One Body

We have now adjourned from the time of Advent, exited Epiphany, and are now fully in the incarnation of Christ living amongst us. I can’t think of a better time to contemplate what it is that “incarnation” looks like and what it could mean for all of us (not just Christians), this union of God and humanity.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

John 1; 1-5, 14 (emphasis mine)

If there is one thing which I truly loathe in this world (and there is definitely more than one), it is the idea of arrogant and elitist exclusion. The notion that there are special snowflakes set apart from the rest of us plebs who feel entitled to better treatment, especially if it’s to the detriment of others, is infuriating. It brings to mind that nineties SNL sketch where the whole bit was Kevin Nealon responding to every perceived slight with that Jersey attitude of, “What? You think you’re better than me?!” While not nearly as impulsive or aggressive, that reaction is not terribly unlike my own regarding the arbitrary divisions that have been built between clergy & laity (arbitrary divisions of all kinds that hurt others are not okay, but I’m trying to stay on topic). Any religious institution which divides its members into class systems and places more value on one than the other is not one whose religious foundation can claim to be built on the love of God. Why? Because such distinctions which put clergy in a position of unquestionable authority and sanctified power over “regular” people breeds environments that more easily permit abuse & corruption. Hierarchy has no place in a truly loving & healthy spiritual relationship. Furthermore, Christ did not put himself above his disciples, above the prostitutes and tax collectors, above children, or any other class of people. Our modern church power structure is not one modeled on the life & ministry of Christ as he lived it while he inhabited our world. Everyone was equal in the eyes of Christ regardless of education, wealth, nationality, sex, age, or social standing. The longstanding divisions that have been created between the “holy” and “profane” have manipulated the dominant theological opinions held by so much of Western Christianity which proclaim that everything of human origin is by nature evil and wholly cut off from God. This kind of theology professes that you, in your current earthly state, cannot be good enough in God’s eyes no matter what you do. Which is precisely why you need other, better, men to talk to God on your behalf and you may just luck into Heaven after all.

I resent and resist that kind of theology. I believe that we are all capable of meeting God and being met by God and we do not have to have a specialized degree, or title, or collar, or building in order to do so. We can employ sacraments and engage in sacred spaces wherever we feel the Spirit, no matter how mundane or “profane” a space we happen to be in, because God is both transcendent and incarnate, not in spite of our natural circumstances. God dwells amongst us at all times, not in some remote and far off place apart from our messy existence. I feel that is the big-picture message that God was trying to communicate via the Incarnation – that God can and God will come down to our level in every facet and form we can imagine. That there is not, actually anything inherently obscene about merely being human, but that there is, in fact, something sacred that can be drawn out from our human experiences.

I mean, how can you believe that God was willing and eager to take on human flesh; live amongst us AS us; live and love the diseased of mind & body; undergo brutal violence and shameful death, and yet would somehow NOT treasure these fleshy vessels we each carry with us? How could our fragile beauty not be held as something precious & valuable by the one who experienced it firsthand? Surely our God who continues to live with us now could not regard this earth as anything less than sacred. Surely every inch of light and darkness is imbued with that Holy Spirit.

We wouldn’t bother to remember Christ’s own physical incarnation each week through communion if there wasn’t something holy about being in human skin. I believe that we are born wearing all the qualifications we need in order to be in communion with that same God simply by virtue of inhabiting these earthly bodies. I see no need for any intermediary between myself and my God. I have no use for divisions between secular and sacred. Neither did God when taking on human form nor as the Holy Spirit dwelling amongst us all now. The Incarnation was an eternal communion between Spirit and humanity that continues even now. One Body, One Blood, One Spirit. Amen.

+ Katie +


I personally identify as an Intersectional Feminist. I believe in equal rights for all (not just white, cis-gendered, heteronormative individuals), in the dismantling of the privileged patriarchy, and recognize that the fight for freedom and equality for women cannot be separated or properly understood without the consideration of the rights of all other marginalized groups. I understand that as a white, cis-gendered, heteronormative woman that I cannot ever personally experience the different kinds of oppression experienced by People of Color, the LGBTQ community, the disabled, or any other marginalized group. The only thing I can do is educate myself, check my privilege, and attempt in my own feeble way to try and fight back against the oppressive powers that be while never attempting to speak for any other group or individual. I can only speak for myself and speak to my own personal experiences.

Which now brings me the label “Jesus Feminist”. While I do understand why it was coined, I will be honest in saying that I find the term “Jesus Feminist” to be rather grating. I am both a Christian and a feminist, but I’m tired of the currently popular tone of apologetic Christian feminism. Based on the numerous articles I’ve read that would fall into this category I’m also disappointed in where the movement seems to be going. I disavow the notion that we somehow need the permission of conservative Evangelicals (especially) for our voices, for our existence as women, to be validated. I don’t need the Bible to tell me that I’m deserving of equality because I already know that I do. I don’t need any church, pastor, blogger, author, Pope, or even the words attributed to Jesus to give me permission to be heard and respected. Jesus is not necessary to justify my being treated as fully human. Jesus is not necessary to grant me my dignity and autonomy. I do not need Christianity’s permission to be a feminist. I do not need Christianity’s permission to be given my humanity. I do not need Christianity’s permission to exist.

I understand that there are some women who live within a conservative Evangelical world where unless the Bible can back a point of view it’s considered irrelevant. So I understand why some women do need the Bible to justify their feminism because they’re confronting an ideology that will consider nothing if it’s not Biblical (even loosely). But you know… those kinds of communities and institutions should be considered irrelevant and a waste of time. Why fight to be recognized by a group that blatantly disrespects you? Why all the back-bending to try and fit in some place that doesn’t want you there to begin with? Why fight to maintain a personal identity within a group that wants nothing but silent obedience? Why all the personal conflict and inner turmoil for a group that doesn’t even recognize your existence as valuable unless you’re producing children or cooking for a potluck? (I mean, how audacious to try and be more than your basic biology and cultural gender stereotypes.)

I recognize that the only way to bring about change in many circumstances is to fight for it. To me though, much of the popular “Jesus Feminism” articles, websites, tweets, etc. come across less like fighting for radical reform within conservative circles for equality and more like compromise & permission seeking so as not to seem too threatening to the establishment. After all, these are denominations and churches that build much of their identity around the premise of not changing. These are groups that pride themselves on not being a part of the “intellectual elite” and therefore reject evolution, The Big Bang Theory, climate change,  and the majority of science in general. These are groups that relish in the attention they get from stubbornly clinging to the “morality” of the pre-Vietnam War era when no one dared come out of the closet, women rarely worked outside the home, and everyone knew their place and staid there. Men were men and all that nonsense. These groups are right at home inside the conservative Evangelical Christian world – they thrive there because that is a culture that reinforces & demands antiquated social expectations in order to attain group acceptance. It is a culture which only works if people check their brains at the door, don’t ask any hard or challenging questions, and generally don’t upset the status quo that dictates what’s permissible in order to maintain membership. That is not a culture which is open to or respectful of new ideas. It is a culture which actively seeks to create fear around those new ideas so as to keep them from infiltrating their established “in-group”. They’re just fine, thanks!

You may certainly try and make feminism more palatable to such groups and attempt to make it less “scary” by saying Jesus was a feminist too. (And he totally was, and the very early church was loads more egalitarian than some modern churches are today, and I fully appreciate the fact that authors like Sarah Bessey are pointing out this fact to the conservative populace.) However, I can’t help but notice though that all too often women in the Christian community feel the need to hobble and soften feminism before feeling comfortable presenting the term to others. This attempt to make oneself more “acceptable” is not unlike the everyday compromises women make consciously & unconsciously in order to pass through life as peacefully & unscathed as possible. “Don’t be too loud, too assertive, too quiet, too fat, too thin, too sexy, not sexy enough, smart, stupid”, and on and on. The approach that I’m most commonly seeing within the “Jesus Feminist” movement (though certainly not the only one) is one which makes the demands and desires of women smaller and less intrusive. This seems counterintuitive and antithetical to what the ultimate goals of feminism are.

I don’t need permission from groups like that to be a feminist. I don’t need the acceptance from groups like that for my point of view to be validated. I don’t need anyone’s religious ideology to grant me my worth and value as a human being. I certainly don’t need a narrow-minded misogynist’s twisted interpretation of scripture or opinion on the life of Jesus to tell me where my place in the world should be.

Essentially, I don’t see the point in trying to conform to the rigid & arbitrary expectations of a group in order to find acceptance within it when the goal was to change those rules in the first place. Reject that system and make your own. Find or make a community that recognizes and values your worth as a woman in all areas, not just in the kitchen or daycare. There are already so many Christian denominations and communities that fully accept the personhood and leadership of women with no qualifying buzzwords or labels necessary. Go there. When the other groups fail to evolve and grow with the rest of the world they will fade, wither, and die (as they should). No one needs to make excuses for conservative oppression and no one needs to try and contort their reasonable demands for equality in order to please them. Real change and real equality can only become the new reality when the old systems of degradation and oppression are utterly & totally done away with. Embrace your feminism and stop trying to apologize for it. Jesus can still come along too.


+ Katie +

Female Trouble


How we talk about God matters. Pretending how we address the Divine as if it were only a minor issue does a huge theological disservice to us all. God is not male, and yet the preferred pronoun used for God has long been He, with the assumption that this was a wholly accurate title. The exclusive use of male-gendered language excludes the feminine from being considered holy & sacred, and therefore can be used to diminish the role of women within the Church. Women have been excluded, degraded, demonized, abused, and shamed in the name of “tradition” for centuries. This entire charade has only ever been weakly bolstered by claims of divine male authority/appointment by cherry-picked Bible verses used to illustrate the inferior (and often diabolical) nature of women and our bodily existence. It’s our fault we’re in this whole mess of humanity, right? Male hierarchies relish in the power from their self-appointed position of rulers of the universe, yet don’t seem to want to share any of the responsibility for any of the resulting consequences. If you’ve been in charge for the better half of human existence, you can’t really blame the oppressed when the proverbial shit hits the fan.

But I am digressing slightly. The main issue at hand this: Why does the usage of female pronouns and metaphors make so many uncomfortable? What is it about the implication that the feminine can also be sacred that elicits accusations of blasphemy & heresy? What is ultimately so offensive & awful about just being female that it can’t be seen as holy? And what are the larger implications for women in the world who aren’t permitted a God that relates to their experience?

In fact, this aversion to referencing the holy as feminine is not without its consequences. There are so many denominations within Christianity that place undue and unhealthy shame on women’s bodies by convincing them that their only worth is in their sexuality and in the strict control of that sexuality. Phrases such as “modest is hottest” imply that only girls & women who maintain the imposed ideals of sexual virtue through chastity are valuable and godly. No such similar ideals are forced on boys and men. Teenage boys are not pressured and shamed by messages of “protecting” their virginity at all costs. Teenage boys are not discouraged from wearing certain clothes because they might be “distracting” to the girls. Teenage boys are not threatened with ruined reputations and titles like “whore” and “slut”. While men & boys are certainly exposed to harmful and unrealistic ideals of masculinity, it is not equivalent to the level of body & sexual shame that women have instilled in them their whole lives. In many faiths, the idea that women are entirely responsible for how men view & treat their bodies is inextricably linked to the notion that their bodies are more sinful, deceptive, dirty, and tempting, and should, therefore, be covered prior to being considered acceptable not only socially, but spiritually as well.

These kinds of restrictions also extend to the structure and leadership of the church. If it is believed that women are less trustworthy, less intelligent, less capable, and more prone to sin, then they aren’t going to be entrusted with any power inside the church. After all, it even says in the Bible that women aren’t supposed to teach or speak up, right?

If you bring up the injustice that is presented by treating women as though they don’t matter and are in fact lesser humans than the males in the church, many fundamentalist Christians will often invoke their misogynist mascot St. Paul and treat you to such verses as:

“Women shall remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.” – 1 Corinthians 14:34

“I do not permit a woman to teach or assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” – 1 Timothy 2:12.

I mean, it says it right there in the Bible y’all! However, I would like to point out a few things that weaken the foundation of the good ‘ol “women in the kitchen” philosophy.

First, let’s discuss the issue of authorship of the Pauline letters. There are, in fact, only 7 letters in the Bible which are universally agreed upon as being authentic letters of his: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. Those are what are referred to as the undisputed letters of Paul. Then, there are six letters whose authorship is called in to question and it is not certain whether Paul actually wrote them or not, his authorship is only traditional: Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus.

Then there’s how these letters were written in the first place. Many of Paul’s letters mention co-authors. That, of course, begs the question: How much did those co-authors contribute? Consider also the fact that scribes were often employed in the process of letter writing during this time. Most folks who are even remotely familiar with Biblical history will probably be familiar with the notion of scribes, professionals who were hired to do the cumbersome task of putting ink to parchment. Interesting fact though: while some of these scribes took dictation and then copied word for word what they were told, many of them were just given broad topic outlines and left with the freedom to choose the specifics of the composition themselves. Isn’t that crazy?

Now certainly one would think that before an important document got disseminated bearing a certain someone’s mark of approval, that the individual actually reviewed said document and authorized its contents before release. That could certainly be the case. But knowing that the individual doing the transcribing had the freedom available to them in some cases to make editorial decisions, and knowing that we have no original copies of these letters, I think it’s entirely possible (and indeed very likely) that the versions of scripture we have today contain many differences from the original texts.

Secondly, let’s consider Paul’s own actions when compared to the verses quoted above. When trusting a person to deliver a letter to a community, you were choosing someone to act on your behalf. They would have to not only present the letter to the intended recipients, but also answer any questions posed by the community about its contents, and even defend it in debate if needed. Essentially, the person who delivered the letter was delivering the message and served as a kind of instructor for those on the receiving end. Paul chose such men as Tychicus and Epaphroditus to bear some of his letters (Ephesians and Philemon, respectively). However, the person that was chosen to deliver his letter to the Romans was a deacon in the church at Corinth named Phoebe – a woman. Not only was this woman already serving in a position of spiritual leadership in the early church, but Paul even deigned her fit enough to deliver one of his letters of spiritual guidance to a church community he had established. I find it very odd that a man who is attributed to phrases encouraging the silence and invisibility of women would also be a man to recognize and encourage their participation and leadership. One of these things isn’t like the other.

Indeed, Phoebe wasn’t the only woman recognized by Paul. Karen L. King, a professor of New Testament Studies and the History of Ancient Christianity at Harvard points out additional information about the roles of women in the church provided by Paul’s letters:

He greets Prisca, Junia, Julia, and Nereus’ sister, who worked and traveled as missionaries in pairs with their husbands or brothers (Romans 16:3, 7, 15). He tells us that Prisca and her husband risked their lives to save his. He praises Junia as a prominent apostle, who had been imprisoned for her labor. Mary and Persis are commended for their hard work (Romans 16:6, 12). Euodia and Syntyche are called his fellow-workers in the gospel (Philippians 4:2-3). Here is clear evidence of women apostles active in the earliest work of spreading the Christian message.

Paul’s letters also offer some important glimpses into the inner workings of ancient Christian churches. These groups did not own church buildings but met in homes, no doubt due in part to the fact that Christianity was not legal in the Roman world of its day and in part because of the enormous expense to such fledgling societies. Such homes were a domain in which women played key roles. It is not surprising then to see women taking leadership roles in house churches. Paul tells of women who were the leaders of such house churches (Apphia in Philemon 2; Prisca in I Corinthians 16:19). This practice is confirmed by other texts that also mention women who headed churches in their homes, such as Lydia of Thyatira (Acts 16:15) and Nympha of Laodicea (Colossians 4:15). Women held offices and played significant roles in group worship. Paul, for example, greets a deacon named Phoebe (Romans 16:1) and assumes that women are praying and prophesying during worship (I Corinthians 11). As prophets, women’s roles would have included not only ecstatic public speech, but preaching, teaching, leading prayer, and perhaps even performing the eucharist meal. (A later first century work, called the Didache, assumes that this duty fell regularly to Christian prophets.)

Women having full participation and leadership in the church is nothing new. In fact, without women’s involvement starting from the earliest days of the faith, we may not even have a church today at all.

To discount women as not being important contributors to the church, to restrict them solely to “traditional” roles associated with mothering and childcare, and indeed to actively shame them into submission does a massive disservice to all parties involved. Not only that, but it’s wholly baseless and dishonest to do so, completely ignoring the historical evidence proving the contrary, and disregarding the rest of the words and actions by the man who’s alleged to support that whole mindset (Paul). If women aren’t allowed to explore and realize their full potential as spiritual and community leaders, then not only are younger girls discouraged before they even try, it also creates a void for the whole community to lose out in hearing the voices and visions of those that are silenced. How can the body of Christ possibly be complete if entire limbs of it are severed and tossed aside?

Both women and men need to be valued wholesale for their gifts. Both the masculine and feminine need to be recognized as being equally sacred and equally worthy of praise. The bodies and minds of women need to be given the respect due to them, their humanity being recognized and honored in doing so. We need to become so comfortable with these things that should someone refer to God as “She” we will no longer go into fits of insolence – we won’t even bat at an eye. Hopefully, one day we will truly recognize that God is present in all of humanity – male and female alike.

+ Katie +

A Bloodless Revolution


True forgiveness does not require payment.
Forgiving a debt is to void –
To void is to not hold a ransom.
Atonement is not a blood-stained piggy bank;
It’s not even an action.

The vapid vapors of smoke machines choke my lungs,
they sting my eyes
as they settle into soft & vulnerable membranes.
This is not the Holy Spirit that I came for
to settle in my soul,
gentle as rolling mist.

I do not wish to be washed by broken bodies
of innocent lambs;
To be made to feel guilt for uncommitted sins.
I do not wish to be told that I am worthless
while shining eyes never leave my checkbook.

My body is a temple which does not burn.
The sacred dwells within as surely as platelets.
This truth is what they cannot see:
Christ imbued in all,
Wafers and wine reminders of his humanity.

We are to take this our daily bread,
take Him in and take Him out,
To live our lives amidst the glorious,
the grit,
the grime,
His being the example.


+ Katie +

Walking Humbly


Let’s talk for a bit about humility today. It is a subject which has been on my mind as of late, a topic I’m learning firsthand lessons on right now. You see, on the evening of April 11th I was trying to exit my bed from the foot while holding a glass of iced tea in one hand & my cellphone in the other, lost my balance at the edge, and proceeded to fall heavily on to the hardwood floor. Neither the phone nor my glass broke, but my left shoulder fractured in 2 places at the top of my humerus. I had surgery on the 24th where I received a roughly 6 in. piece of metal & 6 screws in my arm. I have been in a sling since, and am healing well, with a projected date of June 4th for being able to go sling-free. Physical therapy will be required & I won’t be completely back to normal until roughly October. I haven’t done any blogging in some time as I am generally a fast typer & have been slowed down by my injury, having to type one-handed. It’s frustrating, but I am grateful that the injury wasn’t to my dominant right hand.

Now, what of this humility I speak of? First, lets have a definition of what that word means:

1. the quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc.

adjective, humbler, humblest.
1. not proud or arrogant; modest
2. having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience, etc.:
In the presence of so many world-famous writers I felt very humble.
4. courteously respectful
verb (used with object), humbled, humbling.
7. to destroy the independence, power, or will of. make meek

I am going to be honest – I don’t like to ask for help very often. If I think I can do something myself by God I’m going to try and do it. I love DIY projects, I love having independence, I love the feeling I get from knowing I accomplished something on my own. Even as a kid whenever I would get a new toy that came with the notation of “Some Adult Assembly Required” I dismissed the instructions and proceeded to assemble it all on my own, just to prove to myself and others that I could. I hate admitting at work if I’m overwhelmed or stressed, or if I’ve taken on too much in my extracurriculars (like at church) because I don’t want to be viewed as anything less than competent and capable. Having a broken bone snatches all that independence from you in a heartbeat.

I cannot drive with one arm immobilized in a bulky sling. Gone are the days of driving myself to work, the library, the store, church, or to visit family – I’m completely reliant on my husband, friends, and family to go anywhere. I can’t lift my arm above my head or bend it behind my back & therefore require my husband’s help (99% of the time depending on the stretch of the material) to get dressed & undressed. I haven’t been able to put my hair up or my contacts in. I must move more slowly and more consciously to avoid discomfort and pain, which means getting ready to go anywhere takes longer than it used to. I’ve been having to sleep on my back. There are so many little things that I used to not think about doing that now requires assistance or forethought before getting them done.

While this experience has been and will undoubtedly continue to be filled with moments of frustration, I’ve also experienced a lot of gratitude and humility on this journey of healing. When I’ve had to ask for help when I otherwise wouldn’t, I’ve been met with instance after instance of individuals who are more than willing to assist, who are in fact happy to help me. I’ve received meals, rides, gifts, flowers, prayers, hugs, phone calls, texts, and extra consideration every single day since my accident. I have learned to appreciate my husband and my loved ones more than I ever did before. I have learned that it is okay to ask for help, to say “no”, to say “yes”, and that it isn’t a sign of weakness to accept your limitations. Opening yourself up to receiving kindness & assistance from others doesn’t make you less capable, it makes you more gracious. Being made aware of your physical limitations has a unique way of grounding you (quite literally) and waking you up to the boundaries within your mortal existence. It is, in fact, a humbling experience to realize your own fragility.

I am but one small human being on a very large planet. I can make an impact on the world and in the lives of others, as small as I am, this is true. As I gaze outside my window, however, at the chipmunk darting around the back porch, the birds landing and flitting away, at the fallen rain and the sun that shines, I can’t help but think of how all of us are reliant on others: other people, our environment, our infrastructure, etc. in order to succeed. We really do nothing on our own. We are all connected to one another in some way and can help or hinder the other by what we choose to do or not do. We are a community. My shoulder injury has brought that point home for me on a very micro, personal level.

I have been overwhelmed with the love that I have experienced throughout this ordeal. To know that I have so many people who sincerely care about my well-being and who want to help me in any way they can, that is a gift unto itself. I intend to continue to cultivate my gratitude and my humble heart to carry with me in the future, to remind myself that physical struggles don’t define your humanity, to try to be as patient with others as they’ve had to be patient with me, and to pass on a piece of the tremendous love I’ve received on to others in whatever way I can.

In closing, I present to you a rather poetic and appropriate piece of scripture on the topic of humility, an excerpt that eloquently drives home the same perspective I get when looking at the stars and contemplating just how little we all are when compared to the entirety of the universe, words that inspired me to finally update my blog today.

12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? 13 Who has directed the spirit of the Lordor as his counselor has instructed him? 14 Whom did he consult for his enlightenment, and who taught him the path of justice? Who taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? 15 Even the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as dust on the scales; see, he takes up the isles like fine dust. 16 Lebanon would not provide fuel enough, nor are its animals enough for a burnt offering. 17 All the nations are as nothing before him; they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.

21 Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in; 23 who brings princes to naught, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing. 24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows upon them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble. 25 To whom then will you compare me, or who is my equal? says the Holy One. 26 Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these? He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing. 28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. 30 Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted, 31 but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:12 – 17, 21-31.

+ Katie +