Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

[Thursday (P+7)] 6 hours with queer Jews

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

Thus says God to these bones: "I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am God." (Ezekiel 37:5-6, NRSV, alt.)

Good things about today:
  • from OKC guy reply: "You're spot-on with the authority projection that occurs in those studies, though I admit I've never thought of that until you mentioned it. Thank you for the insight! (-: [...] Wow ok, you really got me thinking about this authority thing! I'm impressed, I'd yet to meet someone who can point out something in social psych that I haven't already gone over a gazillion times, and now I have (-: "

  • Jurisdictional Conferences were happening this week, and so I was following on @queerchurch's Twitter feed.
    Becca Clark ‏@pastorbecca
    Modifying hymn lyrics on the fly w @shalompaz to remove gender from all-encompassing Divine Love #nej12 Sing w us, @markismusic !
    11:21 AM - 19 Jul 12 via Twitter for iPhone

    Leigh Dry ‏@shalompaz
    @markismusic please,please gift us with an inclusive hymnal before we are washed away in irrelevant,violent, sexist language #inclusive
    11:32 AM - 19 Jul 12 via Twitter for iPhone

    Becca Clark ‏@pastorbecca
    @shalompaz write a liturgy supplement with me? Can we do something about "God is good..."? #GodDoesntFitInOurCategories
    11:34 AM - 19 Jul 12 via Twitter for iPhone

    Leigh Dry ‏@shalompaz
    @pastorbecca So there! Let's do it #sickofoppressivelanguageinworship
    11:37 AM - 19 Jul 12 via Twitter for iPhone
    I emailed Becca and Leigh the next day because hi, project close to my heart :)

  • Ian and I managed to not fight.

  • "NOM Support Staff Lunch with Max [surname]"
    We got to eat outside, and while the tables didn't smush well, people seemed okay. It was neat to learn more about Max's history and about his current research.

  • Beit Midrash - Boundary Crossing: The Story of Ruth
    Friday night, my mom commented, "You might post on LJ occasionally so I know you're alive :)"
    In one of my replies I sad, "Well I spent 6 hours last night hanging out with queer Jews... :)"
    She replied:
    Ooooo -- queer Jews! I'm jealous ;)
    See, this is why I need to stay on YOUR good side -- you have interesting friends.
    When I'm old, George can house me and you can entertain me :)
    (She has long ~joked that my brother is her retirement plan, since he's the one who will actually have a well-paying job and possibly a house with a spare room.)
Things I did well today:
  • finally finished my reply email to tiny!Tyler (he asked me, "Is Borg's book a worthwhile read?" ... )
  • At Beit Midrash, someone commented that God has no body and no gender, to which I said, "No, God has ALL the body and ALL the gender -- because we are made in the image and likeness of God."
  • made lunch for tomorrow
Things I am looking forward to (doing [better]) tomorrow:
["anything that you're looking forward to, that means you're facing tomorrow with joy, not trepidation," as Ari says]
  • phonecall with cadenzamuse
  • FCS small group mtg #3 is RamRam's art exhibit at CCAE, which I have mixed feelings about


Beit Midrash - Boundary Crossing: The Story of Ruth

Arlington (where the presenter lives) was still a disaster area from the thunderstorms the previous night, so the facilitator was about a half hour late (and various attendees were also delayed) so there was much chatting that happened beforehand.

In some conversation with the ~undergraduate women sitting next to me (one of them took last semester off, and I'm just inferring that the other one is the same age, but I honestly don't know), I told the story of my paraphrasing from memory the story of David dancing before the Ark -- "David's wife says "You're practically naked and I'm ashamed of you," and David says, 'Shut up, I love God.' " They loved that and decided that "Shut up, I love God!" needed to be their new comeback to everything :)

In some conversation about Voldemort and Darth Vader, one of the ~undergrads mentioned The Master, and I affirmed her referencing Buffy.

The undergrad woman mentioned being in Canada one time when an American hockey team was playing a Canadian hockey team and they had accidentally stayed in the same hotel and so in the lobby one of the captains punched the other one out. Someone commented that that was like Romeo & Juliet and I said that if Hockey RPF fandom hadn't already provided a Romeo & Juliet pastiche, someone could probably make that happen.

We went around and did names a couple of times, but we didn't do a full go-around, which I was sort of displeased about.
The ~undergrad woman making a suggestion that we go around and do names and pronouns (Ari, I totes thought of our recent conversation), but it wasn't loudly directed at anyone who was ~facilitating, was just a comment, so I don't think anyone really heard her and certainly nothing came of it.

The audience contained lots of people I read as women with unshaven legs/armpits, which pleased me and gave me a comfortable "my people" vibe.
I was wearing my work attire, complete with skirt and tights (though I was shod in boots), which isn't the most appropriate representation of myself, though honestly I have to admit that while my preferred attire is jeans and some solid footwear, I'm acclimating to this work-attired image of myself, with above-the-knee skirts and heels -- I would be happier if I could find more business casual clothes that fit well and which I like the look of, but I do actually feel comfortable and ~myself in that attire.

The discussion facilitator started us off with examining sections of the Ruth story without doing an overview of the whole story -- which is not the choice I would have made, and which I think she realized later was a mistake.

She commented that basically all the names in this story are puns -- though she did not then proceed to list all of them, which I was kinda bummed about.

We read excerpts aloud, and I volunteered to read the second one because it had "YHWH" and I have Issues with people pronouncing that as "Yahweh." I said "Yod Hey Vod Hey." The Tetragrammaton came up in various other excerpts, and I found it interesting the different ways people (all Jewish, I think) rendered it aloud -- Yahweh, God, Yod Hey Vod Hey.

Her take on this story is that Naomi loses and then regains an identity (mother -- she never exactly regains her "wife" identity) whereas Ruth changes her identity (from Moabite to Israelite). She made more than I would have of the fact that Ruth and then Naomi disappear from the story at the end -- though I do agree that it's interesting how Ruth's child becomes Naomi's child; we talked a lot about how there's on indication that Ruth has any interest in being a wife and/or mother. ~Undergrad woman mentioned the Patience and Sarah model of a woman marrying a man because she wants to be close to a woman in his family.

We talked a lot about the "Is this Naomi?" response of the villagers. My breakout group (me and the two ~undergrad women) talked about how we relational language to refer to people (my twin, my best friend) and how when relationships shift we can be really at sea as to how to refer to someone/ourselves (how do you introduce yourself at a funeral of a family member of a person you're divorcing?).

I think it was ~undergrad woman who brought up the idea that when someone has suffered a great loss, we often don't know how to relate to them -- like, the village women who had kids might think, "Do I never talk about my kids because that might be experienced as my rubbing it in that my kids are alive and fine while hers are dead?" I think it was B. who reframed that as, "What is our role as Allies?"

I realized partway through the discussion that part of why I love events like this so this so much is that people are so deeply, thoughtfully, knowledgeably engaged (while I arguably have a biased sample, my sense is that Jews tend to have a higher baseline knowledge level than Christians). As I believe I've mentioned, some time back, Jenni S. lamented that church Bible study by necessity operates on such an intro level whereas she wants like a grad student level course. I was telling this to one of the (non-undergraduate) women at the event afterward, and she was super-excited about the prospect of leading Bible study for a bunch of Christians -- or even just doing Bible study with us on New Testament texts. I got resounding silence when I emailed interested people a few weeks ago soliciting ideas for texts/themes, but I'm excited about not having to do all the research myself, so I'm gonna try to have some one-on-one conversations to try to draw out some ideas and see if I can make something happen.

I also told her about how when Molly preached on 2 Kings 6&7 she commented that she couldn't find any midrash attempting to make sense of that strange story I thought, "This story has existed for millennia; there must be something," but I didn't really know where to look and most Jewish commentaries use the Hebrew names for the parsha and so that involves more cross-referencing. She sad it's a haftorah portion so there would be less written on it, but she listed a bunch of potential resources -- none of which I actually retained, so I'll have to email her about those.

Talia -- whose family Shoshana and I were supposed to have dinner with lo these many moons ago (i.e., after last Rosh Hashanah) -- showed up I think around 9, around the time official discussion was ending. And apparently Shoshana knows her from undergrad. I was otherwise occupied at the time, so when later it turned out that B recognized Shoshana from the Internet and she did her, "my world is so incestuous," I said, "I've been waiting for you to say that like all night."

They kicked us out of the Hav at like 10pm, so a bunch of us went to JP Licks and while we were hanging out outside there, I ended up mentioning one of my other ~projects -- a dramatic reading of the entire book of Revelation. Another one of the other queer Jews I met, who's interested in weird Kabbalah among other things, was super-excited about this idea -- and (unlike me) knows Greek, so can help me tweak inherited translations so I end up with a text I really feel good about.

So yeah, I had ~6 hours of awesome queer Judaism and mostly didn't feel stressed or awkwardly outsider-y. I'd been to the Hav a few times before and even though the folks who were ~hosting weren't familiar to me, I felt fairly comfortable answering questions about what brought me here &c. And I'm familiar with the book of Ruth, so I didn't feel out of my depth in general conversation about it (I don't know any Hebrew, but I was just drinking in the stuff people were saying digging into the Hebrew), and there were lots of people who were my kind of queer, who kept pointing out alternate interpretations of pieces and resisting readings that uncomplicatedly accepted OR rejected normativity. (And in contrast to the last Keshet event I went to, where I didn't feel like I had any conversational intro other than, "You're really attractive -- also, you're at a queer religious event" -- which was in part just the fault of my fatigue -- here there was LOTS of conversation.)
Tags: bodies in motion: bicycle, events: keshet, family: my mom loves me, joy sadhana, more inclusive than the inclusive bible, people: batshua, people: h: max, projects: revelation dramatic reading, queer, radical queer [noun] of my heart, religion: judaism, small world, the word of god for the people of god

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