Category Archives: feminism

Jesus Talks Seeds of Resistance

            You know those stories you’ve heard a thousand times? The ones you almost know by heart, that are so entrenched in your psyche you assume you know their meaning? The ones that are kind of boring you have heard them so often?

That’s what happened to me with this past Sunday’s lectionary gospel passage. Matthew relates Jesus telling several parables about what the kin-dom of heaven is like. At least that is what I thought it was about. Jesus says “The kin-dom of heaven is like… a mustard seed or yeast (in these stories).

So familiar. As a child my Mom gave me a necklace with a mustard seed enshrined in a clear bead. That seed represented the seed Jesus referred to but the actual seeds he was talking about were more like dust than the seed I wore around my throat.

I have heard it preached a hundred times that a mustard plant would grow almost to the size of a tree. We are all amazed at the girth of a plant that comes from the seed that tiny. Here is where many of us make the leap to thinking the kin-dom of heaven is like this huge bush. But that is not what Jesus says. He says it’s like dust.

The problem is we don’t trust the value of small things. We tend to think that what is valuable is what is bigger, better, more powerful. The truth of the matter is that the kin-dom is millions of small acts of love, comfort, compassion, and justice scattered into the world trusting that enough will fall on fertile soil.

In these murky days, where power and might, money and privilege are worshipped it is important to remind ourselves that our small acts of resistance matter. They are the seeds of connection. The seeds of healing. The substance of hope. The revolutionary seeds we plant to honor all that is sacred in one another.

So do not be discouraged. Scatter seeds of love for immigrants. Seeds of comfort for those facing the hatred, racism, sexism, homophobia, and trans-phobia exposed and encouraged by this president. Seeds of compassion for those who have been seduced by fear that someday dialogue may be restored. And scatter seeds of justice, even if you have to fight like hell to plant them.

Meet Me in the Streets

Recently, my dear friend, Linda Bryant, posted a thoughtful blog ‘Meet Me In the Field’ https://charisgrandma.wordpress.com/2017/07/05/meet-me-in-the-field/

Take some time to read it. It is a challenge to those of us who live in a polarized society. It calls us to a kind of faithfulness, no matter our faith tradition, that requires compassion, authenticity, and the willingness to listen. What she has to say is important for us all to hear.

She posted it right before I posted my last blog, ‘Put on Your Big Girl Panties’. It seems like we are polar opposites in our calls to address the same problem.

While she encourages us to face our fears and withhold judgment I said things like:

“It’s time to change the conversation. We don’t need to be in dialogue with those who would destroy our values and vision of a nation whose arc is ‘bent toward justice’.

 It’s time to stop compromising about the lives and deaths of our fellow citizens.

It’s time to get up, gird up, and put on our big girl panties.

We cannot afford to wait and see how things ‘play out’.

We are the majority and we need to assert our power. Even if it is for the first time.

Vote now. Get involved now. Be the change now.

This is not the time to make nice. It’s time to make policy.”

Is there any way both of us could be right? Could both of us good people? Is only one of us faithful? My answers are yes, yes, and no. As feminists, both Linda and I believe there are many ‘right’ answers. Our perceptions are not so contrary to one another as they are coexistent. How can that be so?

I used to be afraid that I was not spiritual enough because of my loud, radical, and often coarsely worded calls to justice. I choose words for impact, to move people, and to challenge systems of evil. Those calls and words are important. They are part of the long-standing tradition of prophetic speaking. Prophetic calls to justice are often harsh, uncomfortable, and urgent. They are never a call to destroy ‘the other’.

Linda’s pastoral call to faithfulness is equally important. We need to be challenged to live faithfully in ways that stretch us. Facing our fears, the willingness to listen and be vulnerable, to love those difficult to love are the challenges of a deepening faith. However,  it should never compromise our call  to stand for justice.

Both perspectives are necessary. Dietrich Bonhoeffer called it the ‘cost of discipleship’. Carter Heyward coined the phrase ‘justice-love’. The nature of faith is dynamic. The expression of faith kaleidoscopic. Our many ‘right’ ways move together to form a pattern of the whole. The call is to live our faith . The gifts of sharing the journey is that it deepens our relationship with the Sacred and challenges us to live authentically.

 

 

The Scars of Evil

            As a woman and a lesbian I wear the first hand scars of the injury done to my soul by sexism, heterosexism, and the not so subtle message that I am “less than.” I also carry within me secondary scars of evil. As a white person, I the carry the secondary scars of racism, as a non-Jew, the secondary scars of Nazism. As a citizen, the secondary scars of violence. As a human being, the secondary scars of intolerance.

I guess I made that up, secondary scars, or maybe have heard in another context, but what I mean is that I and we carry in our persons the consequences of evil that is done to others. We are not separate from that which is perpetrated on others. We are injured either by our complicity or our compassion, whether conscious or not. It is those scars that make it impossible for me to remain silent.

Godde calls us all to confront evil with love and love seems like an awfully flimsy weapon given the depth of evil we are capable of perpetrating on one another. But the activity of love is justice and Godde enlists human souls to do justice and be justice as the antidote to evil.

– from A Gracious Heresy, by ConnieTuttle

Election Postmortem: You Missed the Point

 

Dear Democratic Party,

I write as a Democrat and a fervent progressive to let you know you have missed the point. Utterly.

When you do a post mortem of Hillary’s campaign you miss the mark often and with impudence. You fail to unpack  the inherent and rampant sexism that contributed toward fear and mistrust of her as a leader. I haven’t heard much said about her nearly 3 million vote majority. You curry Bernie’s favor and ignore the million women who organized and marched. (and continue to organize and march, I would add.)

You miss our passion and our concerns. The system is closed. As Democrats, we need a complete overhaul. We need to listen to women. Empower women. Follow women. You are missing it and missing it badly. I don’t want to split off from the party and I don’t want Bernie. Bernie misses the point, too. He addresses important economic issues but it is done at the expense and without the input of women. He does not speak to or for me.

As you think about our diversity in terms of color and class, as you ponder us as a party with a big table filled with disabled people, people of color, poor people, oppressed people, LGBTQ people, middle class people, immigrants, , and others you have forgotten that 51% of all those categories are women.

I am angry that you use my passion and energy for the political ends of the Democratic party and yet my wisdom, concerns, leadership, and rights are ignored. Court Bernie if you like. Your new constituency will be primarily young white men. And if he is true to form you will be left holding some incongruent bag of entitled members who may or may not support our agenda. The entitlement of young white men is much like the entitlement of old white men. And in the end, women are relegated to the gray vastness of ‘how we can be useful’.

The party needs to get serious about its internalized misogyny. The future of this nation and the entire planet depends on the leadership of women. Find a way to get there with us or move over and we will get it done without you.

Sincerely,

The Reverend Connie L. Tuttle

 

 

 

The Power of our Stories

Yesterday we said these words in our Seder meal:  “Laughter and tears life and death, good and evil – these are bound  irrevocably together. We bless them together for we know that with without death we would not fully value life. Without tears we would not fully value laughter. As we learn to maximize the good and valuable, let us  remember the evil we would reject, lest it creep, unrecognized, back into our presence.”

Has Pharaoh crept back into power? In our day ‘pharaohs’ are the ones who live in luxury while families struggle to make ends meet. ‘Pharaohs’ are those who get tax cuts while the most vulnerable lose benefits like meals-on-wheels, childcare assistance, reproductive healthcare, social security, and disability benefits. ‘Pharaohs’ are the ones who wrangle power from the people and centralize it among friends and family.

Today I wonder how we can celebrate the journey to freedom when Pharaoh skulks around every corner working hard to corrode our freedoms. Pharaoh lives in the White House, in the Senate and House. Pharaoh now resides on the Supreme Court.

So how do we become free? We remember our history and tell those stores along with new stories as we begin again our journey to freedom. For those of us in the United States our stories are of our constitution and bill of rights, and stories of our march toward the liberation of all: the abolition movement, the women’s movement, the civil rights movement, the movement for LGBTQ rights, for immigrant rights. These are the stories we need to remember

How do we become free? We wake up for the hundredth morning and grope for words to describe what is wrong. We engage in small heroic acts of disobedience until our disparate voices come together into the cry of the people. We continue to move forward even though the way looks impossible and pharaoh nips at our heels.

We open our doors and make ourselves see the crimes of rape, violence, hatred, intolerance, prejudice, and the dehumanization of those called ‘other’ who are really our sisters and brothers and friends. And we care enough to act.

We have begun. We are marching and speaking and writing and calling and voting. We are wading into a sea and we are in it up to our necks. But our stories give up hope and tell us we will make a way through to the other side. So let’s keep telling our stories and singing our stories as we travel on the road to liberation. Let the children of today represented by the Children’s Choir of Boston sing a story for us and inspire us not to let anyone turn us ’round on this journey.

 

 

 

I Thought I Was A Good Citizen

images-15           The first time I voted I lived in California. It was 1972, during the Viet Nam War and Nixon was running against McGovern. I took my then toddler with me, dressed in a white leotard with a red zipper and a red, star-shaped pull. Over that she wore a red, white and blue striped skirt with the word ‘VOTE’ circling the circumference from waist to hem. I was just twenty and thrilled to be a part of the democratic process. Since then I have voted every time the polls opened.

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I stayed informed. I marched for civil rights, women’s rights, against the death penalty. I gave money to causes I supported. Very occasionally I wrote letters to my representatives. I thought I was a good citizen. After the past three+ months I can now report that I was an under-involved citizen who assumed the democratic process, values, and structures could and would maintain themselves. I assumed that our courts and voting booths facilitated the ‘arc toward justice’ that Martin talked about. Since November 9th I have learned otherwise.

We are living in different times. The future of our democracy and the future of our republic depends on me. And you. And you. And you. And you. It has always depended on us but I, at least, didn’t have any idea to what extent. I don’t believe I am overstating it to say we are living terrifying times. We cannot assume that our very ideals of freedom, human rights, inclusion, shared power, and political discourse are shared or valued so If those ideals are to continue to define and shape us as a nation it is up to us to make it so.

I am learning new ways to be a good citizen. Being informed is no longer enough. If I want to be a good citizen I must act on the information. What bills are coming before the state and federal legislatures? Where do I stand on them? Who represents me? How do I let them know? I have my state and national representatives’ and senators’ numbers programmed into my phone. Their email addresses are in my contacts. Their snail mail addresses are saved in a doc that I can print out on cardstock. (I use postcards instead of lettered mail because letters have to be vetted for ricin, etc. so postcards get to them more quickly). I demand town hall meetings and then show up. I attend state level committee meetings on issues I support or oppose. This is my new normal. I invite you to find and embrace your new normal.


People wonder if it makes a difference. All those small acts. All that time. The  only things that will make a difference is that we actively participate in our democracy, without ceasing. We had become complacent and complacency is no longer an option. Not everyone has the time to go to meetings during work hours or that are held hours away but if you can, DO. Everyone can work to stay informed. Everyone can commit to vote. Everyone can spend 10-30 minutes a day making their voices heard. And none of us can afford not to be good citizens. The future of the republic depends on us.

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We’ve Only Just Begun

women's march-2

I look back at my last post and wonder at how afraid I was – to the point of saying I was willing to die, if necessary. I thought we might be confronted by the ugliness and/or violence of the misogynistic, nationalistic, neo-Nazi, right. I was willing to take the risk. The night before the march there were riots in the streets of the capitol and hundreds arrested. I expected the police to be on edge. They probably were.

Today I am here to report that 500,000 strong came together in ways I have not seen before. Women’s participation and leadership shaped an atmosphere and embodied a kind of strength that is contrary to the traditional masculine understanding of power. And we shone. Proud. Powerful. Fun. Fabulous. Making all the connections between race and class, immigrants, nationalities, people with disabilities, sexualities, genders, gender-expressions, children, elders, infants, and the planet! This is what we do so well – we see ourselves linked and bonded to one another and to the earth and the sky and the oceans.

We chanted

“This is what democracy looks like!”

The women shouted “My body, my choice!” and the men responded “her body, her choice!”

And “immigrants are welcome here”  and “We’re here, we’re queer and we will not be afraid”

The signs! The AMAZING, creative signs (all correctly spelled):

“the rise of the woman is the rise of the nation”

“I march because a man once told me my opinions about politics were an example of ‘why women should stay in the kitchen’ all the other men in the room laughed. Am I still funny now?”

“Fight like a girl”

“Impeach Putin’s pussy-grabbing, tiny fingered, puppet”

“when they go low, we go high” (thanks Michelle)

“YUGE mistake”

“this election was brought to you by the KGB”

“a woman’s place is in the revolution”

“let us not grow weary”

“make America Kind again” and “make America Care again”

“hope not fear”

“they buried us but they didn’t know we’re seeds”

“there is no planet B”

“black trans lives matter”

“amnesty for the dreamers”

“women know how to clean, let’s start with your Cabinet”

“make America think again”

“I will not be silent”

“rapist in chief”

“pussies unite”

“respect our existence or expect resistance”

“What do we want? Evidence based science! When do we want it? After peer review!”

“the power of the people is stronger than people in power” .

We embody the hope, the anger, the passion, and the commitment of women and men across our nation and around the world, from Antarctica to Zimbabwe. We will rise up, engage, work from within and without to take back the heart of our country. We will define who we are as a nation –  not the one painted by neo-Nazi, misogynist, racist, classist, ‘alternative fact’ bullshit artists.

What  can we know now that we may not have realized before? That our story is quite different from the one fabricated by Trump and his hacks who believe his election is the end of the story. It is not. We are.

We will write about the time to come because we are the ones who will make it happen.We will claim our flawed fore-bearers and our own imperfections  while following a shared vision of what is possible. We will work against racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, climate change, and for disability rights, trans-rights, healthcare, equal pay  and all things that contribute to the well-being of each one. We will work to recapture the heart of our nation and tell  tales of all those who champion truth, freedom, inclusion, and justice. We must do the work and be the change so we can teach those who come after us the art of dragon-slaying.

Once upon a time…

 

 

 

“Are You Ready? Come Go With Me”

women's march

Today we pack our belongings – enough to last for three days. Not so much meager as essential. Take only what you need. Underwear, shirts, a pair of jeans, portable phone charger, black sharpie, metro pass, ID, gas money.

In the morning we load up the car. We will wipe the sleep from our eyes and suck down coffee as we face early traffic. It will be a long drive. And we will laugh and sing, pray and cry. Mostly we will feel both our connections and our shared fears.

I am not afraid of dying so much. And perhaps I am being over-dramatic but a friend called this morning and asked if I were sure I wanted to go. There could be violence, he warned. And this, too, is new for a seasoned marcher like me. This march may be more like Montgomery and Selma than the peaceful marches  for women’s rights, against the war, for civil rights, for gay rights that I have been a part of… this might be different.

I am not so much afraid of dying but it doesn’t mean I do not want to live. The Way in which I follow, the one whose life is my roadmap lets me know there are things worse than dying. Not standing for the disenfranchised, whether or not I am one of that number,  is worse than keeping ‘safe’. And what is ‘keeping safe’ any way if I abandon my core principles.

My dad was a soldier. He put his life on the line many days for many years. He, too, taught me that it is important to live in service to something greater than yourself. And he taught me that being brave and being afraid are intricately entwined. He even went so far as to tell me that if I wasn’t afraid then I would not proceed with caution and that was just plain stupid.

No matter the outcome of this  testament to the values we hold sacred, the standing together matters. I will stand with you, my friends, and I will stand for you.

There is a song from my younger days that the Staple Singers sang. It keeps running through my head and it is important for our time as well. I’ve posted the lyrics here. It is my invitation to the nation: come go with me. Go to Washington. Go to your local march. We cannot wait to stand and be counted.

If you’re ready come go with me

No hatred

Will be tolerated

Peace love all between the races

Love is the only transportation

To where there’s communications

If you’re ready come go with me

The boat is after

The ever here to there

No wars will ever be declared

No economical exploitation

No political domination

Take your evil

Come go with me

Genocide

Get ready

Troublemaker

You better get ready now

Liars

I’m waiting on ya

 

 

 

Songwriters

BANKS, HOMER / HAMPTON, CARL MITCHELL / JACKSON, RAYMOND E.

 

 

 

We’ll All Go Up to Washington

silentmarch

 

 

January 21st.

Make plans NOW.

 

It isn’t ‘just’ a protest.

It is a show of force.

 

Let it be known that we have a voice.

Loud

Shrill, if need be

Strong

even when it shakes.

 

We are a force to be reckoned with

We vote

We stand

We act

 

Let it be known that the power rests with us

‘Trump may have the position

but we have the power

the preacher preached the day after the election

We will not be intimidated

We will not be silenced

 

Remember, friends,

there are more of us than there are of them

they will not soon forget a million women

and their allies

strong

vocal

unrepentant

seeking justice for our neighbors

for the earth

for the oppressed

for oursleves.

 

Make plans now.

Carpool.

Stay with friends.

Bring snacks

and gloves

and scarves

and wear your warmest coat.

 

We must stand together.

Now more than ever.

January 21st.

Make plans NOW.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/womens-march-on-washington-official-tickets-29428287801

(register, it’s free. Go to link above)

 

 

 

We’re All in This Together

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There is one thing we can’t afford to do. We cannot afford to say there is only one right way to respond to growing hatred and fear in our nation. If we do we will lose the gifts, the energy, the voices of many of our allies.

              We are an aggregate of women, men, non-binary folk, African-American, white, Mexican, Middle Eastern, straight, LGBTQ, young and old, with differing abilities. And if you don’t feel included in the list above, my apologies – because you belong on that list and we are in this together with you, too.

We have a lot to learn about one another. About races other than our own, other faiths than our own – or people who are outside any religious tradition –genders other than our own, sexual identities other than our own, experiences other than our own… you get my drift. All of us are valuable and have something important to contribute.

It may small daily acts, it might be phone calls, it might be marching in the streets, it might be attending anti-racism workshops, it might be offering a safe space for others to speak or grieve, it might be standing up for others even when you, yourself are terrified. It might be becoming politically educated and politically involved. It might even be wearing a safety pin to let people know you are a safe person and that you will stand with them.

We need to empower one another to speak with the voices we have, however disparate. We may need to educate others who stand with us now who not have been visible before.

Are micro-aggressions real?  Absolutely.

Does misogyny need to be recognized and addressed cross-culturally?  Without a doubt.

Is now the time to confront our own internalized homophobia? Of course.

Do we need to recognize and allow ourselves to be challenged by our different beliefs, cultures, and experiences?  For sure.

But if we forget that what binds us is a passion for justice and freedom, if we don’t affirm the humanity of each one, if we refuse one another’s gifts, then we are not nourishing a sustained commitment to one another for this fight.

So here’s my point: we are all in this together. Let us make room. Let us encourage one another to stand and to work in the ways we are able. Let us honor the different abilities we have to do different kinds of work. We have  to listen through the things that that trigger us and engage where necessary but we cannot let our differences stop us.

What we share is a commitment. If they fracture us, then they win.