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silence doesn’t save us . . . anymore

silence doesn’t save us . . . anymore

Let’s talk.

Speaking up versus shutting up as a woman – I think of Mary Magdalene. Mary, a loyal and beloved disciple of Yeshua (Jesus), was not a woman to shut up. She spoke up and spoke out. Particularly as this is Holy Week for Christians, I think of her being the first person to proclaim the Good News (Gospel) of a living Sacrifice:

“‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.” (John 20:18)

Over time, the spirit of feminine liberation waned in the Christian movement as it legalized, formalized, institutionalized. Today, even with the presence of female clergy and lay leadership, too many women continue to allow a gender-biased, hierarchical perspective of faith to influence and guide their lives. We continue to serve in churches where we know we aren’t being respected or recognized for the talented, gifted, capable, and able full human beings we know ourselves to be. We murmur and complain, operating somewhere between speaking up and shutting up.

For the life of me I cannot understand why oppressed women won’t simply leave! If the situation is so bad that you have to release your discomfort and frustration by constantly complaining, LEAVE. Find a ministry where you’re honored – or start your own.

While silence is an issue across ethnicities and faith/belief traditions, I recognize it as a survival technique used by my African American ancestors. There was a time that keeping our mouths shut kept us alive. Today it’s killing us. “Your silence will not protect you,” declared the late Audre Lorde.

Our oppressive history is also a barrier to our sexual freedom. Due to the hypersexualization of Black people in the USA,

once freed, [women in particular] set out on a mission to prove that we are more than attractive bodies. We were desperately trying to escape the horrors experienced by our ancestors, ancestors like Anastasia, a Brazilian martyred slave venerated as a saint by Blacks in Brazil. She came to a point in her life when she realized trying to please her slave masters was futile. Eventually she died in body, but rose in spirit. (Read more about Anastasia.)

To highlight our intelligence and social graces, we suppressed our sexuality – or tried to. We haven’t realized yet that people who are determined to dismiss us are going to dismiss us, no matter what? An incredibly intelligent, talented, articulate, Ivy League educated American president proves that, right? After all the self-denying effort to prove our worth, we seem only to have succeeded in self-injury. We’ve forgotten Yeshua’s words, “Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.” (Luke 17:33) We’re losing our lives; our collective self-image remains imbalanced, unhealthy, and lacking in self-love, care, and appreciation.

Our deep and intense gifts of sensual rhythm need to be celebrated, not exploited or buried. I love the way we walk, the gestures and gazes that convey more than words can say (like Anastasia’s piercing blue eyes), and the ways our bodies can find a fit with music that grooves across genres. Can we think about it another way? Can we widen the life-producing aspect of sex and sexuality? Can we see beyond the mishandling of it to realize that the ear-to-ear grin we display when we “get some” is life-producing energy? Is it possible that if we begin to talk openly and honestly that we can reconfigure the Church’s traditional teachings to make sense with contemporary contexts and knowledge – and that when we do so, we just may reduce significantly the mishandling of sex that we are so fearful of?

That sounds like a plan I believe Mary Magdalene would be down with . . . and Anastasia.

And what a way to resurrect our lives!

Let’s talk.

sexNspirit workshop image

Let's talk. (REGISTER TODAY for the upcoming women's sexuality and spirituality workshop, April 28th 1-5p - http://sexnspirit042812.eventbrite.com/)

Simon Peter said to the Lord and his disciples, ‘Let Mary leave us, because women are unfit for the Life Everlasting.’ Jesus replied, ‘Wait, I’ll guide her soul, to make her as a real man, in that place which transcends the differences between the sexes, so she’ll become a living spirit. For each woman who makes herself male in this way and overcomes all differences will enter the Kingdom of Heaven!’” ~The Gospel of Thomas, a sacred text that was declared gnostic, therefore dismissed, by the Church

© 2012 candi dugas, llc

Churches and politicians, take note: Disrespect women, and they will leave. – The Washington Post

“Feminism’s Final Frontier? Religion.”

Part of me responds to Ms. Miller’s reporting of the limitations placed upon women in Christian churches with thoughts that

muslim women

ISHARA S.KODIKARA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES - “In churches (and synagogues and mosques) across the land, women are still treated as second-class citizens,” Miller writes.

her presentation exaggerates the current status of women in leadership, particularly among clergy. Afterall, Ms. Miller – or her editors – choose a picture of Muslim women for this article, a rather stereotypical choice of female suppression (at least our western-Christianized perspective) within a faith system. The article seems to have a Christian slant; it needs more information about women in mosques and synagogues to be balanced – if the image of Muslim women leads its way.

Or perhaps my thoughts of exaggeration are clouded by my networks which are full of female clergy making serious contributions to our faith. The seminaries I’ve attended have 50+% women as students. But then I remember that women may hold advanced theological degrees and may be ordained, but consistently and more often than men are called to or are appointed to the most challenging communities – if not impossible – to pastor. And then when they revitalize the community, a male pastor and his picture perfect family replace her. I also recall images of lay leadership teams being comprised of mostly – if not all – men with a sea of women sitting in the pews or serving as ushers and cooks.

I don’t know if it’s our final frontier, but it is certainly territory to be tamed.

Churches and politicians, take note: Disrespect women, and they will leave. – The Washington Post.

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