Whose son?

This is a post by Lydia Wylie-Kellermann: a mother, writer, and activist in Detroit, MI. She works for Word and World: A People’s School currently organizing a Land and Water School happening in Detroit this summer.

“Whose son?” is part of a series called Learning from Laughter where Lydia writes about her experience raising a two year old on www.radicaldiscipleship.net.

family-picSexuality is an invisible identity. We can walk around choosing not to be seen as lesbians in spaces we know would be unwelcoming. This comes with its own layers of grief and internalized homophobia. But we can hide it and we do.

Then came Isaac and now words roll off his tongue. We walk down grocery isles to the tune of “Mama! Mommy!” There is no place in the world, he would call us anything different or “choose” to hide it. And we would never want him to. There is something refreshing and freeing for us to have this child so filled with love, just name truth over and over again with no concern for funny looks or judgement. By his existence, he has called us to the important and terrifying work of confronting homophobia and refusing to be invisible.

A few weeks ago, we visited loved ones at their church, and when it came time to introduce us to their friends, without a pause they said “And that’s Isaac. He is Lydia’s son.” It’s hard to describe how something like that can feel so painful and shock you right into silence. It can trigger our own pain around religious exclusion, feelings of not being good enough, and not being loved and seen for the parents and partners that we are. Continue reading

Sister Sakura: A Poem and Reflection for Springtime

This is a post by 瑠威 明 Francesco Matsuo. Lui is Japanese, FtM, was born in Japan and raised all over the world.  He was raised in a very conservative Buddhist family in a Shinto environment. Early in his life, he had an urge to become a Capuchin Franciscan or a Franciscan monk. However, due to his gender identity, he is still looking for any order that will accept him as who he is.

ueno-sakuraSister Sakura

You are wonderfully strong
Keeping the light of hope lit steadily
Believing that the future will be better
I don’t know how you do that
But I’m here to learn

You gently protect
The tender light of hope from harsh wind
Keeping it lit and sharing if you see one who is without
That is what you asked of me

It is undeniably tough at times
In the lonesome rainy season
Unstoppable tears just flow
And the burning heat of the summer
Dries up the spirit of hope
Angry wind of typhoons
Try to blow out the light of hope
And if not by blowing it out, by watering it out
With a grand tsunami
On and off, earth has trembled
And my knees have shook in insecurity

Continue reading

How Can We Say “God Loves You” to the Oppressed?

This is a post by Jay Thompson, who is a friend of the Seattle Catholic Worker.  We are cross-posting it from the Seattle Catholic Worker Blog.  Jay is a poet and parent in Seattle, where he teaches creative writing to women incarcerated at King County Jail, organizes with the Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites, and is a parishioner at St. Mary’s Church.

unnamedThis winter, at the closing of the Chanukkah gathering of a Seattle Radical Shabbat group in a little craftsman house in the Central District, an attendee brought out a list of names.

The names were of unarmed people of color killed by the police in America, and it was long: it stretched back more than a decade and made its way around our circle of thirty more than three times. Seattleite John T. Williams, a hearing-impaired Nuu-chah-nulth woodcarver shot to death only four seconds after being ordered by an officer behind him to drop his carving knife, was on the list. Tamir Rice and Michael Brown were on the list. One attendee, her voice full of tears, asked us to remember that each name we heard was more than a name: it was someone’s child, best friend, lover, parent, companion—someone whose loss to state violence left a tear in the fabric of many anonymous lives.

The Radical Shabbat group, a gathering of lefty Jewish folks, is “working to practice and reclaim our Jewish ritual in a space that holds our values,” including the value of work against oppression. This list of victims ended an evening of conversation and reflection on the lessons of the Chanukkah story, making literal and human the tensions of the story of the Maccabees’ rebellion against Greek domination. How can we work against the violence of an oppressive state?

At the close of this excruciating litany, the attendees said the mourners’ kaddish for these victims of state violence. I listened but couldn’t join in: I was the only Catholic in the room and, though I grew up with Jewish folks in my extended family, I’d never learned these words. I went home with a hard knot of grief in my throat and my head tangled with questions. Continue reading

Call to Action 20/30 Online Book Group Series on Family

Hello, everyone!  From time to time this blog is used to alert you all to upcoming events sponsored by the CTA 20/30 Community.10922725_10206401728304832_5422178793120968808_n

The Call to Action 20/30 Community is launching a monthly series of Online Book Groups on Family.  20/30 members Sarah Holst and Katie Jones (the current and former editors of this blog!) will be hosting conversations on chapters that explore the diversity of family life and community for young progressive Catholics.  These conversations are hosted online and all are welcome to join.

The 20/30 Online Book Groups are exciting and supportive conversations. This series will creatively explore expanding boundaries and blurring borders of what “family” means in the lived contexts of members of the 20/30 group. The Book Groups will use chapters from books that examine traditional ideas and assumptions, view Catholic thought through anti-oppression lenses, and expand on ways to build communities and practices of inclusion. Monthly conversations about these chapters will be held on Google Chat.  These are safe spaces to bring your experience, identities and faith wherever you are on your journey. Continue reading

#tbt a reflection from high school

To celebrate Throw Back Thursday, I found this reflection I wrote while I was in high school.   I’ve been on an interesting journey, going from Catholic Fundamentalist to Queer Heretic with sacred sass.  I often wonder what happened to the religious zealot that was delfin in high school and first two years of undergrad.  Perhaps they are still here wandering inside my head, finding new ways to channel the fundamentalism and zealotness.  Enjoy my first #tbt post :-)

We are the World, We are the Children

“If there is right in the soul, there will be beauty in the person; If there is beauty in the person, there will be harmony in the home; If there is harmony in the home, there will be peace in the world.”

Humans come in every shape, color, size, and form. To be global citizens, we have to accept that diversity and to see everyone as human despite our differences. Our differences make us individuals, which make us unique and special. We have to respect that, for we all live on the same earth. Until we can live on other planets, we are going to have to live on this earth together, might as well make the most of it. We should make our stay here as good and with as little problems as possible; so basically we should all get along and be friends. Continue reading

In memoriam: Robert McClory (1932-2015)

On Good Friday, I boarded the Metra Electric train to the Chicago Loop. There, I represented Call To Action at the annual Good Friday Walk For Justice, which is sponsored by the 8th Day Center For Justice.

The walk is a modern-day Stations of the Cross that examines contemporary social issues at each station. Each station has a different organization presenting it. With CTA program director Ellen Euclide, I read for the Fourth Station, “Helped In The Struggle.” It focused on the struggle for justice within the church.

Other Call To Action folks were there. They included our colleague, retired chapter liaison and development director Bob Heineman. As Ellen and I completed our station, near the Chicago Board of Trade, Bob looked grim. He told us he had a new message on his voice mail. He needed to check it now.  Continue reading

Is There A Place for Big Girls in the Church?

"Forgive me, Father, for I have grown up."

“Forgive me, Father, for I have grown up.”

Recently, I read Barbara Brown Taylor’s Leaving Church, which is a memoir about her journey away from the clergy. When she stopped pastoring her church, she found it hard to go back as a congregant. She wrote this about her experience:

Mother Church had little interest in the things that were interesting me. Her job was to take care of her family. Why should she get into discussions that might cause them to lose confidence in her? Why encourage them to raise questions for which she had no answers? Even more important, why waste valuable time rehashing things that had been settled centuries ago when there was so much to do around the house right now? I understood her reasons, I really did. I was just looking for some way to stay related to her that did not require me to stay a child.

I immediately reached for my page flags and marked the passage. She is writing about the Episcopalian church, but her observation hits even harder for Catholicism.

Perhaps this is to be expected in denominations that require parishioners to refer to their pastors as “Father.” Perhaps that is where this pervasive infantalization of the laity originates.

Continue reading