hermionesviolin: young black woman(?) with curly hair and pink sunglasses, facing away from the viewer (every week is ibarw)
Way to make me feel so nervous about what you're going to ask me!

I was getting tea this morning, and one of the faculty members was getting coffee and said he'd noticed in my email signature that it says "please refer me to use the pronouns she and hers" and asked, "as opposed to what?"

In fairness, I felt way more nervous while actually answering the question than I did in the lead-up but still, I do not recommend, "I hope you don't take this the wrong way" as, well, as something to say probably ever really. (Certainly I've said things like, "This is going to sound meaner than I intended, but I can't think of a better phrasing," so I'm not saying you shouldn't acknowledge when you think something will be taken more negatively than you intend, but...)

I started with saying that people's genders aren't always clear from their names, that some people have gender-neutral names & warmed up to saying that not everyone uses binary pronouns and so sometimes people will volunteer that in their email signature, asking people to refer to them as "they" or "ze" or whatever and that it feels important to me to normalize that practice of volunteering one's pronouns rather than leaving it as something that's only done by people with unexpected pronouns -- "Does that make sense?" He said yes and seemed placated.

Hi, I'm your resident radical queer, I'll be here all forever.

(At coffee on Monday, some folks were talking about the Stanford prison experiment and whether it would replicate today and I literally chimed in with, "police brutality -- people are given power, in a system that dehumanizes certain people, and they abuse that power," and I had never felt so out-of-place far-left at work -- not that anyone pushed back, I don't even remember what got said next, but I just had this sense of total non-engagement.)
hermionesviolin: young black woman(?) with curly hair and pink sunglasses, facing away from the viewer (every week is ibarw)
I spent most of today on Twitter reading about #AntonioMartin. Before that it was #DontreHamilton. I tried to make a list and oh, so many...

As per usual, December has been busy with work, and I haven't been especially ~feeling~ the Christmas lead-up. This is probably exacerbated by my being in another "the more I engage with the Bible, the less I identify as a Christian" phase.

I went to Christmas Eve service at my mom's church tonight, expecting the usual warm fuzzy kind of service.

We sang "I Heard the Bells," which I don't think we've sung at Christmas Eve before (though we often do at December Singspiration), which pleased me because we don't usually touch on the sadness, the darkness, the fact that all the Christmas joys we sing of have yet to be fully realized. lyrics )

Kevin (the pastor) gave brief reflections after each of the readings, and fine, talk about Jesus as fulfillment of promises, I won't argue with you in this moment about why I feel uncomfortable uncomplicatedly invoking Jesus as fulfillment of Jewish prophecies...

We sang "O Holy Night," though we definitely struggled with it (and not just the high notes in the refrain), which was a bummer to me as some of it is so good. I was pleased that we got to sing
[Her] law is love and [Her] gospel is peace.
Chains [she] shall break, for the slave is our [sibling].
And in [her] name all oppression shall cease.
(Yeah, I didn't edit the Longfellow poem when I c&p'ed it above, but I totally sang she pronouns for Deity throughout the service tonight, as is my tendency when ~inclusifying on the fly.)

In his reflection, Kevin called us back to that bit and talked about how the 2 sins that God was forever chastising Israel about were idolatry & oppression of the poor and the widows ... and I was so stoked and yet all he went on to say was blah blah blah Jesus as fulfillment of promise. Earlier, he had talked about animals in the creche and Saint Francis and Isaiah's promise of the redemption of all Creation, so I was left with the implication that "When God/Jesus redeems all of Creation ... at the Second Coming ... then the oppressed will be raised up etc. [not that we talked about the Magnificat at all] but until then just hang out and trust in God's eventual promise."

When I talked to my mom afterward, she said that Kevin's been talking about discipleship a lot on Sundays, which actually makes it feel worse to me because dozens of people this is the one time you're gonna get them this season and you don't take the opportunity to talk about God's call on their lives? Great, maybe some people learned some new things, but I was left with nothing about why Jesus' birth into the world matters to us now.

Earlier, when the choir director intro'ed "Joseph's Song" (the choir selection), he said something about how we often don't hear much about Joseph, and in my head, I was like, " #WhatAboutTheMen? Really?" The song was mostly Joseph talking about Mary and the baby, so it wasn't that bad -- and I do recognize that there are problematics to erasing Joseph out of the story -- but so often in conversations about folks on the margins/folks who are oppressed, people jump in to try to make sure we also talk about the privileged people and how they matter too, so I'm primed.

Frustrated with the almost-but-not-quite-there mention of Christ's mission of ending oppression, I came out of the service wanting to make my own Christmas (Eve)* service about the inbreaking of God into messy humanity, making Christ's home amongst the marginalized -- possibly incorporating the Jesus wasn't born in a stable argument -- and because I'm me and was cranky about #WhatAboutTheMen and how we skipped Mary's Magnificat in our journey through Luke (1:26-37, 2:1-7, and 2:8-16, but no 1:39/46-55), I wanted to queer the grown-up that baby Jesus would become (trans girl stone butch of my bff's heart or something).

* I admit it hadn't occurred to me until I went to write this just now how this service might be different if it were a Christmas Eve vs. Christmas Day (or elsewhere Christmastide) service ... what it is that we're maybe trying to get at with a Christmas Eve service that might be different from e.g. a Christmas Day service.
hermionesviolin: (knowledge is power)
Apples to Apples: Bible Edition tonight went well. My mom brought homemade chocolate chip cookies (undercooked per my preference, which conveniently is also the preference of my best friend and my housemate) and also the British chocolate my sister-in-law had sent (saving on shipping costs, she sent my chocolate along with the stuff for my mom, knowing my mom sees me in meatspace with some regularity).

Housemate made Real (loose-leaf) tea for my mom -- and demonstrated the trick Houseguest J does with tea bags. My dad would have loved it. Speaking of whom, there was a conversation during the game involving terminal velocity and dropping mice from great heights.

Allie, I thought of you when we had an angelology question.

I won: Dull, Fascinating, Evil
Someone [ed.: Ari] won "Sinful" with "Sin." (Tautological card is tautological. Semi-relatedly, I am possibly going to cull some of the redundant green cards -- e.g., Delicate/Fragile.)
Ari thinks she and [livejournal.com profile] eponis tied with 9 cards/each.

***

"Joy Sadhana is a daily practice in the observation of joy."
-[livejournal.com profile] mylittleredgirl [more info]

"Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up." --Anne Lamott

Read more... )
hermionesviolin: (be brave now)
Last Tuesday night I was at a visioning session [and yes, I would like a less ableist term for that] for a group I've been involved with for much of this year, and I repeatedly said that social justice isn't where my passion is. And just about every time I said it, I felt a little twinge like I was lying -- because fat pol and disability pol and mental health pol ... these are all issues that have become very important to me. But they're not issues where people are going to say, "Yes, I'm totally on board with that -- or at least as a good liberal I feel like I 'should' be."

And so I frequently don't speak up and advocate for these things I care about, because I am, contrary to how I may appear, frequently a risk-averse confrontation-avoidant person. (Reasons I don't self-identify as an activist.)

So I am owning the things I care about.

Read more... )
hermionesviolin: black and white photo of Emma Watson, with text "hermionesviolin" (hermione by oatmilk)
So, my introduction to Alyssa Bereznak/Jon Finkel thing was Sady's Tiger Beatdown piece.

I feel like I remember reading stuff about Sady being problematic, but I can't remember or find them now. So my Subject Line question is a genuine one. Though, okay, it would probably be more accurately phrased as, "Remind me why I am advised to be cautious with Sady?" since yes, I know that people's fail does not totally negate their humanity or anything.

I delicious'ed a bunch of Thirteenth Child stuff yesterday for easy linking when I GR reviewed Dealing With Dragons, and I continue to be reminded that delicious'ing EVERYTHING is a good idea, because I will find myself hours to years later looking for something I remember reading and can't find again.

And speaking of problematic people leaving a bad aftertaste, this UCC "devotional" has been going around since it came out yesterday, and now I'm disinclined to read the author's co-authored book This Odd and Wondrous Calling: the Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers. There are valid critiques of the "spiritual but not religious" zeitgeist, and the author even makes some of them, but the way she goes about it is all wrong for the "devotional" format, and I experience her as meaner-than-me-who-is-too-mean-to-be-a-pastor. Edit: Julia linked to this response to the "devotional."
hermionesviolin: a build-a-bear, facing the viewer, with a white t-shirt and a rainbow stitched tattoo bicep tattoo (pride)
So, I have yet to finish the sermon from early October about my problems with the "It Gets Better Initiative," but I was really pleased to see this on facebook:
PUT THIS ON THE {MAP} is reteaching gender and sexuality to professionals such as school administrators, social workers, health care providers and juvenile probation staff. With youth voices at the forefront, our team of educators use dynamic, relevant and informative professional development trainings and workshops to shift the conversation about gender and sexuality in our communities. Find out more on this site about our award-winning documentary, our upcoming tour, and our professional development work.

Our current project Reteaching Gender & Sexuality is a message about queer youth action and resilience. The video was generated to contribute additional queer/trans youth voices to the national conversations about queer/trans youth lives. Reteaching Gender & Sexuality intends to steer the conversation beyond the symptom of bullying, to consider systemic issues and deeper beliefs about gender and sexuality that impact queer youth. We invite you to share the video with your friends, family and networks; we invite you to share with us what THIS issue means to you! The video was created by PUT THIS ON THE MAP!
hermionesviolin: image of Caleb from Buffy with text "none are righteous" (none are righteous)
So, there's "Women's Work" -- which points out a troubling theme(s?) about how women are portrayed on Supernatural.

And then there's "On the Prowl" -- whose subject is eroticized violence enacted on men. I am so not the target audience for this vid 'cause I'm like, "Ew! These scenes I have seen already? Squicked me the first time. These scenes I have not seen before? Squicking me now." And it keeps escalating (I started having to look away from the screen). People in the comments talk about how it problematizes the hurt/comfort trope and I'm like, "Oh, yeah, that trope which has always held -- and continues to hold -- zero interest for me." [This is an interesting meta post on the two vids, though.]

This morning at the gym, I watched the CNN segment on "Love The Way You Lie" -- the Eminem & Rihanna & Megan Fox & Dominic Monaghan music video -- and then YouTubed it at the office. It's beautiful, both aurally (okay, Rihanna's voice, I mean -- I would gladly skip all the Eminem bits) and visually ... it's really compelling ... but yeah, the message it sends about domestic violence is really troubling.
hermionesviolin: (nice is different than good)
From [personal profile] ephemere's post "Patalim" (trigger warning for descriptions of violence):

Freedom is not forgetting. And forgetting is not freedom. Look at what the loss of our memory has done to us. Look at it, and ask me whether we are better off acting as if the atrocities of the wars and colonizations never happened, as if we have no need for vigilance because the exertion of political and economic will of a foreign power over us cannot happen again, as if we have learned the lessons of the past so thoroughly we will be sure to fight for our rights and the rights of our people to speak and live free, as if we have so fully realized all the evils and all the complexities of power differentials and the abuse of wealth and the exploitation of resources and knowledge and people that we can now equip ourselves to fight against it, as if we recognize the importance of having and claiming our identities and our dignity and the burden and glory that is our history, as if we no longer stumble through the debris and ruin of so many broken institutions and fault ourselves for our own weakness and our own brokenness and the fact that we are not as good and wise and wonderful and wealthy as our former colonial masters. Look at it. Look at how well we have erased the graves, how so many of us go about our daily lives as if there are not more of us being killed every day, how we continue blithely on, the struggles our parents and grandparents and ancestors suffered through mere footnotes in the pages of our books, certainly things that no longer matter in this progressive story of the Philippines in 2010. Look at it, and go on. Ask me.

I don't want to erase this blood staining my legacy. I don't want to forget, as if it never happened. I don't want to keep coming across, "I didn't know the Philippines was a U.S. colony!" as if I do not bear the damage of American occupation written in my nerves and across my tongue. I don't want to see "deathmarching" used as a verb, the same way I deplore how "imeldific" is used as an adjective -- as if history were an erasable thing and words slipping into common parlance an apology or a healing of all these wounds. I don't want people to go on using this in a misguided attempt to remove the blood in it, because forgetting is what gives the evil behind this more power, by allowing the word to go unchallenged and slip under the veneer of acceptability, lightness, cheapening, banality. I don't want the atrocities of war to become equated with mundane things.

I don't want common use. I don't want a sanitized history. I want my stories, past and present, these stories of my people that we have lost and that we're on the verge of losing, held close to my heart and remembered. I want these stories told over and over again, because the need for them will never lift, not the necessity for memory and not the blatant spitting on the dignity of it. I want to claim them though I may choke on tears and tongue in doing so, though I surrender on so many other things daily and remain one frail and weak person still grappling with the fractures in her present and in her past. Because this, too, is part of who I am. Because every story told and every careless use challenged is defiance, is struggle, is me raising my head and saying, this happened, this matters -- is yet another blow against erasure, silence, the unmarking of graves.

[For more, especially on the specific incident that prompted this, check out, for example, fiction_theory/megwrites' post -- links go to LJ/DW, respectively.  Also, manifesta.]
hermionesviolin: black and white photo of Emma Watson, with text "hermionesviolin" (hermione by oatmilk)
So, when I first encountered "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" Old Spice Commercial, I was uncomfortable.  I didn't have a coherent critique, and I wasn't interested in investing a lot of time/energy coming up with one, 'cause hey, advertising, lots of it is problematic.

And then it became a Thing, and yes, I enjoyed, "Study like a scholar, scholar" (while still having problems with it).

And then fandom sort of fell in love with The Old Spice Man.  Which surprised me a little, 'cause hello problematic, but also wasn't that surprising since when does fandom not fall in love with problematic stuff since linguistically playful and/or highly performative provides lots and lots for fandom to play with.

rydra_wong informed the Internet that "Festibility (index post here) has just received the greatest prompt known to humanity."  Which, trufax.

But then tonight, proving why fandom is one of my True Homes, my best friend pointed me to: The Old Spice Man meets FEMINIST HULK [for more about @FeministHulk, see the Ms. Magazine interview].
hermionesviolin: (cc sexeh crouch [wickedripeplum])
Are Victoria's Secret ads inappropriate for a progressive website (because they objectify women)?
hermionesviolin: (Daughter of Eve)
So, I'm reading Susan Wendell's The Rejected Body, and she talks about the social and cognitive authority the medical profession has in our society -- including how the "objective" third-person Authority gets privileged over (and against) subjective lived reality (e.g., regardless of your experience of bodily suffering, we tend to think there's nothing "really" wrong with you until/unless a doctor gives you a diagnosis).

I have a really low sacramental theology (because of the kind of church I grew up in), but I was telling Ari last night that hey now I have fancy new language to use to argue with.

I know that sacraments are outward signs of inward grace, and so they can be really positively powerful for members of the Body, but I still feel really uncomfortable with the idea that having an "official" Authority make a pronouncement makes something more "real" than it was moments before the pronouncement (I'm thinking particularly of sacraments like marriage and ordination here, but I have the same really low sacramental theology of ALL the sacraments I think).

Ari: "So how does this affect your opinion on premarital sex?"

That's a really good question.

One of my answers is that I think making public declaration of your commitment to another person(s), making that relationship publicly accountable, changes the subjective lived reality of that relationship.

But really I think it remains true that I strongly absorbed (from where I'm not sure, since it wasn't from my parents) the conservative idea that sex is ideally supposed to happen within a committed-forever relationship -- not that I think other people are Wrong for having sex in other contexts than that, but that I feel like _I_ couldn't do it. 

I talked at great length to Ari about this last night, and in thinking back on that conversation, I think that part of my problem with developing a coherent sexual ethic is that the Scriptures are basically silent on this.  Yes there's a big chunk of Leviticus, but as Christians we reject plenty of those laws (sexual and otherwise) as applying to us (and plenty of Jews don't seem them as applicable to them either) -- and they're not all that useful for developing a nuanced contemporary sexual ethics even if you do accept all of them as being still applicable.

Slacktivist has been talking recently ["Sex & Money, part 1: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the South Shore Bank" & "Sex & Money, part 2"] about major vs. minor themes in the Bible, and sexual ethics just isn't a major theme.  Purity laws come up a lot (and get rejected by the dominant voices of the early Christian church), but sexual ethics in the way that we would think of them (mutually consent between equal partners) are a largely anachronistic concern for the writers of the Scriptures in a world where marriage/children were so intertwined with property/inheritance.

I guess the question of what a sexual ethics should look like requires an answer to the question of what sex is "for."  I believe that sexuality is a good gift from God and it's definitely not (just) "for" procreation.

And yeah, I have no conclusion and I think I am tiring of this topic for the time being.

***

Speaking of having absorbed cultural norms...

In discussion on Lorraine's journal about when/where wearing shorts is appropriate, I articulated that I have internalized the societal norm of body hair being unattractive, but I have failed to internalize the part about how that applies only to women (and of course I don't think actual systems should be based on those aesthetic norms).
hermionesviolin: a build-a-bear, facing the viewer, with a white t-shirt and a rainbow stitched tattoo bicep tattoo (pride)
So, Queer the Census has a Bracket of Evil.  My feelings about *that* aside, I am deeply uncomfortable that one of their categories is "Crazies."  Way to contribute to the stigmatization and marginalization of persons with mental illness.  I am proud of me that I shot them back a quick email registering my discomfort (totally not as thoughtful and articulate as it could have been, but I decided I didn't have the energy for that kind of perfectionism today and if I just shot off a quick email it would actually get sent, as opposed to my usual m.o. of never getting anything finished).
hermionesviolin: photoshoot image of Michelle Trachtenberg (who plays Dawn in the tv show Buffy) looking seriously (angrily?) at the viewer, with bookshelves in the background (angry - books)
I've never had any real involvement with Amanda Palmer, but I have friends who were fans. I first heard about the Evelyn Evelyn project I have no idea where, but I heard about it in a way that made me think it was Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley pretending to be conjoined twins. How this was "edgy" or "artsy" or whatever was totally lost on me, but I didn't really engage with it. Then the Evelyn Evelyn thing blew up on the Internet a couple of weeks ago. I read AFP's big blogpost telling the Evelyn Evelyn backstory [before it got edited], and reading it I took it totally at face value -- apparently missed whatever cues were supposed to tell me it was performance art. (I've read that the promo vid and such are pretty transparent, and I don't doubt that.) I read a whole bunch of critiques of the project [e.g., this and this, if you're unfamiliar and want a place to start] and of Amanda's (and Jason's) responses to the critiques. I agree with the people who think the Evelyn Evelyn project is problematic and that Amanda and Jason should have been more thoughtful. I'm skeptical of Amanda and Jason's "oh, if you'd learned EE's tragic backstory through the beautiful art that is the album, instead of this blogpost, you wouldn't be so offended," and am not really interested in withholding judgment until the album comes out. I've not been entirely unsympathetic to Amanda and Jason, though.

Then [livejournal.com profile] sharpest_rose linked to this. I am officially repulsed by Amanda Palmer.

Edit: [livejournal.com profile] sharpest_rose posted:
I have put all my Dresden Dolls and Amanda Palmer stuff up for auction.

I will be donating the high bid to a charity which supports disabled women; I'm happy to work out the specifics of which organisation and what name the donation is given under with the winner of the auction.

Please pass on the link and spread the word. Let's make something beautiful grow out of this dirt.
hermionesviolin: (knowledge is power)
il my best friend

She forwarded me the below with the note "I thought this might be relevant to your interests."

Though the public hearing is on a teaching day, and I already wanna take the following day (also a teaching day) off to go to First Church Somerville's prayer retreat.

Read more... )
hermionesviolin: (taken out of context)
I don't know if there's a specific charity for "Donations in Pat Robertson's name to gay atheist Haitians currently getting abortions" but if there is, I'm sure there's a way to arrange an auction for it. -TBQ
hermionesviolin: (light in the darkness)
The readings this morning were

Isaiah 9:2-7
Luke 2:15-20

FCS-Ian said that he's struck by the image of the little baby in the Isaiah passage, in contrast to all the stuff about warriors, garments drenched in blood and all that. I said, "but the garments drenched in blood will be fuel for the fire -- war is over."

Ian, his dad, Tim D., and I, went to breakfast at The Broken Yolk.

I had almost nothing to do at work, so I caught up on YouTube embeds on "when loves come to town" blog. One was U2 doing "I Believe in Father Christmas." [blogpost, YouTube, lyrics]

One line is "Hallelujah Noel, be it Heaven or Hell, the Christmas you we get you we deserve." I expected the song to go on and undermine that line, but it turns out to be the last line.

I, of course, have problems with that. There are people who are grieving, and the deaths of their loved ones are not their fault, and grief isn't something you can just turn off at will.

In her Reflection last night, Laura Ruth talked about how one thing that helps her in the Christmas season is the reminder that we do this every year -- that she doesn't have to wholly "get it right" this time.

As I was nearing my house around ten past two this afternoon, birds were twittering and stuff was melted and it felt rather like spring (weather.com said 37F *shrug*), which felt somewhat fitting. (It got cold once the sun had set, though.)

On the Senate passing the health care bill, Megan McArdle said:
I'm not sure how much more point there is in talking about it until the legislative particulars emerge from the final bill. At this point, pretty much everyone is exhausted--the politicians, the CBO analysts, and the journalists who cover it. I assume y'all are too.

So go have a merry Christmas. Whatever you think of this bill, things will still be better than they ever have been in all of human history whether or not it passes. So go out and sample some peace on earth and goodwill to men for a few days. After the holiday, we can all get back to shouting at each other.
I was unimpressed by CHPC's Christmas Eve service. I did like that in the Prayer, Karl said, "In this season of excess, we remember all who are empty." And I also liked the Affirmation of Faith:
I believe in Jesus Christ and in the beauty of the gospel begun in Bethlehem.

I believe in the one whose spirit glorified a little town; and whose spirit still brings music to persons all over the world in towns large and small.

I believe in the one for whom the crowded inn could find no room, and I confess that my heart still sometimes wants to exclude Christ and others from my life today.

I believe in the one who the rulers of the earth ignored and the proud could never understand; whose life was among the common people, whose welcome came from persons of hungry hearts.

I believe in the one who proclaimed the love of God to be invincible.

I believe in the one whose cradle was a mother's arms and who by love brought sinners back to life, and lifted human weakness up to meet the strength of God.

I confess our ever-lasting need of God, the need of new life for empty souls, the need of love for hearts grown cold.

I believe in Jesus, the beloved child of the living God, born in Bethlehem this night, for me and for the world.

(Walter Russell Bowie, adapted)
[NGL, I almost got choked up at that last bit.]

UCN's Christmas Eve service was, basically, the same one it is every year (see tag/previous year's entries). CHPC uses The New Century Hymnal (to Karl's disgruntlement) and tonight I kept feeling really thrown by the slightly changed lyrics (and it's not all gender -- "O Little Town of Bethlehem" has "No one discerns God's coming..." instead of the ableist "No ear may hear His coming...") because I was instinctively singing the traditional words, even all the "O come let us adore Him," without even registering them as male-default/hierarchical; but then I was at UCN (whose hymnal has all the traditional words) and noticed all the male etc. language and wasn't pleased about singing the traditional versions.

CHPC didn't dim the sanctuary at all, and UCN was dim but then we raised the lights on the front part so Pastor Bill could read everything (he's in a wheelchair, so he was down at the Communion table rather than up in a pulpit which would have its own light) and didn't ever dim them again. Lessens the effect of the candlelit "Silent Night" a bit. Sigh.

Scott emailed me tonight, Subject: "MC, QED! <eom>"
hermionesviolin: image of snow covered hill and trees with text "the snow with its whiteness" (snow)
Lindsay's facebook status Wednesday night:
So Ian, Keith, and Laura Ruth are most likely right. This morning when I checked the weather, it said Sunday would be sunny. Tonight, they said the past few years on the Sunday of Cantata, it snows. The weather forecast tonight? All sun except Sunday when we should expect "several inches"
Saturday night:
me: "I'm going to buy milk before the blizzard."
housemate: "It's not a blizzard!  It's gonna be 4 inches!"
me: "Really I'm just going because I'm low on milk."

Sunday morning I forgot that my porch doesn't magically clear itself, so I just sloshed through the snow (it wasn't wet heavy snow at all).  I mostly walked along the side of the road (there was almost no traffic).

I got to SCBC at about five minutes of nine.  As I passed FCS, I mentally thanked the Snow Angels [the First Churchers who arrive early to clear the sidewalks and walkways].  As I walked to SCBC's front door, I noticed I was walking through snow drifts -- and then saw the handwritten sign saying service was canceled.  *eyeroll*  So I walked back to FCS, chatted with Gary as he finished shoveling, and hung out in the chapel (why yes I had brought my laptop in case of just such an eventuality -- though I probably should have also brought a comb to fix my hair ... or put my hood up as I walked ... I hadn't expected to have so much snow on my hair).

FCS-Ian said it was nice to see me -- that he'd missed me yesterday [he sees me every weekday morning at morning prayer].

I went to CHPC -- again noticed a lack of shoveling (though clearly some had been done).  Karl was walking around the sanctuary (sans vestments) and said hi to me.  Katherine was playing the piano.  Yeah, church was canceled. 

Karl said I could have called the church.  I said that assumes I have the phone number.  (Though honestly I had considered calling -- I don't have the church number in my cell phone, but I do have Karl's cell.  But in years past there has been an email notice.)  Later, Richard showed up.  He said the voicemail says church isn't canceled (though the next line says not to come).

When I was little, Ron and Patty canceled church one Sunday due to snow, but people showed up anyway.  So they decided that so long as they could get to the church, there would be church.  So that is my (eminently reasonable, I feel) standard for church.  One couple showed up later (in large part because they were sponsoring a child and so had to bring their gift in).  The husband chatted with Karl while the wife and I hung out with Katherine at the piano, picking out hymns for Christmas Eve service.

TBQ posted with Subject line "Oh the weather outside is... not as bad as advertised, actually"

While it was definitely snowing (and rather horizontally at that) in the morning, when I came home around noon it had seriously lightened.  I know in further suburbs there was much more accumulation (which is why Karl said he had canceled church -- because most everyone who lives close except me had already left for the holidays, and it wouldn't be safe driving for people who live further out plus the Somerville snow emergency would make parking a challenge).

Tiffany's weekly email last night included:
This week at CWM we will hold a quiet meditative service focusing on the Magnificat, Mary's song of joy.

Please stay safe during the impending storm. While we will have services at CWM, we encourage you to stay warm and safe.
When I showed up at CWM, it was Tiffany and Marla and Sean.  Tiffany said, "We've been waiting for you."  I flipped them off in my head :)  I said it was five minutes of, which is on time for me.  Tiffany said, "I know," and, "I knew that you [implied: of all people] would show up on snowstorm Sunday."  Later on, Sharon and Carolyn and Merle trickled in.

We did a group conversation Reflection like we've been doing in Advent Bible Study.  The Scripture was Luke 1:26-56.

We talked about the issue of whether Mary consents.  We talked about how even if it was a rape (either the Divine acting without Mary's consent or Mary being raped and inventing this story as a cover), something so redemptive comes out of that (which doesn't deny the horror of that, but also speaks to the transformative power of love).  I said that I am so invested in my idea of a benevolent God that I have to see her as having consented -- that if she had said no, Gabriel would have chosen someone else, and that I see in Mary a modeling of radical openness to God, an affirmation that even when things seem so strange and frightening we can trust God.

We talked about how Mary is really prophetic in the Magnificat and how that subverts the traditional ideas of her as meek and submissive.  We talked about how in opposition to the Fall narrative which blames Eve, all of this redemption starts with women (Elizabeth, Mary).  Carolyn cited the "he abhors not the Virgin's womb" line (from "O Come, All Ye Faithful") and talked about how that really resonated for her about pushing back against the idea that women's bodies are bad and cause people to sin and etc.; Marla countered that it feels to her like setting apart virgin!Mary as special and different from all other women (thus reifying the trope that female bodies are bad/sinful).  We talked about the question of whether people believed Mary's story (Carolyn said, "I bet her best friend believed her," and Marla said, "I'm not sure I would believe my best friend if she told me that story" -- bff, I would totes believe you if you told me that story).  We talked about how Mary stays three months at Elizabeth's and so she comes home great with child and doesn't that make her story look even more discreditable and why does Joseph believe her -- I said, "Matthew sends him an angel," but of course we were in the Luke story.

We talked about how the Magnificat comes after Mary has gone to see Elizabeth and after Elizabeth has rejoiced and affirmed her.  (At the end, Tiffany asked us what we would take with us from this for the coming week, and I said for me I would take that with me, that reminder that within the beloved community we can find love and joy even in the midst of events that are so scary and confusing.)  We talked about the possibility that Mary hadn't really accepted it until she talked to Elizabeth, and my tellings-and-retellings self suggested that maybe she went to this hill country town to abort the baby (maybe she had just been placating the angel ... how does one know if an angel is truly from God anyway?) and changed her mind after seeing Elizabeth.

***

Friday's lectionary readings were Isaiah 42:10-18 and Hebrews 10:32-39.  I was struck by verse 16 from Isaiah:
I will lead the blind
     by a road they do not know,
by paths they have not known
     I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
     the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I will do,
     and I will not forsake them.
Behold, our God is doing a new thing (Isaiah 43:19).

***

Friday night, I went to Revels with my mom.  I had basically zero expectation, but I actually enjoyed it a lot.

It opens with an excerpt from "Black Elk Speaks" -- "Black Elk's Vision," about Black Elk's vision of the Tree of Life (I thought of Revelation, of course).  At one point he's tending the [invisible] tree and a little white boy asks him what he's doing and he tells him and asks the boy, "Do you see the tree?" and the little white boy says no, and Black Elk says something like, "Well I guess I'll have to try harder," which I found so powerful (hi, I am a child of CWM, where we are so about embodying God's Kindom here on Earth).

At one point, a little girls asks him what his people do in the winter, and he tells her that they gather together inside and tell stories.  She says something like, "We do that, too.  I like stories," and I almost cried.  Though I almost-cry like all the freaking time these days.

I was a little disturbed by the representation of Native people/culture.  In part because when they were in groups they were usually (a) in full-body costumes that hide their faces, which felt a little dehumanizing/Othering to me (though it also meant I didn't have the visual squick of White people playing Native Americans) and (b) felt like an interlude passing through, without real connection either to the other characters on the stage or to the narrative as a whole.

And after a point at which Black Elk is lamenting that the Tree is withering, he sees white kids finishing a Tree of Life quilt and asks them the story of it, and they tell a weird folk tale about pregnant!Mary and a cherry tree, and most of the rest of the Second Act is Christmas music. I mean, I know it's called "The Christmas Revels" (the "In Celebration of the Winter Solstice" subtitle notwithstanding) but I felt a little bit like the subtext was, "The Tree of Life is Jesus Christ -- Native Americans couldn't keep that Tree alive; it takes Christ[ianity] to make that happen."  I mean, I do think in some ways that the story of Jesus Christ *is* The Greatest Story Ever Told -- that God incarnated, enfleshed God's self, dwelt among us amidst the marginalized people, proclaimed an open and abundant table to all, endured death and triumphed over IT, resurrecting in body and spirit, promising the same (present and future) hope for us -- Christ stands between us and the powers of darkness, assures us that nothing can separate us from the love of God.  But at the same time, it feels problematic to me to imply "*our* story is the culmination of *your* story."

There were a bunch of parts where we sang along (the last song before Intermission was "Lord of the Dance," and we sang the chorus, and as they exited into the atrium, they brought the people sitting in the front rows with them, dancing).  The guy leading us in that, as he had us practice, said: "I love harmony.  There are no wrong notes, just poor choices in the moment.  And then we move on to the next moment, with new choices."

***

I helped my grandma wrap Christmas presents on Saturday, and she talked about how she had grown up Congregational.  This got me thinking about how my life would be different if when she moved to Norwood with my teenage mother and uncle she had gone to the Congregational Church instead of United.  My first thought was that probably when I moved to Somerville I would have just gone to First Church Somerville and so wouldn't have known CWM.  My next thought was that "my church" wouldn't have stopped being "my" church and so I probably wouldn't have done rounds of ecumenical church-hopping.
hermionesviolin: (Ainsley Hayes)
I cannot deal with people talking about having lost weight as if it's an inherently good thing.

I wince every time someone colloquially says "you guys" or "lame."

Today was the second day in a row I had almost nothing to do at work.  (I have a Project for tomorrow, though.  \o/  )  I worked on my sermon and did a lot of blog reading/skimming -- esp. lots of disability blogs.

One of the things I read was "What We Talk About When We Talk About Language" (by meloukhia on FWD/Forward).  I have posted about this before, but she says some really smart things I hadn't quite thought of in that way before but which really resonate for me.
when we talk about language, we don’t talk about what it used to mean, or what it is supposed to mean, or what you think it means. We talk about how society uses language, right now.  [...]

One of the most common defenses I see of ableist language is “well, it doesn’t mean that anymore.”

So, my question is, what does it mean?

One of the things I like to do when I am illustrating why language is exclusionary is I plug in a commonly-known original meaning of the word in question into a sentence. Let’s take “lame,” which is generally taken to mean “has difficulty walking” or “limps,” although the original use was actually just “broken.”

So, if someone says “this television show is lame” and you turn the sentence into “this television show has difficulty walking,” it doesn’t really make sense, right? Just like when you say “this social activity which I am being forced to do by my parent is a homosexual man,” it doesn’t really make sense. And this should tell you something. It should tell you that the word you are using has an inherently pejorative meaning.

Which means, actually, you’re totally right when you say a word “doesn’t mean that anymore.” In fact, it’s gone from being a value neutral term used to describe a state of being to being a pejorative. A pejorative so universally accepted that you can expect users to understand exactly what you mean when you say it. When you say “this television show is lame” you mean it’s bad, not worth your time, boring, etc., and here’s the trick: People understand that meaning and they derive it from the word that you have used, because that word is universally accepted as objectively bad.

[...]

Using inclusionary language is actually fun. You get to explore the roots of words you use, you get to find new and exciting words to use, and you get to learn more about the structure of a language you speak every day. It constantly amazes me to see how quickly exclusionary terms trip to my tongue when I’m in a hurry, because they are so ingrained as appropriate pejoratives. I’m actually relishing the process of eradicating them from my spoken and written language, because I love words and language play.

And I loathe essentialism. I loathe “well, it’s a value neutral term.” No, it’s not. If it was value neutral, it would not be in use as a pejorative. I loathe “no one really means that anymore.” Yes, they do, because if they didn’t, they would use a different word. Just like no one calls a “train” an “iron horse” anymore.
It makes me cross when people make fun of the UCC's "God is still speaking (never place a period where God has placed a comma)."  (And ironically, given my next point, my reaction is: "Don't you understand the kinds of Christian church they are reacting against?")

It REALLY bothers me when people talk about their progressive faith congregation as being a Speshul Unique Snowflake because it explicitly states that Communion is open to everyone or whatever.  I know, I know, I should honor people's lived experiences and the fact that many people have been hurt by the church and so Church X is a really important healing, affirming, etc. experience for them.  But srsly people, we are in the Boston area.  There are progressive churches of every denomination.  And there are things that some of them do better than your church.  And my churches aren't perfect -- I am WELL aware of that -- and I WANT people to tell me what we're doing wrong, how we're failing to live in to the claims we make.  If we are hurting people I want to KNOW so that we can stop that (or at least so we can warn people so they can try to keep themselves safe).

I have turned into that radical feminist who notices that we don't use any gendered language for the Triune God except for all the times we talk about Jesus -- which with a Reflection on the Gospel plus Communion is A Lot -- and the "Our Father," and thinks this is a Problem.  I understood why that woman in the story that Marla tells found it so powerful to hear a Bible story told with no gendered pronouns, heard herself in that story for the first time.

After service was over I turned to Chris who was standing next to me and ranted to him.  He knows how to receive my criticisms, which I appreciate.  (I had really wanted to go up to the presider and say, "So, Communion really offended me.  Would it be best for me to tell you why in person right now, in email, or not at all?" but it was probably better that I just told Chris and not him.)

I went to Transcriptions Open Mic but left after the open mic part (well, I stayed for the ~15-minute intermission chatting with people) because it takes me an hour to get home and I get up at 6am and I enjoy not operating on a sleep deficit ... and I wanted to blog.

Jeff was one of the people I talked to during the intermission, and we talked about personal growth and what's been going on in our lives and etc. and I talked about how I've been trying to critique in a more generous and kind and loving manner, and I referred to myself as a "bitch," like I do.  Jeff said, "You're not a bitch; you just have a bitchy way of saying things; you actually have a big heart."

In other news, when I left work today the women's room at my end of the hall was occupied, so I decided, "Fuck this noise," and used the men's room.  I mean, they're both single-stall bathrooms, so we could make the signs say "bathroom" or something and it wouldn't make a difference (and if I were more of a radical/activist I probably would).

moderation

Aug. 10th, 2009 03:02 pm
hermionesviolin: (big girl world)
At lunch today, people were talking about wishing to be wealthy enough to have really fancy houses, multiple houses, etc., and someone mentioned wanting to have enough money to never have to worry about money. While I can understand the fantasy aspect of the former, the latter threw me, because I don't think of people who have my job as needing to really ration their spending.

I'm so much more free with spending my money than I would have imagined myself being given who I was in high school and college, and I am too lazy to do the research to really get good deals on stuff like for example Ben does, but my spectrum for comfortable spending is clearly different from other people's.

I also don't particularly have any desire to be obscenely wealthy. Yeah, I would like to be living on my own in a nice condo in Davis Square, and I would like a personal tailor so I can have pants and (button-down) shirts that actually fit my figure well, but in general I don't feel like my income level keeps me from doing much that I want to do.

***

Today I read the TIME article "Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin" by John Cloud [Sunday, Aug. 09, 2009].

My favorite part is from page 4 of the web version:
It's likely that I am more sedentary during my nonexercise hours than I would be if I didn't exercise with such Puritan fury. If I exercised less, I might feel like walking more instead of hopping into a cab; I might have enough energy to shop for food, cook and then clean instead of ordering a satisfyingly greasy burrito.
I've talked before about how this mentality is so bizarre to me -- that people go to the gym but have these really sedentary lives outside of the gym (e.g., "I go to the gym so I don't have to take the stairs"). I grew up walking everywhere, so my sense of what's baseline activity is very different from other people's. The idea of carving out time in my day to go do intense concentrated physical activity was never really appealing to me, and it's weird to me that I've become someone who has a very regular gym routine (and can actually have conversations about this!), but I go to the gym to make my body stronger and healthier in ways that have value to me.

The article continues:
The problem ultimately is about not exercise itself but the way we've come to define it. Many obesity researchers now believe that very frequent, low-level physical activity — the kind humans did for tens of thousands of years before the leaf blower was invented — may actually work better for us than the occasional bouts of exercise you get as a gym rat. "You cannot sit still all day long and then have 30 minutes of exercise without producing stress on the muscles," says Hans-Rudolf Berthoud, a neurobiologist at LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Center who has studied nutrition for 20 years. "The muscles will ache, and you may not want to move after. But to burn calories, the muscle movements don't have to be extreme. It would be better to distribute the movements throughout the day."

For his part, Berthoud rises at 5 a.m. to walk around his neighborhood several times. He also takes the stairs when possible. "Even if people can get out of their offices, out from in front of their computers, they go someplace like the mall and then take the elevator," he says. "This is the real problem, not that we don't go to the gym enough."
hermionesviolin: black and white photo of Emma Watson, with text "hermionesviolin" (hermione by oatmilk)
So, what I want to be posting about, and what I know you want to be reading about, is: WriterCon, church, and possibly the lectures from my extension school classes.

What I am actually posting about, apparently, is marginalizing people with the language we use.  (This is the shorter version of the "things that offend me/make me uncomfortable" post.)

***

One of the things I've been thinking about recently is the use of the word "lame" as a derogatory adjective.  Which gives me an excuse to link to a blogpost I read a while back -- "Why Not to Use the Word Lame: I Think I’m Starting to Get It" [Posted by Mandolin | June 16th, 2009]

Excerpt:
Let’s start with that point from earlier that it DOES suck — in this society — not to have the same freedom of movement an abled person. (Although of course, here, we’re already starting in with ableist assumptions, because a big portion of the reason it sucks is because society is set up for people with bodies we consider normal.) OK, so let’s rephrase. Having functional legs is useful. Therefore, the state of having legs which are not as functional as other legs is not as nice as the state of having normally functional legs. (Again, there’s some ableism around the concept of normal, but moving on.)

But even accepting that impairment to mobility is itself a sucky thing, MAYBE DISABLED PEOPLE DO NOT APPRECIATE BEING THE CULTURAL GO-TO FOR THINGS THAT SUCK.
The first commenter (Lexie) points out:
You are on the right track, but here is the thing about saying something like “the logic of having a mobility impairment totally sucks is self-evident.”

It’s not, really. People with disabilities most of the time do not go around saying, God! It sucks so bad that my legs don’t work! They are just who they are, a whole person with varying characteristics, some of which society has labeled as a disability.

Take being gay, for example. One could argue, and some have, that this is a form of disability and that it sucks. Gay people inherently have things to deal with, like fertility issues or the fact that they have to find different ways to socialize within a smaller range of people (the arguable 10% of the population that is gay). Or, to get really technical and TMI about it, they might have to find different ways to be intimate with each other. Doesn’t this inherently suck? Isn’t it logical to think that being gay is inherently inferior to being straight? Isn’t it easier to be straight? And that isn’t even counting the artificial attitudinal barriers of being gay. They can’t marry, or get on each others health insurance plan, or adopt as easily as straight people. It must suck so bad to be gay! Its logical that gay must mean sucky!

Right?

Well, no. What LGBT people have done exceptionally well (and are still working on) is to show people that their lifestyle and sexuality is on a continuum of normal. That gender does not have to be binary and people should be able to express gender in a way that feels comfortable for them and that is a normal part of the human condition. They are not mentally ill, or some kinds of freaks who have a horrible condition, they just are who they are…humans.

So, people with disabilities are the same way. The body comes in all shapes, sizes and conditions and all are part of the normal condition of human existence. Disability is a normal part of life. Do some things suck about a specific disability? Sure. Just like it must suck for LGBT people who want to have children and can’t go about it as easily or as cheaply as heterosexual couples can. Just like everyone on the planet has something about themselves that they can’t control that sucks. (Run faster, be better at math, sing better, not be bald, whatever.) It goes beyond saying that logically, being lame sucks but we shouldn’t hurt disabled people’s feelings by using that word. It goes to trying to get people to stop singling out one physical (or mental) aspect of ourselves as being sucky and having that thing define who we are–our entire life experience. To us, whatever characteristic we have that makes us disabled is just a part of our whole selves, and most of us are quite fond of our whole selves, thankyouverymuch. Many people will tell you that being disabled has given them experiences and opportunities that they wouldn’t exchange for anything.

In my case, my PC word peeve is “blind”. (I’m deaf blind) I’m not talking about the word “blind” itself. I’m fine with people calling me blind and prefer it to all the many euphemisms people come up with like “sight impaired” or whatnot. I hate it when blind (or deaf for that matter) is used in place of the words unknowing or stupid. i.e. She was blind to the fact that her use of the word “lame” was offensive. Blind people actually do not walk around in the dark completely unaware of what is going on around them. We actually know stuff. My point is, I think it is a matter of looking at the word (lame, blind) and really understanding what you are using that word to mean (sucky, stupid). Is that a fair use of the word? Does it really represent the people that are usually defined by that word? If not, maybe it is time to think of some better, more fitting words to describe things.
Ableism is something I really don't think about much, which is a problem.  (This also connects to conversations Ari and I were having tonight about church accessibility -- ASL interpreters, gluten-free communion bread, stair alternatives, bathrooms, etc. -- which is a whole nother topic.)

More food for thought (via coffeeandink's ableism tag): [livejournal.com profile] jesse_the_k's "(Color) Blindness as Metaphor to Racism"

***

Browsing metafandom, looking for posts from a while back about the problematics of the word "retarded," I was reminded of the "pimp" issue [e.g., saeva argues against the colloquial fannish use of the verb "pimp" and Zvi posts an Alternatives to "Pimp" poll].

***

This is hardly a comprehensive post on problematic language or even problematic insulting language or problematic ableist language, but I am giving myself permission to post things that are not comprehensive works of nigh-perfection.

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hermionesviolin: an image of Alyson Hannigan (who plays Willow Rosenberg) with animated text "you think you know / what you are / what's to come / you haven't even / BEGUN" (Default)Elizabeth (the delinquent, ecumenical)

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