I am not really a feminist any more. In College, when I was working on my gender studies program, I became kind of an obnoxious feminist. To the point where I would shut down any man who attempted to have a conversation about women's issues. I remember getting into a bit of an argument with a guy that I worked with at camp about my t-shirt that said, "This is What a Feminist Looks Like." I was really, really difficult to deal with and be around. In some ways, I was shooting myself in the foot with my militant feminism. I guess I kind of grew out of that and realized that is was profoundly unhelpful when attempting to engage in conversation with other human beings who don't happen to populate gender studies programs. I do not want to be marginalized on the basis of my gender, but I also do not want to be offered opportunities for advancement solely based on my gender. I would rather be recognized for my gifts and what I have to offer.
However, now as I am preparing for ordained ministry a few years down the road, the issue of what women can/should/might do in the church has come up over the last couple months. There is a TON of vitriol about how women should not be ordained pastors. I am blessed to be a part of a denomination that values the contributions of women in ministry and has been ordaining women for 42 years. But there are some subtle and not-so-subtle obstacles for women who are called to be pastors. I am not demanding that everyone listen to militant feminism but rather, that we can all meet in the middle and have a conversation. I do not want to be defined as "the lady pastor" I want to serve and use my gifts and best support and lead my congregation in whatever way I can. I am just interested in supporting people on their journey of faith and using my life to point to Christ.
So I am not a feminist and I will likely never march for women's rights and frankly just not interested in solidarity and girl power and all that jazz. I am just someone who wants to do what I am called to do and if I am shutting down people because they do not agree with me or are not sufficiently liberal or feminist or progressive, I just can't do that.
That being said...my wild and rampant snarkiness has gotten me into trouble before, so hopefully this will not be taken the wrong way. But it is pretty funny and completely a joke.
(credit to www.christianfeminism.wordpress.com)
I am taking some pretty academic and reading heavy classes this quarter, that are filled with PhD students. In my Comparative Religious Pilgrimage class last week one of the PhD students remarked (in reference to an article about pilgrimage vs. tourism):
"I find myself really bothered by the fact that there is not a clear system for defining what makes a pilgrimage a pilgrimage. I need to have a concrete way of explaining this."
And I found myself thinking, "I have never once had that thought. That is so far removed from what I consider to be important." Wherein lies the difference between students who are preparing for ministry at seminary and those who are preparing for academia. I feel like I am sometimes floating above the academic work, trying to put the pieces together and why they matter for my ministry later.
Learning about Hindu death rituals and pilgrimage is interesting, but what matters to me is looking at the motivations for pilgrimage, what that means for my congregations at a later date. It can be kind of exhausting to continue to hold the concept of what this all means, but it does matter.
I think that pilgrimage is a universal for meaning-making in religion. It is less important for Christians, particularly in a post-modern context, because our religious expression has God present in everything, everywhere. It is not necessarily mandated by our religious institutions that we journey to a certain geographic location (for example, like the hajj), but we often do so in order to feel closer to God. I think this is the take-away for a future minister from this class.
What does pilgrimage mean for Christians?
What can we as Christians learn from the pilgrimages of other religious traditions?
How can Christians nurture their own relationship with God and in community through pilgrimage?
If something is not mandated, why do it? What might we have to gain?
No, not the movie. I have never seen it, nor do I want to. I have never had a desire to see Mel Gibson's vision of the crucified Christ. I am talking about the Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp passion play. A homely little production put on by summer staff every week to share with campers. Every thursday night, just as dusk fell, the campers would file silently up the hill and down into the moss covered amphitheater.
Those counselors who were selected to play the disciples and the male counselor playing Jesus that week would make their way up from the lakeshore..."Make way for the King. Hosanna. Jesus is here. Make way."
Cut to a scene in which Judas Iscariot betrays Jesus to the high priest in exchange for thirty pieces of silver.
The disciples file down to the front, it is the Last Supper. The washing of feet. Jesus tells the disciples one will betray him. They deny it. "Go, and do what you must do." The one who betray him gives him a kiss. Judas, seeing what he has done, departs and hangs himself.
Jesus states that one will deny him three times.
As the disciples file up the hill, they are met by Judas and the Pharisees. Peter draws a sword and cuts off the high priest's ear. Jesus heals him. Jesus is taken away as the disciples flee. Peter is watching from behind a boulder as he is spotted by a servant. "I do not know that man."
Jesus is beaten by the Pharisees and brought before Pontius Pilate. He is tried by Pilate...
"As is your custom on the Passover, I shall release a prisoner to you. Shall I release the King of the Jews or Barabas?"
The crowd jeers, "Barabas! We want Barabas!"
Pilate asks, "what shall I do with your King?"
The crowd shouts, "Crucify him! We have no King but the emperor!"
Pilate flings a bowl of water out of his servant's hand, "I wash my hands of this innocent man's blood. Take him away!"
The pharisees push, kick and curse Jesus down the hill. He is carrying a cross.
The choir sings a hauntingly beautiful rendition of the Via Dolorosa.
"Down the Vía Dolorosa in Jerusalem that day The soldiers tried to clear the narrow street But the crowd pressed in to see The Man condemned to die on Calvary...
He was bleeding from a beating, there were stripes upon His back
And He wore a crown of thorns upon His head
And He bore with every step
The scorn of those who cried out for His death
Down the Vía Dolorosa called the way of suffering
Like a lamb came the Messiah, Christ the King,
But He chose to walk that road out of
His love for you and me.
Down the Via Dolorosa, all the way to Calvary." The song switches to Spanish, Jesus falls beneath his cross. A member of the crowd is grabbed to carry his cross.
"The blood that would cleanse the souls of all men Made its way through the heart of Jerusalem. Down the Vía Dolorosa called the way of suffering Like a lamb came the Messiah, Christ the King But He chose to walk that road out of His love for you and me Down the Vía Dolorosa, all the way to Calvary."
(Credit S. Patti)
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
When they nailed him to a tree? (the pounding of nails can be heard)
When they pierced him in the side?
The spotlights switch up to the stony cliffs behind the amphitheater. Jesus hangs on a cross, a thief on his right and one on his left.
"My God...My God...Why have you forsaken me?"
I have played the disciple Peter and a Pharisee countless times. I have played Judas. And even when I was not acting in the play, I played a part in the crowd, shouting for Jesus to be crucified. I am all of those things every time I deny Christ in another. Every time I follow my own selfish desires, I deny Christ.
"...and you have prepared a cross for your Savior." -Solemn Reproaches for Good Friday-
Saying no... Yeah, I am not very good at that. I have this image of myself as reliable and dependable and loyal. I want people to see me in this way and I want to look good. Which is a form of pathological self-centeredness couched in self-righteous martyrdom. I get shit done and people respect that. But then I get burned out and resentful.
Sometimes I say "yes" even before I think about the request. Then I do, and then I experience regret about having done so. This fits into the image that I am trying to put forth into the world. A friend of mine, who struggles with the same deal, asked me if I say "yes" when I really want to say "no"because I am more interested in keeping up this image than in actually doing whatever I agreed to do. Because that is what she does. And I am indeed guilty of that.
When I say "yes" to something I need to make sure that I am not saying "no" to myself and my own needs. I told a friend yesterday that I always follow through on my obligations, and generally do them very well, but I have a nasty little habit of sacrificing my sanity, health, and personal relationships to do so when I am over committed. This serves absolutely no one.
Tonight I said "no" to a last minute request from my boss to cover for someone at work at 5:00am tomorrow morning. Not because I had somewhere else to be (short of sleeping!) or because I was sick. No, I said "no" because I just needed a break. Although I am trying really hard not to feel guilty about that.
I think learning how to manage my obligations is a spiritual discipline that I need to cultivate RIGHT NOW. I tend to operate out of this concept that things will slow down or become easier to manage when I am no longer in school. That is not true, I will just be occupied with other obligations and commitments. Not better, just different.
So here are the commitments that I will be making to myself:
1. Carefully consider my motives when agreeing to do something.
-Is it for me to maintain my image?
-Do I genuinely have something to offer or do I just think I could do it better than someone else?
-Is there someone who is better suited to do it?
-Is it my turn or should someone else have the opportunity?
2. Make time every single week that is for me (see the commitment made in this post) and then keep it sacrosanct.
3. Believe that I am worthy of taking a break and that the world won't fall apart if I check out every once in awhile. Stop the guilt!
4. Draw better boundaries that protect my own personal time and energy
-If someone is sapping my emotional energy, drawing a line there to protect my own health. Had to do
this a couple times already this week.
-Stop doing the activities that are not life giving (working on this one), to make time for things that are.
5. Stop taking it personally if I disappoint someone because I cannot accomplish something. Take it personally when I disappoint myself.