sad sad sad

A beloved children’s book taught our family the power of Koko the signing gorilla.

Koko signed a three word litany when her beloved kitten Ball was killed.

She knew the way of grief. She knew how to express it:

Sad sad sad.

I know the way of grief, but I struggle in these days with how to express it.

The money and power grab evidenced in the recently passed tax bill bespeak a nation made belligerent about being morally compromised. Folded into the removal of supports for college students and the poor is the agreement that our nation will now allow drilling in the Arctic Wildlife refuge.

Turns out there is no refuge from those who must drill drill drill.

The phallic imagery is intended.

There is a close race in Alabama between a man accused of drilling into the future of girls running against a man who sought to bring to justice Klan members responsible for the bombing of a church that killed four black girls. This is a contest?

Our nation’s president, forever caught on tape boasting of perpetrating violence on women because he is rich and powerful and can do as he likes is championing the man who has helped himself to young girls because a despoiler of girls is better in the halls of power than a Democrat.

And where are the people of Jesus the Christ as this is happening?

How are we speaking out against the violence against women and against the poor and against the earth and against communal compassion?

When do we become willing to explore the violence that has been folded into our faith narrative?

The raw power of “sad sad sad” is holy necessary work.

And, it is not sufficient.

Marge Piercy in her poem “The Art of Blessing the Day” puts it this way:

“…Bless whatever you can
with eyes and hands and tongue. If you
can’t bless it, get ready to make it new.”

Find a church or an organization or a people.

Cursing is necessary.

And, it is time to make this nation new.

naming

It seems to be vexatious to use feminine pronouns for the Holy.

A church volunteer remarked on an intriguing church bulletin.  Since we reuse our music inserts, Monday brings a day of sorting and recycling.

The Monday bulletin sorter noted that one of our church bulletins had been painstakingly edited (I surely hope not during the sermon!).  Throughout the Parker Palmer version of the Prayer of Jesus, in which God is addressed as Mother and Father, any reference to the feminine in the Holy had been deliberately crossed out.  It seems the notion of God as both male and female (and more) was too much to be borne on a given Sabbath.

I understand that language for God is a powerful thing.  Surely there is no intention of “taking away” each believer’s preferred name for God.

And, at Richfield UMC there is a deliberate choice made to include the feminine when imaging God.

For centuries, nearly the only language used for the Holy was male, even though scripture tells us from the get-go that In God’s image God made them; male and female God made them” and there are a myriad of non-male images of God used throughout scripture.  Even so, church culture through the ages reflected the seemingly sure sense that combing in the feminine would sully the power of the Holy.

Our Women and the Sacred group at church is reading “Half the Sky” by Kristof and WuDunn.  It is a really hard read, since it details the ongoing subjugation of women through sex trafficking, substandard maternal care and the use of rape as a weapon of war, among other things.

Statistics in the beginning of the book take the breath away:  “It appears that more girls have been killed in the last fifty years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the battle of the twentieth century.  More girls are killed in this routine “gendercide” in any one decade than people were slaughtered in all the genocides of the twentieth century.”  (“Half the Sky”, pg. xvii)

There is a life-denying denigration of women rampant in the world today.

Naming matters.

I am saddened that the use of feminine language for the Holy would cause church-goers to methodically excise such offending words from their worship bulletin.

But more than that, I am heart sickened by the deaths; day by day, minute by minute, of God’s createds born into woman form.

Perhaps when we can speak the sacred feminine, we will end the devastation that is woman kill.

May it be so.

woman song

“Today at Jeanne Audrey Power’s apartment we saw all her shelves of feminist theology books and on the female face(s) of the Divine–was it all a dream? What about the last 50 years of women’s voices? Does feminist theology matter anymore?”  Facebook post.

The above Facebook post sings out at a powerful time in the church calendar.

On the fourth Sunday of Advent, we turn our ears and hearts to the song of Mary:  the Magnificat.  It is a song taught her through the voices of her ancestors, since her kinswoman Hannah generations before sang much the same song when she found she was to bear an unexpected son, Samuel by name.

The song resonates with the voices of God’s prophets through the ages:  God uses the least in order to proclaim that the vision of the Holy images fullness of life for all.  The mighty are brought to the level of the least.  The poor are filled with the food of life and soul that integration into community can bring.  The world can and will turn from scramble for power over to cultivation of power with in order that all might know grace.

And, Mary marvels, God calls her blessed in her decision to magnify the Holy. A thirteen year old girl who says “yes” to bearing the Word Made Flesh is called blessed.

Her song is sung and it resounds in our midst yet.

And, the song of woman is strangled yet.  A recent article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune shares this sobering fact:  one in three women in this nation have experienced violence directed at the Word Made Flesh of their bodies.  Women are targets of violence meted out through fists, through advertising, and through the sorts of systemic violence that creates a culture in which women who lead and women who sing are subjected to derision and barbed-wire ceilings.

Was it all a dream, the Facebook poster asks?  Can it be even timidly conjectured that Feminism has wrought the sort of systemic change it sought to name and challenge?  Does anyone care?

Who is singing woman song any more?  And why is it there seems to be a “there, we did that” sense that the song is needed no more?

The ways we language through worship and public discourse is bound yet by images of the Holy as male muscle-flexer.  Introducing inclusive language through mindful choice of prayer and hymnody can make for exquisite challenge.  The resource aren’t much there.  And the push back is relentless.

The song is more powerful than our cultural penchant for ostrich-stance.

I care.  My daughters care.  My men-beloveds care.  The Holy cares.

The song of woman is the song of life and thousands of years ago a young woman took up the song and the world was changed.

Oh, that we would carry on the song of the Word.  We are called to magnify the vision of God.

We are blessed.