Girl Scout Barbie? No thanks.

barbiegs
from the Mattel website

Girl Scout Barbie? Are you KIDDING me?  

At first I thought it was an article from The Onion. Sadly, no. (Though they did have fun with it at Barbie’s expense.)

This is a carefully crafted marketing decision by Mattel. And the Girl Scouts.

 

You know, I could ignore the Barbie junk that seems to be everywhere in the toy aisles. I could rationalize that it’s just a joy, just a doll. But when the Girl Scouts decided to “pink” up with Mattel and their Barbie brand items, I had to draw the line.

It matters because of how Barbie represents the feminine body image, the ways in which females interact with society and the work place, and the commercialization of a non-profit group for girls and young women.

See more of my ViewPoint article published at the EEWC website here!

 

 

Grief and God

In late June, I had the opportunity to present a workshop on Grief and Loss. It was good for me to think about and put into words some of the things that I know to be very important. It was also a cool event – meeting up with other Christian Feminists at the EEWC Gathering!

Among the topics I touched on were some of the new paradigms for viewing grief and the mourning process. The most important point to me (aside from the obvious one that all of us will experience grief at some point in our lives) was the emphasis on learning from grief, not thinking it is something we have to get past. It’s a touchy point, because so many of us get stuck on the platitudes of well-meaning people.

Our grief stories are important.

In the process of reflecting, writing and talking about them, we discover where the pain has continued to nestle, and where we still “love with a limp.” It’s not that we have to act like everything is OK. Instead, remembering that we have been broken, we invite God into the process of reclaiming some of our former selves, even if the shape has knicks and dents and cracks.

kintsukuroiI used the example of the Japanese art of kintsukuroi. Instead of hiding the broken places, the artist uses a resin that has gold dust in it (or sometimes silver or platinum). The philosophy of this process suggests that the breakage and repair become a part of the object; transformation rather than perfection is the goal.

There are stories in the scars; beauty in the broken and repaired. We are still useable and needed, even if our brokenness shows. We do not have to be pre-grief-perfect!

Our culture struggles with this idea that grief can be good, that the pain of loss can be transformative. In the Christian subculture, there is a pervasive need to chirp happy little phrases like, “He’s not in pain now.” or “God must have needed another angel.”

Not only are these phrases unhelpful (we know that death means an end to suffering), but at times they are theologically wrong!

  • God does NOT need another angel! (Angels are created beings, like humans, and I think that God knew how many were needed.)
  • “You can have another baby…” (Ahem. “Can” is a medical opinion and I don’t think you’ve done the exam to make that judgement.)
  • He/She is in a better place. (Soteriology and eschatology aside, the person grieving is missing the PRESENCE of the person who died.)

So WHY do sincere, loving, well-meaning people say these things??

I suggested to my workshop participants that there are several reasons:

  • To “fix” things – They see that someone is hurting and they genuinely want to help
  • Personal distress – It brings up old wounds and they don’t want to go there
  • Misunderstand “grief” – Many, MANY people think grief has a timeline. It does not. (Simplistic answer for simplistic people.)
  • Pressure – They want things to get back to normal. In reality, what we are learning through grief is how to get to a “new normal.”
  • Foot-in-mouth disease –  We’ve all done it. Said exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time. We grow from it, forgive, and move on.

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I ended my workshop with a short service of remembrance.

It began with a video I created with an original reading set to music by Yiruma.

On the front table were candles and a set of river stones wrapped in cotton fabrics and tied with a jute twine. Inside each package was a small heart with this instruction:

Keep me as your remembrance stone.
When you are ready to let me go,
give me back to Creation.

Participants were invited to select a wrapped stone and share with us the life event or person that was still a source of grief. The stories which came up surprised the participants, some of whom were friends and never knew the depths of grief that others were experiencing.

The stones were then taken home by each participant, and they were encouraged to leave the stone some place, either mundane or deeply personal and significant, when they had come to the place that they were ready to move on. There was no time line. That was not important. Rather, each person would work to a place of readiness to leave the most intense period of grief behind.

The cloth wrapping around the stone and the jute will decay. The paper will dissolve. But the stone, like the memory of the one we grieve for, will continue.

We concluded the service with a responsive reading written by Jan Aldredge-Clanton and a blessing written by Sally Coleman. 

It was amazing to watch the Holy Spirit do the knitting work of transforming love. I put the pieces out there, but God put them together.

soli deo gloria 

The power of words: an article on EEWC

I wrote a ViewPoint article for my friends at EEWC (The Evangelical and Ecumenical Women’s Caucus) about the power of words. Many times we are flippant in our word choices. When someone objects to how we say something, we (I) might say, “Oh, take a chill pill.”

Lately, I’ve come to see that this attitude is flat out wrong. How we describe ourselves can be very powerful. And how we allow ourselves to be described by others is even more so!

It all started with reading my email:

I recently received a promotional newsletter from a healthcare agency well known in my area. They are sometimes regarded as the benchmark of hospice caregivers. So it was with some surprise that I read an article that began with these words:

“I believe in old women who learn new tricks — gutsy, wrinkled broads who eat alone in restaurants and pump their own gas.”

I about choked. GUTSY, WRINKLED BROADS? Are you kidding me? And who doesn’t pump her own gas these days?

I write more about the power of words. I hope you’ll check it out at the EEWC website!

I am… a Jesus Feminist

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I am reading and pondering the second book by women writers in as many months. You have to understand that I have about 30 or 40 books on my “to read” stack. I rarely FINISH a book. I start and mark and read… and eventually I finish. But I am a Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey is the second book I’ve inhaled. (A quick note to my writing friends. Yes, I liked your book too. But it wasn’t hitting me as much where I LIVE. And these did.)

The first book I read, Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber I’ll write about another time. It is taking me longer to process because it got way under my skin.

The book that is making me smile and say YES YES YES!!! is my current read, I am a Jesus Feminist. I’m not done with the book, but the quote that has made me stop and re-read and cry (a little) is this one…

“…regardless of the circumstances unique to us, the voice of God has a habit of breaking through the noise of our lives, giving us a turning point, an epoch, so that we mark the rest of our lives different from that moment on.”

EVERY TIME God has gotten my attention in a deep, visceral way, I have been changed. Every time I take that next awkward dance step of trust, I am renewed. And every time I try to talk about it, or blog about it, I fall short in expressing what has happened to me.

I am, truly, both a Pastrix and a Jesus Feminist. How these titles will live themselves out as I love God and serve God’s people, I can’t exactly tell you at the moment. But I know that with God’s help (and Divine intervention when I am so thick), it will happen.

I am leaning on God’s love for me, and waiting. Expectantly. Hopefully. And, sorta/kinda/not really peacefully. (Just being honest…)

ALL shall be well...
ALL shall be well…

All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.
Julian of Norwich.