Who Has Seen the Wind – a part of my art journey

I was so surprised to be allowed to perform a dance piece last semester for a seminary theology class.  The purpose of the project was to reflect a certain point of theology and integrate it with a practical area of ministry in which we find ourselves.  For me, my dancing has always been worship, but with a deep desire to go beyond the perceived “liturgical” dance traditions common to western Christianity, and use the art to challenge perception, create questions, and demonstrate its unique beauty.

So, with that I am VERY excited to announce my next dance performance in the community!

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The Promenade  is an outdoor location, pictured below. The piece will be performed around the fountain at about this time of the evening.

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Choreography is almost finished. Now it’s only a matter of the weather 😀

Let them choose to be OURS

My response to this article that came to me via Facebook, on an issue that continues to burden my heart.
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Are children suffering from identity issues in our country? Yes. Are they confused, troubled and in fear of rejection? Many are, yes. Is it all about being homosexual? A most profound NO. The struggle for identity has been our burden for thousands of years, and it only seems that each generation has a new take on it.
 
My son identified himself as “Rabbit” this morning, from Winnie the Pooh. He might go on pretending to be rabbit for several months even! Is there a problem? Was he “misassigned” as a baby and is really a rabbit? I know I’m oversimplifying, but not from ignorance, rather, I know what it’s like to have faced childhood experiences that severely damaged my sexuality and caused me to struggle with what society now calls “gender identity”. But what my mom did for me was to affirm my femininity and womanhood and my identity as her daughter, and a daughter of God. This wasn’t in conflict or agreement with “gender”, it when beyond the changeable, malleable externals and spoke to my heart.
 
Children need us to speak to their HEARTS, to put aside the external “choices” and issues they will undoubtedly face long enough to assure them that they are OUR children. They are a part of a COMMUNITY that LOVES them no matter what. THAT resolves all identity issues, from struggling as an immigrant in a new country with a new religion, to gender, to abuse. We need to give our children the choice to be OURS.
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About being “suitable”

bronze-dancing-ladiesIn spite of the abundance of commentaries on Genesis 2, the creation of mankind and the revelations of male and female roles, I continue to find hidden gems and discoveries of my own that speak to my mind and my heart.  Today it comes from a reminder of the Hebrew used to express the suitability and fittingness of the lovely being we call Eve.

To Adam, she was Isha, bone of his own bone and flesh of his flesh. She was a co-heir to the dominion of the world, the only thing his God had made to whom he could conform his soul, mind and body.  To us she has become either the controversial victim of ignorance, or the willing herald of sin to the world.  Men have held up this unknown queen of creation with skepticism and scorn. Having come from a family in which there were several marriages between both my parents, I feel quite comfortable in relating the typical sermons on Eve and womanhood to the insinuations of an angry, jilted spouse.  But is that really who she was? How can we know?  A simple Google search for Adam and Eve will makes it painfully obvious what our world really thinks of Eve, a seductive smile as she joins the snake in seducing her husband to sin.  WHERE, are the paintings of her first appearance to Adam on the arm of God?

The Hebrew root that is translated suitable in most Bibles is NEGED, נגד

The noun form literally means “in front of, opposite” but in Hebrew I’ve come to learn that the essence of a word does not lie in its literal, rational translation the way English speakers tend to treat language.  Americans just want to know “what it means”, and Hebrew, being a language that is hundreds of years old and from a part of the world wholly unknown to us westerners, simply isn’t as cut and dry as we want it to be.  The meaning I’m referring to is called “aspect”, you might understand it something like “perspective” in that the words take on meaning, feeling and interpretation based upon a slew of perspectives that might come from anywhere within the context of the story, the storyteller, the characters, or simply Creation at large.  In the case of NEGED, the aspect of being in front of someone, or standing opposite to them conveys a strong sense of presence and like-ness.

She is before him, alongside him and fitting to him both literally, as she stood naked in the garden next to her Creator, and spiritually.  Spiritually she is present with him because she had been blessed with the same image and likeness of Adam, made through his rib, the protector of the lungs which hold the breath/spirit, ruach, of God.  She is like him both inside and out, thoroughly and completely.  All these things Adam recognizes when he says “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” but this is NOT why he was breathless and amazed at her presence.  She is not the “same”, that is the adjective “zahah” or another of many forms that convey the aspect of idential, same or selfsame being.  From God’s perspective she resembles him completely inside and out, and yet he could not help but add to this new life form his signature stamp of uniqueness and beauty; femininity.

You see, it is God who decides what is suitable, what is fitting, what is right.  It is from HIS perspective, I believe, that the aspect of neged takes its most poignant meaning, for He made a woman who could, in so many ways, reflect her own-male flesh unlike any other creature, and yet she amazes Adam both with her likeness, but also with her uniqueness to himself.  “You shall be called ishah for you were taken out of ish.”

It is undeniably foolish to try to argue the subservience of a woman, or the dominance of a man from this beautiful text.  To do so robs the man of his humility and replaces it with an expectation of pride. It robs the woman of her feminine essence, replacing it with destructive insinuations and she grows up to believe that being feminine itself is a sin.*  The ONLY question of authority appropriate to this passage is the power and might of God, the ONE who is able to take two and make them one.  In the attempts of the Church to come up with rules for men and women they have undermined the authority of the Trinity, and the power of one of the oldest stories in our history to convey the awesomeness and wonder of God.

Please, share this post! Lets remind people to keep the most important thing, the most important, and remember the One to whom we owe everything.  Perhaps, in doing so, we can help repair the irreparable damage done to masculinity and femininity in our world enough to love one another the way the Christ loved us.

*Greek philosophers began teaching that women were born as unformed males, years before Christ was born.  Such teaching justified generations of abortion, child abuse, girls sold into prostitution and slavery, and the overarching belief that women were incapable of thinking for themselves at all because they were underdeveloped.  While Jewish culture undeniable adopted this negative perspective of women over the years, it is NOT reflected in the Creation story of Genesis. Further study will show, remarkably, that many women in the Old Testament were valued and esteemed alongside the men of their stories, but context and human behavior following sin must always be taken into account when interpreting the histories.

Daily Devotion – the need to rest

“The Lord is my Shepard, I shall not want..”

Is this a command, or a result?

In our function driven cultures and mini cultures that constantly demand and expect things of us it is easy to read the beautiful shepherd’s psalm as yet another set of instructions. But to do this would truly undermine the intention of the psalmist.

Consider the next few lines,

He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul. He leads me on paths of righteousness for the sake of HIS name…”

The subject of the psalm is not David, it’s God! David is the direct object receiving the actions of an almighty Being whom he calls his Shepherd. A shepherd knows his sheep intimately. He feeds them, tends their illnesses, guides them the right way because they OFTEN want to go another.  In short, the image of God as shepherd implies a complete and total love I his part, and complete dependence on ours.  Now let’s go back to the opening line, “I shall not want” and ask the question again. Is this a command or a result?

The text clearly shows that the rest, peace and contentedness of the author comes NOT from his own effort, but are the direct result of one who looks to God as his or her Shepherd.  God has accepted responsibility for you and adopted you into his flock, his family. Of course the result of that is to simply say “I shall want for nothing.”

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A Book Review that leads to a surprising idea about how we treat one another

I’ve just finished Nabeel Qureshi’s “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus,” and I MUST recommend it. The work of God in his life perfectly depicts the key issues in the western understanding of Islam that lead many otherwise open and friendly Muslims to despise us and fear us. It also shows how graciousness among friends can open many doors, and help some walk through.

In America today it’s the way of ultimate right to be tolerant. About the refugee crisis, many have said we just need to be more tolerant because Islam is like any other religion. Others want to crucify anyone who even looks Middle Eastern, in spite of the fact that looking Middle Eastern only suggests Islamic origin and might mean that you are actually Christian, Zoroastrian or a desert tribal religion!  Neither approach deals with the heart of the matter, or the real fundamental worldviews that separate us.

Where do you come from? Why do you think the way you do?  It is more complicated and painful to alter a worldview at its basic level then most of us will ever know.

Tolerance or Graciousness?

I have a strong dislike of the word “tolerance”. It implies something done from disinterested obligation rather than heart felt conviction. It has come to be the buzz term for identifying those who accept behaviors that others deem morally disalute, and then it becomes the aluminum bat to beat anyone who isn’t “tolerant”.

No. What I learned from Nabeel’s story is  not another call to tolerance, it’s a call to graciousness. To be gracious is to be hospitable, kind and welcoming. It cannotes tolerance of a kind that allows the building of life together, that allows for conflict and disagreement without destroying the relationship, and it leads far beyond mere tolerance and into the realm of love. How do you really come to love someone? You show grace.  David and Nabeel demonstrate this kind of graciousness to each other in their story, and they lead their friends and family to walk a similar path as Nabeel searches for truth. Grace is not a call to blind, arbitrary acceptance that must disregard all differences. Rather, it honors the differences without condoning wrong doing or sacrificing ones conscience. Grace, not tolerance, is what Christ showed in the cross.

Please please, this book is a must read. Or you can listen to it on audible read by Nabeel himself! 

Seminary Glasses

Well,

I now, officially, fit the bill. My eyes have been so strained with study in the last month that we decided I needed to get some readers to see if permanent glasses are needed.

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Jury is out on how effect they’ll be long term, but they do seem to help with the computer work.

My head is filled with too many thoughts for a substantial blog post. We’ve had to move three times this last month dealing with a pest issue in the rental house we were staying in (uggh), and catching up in school has been a bear.

Hopefully these classy lenses will make everything more clear!

Behind the Name

Aristotle taught that women were undeveloped males, that when a daughter was born instead of a son it was because the fetus was premature.

They therefore had less value, less purpose, and less ability to think, reason or decide anything.  In Rome, the women who rebelled against this most drastically not only threw off societal convention but were willing to mutilate themselves to appear as men, and earned the most cutting words and title from Rome’s historians and poets that I have ever read. I cannot even stand to post it here.

My question is, why do women today continue to live and act as though Aristotles horrific ideas of women are true? And why do Christians continue to perpetuate it…

Research into Aristotle and rebel women in Rome.