November 20, 2009

A midrash: The Ark and the Flood

Posted in midrash at 4:42 am by Lakshmi (LaChelle)

The following is from a guest contributer, Jan Chase. We’re so glad she is sharing this wonderful re-imagining with us!

Gaia had given birth to many creatures including humans. And as S/He watched the way they treated each other, she was appalled. They were made in Her image, yet as they lived on earth, they seemed to become denser and denser, even forgetting their own spiritual nature. Oh my, What was a Creator to do? Well they were her thought creations. She must have done something wrong for this fighting and killing, and greed and pain to be happening. So as if she has burned a bunch of cookies in the oven, she thought she would throw them out and begin again. Obviously they were not enjoying this unfolding of consciousness, nor was she. And hadn’t that been the point! As they evolved so would S/He and as S/He evolved, so would they. But this becoming less and less conscious and less and less conscientious was not working for anyone. So how should S/He put these being out of their misery and begin again?

S/He thought about fire, but thought better. And as she thought about this deed, SH/e choked up, for even though this great experiment had not worked out the way S/He had planned, S/He felt a great loss and sadness to think that they would be no more and S/He began to weep. Her tears encircled the earth like a great mist, which condensed and fell like rain upon the earth. Suddenly S/He knew just what to do.

Read the rest of this entry »

November 19, 2009

not waiting anymore

Posted in waiting tagged at 2:04 am by Lakshmi (LaChelle)

What is she really waiting for?

I’ve spent most of my life waiting. I used to mark the days on my big wall calender with big colorful X’s and then scribble through the entire box. I didn’t realize what I was doing until my roommate at the time commented on it. She said, “You look like you are counting down the days for something.” And I always was. I was counting down the days until a vacation in school. Or until the boy I liked at the time returned from India. Or for the day I would finally get my braces off. There was always some moment I was trying to get to, as if in that moment, I would be truly happy.

And my life right now, so uncertain and unstable, could be described as a whole metaphorical waiting room. There are huge questions that have still to be answered for my life, and nothing really is final, even though, for most people at my age, that isn’t the case. I’m 29 and I guess I am still waiting on The Permanent Things: a husband, my house to own, a better car, a family (maybe), to have sex, my career. I mean, when I think of The American Dream, my life sort of falls short.

The Last Kiss is one of my favorite movies. It is about this guy who is 30 with a great job and he is about to have a child, but he is hesitant to get married and ends up having an affair because he feels like, after marriage, there “won’t be anymore surprises.” Well, that’s really all my life is, a big bag of surprises.

I don’t know what really happened, if I just don’t care about those “permanent” things as much as I used to or if I’m just used to not having them, but I’m much better now at living in the moment and loving it for what it is. I can look at what I don’t have as a void, but it isn’t really. I live in a beautiful house, I have some amazingly beautiful close girl friends (one of whom I get to live with), I live close to the ocean and downtown LA and a whole host of other amazing places. I’m not saying that waiting is a bad thing. In fact, sometimes I feel I can be too content at times. Waiting and desiring for something can be beautiful too, because of love, because you want something so much. And it is wonderful to want. But for me, I guess now, I’m working toward various things (you know, I’m getting “out there,” and I’m progressing in school, making relationships and all that), but at the same time, I’m in a period where I’m not really sitting on the window ledge, my hair blowing in the wind, peering out for my Prince Charming, (a metaphor for all that is good in the future). I used to do that a lot. But now I’ve backed away from the window, leaving it open, but enjoying the world inside the tower as well as stepping outside of it, noticing what is surrounding me, instead of what I hope will someday be.

Since I was a little girl, I dreamt of getting married to a boy with a beautiful last name. Part of me is a poet, and I adore words, the sounds and the tastes of them. I would sit and write down my first name with a whole host of lovely last names which belonged to boys I didn’t know: Constantine, Michaels, Rachel. . . (this was in elementary school and well, beyond, mind you.) But I guess around age 26 I got tired of waiting. A change in my last name would be so much more than beautiful; it would signal a new dimension in my life, a slightly new identity. And I realized I didn’t have to necessarily wait for Augustus Constantine to ask for my hand in marriage. I could change my own name myself. So I did. Not to Constantine, but to a last name that made more sense for me. A bold move. But it meant so much.

So sometimes, I admit, I’m lonely or anxious for the things I want, because I do want. Sometimes badly. But I’ve really practiced reminding myself that my life is pretty blessed as it is. There is always something I need to be doing in the present moment that is, at the very least, a distraction, and at best, productive to making my life the best it can be for the present and perhaps the future.

November 5, 2009

Generation G: Living in a Glocal Town

Posted in Faith Transformations, Generation G(lobal), interfaith experiences, pluralism, religion, technology tagged , , , at 6:53 am by Lakshmi (LaChelle)

interfaithI’m just a small town girl, livin’ in a global world. Well, glocal, really. Because I still live in a bubble. The little area I live in is so immaculate, it looks like a movie set sometimes. And I fail to watch the news like I should. Confessions, confessions. Still, my little bubble is more diverse than the one I remember as a young teenager, when I thought the only history I knew was the US and Ancient Greece and Egyptian and British. Lots of British.

So what happened? I think I owe a lot to my continued education and perhaps (I admit with much guilt) leaving the sweet fields of waving wheat and WASPs. Not that Oklahoma isn’t super diverse, but. . . there is a fabulous Hispanic population as well as Asian. I had best friends of many ethnicities. But I never really learned too much about other religions and other cultures. Everything was in an American, Western context. And I’m not sure why.

Why didn’t we read Asian literature? What about the philosophies of the Dalai Lama or Ghandi or the story of the Gita? Why didn’t we discuss global issues, how capitalism looked from the perspectives of developing countries; why didn’t we do more than just reduce everything to stock characters and settings? Why wasn’t our education more comparative?

It is almost impossible for my generation to not be globally aware, although I still feel I have so much left to learn. I always felt that traveling was a bit more for the privileged than me, but school has helped me travel at least around the country, and helped me to participate in the conversations that have turned my focus outward.

There have been so many benefits to being in a religious studies program specifically, but graduate school in a place different than I grew up in general. I’ve learned not to be afraid of others or my own curiosity, although there is still some residual fear concerning what still doesn’t seem familiar or known. I’ve been blessed to catch a glimpse into the richness that is other cultures and religions and lifestyles. My experiences have helped me live life more fully and helped me understand that, as good and innocent of a person I have always thought myself to be, I need to work harder to understand my interdependence, and contribute to the good of the world.

October 21, 2009

Hello, I am a Hairy Red Demon (Or, I don’t want kids.)

Posted in fertility, kids, mothering tagged , , at 4:10 am by Lakshmi (LaChelle)

This may be the one area where I fit the image of what people reductively think is feminist. I am 28 (or 29 on Friday) and I’ve just never wanted them. Among my core group of women friends, for the first time in my life, I don’t want to back down and offer the required add-on: “But maybe I’ll want them later on in life” because the ratio of 3:4 of no-babies to yes-plz. is pretty good. But I still walk the streets of dating and strangers with a mild level of trepidation and guilt.

The assumptions are the following:

1. I don’t know what I’m talking about, and some day I will change my mind.

2. I am a mean, selfish, scary poophead.

3. I am a delusional feminist who just hates men and keeps her uterus all to herself. (Once my at the time bf said, “Just give me your uterus: that’s all I want” in discussing what he needed to get back together with me.)

4. I hate kids.

5. I’m trying to make a point.

6. I will be lonely as I get older and I won’t have many people to love.

Many guys begin to date me, and I always feel the duty, when I see those sparkly luvbunnies hoping around in their eyes, to inform (warn?) them of my position on the matter. And the response, after initial shock/weeping, is a knowing smile. Gently they say, “That’s okay. Kids aren’t all that important to me”, only to follow that statement up with a cute story: “You know, my good friend [name] didn’t want kids for the longest time, but. . . .”

But I love kids. I would much rather play with them during holidays than have boring conversations sitting with the adults. Granted, I have an irrational fear of holding (and dropping) babies (they are slippery, okay?). But I just have never had the desire to have any of my own. I haven’t really put too much thought into it. Much like I’ve never put too much thought into becoming a firefighter. I mean, I respect firefighters, and I am sure glad they are around, and if a calendar of sexy men in uniform should happen my way, I will look, but the thought of becoming one barely crossed my mind. It’s kind of the same with birthing children.

I guess I AM selfish though. I have all these things I want to do, experience, give, take care of, mother, love. . . and choosing those things for me, means selfishly not choosing others. But that is a part of life. In the mothering category,  I am good at listening. I’m good at telling people that they are truly beautiful (I never lie), consoling a friend, helping those I love figure out tough decisions, and just generally being around when someone feels sad or wants to celebrate something they feel good about. And for me, that is a way I mother, even in my selfishness.

I hope that I won’t be lonely. I want to get married to my best friend and romantic love I can lust and laugh with. I want to continue to be more in love with my girlfriends and family each day, showing me how to love by their own love. I want to have a house full of people I take care of, maybe single mothers who need a helping hand, a community college student abandoned by her family, my friends if they lose their job, and of course a man I commit my life too, party guests, other couples, maybe (MAYBE) animals (my roommate shall not believe this). =) For me, it seems a little paranoid to have children because I won’t be lonely, because I’ll have someone to take care of me. If I would have kids, I would hope there would be some other reason. For me, I can’t personally think of any.

I love when people have babies or want them. I’m so happy when I hear of my friends having babies they want, and my heart absolutely breaks when I hear of my friends not able to have the children they want just yet (but they will get them, I know). Pregnant women are incredibly beautiful. And little babies are cute. I love the differences among our group, and we can celebrate each other even when our lives desire different things.

So, I don’t think I’m not wanting kids for a particular reason. I’m the most un-feminist feminist that could possibly exist if your idea of a feminist is what it is in most people’s minds. My tendencies, personality, etc. really has nothing to do with anyone, but me. I can’t explain it. It’s like the way I like peppermint and chocolate ice cream or I like being on stage, or I like to spend most of my life in school. It’s just who I am and what I do. I don’t think more growing up/falling in love, etc. is really going to make this hairy red monster adore orange sherbet or firefighting. It doesn’t really happen that way.

October 7, 2009

Jesus is a Sexy Beast

Posted in Jesus, religion, sexuality, Spirituality tagged , , , at 5:42 am by Lakshmi (LaChelle)

sexy jesusI spent a whole heap of years accepting that God/Jesus was my Daddy, BetterThanABoyfriend, Romantic Prince Charming, Protector, Bryan Adams Doing Everything for Me (My Jesus was HOTT!), and I wasn’t the only one. As much as Jesus and the male God have been pronounced as celibate, asexual beings, the sexiness of Jesus is well promoted for mainstream Christians. I remember my youth pastor saying that, “As much as that cute boy at school makes you smile, Jesus should make you smile more. Jesus always thinks you are beautiful.” When the Da Vinci Code movie came out in 2006, it caused a bit of  stir among Christian churches, the main complaint being that Jesus could have never have children. Not only would that (having sex?) compromise his divinity (although no one really ever explains why), it’s practically impossible (do NOT think of Jesus’ penis. Do NOT. It is not there. He does not use it. End. Of. Story.) Yet his sexuality was just that which was coveted by some people, including my friend. When I asked her what she thought of the movie, she said that she was fine with it, except that she would be sad to think of Jesus as having a wife. . . because she doesn’t want to share his love like that.

So as girls, we (being myself and this friend and others) were sort of allowed to see Jesus as romantic. We were the brides of Christ. A major motivation to stay virgins until we married was because if we didn’t, it would be like we were cheating on Jesus (yes, this was another youth service sermon). Yet, to think of the historical Jesus as feeling lust, but more to the point, engaging in sex, would be wrong. Right? Because sex is . . . not divine? What happens if he has sex???? Is sex sin? What IS it? But hey, if he DID think about sex, it was certainly heterosexual sex. That is just a given. Come on.

God is sort of given the same rap, although He isn’t as sexy since he’s sort of amorphous and spirit-y. Yet He’s definitely male (Zeus, anyone?) and yet definitely asexual (although. . . he kind of did it with Mary to make Jesus. . . omgz I’m so confused).

But what consequences do such messages have on our theologies, on our lives? Jesus/God is a sexy beast we can’t really have. Is there a place for the erotic, for sexuality, in our theology? Can it be seen as divine and good and therefore not to be avoided in our deities and in our own religious/spiritual lives? Do we have to separate it? Here is me being holy and sacred (not having sex). Here is me being human (not divine, having sex). I’m not sure really what I want in theology, but it might be nice to discover the sensual and the sexual and not have it be a disconnect with the sacred. At the same time, the sexualizing of God/Jesus as husband/boyfriend/great body as it happens now seems problematic. But I’m not sure how to articulate why.

As we think on these things, may this music video from the film Hamlet 2 be of aid:

September 23, 2009

Cute Pink Bunny Vibrator: My Worst Enemy

Posted in religion, sexuality tagged , , , , , at 3:08 am by Lakshmi (LaChelle)

rabbit-pearl-vibrator-big. . . well, not really. But it does scare the hell out of me. It’s hidden away in a cozy beige bag in the hallway cupboard, right next to the clear baggie of brightly colored vegan condoms flavored blueberry, strawberry, wildberry, and vanilla, which is next to a goddess-lovely tube of vegan lube. The first time I have sex with the person I love most (me), I want it to be a truly organic experience. (You can get all of these things, well sans the vibrator, here.)

Um, okay, I don’t even know if that last joke made sense. But whatever.

To put it bluntly, nothing has ever gone inside me “down there:” not a tampon, finger, penis, or even the seemingly innocent little vibrator with a rabbit and pearls that someone paid $79 for.

I’m a pretty, blonde, Ph.d, all-around-fabulous person who has done plenty of other things and gone on many dates, but I’m a little over a year away from being 30 and I sort of have a complex about this. My feelings range from OMG-I’m-a-Horrible-Weird-Ogre-Freak to Ha!-Queen-Of-Purity! But mostly, I don’t really think too much about it at all.

Growing up, I was the speaker on “abstinence” at a Youth Leadership Conference because I religiously believed that God had a soulmate for each person and so you should save yourself for him/her until your magical wedding night which would be stars and Bryan Adams playing in the background and a bed that overlooked the Mediterranean Sea while it rained. I’m sure my evangelical tradition had something to do with this idea as did growing up in the Bible Belt. I was even taught that masturbation was a dirty little sin that could send you to hell. I really had little sexual outlet.

All my boyfriends at my Christian college were equally as repressed and so I was never really confronted with the idea that anyone would even want to have sex with me. . . not until graduate school. But we didn’t. Actually, we never really even had the conversation and my boyfriend, another virgin but not a Christian, did not suggest it. We increasingly became more and more intimate though. And with each step I felt increasingly more guilt and shame, and the disapproving floating head of God in my mind looked a lot like my mom’s. I was beginning to be less shackled my traditional Christianity after I moved away from home, but the new world of sexual intimacy, drinking, late night intellectual discussions, clubs, and basically experiencing life was intimidating.

By the time I finished my MA, I went back home and began dating someone else that I eventually moved in with, but he was even more adamant (being a Christian) that sex was for marriage. So no-go there. And finally when I was feeling okay and adventurous! I even remember staying up late one night with my older woman friend discussing how to seduce a man. But Mr. D could not be seduced. My last boyfriend was also a virgin, but he wouldn’t have minded having sex, yet. . . I just can’t. I don’t want to. First it was religious, and mostly now it’s that having a baby would in my opinion absolutely ruin my life (I hate the idea of having children, call me a monster if you will). And partly. . . because pink vibrators won’t get you pregnant. . right?. . . I just don’t want to take the plunge. I’m scared? I don’t know. If you’ve never had chocolate before, maybe you stop caring about trying to eat it. If my religion would have celebrated sexuality and bodies and my mom would have been less BoysOnlyWantSex/ToRapeYouOneThing, maybe just maybe, I wouldn’t now be coveting/idolizing my body-as-temple or, to rephrase someone brilliant, putting the penis on a pedestal. I do understand that I have the ability to change my mind about sex now that I am agent of my life. But I’m honestly just not sure how to do that.

September 16, 2009

A garden and a red-headed eve

Posted in feminism, music, sexuality tagged , , , at 7:01 am by Lakshmi (LaChelle)

tori apple

I love gardens and that the story of creation and the fall is set in one. They are magical and ethereal and constantly changing in their seasons. And I always think it is really interesting when feminists re-read the story to reclaim Eve, because at one time all women were blamed by Tertullian and others for being “daughters of Eve” the woman (and woman is emphasized) who just ruined everything and kept us barred from paradise for a long time afterward.

But gardens can be dark, vulnerable, quiet, secret, secluded, places where we get naked, intimate touches underneath clothes near a bullfrog pond, the humidity, the dark skin and dark eyes, the buzzing, the prayers, wandering in a place that we can almost pretend is untouched but then again touched several times. The wet dirt, the storms and the rain, the shelter the trees provide. The girls that get married there. How pretty the fuschia flowers make your hair look in a photograph. The nature that produces something you can actually bite, roll around on your tongue – you can just take it, pull it off, but it goes inside of you and becomes a part of you and someday you become a part of the earth or just expel it.

I remember going to a garden once, we explored it together. Often I like to go to gardens alone and sit near the steps of running water and close my eyes and let the sunlight press gently into my cheeks, but this time I was with a boy. And it was one of the last times we would see each other for a long time; it was our last week. You can’t help how people make you feel sometimes. He often made me feel depressed and unwanted. I hated the feeling of always longing for someone, but him never quite being enough, even when he did love only me and he was my boyfriend. But the bad feelings drained away so often, and he might have been the only one I ever loved. And that day in the garden, we knew there was passion and warmth and need. The whole garden consumed us, and it was ours, a big vast expanse of tall trees and bridges and cascading water over large stones, and me in my purple umbrella. We took lots of pictures that day, but I don’t remember holding anything that wasn’t ethereal, doing anything that wasn’t hazy and sad and beautiful. We were so communicative that day with our eyes. He was my first awakening, and my only one since. If only he could have been truly a god, then he would have known the right things to say and what to keep silent.

Gardens for me hold memories, some true and some imagined, a reality on some other plane. Why can everything in a garden always be so symbolic? You don’t need the material gems and cars, you’ve got lush flowers and waxy soft leaves and a great blue dimming sky that hangs, hovers, weighs down on you but is suspended so you can never touch it and never get away  from it at the same time, you just swim in it. I love the gardens. They are mysterious whole worlds.

September 9, 2009

How I Became a Feminist

Posted in feminism, feminist theology at 5:41 am by Lakshmi (LaChelle)

Feminism did not really cross my radar until the month before my junior year of college would end. My cute cherub blonde boyfriend had led me up to the balcony of the Bible building at Oklahoma Christian University and told me he had let Tracy Something pleasure him behind the school bleachers. So that was the end of that. Such news left me indignant about boys and their childish ways. I spent my summer of small-scale rebellion sitting out on the front lawn of my parents’ house reading all the books by women from the Oprah Book Club I could find instead of the male-authored “classics” of my previous reading lists. I studied myself through my first copy of Our Bodies, Our Selves and perused the women’s studies section at Borders to discover Gloria Steinem. I reveled in my womanhood by turning the mediocre task of shaving my legs into a goddess ritual and celebrating my singleness. This is what feminism, at first encounter, meant to me. As for feminist theology, I remember my excitement when I went home one weekend to do laundry after an enlightening week at college: “Mother,” I said, “Did you ever think that God could possibly be a woman?” to which my mother promptly replied education was doing me no good.

Through feminist theory classes at the University of Cincinnati, and through my own research and then preparation for the classes I taught once I returned to Oklahoma Christian, and now after discussions at CGU, I understand feminism and feminist theology to be necessary critical lenses through which the world becomes more complicated yet clearer, and by which libratory practices can begin.  And I am no longer so indignant about boys.

My assumptions are these. First, feminism encourages people to ask questions about themselves, their world, and their beliefs. For a feminist, nothing is a “given” and there is a sense of suspicion about whatever is deemed natural or obvious. Rather than explicitly subversive, feminism to me is simply one way of going more deeply into a complex world of grays, of not missing the nuances of people, situations, what one sees and hears. Feminism also reveals agency. In my own religious upbringing in the charismatic evangelistic Assembly of God movement, there was a salvific way and an immoral way. This extended to what I thought, what I felt, who I could love, who God was, and what He wanted. Yet, through a feminist lens, I see that the freedom to construct my own person is salvific. Feminism is a creative endeavor. Because I question the world around me, at times I conclude that I have not been given the full story or that the story has been distorted or is completely wrong. It is then that I become an agent by filling in the gaps, correcting, or re-imagining/re-constructing the stories so that they are more in line with a truth that is less oppressive and more inclusive.  Feminism is also communal, revealing the interconnectivity of animate and inanimate beings, the environment sustaining and becoming my body, and me needing to sustain it as well.

Lastly for now, feminism is honest. While traditional academic writing can often be arrogant and deceiving by claiming to be authoritative or knowing it all, feminist authors often use first person pronouns and lay out their own biases and assumptions in their works. Therefore, I too hope to admit/confess/lay bare my own prejudices in this class, allow my thoughts to be tentative, hoping they will become more nuanced or change completely.  Daily I realize how I perpetuate oppression for myself and others and how much of a responsibility I have to do something about it. Yet, it will not be done by myself, but with strangers and family and the earth, and all those groups that are a part of me but of whom I am unaware. May we be continually becoming and becoming conscious.

August 16, 2009

The Christianities I’ve Lived

Posted in Faith Transformations, feminist theology, Relationships, religion, Soul tagged , , , , , at 9:54 pm by Lakshmi (LaChelle)

Since 6th grade, I have grown up in the protestant evangelical charismatic movement. For all of you who don’t know, or need to be reminded of what that means, well, for me at least it included the following: mission trips, FIRE (which was a 6 month period of no television, no music or reading not Christian-focused, and weekly meetings), Bible Quiz, youth church on Wednesday nights, Sunday morning and night services (where the night service was more Holy Spirit filled and might go on until who knew when), raising hands and falling slain in the spirit, speaking in tongues, dancing and waving flags around or whatever you wanted to do during praise time in the church, sorrowful deep weeping confessions, loving Jesus more than anything, revivals, big televangelists coming as visiting preachers, MY preacher on television, prosperity preaching (preachers with big beautiful white houses and large Washington D.C sized gated lawns), the Left Behind books, Christian romance, praying and telling other people about Jesus, speaking about abstinence at Youth Leadership Conference, listening to on the radio and singing at school talent shows CCM (Christian Contemporary Music), buying clothing at Mardel Christian bookstore, knowing that it was creation and not evolution that caused the world that breathed God, understanding the devil was a real entity that wanted to bring you down and especially would be after you the more you belonged to Jesus, being awed and terrified of my literal reading of Revelation, and reading the Bible everyday and everywhere, and praying/talking to God as much as I could.

Christianity, in some ways, is a culture with language and dress and behavior, definitely a worldview, of its own. Like a person from any country will have adopted and understand the codes of her country’s culture/society, the Christian culture has been inside of me, and I have not and will not probably reject it. That said, where I am at now in my late 20s is a very different place than I was ages 12-18. How?

UNDERGRAD: I went to a private Christian church that allowed my evangelism to pause since everyone around me was already a Christian (scotch-taping the “footprints” poem to the inside of bathroom stalls would be “sweet” and not subversive). And the conservatism of the school (women were not really allowed a leadership role, Christian music was actually of the devil) allowed me to see myself not as self-righteously more conservative/pure/godly (I just couldn’t be!) than those around me, but rather as more liberal. Which in a way, pushed me to a certain freedom to explore that liberality. Also, (thank godde), my professors were progressive Christians. They challenged me to question the assumed male gender of “god” and asked me to respond to the parallels between the stories from the Bible I had known to be sacred and absolute and the stories from classical Greek and Roman and even earlier mythologies; they allowed me to see evolution and sexuality as something other than a threat to my faith. And just being in college in general helped me realize that there were so many ideas out there and so much knowledge I didn’t know, uncertainties that were real.

GRAD SCHOOL: I moved from the midwest to the east coast and came into contact with people very different than me. My Christian undergrad was a safe place to start wandering around in possibilities because I knew that my professors and the people around me were exploring and they were so strong in their faith. In graduate school, I did not have any Christians around me. I was forced to look at people of different religions and views or no religion at all and see them as okay people, even good (whatever that meant), even more moral than I. Which was a new idea, because I had been taught growing up that it was religion, the Christian religion specifically, which made people moral. I took an interest, via my feminist classes, in feminist theology (I hadn’t even known there was such a field), and started to let myself be critical of my faith tradition, understanding that the sacred text was also a historical text in the sense that it was created in a specific time and has been used for specific reasons not necessarily inclusive or liberating for everyone. Graduate school was a rich time of awakenings and explorations, and so it was also a gorgeous time of fear and depression too. But it was something I needed to go through.

MY RETURN TO UNDERGRAD: But this time as a professor. And as a professor, I was to integrate faith and learning, which I enjoyed doing, especially since Christianity had started to become so nuanced for me. I tried out serious theological issues with my students and encouraged them to consider alternatives to what they had thoughtlessly assumed previously. During my time there (about two years), I realized that I wanted to completely focus on religion, but this time, from a feminist standpoint.

NOW, NEW GRAD SCHOOL: So here I am, in a Women’s Studies and Religion program, with girls and professors who are all together considering the endless possibilities of what godde, spirituality, Jesus, and our relationship to other faiths and people mean. I love this exploration, and it feels good and safe and right. And I want to continue to see where it leads. My theology now is more defined by social justice and Jesus not as one who wants to be worshiped, but as one who gave up being God for a moment to show us that idolatrous worship was not what he wanted. He demonstrated the message of liberation for the impoverished, for women, for all who are oppressed. And my theology is also pluralistic, because I feel, even though Christianity is the right path for me, other faiths carry a similar message. Evangelism is no longer a part of my Christian faith. That is just how it is, and I’m sorry if you don’t agree with it or feel that it is wayward or something. But evangelism does not feel ethical for me personally.