Wednesday Prayers: Welcome Home

I dallied in writing my weekly post today, and it worked out for the best. Rather than musing on something that'll bore the pants off half of you, I get to just offer up a loud, happy, "THANKS BE TO GOD!!!!!"

A friend's husband has returned from deployment. Hallelujah.

Welcome home, Joe.


Internalized Sexism

I bought (most of) my books last week, and I'm trying to make a dent in them this week (as I'm a little concerned that this first semester is going to be crazy). Yesterday, I read bell hooks' Feminism is for EVERYBODY. The following stuck out to me:
We all knew firsthand that we had been socialized as females by patriarchal thinking to see ourselves as inferior to men, to see ourselves as always and only in competition with one another for patriarchal approval, to look upon each other with jealousy, fear, and hatred. Sexist thinking made us judge each other without compassion and punish one another harshly. (p. 14)
I've been thinking about the ways women compare ourselves to one another, and the lethal effect that competition has on relationships for a long time now. I've never thought of it being linked to sexism, but in retrospect, it hugely is.

Here are a few examples I can think of:
  • We diminish attractive women by making them out to be stupid.
  • We snarl at women with whom "our" men might enjoy some sort of connection.
  • In order to have friendships with other women, we sacrifice ourselves by pretending we're less than we really are.
  • In order to have friendships with other women, we sacrifice them by pretending they're less than they really are.
  • We reject women based on their choices of dress, particularly when clothing displays a womanly form.
  • We establish connection with one woman by disparaging others.
  • We reject friendships with women in favor of friendships with men, claiming that women are in some way separate from or beneath us.
  • We have to feel better than someone else in order to feel adequate ourselves.
  • We belittle women's sexuality, either its absence or its obviousness.
This is just a start, and just off the top of my head, but I can think of examples in my own life of everything listed. Sometimes I'm the perpetrator, and sometimes I'm the recipient. I've always thought it was about insecurity, and there's that too, but it really is hugely about sexism. I don't compare myself to men. I can have friendships with men without competing. (For that matter, I count myself as extremely lucky to have some noncompetitive, supportive female friendships.)

How are we as women perpetuating sexism? We can react against it in men and still lash out with it against other women. This matters. It shreds the bonds of love, affection and support that human beings were created for. Can you see it in your life? Can you envision the generosity and freedom of a world without it?


Wednesday Prayers: TMG

Baby prayers this week: a wonderful couple welcomed a new addition on Sunday, and I'm praying for their family and their future. These are some of my favorite prayers: that they all learn and grow together, that there is joy in their household, and that they find strength and comfort in God in those inevitable times when there is grief. I'm praying that the new baby stays healthy and strong. I'm thanking God for delivering him to such excellent parents.

And while I'm giving these thanks, I'm also holding M and her family in prayer. In the worst juxtaposition, she's losing a pregnancy now. She and her new husband are sure to be grieving. These are prayers for which I don't have words.


A Quick Peek at LTS

Hi, y'all.

I'm having the darnedest time feeling like school is real, and about to start. The last time I did this, all my friends were doing it, too, and there was momentum. This time, it's just lonely me, waiting another week to schedule classes. I'm a wade-in kind of woman, and this seems like it's going to wind up being a dive-in situation. (The waiting, and the nothingingness until the waiting's over.... AUUUUUGH!!!!)

So I decided to drop by the school yesterday, and take a few pictures. Maybe by showing you where I'll be, it'll start to feel more real, and I'll feel more involved.

It's a little-bitty campus right downtown in (very, very) historic Lancaster City. LTS is literally across the street from Franklin and Marshall College (it looks as though it could be an annex).

This is the front of the school, as seen from W. James St. I discovered that it's really hard to take pictures of large buildings downtown: I couldn't get far enough away! The chapel is in this building (on the left side), and so are several classrooms and offices.

This is the same building, different angle. I think the shape of the chancel is lovely, and wanted to show you.

This is the library. In addition to holding a great stock of books and historical documents, it also serves as a cautionary tale about mixing architectural styles.

Finally, a wee nook. I'm hoping it's used and enjoyed, as it looks awfully cozy to me.

It's a tiny but beautiful place, and better yet, the people have been open and welcoming. I met a 2nd year MDiv. student yesterday who was kind enough to introduce herself, and then tell me how much she loved the school. It's not an uncommon occurrence, but I think it may be an uncommon community.


Wednesday Prayers: Wondrous Variety

In an old movie, a child asks a man why he looks so different from everyone else, and the man replies, "Because Allah loves wondrous variety."

Bodies come in a beautiful variety of forms, and it feels awful to be ashamed of any of them.

Some women (myself among them) remember being instructed not to be a stumbling block to their brothers in Christ. If this is foreign to you, I can translate: having a discernible feminine form will get in the way of men's relationships with God. If teenage boys looked at you and thought of sex, you were responsible for coming between them and God. I'm sure that sounds laugh-out-loud funny to some of you, but to those of us who were raised that way, it's the root of real shame.

I see a lot of people dismissing other's pain, especially when it comes to body issues. I don't see your body the way you do, and so I assume that your feelings are misplaced, unnecessary. You feel old, but I see glamour, and so I don't bother to listen about what it means to you to feel old. Someone's body feels uncomfortable to them, and that makes us uncomfortable, so we change the subject, instead of being a safe place for them to be honest.

This week, I'm praying for bodies: that we respect our own and appreciate them, and treat those belonging to others with kindness.


Coming Soon!

Lovely people have wondered what's happening when with seminary, so here's what I've got:

8/16: I meet with someone to schedule classes and do a brief-ish timed writing. (The writing is just to evaluate whether incoming students need additional help. Despite knowing that, I'm a little nervous.) I will be tremendously relieved to have a schedule and know what my classes will be. (In the meantime, it would probably be wise to use an awareness of "not knowing" as a spiritual practice.)

8/29: New student orientation! We'll meet each other, and learn where the restrooms are. (I assume there will be other info as well, of course.)

9/6: Classes begin!