Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Waiting: an out-of-season Advent homily (reflections on World Convention)

And I stood, waiting while the circle completed itself and everyone, in turn and by name, received the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation. And in the waiting was a blessing equal to the blessing received in the gift.

In that attentive stillness, it struck me that I was quite simply at peace. I was not in a hurry. I was not thinking about what came next. I was not thinking of what I should do or not do, or what I should be doing while I waited or if people were looking at me while I waited or what they were thinking while they waited. I was quiet inside, an unusual thing for me, and that quiet seemed to have reached in from the outside, where we waited on each other.

In this quiet chapel was a group of people from all over the world, who had spent two days talking, thinking, praying, dreaming and planning together. They had been strangers to me, but in this moment of sharing and waiting in the ritual which brings Christians of all traditions together, I realized that I belonged here in this room.

Born and raised Church of Christ from Cradle Roll to college, there have been many times that I have felt alien in my church. Sometimes it has felt like a wound, but I have learned how to live with it. Don't put pressure on the spot; move carefully; be wise, be cautious, be diplomatic, be circumspect; make sure you take the hits that come somewhere else so they don't hurt too bad, and turn the other cheek. It's become normal, this mode of faithfulness to my church.

But in this room, I belonged. In this room, my wounds were cherished as much as my gifts. In this room I was welcome. In this room, I was waited on.

The Churches of Christ have always been a part of something larger than themselves--all churches are--even if we have worked hard to ignore it, at times. In this room full of people from all over the world, from all the branches of the Restoration movement, celebrating our unity and common history and anticipating a future together, I felt for the first time in a long time that I was glad, deeply glad, to have grown up in this particular expression of Christianity, this peculiar, rational, contentious, deeply faithful bunch of God's people.

So I cried a little bit, and that was okay.

And then it struck me: we were not simply waiting on each other, but God, too is waiting on us. We make space and time to sense it in the celebration of Communion, but it is constant. God is waiting on us--though most often we think we are waiting on God. We say to each other, "those that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint," and it is true; but God, too, waiting and watching and hoping and anticipating as we learn to embrace each other in the unity of the Spirit.

I am so grateful in this moment for the work that the World Convention (Christian-Churches of Christ-Disciples of Christ) has done in the many years since its founding, the work that we are preparing to do in the future, and the gift of belonging that I received so unexpectedly in that Communion with my sisters and brothers from around the world.

Unity is a mysterious gift, rooted in the very life of God: created in the same image, saved by same Savior, gifted with the same Spirit, we are indeed one, in ways that surpass recognition, assent, doctrinal agreement or even volition…and for this I give thanks and praise. Amen.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

a letter from my daughter from three days ago

transcript (faithful to spelling and grammar):

Dear Not Mom anymore
I dispise you
go away NEVER come back
you will make me estatic if you do that. Becose
you want to make me happy
goodbye and good ridence forever

I know it's a bit twisted but all I really feel in looking at this letter is a sense of bursting maternal pride at how well my 7YO expresses herself. #goClare

Sunday, March 09, 2014

"NPR Listener"

I'm blessed with a commute that takes me, three times a week, out of the WNYC station range just as I enter the WHYY station range, and in the mornings they basically play the exact same schedule so I can switch from one to the other without missing a single syllable of my morning NPR. It's awesome.

Except for the weeks when they run back-to-back fundraisers. That double whammy gets really tiresome. WHYY goes first and then, just as they end, WNYC cranks up. That can make for a long commute.

This last time, I found myself getting annoyed at more than just the repetitive appeals and aggravating interruptions to programs for their plaintive pitches. Usually I even find it somewhat mesmerizing, the smooth blather and wordsmithy that goes into the whole thing by these professional talkers... But this time, over and over, I heard something that really bugged me: a crude appeal to intellectual elitism that made NPR listeners, and a fortiori the elite of the elite who donate or become members, the "us" opposed to the "them," the ignorant hoi polloi who listen to (sniff) commercial radio. Every morning for about two weeks I heard some version of this on and off for an hour and a half. "We know that you, our listeners are intelligent and want to be informed" or "just think how many times you've been at a party and started a conversation with 'I heard on NPR' and immediately became the smart person in the room" or "take those few cents a day you spend at the vending machine and feed your brain instead" or "in personals 'NPR listener' has become code for smart and cares about the world" and on and on. The longer I listened the more appalling it became.

And then one morning I found myself shouting back at my radio, "NO! I mean, shouldn't public radio be for everyone???"

Finally WHYY (which, may I add, is a great station and I generally <3 actual="" and="" blunt="" campaign="" ceased="" content="" focus="" it="" its="" message="" none="" of="" on="" p="" producing="" programs="" s="" smart="" squarely="" straightforward="" stuff="" stupid="" support.="" tactic:="" takes="" that="" the="" them="" theme="" there="" this="" time="" turn.="" us="" v.="" was="" wnyc="">
I've been a (very minor) contributor for WNYC for a few years now. I'm proud of it, and all the more because they didn't slide into that insidious message of intellectual/social elitism.

This was a few weeks ago now so I'm not exactly timely in blogging about it, but it's been simmering on the mental backburner ever since. We spend so much time lamenting the fractured, ideologically driven state of mainstream media in this country--and the way that it both reflects and furthers the epistemological divide in the public. And one of the things I heard from both stations is how public radio, because it is non-commercial and primarily listener-funded, stands apart from the rest of mainstream news media in this ideologically and commerically driven epistemological division. Except that, if you're simply recreating another split, how can you pat yourself on the back for standing apart?

So next time, let's remember: public radio is for everyone. Even, and maybe especially, for the folks don't listen to it. Yet. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

turning Clare into Daisy

There are many, many reasons to love Philip's Academy Charter School (formerly St. Philip's Academy). This month's reason--in fact, every February's reason since Clare started kindergarten there--is the way that black history month is taught and celebrated.

Last year--I may have blogged about this but I'm not sure--Clare's hero was Rosa Parks, and it was a bit of a struggle to think though how we were going to costume her as her hero. In the end I think we did great--we found a t-shirt with Rosa Parks's picture on it, with a quote, and over that we layered an old-fashioned knitted cardigan, put her hair up in a bun and gave her a pair of Brent's old glasses with the lenses popped out. She was cute as a button, was a recognizable Rosa, and felt awesome about her costume (which is the most important thing).

Every year, without fail, I learn something new that Clare comes home talking about. (Before Clare, for example, I had no idea who Madam C. J. Walker was.) This year, I'm learning about Daisy Bates, Clare's choice for African-American hero. Bates was President of the AR chapter of the NAACP, co-owner (with her husband, L.C.) and writer for Arkansas State Press, and is most famous for her role in organizing the Little Rock Nine.

This year, the 2nd graders are putting on a "living wax museum" and so Clare has been very concerned about the veracity of her Daisy Bates costume. As you can see in the picture below, she was a beautiful, glamorous woman--in addition to being, apparently, a complicated, strong and feisty woman who spoke her mind and stood her ground.
"She was not soft-spoken; she was not humble; she didn't ask, she told; it just blew people's minds. Who is this woman, sounding like this? Who does she think she is?" (from Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock)
Honestly, I can't think of a better hero for Clare, my own complicated, strong and feisty woman-to-be.

So once again we face the challenge of turning my fair-skinned flaxen-haired Clare into her chosen African-American hero. And this year she asked straight out if we could make her skin browner. My explanation of why this was not a good idea made enough sense to her that she dropped it, but it meant that the rest of the costume became even more important to her to get right.

Well, my crafty skill set is limited. But my budget is even more so, so I've spent days and days trying to figure out how to give my girl some Daisy Bates 1950's style. Daisy often dressed in professional, business-y attire, so my teal wool suit (though of course large on Clare) fits the bell well enough. Clare's school uniform shirt with the pan collar fits a sort of 1950's type look. But what we really needed was a hat, and a way to give Clare the suggestion of that cute Daisy Bates short curly hairdo.

So: an old summer sun hat lost most of its brim, and some netting from a dress-up skirt got repurposed along with a length of pink satin ribbon that's been floating around the house for awhile, a few sequins and a satin ribbon rose and then--I found some novelty eyelash yarn in my stash. So, while it may not be exactly the cute Daisy 'do, it will (I hope) at least give a suggestion of some sweet little curls underneath Clare's hat. Add a string of pretty beads--Daisy has a necklace on in every picture, almost--and, done!

I can't wait for Clare to come home and see her hat. :)


Sunday, January 12, 2014

So a week or so ago this post on gendered dimorphism in Disney characters popped up in my newsfeed: "Help! My eyeball is bigger than my wrist!" (

Then a couple days ago I was cleaning the playroom, sorting and organizing (and, yes, clandestinely tossing certain items) and in the process came across mostly dismembered Barbie and other doll heads, torsos and legs. And here's what I found:

This was a truly enormous head. For comparison, here's a Barbie head side-by-side:

So when I had matched up everything else I was left with this and my first thought was, well, this can't possibly be right!

But I tried it anyway. And I thought, whoa. This isn't "help my eyeball is bigger than my wrist," this is "help my eyes are bigger than my boobs and my whole torso could fit inside my hairdo."

Again, a comparison side-by-side with a good ol'fashioned wholesome Barbie: her head is bigger than Barbie's but her whole teeny body is about the length of Barbie's torso.

Bottom line: our culture gives us such increasingly unrealistic representations of women's bodies that at this point Barbie looks relatively normal! 

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

following up

So, I changed my Facebook gender to "male." Since then, here are some representative ads that keep popping up in my newsfeed:

Just to remind you, this is the ad that prompted me to this radical act:

Now that I'm a "man," Facebook and its advertisers can assume I have interests in 1) traveling, 2) playing violent video games, 3) staying warm, 4) living in a house, 5) playing poker. As a woman though, my interests were: lose weight and be sexy.

I am so glad that now that I'm a (hu)man, I can be interested in (hu)man things, and not just woman things.

Oh, and, now that I'm a (hu)man, Facebook and advertisers assume that I also probably have an interest in exploiting women! Oh, funtimes, Facebook, funtimes! Thanks for making this holiday season so special in such a mainstream, accepted, sexist and misogynist way. I'll be hitting on some single ladeez (despite my married status) right after I order some luxurious Princeton University knitwear crafted especially for alumni, despite the fact that I'm not a University alum, because I went to Princeton Seminary. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

today's reminder that women are supposed to feel fat and unsexy so that we can spam you successfully

So, it's just a normal day. My Facebook feed is full of status updates about snow and babies and complaints about grading. Facebook is predictable like that. And then there was this.

Why, Facebook? What is it about me that suggested to your algorithms that I needed an ad from some outfit called "Be Sexy" that wants to let me know that someone who can't spell success wants me to click on some spammy little url because "Lisa from Oregon" lost 60 lbs?

OH RIGHT. I'm a woman.

Just today's little technomicroaggressive reminder that, since I'm female, I probably feel bad about myself because I think I'm fat and unsexy, and might even feel bad enough about it that I might click on some spammy little website that will take advantage of me in other ways.

So, you know, when I report this for being sexist spam targeted at women, it'd be nice if the response wasn't "this doesn't violate our community standards."

Yeah, I know that sexist crap doesn't violate community standards. SUGGESTION: LET'S UPDATE OUR COMMUNITY STANDARDS.

Because I'm not lowering mine.