Archive for March, 2012

Words From — or about — Women, March 11

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

An ode to Rosie the Riveter, the archetypical American woman who staffed factories in the absence of men soldiering during World War II:

“While other girls attend a favorite cocktail bar,
Sipping dry martinis, munching caviar;
There’s a girl who’s really putting them to shame –
Rosie is her name.
All day long, whether rain or shine,
She’s part of the assembly line,
She’s making history, working for victory,
Rosie, Rosie, Rosie, Rosie, Rosie, Rosie the Riveter”

(author’s name and gender unknown)

Words From Women, March 10

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

“The women have leaped from ‘their spheres,’
And instead of fixed stars, shoot as comets along,
And are setting the world by the ears!
They’ve taken the notion to speak for themselves,
And are wielding the tongue and the pen;
They’ve mounted the rostrum, the termagent elves!
And – oh, horrid! – are talking to men!”

Abolitionist Maria Chapman (who, in Heaven, can perhaps explain to me what a “termagent elf” is)

Words From Women, March 9

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

“Perhaps this would be a good time to invest in burqa futures.”

New York Times editorial columnist Gail Collins, author of “America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines,” on the GOP presidential candidates’ obsession with curtailing women’s reproductive freedoms.

Glen Campbell Showed Me A Thing Or Two

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

(I wrote but forgot to post this earlier!)

Jeff and I occasionally head up to Couer d’Alene or down to Lewiston to try our luck at the casinos, where twenty bucks can fuel a fun hour or so and only occasionally result in something big. “Big” for us means leaving with anything over, well, twenty dollars, and if we do really well — say, one of us makes $15 on Dragon’s Claw — we might even have lunch.

I’m aware that most of my readers find that surprising, and some might find it offensive as well. That’s fine. I don’t feel convicted, and it’s OK if you don’t come along. But had we not been down to the Clearwater River Casino in Lewiston a couple of weeks ago, we wouldn’t have know that Glen Campbell would be playing on one of the legs of the “goodbye tour” necessitated by his struggle with Alzheimers.

I was lukewarm about going; my tastes, even in country music, run a bit different, and the musical heroes of my youth were Dionne Warwick and Three Dog Night and the Four Tops, not Glen Campbell. But Jeff’s house was full of Glenn on the stereo, Glenn on the radio, and, briefly, Glen on the TV with his “Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour,” and so we got tickets, won four dollars, and crowded into the tent-like arena at one of the more spartan casinos we’ve experienced.

He opened with “Gentle On My Mind,” which I heard before but never really HEARD before, and I loved it. I sort of knew “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” and “Wichita Lineman” and the first four notes of “Galveston,” which appear as a sampler on every country music CD collection blaring from late-night TV, but only those were familiar. I had seen Glen in the original “True Grit,” playing a character impossible to really like, and I had heard of his past excesses and debaucheries and figured it only made his brand of pop-country cooler and more streetwise. And one of the misfortunes of growing up in a house whose primary religion was Liberal Politics was that we identified with ease who was “in” and who was “out” based on their politics. One too many pictures of Glen with Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan, or appearing on a TV preacher’s show, made it unlikely that his music would ever get a hearing in my house growing up.

In short, I wasn’t a fan. Not before the show, at least.

But I sure left as one.

His patter with the audience sometimes revealed his struggles with memory and cognition, and a couple of times he needed a reminder of what song came next. He was surrounded by his three children from his current marriage — all talented musicians in their own right, and all very gentle and non-patronizing of their Daddy. When he bantered with the audience, he faltered a bit, and there was a cringeworthy moment when he announced that he had to go to the bathroom and walked off the stage.

But when he sang, he sang with clarity, passion, and strength — and when he played, he played with gusto, tremendous skill, and energy that belied his age and his health. He never missed a word of the dozen or so songs he sang during his hour-long show, and he took on some guitar solos that blew me away. The guy’s in his seventies and has Alzheimer’s and yet played with more poise and more skill than I’ve heard in a lifetime of rock concerts and decades of 45s, cassettes, and CDs. He was clearly delighted to be on stage, and I was absolutely delighted to be in the audience watching him.

Glen Campbell’s music bears further exploration, clearly — but his character and courage were crystal-clear and rock-solid. The guy can sing, the guy can play, and the guy wrestling with the ravages of time and mind clearly, with a guitar in his hand, hasn’t lost a beat. “Gentle On My Mind” now joins the embarrassingly long list of songs that make me cry. It was a joy to be there, however late it is that I got to the party.

Words From Women, March 8

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Today’s entry comes from my own personal history, from my very Catholic grandmother, who we called Mother Dear, during a plumbing problem while I was visiting her in North Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1980:

“Lord, I’m just a widow woman needin’ her toilet fixed, so come in to the pipes and lay your hands on this toilet and get it runnin’, amen.”

I snickered; she smacked my arm. (Both of my grandmothers communicated as much in smacks as through words). This was in my pre-Christian days, when snottiness too often ruled my day-to-day interactions, even with adults I revered. But her toilet made the successful swooshing sound she needed, and months later, after I had become a Christian, I called to apologize.

“That’s just fine, sweetheart,” she replied. “I ‘magine that prayer was as much for you as it was for my toilet.”

I love you, Mother Dear, and I’ll see you when it’s time!

Words From Women, March 7

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

“The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, ‘It’s a girl.’”

Former New York Congresswoman and Presidential Candidate Shirley Chisholm

Adventures In Maliciously Missing The Point

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

From the increasingly odious Doug Wilson Blog and Mablog, March 6, regarding Limbaugh’s belated, half-assed, and disingenuous apology to Sandra Fluke over her testimony in favor of insured access to contraceptives:

“Recent days have seen the media and/or new media in an uproar over a couple of incidents that invite a bit more investigation from the intellectually curious. I refer to Rush Limbaugh’s insult of Sandra Fluke, and Kirk Cameron’s gracious response to a question from Piers Morgan about homosexuality.

Now in the interests of accuracy, it should be noted that Rush has apologized for calling Ms. Fluke a slut, and so we should address the apology first. I confess I haven’t mastered all the details of this important situation as I ought to have done, but if Ms. Fluke indicated multiple guys, then the comment should stand. That’s what a slut is. But if she has a steady boyfriend, and she is faithful to him, then it really was uncalled for to call her that. She would be something more like a concubine.”

Is there no limit to Wilson’s desire to score a puckish point, even in the face of a young woman’s humiliation — even in the aftermath of a hideous man’s rampage against her?

The fact is, Ms. Fluke spoke about a friend’s having lost an ovary because she had a medical condition that required treatment with contraceptives, but wasn’t able to access that treatment because of her insurer’s refusal to pay for it. Ms. Fluke wasn’t offering up her own sex life for public perusal. (You have no idea how tempted I am to write, “Ms. Fluke wasn’t talking about her own sex life, you pompous ass,” and I guess I just did. And I don’t feel at all bad about it). She has studied the issue as a university-level student of policy; that she probably has used contraception and likely done so out of wedlock is not the issue and Wilson’s attempt to make it such is despicable. And juvenile. And puerile. And malicious. And utterly beneath contempt.

Wilson’s masturbatory attempts at wittiness thrill only himself; it ought to shame him, and it ought to shame the congregants at Christ Church, and it ought to enrage the Church at large.

Another Double-Header From Two More Women In History

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

Yes, it’s March 4, and I’m only two posts behind in my plan to feature a quote a day from a woman during Women’s History Month. But it’s Sunday — we’re going to have a bonus! Below are three pearls of wisdom and prophetic strength, all quoted in Margaret Hope Bacon’s “Mothers of Feminism: The Story Of Quaker Women In America,” Friends General Conference, 1986:

“Women are still voiceless. We have to wait until complete equality becomes a reality. I grew up in a Quaker family and Quakers believe in the equality of the sexes. It is hard to grow up in such a family and never hear about anything else. When you put your hand to the plow, you can’t put it down until you’ve reached the end of the row.” Alice Paul, drafter of the Equal Rights Amendment

“All human rights are bound up in one great bundle.” Abby Kelley Foster, Quaker activist

“Friends (Quakers) are reminded that it is the experience and testimony of our Society that there is one teacher, namely Christ, and that in His Spirit there are no distinctions between persons, nor any reason of age, sex, or race that elects some to domination. Live in love and learn from one another. Combativeness in family life, whereby man and wife or parents and children strive to assert a supremacy of will is not compatible with the conviction that there is that of God in everyone . . . ” Anonymous Quaker woman, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, Religious Society of Friends, 1972

My prayer is that the Church would reclaim its history by reclaiming the Gospel, the hope of women and men and all creation as a Body and world reconciled to the Almighty by the perfect atoning sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. Any “gospel” that perpetuates division and liberates only some is, indeed, no Gospel at all.

Tomorrow: Words of praise not likely echoed by much you’ve heard in church
recently . . .

Words For Women’s History Month

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

I had intended to feature a quote every day during March from a woman in history, but it’s been a little busy at the keyboard over the last couple of days and I’m already four behind.

But it’s not too late, and so I’m going to offer you a couple here from two pastoring women. The subject this time is the premillennial, pretribulation, Dispensational theology of the Rapture, developed around the time of the first speaker and elucidated by the second:

“You seem to be expecting to go to some parlor away up somewhere, and when the wicked have been burnt, you are coming back to walk in triumph over their ashes — and this is to be your New Jerusalem! Now I can’t see anything so very nice about that, coming back to such a muss as that will be, a world covered with the ashes of the wicked. Besides, if the Lord comes and burns — as you say he will — I am not going away; I’m going to stay here and stand the fire, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! And Jesus will walk with me through the fire and keep me from harm . . . “

Abolitionist Preacher Sojourner Truth, on the escapism of Dispensational “rapture theology”

“The rapture vision invites a selfish non-concern for the world. It turns salvation into a personal 401(k) plan that saves only
yourself . . . “

Lutheran Pastor and Theologian Barbara R. Rossing, in “The Rapture Exposed,” 2004

Trying Yet Again To Answer . . .

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

. . . the most common question I get from readers, friends and foes alike:

Why do you keep writing this stuff? What do you think you’re going to accomplish? Are you always just itching for a fight? And what’s with this insatiable thirst for confrontation?

The subtext?

Yeah, Keely. Like you’re gonna change anyone’s mind about anything . . .

I’ve tried, in person and on Prevailing Winds, to explain that the results — how people respond to my words — aren’t my responsibility. I can’t make anyone see the light and if they do, it’s the Holy Spirit and not me who’s done it. I trust that’s clear to everyone, the difference between the Holy Spirit of Yahweh and the housewife from Moscow.

I only want to be found faithful to God, and I believe that in the face of evil, silence is assent. I won’t be silent, because I can’t assent.

Still, the buzz continues. From allies, I hear that it’s just a losing battle, however noble; from opponents, that I’m only stirring up trouble, however maliciously. I keep trying to explain, but this post from by journalist David Satterlee says it well:

“It occurs to me that my openness may fan the flames among those who are prone to reflexive hate. I could just hide in the shadows, cringing and hoping that no one will notice me or be mean to me. But, I am aware of the courage of those great souls who spoke out to end slavery, gain the vote for women, oppose the baron kings and their trusts, and march for civil rights.

As a child in school, I was raised in a particularly rigid, conservative, Christian faith. I remember how it was to be the object of hate, bullying, and abuse. I learned to run fast. No more. I’m going to stand fast. Bullies should be faced down. I’m tired of this shit and I’m not going to take it any more.”

The remainder of the article is at

Given Satterlee’s experience at the Post Office, and this week’s revelation of the federal judge’s joke about Barack Obama’s being “lucky” he doesn’t “bark like a dog” after the “party” during which he was supposedly conceived, the words Satterlee refers to should nauseate. But they shouldn’t surprise.

What they and other examples of hate speech, the grotesque coarsening of our culture, and the flippancy with which the Right talks about Obama’s death, alleged tyranny, religion, nationality, and putative un-Americanism DO remind us is that words matter. I’m not opposed to strong language, and being “nice,” as opposed to being kind, is not terribly important to me; I unabashedly refer to the political activities of the Religious Right as “whoring,” and I don’t apologize for that.

But an apt description of the blissfully hypocritical trading of moral, Biblical conviction for temporal political power that consistently denies the Scriptures — which is what I see from the Religious Right — requires words like “whoring.” This is different from calling a young woman testifying of the need for women to have insured access to reproductive healthcare a whore, and only those whose hypocrisy is front-and-center, in Technicolor and HD and surround-sound 24/7, would howl in protest.

Satterlee speaks of the courage of the “great souls” before him who risked hatred and harm for fighting against oppression and injustice. I’m not a great soul, but I hope, on the last day, to be found among them and not among those who shrink back and cling to cowardly, self-preserving silence when the thundering roar of evil swells around them. My obedience to God guarantees no response, obedient or otherwise, from those I confront. It guarantees only that I won’t be found silent and in assent, and while I dearly hope to change some people’s minds and hearts, I’m entirely comfortable assuring you that the responsibility for that work is entirely out of my hands — for which I praise my God and Savior.

After all, a god who needs Keely Emerine-Mix to speak in order for him to work in the lives of his creatures is a god not only undeserving of our worship, but, frankly, undeserving of anything greater than the tepid applause coming from a reasonably successful shareholders meeting. I’m real clear on my role; my faithfulness is something I’m accountable for, not yours. And mine requires only obedience.

There’s no losing cause in being faithful, and there’s no victory in being safe.