[CWM] A Liminal Lent: Walking Between the Times [2008-02-10]
I was there early, as usual, and I saw Christmas tree lights wrapped around support poles and tacked to the ceiling, and was confused. Tiffany said it was starry sky in the wilderness. (The altar drapes were purple.) She turned down the room lights for the service.Prelude and Silent MeditationDesert Prayer by Jan Richardson
I am not asking you to take this wilderness from me,
to remove this place of starkness
where I come to know the wildness within me,
where I learn to call the names of the ravenous beasts
that pace inside me, to finger the brambles
that snake through my veins, to taste the thirst
that tugs at my tongue.
But send me tough angels,
sweet wine, strong bread:
just enough.( Read more...Collapse )
Joy (who's in a class Marla TA's) brought her friend Dale, who looked really familiar to me, and who thought the same of me, but we couldn't figure out any connection where we might have met before. She went to MHC, '06.
In the kitchen, Dale asked me something like how going to Smith affected my life. I said it meant I have a lot lower tolerance of liberals. She was confused. I started to explain.
Marla said the knee-jerk unthinking. I said yeah, but that for me the big problem was the assumption that we were all left of center and if you weren't then clearly you were evil/stupid/misguided/whatever.
Dale asked so was I a conservative, or did I not pick a label -- I said if pressed to pick a label I choose libertarian, which means nobody likes me :)
Marla said something about how I keep coming back here. I said I hang out with liberals because they make me less uncomfortable than the conservatives do. Marla said something about how clearly she hated me. I said the feeling was mutual, obviously.
[Oh, over dinner, Marla was talking about Romney withdrawal speech where he said if the Democrats win then the terrorists win, and I wanted to interject and explain -- the idea that the Dems are soft on terror so if they're in power the terrorists will gain in strength and so on -- but I didn't. She also mentioned that Ann Coulter said if McCain gets the Republican nom she's voting for Hillary. "I want to see her eat crow. Or eat something. Like a sandwich." A couple days later I was reading the most recent Economist
, and it explained/had a fuller version of Coulter's remarks -- says she would even prefer Mrs. Clinton in the White House, because "with Hillary, we'll get the same ruinous liberal politics" but Republicans will not be blamed for them
. Which made more sense.]
+trans study series
Marla opened by reading excerpts from Isaiah 43 (vss. 16-19, I think). I was really struck by the "I [God] am doing a new thing." We talked a lot about the death imagery -- how we tend to skip/forget that part when we recall this passage, how in the Red Sea story the Egyptians had a lot of attachment to the old ways and how it can be hard to let go of old ways, how changes can often seem like deaths (e.g. parents feeling like their trans child is dead to them, a trans person feeling like the body-self they were born as is dead after they've transitioned).
We watched the first segment of the documentary Call Me Malcolm
. (Sidebar: I really need to watch Transgeneration
, 'cause, Smith. And Transamerica
while I'm at it.)
In the documentary, Pastor Emily talked about the "God created humanity in God's image, male and female" bit in Genesis and said that she thinks transgender persons, with their experience of both male and female, best embody the image of God that is talked about in that verse. I thought this was really interesting, particularly in contrast to the idea I keep running up against of how do you reconcile being created by God with the idea that the body you were born into is wrong
Tiffany talked about how transgender is threatening to heteronormative ideas of gender roles. I said that there's also the reverse reaction -- that especially say 70s feminists often feel that they fought so hard so that you could dress and behave however you wanted, regardless of whether you were male or female, and here are these people saying that to be the people they feel themselves to be they have to be the opposite sex. I said this is something my mom and I both struggle with, for example, that we both believe people should be free to do whatever they want to their own bodies, but it's hard to wrap our heads around, how they can't be who they are in the bodies they were born into.
me: "We're good liberals."
Will: "Did you just come out?"
me: "Shut up."
Marla: "Her story keeps changing."
me: "My story's always been that if I have to identify I pick Libertarian. I just don't tell that story much."
We talked some about stereotypes, and Mark said those stereotypes were actually freeing for him, because after he came out he had the freedom to be effeminate, didn't have to.
I think it was Sean who brought up that it's also about how people react to you. Like say you're walking behind a woman at night and she holds her purse closer to her and whatever, is scared of you, because she perceives you as a man, even though you see yourself as like her, a sister. (I thought of how Joe -- a tall cisgendered
male feminist -- has talked about seeing women he doesn't know and seeing them cross the street to avoid him or whatever and how sad that made him, though of course he understood.)
When we were talking about how issues of being trans include issues about bodies, Tiffany suggested a thought experiment: how would you feel if you woke up tomorrow in the body of the opposite sex? (I thought of Amy Bloom's invocation of Kafka in the introduction to her book Normal
but didn't have a chance to bring it up.) I guess I shouldn't be surprised that a number of people were like, "That would be interesting," rather than having a freak-out reaction.