I brown the beef in the pot with the onions. I add a little flour to make a roux. I add carrots, potatoes, and garlic. Then comes the beef broth. I stir it all up to make sure all the roux is mixed in, and move to put the lid on for it’s long, slow simmer.
He stops my hand and says, “Aren’t you forgetting something?”
I laugh and sigh at the same time. Maybe I roll my eyes a little, but I can’t argue. I pull a can of Guinness out of the fridge, pop it open, take a swig, and pour the rest into the stew. I give it another stir.
“Yeah, that’s more like it!” I pull two more out of the fridge: one for me and one for Him. We go and sit in old creaky lawn chairs in the backyard, just watching the sun move across the afternoon sky. As the sun sets, we get to talking. Occasionally, I go and stir the stew.
He takes a long drink as twilight sets in. “You know why I like it when you cook?”
“Not entirely, no…”
He sits up on the edge of the old chair, His green eyes serious through his bushy red eyebrows. “Heh…you’re a bad liar.” He laughs. “But this time, I’ll humor you, because it’s important. Food does many things. It can heal people. It can comfort people. It can bring joy, and soothe sadness and pain. When you are the one making food for others, you are bringing them closer to you. You are doing a magickal thing. It is satisfying when you’ve fed someone who you know needs what you can give.
But it’s not just about the food. Food is only the vehicle for the human need for connection. Food brings people together. So much can be communicated by and healed through a shared meal. Especially when you cook for someone else.
That’s why I like to help you. A doubly blessed meal is always a good thing.”
He pauses taking another swallow of Guinness, patting His big belly. He pauses for a few minutes, then continues. “It’s the same when you priest, you know. I bet you know why by now.”
I think for a minute. “Well, yeah, when I’m priesting, I’m stirring the spiritual pot and making something beautiful and nourishing for the people I serve. And if I don’t make it good and flavorful, people won’t accept it.”
He smiles. “And don’t forget to have some variety. Remember, a stew isn’t a stew if you don’t have all the ingredients together. And sometimes, a little spice is a good thing!” He winks at me, then lets out a huge roar of laughter that comes from his belly. “Go on, check the stew. It should be almost done now.”
I get up to stir the stew. He picks up His harp and plays a light tune as the stars come out. I hear the lilting song in the kitchen. Over the music he yells back into the house: “Pull out a lot of bowls, love, there’s a lot of folks to feed out there!”
“All right!” I start pulling bowls and utensils out of the cabinets, lining the counters and the table. I begin to hum along to the harp song as I slice bread, put out the salt and pepper shakers, and butter. I feel the anticipation of knowing that a meal I made will feed so many. It is a beautiful thing.
The harp song rises, calling out into the night:
“Come, come, whoever you are,
for the cauldron is full
and you will not be turned away.
Come, come, whoever you are,
we call to you to come and taste
of comfort, of love, of peace
and of justice
Come and taste, come and talk, come and love, come and be
May we be blessed with abundance as the seasons turn!
Come, come, whoever you are
for the cauldron is full to overflowing
Come, come, whoever you are,
you are welcome here
and you will not be turned away
Come, Come, whoever you are
for love is here and plentiful
Come, come, whoever you are
you are welcome here
come and have your fill!
Come and taste, come and talk, come and love, come and be
May we be blessed with abundance as the seasons turn!”
There is a knock at the door.
“Come in!” I shout, as the harp song continues….
I know some people probably assumed that lack of time and going to grad school were the main reasons I demitted from the Order of Eastern Star. (These are true, for the most part, and I’d include my initiating chapter being in New Hampshire as another.) But the actual reason is because of my wife, who is transgender. I promised her that I would not be involved in organizations that wouldn’t accept her as well as me, and frankly, OES (and by extension, other Masonic orders) has no statement of inclusion on the state or national levels. The closest is California’s mission statement, which stipulates respect for the diversity of its members.
But, after visiting some chapters out here (and reading some posts on Facebook from members both here and from my home chapter in New Hampshire) I began to have questions for myself: Would my wife be welcome at events or be merely tolerated by some members? If I became Worthy Matron, would my wife even be acknowledged as my wife, or would she be called my “escort”? (There is a very big difference.) If I had become an Advisory Board member of a Rainbow Assembly, would my wife be welcome to help out at events (after all the training that’s required for adults who work with assemblies)?
The answer, after much thought and soul searching on my part, was “no”. I really wish I could say otherwise. For the most part it seemed like a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” kind of situation around my queerness. And I can’t really say it’s the whole organization, either, because the chapters I had been to here have all been really awesome. But even here, in the Bay Area, I felt I could not truly be myself, nor did I feel that my wife would be regarded as my actual wife and partner.
So, I asked for the demit paperwork from Pilgrim Chapter (my initiating chapter in New Hampshire) and did so.
I’m writing this to explain why I demitted. This is not to condemn anyone in particular or to say that the organization, as a whole, is bad. In fact, it’s an organization that I would really love to be a part of, as both it and the International Order of Rainbow for Girls have given me many great gifts. But I can’t, in good conscience, be a member at this time if my family, my wife, would not be recognized as such. I know OES (and the other orders) won’t change overnight, but I would ask these Masonic organizations to consider, on the highest levels, how they treat LGBT members and their families. I’d also suggest they put it in writing. As chapters shrink, consolidate, and disappear all together, attracting people to the orders is something that is very important. I think these orders do itself a disservice by ignoring excellent potential new members because of who they and their families are.
I invite OES members to comment here on this, but I do ask that members be respectful of each other.
Dear Ms. Rice,
You posted the following on Facebook the other day (and followed up with a few other posts along the same vein):
“As I said before, I fear Christianity. I have found it to be an immoral religion. And I have found it to be a very very aggressive religion which does a great deal of harm in the world. Christians in America spend millions trying to influence legislation and elections to limit the rights of women and the rights of gays. They do not leave the rest of us alone. They do not respect the rest of us. I fear this. I wish those who call themselves Christians, and claim to be loving and good, would take some real moral responsibility for their religion and the things it has done historically and the things it is doing now.”
I’m a progressive Wiccan Christian. I go to seminary at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, which is probably the most progressive Christian seminary on the planet. There are many of us here who are fighting the good fight, talking and working on creating a more inclusive theology. We do exist.
Unfortunately, as my Christian History professor so rightly put it last week, we are a very small drop in a very big bucket.
Christianity is not monolithic. Hasn’t been since the beginning, and most certainly not since Martin Luther nailed his theses to the door. I suggest you take a look at the work that Bishop Yvette Flunder and the City of Refuge in San Francisco is doing around radical inclusion. I am a member of that church, and I can tell you, it’s certainly not like any other church I’ve been in.
Better yet, get on a plane and come visit. 1 pm, Sundays, 1052 Howard Street in San Francisco. Oh, and this church, and it’s organization, has accepted me as a member, witchcraft and all.
My church understands the damage that the institution of Christianity has done. I understand this fully. I acknowledge Christianity’s horrid history. There’s no getting around that. But there’s some things to think about here:
1) Who is really to blame here? Can you blame all the Christians from all over the world for the damage that the people running the institutions have done? Should we have blamed you, when you were still Catholic, for the mistakes and damage of all the Popes, past and present? Should we condemn a kid as bad in a rural town in Oklahoma for the bigotry that his parents do in the name of Jesus? There are humans that are doing horrid things in the name of Christianity, there are those of us who are working to fix that, and then there are the innocents that get caught in the middle.
2) What really frustrates me, what really just makes me want to hurl a lot of profanity some days, are when prominent people, like yourself, yelling at the top of their lungs about how Christianity is so bad (and where are all these progressive Christians, and why won’t they do anything about X, Y, Z, OMGWTFBBQ!) is that while you’re bitching about it, there are those of us doing the work. It may not be big, it may not be the change you want right away, or some big in your face campaign, but we’re doing it. If I can help heal someone from pain, or give them comfort through prayer, then I’ve done healing in the name of Jesus. Sometimes, one needs to pick their battles.
3) And finally, where are you? What are you doing to help people like me change the face of Christianity? Where are your big donations to Dignity, or City of Refuge (that needs a lot of work done on it’s building to be able to serve it’s congregation), or the Women’s Ordination group, or any other progressive and radically inclusive church or organization? Are you coming to progressive Christian events and supporting the work we’re trying to do? It’s one thing to bitch online about it on Facebook, but let’s be real here: we don’t have millions of dollars. We can’t compete with the Rick Santorums, Mitt Romneys, Koch brothers, or the Pope. I know I won’t get paid to be a pastor in my church, nor do I expect to be. Most progressive pastors and ministers have to have day jobs, and boy would it be nice to have all that money that the mega-churches and the Roman Catholic church has. But we don’t. And yet, we are still there, still serving, and giving our own money, that we probably would really need for other things, in order for our church, and it’s message, to survive. So, I ask again, where is your support of the people trying to make change? We sure could use it.
I’m sorry for the damage you received in the Church. You’re not the only one, but just remember I, and others like me, are trying to work for change. There aren’t enough of us that have the national stage to be a force in the media, but we do what we can.
That’s 9 suicides in two years.
Let me say that again: 9 suicides in two years.
Our society tends to think that words are something you can just brush off. You know the old saying: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”
You can’t just brush it off. If you’ve been told over, and over, and over, and over and over just how horrible, stupid, bad, or wrong you are, you begin to believe it. If you’re told that God hates you often enough, you believe it. If you’re told that you shouldn’t be allowed to live day in and day out, you’ll start to believe that, too. Then, over time, you’ll wonder if, maybe, if you did kill yourself, you’d do everyone, and God, a favor.
I know, because I’ve been there.
I was lucky because I still had a spark of hope left to listen to Spirit when it told me to turn around, go home, go to bed, and find help. I was lucky because I was in a place where I could ask, and receive, the help that I needed.
The teens who died in Anoka, Minnesota haven’t been that lucky.
As a witch, I’ve been taught that my words have power. That what I say can cause happiness, harm, pain, and many other things. Words, even more than actions at times, can cause serious harm, even if someone “didn’t mean it.”
It amazes me that there are fellow priests (in seminary and in the pagan community) who don’t understand this. Who don’t understand that even thinking in anger and hate can have an effect.
If you remember the work we did at Pantheacon last year, this is part of what we were trying to get across to the community. It’s not that we want to limit anyone’s religious freedom, far from it, but to make people think about how they present themselves.
If you used bigoted language when you present yourself and your religion, don’t be surprised when people call you a bigot. If you use racist, homophobic, sexist language in your sermons or writings, don’t be surprised when you get called racist, sexist, or homophobic.
And if you don’t think that your words can kill, try telling the kids in Anoka that you “didn’t mean it that way.”
I was going to sit and write an anecdote about a conversation I had the other day with someone who felt that charities could provide all the social services needed to help people out. I pointed out that, if it was a perfect world, and there was no discrimination (class, race, sex, gender, etc), then that might work.
But we don’t live in that society.
I don’t mind listening to opposing viewpoints, in fact, I love a good debate if the other person respectfully listens and thinks about what I’m saying.
Unlike the person I was talking to, most don’t. Most of the ones I’ve engaged with in some way have spouted things about “dirty, filthy protestors” or “well, they should just get jobs” or “they should come up with demands!” or “if they weren’t protesting they could find a job!” or “What are they protesting about?” They also spout things like “Oh, they deserved to be pepper-sprayed!” or “well, they shouldn’t provoke the police!” (when there is no evidence of provocation). My favorite is: “well, if they just worked hard enough, then they would be fine! I mean, I worked hard and have X, Y, Z, so they can do it too!”
I could give lots of examples about people getting sick and going bankrupt, or being denied services because they made slightly too much money to qualify for government assistance. Or people like my mom who was out of work for almost two years, who has a BA and MBA and got both while putting me through school and college as well. She’s lucky she found something recently, but there are many more that I know who are running into 2 or 3 years of unemployment. And those retail jobs that people tell them to get? Well, I tried that a few times after I got my degree, and I always get a “why are you applying here?” look, a pat on the back, and no job.
I could give all these examples, but I have a question for those who think I’m a cracked hippie seminarian: Why?
Why do you have no compassion for your fellow human beings?
Why are you willing to let people become homeless and poor just because they, supposedly, didn’t work as hard as you did?
Why are some of you so hot on claiming Jesus as your “personal lord and savior” and yet are so quick to spout hate at those who are different from you?
Why are some of you claiming to be doing the work of God and Jesus by claiming war and supporting violence against other religions here and overseas?
Why do you believe that your rights and privileges are better than those who are a different race, creed, sexuality, class, and gender?
Why do you think it’s ok to let people die by inches?
Why were tea party folks allowed to express their first amendment rights without issue, yet average people expressing their first amendment rights are somehow unpatriotic and un-American?
Seriously, do you really believe this? Do you really think that people are that expendable?
I want to know. I want to know why people think that even the rights of “dirty, filthy protestors” are somehow less than theirs? What makes your first amendment rights somehow superior?
Because, really, if you claim to have a morality of some sort (whatever religion you believe or don’t), the idea of people dying because of inadequate healthcare, or having to choose between food and rent, or food and heat, or food and medicine, or because they end up homeless, or being pepper-sprayed and beaten for their convictions, or being unemployed for no lack of trying on their part, or put in any situation where no matter how much they play by the rules, they just can’t keep up, SHOULD DISTURB YOU.
If it doesn’t, why?
Please, explain to me why you feel this way. Don’t give me the Fox News platitudes, or anything like that. Explain to me from your heart.
Explain to me, as a fellow human being, why you feel that these things are ok.
I should be writing at paper right now, but I’ve been reading and watching a lot of the media in the wake of the Occupy Oakland protests the other night. I’ve been following a lot of the Occupy media on Twitter and Facebook. Clergy and seminary students from my school have been going to the different area protests. I’ve seen pictures and read about war veterans going to protect protestors. It’s been rather amazing and scary all at once.
I’ve also been listening to a lot of music, and Linkin Park seems to top the list right now. Their lyrics seem to match what I’m watching and feeling:
Try to give you warning
But everyone ignores me
[Told you everything loud and clear]
But nobody’s listening
Call to you so clearly
But you don’t want to hear me
[Told you everything loud and clear]
But nobody’s listening
– “Nobody’s Listening” by Linkin Park
The reason that this song is stuck in my head is that no matter how much the Occupy movement grows, it seems that all we hear from Congressional leaders and pundits is: “What do they want? We don’t understand why they’re protesting! They don’t have any clear demands!”
Really? I don’t think it’s that hard to figure out: The economy has tanked. People are losing jobs left and right. Legislators on both sides of the isle have pretty much ignored job creation in favor of creating false crises. Job bills that should have gone right through are being halted in the House by legislators who bow to corporate interests and can’t deal with a black guy in the White House. We have soldiers doing multiple tours in a war that shouldn’t have happened in the first place.
The list could go on, but I don’t think this is that difficult: People are angry. People are tired. People want fairness and equality in jobs and finances. People want legislators to listen to them and not the money in their bank account.
I suppose I could recount tales of my own job experiences, but, well, while it was a pain in the ass, I was very lucky. I got paid (more or less) decently for what I did, and I had a roof over my head. But, even with that privilege, I still lived paycheck to paycheck. The only savings I have is my 401k, and there are a lot of people who don’t even have that.
And like I said, I’ve been lucky, both by the fact that I was born white and by the fact that I went to college at all.
A couple of years ago I was doing some divination work, and part of the divination started talking about the elections of 2010. What came out of that is that they could go either way: the first path was that those who were elected would be good for the country and things would improve. The other path was that the election would be a disastrous turn for the country. In the second path, it would get ugly before it got better, and it would cause a great change. It was a knife’s edge, and seeing how things are going now, well…
How it all ends is still up in the air, since those in charge have money and power at their disposal. It also depends on how we, as the angry 99%, approach this: We can take the high road, stay peaceful, and allow them to make fools of themselves, or we fight and prove their pundits right.
Either way, change is happening…
This is a paper I wrote for my Spiritual Disciplines for Leadership class about our tradition. This paper goes into some of the history of Alexandrian witchcraft and the thought processes behind why we started the Open Source Alexandrian tradition.
The most interesting comment I received was that the professor found it refreshing that I was willing to be open and honest about our tradition, particularly when it comes to it’s history. I am critical of Alexandrian’s history, because there is a history of discrimination that we want to change. I think that in order to change and grow our tradition, we can’t ignore where we’ve come from, nor can we create a fantastical past (which, if many pagans are being honest with themselves, happens more often than not). You can’t know what to change if you don’t know how something got broken in the first place.
I do welcome opinions about the paper, since I’m sure there are things in it that could raise hackles for some (just be polite about it).
(And yay!!!! I got an A in my first paper towards my Mdiv! Woot!! *bounce*)
I’ve been thinking of a lot about feminism lately. I’ve been reading blogs like Feministe and Shakesville, and also posts on some social networking sites. I’ve also been thinking about it in relation to the anthology we’re putting together, from personal experiences at school, and stories I’ve heard from other people.
I’ll put the disclaimer here that I will probably be using generalizations which could tweak some people the wrong way. These are my observations and thoughts about the current state of feminism. I don’t consider myself an authority on feminist thought or literature. Thoughtful criticism and debate is encouraged (if it happens), personal attacks are not. (It’s seems sad that I need to make this statement, but, seeing the way some conversations about feminism go on the internet, it’s quite necessary.)
The biggest observation I have, and I’ve seen this in more places than I can count, is that there is a very narrow view of what feminism is among the (cis) women who are the major thinkers and activists in this country. In their world, while lip-service is given to people of color, queer, transgendered, and others, there is a huge lack of empathy or understanding. There are also feminist groups who claim to empower all women, yet are extremely transphobic in their literature and practice, about which they seem to have no understanding of how their very words can cause harm.
Another thing that bothers me is that there can be an extreme exclusion of men from the discussion of feminist issues. Sometimes it seems that the general thought is that “Well, they’re men, so they have so much privilege that they will just assert that privilege and ruin the conversation.” or that no one without a vagina is able to understand feminist thought or concepts.
But the thing that really makes me want to throw things is the fact that many of those who are so quick to point out male privilege, or any other kinds of privilege, or are saying that trans-women are just men who are trying to get into women’s circles, or are decrying someone trying to learn as uneducated in the feminist theory, or are excluding men from the equation are middle to upper-middle class, white, heterosexual, cis-gendered women.
Which, as a middle class, white, queer, cis-gendered woman, I find quite disturbing. Especially since, in many instances, it seems that these women are so blinded by their righteous anger (which is not totally unfounded), that they have failed to look at their own privilege.
I know that I have quite a lot of privilege. As a white person, I will never truly understand what it is to be discriminated against because of the color of my skin. As a cis-gendered woman, I will never truly understand what it is like to be transgendered and go through transition. I have faced discrimination because I am queer and because I identify as a woman, but this doesn’t mean that I think that cis-gendered men can’t be allies and fight for feminist issues, or that men’s issues that are also due to patriarchy don’t deserve attention just because of the statistics.
Does this mean I don’t think women’s groups are useful? No. Does this mean that I don’t think patriarchy is a problem anymore? Not by a long shot. What I do think is that alienating those who wish to be allies and those who don’t conform to the standard gender model is defeating the purpose of feminism, and, if people stopped to think about it, is doing the patriarchy’s work for them. If we do the oppression ourselves, then, well, they get a free pass to continue doing what they are doing. Why should they bother to change if we aren’t willing to? Why bother to make civil rights law if those who are trying to get it passed can’t agree on which group should be covered?
I’ve always liked the saying “Women’s rights are human rights.” However, it seems that a lot of feminists don’t really take this to heart. If they did, I wouldn’t have been compelled to write this post.
I asked on Twitter yesterday if people would be interested in learning about the goddesses I work with, and there seemed to be a big “yes” from several people.
So, over then next four weeks or so, I’ll be writing about the four goddesses I work with: Hecate, The Morrigan, Lilith, and Cerridwen. I’m not sure how these will manifest, but I do know that it will be part of an elemental cycle.
I hope you find these posts interesting. I know it’ll be interesting for me!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
The Circle of Cerridwen is please to announce an open call for submissions for a collection of essays that is tentatively being called “Gender and Transgender in the Pagan Community”. We are encouraging all who wish to submit an essay to please do so.
Submission deadline is June 21, 2011.