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good girl syndrome

good girl syndrome

MISS BLOSSIE – I just thought you were the kind of girl who would make better choices.

RACHEL – Kind of girl?  What kind of girl?

MISS BLOSSIE – A good girl who understands that God made sex to only be between . . .

RACHEL – A GOOD girl?

MISS BLOSSIE – I’m not comfortable with your tone.

RACHEL – And I’m not comfortable with your judgment. I suppose I do agree with your pastor, in principle.  It sounds like a really good idea.  But that’s all it is – a really good idea. (pause)  You’re not helping and neither is the Church.

MISS BLOSSIE – So you settle? (clears her throat) The scripture says to trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.  If you delight yourself in the Lord, He will give you the desires of your heart.  Rachel, you have to trust that GOD has a divine plan for your life, one that you want deep down inside.

RACHEL – Sounds like an Easter speech.

MISS BLOSSIE – What?

RACHEL – Nothing.

And so the conversation goes between Miss Blossie, a church and community icon, and her play niece, Rachel – after Miss Blossie discovers Rachel consuming her unmarried lover in Miss Blossie’s kitchen.

Janelle Harris’ Washington Post article, “Pastors tell black women to be passive and wait for love. I don’t believe in that.”, reminds me of the “good girl syndrome,” explored in several convesations in my play, no ordinary sunday, like the one above between Miss Blossie and Rachel. Being passive and waiting for love is based on the outdated interpretation of Proverbs 18:22 (NKJV), “He who finds a wife, finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord.” Now, no doubt if one finds a loving life partner, that is a beautiful blessing. The problem is when this scripture is interpreted to be a mandate for the only way a couple can come together in love and commitment.

Pastors and other faith leaders completely disservice women when they insist on a biblical foundation for gender-based subservience. Have they not understood, overlooked or denied that the bible also describes a loving life commitment that results from a woman’s advances? Naomi schools Ruth in the fine art of oral seduction that so impresses Boaz, that he is compelled to make Ruth his wife.

Ladies, when you plead with God for your Boaz, do you know what you’re actually asking for? (Ruth 3)

(c) 2016, candi dugas, llc

Featured image: pinterest.com – abstract goodluck art greeting card

all the voices

all the voices

 

No justice or equality movement has ever succeeded without the voices that come from the “other side.”

Christianity had the Apostle Paul. Abolitionists and the Civil Rights Movement had “white” people. The Feminist Movement had/has men. The war on poverty still needs the wealthy and transgender folks need more help from gays, lesbians and straight people.

I was a bit suspicious at first and I cannot say that I’m utterly convinced now, but I’m at least encouraged by what I hear coming from Pastor E. Dewey Smith as he continues to publicly share that he’s rethinking his theology about sexuality and faith. His conservative voice bearing witness to what liberals and progressives already know, is priceless.

pastor e dewey smith

Pastor E. Dewey Smith and congregation praying for Singer Angie Stone at House of Hope Atlanta. Image: joy105.com.

Last weekend he participated in a gathering at Princeton University via its Black Church Studies program, “Love Thyself: Black Bodies and Religious Space.” The gathering was inspired by the viral hashtag, #BlackChurchSex.

During the conference he said in about 4 years, some studies report that 50-55% of African American women will never get married. “Do we really expect these women to lead celibate lives?” Then he challenged that the way we currently read the bible enslaves women and reinforces a pimpish theology. Pastor Smith offered that our churches must begin to give people space to grow, think and recognize that the bible doesn’t have the answer to all our questions. WOW! How’s that for ‪#‎BlackChurchSex‬??? (as reported by a Facebook friend of mine that attended the conference)

We don’t listen to every voice. Having as many different kinds of voices as possible that can advocate a realistic message of freedom in a grounded context of faith will greatly assist the church – the Black church – in having meaningful conversations which improve our holistic health as followers of Yeshua.

(c) 2016 candi dugas, llc

why listen to bey instead of mom* or g~d?

why listen to bey instead of mom* or g~d?

A gorgeous, wealthy pop star

without impressive traditional credentials – like an Ivy League degree

 

has never been embraced

by conservatively valued members of our community

 

as a worthy role model

to influence the beliefs and actions of our young people

 

– or even ourselves.

So, why should Bey experience anything differently?

07-beyonce-formation-dylanlex.w529.h352

Image: vulture.com via Beyonce/YouTube . View “Formation” at Beyonce.com.

I am not surprised at the antagonistic comments I’ve read on social media over the weekend. Defiant even. “She will not take the place of my Jesus!”

I chuckle at comments like that – for a couple of reasons.

1.

I don’t know Beyoncé, but I seriously doubt that she’s interested in becoming anyone’s savior.

2.

I believe such adamance is an expression of a shamed and uncomfortable attraction to her work.

“Thou doth protest too much …” ~Hamlet

Even for women of faith who have great relationships with their moms and love the lessons that they’ve passed down still can find other voices beyond family and the bible, church, etc. to be relevant and valuable to their experience and goals.

Bey brings to the table an unapologetic sexy sense of empowerment that we sorely need. One Facebook friend posted that we’ve been looking for a black leader to rise up. We thought it would be Obama and it turned out to be Beyoncé.

Mrs. Carter is all of who she is. Surely, we can say that her wealth allows her to be, but she wasn’t always this financially wealthy. This daring and confidence began developing long before she had paper. In fact, these intangible qualities make what we can see and feel happen. In this way, Beyoncé is a worthy model for us to follow. “I see it; I want it. I stunt, yeah, little hornet. I dream it; I work hard; I grind ‘til I own it.” (sung by Beyoncé)

We don’t have to dress like she does or dance like she does (though that would be great if my body could still absorb the intensity of those moves), but we can certainly allow her witness to inspire us to be unapologetically free in who G~d created us to be. She’s leading in ways that traditional interpretations of G~d are not, do not. She’s able to say what most moms don’t feel free enough to articulate to and for their daughters – than we are able to pronounce for ourselves.

That’s why we listen to Beyoncé, sing with her and do our best to keep up when dancing with her.

“OK, ladies, now let’s get in formation!”

*mom – While we know that dads are present in our lives, for the purpose of this post as a response to online comments about how Beyoncé doesn’t trump a mother’s advice, we are only referring to “mom” as the parent.

© 2016 candi dugas, llc – Featured image: spin.com.

your thoughts: feminine sexuality & spirituality

the women of black history month 2014

the women of black history month 2014

At sexNspirit you may always share your thoughts regarding feminine sexuality and spirituality. Yet, today you may share them with a chance to win a $25 gift card to the retailer of your choice*!  Visit here to complete a brief survey and enter the drawing.  (NOTE: The survey is for adults only – 18+ years old.)

You may also want to check out our latest newsletter that features a collage of all the women highlighted on our SoulSpace blog during February’s Black History Month.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

best,
candi

*The gift card must be available to purchase in Atlanta, GA or online.

(c) 2014 candi dugas, llc

making a difference with Desire’s Kiss

making a difference with Desire’s Kiss

Making a difference . . .

Holidays 2012

I write today inviting all readers to help me raise money to film a trailer an independent film with a unique message of sexuality and spirituality, Desire’s Kiss.

Since childhood, I hold within me a compelling need to help make life better for more of us – free, just, and fair. When we talk about the war on women and hear the heart-wrenching stories of sexual abuse survivors, I hope we can begin to search for solutions at organic levels. With my whole heart I believe that when we are healed and better informed regarding our sexuality, our entire society will experience a greater sense of holistic health regarding our bodies and its various expressions.

No one project can facilitate such significant shifts in our consciousness and perspectives, but we must continue to contribute to changes in our contemplation and conversations toward better ends. Desire’s Kiss is one such effort.

Desire's Kiss - The Short Film

Desire’s Kiss – The Short Film

Desire’s Kiss – The Short Film

a nontraditional Christian woman asserts her independence from conservative views on sex & G~d

As I report in my recent book Who Told You That You Were Naked? Black Women Reclaiming Sexual & Spiritual Goodness (available on Amazon.com and candidugas.com), the Black church traditionally teaches more about religion than spirituality and is virtually silent regarding sexuality. With my research and with Desire’s Kiss, I hope to change that.

 And I need your help.

On Nov. 13th at 1p EST we will launch an online crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo.com to raise $13,000 in 33 days. We hope you will be a part of what some are calling a sexual and spiritual revolution.

All contributions help us reach our goal. (Please click here for a full range of giving options and perks.***) Please note that your support can remain completely anonymous and that all supporters receive quarterly financial and narrative updates. (J.D. Reese and Associates (CPA) serves as the accounting firm for this project.)

It is important that our unique message of freedom, justice, and fairness live through the powerful medium of film to reach as many people as possible. I once thought that my own struggles with sexuality were just mine . . . until I heard others’ stories. I realized then that they are all part of a larger picture of the human tendency to discriminate based on shallow differences. As I discuss in a recent interview:

“It’s being me and who I feel inside. When I am held back, I am not free. Where there is no freedom; there is no justice. And that’s not fair.” (We film January-March 2013.)

I hope, while this is on your mind, that you’ll set a reminder on your phone or mark your calendar for 1p EST, Tues., Nov. 13th to contribute to Desire’s Kiss.

 Audiences laud Desire’s Kiss as being simply a really good story of substance: “rich characters,” “sensuality beyond the sex,” and “a curious mixture of sexuality and spirituality!” Our team simply can’t wait to get the full production before more audiences. We can do just that with your help.

 Always our team appreciates your prayers and good thoughts as we continue our work. To “meet” the team and learn more about Desire’s Kiss – The Movie, please visit our site.

Feel free to contact me personally with any questions via cdugas@candidugas.com or 404.287.0719. Also, please share this opportunity with others.

Thank you for making a real difference!

I look forward to seeing your contribution on November 13th.****

Truly yours,

Candi

Dr. Candi Dugas, Writer/Executive Producer

Desire’s Kiss – The Movie

Desire’s Kiss Site

P.S.Desire’s Kiss makes a meaningful difference by changing the conversation about sexuality in the context of faith so we all can be healthier people, but especially and particularly for our women.

P.S.S. – Desire’s Kiss also adds more voices of women and people of color to filmmaking (In 2012, only 5% of filmmakers are women, down from previous years and the percentage is even smaller for women of color – with women composing the majority of motion picture audiences.) Our production creates jobs and job training opportunities for Atlantans in film production.

*** – Perks are subject to change to comparable items and please note the estimated delivery dates on the attached list.

**** – Please note that Desire’s Kiss, LLC and candi dugas, llc are not 501(c)3 entities.

(c) 2012 candi dugas, llc

love & erotica: they’re different, right?

love & erotica: they’re different, right?

No. They’re the same. Well, erotica is one expression of one kind of love.

love & erotica: an introduction

When we talk about love in the context of coupling (i.e., companionship, dating, marriage, etc.), as we are in this blog series, we typically characterize it in idealistic, mushy, feel-good – even pristine terms. Love in this way has to meet certain standards or we determine that it’s not love. This substandard love is deemed lust or ulterior motives or objectification (i.e., a series of booty-calls). Perhaps it’s time for a fresh perspective and a reconfigured working definition of love in our lives because keeping love in a box also keeps some of us in one and the rest of us thirsting for it because we don’t think whatever we’ve experienced is actually love.

love and erotica side by side

A stereotypical depiction of acceptable love – dinner and surprise flowers. An erotic love captured in visual art. Images from the MS Office image gallery and an online website, respectively.

In Christianity we generally view love from three definitions derived from Greek philosophy – agape, philia, and eros. Agape is deemed to be the highest form of love – selfless, unconditional, and perpetually forgiving. (1 Corinthians 13) Christians believe that this is the kind of love that G~d has for us and that we should strive to have it as well for ourselves, G~d, and others. Philia is also highly regarded, the love of friendship. This is the love that compels us to be our “sibling’s keeper,” to care for and go the extra mile for a friend. Eros, in the context of faith, generally is preached or taught rarely (if at all), certainly not to the extent of agape or philia? What is the cause for its absence among sermon and lesson topics? Some scholars believe that eros simply isn’t regarded as a high-enough, if elevated at all, form of love for a spirit-minded person to ascribe.

But if G~d is love, especially in an incarnational faith like Christianity, then would G~d not also be all forms of love – agape, philia, AND eros?

So, what is love – a feeling, an expression, a decision?

In her book, Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, Margaret Farley defines love as an emotional response, an emotional way of connecting to another, and an emotional “affirmation of what is loved” all at the same time. She contends that this definition applies to all beings and inanimate objects/ideas. We can love our children, our significant others, the trees in our yard, our favorite meal, that song that takes us way back, and our Deity. Whatever the context, it’s all the same response, connection, and affirmation. (Farley, 168)

What strikes me is this sense of emotion, connection and affirmation. Because I have this feeling for the beloved I want to connect. Because of this feeling and connection, I then affix a stamp of approval on my beloved. Is this why we all persistently seek love from others, so that we may be approved, affirmed? I know. I know. All of our psychological, self-help coaching loudly and firmly warns against pursuing external love to achieve affirmation. The healthiest approach is to have that affirmation within ourselves first. I agree with that, but love – self-love – is still the source. And as human beings who are designed to be in relationship with others, it’s natural to need also the affirmation of others. It’s not weak or unhealthy. It just is.

No matter how much she enjoyed the affections and connections with her elusive lover, the Shulammite, at the end of the day, still needed his permanent affirmation:

“Set me as a seal upon your heart,as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If one offered for love all the wealth of one’s house, it would be utterly scorned.” ~Song of Songs 8:6-7

So, what ignites this initial sense of emotion? Where does this feeling come from – as sudden, overwhelming, and unpredictably present as coupling love can be?

Its origin is part of the mystery of being. Some people in certain times in our lives “somehow awaken a response” in us. “Love, therefore, is in the first instance receptive – of the lovableness of the other.” (Farley, p. 169) To love fully, outside of any box, we must release the notion that lovableness somehow translates into some version of perfection, without flaws of real consequence. ‘Cause, see, we lack that affirmation that we seek if our beloved is so flawed. When the perfect one loves us, then we become perfect. What actually happens is that we attract to us whoever we are. “I see you in me.” (I cannot remember the source of this quote at the time of writing.) Whether we can see the other person’s challenging qualities at the time we meet her/him does not change this law of love. Spend enough time with your beloved, the qualities will emerge, usually sooner than we prefer. You’ve heard the sayings, right? We keep meeting the same person over and over, just in a different package. Or from long-time couples, they often report that they are still quibbling about the same issues from the beginning of their relationships. That’s because we’re the same persons. Yes, we may make some improvements to our personality and behavioral patterns, but I’m not sure that the essence of who we are changes in our physical lifetimes. Furthermore, I believe that our challenging qualities are what make us most lovable, not the easy stuff. The easy stuff is just too easy to be worthy of what love truly is.

Now, let’s move on to erotica.

who told you FRONT cover  only 091812

Who Told You That You Were Naked? by dr. candi dugas

Dictionary.com defines erotica as “literature or art dealing with sexual love.” Therefore, it is not synonymous with pornography. Pornography, I suppose, may be considered a form of erotica, but there are other forms. (Please see Who Told You That You Were Naked? Black Women Reclaiming Sexual and Spiritual Goodness for a section on erotica.) Those of us who consider ourselves to be spiritual also need to release our aversion – or admitted, public aversion – to erotica. In his essay, “Relationships: Blessed and Blessing,” Rev. Dr. James B. Nelson writes:

“We desperately need more embodied, more erotic, more incarnational, more sexually-positive spiritualities. That realization still escapes many in the church, . . . Eros is that love born of our hungers, our passions, and our desires for one another. Eros has often been contrasted with self-giving love, agape, and, to our impoverishment, the straight-white-male tradition has embraced an agape reductionism. So, we’ve been taught that agape is good and eros is cheap and sub-Christian. Most of us were reared on that kind of theology. Many religious people still learn to fear, despise, trivialize, and be ashamed of their erotic bodies. I surely was. I got the idea that if you just sat real still and didn’t wiggle, eros would go away. (It didn’t.)” (Nelson)

Now is a good time to let our bodies wiggle, if you will. Allow them enough safe space to be all of who we were created to be – in goodness, no less. Whatever that thing is that ignites response in us from another is part of the universal energy that flows from G~d and through every created being and thing. Sometimes we experience this energy, that which we call love, through a desire to couple with another. Sometimes that coupling involves sex. Sometimes it does not.

With this understanding of love and erotica we embark on our journey through 10 of my favorite films that inspire (re)consideration of these themes. Thank you for joining me; I look forward to hearing from you! (What will be the first film? We find out tomorrow! ;-))

“[A] relationship with little erotic hunger and little passion gives little blessing. A relationship that fears the ecstasy of shared pleasure dries up. Alice Walker reminds us [via Shug], in The Color Purple of the importance of sexual pleasure: ‘God love all them feelings. That’s some of the best stuff that God did. And when you know God loves ‘em, you enjoys ‘em a lot more. You can just relax, go with everything that’s going, and praise God liking what you like.’” (Nelson)

image

Desire's Kiss

About this blog series: The “love & erotica” blog series supports the development of the fundraising campaign for Desire’s Kiss – The Short Film. Desire’s Kiss celebrates feminine sexuality and spirituality, based on candi’s book, Who Told You That You Were Naked? Black Women Reclaiming Sexual and Spiritual Goodness and the Judeo-Christian sacred text, Song of Songs. Desire is a nontraditional Christian woman who asserts her independence from conservative views on sex and G~d. The 10 films we will explore over the next five weeks or so come to mind as we produce Desire’s Kiss. We will highlight the love themes (including erotica) in each film.

To learn more about Desire’s Kiss

To purchase your copy of the book, Who Told You That You Were Naked?

 To learn more about candi and her work

(c) 2012 candi dugas, llc

dating: the six-letter word for a single christian

dating: the six-letter word for a single christian

Dating after recommitting my life to Christ terrified me – ‘cause I didn’t know how I was gonna handle the sex question.

I was newly divorced and while I was not rushing to date again, I knew that I would eventually. I also knew that I had always had a healthy libido. What would I do now as I was just as excited about my fervent commitment to living out my faith with all of my decisions and actions? Well, I did what most of us do when we’re conflicted inside to the point of paralysis, I delayed a decision. I denied that I even had to make one. I pretended there was no issue . . .

. . . until one evening in Bible study when a classmate shared her testimony with us along with beautifully vivid color copies of a Celibacy Covenant. “G~d, you’re kidding, right?” The timing couldn’t have been more . . . providential. Thankfully, neither she nor our facilitators led us into any kind of public declaration of abstinence. As I tucked my copy into the inner pocket of my vinyl binder I hoped that my distress wasn’t showing on my face. Again, I attempted to dodge the entire issue . . .

dating. . . until I realized that I had x-ray vision. No, really. Each time I looked at the binder I could see the covenant clearly through the opaque vinyl cover. Everything inside me compelled me to sign it. But I desperately did not want to sign it and then break faith with G~d. My newly recommitted faith walk was soooo precious to me. I feared that I would destroy it by making a promise I’d never been able to keep in 12 years or so of sexual activity.

I became paranoid each week in class, thinking that everyone else was looking at me, wondering if I had signed my covenant or not. LOL. Eventually and willingly I signed it. Then I broke it, repented, and tried again. From that point I maintained a commitment of celibacy for a number of years, like 12. (After so long, I do not know if the actual number matters.)

My season of celibacy was challenging and rewarding, but a year or so before it ended I learned that it was indeed a season – and not one that would necessarily only end once I married again. I realized that celibacy is not the only ethically acceptable sexual choice available to single Christians who are passionate about remaining faithful to G~d. Furthermore, choosing sex in singleness while being saved is not a matter of being tired of waiting or settling or giving up – or even breaking faith. The availability of more choices is all about agency, autonomy, and authority. These issues are directly connected to issues of freedom and justice and this perspective propels us into realms of greater importance than doctrine, dogma, ritual, and rhetoric.

I am totally aware that such assertions completely conflict with the Church’s traditional teachings about sex and sexuality – and I am excited about that! After listening to the cries of women who trusted me with some of their most intimate struggles with love and dating, I cherish the opportunity to help provide meaningful information and tools so that they may make their own decisions in this area – not just settle for outdated and out-of-context guidance that has been passed down over generations. Dating no longer has to be a Christian’s six-letter word!

who told you that you were naked front cover

Who Told You That You Were Naked? by dr. candi dugas

Who Told You That You Were Naked? Black Women Reclaiming Sexual & Spiritual Goodness, recently released, provides this information and these tools. I write with women in mind because we have a particularly difficult time reconciling our sexuality and spirituality. Now, we can get off that incessant merry-go-round of desire, guilt and shame. We can live fully into our whole selves and enjoy life more completely.

And me? Loving G~d just gets sweeter and more potent each and every day! Yeah, it can be a bit scary at first, to be so consciously naked before G~d, but there is no greater freedom. I am fully me and fully free, the highest form of reverence and worship, huh?

Who Told You That You Were Naked? is available on Kindle (only $9.99) and paperback (only $14.99). Get your copy TODAY!

© 2012 candi dugas, llc

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