When I was four-years old, I wanted to be a ballerina. I liked the leotard and the tutu and the dancing in a circle with hands-held-loose. I wanted to be a ballerina until Shannon told me she wanted to be a ballerina too. Surely, the world wasn’t big enough for two ballerinas to make it big from the Chicago suburbs, and so I decided I’d find something else to like that was, well, less likable.
I tell you this because I think it has something to do with why I missed #faithfeminisms week.
Last week, the internet was ablaze with a series of blog posts and twitter updates from folks reflecting on “the interplay between feminist praxis and religious faith.” The usual suspects of popular Christian feminism delivered with force. Rachel Held Evans shared a slew of statistics about why we need feminism, punctuated with the conviction that “patriarchy is not God’s dream for the world.” Sarah Bessey was featured in a brief video about how she coined the phrase “Jesus Feminist” to convey that the very reason she’s a feminist is because she loves and follows Jesus. Posts from new friends popped up throughout the week too, from lizzie mcmanus (“No More Equality for Me“) and Jes Kast-Keat (“The Spirit on All Flesh“). All the while I sat in my bouncy chair feeling very proud and a bit surprised that Christian feminism has become more visible than it’s ever been in my lifetime. Surely, the blogosphere didn’t need one more young, white woman adding fuel to the Holy Spirit fire.
If I had blogged, though, I might have told you about deciding that the first ‘adam (or earthling) was a hermaphrodite after reading Eve and Adam: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Readings on Genesis and Gender in college. In one rabbinical tradition, it’s argued that the split in gender didn’t come until Genesis 2:23 when Adam’s rib was fashioned to make a companion, a split analogous to the simultaneous creation story of male and female in Genesis 1:27. How might this interpretation affirm the inherent worth of women in their own right? What then of Scripture’s authority in verses that proclaimed man was the glory of God and woman the glory of man (1 Cor. 11:7)?
If I had blogged, I might have told you about how I didn’t think I had a stake in GLBTQ concerns until graduate school when I could no longer stomach arguing for the original intent of verses that appeared to condemn women’s worth without also wrestling with those that condemned same-sex acts (and, notably, said acts in Scripture are never within the context of what we today would consider a committed, healthy relationship.) I devoured Dale Martin’s Sex and the Single Savior, becoming fascinated by the idea that we might even call Jesus a queer in as much as he fit few of the Jewish expectations for masculinity (or the messiah) prevalent during his life. Queering in this context does not signify Jesus’s sexual identity but rather his strategy of being purposefully ambiguous in order to open new pathways of connection and crossing. If Jesus wasn’t all that concerned with playing it “straight,” then why should it be my concern that others fall neatly into a two-sex model of gender?
If I had blogged, I might have told you that I don’t like praying to God the Father without also mentioning the Son and Spirit (see Janet Soskice’s The Kindness of God). I don’t like feminizing the Holy Spirit because I think it implies the other two members of the Trinity are obviously male (see Sarah Coakley’s God, Sexuality, and the Self). And I don’t believe that Christ and his bride can only be faithfully represented by a man and his wife (see Eugene Rogers’s article on Same-Sex Complementarity.)
I might have also told you that I lost the battle to refer to God as both “he” and “she” in my new book.
Maybe I didn’t tell you all of this because I thought I didn’t need to. There were others stepping up to the #faithfeminisms plate and hitting it out of the park. Or maybe I didn’t tell you because sometimes I need to practice my beliefs more than I need to defend them. I suspect I also thought I might alienate some of you by coming out so clearly with my wild ideas about a gender-full God. After all, I still consider myself a tradition-loving Catholic – and an evangelical too.
I wouldn’t have made a good ballerina. I never turned out that tall or disciplined and, if you haven’t noticed, I have a tab on this blog called Yes, Cupcakes. But I know now that letting the popularity of a thing stop it from becoming “my thing” is a mentality sized for a four-year old.
“It doesn’t matter that your ideas are original,” a writing coach once told me,“only that you believe them.” With a Holy Spirit fire afoot, you may even have the stomach to share them.