheritance, and really, your identity. Identity, in the first century, was not about your job, or where you lived or where you were from. It was based on whose child you were. Giving up family meant giving up your self. Leaving house and fields means giving up your place in the world and your means to make a living. When Jesus suggests leaving family, house, and fields for his sake, he is saying you’ll lose your identity, your livelihood, your security, your home – all the things that make you who you are (or so you think). This scene follows several gospel texts with a similar theme: “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.” “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the[...]

Why I Don't Pray (Killing the Buddha)


This puts into words how I've been feeling for a good long while.

Why I Don't Pray from Killing the Buddha

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The System Will See You Now


It’s practically a cliché by now: I’m over-educated and under-employed. Now for me, it’s pretty much by choice: I recently had my first child and I want to stay home to care for her. My husband, however, is also highly educated, and he does want to work. But in the current economy, that’s not happening, so we find ourselves in an interesting situation. We have, between us, three master’s degrees and a doctorate (almost). We both come from low-income families; my husband, the one who’s almost a PhD, was only the second in his family to go to college. We are the American Dream. But we also, to our great surprise, find ourselves navigating the world of Social Services (detrimentally known as welfare). The worst part of this scenario is that we aren’t stupid. We can’t just accept what we’re told. We are, in fact, so smart that we see how incredibly ridiculous this entire system really is. We see the waste, the holes, the fraud, and the punishment doled out not to those who won’t help themselves, but to those who, like us, are trying to maintain responsibility, respectability, and honesty. We tried to be responsible. Knowing the layoff was coming, we saved like never before. Although hubby had the best paying job of his life, we continued living in a 400-sq-foot apartment and spending frugally so that we would have savings to get through what we assumed would be about six months of unemployment. That has now turned into a year, a month, and counting. Because our unemployment income was too low to qualify for the state’s Healthy Families program, I applied for no-cost Medi-Cal to cover my daughter (age 1). But I was told by a social worker: “It’s a waste of time for you to apply right now because of your savings. Go spend it down, then come back and see us.” Yes, I was told, go waste whatever security you have in your bank account, so that you can get your one-year-old some health insurance. We had too much money in our savings account to qualify for Medi-Cal, even though our income fit the guidelines. And we had too little income to qualify for Healthy Families, which will not count the savings as an asset. This is a black hole to which we will return. What nobody told us is that if you plan ahead and try to be responsible, it comes back to bite you. In the world of welfare, you’re not expected to have had any foresight – nor any discipline around money – and therefore having savings immediately disqualifies you from most programs. I can see how if, say, you were a trust fund baby with no job, trying to get Medi-Cal, this could be abused – but honestly, has that ever happened? Instead, we lived off our savings, and we could not apply for insurance for our daughter until every last cent of it was gone. I then had the distinct lack of pleasure to spend several mornings at the Department of Social Services office. This is, surely, one of the circles of hell, filled with a completely confused clientele growing more agitated by the minute, and well-meaning but ultimately clueless employees. Once a manager came out and made the following announcement: “We do not make the decisions about your services. The System makes the decisions. We only enter your information. The computer makes the decisions. We only submit what you give us to the System.” Big Brother, anyone? Half the time I couldn’t get questions answered because, really, the employees only know how to put the numbers into “the System”, which then spits out a “yes” or a “no”. They couldn’t even tell me the income ranges for which my child might qualify for health insurance. It’s all in a mysterious computer somewhere. A computer my intelligent brain would seriously like to hack. [I did eventually find the numbers online, but it was not easy – and the social worker was not gonna give them up.] After spending way too many hours of my life in this soul-sucking place, I eventually learned that [...]

I'm published!


What started as an inquiry into this blog led to my contribution of a couple entries and now I am really pleased to say I am a published author, a contributor to the collection Jesus Girls: Growing Up Female and Evangelical, edited by Hannah Notess, out now from Wipf & Stock. (I'm still thinking it's a mistake but I guess when I see my name in the book I'll have to recant)

Thank you to everyone who's kept reading over the years. It's given me the confidence to try for such crazy things. Who knows....maybe more to come...?

Down to business, a few relevant links: press release and purchase info

Please spread the word!

Is it just the greener grass?


Hey there.I won't ever retire this blog completely because I need a place to write some thoughts sometimes. At least most of the readers are probably long gone, so I can regain that sense of anonymity that I once had. Well, except for my big 'ol picture over there.So here's what's weird: I actually miss several things about living up north. Most of all, and I really didn't expect this, I miss our church. And totally shockingly, J does too. He of the nonstop critique. He of the rant all the way home every week. He of the "I don't feel welcome here b/c I'm not liberal enough." Yes. Him. He actually wishes we were still going to St. Gregory's. And so do I.I guess it's like you spend a year at this place that's so experimental and while there are flaws and annoyances, at least it's very alive and pretty much everybody's really happy to be there and enthusiastic to participate. And then you come back to these churches that are...well, there is no other word for it: they are boring. I mean, I didn't think they were, until I got sucked into St. G's culture. Now I can't deal with mumbled half-hearted liturgical prayers, or priests who are practically yawning while breaking the bread, or parishioners with eyes glazed over. My butt hurts when I'm in church here. There's far too much sitting. I miss dancing. Hell, I miss just standing up. And I mean, you do stand, in our services, in the regular TEC services...but still, not enough. And there's no color, and no costumes, and no life. I mean, there's life. Sure, I never would have gotten into it if there weren't. But even though St. G's drove me up the wall in so many ways, I was also drawn so strongly into the style and the culture that now I feel like a fish out of water. I can't abide "normal" church. Not any kind, not Evangelical or Episcopalian. I've tried regular ol' prayer book services, super high-church anglo-catholic liturgy, and alternative pseudo-Evvie church (i.e. one guy singing/talking for the vast majority of the time while our butts get sore). None of it is fitting anymore.Man, I almost feel like I did when I was ready to abandon the church altogether, right before we transitioned into TEC. So much of loving your church, it turns out, isn't about the liturgy and the worship at all (despite my best efforts to nail down the magic that makes it work). It's the people. Of course. It's all about the freaking people.And I loved my people up north. I didn't realize it until now. I was so anxious to get back home to LA that I didn't notice a new home was taking up residence in my heart. But it's not just them, either; it's also the people who made the church down here my home. So many of them are gone, moved on, retiring, or just too busy. It's not the same place anymore. Not much has changed on the outside (actually that's not true - a new building project has completely changed the outside, but I mean the worship), but the soul has shifted somehow.And it's not just going to church. It's the Food Pantry. I miss it like there's a hole in my gut. That was really my church, you know. When the Sunday folks drove me nuts I knew I had a congregation to go to on Friday that would embrace me. And vice versa. It's just depressing to work at the food distribution here. It's so paltry, and so disorganized. Yeah, it's probably a lot like the FP was when it started. But I'm not Sara Miles, and I don't think I have the heart, conviction, or frankly time (her baby was a lot older than mine when she started) to make the lightning strike down here. It was such a grounding thing for me, such an incredible high (I realize that's a weird paradoxical observation). Plus I really miss the food, in all honesty. I miss being fed - in all ways - by that place.And I had veteran mama mentors up there. Down here, my friends are all figuring it out with me or I'm the supposed vet. I mean, there's one great friend who's got a two year old, but even that, it's too close[...]

Help for Hector?


Feminary's coming out of retirement for this story: I've been following it for some time via my CDSP list-servs. Basically, the custodian of the school was laid off, along with several other staff members (including the director of admissions?!), at the end of last semester. Hector was 2 years from retirement. To say he was beloved of students and alumni is a gross understatement; rarely have I seen people rally around another human being as they have for Hector - to the point where these people, most of whom are in the ministry (and therefore not rich) have offered to pay his salary to get him to retirement (an offer the school turned down in fairness to the others who were also laid off, at least as far as I understand it).

Read this article from the Oakland Tribune, and if you can help at all, please let me know and I can put you in touch with his advocates. [I'm looking at you, Fuller people! :)]

[be sure to click on the pics to see the one of him accepting his service award from the Dalai Lama]

Special Request: Healthcare Note


I know I said I was done with this blog but I posted the following note on Facebook and one commenter asked me to please post it here. I guess so it will be more widely seen or something (though I don't think this blog gets much face time anymore since it's all, you know, ended). Anyway, here's the note, enjoy - this one's for you, Matt.Listening to all the news reports on the fight over Obama's healthcare plan is making me a little crazy. I realize that the president's plan might not be perfect. But at least the man is TRYING to provide an option for those of us who have none. Maybe it's socialized - gasp! - but in this case, it's necessary and important.John pointed out the reality that when you are sick, it is like your house is on fire. There have been systems in which the fire department was privatized. When they showed up at your burning house, you had to pay them before they would put out the fire. If you didn't have the money, they'd just leave, and you had to deal with it - something way beyond your ability - on your own.This put me in mind of my recent bout of mastitis. For the first 24 hours I didn't do anything about it, because it's relatively difficult for me to figure out what to do when I have an urgent problem on the weekend when the doctors aren't working. I finally decided to visit the urgent care.After I was triaged and told to register, the receptionist was trying to look up my account (which was complicated b/c we just moved from No Cal Kaiser to So Cal Kaiser, which are not the same company). She told me that neither of my plans was effective. For a few terrifying moments, while she called member services and learned she was wrong, I actually had to consider what I was going to do if I didn't have insurance.At that moment, I was running a fever of 103.5. My breast was bright red and hot to the touch, and bleeding. I could barely stand up and had chills. I was really, really sick. My body was on fire. I needed help, and I couldn't give myself the help I needed.Mastitis is easily treated with a round of antibiotics. This medicine is entirely unaffordable without insurance (not to mention the doctor visit - and followups). But I had to stand there and ponder just going home and trying to "self-treat" a bacterial infection. Or go to the county ER and wait most of the night in pain and misery (with the baby up hours past her bedtime), after which I'd have been slapped with a bill we couldn't possibly afford right now (remember we are unemployed for nearly a year now).I started to panic as I realized I had no idea what I was going to do. At that point you have to decide if the "fire" is bad enough that you should shell out money you don't have, or not use your rent money towards putting out the fire and risk it destroying you. In my case, the mastitis would have developed into abscesses, which would have required surgery cutting into my breast tissue to remove (plus a hospital stay of several days during which I could not nurse my child). This is what I would have had to choose whether to risk - without the option of even discussing it with a doctor.Seriously people. We need a public plan. Period.It's not that scary. Everyone puts the money into the pool, and the people who are sick take out what they need. This guy on the radio just said, "Why wouldn't I choose to pay half the price for the same medicine? Because I'm using YOUR money, not mine!" Yeah, except one day, you idiot, YOU'll be the sick one who needs help! And then your attitude will change real quick.It's part of the ethos of capitalism (and somehow, sadly, American Christianity) to say that it's up to individuals to take care of themselves and their families, and government intervention somehow violates privacy. It's bullshit. We take care of each other because that is basic human decency, and it's civilized. It is not civilized to let children go hungr[...]

Be Kind, Rewind. Then Press Stop.


The last several weeks have been a blur of grandparents visiting, first birthday fun, new babies for several friends, and big surprises: primarily that, quite out of the blue, we found a house for rent, right in the middle of Fuller's housing, that costs the same as what we pay here. And it looks like it's ours.Which means: we are moving back to Pasadena, to LA, to All Saints, to our friends there, to my midwife (yay! but not pregnant - yet), and to the several schools with which John has experience teaching that are probably a lot more inclined to ask him back than the places up here he's applied to. While I've begun many relationships up here and even made a few good friends, our main support network is still down there. I mean, you can't really recreate 13 years worth of connections in 1 year.But I am really grateful for the people I met up here. The moms especially have been so fun to hang out with as we share our daughters' lives. Maggie has many fans and is the biggest fan of the big kids who hang out with us. And of course there's the food pantry, which is my church community, the people with whom I share meaningful work, and that bonds you in a way that is special. My other church community - the Sunday morning crowd - is also full of lovely people who've embraced our family, and they will be greatly missed.Up here, the job market is abysmal. Predictions indicate jobs won't return in number until 2012. John not only couldn't find teaching work, he can't find any work. At least down south we have a lot of connections in all kinds of weird places; it's quite possible people can throw him a few days' work on a film crew, in an office, or even cooking or babysitting or running errands. He's even done yard work for the older ladies at church. There just seems to be more opportunity.But most of all this is about returning Home, to the community and city where our hearts live, and where we most want to be. Or as John put it: "It's like we've had a near-death experience, and we're never going to take LA for granted again. We almost lost it forever. Now we're going to do all the things we always talked about but never actually got to do."Being our resident philosopher, he's always describing our life in such poetic ways. Another thing he said to me, shortly after we decided to apply for the house: "Well, you kept saying you wanted a do-over. I guess you're getting it."Exactly. Rewind my life back a year, and start again, this time making the right decisions. Staying home with my baby instead of barreling on through school, and staying within my home city. But I get to do it with a one-year-old who is way more fun now than she was last year at this time!It's not like moving up here was a humongous mistake that I regret. I don't regret the friends I've made, and John pointed out that I basically got to do a year's internship at St. Gregory's, observing their worship and the food pantry inreach. I actually think I might have to start a pantry based on their model down in LA. I don't think I can live without it; it's become too important.But how often do you get the chance to try again, knowing now what you wished you'd known then? It's a gift, it really is.So that's the Be Kind, Rewind part of my title. Now for the Press Stop.As you've no doubt noticed, I really don't have time to maintain this blog anymore. And since it was started as a reflection of my journey through seminary - and academia beyond - I don't have anything much to say anymore about that. Being a full-time mom just isn't what Feminary is about, and that's perfectly OK. I'd rather keep it in kind of a pristine time-warp. My obsession with food issues will continue over at FoodiEvangelist, but the Feminarian is retiring - or at least, taking a very long maternity leave.If God is so good as to grant me entrance to the ordination process (for real[...]

Michael Rowe: No More Mr. Nice Gay


Michael Rowe: No More Mr. Nice Gay

"All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate would be oppression." -- Thomas Jefferson

As hard as I try to find another way to say this, yesterday's California Supreme Court decision makes this unattractive concept abundantly clear: gays and lesbians are now the only minority in America against whom discrimination is not only legal, but in many cases, encouraged. California has become the first state in U.S. history to amend its constitution to deprive a minority of a right that they had been legally granted.

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The American Patriot's Bible


As it is my duty to bring to your attention items that will make you vomit, I present this new work: The American Patriot's Bible.According to the blurb: THE ONE BIBLE THAT SHOWS HOW 'A LIGHT FROM ABOVE' SHAPED OUR NATION. Never has a version of the Bible targeted the spiritual needs of those who love our country more than The American Patriot's Bible. This extremely unique Bible shows how the history of the United States connects the people and events of the Bible to our lives in a modern world. The story of the United States is wonderfully woven into the teachings of the Bible and includes a beautiful full-color family record section [LDS alert - are they the target audience?], memorable images from our nation's history and hundreds of enlightening articles which complement the New King James Version Bible text.But really, nobody can say it much better than this 5-star reviewer, RG from east texas:Finally a Bible for the American Conservative Evangelical! With this Bible we can finally stop apologizing for the genocide of 20 million Native Americans and the enslavement of millions of African Americans. These events, along with the theft of Northern Mexico (Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and California) can be rightly seen as the manifest destiny of God's chosen people. The waterboarding of hundreds and the deaths of over 100,000 Filipinos can be seen as the ethnic cleansing required to spread the gospel of democracy during the Spanish American War. The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki can forever be seen as the necessary prevention of the deaths of millions and the beliefs of General Eisenhower and many others that it was merely America's way of proving our moral and military superiority to Russia and the rest of the world can be laid to rest. The blood of our soldiers and our Savior should be seen as equally important and efficacious.The constant and consistent oppresive and imperialistic actions of the United States are not only forgivable but are manifestations of God's will when scriptures are properly applied. This Bible will help anyone understand these truths. It would have been nice if Thomas Nelson had performed a Jeffersonian edit and removed all the New Testament references about loving one's enemies and overcoming evil with good, but in reality these truths have been so long ignored in the United Satates that I have little doubt they will continue to be ignored by North American Christians. A disturbing thought occasionaly creeps in - What if Jesus were really serious about loving one's enemies?. With this Bible those questions, undoubtedly planted by Satan, can easily be dismissed.No need to read the "revisionist" history of atheists such as Howard Zinn in A Peoples History of the United States or James Loewen in Lies My Teacher Told Me. These pagans do not know Jesus so what can they know of love and truth? Sometimes killing someone is the most loving thing you can do and besides, wherein loving one's enemies does it say not to kill them? Remember the bumper stickers from the Vietnam era? - Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out!It is my hope that this Bible becomes the standard of every conservative evangelical pulpit in North America. Maybe it can be the straw that breaks the camel's back on books such as Greg Boyd's Myth of a Christian Nation. History has proven time and time again that theocracies are the most effective means of disseminating religion so the sooner we enforce a Christian theocracy the sooner Jesus will return. If only we could follow the radical Muslim pattern of a Taliban government and thereby insure that we are not left behind. The [...] that is Nationalism and Christianity may finally make that a reality.Ah, even at my most virulent, I don't think I could have said it better. Bravo.And while[...]

A few links


When (if?) I ever have a free moment I'll fill you in on the exciting events of my week, which so far have included a visit to the California Academy of Sciences, an interview for a campus ministry job at UC Santa Cruz, and an appointment with Kaiser's pelvic pain center (tmi?). But for now I only have a sec, so I'm going to lean on my colleagues and invite you to read these two wonderful reflections on the torture poll from Pew that I posted last week.

Hugo Schwyzer
David Gushee




WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new survey.

The more I see things like this, the more I wonder who are these people, what Bible are they reading, and which Jesus exactly do they think they belong to? Or, more accurately perhaps, belongs to them? (I've got Jesus in my heart)

I remember when J was teaching an ethics class at Biola University. He actually had to fight the students to convince them that they were supposed to try to be like Jesus. See, they had somehow gotten the idea (from their churches? or, yikes, theology/bible classes?) that Jesus' only job was to die, not to teach us how to live, and besides, he was God and sinless, so we couldn't possibly be like him anyway.

The stuff in the epistles about becoming perfect (and the Sermon on the Mount, for that matter) notwithstanding, this had somehow been translated into a totally different standard for the followers of Jesus than, well, anything he taught. I'm not sure where this other standard came from, exactly, but I know it includes a healthy dose of human ego and a decent amount of self-righteousness.

Anyway, I don't get it one bit. Here's a link to the study itself. I guess I'm just a totally different kind of churchgoer. Actually, one blogger said that "pew-sitters" were more likely to support torture - so maybe the trick is sitting in chairs instead of pews!

It's not surprising that we mainliners were the religious group most likely to say torture is never justified. But I find it really interesting that a quarter of the "religiously unaffiliated" said it never is. That means that more of the "religiously unaffiliated" understand and follow Jesus' teachings than do the majority of Christians!

It brings up an interesting question about morality, too: as in, where do the "godless" get their moral superiority? Hmmmm. Actually, J taught a whole class on that, too. Maybe I'll see if I can get him to blog about it. :)

The Pain of Love


So last night I learned, through FB status updates, that three of my friends from seminary were named Postulants in the Episcopal Church. This is a solid step on the way to ordination. These friends - all women, all from Evangelical backgrounds (as the Fuller degrees attest) - were actually none of them Episcopalian when I met them, and 2 of the 3 had told me they'd never considered the priesthood. They were all, I think, surprised by the insistence of their congregations that they enter the process. And all of them have reached this important milestone together. How fun it must have been for them to be retreating together and be one another's support! And how interesting that it would be three Evangelical women on this road together (all, btw, in the ECUSA, not at splitting churches).

The flip side of this story is that this news, while wonderful, reduced me to sobs, as my own heart broke with the realization that, once again, I was not good enough, I chose the wrong churches or mentors, I fucked up my own process, and etc. on and on. I was already in the process when these women weren't even Episcopalian yet! I wanted nothing more - felt called and gifted to nothing else - and they didn't even realize God would be leading them this way!

But that's kind of the point, isn't it? That God uses the unexpected, the wrong, the vessel of clay? Perhaps I've just been too sure of my calling. It's seemed obvious, but perhaps that's why it's not true.

Yet this morning I opened my email to a message from a friend at my new church, who just read my post about Holy Week and affirmed what I said. She told me I was saying things she needed to hear - her exact words were "I could use a good sermon or two," specifically about sin. So there you go: even if the institution won't recognize me, apparently I can preach to people via this blog. Apparently I can still be a pastor of sorts, albeit a virtual one. It was a needed affirmation. And, it makes me all the more glad that I applied for a position as an online organizer for The Beatitudes Society. Fingers crossed.

Anyway, I should get to the reason that I titled this post as I did. Another thing I found this morning, courtesy of another seminary colleague, was a link to this amazing post: Love is Fucking Stupid. And as I read it and it flipped my mind around a little, and I questioned its motives then saw, at the end, that it was super powerful, I realized that this is how I've been feeling: really fucking stupid.

I have continued to trust all things, bear all things, believe all things, and hope all things, in my wasted, ridiculous, nowhere-going process. So maybe, instead of seeing myself as a dumb naive fool, I should remind myself that this might just be the way I'm supposed to be. Maybe I'm approaching the institution with love, even as I get repeatedly stomped on. And I can vouch for the fact that yeah, it hurts like a bitch. And I have no idea if it will be "worth it" in the end. But it is the only way I know how to go on. The only other option is to give up, get bitter, and abandon the church (and believe me, that was all I wanted to do last night when I learned of my friends' success).

But you know, I probably won't. I'll continue my retreat for a while, and remain in the relative security of shaping just one little life for Christ. But I imagine God will come calling again one of these days, and I know I will answer. I know no other way to be. She is irresistable to me.

Of Probable Interest


An interesting statement co-written by one of my colleagues at the GTU:

Easter Vigilantes


[I apologize for being gone for so long; my internet was down for nearly three weeks. I can hardly explain the isolation and suffering this caused; it is best not to go down that road. I will try to make up for it in the days ahead.] This year I had rather a new experience for me, at least since I’ve been Episcopalian: I experienced a Holy Week that was not preceded by a Lent. Of course, I grew up without Lent, but then, I didn’t have much Holy Week then either (there was Good Friday for sure, and Easter Saturday when we got our baskets – in a pastor’s house, the only opportunity – and then Easter Sunday when we got new dresses, ate breakfast at church, and sometimes the choir did a cantata so that meant we didn’t have to listen to a very long sermon). I understood, self-righteously, that the real reason for Easter was Jesus’ resurrection and most people got it wrong; but, as with Christmas, I still really liked the special food and gifts and traditions, and as a child I’m sure I looked forward to egg dyeing far more than being reminded of Jesus’ death for the umpteenth time (because you know the substitutionary death is where we were actually saved, and the resurrection was just to prove Jesus was God after all). I know that once Reese’s put out peanut butter eggs, that became the number one reason to celebrate Easter…but I digress. As I said, I got a little blast from my liturgical past this year as I went through a season that was ostensibly but not praxisly (if I may invent a word) Lenten. Now let me say up front that I really do love my new church community at St. Gregory’s, and I’ve joined the church precisely because they’ve welcomed our family so warmly and I feel so at home there. I enjoy the worship: the music, definitely, and the silence, and the art, and the way everything is put together. Certainly the openness of communion has won me over, and as I’ve mentioned before, the preaching is the best we heard since moving here. It has been fascinating and educational for me as a liturgical theologian. And that is how I’d like to respond to the experience of Holy Week at this church: as a liturgist, attempting a quasi-removed perspective and somewhat objective analysis. I will probably get into my emotional response as well, but luckily, for the postmodernist, that must be taken into account as a valid part of the experience. But mainly I just wanted to put in all this disclaimer so that those from the church who might read this would know I’m not trying to be disparaging or personally attack anyone’s beloved liturgy, I’m simply attempting to evaluate, with the professional tools I’ve been given and the experience I’ve had in this denomination and others, how well the self-professed experimental approach has worked in this instance. So, let’s begin with a general explanation of St. Gregory’s principles, the first and foremost of which, in relation to time, is this: there are two seasons, Easter and Easter’s Coming. Now this is at first glance an exciting and hopeful message, particularly to those who grew up in denominations focused only on the death of Christ (my hand’s up) or who thought of Christians merely as dreary or boring. Easter is our most joyful and celebratory season, to be sure, and there is definitely historical precedent for making every Sunday a resurrection day, the eighth day, the commemoration of Christ’s return to life. That is why we may stand before the altar rather than kneel. It is why we sing, most of the year, “Alleluia” and why we partake of the Heavenly Banquet. Sundays are certainly the most central day for Chris[...]

Food for thought


Appropriate title, since I've been blogging over at FoodiEvangelist a bit more lately.

But this quote seemed more to fit in over here. Thanks to my FB friend Tony Mills for the citation...

The world is barren enough. It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work. And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling. With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do? With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate... this is what your heart tells you to do?
- Keith Olbermann, the host of MSNBC's TV news show Countdown, shortly after Proposition 8 was passed in California.

Heads up!


Hi friends and neighbors...

I've created a new blog to cover my interests in food and spirituality. I'll post all the foodie stuff there, as well as anything that is related to what would have been my dissertation work/might be my Christian bookstore book if I ever have time to actually write it.

So if that's why you check this blog, bookmark me over at:

Bon Appetit!

Portia De Rossi Apologizes For Marrying Ellen


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eat, drink, bleed, and live in communion


This is a sermon by Sara Miles, and I post it with her permission because it is just so darn beautiful particularly in light of the stuff I've been posting in the last week or so. (did I mention I stood up in church and talked about breastfeeding? I don't think that could have happened in the congregation of my childhood...) Sara Miles • St Gregory of Nyssa Sermon 7:30PM • 24 August 2003 …Jesus said, Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in that person. As the living Father sent me and I draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will also draw life from me…..After hearing this, many of his followers said‚This is intolerable language. How could anyone accept it? Jesus was aware that his followers were complaining about it and said, Does this disturb you?…Many of his disciples went away and accompanied him no more. Jesus said, What about you, do you want to go away too? Simon Peter answered, Lord, to whom shall we go? Eat my flesh and drink my blood. Does this disturb you? What about you, do you want to go away too? Yes, I want to go away, fast. Because this disturbing demand of Jesus, that we eat him and become him, is just so intolerable, so invasive, so shocking I can’t accept it, want to go away. But to whom shall I go? I plan to talk about children a little bit tonight. But not their cuteness or their niceness or anything sweet or pastel. I want to talk about children as the gift of life. That is, about sex and pain and blood and eating. And no, I’m not going to tell you amusing stories about what it’s like to be a mother. (It’s pretty wild.) You may not have kids, so what I’m going to tell you, remind you of, is what it’s like to be one. Because we all are. You are somebody’s child. Think about this. You grew inside a woman, you came out of her, you ate her. You ate her body, literally, to live. You became her and she became you. She’s in you in ways that ––if you’re like me—can still feel as elemental and violent as the moment when you were pushed out from between her legs in a great rush of blood. This is intolerable. You are somebody’s child.. A man helped make you, in ways that are ridiculously mysterious and absolutely powerful. He went inside somebody else’s body and became a part of you. The shape of your hands, the way you clear your throat, the color of your eyes—he lives in you, literally in the code that turned on each cell of your being, and in your spirit. He became you, and you became him, in ways seen and unseen, that will follow you all the years of your life. This is intolerable. We can read tonight’s Gospel story as being about the ways Jesus’ disciples and the people gathered at Capernaum were shocked by his breach of religious convention There certainly was enough in Jesus’ claim to set the teeth of the faithful, and their priests, on edge: who was this man daring to come into the synagogue and use the language of blood and sacrifice? How dare he talk to them about their ancestors, who ate manna in the wilderness and died there? What was he doing, telling them to be cannibals? Some of this story is about the ways God, through Christ, turned religion on its head. And the idea that God may still, through Christ, be doing that today is certainly hard for us to take. But I think what we really find intolerable in this story is the literal truth. God’s truth, that Jesus tells us without flinching. Without pastels. That we were made out of flesh, an[...]

I neglected to mention...


BTW I should have also said that I met wonderful, amazing people at this gathering the last couple of days. I'm delighted with the new friends I've made. And I'm not even kissing ass; I really am excited about knowing these people. Particularly the awesome Minneapolis contingent - who knew the Spirit was blowing her wind so strongly there? I thought Chicago was the windy city, ha ha. (groan)

Now I have all the more reason to take Maggie to see her cousins there, because she's blessed with a whole new set of aunties to love her. We are so blessed to have such a village willing to raise this child with us (now if only we could somehow live in 15 places at once...).

The whole General Convention thing is starting to sink in and get a little scary, but I've already heard from some LA people who will team up with me. I almost feel like maybe I was specially prepared for this job by having the connections down there that are needed to help pull together the strands of this web. It is at once daunting and exciting.

OK, I can't spend too much of naptime on the computer - got to eat, do housework, take a shower (!!), all those things we try to cram in before the inevitable cry calls a momma back to her primary job.



I spent the last couple of days at a gathering of people who self-identify as “anglimergent” – or at least, spend some of their time networking on a website entitled “anglimergent”. It’s a tricky group to pin down: many of them are uncomfortable with labels, particularly labels that identify them with the rather evangelical world of emerging church. I find the label helpful as a way to shorthandedly say, “people who are interested in seeing the church move forward in whatever way works” or “people who want to help write the next chapter of the Episcopal story (as my husband puts it: not rewrite the former chapters, not write a totally new book, but write a chapter that builds on the chapters that have come before and adds our generation’s input).”So that is the kind of person we’re talking about – someone who wants to see a new era of ministry going in the Episcopal Church that makes it open and relevant and generally the kind of place that I’ve already been lucky enough to find it to be. Turns out that many people have had horrendous experiences in TEC, and I feel awful about that. I’m super spoiled to have only gone to churches that, for the most part, got it right. At least, they were authentically who they are. And I’m not going to pretend I haven’t been burned – we just have to revisit the sad pathetic story of my ordination process(es) to know that my attempts to serve have not always been well-received (or well-offered, I hasten to add).All that to say that there actually ARE Episcopal churches that need to be dragged kicking and screaming into the postmodern era, or into the 1979 prayer book (which hasn’t nearly finished being mined, as Louis Weil reminds us), or just into a general sense that the church should be kind of an open and loving place and not so much an exclusive club or a political stance or a family tradition. It is, after all, about God’s kingdom on earth; about spreading God’s love; about Jesus’ way of living into the most abundant life possible. These are the things that the folks I met with are about.Oddly, I was really only there because Sara Miles asked me to be. I didn’t feel remotely like I belonged. But as I was preparing to attend and was thinking about my experience with emergy type stuff, I realized I had a remarkable amount of background in that world (especially for someone who never officially has been a member of an actual emergent church). I was pretty involved in the planning process for Thad’s in LA (until they decided not to have regular Eucharist, which I couldn’t live with), and I helped write some of the liturgy for Barry Taylor’s services at All Saints’ (including parts of the Eucharistic prayer that they still use). Then there was my independent study on the EC, which led to our (unfinished) documentary on COTA. At seminary, one of my closest friends was a founding member of Three Nails in Pittsburgh, and another had lived and served in an intentional community in East LA long before emerging became a thing (incidentally, both of these people had left that kind of church to join more traditional Episcopal congregations, citing the liturgy as what drew them to the tradition…gee! Ya think?). For heaven’s sake, I never would have gone to seminary if Carol Wade hadn’t told me to, and she’s in this conversation too! I never would have become Episcopalian without being discipled by Christopher Martin, and the whole thing with him was doing spiritual discipl[...]

Breastfeeding: Pro and Con


OK, I have to post these links. First an article that made me feel rather like a fool for believing all the hype and going ahead with breastfeeding even though, at first at least, it was incredibly difficult, stressful, tiring, and time-consuming (these days it's rare, something I anticipate, always floods me with joy and peace, and makes me feel super-close to my daughter). Had I read this article 9 months ago, I would have given up probably in about week 3 or 4. Stuck where I'm at, having played the fool for 9 mos now, I was at least glad to be in the meager 17% of people who bfeed exclusively for 6 mos (until I realized I hadn't: Maggie wanted solids at 5 mos, so oops - but she still mostly breastfed - we didn't do more than 1 "meal" - more like a few teaspoons - per day until after 6 mos. Still my tiny rush of pride faded, as I realized I was just another of the dupes).The Case Against BreastfeedingThen my friend JTB alerted me to The Case Against The Case Against Breastfeeding, at the "mother of all parenting blogs," Strollerderby (love that name). There, Madeline Holler eloquently expressed many of my feelings about the former article, including the main points which are: the workplace system in this country can't handle motherhood, and those who cannot breastfeed shouldn't be judged or made to feel "less than" (in my more soapbox moments, however, I do feel that those who just "don't like it" maybe should try a little harder, like I did...but I realize that's bitchy of me. Wanting others to suffer like you did is one of the worst things women do to each other - especially in the workplace and academia - so I really have no place adding to that misery. Still it's sure tempting).For more on fixing the first situation, see this older article in the Atlantic: The Parent Trap.As for those who can't breastfeed and really want to, my heart goes out to them. For those who don't want to, I've said enough above. But I don't find it helpful to present a case that makes those of us who managed - who did grit our teeth through the pain and endured the endless nights and finally, finally found that perfect latch that made it actually pleasureable (which lasted about 10 minutes until teeth set in and everything changed...including the wonderful new world of biting!) - I don't find it helpful or feminist (in the sense of promoting what's best for women - which includes our baby daughters, I add) to make those women feel like tools because we haven't figured out that we could really be liberated by science if we'd just get over ourselves.Bleh. The line that keeps sticking with me is when she says that breastfeeding is only free if you consider a woman's time to be worth nothing.Good point. Except: what in the world could I be doing with my time that is more important or fulfilling than feeding another human being?! Than providing her everything she needs - not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually! The whole problem is thinking of bfeeding as a waste of time, as something you have to get through to get on to whatever in your life is more important than this little leech that just wants to suck your life juice can think of it like this: there's a helpless human being that knows nothing in the universe except the sound of your voice and heartbeat, who trusts you with her very life, with everything she is, to provide her warmth and love and fill her tummy, all while giving her the only thing she needs besides nourishment[...]



You know what is scary and humbling? Googling the words "the Feminarian." I didn't exactly do this - J showed me how to look up the IP addresses and referral sites of the people who visit this blog (so watch out...I know who you are now! Who's reading from USC by the way? Fight on!). As I was noodling around on there, I clicked on one of the referral links, which was a person who'd googled those words. And what a scary lot of stuff came up!Mostly I found other bloggers who had found me back in the glory days when I was writing my posts on sex and/or stuff about theology and exclusivism that totally makes me balk now (not the sex, the exclusive stuff). It's actually pretty wild to look at another person's questioning take on my views (cough...Hugo), that I now totally agree with.That is what has made writing this blog so worthwhile: I've sensed that I'm changing so much through these last few years, and through the blog I have actual evidence that it's so. I can track the twists and turns in my journey, the days I was stupid and the days I got it right. I guess this is why people keep diaries, huh? Somehow I never could journal on paper (my handwriting can't keep up with my thoughts, I suppose), but I've managed to keep this blog going for what, like 5 years now? And I'm really excited that one day I will be able to show it to my daughter and she'll learn way more than she ever wanted to know about her mom. Ha. My own mom learns way more than she wants to know about me by reading this...although I don't think I can surprise her anymore.These days, I feel so guilty because I know I'm not up to the par I used to be at, and I post so irregularly (but you can be a "follower" now if you have blogger, so you don't have to check - or I've just posted the blog on the networkedblogs app on facebook, too, which I think will send you updates). My brain's a little consumed with other business, or is so fried when I have a moment to write that nothing will come out.So to those of you who've stuck with me thank you, and I'm sorry, and I will try to be brilliant again one day. I really am serious about trying to make a go at writing, so I need to stay in practice. I can't let my brain lose all its theological brilliance quite yet.BTW if you didn't already know it the job market sucks and is especially crappy for newly-minted Phds in the humanities. So if you're one of those lucky ones in school, stay there. Seriously, there's no reason to finish. Poor J is rushing through his dissertation but only Starbucks awaits on the other side. At least he'll have good conversations with the other highly-educated baristas.I'm kidding: J can't work at Starbucks. He once was hired there and stopped showing up when a Hollywood gig came along. Little did we know that after two masters and a doctorate he'd need to be knocking on their door again. Oh well, at least there's always Peet's.As usual I wind up being the one who's imminently employable. It makes trying to be a SAHM very difficult. And maybe we'd just send me off to work and let J stay home except he hates that and I do too. Bummer.But I found this amazing job opportunity: it's a campus ministry position at UC Santa Cruz. It's part time. It's progressive. It's for a ministry called "Feast," for crying out loud. I was born in Santa Cruz (well, close by). There are a lot of funky stars aligning on this one. It's the one thing I could see myself coming out of "retirement" to do. W[...]

45 Questions


So these crazy lists have been going around facebook and I already did my 25 random things on there (become my friend to see it), but I figured might as well answer this one here on the blog, because I find the questions sort of interesting and you all might want to see, and it will import to facebook anyway so two birds and all that.I didn't do the list of questions to ask your kid b/c my kid can only say "Da" and "Cat." No "mama" in sight. Sigh.Anyhoo, here's a list of random factoids:1. Do you like blue cheese?Very much2. Have you ever smoked?I tried one cigarette w/my boyfriend when I turned 18. I thought it was disgusting and threw it down after one drag. He, incidentally, wound up addicted (he finished that first pack so as not to waste it, and the rest is history...)I had a chance to smoke pot but I had to preach the next day and I was worried about the after-effects (true story). I never got another opportunity and then those friends moved away, darn it. I would try it if I had the chance. Don't tell my mom.3. Do you own a gun?Hell no4. What flavor of Kool Aid was your favorite?I don't remember. Red, I suppose. We didn't get to have much Kool Aid (I'm grateful for that)5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments?Yes, especially prenatal ones.6. What do you think of hot dogs?Once I found Niman Ranch Fearless Franks, I discovered they can be pretty damn tasty. They should only be cooked over an open flame, preferably followed by s'mores.7. Favorite Christmas movie?It was White Christmas for years and years, but nowadays it's Love Actually. I also watch Scrooge (the musical) every year on Christmas day.8. Favorite thing to drink in the morning?A latte, but usually I just have black coffee9. Can you do push ups?a few, tho I haven't tried since giving birth10.What's your favorite piece of jewelry?I love the celtic cross that John bought me at the Iona Abbey, and a diamond bracelet I got from my granny when she died11 What is your favorite hobby?writing and watching tv/movies12. Do you have A.D.D?No13. What's one trait you hate about yourself?I talk about myself and my baby too much and feel like I'm not a very good friend anymore14. Middle name?Grace15. Best Birthday?I think probably when we had the fiesta downtown in our loft, and did the pinata from the ceiling and it was catered by Ciudad (the Too Hot Tamales' restaurant). Yeah, that one was way fun. Although the one I spent in Scotland wasn't bad either.16. Name 3 things you regularly drink:sparkling water & pineapple juice (usually mixed together) and whole milk (not mixed with anything except the occasional cookie crumb)17. How many siblings do you have?Sister and brother both younger18. Current "I hate it right now?":I hate insecurity19. Favorite place to be?Los Angeles20. How did you bring in the New Year last year?Ha - at my in-laws, fast asleep21. Where would you like to go?India and Italy22. Name three people who might complete this:No.23. Do you own slippers?Yes, thanks to mom who got me some for xmas. Otherwise I have half a dozen pairs of slipper socks with sticky bottoms.24. What shirt are you wearing?Blue, textured fabric, and really old - had it since college.25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets?Yes, but I prefer super-soft cotton, and I hate flannel.26. Can you whistle?Yes27. Favorite Color?Anymore it's really pink, and I know how weird that is for a feminist.28. Would you be a pirate?Depends o[...]