Tuesday, August 11, 2020

"Judaism or Christianity: Which Tradition Is More Open to Feminist Change?" by Carol P. Christ ,Thought-Provoking Article


New post on 


My Response: The Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement is 
an example of feminist change in the  RC tradition by claiming the spiritual authority of the community as equals to celebrate sacraments and by challenging rigid doctrine rooted in medieval thinking that a male priest is  required to "confect" a valid Eucharist.  The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests offer a renewed model of priestly ministry in a community of equals! This is a revolution, rooted in feminist theology, in practice and theology in the Roman Catholic tradition!  Bridget Mary Meehan, https://arcwp.org




"Jill Hammer’s recent post on midrash surrounding the Biblical figure of Eve(Hava in Hebrew) sparked me to muse again about the fact that, despite its patriarchal roots and overlay, Judaism is a much more flexible tradition than Christianity and, therefore, much more open to feminist change.

Part of this is due to the fact that Judaism is midrashic while Christianity has been and remains a doctrinal tradition. Midrash is a form of Biblical interpretation that includes retelling the story to fill in the blanks and to answer contemporary questions left unanswered in the original text. Jews consider the Torah (the 5 books of Moses) to be the “Word of God” though opinions vary as to what this means. In the rabbinical tradition, the Torah is interpreted through the Talmud which is an extensive collection of discussions and disputes that draw on Biblical texts in relation to contemporary (to the rabbis) questions. Midrash included in the Mishnah (a collection of teachings that preceded the Talmud) and the Talmud are considered part of the "oral Torah." which is also "the Word of God."

The Talmud is considered to be authoritative, but it includes conflicting interpretations that were never resolved into a single definitive view. Though different Jewish groups have declared certain views to be normative, other groups have disagreed. There is no central authority (such as a Pope or council) to resolve these disputes. Though some Jewish groups disagree strongly with the beliefs or practices of others, in Judaism as a whole an attitude of “live and let live” leads to inclusion rather than exclusion. Indeed. The Talmud records that in the midst of a particularly vehement dispute between two rabbis, a voice intervened, stating: “These and these are the words of the Living God.” (Quoted by Judith Plaskow in Goddess and God in the World.)

Moreover, in Judaism there is no requirement that “legitimate” worship must take place in a synagogue or under the direction of a rabbi. Traditionally, the presence of 10 male Jews intending to worship together constituted a quorum. Indeed, the important celebrations of Shabbat (Sabbath) and Passover occur in the home. Experimentation with alternate and feminist liturgies can occur in these spaces.

In the 1960s and 70s a widespread vibrant Chavurah movement developed. These groups met in homes and often created their own liturgical forms. Challenged by feminist members, most of these groups began to count the quorum as 10 Jews, male or female. These groups were accepted as legitimate sites of Jewish worship by most other Jews. Reconstructionist, Reform, and Conservative denominations now count women as part of the quorum, leaving the Orthodox the last to count only men.

Jewish women who offer new interpretations and retell Biblical or post- Biblical stories from different points of view assert that they are simply doing what has always been done. In the Kohenet or Hebrew Priestess community, women reclaim leadership roles that fall outside of rabbinical norms and openly worship the Hebrew Goddess. Though the beliefs and practices of this movement have not been accepted by the major Jewish denominations in the United States, neither have they been widely condemned.

In contrast, Christian women who try to change their tradition(s) come up against dogma and doctrine as well as theories of scriptural inerrancy. With the establishment of Christianity by Constantine, churches were understood to be the only legitimate sites of worship and priests (and later, ministers) the only legitimate leaders of worship and dispensers of the sacraments.

The early church also became (rigidly!) doctrinal as various theological disputes were resolved in Church councils. The winning views became Church doctrine, while the opposing views were declared heretical. Heretics--including witches--were tried, banished, or killed in both the Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions, especially in the early modern period. While Protestants left England in the name of religious freedom to found the American colonies, they became dogmatic and exclusionary in the New World. Feminist challengers of this status quo face allegations or even charges of heresy, especially if they are employed by a church.

The Re-Imagining movement arose in the 1980s as a response to the pervasive male language for God in both Protestant and Roman Catholic churches. It predated the Hebrew Priestess movement by several decades and was originally endorsed and funded by several mainline Protestant groups. But when it was reported that at their conference, the women invoked the deity as our sweet Sophia with milk and honey flowing from her generous thighs, all hell broke loose. One of the conference leaders was fired from her job, sending a clear message to women ministers and priests that radical experiments with female God language would not be tolerated. The Pope followed by declaring that baptisms must be in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: feminist alternatives such as Creator and Redeemer were declared invalid. Sadly, experimentation with female language for God is largely a thing of the past in churches.

Christian feminists face other restrictions not experienced by their Jewish counterparts. Women meet to experiment with liturgy in private Woman Church groups, but these groups are not recognized by Protestant denominations or by the Roman Catholic church as legitimate sites of worship. Though women continue to be ordained as ministers and bishops in Protestant churches, they must affirm classic doctrines and dogmas as part of their ordination process and are not generally given leeway to disagree with them. Christian feminist Biblical scholars tend to focus on Biblical texts, for example by providing novel interpretations of words that challenge the androcentric biases of earlier translations, but they may not feel free to retell the stories.

Recently, while reading through the Encyclopedia of Women in World Religions, I felt energized by articles about women in Judaism and dispirited by the ones about women in Christianity. Though it is often said that Judaism is a more patriarchal tradition than Christianity (an assertion I would dispute), it is proving to be a far more flexible tradition than Christianity and more open to feminist change.

Though liturgical change is slow within the Jewish denominations, feminist Jews can find other way to feed their souls. Christianity, on the other hand, is burdened by doctrinal rigidity and by the assumption that a church presided over a priest or minister is the only legitimate place of worship. Christianity is showing itself to be a far less inclusive and flexible tradition than Judaism. Given its ongoing doctrinal rigidity and insistence that worship must be conducted by clergy, I wonder if it can be changed--especially given that most of those who desired change have left the mainline (non-fundamentalist)) denominations."



Carol P. Christ is an internationally known feminist and ecofeminist writer, activist, and educator who lives in Heraklion, Crete. Carol’s recent book is Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology. Carol has been leading Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete for over twenty years: join her in Crete. Carol’s photo by Michael Honneger.

Listen to Carol's a-mazing interview with Mary Hynes on CBC's Tapestryrecorded in conjunction with her keynote address to the Parliament of World's Religions.

"Dry Bones Come to Life- God Works Within and Through Us" by Regina Madonna Oliver , A Promise of Presence

Unsplash: Mimi Thian


God said to me, "Mortal, can these bones live?" I answered, "0 God, you know." Then God said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: 0 dry bones, hear the word of God. ... I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live." . . . So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them.

Ezekiel37: 3-8 (NRSV)


All of us have "dry bones" moments in our lives. In spite of all our efforts, nothing seems to "come together" for us. We put time and energy into a project; we pray about it; we do our best. Still it doesn't work. What are we to do? We're at rock-bottom, and we realize that we really don't know what to do, where to turn. It looks like our whole enterprise will have to be scrapped. We see nothing around us but the "dry bones" of thwarted effort!

Now, at that very moment, we are ripe for the word of God. Because of the impossibility that looks us in the face, we will know, without any doubt, that we desperately need God's intervention if we are to salvage our precious project.

How wonderful is the understanding that God chooses to make human beings collaborators in God's creation. This is how God acts with Ezekiel. God doesn't make the magic happen. Rather, God tells Ezekiel: "You prophesy to these bones! Speak to them!" Ezekiel does and, in the power of God, he sees the impossible happen.

That is how God works- within and through us! God inspires us: "Do this, and it will work!" We do it and- lo and behold-surprise, surprise! And we experience the joy of collabo­ rative success!

I recall a recent valley of dry bones. I was directing one of the four one-act comedies our small theatre group planned to present, and it just wasn't getting off the ground. The problem was that the person playing the primary character, a ludicrous house thief, simply could not manage to memorize his lines. The other charac­ters were ready for the increase in pace needed for the humorous climaxes, but the whole process was inhibited because the stage manager had to cue our thief on every ther line.

As opening night grew nearer, I consulted with those who were directing the other one-act comedies. It seemed we were doomed to scrap the whole performance unless a solution could be found. What a disappointment that would be to the entire cast; we had all worked so hard. We could not place "blame" anywhere; our "thief' certainly could not be faulted for lack of effort. He simply had a black-out problem when it came to memorization. What to do?

I went to bed in a quandary, with this prayer: "What in the world can I do, God?" The next morning the idea was there. Give our thief a "thiefs' handbook" to carry in his hip pocket. Have him constantly refer to his "crook book" every time he has to take action. Let each antagonist, upon entering, ask him why he is conferring with a book. What kind of a thief carries a book around with him for reference? He could answer: "This is my crook book, and I go by the book!"

The idea worked, and the play was salvaged! It was then that I realized that my dry bones of a play had been resurrected by this wonderful answer to prayer. God had let me collaborate.

Perhaps you have experienced dry bones coming to life many times over but never realized how God was acting in your behalf and through you. You may never have likened your personal experience to the vision of Ezekiel. Now you see how the Scripture is really lived out in your everyday life.


DAY 1

Think of a time in your life when you were faced with the likelihood of a failed project and some unlikely inspiration of the moment saved the day. See how God's Spirit, at work in you, enabled you to be creative, to find-almost without thinking-a solution. Thank God for the way the Divine works through, with and in you.

DAY 2

Give to God in prayer a problem you have been working with, a choice you have been struggling with, a brain-child you have been trying to create. Ask for God's help. Watch and see what happens.

DAY 3


Rest in the presence of our loving God, who is all-knowing. Pray the following as a mantra throughout the day:

0 Wisdom of God, penetrate and possess my whole understand­ing. Let me see as you see.

DAY 4

Read 1 Kings 3. The Scripture tells us that God is pleased that Solomon asks for a special gift instead of for riches or long life. God gives to Solomon not only what he asks for-but so much more. Boldly and prayerfully, ask God to give you the wisdom to bring life to those "dry bones" concerns in your life.


DAY 5

Read Proverbs 8:14. Realize that God has blessed you with "good advice and sound wisdom." Bring to mind the "dry bones" con­ cerns of your heart and review all options that might come to mind. Relax in confidence, and tell God that you trust you will have the wisdom to act when and if you must. Make Proverbs 8:14 your mantra for today.


DAY 6

Prayerfully make a list of the things that will cause you great concern today. Don't think ahead to tomorrow, next week, or next month. Just look into the day at what awaits you there in terms of worry and responsibility. Make this your prayer today:

God, you know the deepest and darkest parts of my heart. As I face the challenges that await me in this day, I lean against you in confidence. You will give me the virtues I need in the moment to respond with patience and wisdom. I walk with your grace today, each step I take.



DAY 7

Come before God in the stillness of your heart, where God always awaits your conscious communion. Make this your prayer today:

Holy One, my loving and intimate friend-of all-friends, the "dry bones" of my life humble me. They let me see how my life is not com­pletely within my control. They put me in touch with just how dependent I am on your grace and providence. Calm any panic or stress I experience as I look at those "dry bones." Open me to your peace.

RMO
(This meditation is from A Promise of Presence by Bridget Mary Meehan and Regina Madonna Oliver)

Monday, August 10, 2020

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Liturgy for Sunday, August 9, 2020 - Presiders: Santa Orlando and Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP

Anniversary of the Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Welcome and Theme
Presider 1: Welcome everyone, – The theme for today is “Our future is in our hands, WE are the help that is needed.”  Today we commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The horror of that moment in time continues as innocent people lose their lives in terrorist acts, school shootings, drug wars, etc. The list goes on and on.
I think we can all agree that we need help both individually and as a society.
Last week, Jesus put the feeding of crowds into the hands of the disciples; they didn’t know what to do... we don’t know what to do either. We are being asked to trust God and one another. Easier said than done. We pray for wisdom.

Opening Prayer
Presider 2: Breath of All that is, preserve us from our own madness. Direct us away from dealing destruction to others, a path which leads to the ruin of ourselves and our world. Help us to hear You. Show us your precious face in all others. You in us, and we in each other, from all places. Teach us how to lower our defenses. You call us, in our minds, in our world, and through each other. Speak to us. Speak through us. Light in us the fire of Your Love. Amen.

Opening Song  
Presider 2:  Please join in singing our centering song: Fire of Love
by Kathy Sherman, CSJ


LITURGY OF THE WORD

First Reading: Look with the Eyes of Compassion - A Meditation by Richard Rohr

The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh (born 1926) is one of the world’s most influential spiritual teachers. During the Vietnam War, his work for peace brought him into friendship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Thomas Merton, and other Christians who shared his belief that peace must be who we are, not just something we demand. Thich Nhat Hanh teaches:

This capacity of waking up, of being aware of what is going on in your feelings, in your body, in your perceptions, in the world, is called Buddha nature, the capacity of understanding and loving. . . . It is with our capacity of smiling, breathing, and being peace that we can make peace.

Many of us worry about the world situation. We don’t know when the bombs will explode. We feel that we are on the edge of time. As individuals, we feel helpless, despairing. The situation is so dangerous, injustice is so widespread, the danger is so close. In this kind of situation, if we panic, things will only become worse. We need to remain calm, to see clearly. Meditation is to be aware, and to try to help.

I like to use the example of a small boat crossing the Gulf of Siam. In Vietnam, there are many people, called boat people, who leave the country in small boats. Often the boats are caught in rough seas or storms, the people may panic, and boats can sink. But if even one person aboard can remain calm, lucid, knowing what to do and what not to do, he or she can help the boat survive. His or her expression—face, voice—communicates clarity and calmness, and people have trust in that person. They will listen to what he or she says. One such person can save the lives of many.

Our world is something like a small boat. Compared with the cosmos, our planet is a very small boat. We are about to panic because our situation is no better than the situation of the small boat in the sea. . . . Humankind has become a very dangerous species. We need people who can sit still and be able to smile, who can walk peacefully. We need people like that in order to save us. Mahayana Buddhism says that you are that person. . . .

The root-word “budh” means to wake up, to know, to understand. A person who wakes up and understands is called a Buddha. It is as simple as that. The capacity to wake up, to understand, and to love is called Buddha nature. [Christians would call this Christ nature, the Christ self, or the mind of Christ.] . . .

When you understand, you cannot help but love. . . . To develop understanding, you have to practice looking at all living beings with the eyes of compassion. When you understand, you love. And when you love, you naturally act in a way that can relieve the suffering of people.

These are the inspired words of Thich Nhat Hanh and Richard Rohr and we affirm them by saying, Amen.

Psalm Response: Psalm 85 
Adapted from Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying

Response: You awaken us to love and peace.

O Beloved, how gracious you are to us.
You restore our souls time and time again.
You forgive our distractions when we wander far from You.
You give us new life.
You awaken our hearts to love.

Response: You awaken us to love and peace.

We cannot Live separate from You.
You are with us as we cast out the demons of fear, doubt, and illusion.
We listen to you in our hearts as you speak.
You guide our footsteps upon the path of peace
as we recognize with open hearts that You are our peace.

Response: You awaken us to love and peace.

Alleluia
   
Gospel: A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew
 MT 14:22-33
Translation From The Message – the Bible in contemporary language

As soon as the meal was finished, Jesus insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.

Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared to death. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror.

But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Teacher, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.” 

Jesus said, “Come ahead.”

Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Teacher, save me!”

Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?”

The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, were in awe of Jesus, saying, “This is it! You are God’s Son for sure!”

These are the inspired words of the Gospel writer known as Matthew and we affirm them by saying, Amen.

Shared Homily – Santa Orlando

For me today's gospel reading, the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, Richard Rohr and the commemoration of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki all intersected.  We are all familiar with this gospel reading. The word in the gospel that continues to cry out to me is “terrified”. I always have trouble with language, so I acknowledge that the word terrified will enact many different emotions and mean different things to different people. 

Over the years I can recall experiences where I was “terrified”, overwhelmed, stopped in my tracks when experiencing  a graced moment that was drawing me closer to the Divine  presence. At those times in my life I was unable or unwilling to fully trust and surrender.

In time, those feelings of being terrified turned into Awe. I wonder if the disciples in the boat discussed their experience with each other, to make sure it really happened; I’m pretty sure they also replaced the initial feeling of terror with Awe at this display of divine power.

I’m also terrified of what humankind is capable of. It’s difficult for me to watch films showing the Holocaust, genocide and mass destruction of our earth and its inhabitants. I’m terrified and unable to understand how society can turn innocent young children into adults who justify the poisoning of the earth and elimination of life for the illusion of possession and power. 

Jesuit Father Pedro Arrupe was present in Hiroshima with a fellow priest when the atomic bomb was dropped. This account is taken from the Youtube video Pedro Arrupe's Hiroshima diary: He experienced the blinding light and explosion that caused doors, windows and walls to crumple. As he looked upon the scene he said:

“We did the only thing that could be done in the presence of such mass slaughter. We fell to our knees and prayed for guidance as we were destitute of all human help.”

As Arupe watched burned survivors appear clinging to each other, HE became the help. His medical training allowed him to treat the survivors as best he could. The unimaginable destruction and terror that he must have initially felt did not prevent his humanitarian response, he was not paralyzed with fear; his trust, inner calm and love of neighbor triumphed to allow him to show love and compassion.

In these uncertain times I wonder if we have learned anything, I wonder if we can see each other as members of one human family, if we can take responsibility to keep each other safe. COVID 19, climate change and war are ravaging the planet. Can we emerge from this pandemic, from wars, from destruction of the earth knowing that all creation is sacred and interconnected? Jesus said, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” We need to remain calm, trust and work together to move from terror to Awe. Our future is in our hands, WE are the help that is needed.  These are my thoughts, what did you hear and feel?

Presider 2: Let pray together our statement of faith:

Statement of Faith:
  We believe in the Holy One, a divine mystery
beyond all definition and rational understanding,
the heart of all that has ever existed,
that exists now, or that ever will exist.

We believe in Jesus, messenger of the Divine Word,
bringer of healing, heart of Divine compassion,
bright star in the firmament of the Holy One's
prophets, mystics, and saints.

We believe that We are called to follow Jesus
as a vehicle of divine love,
a source of wisdom and truth,
and an instrument of peace in the world.

We believe in the Spirit of the Holy One,
the life that is our innermost life,
the breath moving in our being,
the depth living in each of us.

We believe that the Divine kin-dom is here and now,
stretched out all around us for those
with eyes to see it, hearts to receive it,
and hands to make it happen.

Presider 1: As we prepare for the sacred meal, we bring to this gathering our blessings, cares and concerns.  (Dennis will read the intentions)

Presider 1 concludes with: We pray for these and all unspoken intentions. Amen.

Liturgy of the Eucharist

Presider 2:  With open hands let us pray our Eucharistic Prayer together:

All: O Holy One, the first passion of Jesus was his passion for you and for justice so that all may reap the beauty and bounty of Creation in equal measure. Jesus lived to incarnate your justice for all the world according to your covenant with Israel. In solidarity with Jesus, and with all the faithful men and women who have gone before us, we lift up our hearts and sing:


Here in This Place by Christopher Grundy

Holy One, may your presence here
open our minds
may your Spirit among us
help us to find
you are rising up now
like a fountain of grace
from the holy ground
here in this place.

Holy, holy, holy God
of love and majesty
the whole universe speaks of your glory
from the holy ground here in this place. Here in this place.  (Repeat)

Holy One, we celebrate the life of your son and our brother, Jesus. He lived his life and walked forward to his death knowing that you were leading him. We walk forward in his pathway and follow his teaching.

We are standing in the right place with Jesus when we let go of money, possessions, pride and privilege, to become vulnerable and open to you, to accept poverty of spirit and reliance on you.

We are standing with You when we are compassionate for all human beings, and when we extend empathy and love to everyone, especially the poor, oppressed, and mournful. We remember all those who suffer and die each year from war, poverty and unjust disease. We mourn for them, and for all creatures we destroy, and for the earth itself.

We are blessed when we are gentle, nonviolent, courageous and humble, like your saints. We pray to grow in awareness of our unity with all of creation and co-create with You our earth as a sanctuary of peace.

We rejoice, O Holy One, as we join the lineage of Your prophets of justice and peace. We, Your daughters and sons, continue to work with Your grace as we arise and walk forward in the footsteps of our peace-loving brother, Jesus.

Presider 2: Please extend your hands in blessing.

All: We are ever aware of your Spirit in us and among us at this Eucharistic table and we are grateful for this bread and wine which reminds us of our call to be the body of Christ in the world.

On the night before he faced his own death, Jesus sat at supper with his companions and friends.  He reminded them of all that he taught them, and to fix that memory clearly with them, he bent down and washed their feet. 

Community lifts their plates

When he returned to his place at the table, he lifted the bread, spoke the blessing, broke the bread and offered it to them saying: 
Take and eat, this is my very self.

(pause) Community consumes the bread  

Community lifts the cup

Then he took the cup of the covenant, spoke the grace, and offered it to them saying:
Take and drink.
Whenever you remember me like this,
I am among you.

(pause) Community drinks from the cup

We share this bread and cup to proclaim and live the gospel of justice and peace.

Presider 2: Our Communion Meditation is We are the Ones by Karen Drucker https://youtu.be/fdIzQlWBWxs
Presider: Holy One, we trust You to continue to share with us Your own Spirit, the Spirit that filled Jesus, for it is through his life and teaching, his loving and healing that all honor and glory is Yours. Amen.

Presider 2: Let us pray as Jesus taught us:

O Holy One, who is within, around and among us, 
We celebrate your many names. 
Your Wisdom come. 
Your will be done, unfolding from the depths within us, 
Each day you give us all we need; 
You remind us of our limits, and we let go. 
You support us in our power, and we act with courage. 
For you are the dwelling place within us,  
the empowerment around us, 
and the celebration among us, now and forever.  Amen  
(Miriam Therese Winter) 

Blessing

Presider 1:  Let us raise our hands and bless each other.

May we be blessed with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships.
May we seek truth boldly and love deeply.
May we continue to be the face of the Holy One, and
May our names be a blessing in our time.

Closing Song
Presider 2: Please join in singing our closing song: Circle Chant




The Eucharistic Prayer created by Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP, is adapted from Beatitudes for Peace by John Dear.

"Women Priests Are Possible Says New Member of Vatican Finance Council by Katholische Nachrichten-Agentur, National Catholic Reporter

https://www.ncronline.org/news/quick-reads/women-priests-are-possible-says-new-member-vatican-finance-council

Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests and supporters

My Response: See what happens when Pope Francis appoints a woman to a top position on the Vatican Finance Council. She speaks out!    Katholische Nachrichten-Agentur, congratulations for raising the issue of women priests with the hierarchy at the Vatican! May the six new women -members of the Vatican Finance Council -  rock Peter's boat! Our international  Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement is doing our part in leading the Church forward by living the full equality of women in communities of equals. 
Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, https://arcwp.org

"There is a Remedy -Women and World Peace" by Karen Kerrigan ARCWP

Unsplash:Humphrey Muleba

August 8, 2020
Heart of Compassion International Community

Three Belarusian women challengers have come together, doing what their menfolk could not do, by uniting their fellow citizens, to take on the man known as the last European dictator. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is one of those women and she is running against this last tyrant for President of Belarus! Stay tuned as the election is Sunday August 9th.
It goes without saying that, Mahatma Gandhi was not a warmonger. Furthermore, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was known as The Iron Lady. So, generalizing that all men rattle the sabers of war and that all women are crucial peace negotiators and equity reconstructionist is simply fake news. Still, there is a key ingredient that research data shows will increase the likelihood of sustainable peace agreements and equitable restructuring in war’s aftermath. And studies show, that key ingredient is women! Not just any woman however, but those with real decision-making power in the spaces where rulings are made. And also, these women must be unfettered by other competing commitments. With so much at stake, I am sharing with you, what are some of the attributes that form peace-making and equity restructuring platforms that are actualized, in women and in men of good will.


A good place to start this investigation is Our own Christian Tradition where, The Sixth Beatitude in Matthew’s Gospel says; “Blessed are the single-hearted for they shall see God.” Mary Magdalene’s Gospel says; “It’s the eye of the heart, which is between the spirit and soul that perceives the vision.” Both evangelists are pointing to the need to do the spiritual work necessary to overcome the divided or split heart. Mary Magdalene’s Gospel gives us a process for transforming the forces that can divide and split our commitments. According to The Magdalene, the inner powers one needs to renovate are; darkness, craving, ignorance, enslavement to the physical body, the false peace and the compulsion to rage. If only more people would tap into her ancient perennial wisdom! Unfortunately, spiritual processes are often thought of as, just for the indulgent individual and not for the good of the collective. But I can see that working Magdalene’s or other authentic spiritual programs can benefit the entire spectrum of human relationships and not just our personal ones. Yet, there are prerequisites to the spiritual journey. One needs to have intentional willingness to divest oneself of those divisive attachments to do this inner work. Even before that comes, the need for real self-knowledge. Finally, the last essential component from what I can see is to construct narratives that affirm inner transformational efforts as vital for peace and equity throughout all our connections of human experience. In other words, we need convincing arguments that time spent on authentic spiritual practices is what real strong people do. Authentic prayer and spiritual practices are not for wimps!

Which leads me to introduce you to a Muslim woman named; Manal Omar who was born to Palestinian parents in Saudi Arabia and later immigrated to the United States. Having a background like hers causes her to divest herself of other weighted alignments and loyalties, to a singular focus. on the project of sustainable peace and equity, for all in The Middle East. Regrettably, this isn’t the case for many who live in that part of the world. As a matter of fact, she reports that the cause of peace, in The Middle East, has developed a bad name. Omar acknowledges that currently, nation-states are not waging war the way they used to. What is on the rise are violent extremists. While at the same time trust in nation-state governments has lessened dramatically. In conditions such as these, groups of people become more fractured into what she calls sub-identities; religion, ethnic allegiances, job and economic loyalties which divide households and communities. With all these active competing force
s in mind, how does someone like Manal Omar remain optimistic?

According to Omar, one of the remedies for these dangerous splits are women. Why is that so? Well, for starters, you will find women know violence. Sadly, more women died, from violence against them, than all those who died during the wars of the 20th century! Those women have died from starvation, rape, honor killings, infanticide and other reasons. Additionally, more than 4 million women world-wide, disappear each year! Manal remarks, that’s like the entire population of LA disappearing annually. Because women face the worst of the consequences of war and inequitable peace, they are amongst the first to take the steps to real peace-building and equitable restructuring in the aftereffects of conflict. 

We know that it is not every woman, who is committed to cause of equitable peace. But don’t be discouraged by women not committed to real sisterhood though. The good news is, there are known attributes and characteristics that can be developed in and recognized by those women who activate them. True peace-building women are empowered integrated women who know their communities well. They recognize when unsettling changes are happening in their region quickly. But what’s also key is that these empowered women are not vested in the competing conditions that benefit from conflict.. It’s those empowered, integrated and unfettered women who are more likely to cross religious, ethnic and political boundaries. Omar reports that it was women such as these, who were on the front lines of The Arab Spring actions that happened about a decade ago. Interestingly, bold women acting in this way, will often energize the men in their groups, who are now ashamed by doing nothing, while their women are acting so brave.
Astonishingly, Omar Manal who is a Muslim woman asserts that we need to help these women to be fully embodied and integrated. And stunningly, it’s Omar who says, this includes the power of women’s sexuality. Just like so many western spiritual leaders, Omar reports that full self-knowledge is essential. Female sexual strengths are vital life force energies, that women for far too long, have been taught to suppress! Suffocating women’s life force energy, according to Omar is like shutting down their inner GPS system! Even more so, suppressing them is like causing a drain, similar to the kind we know that leads to dead batteries in the car. Be reassured by Omar, that one does not need to have sex, to be able to integrate this vital life force energy into our peace and equitable restructuring leadership. 

To recap, there is a remedy to that which ails our world! That hidden remedy… in need of awakening is women! The question is, do women have the courage to consciously choose to transform our own inner competing forces? Do we have the willingness to intentionally, cultivate our embodied, sexual and integrated selves? We as women come out at these transformational tasks, with the embodied force that brings new life into this world. These energies are our birthright! Let’s awaken them! We can do this, not by replacing men of good will but by co-creating with them the sustainable and equitable future everyone longs for! Amen


Rev. Karen Kerrigan ARCWP


Gathering Priest along The Huron, Rouge & Detroit Rivers and The Great Lakes Watershed.
Grateful Member of St. Peter’s Peace & Social Justice Community, Detroit.
Contributing Weaver Priest, Heart of Compassion International Community (HOC). Windsor/Detroit



From Co-Leader: Jen Harvey’s Reflection: Jen shared her experience of learning about Hiroshima and Nagasaki while visiting Japan. She shared her richly detailed knowledge of going to memorial to Sadako Sasaki, who died from leukemia caused by radiation poisoning, 10 years after the bombing of Hiroshima 75 years ago. Sadako was taught by another patient at her hospital that making a thousand paper cranes would bring good wishes. Sadako was able to construct about 675 paper cranes before she died at 12 years old. People all over the world have been making paper cranes in her memory ever since. Jen named Sadako, “The midwife of peace in Japan!”


If you wish here are instructions to make paper cranes.
How to make origami paper cranes.
Materials: Paper, scissors, three markers or crayons: pink, blue and orange.
Use this youtube instructions to create your paper crane.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfnyopxdJXQ

"Hold Up Your Head"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Z3SzstJh9g&feature=youtu.be

"Go Deep Within- Be Still and Aware of God's Presence Within and All Around You" by Bridget Mary Meehan, A Promise of Presence

Unsplash



"Be still, and know that I am God!"

Psalm 46:10 (NRSV)


Do you sometimes feel like you have too much to do and not enough time to get it all done? I have certainly felt that way­

many times. Each day I would make long lists, determined to finish everything on the list before the end of that day. My friends would jokingly call me "Supernun." My life was one of hustle and bustle: do the household chores, prepare manuscripts, work on TV productions, attend meetings, prepare for retreats, and coordinate household tasks. Sometimes it felt like I was only half present to what I was doing. I did not get adequate sleep; I did not exercise; I did not eat properly. Even though I accomplished a lot, I was frazzled and fragmented- "running on empty," as they say.

Then one day I became ill. When I took an honest look at myself, I had to admit that I deserved better treatment. I needed to relax and find ways to nurture my body and soul.


Deciding to treat myself like Christ treats me, I made several small changes in my life. I began to care for my body as the beautiful temple God created, by eating nourishing food, exercising regularly, and getting more rest. I concentrated on one task at a time and accomplished more than I imagined. I found quiet time for prayer and contemplation and, in the solitude, I listened to God speaking in the sanctuary of my heart. As I journeyed within, I discovered the simple pleasures of life that I had been too busy to experience: a refreshing swim on a hot summer's day; a walk through the woods; laughing at a joke; reading a good book; watching children play; enjoying the taste of a hot cup of tea and delicious scones; talking with close friends. All of these things gave me a sense of well-being and comfort. I became more calm and receptive to the divine gifts offered to me in each day.


Twenty minutes of meditation can lead us to deeper wisdom, where our physical and mental capacities awaken. Our spirit can take wing and accomplish all that we set out to do with enthusiasm and energy.

When we are still and receptive, God often whispers in our soul. We can learn to embrace every moment of every day, as everything and everyone becomes a blessing for us. Each day we can go deep within to where God truly dwells. There we will find endless love.


DAY 1

Ponder what is most precious in your life. Listen to God speaking in your soul. Be aware of any insights or inspirations. Give thanks for the blessings of this day.

DAY 2

Make this your prayer today:
God, give us the grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed; courage to change the things that should be changed; and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
Reinhold Niebuhr



DAY3

As your prayer this day, do one or more of the following:

* Focus on the love and joy of the Spirit in your life.

* As you shower or bathe, be aware of the cleansing, refreshing power of water on your body.

* As you eat your•favorite food, savor the taste, bite by bite.

* Smell the aroma of flowers, potpourri, perfume or bread baking, and allow it to permeate you.

* As you greet people, be totally present to the Divine within them.

* As you walk or drive, be conscious that God goes before you.



DAY 4

Be still. Sit with God. Listen to the silence within. Let awe and wonder envelop you. Dwell in this sacred space. Awaken to Infinite Love.


DAY 5

Focus today on accomplishing one task at time. Bring all your attention to whatever you are doing. Glimpse God in each thing you do, by looking people in the eye, listening attentively, letting every action be your prayer.



DAY 6

Make this your prayer today:


Shekinah, dancing in days and nights, appearing in symbols of light, cloud and fire as you accompanied the Israelites on their journey through the darkness of wilderness and exile, be dazzling light and fiery wings to lead me through the dark places, for it is there that your deepest secrets are revealed.

Shekinah, you who are God's feminine presence among us, I give my heart to you. Enfold me in your deep, passionate love, that I may be truth-teller, justice-doer and love-giver, reverencing you in everyone I meet.


DAY 7

Make this your prayer today:

Intimate God, you are the companion of my soul. You loved me into being. You wove me in my mother's womb, possessing everything I need. Here I am- unique, gifted, a bundle of sur­prises, your beautiful image, with sparkling eyes and radiant smile. I laugh with delight as I dance with you through the doors of time, now and forever.

BMM

This meditation is in A Promise of Presence by Bridget Mary Meehan and Regina Madonna Oliver