Thursday, March 29, 2007

pondering on patriarchy

yesterday i was invited to write a woman i deeply respect and admire. i told her my story and knew that she would understand at least part of it because she was raised in the denomination that i grew up with. it was very cathartic. i longed to express my deep love for her and her husband because they helped me come out and away from that very backward world.

while i was writing i stumbled upon the idea that the demanding patriarchy my parents fell into when they converted to christianity caused a lot of confusion for not only me, but for both of my parents too. if you've ever read back into my archives you will know that my pseudonym here is my own mother's name. i am writing in her name to honor the words she was never able to own, speak or write. she entered the world of the silent and head covered when she was just shy of 30 and died when she was 43. neither of my parents had ever given any thought to 'creation order' or 'biblical hierarchy' before that time, they just found god and wanted to please him. they were told that this would make him happy and did their damnedest to follow along.

i realized as i wrote yesterday that this damaged their souls too. neither one of them "fit" the code or knew the rules. my mother was as passionate and outspoken as i am and my father was so content and happy behind the scenes helping everywhere he could. both of them were squeezed, prodded and shamed into becoming something at church that neither of them had the skills, spiritual gifts or natural inclination to be. respect for themselves and each other plummeted. and i could sense it like they sent of pheromones of falseness and fear, panic and confusion.

because my father wouldn't/couldn't "take leadership" in the home and at church, both my mother and i thought less of him, but i'm sure not nearly as little than he saw himself. because my mother and i just couldn't seem to pull off the shut-up and submit routine we lost respect in his eyes too, but again, not nearly as much as we lost in our own.

i began to wonder if the shame this type of enforced hierarchy brings imprisons not only the women forced into it, but also the men themselves.

the loss of confidence, the questioning of self, the assumed condemnation from your community and the wall that slowly builds between the self and god. what have we constructed?

i wrote in that letter yesterday about the little white box with the avocado carpet and the gold upholstered pews being the box that trapped god in. then i realized that i have always felt like a square peg in a round hole until i found the emergent discussion and the blogosphere. i realized that that little white box had defined me too. i finished that letter by telling her that she and her husband helped me kick down the walls of that box until i realized that i am me-shaped - no round, no squares, and definitely no boxes.

i hope that one day i can talk to my father and help him begin to dismantle that little white box too, so he can be free and get to know himself and god in a brand new way.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

hope for today

just when you think it's too dark lights begin to break through - for me today it was three posts by three amazing friends in the blogosphere. need a little hope?

share some of their's:

Monday, March 26, 2007

ted nugent plays on the next david crowder band cd!

i guess only the music guys are blogging lately - a little nice weather and the blogosphere goes silent, eh?

anyway - david crowder has been logging in on the production of their new cd and eating habits lately and the two crossed as they ran into fellow waco-ite (i have no idea what else they would call themselves?) ted nugent in a local eatery the other day.

david said that tomorrow he will be coming to the barn to play tracks for the new song 'we won't be quiet' - i wonder if he'll be touring with them? ha! ted nugent at the national youth workers convention! that's something i'd like to see!

keep track here:

emprise34's xanga site - david crowder's blog

Friday, March 23, 2007

max wax

one of my favorite people i've never yet met is max hsu of superchic(k) fame. he's so talented, funny and generous. i remember a couple of years ago opening my inbox to an email from him that said 'thanks for all the nice things you write about superchick" or something like that - totally unsolicited, so incredibly validating.

max has a blog that i read whenever he posts, about 3-4 times a month and today he shows that he's as masterful at storytelling as he is a producing music and photography.

you can find it here:

Life after happily ever after. The true story of a fairy tale ending.

oh, and you have to look at his photos.

and here's a picture of his puppy dog, brynn, that is just too cute for words:

Monday, March 19, 2007

the two majesties

the year was 1982 and i was a junior in high school on a field trip to the milwaukee art museum. growing up a country girl in a very upscale vacation destination i had not been raised in a cultured atmosphere. my theology and spiritual experience was stripped of any beauty or design and worship for me took place in a white square box with avocado green carpet and dusty gold upholstered pews. for someone who receives information visually this failed to engage the deep recesses of my soul.

i remembered the first time i ever felt those depths engaged - it was overlooking the shores of lake michigan in a room that was glassed in on each side, except for one - and it held this image. it is so real to me that there are tears running down my face as i reminisce like it was yesterday. the first time i was able to worship in a place of beauty with visual imagery.


i was so moved that i spent hard earned pennies on a post card of the image and it's little 4" x 6" beauty held prominence in my room and eventually my dorm. it was all i could afford, but although tiny, it was a window back to that place where it happened. proof that god was far bigger than the walls of that small little white box called "church".

i recently found this postcard in my old creative memories scrapbook that i used to pitch my wares. it has two little thumb tack holes and the back shows evidence of the scotch tape i used many times to move it from place to place as my residence changed.

i have searched for this card and searched online for this image. i googled it and could never find the artist or any information on it. it is called "the two majesties" was painted by jean-leon gerome in 1883. it measures 27 1/4" x 50" - but in my memory it was giant sized. i guess it was just the room. i have done some research on the room, trying to see if my memory of it was enhanced by time also. it was not.

here is the information from the MAM website:

The 1950s & Eero Saarinen Building

Eero Saarinen Building Famed Finnish architect Eero Saarinen (popularly known for his St. Louis Arch) designed the building,with Maynard Meyer of Milwaukee as associate architect. Saarinen's unique design for a floating cruciform with cantilevered portions created excitement in the community, and is now considered a classic in the development of modern architecture.

nice to know that at least part of my memory wasn't super-sized too. i remembered that i was ditched by my friends, or maybe i wanted to be alone. the chattering and giggling was probably interrupting the serenity i felt at such holiness. most of the displays that lead up to this room were very modern and cheeky, i enjoyed them and their commentary that resonated with my teen-age angst. as i mentioned before my art teacher was a chauvinistic taxidermist and he only painted water colors of old barns and underwater fish and expected us to do the same. blair says he sounds like a character out of a stephen king novel. i liked that. he was.

so this trip not only spoiled his tight control on my art, but it foiled years of indoctrination into the tight walls of my religion.

i remember being drawn to the view - the windows pulling me out to the cantilevered space - it was only when i turned around that i even saw the painting. i think it was supposed to happen that way. i know when i saw it i gasped. here was the aslan of my young memories, engaging with the beauty of the sea. i know the artist had no knowledge of c.s. lewis and the land of narnia, but the refuge of the story i had found myself in only allowed for the allegory to be that much more rich and right.

i lost track of time sitting there on the small bench set up for the weak in the knees like me. i wish i had the kind of teacher who would have sent us with sketch books or at least journals as i would love to know what my young mind would have recorded. all i have are my memories and my post card. and the echoes of my soul. it cracked open that day. and nothing could stop it. and for far too many years nothing could fill it.

so little has lived up to it's spiritual promise for me, but every so often something rings deep in those echoes, in the immense cavern of my soul and i remember.

the rabbit hole

this screen and the internet are becoming a pacifier for me. i know so many have given up blogging for lent - blogging is the most productive thing i do online - it's the most discipline i seem to have some days. that actually takes thought, intelligence and intention.

far too often lately the rabbit hole i find myself in is spent reading articles, finding recipes and playing stupid, stupid, time wasting games. lost in the looking glass...

Friday, March 16, 2007

new mantra?

i'm not formally participating in this month's habitude, because i sucked at keeping last month's and right now i don't seem to need one more thing to do that i suck at. so this is my yearly focus anyway - and i'm feeling pretty lost with it. i never realized how much i truly want to avoid my center.

rachelle posted today that jen b (new to me blog alert - possible water) recommended this as a mantra:

i love my body as i love a child.

hope and i were talking months ago about my need to mother and she asked me a deep question i had never thought about before, and have spent a lot of time thinking about since - "what would it look like to mother yourself?" - i think this might be one of the ways.

i love my body as i love a child.

i love my body as i love a child.

poor child. i love my children - but this strange random child is in for some damage. right now i want to pack my body so full of food that i can hardly breathe. i am struggling harder than i have in ages with my food. i know it is tied deeply into my body image, feeling sensual and female. and i am so weary of it all. so weary i can't even enjoy food anymore. i feel guilty and am so frustrated. the other people in my face to face group are doing so well, i am riding their recovery right now - because i have so very little of my own.

i know it is the last dregs of winter that keep putting me back into this place, i'm so tired of the indoors and being cold - and the forecast for this weekend is ugly. come on spring, mamma needs some walkin' shoes.

eggo my lego

ha! kester builds a some virtual lego effigies to the british emergent men - very funny!

The Complex Christ | Signs of Emergence: Emerging Heroes...: "The Complex Christ | Signs of Emergence"

thanks jordon!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

the secret

this post has been brewing in my head for weeks, and i'd like to brew for another one, but i have to get a few things out as i've had a lot of friends and people in recovery being exposed to this and left feeling confused and a bit lost.

for those of you living in a cave the secret has been touted by everyone from oprah to news anchors - it's the 'new thing' and people are all a twitter. the saddest part of this is that there is nothing new about it, other than the slick, multi-media, multi-million dollar sales pitch. john stackhouse has taken this on theologically, so i'm going to send you to his great post to explain that:

john stackhouse - oprah's secret: new? old? good? bad?

UPDATE: blair at preachy writings has some really good thoughts too: the secret vs the sphere: in pursuit of happyness and other urban fairy tales

i, on the other hand want to deal with this from the emotional, practical and recovery side.

first of all, i know it is so hard to be in a room with people who have just "found the secret" and to take issue with it. you look like you're too dumb to 'get it' - that's the point. they have found a way to pitch this like 'only the really smart people will understand this' - so ie, you stand against it, you're not smart... sigh. they're brilliant.

the other difficulty here is that you "can't" argue against it because then you are shown to be "negative", and negativity cannot dwell within "the secret". they're good, they're really good. it sets up this knowledge like a four star club that only the positive and smart people can get into - so if you challenge it you're not 'smart or positive' - brilliant. i mean, who wants to go against the queen? (oprah)

i took this position almost exactly 12 months ago when she was all gung ho on james frey and a million little lies, er i mean pieces... - remember that charade? she had found a new recovery, a new way of getting your life back together - remember? just decide and you can do it. what a hot mess that was. do you see the parallels here? oprah (and countless others) have always searched for the way you can have it all without admitting you are powerless.

this is the key. this is the 'easier, softer way' the big book speaks of. i'm sorry, but there is no 'easier, softer way.'

it is my opinion that this is the same lie from the garden, repackaged, slicked up and resold - "god doesn't have your best interests at heart, you can do it without god." it's what eve wanted to hear, it's what we all, deep in our heart of hearts wants to hear and believe.

i know that the people who are selling this will tell you that you can have god and the secret too, but the god they have packaged here is not the god of recovery. there is no easier, softer way. our lives have become unmanageable.

how many drunks, addicts and junkies want to believe that if they just stop being negative that they will be able to have everything they've ever dreamed of? every damn one of us. that's what gets us HERE in the first place, isn't it? the secret is like winning the lotto for the addict - you mean i can have my crack and eat it too? all i have to do is be positive and think good thoughts? yay! hurray! let's start today!

i just hope that oprah and her compatriots will be paying for the rehab of all of those addicts they are leading down this path. this 'easier, softer way'... because it will end in a lavish ball of decadence that leads the addict right back into the willing arms of their addiction.

come on people - how many lindsay lohans, britney spears and olsen twins does it take to tell you money and power and influence don't make people happy, whole and centered. you can't have it all. you just can't. oprah can, you can't. and even she can't fill that great big hole in her heart either, that's why she's got to take each and every one of you with her. because when the cameras stop rolling and nobody's there she's so lonely and desperate every little girl in africa can't make it better.

i love her, oh how i love her. i love her vision, her passion and her ability to see need and meet it - her heart is good, oh so good, but like mine, her heart is deceitful. i think that means that it will always trick her - just like mine. it will always lead her away from god, to the easier, softer way. and unfortunately, where she leads, many, so very many will follow.

"the secret" tells you you are powerful. step one tells us that we are powerless. it's humiliating. it's horrible to have to admit that food, alcohol, sex, drugs, gambling or any other fix has control over you - but in doing so something happens. god does for us what we are not able to do for ourselves. this is the rub. powerful vs. powerless - can you see why they're making millions selling the books and dvd's? who doesn't want to believe that if they think it and say it it will happen? powerful indeed.

what they don't tell you is that all of those people who "knew the secret" from ancient days were still just people. they were still lonely, tried to fill their lives with stuff, money and power and led empty, temporary lives. they still died. dead. done. all of their stuff went to someone else - and their power was gone. that's a secret nobody is talking about.

thomas jefferson is one of the poster children of "the secret". from what i can see he was not a happy person. we're still finding out about the mess he made of his life and the secret relationships he had. he is held out as one of those who understood "the secret". did he have power and influence, sure - but he wasn't whole, healthy and happy. he was still searching, grasping and fleeting until the day he died. do we remember his name, yes. would have we remembered it if he didn't believe in "the secret"? i don't know. but i do know that there were things he didn't understand. things he didn't grasp. things he didn't understand and no power of positive thinking could give him that.

so please, if you are pondering 'the secret' please sit with this:

How It Works

Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average.

There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it -- then you are ready to take certain steps.

At some of these we balked. thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.

Remember that we deal with alcohol, cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power that One is God. May you find Him now!

Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. we asked His protection and care with complete abandon.

Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:
  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Many of us exclaimed, "What an order! I can't go through with it." Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.

Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventure before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:
(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
(c) That God could and would if He were sought.

AA Big Book - Chapter 5


there is no 'easier, softer way', i'm sorry. i wish there was. i wish with all my heart there was. that i could just speak it, believe it and it would be true, but it didn't work for dorothy and it won't work for me.

this is the secret i want you to know. god loves you, god loves you, god loves you.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

HBO Addiction Project

don't get hbo up here, but this looks like it will be a great program to catch if you struggle with addiction:

The Blog | Barbara Kopple: HBO Addiction Project | The Huffington Post

Saturday, March 10, 2007

feeding the center

those of you reading since the beginning of this year will know that my word for this year is "center". i'm hoping that it will help me to find more peace being in my skin and contentment, even joy at being a woman, specifically, this woman. needless to say other than silence and centering i really have NO idea how to achieve this. i have been praying for direction. i never expected to find it in my craft cupboard.

i have been organizing a lot of stuff lately, most recently my scrapbooking supplies and craft supplies. i came across some beautiful susan branch stickers i had purchased years ago, and it had this quote:

Nothing feeds the center of being
so much as creative work.
The curtain of mechanization
has come down between the mind and the hand.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

she is someone i would have loved to meet. everything i have ever read that she has spoken or written is so centered and beautiful. how surprised i was to see that by becoming more creative this year i will find my center. this puts such a big smile on my face. i can hardly believe it's true. it seems so indulgent. almost like permission. i know if my word for this year was "creative" it wouldn't have inspired me as deeply. i love that i'm going for 'centered' and getting creative too.

the other amazing part of this is the word "feeds" - being a compulsive overeater i constantly have my radar up for words that speak in reference to food, eating, fullness and satisfaction. i know that what i truly hunger for has little to do with food. i'm excited to see how feeding my center helps to keep me from feeding my stomach.

rich, rich thoughts today. hope you're finding them too. happy weekend!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

happy birthday erin!


one of the highlights of this past year was getting to meet a long time blogger friend, erin. she is one of the most creative, inspiring women i have had the joy of getting to know. she is a woman of many talents and a huge heart and i love her dearly!

happy birthday erin!

i hope your time in british columbia was everything you hoped it would be and that lori is celebrating your life today!! wish i could be there! can't wait to talk when you get back home and settled in.

much love!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

dear patriarchy

bob at the corner linked to this letter/article written by science fiction/fantasy writer elizabeth bear. she writes:

Dear Patriarchy:

I don’t care what you think.

I’m not here to convert you. I’m not here to enlighten you. I’m not here to try to earn your respect. I don’t need it.

I am not scared of you.

You see, I can win without you. I can make a living without you. I can reach a broad readership of women–yes, and men too! lots of men! men who are enlightened, and emotionally secure!–without you. It’s really kind of awesome. After fifteen years working in corporate America, actually, where I usually had to do what a particular type of authoritarian men wanted if I wanted to keep my job, these days, I can pick the audience I care to appeal to.

nolove, Bear.


wow. this is so powerful i think i'm going to write my own! she ends the article with this line:
Because nothing is more terrifying to an extant power structure than a frictionless surface. And the magic of it all is that they have no power over me.

i think that is one of the things the internet has done to/for the church - it has made the kingdom a frictionless surface - the women sitting under neanderthal teaching have access to truth now - they can't build the walls high enough anymore. and there are no footholds on this frictionless surface for them to stand and abuse anymore.

they have no power over me. i LOVE that phrase. i found out last week from my aunt that my father freaked out when she told my aunt that i was preaching at church, right in the middle of a restaurant, which is so not his style. i joked with her he'd rather tell his conservative friends who ask about me that i have backslidden and am a crack whore than i am using my gifts in the church and god forbid "teaching men"...

dear patriarchy,

the walls of power you have built in the church can no longer hold me in, keep me down or silence me. you have no power here, the kingdom of god is bigger than the fortress you have built to keep us in check. you tried to keep us making the coffee, cooking and cleaning up and making you fat with our meals.

i am not afraid of you. i don't need you anymore. there are women and men who love jesus all over the world who know the truth now. you can't stop this because we're taking our wallets with us. your source of income will dwindle to the size of your small, shrunken hearts.

and just so you know, it really is awesome out here, you're welcome to join us, the kingdom is wide and deep and full of life. you will have to set down your power though. it doesn't work here. you see true kingdom life is the kryptonite to patriarchy. jesus came to set the captives free. and we are free indeed.

no love, bobbie

those who matter don't mind

"Be who you are and say what you feel,
because those who mind don't matter
and those who matter don't mind."
Dr. Seuss

Friday, March 02, 2007

A Lesson from Ted Haggard–and Henri Nouwen « Prof. John Stackhouse’s Weblog

this is beautiful.

A Lesson from Ted Haggard–and Henri Nouwen « Prof. John Stackhouse’s Weblog

this is about the time i want to punch bing crosby

okay, stop with the snow already!

it should be illegal to call a snow day on the day before march break, right? stretching the already long 11 days to 12... sigh. i guess if you're traveling it's wonderful, but when you're not, occupying kids for that stretch of time can be a lot of work.

especially when the mother is planning a birthday party for her son tomorrow. i just wanted today...is that too much to ask??

i just can't get that part of 'holiday inn' out of my head where bing and the other three are riding the train to vermont singing that blasted song. i can't get it out of my head...

so, now you know how my day's going... how's yours??