June 30th, 2012

knowledge is power

[Pentecost +3]

In his [Father's Day] sermon, Jeff M. said that the idea that "Abba" means "Daddy" was made up in 1966, scorned by scholars, and later retracted by the person who had initially put it forward. Apparently the current scholarly consensus is that "Abba" is just Aramaic for "Father."
In the Receiving Line, Jeff M. asked if I was upset about the Abba thing because he knows I'm really fond of it. I said I was glad to have more accurate information, and we agreed that I could/would still feel free to use Mommy-Daddy language for God. Jeff said he figured I wouldn't have any problem referring to God in whatever way felt comfortable to me since "your Jesus is a lesbian woman." I was like, "Not mine, exactly..."


Megan K. M. asked me if I had recommendations for an introduction to Biblical study -- she doesn't know which scholars are good, so she has no idea where to start.

Off the top of my head I mentioned Who Wrote the Bible? (from my Intro Old Testament class in college) as an intro to source-criticism (and on reflection I could look at the assigned books from the "Jesus and the Gospels" class I took with Helmut Koester).

I can feel good about recommending Amy-Jill Levine, John Dominic Crossan (Megan's in the Reading the Bible Again for the First Time book study with me, so she has some familiarity with Marcus Borg) but my theology reading has been so piecemeal that I don't have a lot to draw on as far as recommendations for an intro...

I emailed some of you, but anyone have any suggestions/recommendations?


Things I was reminded of today:

I need to not stay in social spaces forever just because I feel mean bailing. I could feel my introvert energy decreasing, and I had things I had intended to do with my afternoon. Just because I am not experiencing active negativity re: the conversation happening around me doesn't mean I have to stay.


"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.)

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hermione by oatmilk

[Friday (P+3)]

This morning was the first time riding my bike that I'd wanted to be able to drink water on the way. Oh, summer.

Getting ready this morning I was like, "What am I forgetting? Oh, right, an outfit for today." I picked a purple short-sleeved shirt and just picked up the "purple" tights I wore yesterday. Now that I'm actually wearing the outfit I think should have worn my gray tights (even though there's something wrong with the waistband on them or something).

On the the way home, I biked through patches of cooler air -- which I think we legit patches of cool air, not just escaped AC, since the first experience was coming over the River. Yay, impending cooler weather.


"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.)

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small girl in big world [_extraflamey_]

[Saturday (P+3)]

bff phonecall

I keep telling people that Baptism is this big deal commitment I'm not ready to make (and likely never will be). But Confirmation sounds like you get this great gift! (Things one learns on Wikipedia.)

Researching a friend's baptism date led to conversation about the Immaculate Conception and whether there were other people who never sinned (Job, for example, insists he has committed no sin -- and even Paul says he is "blameless under the Law").

I attempted to find out if there's a name for the heresy of believing that Jesus sinned. We were excited to discover the Christadelphians but alas, 'twas not to be.
"To have a sin nature means that Jesus had a fallen, defiled, and unholy nature. I fail to see how an unholy person can offer a holy sacrifice sufficient to please an infinitely holy God. Of course, the Christadelphians say this is possible because, even though Jesus had a sin nature, He never committed a sin and He kept the Law therefore satisfying God." (emphasis mine)

-from one of the first Google hits I found
And from Wikipedia:
Rejection of some mainstream doctrines

Christadelphians reject a number of doctrines held by many other Christians, notably the immortality of the soul (see also mortalism; conditionalism), trinitarianism,[84][87] the personal pre-existence of Christ,[85][87] the baptism of infants,[101] the personhood of the Holy Spirit[84][85][86][87] and the present-day possession of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (see cessationism).[86][87][91] They believe that the word devil is a reference in the scriptures to sin and human nature in opposition to God, while the word satan is merely a reference to an adversary (be it good or bad). According to Christadelphians, these terms are used in reference to specific political systems or individuals in opposition or conflict. Hell (Hebrew: Sheol; Greek: Hades, Gehenna) is understood to refer exclusively to death and the grave, rather than being a place of everlasting torment (see also annihilationism).[93][109] Christadelphians do not believe that anyone will "go to Heaven" upon death. Instead, they believe that only Christ Jesus went to Heaven, and when he comes back to the earth the true believers will live in the Land of Israel which will be the Kingdom of God on Earth.[97][98] Christadelphians believe the doctrines they reject were introduced into Christendom after the first century in large part through exposure to pagan Greek philosophy,[110] and cannot be substantiated from the Biblical texts.[84][85][87]


We also talked about that book I'm not enjoying much.

On page 18, the author says:
The biblical term "to know" is an elegant summing up of the intimate and in-depth understanding that grows over time in a sexual relationship. It means the opposite of whatever occurs in a one-night stand. (The Bible uses words such as "come in into you," "lie with," for loveless couplings.)
Given that English renditions of the story of Sodom use the verb "to know," my best friend looked it up in her Concordance. The Hebrew word ("yada") is in fact used in both those instances ("Now Adam knew Eve and she conceived and gave birth..." Gen 4.1 & "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them." ... Gen 19.5) One supposes it's POSSIBLE the Sodomites were being ironic... but the verb is also used in rape of the concubine in Judges, where the NRSV renders 19.25 as, "They wantonly raped her."

Yeah, we are not impressed.

(I am pleased to find there are online Concordances, though.)


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religion is a queer thing

[Pentecost +4]


I was surprised that Thom W. took so long to teach us "Uyai mose (Come All You People)," as I feel really familiar with this Zimbabwean song, but maybe I know it from e.g. Convo.

Apparently we're doing a summer book series, and Molly started off with Where the Wild Things Are. (fox1013, I thought of you.)

It was Jubilee Sunday, which meant the kids were in the Sanctuary for the entirety of the service. Jubilee Sunday is not my favorite thing. Molly talked about how people have negative conceptions of Christians, but those aren't necessarily true of us ("We're not weird" -- which we all know is not true, so I hate that she used it as stand-in for "we are not weird in the negative ways that some people except us to be"; she invited people to say "I'm a Christian and [something about themselves]"; one of the new members said, "Late at night, when I'm all alone, I play the banjo in my attic;" yeah, we are totally weird).


I went to a Keshet event and picked up a copy of their July & August 2012 calendar, which included:
July 19

Beit Midrash - Boundary Crossing: The Story of Ruth

As queer Jews, our identity is rich and complex. What does it mean to alter our identity? Or come into our identity? How do we learn to read other boundary crossers? Take a journey through the Book of Ruth and see how the best known and most beloved pair of biblical women cross identity boundaries and struggle to be recognized.

Facilitated by Penina Weinberg, biblical scholar and member of our Community Events Committee.

Cosponsored by Havurat Shalom

6:30 pm
Havurat Shalom
113 College Avenue, Somerville
RSVP by 7/16
My experience with the Hav has been that RSVP is in no way required (though I'm sure it helps them for planning purposes). Anyone interested in coming with?


Anyway, the event itself.

Ladin read from "The God Thing" chapter of her book.

"we are all melachim [angels] -- as if human lives were God's vocal chords"

"Sometimes we want divine room service, but usually we don't, anymore than children want to be followed around by nagging parents who are always right. So God speaks to us through the voices we so desperately want to hear -- other people's."

She talked about circumcision, about the idea (from rabbinic tradition I assume, though I didn't write it down in my notes) that male Jews recreate their bodies to reflect their true identity.

She talked about Shakespeare plays where people change clothes and people don't recognize them and fall in love with them -- said she always thought that was stupid plotting, but then she was at a conference and when she was dressed as herself, people didn't recognize her at all (they knew her as a man, so when they saw her as a woman, it was like, "I don't know a woman who looks like that, don't need to register that person at all").

A woman in front of me said she "works with kids who are born in all sorts of ways parents didn't ask for or sign up for" and mentioned a book of blessing (the name/author of which I didn't catch -- I should have asked afterward) which has the (non-gendered) blessing: "may you be who you are, and may you be blessed in who you are."

Same woman said that "welcoming GBLT...QI..." people is not an add-on but a different theology.

Ladin talked about the fact that we make assumptions about people's genders based on the initial cues we read and talked about the need for a definition of humanness that doesn't rest in gender distinctions -- so that we can respect people even when you can't make sense of their gender.

She talked about how surgery etc. for trans folk is considered medical decision. She said, "we are not allowed to know who we are -- other people have to approve that."


There were lots of attractive queer-looking ~women, and I am bad at initiating small-talk, and after the event proper was over and people were just mingling, I just wanted a nap (the heat of the room probably wasn't helping), so I bailed rather than attempt to socialize, but I was also thinking about how I feel sort of like an interloper in Jewish spaces. I sent Scott an email about this and he replied the next morning: "this requires in-person comment.... but the short form is DON'T PANIC!" ♥


"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.)

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love one another as i have loved you

[Saturday (P+4)] "there have always been faultlines in Creation"

Kathy M's memorial service was today. Because of who Kathy was, there was a lot more music than is standard (there were 3 choir anthems and 3 hymns the congregation sang).

The opening anthem was "The Deer's Cry" by Shaun Davey (based on St. Patrick's Breastplate -- the song which opens, "I arise today..."). I think I was crying by the end of that, and I definitely cried a lot during Molly's homily.

Crying, for me at least, feels like an emptying out, and I was thinking, early in the service, experiencing that feeling of being emptied, that it would be good to have Communion at the end of the service.

In part, I'm sure, because I'd seen this on Tumblr this morning:
awkwardbutaccurate: “foretaste of the feast to come” sounds really familiar, almost like it’s in the Eucharistic prayer. Anyone know?


galesofnovember: Google tells me it’s in the Lutheran Eucharistic liturgy. I think it’s in one of the rites in the BCP too, because I swear I’ve heard that phrase.
[My immediate response to "foretaste of the feast to come" was, "OF COURSE it's in the Eucharistic liturgy!" so when I saw gales' response I thought, "Oh, apparently I have absorbed my best friend's liturgy." I mean, I know it's not in the Communion liturgies my churches use, but...]

I would want it to be a real actual feast. Fine, it's a symbol, but a bite of bread dipped in juice (or wine) doesn't feel like a powerful symbol to me. I don't experience Communion as powerful magic, and that's in part just because of who I am, but also because I feel like there's "no there there" -- that if it's supposed to demonstrate Jesus' radical hospitality, and Jesus' enduring presence with us, and to model the Realm of God, then it should really be a feast.
Lord, what shall I do that I
can't quiet myself?
Here is the bread, and
here is the cup,
I can't quiet myself.
To enter the language of transformation!

-from Mary Oliver's "Coming to God: First Days"
The readings were:
"Sleeping in the Forest" - Mary Oliver
"Coming to God: First Days" - Mary Oliver
1 Corinthians 13:4-12

I knew Kathy was only 64 when she died, but I was still surprised, when I saw her daughters go up to the chancel to do the readings, how young they looked. They could be my age. Which, my parents are 53 and 61, so I suppose they probably are.

The closing hymn was "I'll Fly Away," which I have an active dislike for, but because I have heard so much about the grace with which Kathy approached death, I could tell myself that it meant something different in this context (even though while I was actually looking at the words I was aware I was stretching).

[Edit: During the Prayer time, Jeff M. acknowledged and opened up space for: the other griefs this brings to the surface (not limited to people who have died), the fact that Kathy could be difficult and inviting us to extend forgiveness to her, and if there was anything we felt like we wanted/needed forgiveness for (e.g., things we had done, things we hadn't done, ...) to allow ourselves to feel forgiveness from Kathy just like we had just extended forgiveness to her. This is the first funeral I've been to at FCS, so I don't know if this is standard here, but I really liked it.]


At the reception, I told Harold (who was wearing a suit) that I felt very undressed looking at him (I was wearing my black shirt with the glitter Phoenix on it, blue jeans, and my lace-up flats with stars on them). He did say he liked my shirt :)

During the reception, there was an open mic for anyone who wanted to share.

Her ex-husband spoke, and he said in keeping with the theme of the grace with which she dealt with her illness(es), she had reached out to him and told him she harbored no ill feelings about their breakup and that she was glad he was the father of her children. I cried.

I got up to get some juice and a guy got up and introduced himself as "Ron" and his voice sounded familiar before I saw his face and I realized it was ron_newman. He talked about having worked with Kathy on various Somerville things and I think I had already started crying, but where I clutched my heart was when he said he hadn't know that she was sick until he heard of her death last week, and so he wanted to come here to be able to say goodbye to Kathy because he hadn't been able to say goodbye to her before she died. While I know that people I know from church have lives outside of church, it hadn't really hit me that there would be people who would grieve her death but who wouldn't have been a part of her circles such that they would have found out about her illness before her death.

Jenny U got up and I started crying basically immediately because Jenny was her neighbor and was the connection that brought Kathy to FCS and I knew Jenny must be so sad -- and indeed Jenny was crying throughout her talking, and so I was doing the "crying because the other person is crying" thing the whole time.

A friend of Kathy's asked if anyone knew "Ezekiel Saw the Wheel" (which, sidebar, blessing of the bicycles!) and led a sing-along of that.

Betsy M (I think) led an impromptu "If I Had a Hammer," which song I don't really know but which I loved at the end.


"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.)

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