March 25, 2010

Oh School House Rock, How You Teach Us Things

Posted in culture, diversions, feminism, feminist journey, music, our histories, Society, Uncategorized, why i am a feminist tagged , , , , , at 2:58 am by Eostre

More comics talk next week, and other things, there is a long post in the works but it’s not done yet…but until then I thought I would post a little something that will never cease to make me very, very happy. I hope you enjoy it. Also, there is a very interesting discussion about Twilight over at NPR’s Art and Culture blog, Monkey See, written by Linda Holmes who is reading Twilight through what is essentially a hermeneutics of suspicion. You all should check it out. Now, on to School House Rock:

September 18, 2009

Finding the Goddess at a Dave Matthews Band Concert

Posted in feminism, Goddess, music, Spirituality at 7:24 am by Gina Messina

  Dave Matthews in concert

For quite some time it is fair to say that spirituality was missing in my life.  I always had questions about God and wondered what spirituality was.  Although I had gone to (Catholic) mass, prayed and focused on developing theologically from a very early age, I never truly had a spiritual experience.  I did not understand the point of prayer, if God didn’t need my prayers, then why I should I pray?  They certainly did not bring me any comfort, instead prayer and mass felt like chores that I had to do in order to make my way to heaven.  Didn’t any of my other deeds count?

By the time I had begun my MA program in Religious Studies, I was an “in the closet” atheist.  Attending a Jesuit University I was quiet about how my religious views had changed as a result of my research.  It was during this time that my love affair with the music of the Dave Matthews Band began.  I had always been aware of DMB’s music and really liked what had been released for air play but did not own any CDs and rarely spent time listening to any music.  Occasionally I would turn on the radio in my car when I was not rehearsing a presentation, reviewing concepts from material I had read for class, or talking on my cell phone and using my drive time as my only time to catch up with family drama and friends.  Other than that no music, much less the music of DMB influenced my life in any way.

It was my husband who first paid attention to DMB and insisted that I attend a concert with him during a trip to Boston at Fenway Park.  I agreed and while I would like to say that it was the best experience of my life, my husband and I had what was probably the biggest fight of our entire marriage that night (over absolutely nothing, by the way) and it left us with a memory that was soured. 

However, it was at that concert that I remembered how much I liked the unique sound of DMB and appreciated the meaning behind some of its songs.  Following our trip I kept a CD in my car and started to really analyze the music.  About a month later we attended a second DMB concert at home in Cleveland and it was truly a phenomenal experience.  My husband and I strongly connected over the music and I felt inspired by its overall message.  Going to DMB concerts became a spiritual event for us to share that offered a transcendent experience of holy community.  What I had been missing in church and did not feel fulfilled in with prayer I found in a concert with a band that promotes social justice through their music. 

It was DMB’s cover of the song “The Maker” that first allowed me to reestablish a connection with the divine.  I experienced the song itself as a prayer, feeling truly in communication with the divine when I listened to and felt the meaning of its lyrics.  When I had lost my mom to domestic violence, it was the song “Grey Street” that allowed me to experience the suffering she had endured during her abusive relationship.  The songs “Stay or Leave” and “Sister” described my devastation and grief over her loss.  Although it may sound odd to say, the music of DMB is what carried me through my grief process for what was likely the biggest loss I will ever experience. 

This past week my husband and I attended the DMB concert at the Greek Theater in L.A.  Of course we had been looking forward to the show for months and were excited for our yearly dose of spirituality inspired by music and community that we have found nowhere else.   The concert opened with “Don’t Drink the Water,” a song that describes the injustice experienced by the American Indians at the hands of the colonizers.  It was a strong and powerful opening, but I was surprised when the next song they played was “Stay or Leave.” I was overcome with emotion and openly wept as I felt a strong sense of accompaniment in my grief and loss.  Later they played “Grey Street” and “Sister;” I was surprised that of the many songs to choose from, including those from their new album, somehow, those that were most significant and comforting to me through such a difficult time were being performed all in the same night.  I felt my mother with me; I sensed her love in a way I had not experienced since her death.

At the close of the show, the band played a song I had never heard live before; in fact, it is a song that is very rarely performed, “The Maker.”  My husband was as stunned as I was; knowing the importance this particular song had for me, he leaned over and held me close as we experienced the melodic prayer together.  It was the perfect way to end the evening. 

For me, it has always been impossible to experience the divine in patriarchal mass and prayer, I felt stifled and unable to achieve a sense of spirituality throughout my time in the Catholic Church.  I was unable to fit into a religious mold that was dictated by structures I believe to be abusive.  Although I struggled for some time and even felt lost, I realize now that I have never been a stranger to the divine, I simply needed to find her on my terms…and I did…at a concert, in the music of an all male band, I found the Goddess.

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.