Hallelujah. (A song if you like to sing. A poem if you like poetry.)

So many questions I ask
So many thoughts that I ponder
So many glimpses of you
In the ones they pushed aside

But I find you out here in the fringes
Wide valleys
With fields open wide
These faces and stories remind me
There’s room right here in your Kingdom
No, This door has never been closed

So when I go another way
That looks different from the safe confines of home
And I question all that is “true”

Hallelujah
I know I still run to you
Hallelujah
Yes I know I still run to you

 When I don’t look for you in Churches
And re-define “quiet times”
But still experience your presence
And don’t fall out of your arms of love

Hallelujah
I know I seek you again
Hallelujah
Yes I know I will seek you again

 When every footstep is sinking
And visions of love smash in sharp fragments
But I feel your hand uphold me
No, You never once gave up on me

Hallelujah
I know I will see you again
Hallelujah
Yes I know I will see you again

When the next impossible enters the junction
And this dream’s nothing more than a dead dandelion
Still I’ll know you create life out of crushed spirit
That’s where the essence of life becomes found

Hallelujah
I know I will find you again
Hallelujah
Yes I know I will find you again

Hallelujah come find us again

hands

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What Friedrich Nietzsche has taught me.

Nietzsche

Lately, this Nietzsche quote keeps resurfacing in my brain; I’m completely engrossed by its imagery and eccentricity. I imagine a crowd of dancers, celebrating life, knowing deep within their core that beauty, light, love, and freedom are completely possible. You just might have to separate yourself from the naysayers. The crowd who could not hear the music reminds me of people who dwell in the rigidity of black and whites, who can’t live with the grey of life. People who can’t dance; they’re too busy going to board meetings and cubicles, keeping busy with the “right” images to bear, people who have settled for regularity instead of extraordinary. So one crowd is viewed as insane; the other as refusing to hear. I know which side I want to be on. I want to dance in open fields with the free, the eccentric, the dreamers, those on the fringes…

This quote got me wondering what else there was to Nietzsche’s persona. One time, I saw some cheesy (ignorant is probably more accurate) Christian t-shirt for sale that said “God is dead”-Nietzsche. “Nietzsche is dead.” -God. I can’t stand most Christian t-shirts (minus my pastor’s awesome “What Wouldn’t Jesus Do?” t-shirt in which Jesus is hang-gliding). This one especially irks me because it suggests that as Christians, you shouldn’t listen to anything Nietzsche says. But Nietzsche has the imago dei (Image of God) in him. And I’m discovering just how beautiful this image is. Stunning. Makes me want to invite him on a hike to muse about life, light, and darkness. Too bad he really is dead, though (circa 1900).

I imagine Nietzsche’s persona to be an intriguing mix of light and darkness; a mix we all have, perhaps, but looks different in each one of us. Some of his words, for example, leave me breathless in beauty:
“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.”
“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.”
“What else is love but understanding and rejoicing in the fact that another person lives, acts, and experiences otherwise than we do…?”

Others make me want to shout, “Amen!”
“I cannot believe in a God who wants to be praised all the time.”
“In truth, there is only one Christian and He died on a cross.”
“I would only believe in a God that knows how to dance.” (I’m a big believer that there will be dancing in Heaven. And if God isn’t dancing, I imagine s/he’ll at least be DJ-ing)

Others seem dark:
“The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a dark night.”
“Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torment of man.”

And others make me scratch my head in confusion, brewing up possible ideas for what he meant:
“Does wisdom perhaps appear on the earth as a raven which is inspired by the smell of carrion?”
“Kalau diinjak cacing akan bergelung. ini cerdik. dengan demikian berkurangnya peluang diinjak lagi. dalam bahasa moral: tahu diri” (I might not be so confused if I understood German).

-Nietzsche-is-dead.-Vector-Design-T-ShirtsIt makes me mad that at a young age, I was presented (in the name of Christianity) with the notion that I shouldn’t listen to this guy because he has beef with God. And having beef with God is bad (unless it’s the ram you’ve just sacrificed) (more not-so-funny sarcasm). All of these quotes remind me that we can never completely understand the soul of another. I’ve been asking friends and family if they’ve ever heard about him or read any of his literature, hoping somehow I could figure out who this guy is and what he really meant by some of his elusive words.

All of this makes me realize how quick I am to want to compartmentalize people, as if codifying them in boxes will somehow make me be able to understand them better. But people don’t live in boxes. Most of us live in homes, yes, but we go into the outside world and dance and play and work and sing and write and dream and run. Nietzsche was no different. Nietzsche wasn’t meant for little ol’ me to place in a box. He’s a person with a story. A story that I don’t have figured out. And that’s ok. Sometimes mystery and wonder are just as much inspiring traits to have as honesty and candidness. 

I see such beauty and inspiration dripping from his penned words. And I see darkness too. A bit of hopelessness. That suicide is somehow a consolation. But each of us display hues and shades of darkness and light; some of us are just more willing to acknowledge both the light and darkness within us. I had a conversation like this in an open field on a spring afternoon with a beautiful soul. The two of us, laying in the grass, mused about what it means to love the darkness and the light. I don’t have any answers. Just some thoughts… That darkness and beauty do coexist within me. I need not be afraid of the darkness, for it is human. But I have nothing to fear. The light, the beauty, the imago dei that fills our souls with life. That will never leave.

Thanks, Nietzsche.
Thanks, Colleen, for lying in the fields.
Thanks, Needtobreathe, for teaching me about the juxtaposition of darkness and light.

1. T-shirt photocredit: spreadshirt.com

Thoughts on Solitude.

There was a bird outside my window this morning
Happily chirping its song; its story.
Another one joined in.

I’m not sure what they were saying
But I felt like their language spoke to my soul
Reminding me to go outside today
And spend some time in solitude.

So that’s what I did.
I zipped up my snow boots
And hit the trails
Climbing up powdered white paths
Sparkling like sugar cookies
In the mid-afternoon sun.

I glanced down at footprints of deer
And footprints of other hikers
Wondering what their journeys are like
And how they experience the world around them.

Sometimes I feel guilty going places alone.
Life is short
And people are beautiful, after all.

A couple years ago
I moved back to Baltimore
And within a few months, realized most of my friends had moved home or moved away
And I had a night
Where the few friends I had left
Were all busy
And I felt an immense loneliness come over me.

It was a cold, dark January evening and Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder
can be more than SAD; it can be depressing.
I was so lonely inside; I scared myself.

Have you ever had a moment like that?
Where you’re so caught off guard by what’s going on inside?

I did the one thing that I thought might help.
I called an old friend in New York just to make sure I was alive and breathing.
Luckily she answered.
She was out with friends
And I think she thought I was acting a little melodramatic

But never the less
A few words
From an old friend
On a lonely night
Melted away tears of despondency
And I vowed to never get that lonely ever again.

That was two years ago.
I’m thankful for new friends who’ve touched my heart
and for old ones who’ve stuck it out.

Although as a recovering people-pleaser and conflict avoider,
There are times when it would be much easier to keep inside my shell;
I’ve come to realize that people, community, are absolutely essential to personal growth,
apart from which my soul would deaden bit by bit.

But sometimes I don’t want to talk
And sometimes I need to be alone in my thoughts,
With God
Staring at vast skies like open pages.

I need to lie on my back
Let the grass be my pillow
And take pictures of the sun sinking behind open fields.

And sometimes,
In my calmest of moments,
I need only to be outside and sit there;
Doing nothing particular at all.

So I’ll sit on my front porch
While crickets sing to evening stars
And I’ll stare at the moon
Wondering what the moon sees when it stares at us.

All of this connects me back to the world around me
To God, to people, to the shifting Earth upon which we stand.
And all of this makes me realize
That solitude is an indispensable part of life
For wallflowers and social butterflies alike.

That solitude isn’t selfish
But creates room enough to embrace resonate beauty.
It disrupts the rush, the driving back and forth, the cacophony of sirens blaring through city streets.
It forces me to address the thoughts that keep resurfacing my mind
When it would be easier to keep ignoring them.

It lets me find myself under willow trees
Beside gurgling streams
That sound like the warm water
That will fill up my bathtub tonight.

It helps me find my center
Whether basking in sunshine
Or crunching in leaves,
Whistling along with the birds.

So may it be.

May we find solitude
That fills our souls
So that we are alone, but never really alone.

May we be filled with wonder
That prevents us from ever daring to think we can fully understand
This world, this beauty, the footprints and fingerprints of another.

May the birds’ song serenade you
Open paths guide you
God’s smile shine upon you
And give you peace.

IMG_1442

How do you find solitude? What do you, not do? Where do you go? Where don’t you go? How often do you experience solitude in your life?

The shallow cracks within my soul.

There’s a path I sometimes walk
That doesn’t create wonder and gratitude nor beauty or intimacy
But that walks in the “in-between.”

That’s too afraid of change or the possibility of things turning out worse
So I don’t take full steps to make it better.

The part of me that trades in originality and audacity and brightness
For dullness and sameness.
And makes me feel like a let down
To the 18 year old girl inside of me
Who once woke up with an airbag in her face
Car slammed in a telephone pole
Calling 911
Vowing to never ever take the preciousness of life for granted ever again.

Who pushes off booking a Southbound flight
To roll down hills with my cousin
Who feels like a little sister
All because I’m scared of what will happen
If I don’t make the next dollar
And have to live off savings for a while.

There’s a part of me that doesn’t say the words I want to say
Because I’m scared to be different
And so I choke behind the voices that tell me to be quiet
Just to “fit in.”

There’s a part of me that wants to run the opposite direction of anything religious
And get pissed off at God
Or rebel against every Christian teaching
To spite the dogma of heavy nooses I’ve experienced in Evangelicism.

And sometimes,
I’m glad I do this.

Because in the defiance
I find space to stop hearing the words that hurts me.
And get to ask every unadulterated question I’ve ever wanted to ask.

But most of the time, I know I go home
To my room
And my candlelight
And it’s just me
And God
And I get scared of death
Or need hope
Utterly.
Within my soul
Every part of me in tune with my need for God
And I’m ashamed that I would ever turn my back on him/her
When the last thing God would do
Is turn his/her back on me.

So the words of the most subversive person I know
Whispers in my ear,
“Come with me
And I will show you the unforced rhythms of grace…”

There’s a part of my soul that dies a little when I think about how much time I spend
Ruminating on how much I dislike my job
But don’t know how to make my dreams reality
So I become like many Americans
And get a temporary high on Friday nights
That crashes 48 hours later
With the Sunday evening blues.

There’s a part of me that’s too afraid to take a chance on my dreams
Because they aren’t “academic” enough
Or important enough
Or impressive enough.
And that’s when I remember
I’m feeding into the trap
That certain careers are more important than others
When all we really need to do
Is find that makes us come alive
And go do that
And let everyone else
Chase success and notoriety
In a job they hate but think “looks good.”

There’s a part of me
That wishes I were the opposite gender
Because I hate the fact that mine
Makes me less muscular, less tall
And is laiden with propriety
And tells me to change my last name
And have kids
That I don’t really want to have.
At least not biologically.

There’s a part of me
That’s hurt by every ignorant statement
Mouthed by Evangelicals
Or conservative white or black men
Spewing out their desire for pompous power
By telling women how they should live (the “sanctity” of life) and die (don’t you care go into combat, after all, you’d make the military have to change the way it does things to become more gender equitable and that’s really inconvenient).

I realize how much I want to become sarcastic
And yell in anger
And let men see
A women get angry
Instead of passive, taciturn, and “nice.”

And sometimes I’m glad I do this.

But most of the time,
I think about Jesus.
And how hard it is to love the way he talks about loving.
Especially when it comes to loving those crazy (insert the opposite political party with which you affiliate).
And so I make a fool of myself
Missing out on an opportunity to develop my character
By instead choosing anger and resentment
Instead of something more courageous
Like love.

I walk these icy paths of the cracks within my soul
And confess my wasted moments
And ask God to redeem them
To start afresh in the morning
And ask for just a little more time in solitude
Here in the light
In open spaces
Where the sound of stillness
And the beat of my heart
And the wind on my face
All remind me to come alive
And be contraire
And get out of my head, my self, my biases
And get lost in the dreams and stories of each beating heart around me.

And together we’ll solidify the cracks
Until they become steady ground
Connecting hearts
And minds
And dreamers.

We’ll glance up to the endless sky
And find ourselves and lose ourselves
In these cracks and crevices
Of darkness
And of light.
046

10 Reasons Why Men Are Unfit For Combat

((A Satire)).

http://news.discovery.com/human/ban-on-women-in-combat-lifted-130123.htm

10. Because we need men on the home front to dictate what women should and shouldn’t do, especially regarding life (reproductive rights) and death (combat participation).

9. Because men are far too unemotional: they kill people and don’t come back with PTSD.

8. Because men are too strong: they will kill the entire country, including innocent civilians. We need women who are weak because, “The average female soldier does not even have the arm strength to throw a grenade far enough to keep herself from getting blown up.” (-Bryan Fischer, “Women Are Emotionally Unfit for Combat”)

7. Because men are too much of a distraction during combat.

6. Because if men die, then that’s one less kid without a father. And we all know men’s primary role is to be a father.

5. Because a man could get raped. And women are never raped in military situations, so clearly this would only be a problem for men.

4. Because men pee standing up. And everyone knows you can’t stand up and pee in the middle of a combat zone; you have to squat.

3. Because men can’t handle blood and dirt. That’s why there are no male nurses, especially not on newborn wards, and men don’t handle dirty diapers: they’re just too dirty!

2. Because we had foremothers, not forefathers!!

1. Because we would be too inclusive. Like Canada, New Zealand, Norway, France, Australia. What next? We allow gays to serve? And equitable healthcare? Forget this. I’m moving to Canada. Oh wait…

Photo Credit: http://news.discovery.com/human/ban-on-women-in-combat-lifted-130123.htm

Women in Combat? The outcry should be about war, not gender.

“In addition to questions of strength and performance, there also have been suggestions that the American public would not tolerate large numbers of women being killed in war.”

If it’s so “intolerable” for women to die in war, why does that make it “tolerable” for men to die in war? We have standards for how women should live, and now we have standards as to what are acceptable and unacceptable ways for women to die?

Up until today, I didn’t know the Women in Combat law existed. Maybe I live in a rabbit hole, but I actually thought that women and men could equally serve in the military. Apparently that just wasn’t true. One more way in which the sexes are valued differently in American culture, and one more battle won, I suppose.

But what if the issue at stake is not whether females are suitable for actively annihilating other human beings, but what if the real issue is war? How can we minimize it? How can we become blessed peacemakers? Perhaps we can view this as nothing more than a rally cry to “beat our [Ak 47s] into ploughshares?” (Isaiah 2:3-4) Maybe this is our time to “learn war no more.” If we can’t accept women dying in combat, perhaps we shouldn’t accept combat either.

Too simplistic, eh?

Just ask Ghandi. And Rosa Parks. And Martin Luther King.

And they will tell you that equality, nonviolence, and peace can not only coexist, but are entirely indispensable.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/23/women-in-combat_n_2535954.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003

God, Football, the American Flag, and Nationalism.

pray lewis

1.19.13: One of my favorite views of Baltimore City right now is entering into the downtown area from the 395 off-ramp. Our city is painted with Ravens spirit-purple lights dancing on skyscrapers, “Go Ravens” posters taped to city windows, and, my favorite: the billboard that simply said “WOW” after the Raven’s win last Saturday. In fact, as I sit down to write this at the Towson Public Library, a woman just pointed out that the bookshelf next to me contains an entire collection of books with purple covers, complete with a border of purple stars cut out of construction paper.
Purple has become a unifying topic bringing complete strangers together in conversation. All week at work, I’ve asked patients, “You see the game last Saturday?” or I’d see someone wearing a purple scarf and fist bump in the air an amiable, “Go Ravens!” (and often hear, “I know, that’s right.”) I think this is one of the beautiful things about sports: its ability to bring people together, irrespective of socioeconomic status, race, or political beliefs.
But I can’t help but notice something else too.

When did “football” become so analogous with “God” like “God” and “America?” (i.e.
“God Bless America” bumper stickers, etc.) Faith and football, faith and flag. Is this what God is all about? In comments sections of Ray Lewis’ exhortation of “No Weapon Shall remain” are statements such as, “God was with our team.” Is God not with the team who loses? “God blessed our team.” Is God not blessing the teams who lose? Is God up in Heaven writing out the play by play of who will pass to who, and who will miss the ball, to make that person score, to make this team win?

Don’t get me wrong.

I’ve prayed throughout competitions. Not so much to win, but to focus my mind on something bigger than myself to draw upon for strength. I’m not saying people should or shouldn’t pray or talk about their faith in the arena of sports.

But what I am questioning is the amount we partner “God” with “football.” In a nation with “In God We Trust” written on our currency, and in a nation in which “God Bless America” is uttered in many speeches, auditoriums, and pre-game concerts, I wonder at what point we’ve made a show out of God being on “our side.”

What would it look like to live in a world in which we had murals about praying for peace, rather than praying for football? What would it look like to talk about God in correlation with social justice as frequently as God is talked about with America and football? What if we had prayer rallies not for our team to win, but for no children to be trafficked at the Super Bowl? As Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott stated prior to the 2011 Superbowl in Arlington, Texas,

 “The Super Bowl is the greatest show on Earth, but it also has an ugly underbelly. It’s commonly known as the single largest human trafficking incident in the United States.”

Something tells me we are off kilter when we pray for teams to win the Superbowl, while forgetting about 14 year old girls sold off as “Superbowl Specials.” Because when you look at Jesus’ priorities, it was always for those on the fringe to be brought into inclusion, while nationalism and religiosity were shunned.

So bring on the purple. Pray about anything and everything. But let’s realize that God is much bigger than football. God is much bigger than America. God cares about more than blessing solely either one of those. Let’s remember that God loves and blesses all people, and for those who do not experience such blessings due to poverty and war, let’s be conduits of peace and justice. And win or lose, let’s know how deeply God loves our opponents, our enemies, and ourselves, showing no favoritism while at the same time cheering each of us on to become more and more into the likeness of our Creator.

So, what do you think?
What does America most often couple God with? Love? Justice? Homophobia? Sports?
Do you believe that God shows no favoritism while at the same time cheers us on as we seek God’s heart?

When You Don’t Know What You Believe Anymore. (Finding Community in the Midst of Uprootedness)

I was on the phone with a friend last night who was describing, through tears, the confusing, sometimes lonely, often uncertain journey of re-evaluating your faith. When you’re figuring out what you really believe versus what you’ve been taught to believe. When you have more questions than answers. When you see more grey than black and white. When you feel like you don’t fit in anywhere. I found glimpses of my story in my friend’s story and thought back to a time about a year and a half ago. It was quite a lonely time and I felt this innate desire to be understood; for just one person to say, “Yes, I’ve wondered about that too…”
Eventually, I would come to understand these feelings better through Ed Cyzewski’s “Divided We Unite” (free PDF version found here).

“For some of us who have been rooted in one spot for a while, sometimes the old answers and ways of doing things stop making sense. ‘Transplants’ are often in vulnerable positions, as they don’t feel like they fit anywhere, their beliefs have been shaken in some way… [One problem transplants may have] is they sometimes rush into something new without dealing with their previous hurts and disappointments. I saw this a lot with folks who were disappointed by the church and then jumped right into house churches or emerging churches without seeking healing first.”

Transplant! A-ha. It was the word I had been looking for but couldn’t put my finger on. A season of uprootedness is where I’ve been since my senior year of college, when the teachings of the Evangelical world didn’t fit in with how I understood gender, sexuality, salvation, and social justice. I’m still in “transplant.” And that’s ok. It’s nice here; I’ve finally found some fellow flowers in the field and know I’m not alone anymore.

This conversation with my friend brought back visceral memories of the past year and a half, when I was just beginning to verbalize my discontentment with “Christianity as usual.” I was only just starting to write out my truest feelings through a new outlet I created- this blog. I was only just beginning to speak up and share my truest feelings and opinions around other believers, as I didn’t want to ruffle too many feathers; rather, I just wanted to somehow arrive at a semblance of settledness and peace about my faith and wanted to get there as placidly as possible- you know, just kind of slide out of the back doors of former Churches and Christian groups and enter into an unprecedented dawning of a new era in my faith: freedom. Of having a voice without fear of being choked for voicing a different perspective, another way of living faith, another way of trying to love a God I can’t understand completely, but long to know deeply; a God I revere, but will no longer appease with praises and prayers that are null of the complete struggles I have with the Bible- with its violence and oppression of women– and gender, and Heaven and Hell and all the other stuff that I needed to be freed from and hash out with none other than my Maker.
Somewhere during this time span, God gave me an invaluable gift of freedom that I’m still exploring. The girl who finally left the “non-denom world” (Christianese for Churches that aren’t affiliated with any particular denomination and usually consider themselves Evangelical) for the United Church of Christ (and trembled the whole way, wondering when an Evangelical was going to tell me that denominations were bad or that the UCC is too liberal). The girl who was almost too afraid to post “6 reasons why I support question 6” for fear of retaliation from former conservative acquaintances became the girl who would speak at the UCC about how the church can be proponents of recognizing the imago dei in all by supporting marriage equality. I have much work to do on this road to freedom, but the familiar tears of my friend reminded me of the faith metamorphosis I’ve been through this year, as God brought some fellow stumbling, bumbling (whatever that means anyway) folks who love God and love people and don’t care for the dogma of anything else that takes away from this love. In my desperation, God brought such people into my life and they have shown me that I’m not alone; that there are more of us out there than we think.

So where are you right now? Have you ever been in a place where you weren’t sure what you believed and struggled to reconcile what you’ve been taught about Christian faith with what your experiences have been outside of the confined walls of doctrine and “shoulds?” Are you in that place now?
Hang on.
Reach out.
Speak up.
And find us out here in these open spaces…

Have you been through uprootedness before? Go reach out to someone who’s currently experiencing this. You remember how vulnerable and shaky it feels when your whole faith world gets thrown upsidedown. So go have that conversation. Go get that coffee. Go on that walk. And find a way to remind a fellow brother/sister/soon-to-be-friend that they aren’t the only one who feels this way.

Because no matter where we are in our faith journeys, we need each other. We need to know we’re not alone with our thoughts. With our questions. With our inability to sit still, hands folded on our laps, seated at our pews, secretly dying inside to a faith that is out of touch with reality, that’s not listening (just shouting), and that’s not loving (just pointing fingers).
We all need to know that we can love our God even if we want to release some of the things we were taught to believe about Christianity. And may we always come to know, deep, within our core, that there is and always will be room for us all at the table.
Come.
You may have heard you won’t belong if you doubt, or you won’t be “in,” if you question the way you do. But hear it crystal clear: you do belong. So come; have a seat. Or, if you’ve been sitting for way too long and need a fine place to stand, find your space to stand. Or run. Or cartwheel upon these endless fields of freedom. Come. There’s room for you. You’ll figure out what you believe in time. You don’t have to have it all figured out now. In the meantime, we’ll be here, in the muck and mire and mess and in the starting over and the joy, with you, beside you, learning with you, growing with you, questioning with you, passing around the cup and the bread and the Kingdom will Come, oh if but a taste of it in the now, and also in the forever and ever. Yes, yes, amen.
go out into the highways

Sports + Refugees= Empowerment (And A Dream I’m Not Yet Sure How to Turn Into Reality)

What’s your passion?

That thing that gets your heart beating faster, your mind imagining and creating, aliveness pulsing through your veins?

What do you need to do to pursue it?

What scenes do you see when you daydream?
Is your dream out there? Can you find it? If you can’t find it… is it time to create it?

I’ve found myself in the latter part of that sentiment. I dream about how sports can be used in the developing world to address the Millennium Development Goals  Most days, I’m not sure what that looks like. While I wave my hands in the air asking God for a road map, all I hear Him/Her say is, “Just begin.” So I decided to begin somewhere… at a refugee healthcare class at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health last fall. Below is a link to my final paper “Sports as a Tool for Refugee Empowerment” featured on Sport&Development.org. Feel free to check it out and if you know anyone who might be able to help me on this journey… I’d love to know!

So you’ve got the tug on your heart…

What steps will you take this year to actively pursue it?

Who will support your journey?

… Ready. Begin.

I’m not sure what all this looks like most days, but when I think about this dream, it looks a little like this. (Plus some sprints, drills, and health lessons in between!)
Photo Credit: UNHCR. http://www.unhcr.org/3fc612cf6.html

“Give Me Sons or I will Die!” ((Why I Can’t Stand Most of Genesis, But Do Love Jesus)).

“Give me sons or I will die!” Pleads Rachel (Gen: 30:1).

A bit demanding and a bit degrading, this usage of “sons” is just one of the 132 times “sons” are mentioned in the book of Genesis. Can you guess how many times “daughters” are mentioned? …A measly 46, mostly in the context of taking them as wives. 

“This time my husband will honor me because I have borne him six sons,” smiles Leah, placidly, barefoot and postpartum.

Noticing her sister’s increasing attention among women in the community (“I am happy that the women call me happy,” -Gen. 30:13), Rachel’s aforementioned protest for sons results in her giving birth to a son, though she’s still not satisfied. “May the Lord add another son to me,” she declares.

My re-readings of Genesis have left me disgruntled and hurt at best. Lists of family lineages only mentioning sons while purposely omitting daughters is incomplete, disrespectful, demeaning and perpetuates a society that renders one sex as worthy, cherished, and sought after, while another sex, overlooked, dismissed, incapable, and not as important. Re-reading about men who “take” multiple women as their wives, plus a few more for concubines further revolts me.

And… to throw in a tangent… Not to mention, the part where God rains burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah from out of the sky… God-the God of Love… pouring burning sulfur on God’s people, each made in imago dei… (Gen. 19:24)… ((shakes head)).

These are just some of my struggles with “The Word.” 

Because it seems so unlike the God and I know, and most definitely irreflective of the Jesus I’ve come to adore.

When I read of Jesus and spend time with Jesus, I have no doubt of my worth as a female child of God and do not feel unwanted as a woman (nor do I worry that God will pour chemicals on my head). Why?

Because Jesus treated women with dignity. 24 times, Jesus mentions women in Luke and each time in instructive and positive ways.1 Jesus taught women scripture in era that reserved this privilege only for men. He traveled and “preached the Good News of the Kingdom of God” with his 12 disciples and “also some women who had been healed.. Mary, Joanna, Susanna, and many others who were supporting them” (Luke 8:1-3). While Genesis names lengthy lineages of Sons of Abraham, Jesus chooses to call attention to one of the “daughters of Abraham” (Luke 13:16). Jesus gave women equal rights in marriage by doing away with polygamy and divorce laws (since only men could seek a divorce at that time and men could have many wives, but women could not have multiple husbands).2

Since Jesus treated women with dignity, I am reminded that God does too, no matter what the author of Genesis purports. The Bible is difficult and when Christian males give me a hard time when I say that I struggle with the Bible and do not find it entirely true nor inerrant, I will ask them to read the above passages and ask them what it would feel like if it was their gender being minimized. Imagine if there were only accounts of daughters and women fervently pleading, “Oh please, not a son!! Give me a daughter! A daughter is what I want!” As a man, how would you feel? Wanted? Appreciated? Undesired? Nevermind. Men who take pride in being a “woman’s leader:” guess what, you don’t have to worry about that, because your gender is never reflected in such a lowly way in scripture. Ever.

Though I will never be able to read the Old Testament verses that omit women or diminish their roles without feeling a sense of depravity and hurt, and though I will never be able to say that I wholeheartedly love everything about this book, I am grateful to worship a God who reminds us that no matter what our gender, our socioeconomic status, our sexual orientation, our marital status, or our physical and mental abilities may be, in Christ we are all one and welcome at the table of our God… every day. 

male preference((Interesting article on The Awareness and Perception of Female Feticide in Urban Ludhiana, India).

1. http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/200102/024_jesus_and_women.cfm
2. http://www.jesuscentral.com/ji/life-of-jesus-modern/jesus-feminist.php