RSS Feed

Tag Archives: margaret farley

when love goes wrong

image: wallsave.com

image: wallsave.com

On Valentine’s Day, for those of us who don’t participate in the traditional lover’s gift exchange,
we may see plenty of self-love articles.
(I’ve written a few myself.)
This year I believe perhaps there is space, today, for sadness and grief –
without any suggestion or requirement to transform it into something more pleasant.
Not today, just because it’s V-Day.

she Cried,
Feeling the Loss of a Love
that Promised to be Destined

she Mourned,
Realizing the Hope of what was to be
will Never

she Grieved,
Understanding that the Woman she was
Before she met him –
She’ll never Know Her again

If she can Think rather than feel,
Maybe she could Celebrate
the Incredible Strength Unfolding
from all the Pain
disappointmentsorrowtemptationtoregret

But Not So

Not right Now

these Moments
are for Tears
and Anger
and Insulting Epithets

Perhaps tomorrow
or
Another Day she’ll think again,
laugh again … soften
– forgive –
and move on

“A fool for love is a fool for pain
But I refuse to love you again”
~Lisa Fischer, Lisa Melonie, Narada Michael Walden

When love begins, the possibilities are endless of what can be and how. Then the true invitation comes. G~d asks lovers to strip and grow and too many of us decline – for a host of reasons: fear, cowardice, this-isn’t-what-I-signed-up-for, etc. But love is about stripping and growing – always. There is no way around it – no matter how it lives – between parent and child, between friends or between lovers. As I’ve written before, love (especially romantic love) is designed precisely to be the one vehicle that will pierce and penetrate to the depths of our souls and wreak incredible amounts of havoc on the familiar, protected places there.

My problem with Valentine’s Day is built upon a host of mythical, romantic fantasies that belie the essence of what it means truly to love another and the vulnerability, the utter nakedness, involved in that authentic exchange. Perhaps this explanation is at the heart of why I so dislike this holiday. If V-Day was about reality, about the grittiness of love, I would have a different opinion. (To be fair, I’m adverse to most holidays which I deem to be “made-up excuses to spend money.”) Perhaps intended as days to force us to remember each other to be with each other in love – most become days in which we are forced to be, to feel and to act in ways that we wouldn’t if it weren’t for the facades we don to live up to certain expectations. Pretense is always where I get off the bus.

“[N]ot all of our loves are good, though they are loves. There are wise loves and foolish, good loves and bad, true loves and mistaken loves. The question ultimately is, what is a right love, a good, just, and true love?” ~Margaret Farley in Who Told You That You Were Naked? Black Women Reclaiming Sexual & Spiritual Goodness

Sometimes love disappoints. And it sucks. And it’s all worth it because love is not the ultimate goal or benefit of our exchanges with the other. Becoming our best selves always is. And that destination is worth everything it will ever cost us.

This Valentine’s Day I invite you not to pretend to be OK if you’re not. Be fucked up if that’s where you find yourself – BUT DO NOT be there alone. Ideally, get good, faith-based clinical help. If that’s out of reach, lean on the shoulder of a trusted friend or mentor. If you allow yourself the luxury of this pain and move through it, this time next year, your next V-Day will be a whole different story. If you do not allow it to be what it is in this moment, the chances increase greatly that 2015 will be a repeat of now.

These are my flowers and chocolate treats to you –
the reminder that roses come with thorns and candy can be bitter as well as sweet.

Love yourself. Treat yourself. Absolutely – do that. But ALWAYS be real and true!

Simply, sometimes V-Days suck.

(c) 2014 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

sexuality in the news: down ass chick, gay marriage & catholic censure

sexuality in the news: down ass chick, gay marriage & catholic censure

Over the last week a number of articles and blog posts have crossed my desk that make wonderful contributions to our sexuality and spirituality discussions. I share them with you in this edition of sexNspirit.

What are your thoughts on these perspectives?

 The Evolution of a Down Ass Chick ~Crunk Feminist Collective

“Down Ass Chick: a woman who is a lady but she can hang with thugs. She will lie for you but still love you. She will die for you but cry for you. Most importantly she will kill for you like she’ll comfort you. She is a ride or die bitch who will do whatever it takes to be by your side. She’ll be your Bonnie if  you are her Clyde. Thugs love these bitches and they show this by showering them with stacks of cash, flashy jewels and rides. (Urban Dictionary)

I taught a class on black masculinity during the pre-summer session and the course covered everything from black man stereotypes, and the patriarchal requirements of black masculinity to big black penis myths, homophobia, and hip hop.  One of our most recent classes on romantic relationships between heterosexual black men and women inspired an interesting conversation that stayed for days. Forgive me for a quick (perhaps academic) summary.” Read more.

Baptists on Gay Marriage ~Tom Sabulis, Moderator, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“When President Barack Obama voiced his support for gay marriage, it set off another lively debate, some of which was captured on our pages last week. Today, two Baptist ministers on opposite sides of the issue hold sway.

. . .

By Randall C. Bailey – The basic understanding of marriage in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament is one man with many women. Polygamy is the norm for marriage in both Testaments. The only ones to be limited to monogamy in the Bible are bishops and deacons, according to 1 Tim 3:2, 12. We in the church today have evolved from the biblical view of polygamy and embraced monogamy for all, not just for bishops and deacons.

. . .

By Bryant Wright – When President Barack Obama came out for same-sex marriage last month, it was greeted with pure elation by gay rights advocates. It was just 43 years ago that homosexuals fought back against the police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, in New York, marking the beginning of the gay rights movement.” Read more.

hiding to make love and being violent in broad daylight, john lennon

image from k. ballinger’s facebook photos

Then after the Dr. Bailey posted the AJC blog post, he reposted an article from 2006.

Sanctified Hatred: Why Amending the Constitution to Ban Same-Sex Marriage Is Wrong ~Randall C. Bailey, Center for American Progress

“When I first heard of the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, I opposed it with heart and mind as an ordained Baptist minister who holds a Ph.D. in Biblical studies and as the brother of a gay Black man, Mark Aaron, who died of AIDS-related complications. My training and tradition helped form my theological beliefs and perspectives. My brother helped me with my spiritual journey and my understanding of culture.” Read more.

Vatican Censures US Nun Over Sexuality Book ~Ms. Magazine

“The Vatican censured a US nun, Sister Margaret Farley, on Monday because she wrote a book on sexuality. The book, “Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics,” focused on sexuality and veered from the Church’s teachings on masturbation, homosexuality, remarriage after divorce, and gay marriage. According to CBS News, Farley said that she had hoped to study sexuality through a variety of theologies, religious traditions, and the human experience. She stated that the book was not intended to be a reflection of the views of the Catholic Church.” Read more.

To subscribe to sexNspirit, scroll up & look to the right ===>

candi’s words – © 2012 candi dugas, llc

%d bloggers like this: