The chasm had become visible

Via Amazon.com.

Via Amazon.com.

[Trigger warning: discussion of violence, sexual assault.]

About a month ago, I was traveling. Whenever I travel, I hunt for books. The title of one particular book screamed at me from a shelf in the Harvard Co-op: Men Explain Things to Me. I dove for my credit card.

Men Explain Things to Me is an anthology of essays by San Francisco journalist Rebecca Solnit. The title comes from the first essay, a 2008 Internet classic that I’ve referenced before, but hadn’t read in full until I bought the anthology. In it, Solnit relates how a resolutely clueless man cornered her at a party, pontificating to her about a book he had not read but that she herself had written, all the while ignoring a friend who kept saying, “That’s her book.”

Solnit observed: “Men explain things to me, and other women, whether or not they know what they’re talking about.” Her sentence inspired a neologism: “mansplaining.”  Continue reading

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On “doing something”

I tweeted this more than a week ago. It hasn’t gotten better.

To Israel and Gaza we added Michael Brown. To Michael Brown we added Robin Williams. To Robin Williams we added the Ferguson protests and the mindbogglingly brutal crackdowns on those protests. To that we added ISIS and a “humanitarian intervention” in Iraq. Ukraine is still erupting, has been the whole time. And last night, police shot another black man in St. Louis.

I tweeted because I was, even then, overwhelmed by words and images. I know when I say this I am speaking from a place of great privilege. Other people must live the horror. I get to sit at my laptop, talking about the sensory overload I am receiving there. Continue reading

Why the Defeat of DOMA Gives Me Queer American Pride

flagsWhen I think about the progress of marriage equality in the U.S. this year, I cannot help but feel proud, and grateful, to be an America.

My girlfriend is not a U.S. citizen. She’s Brazilian and attends college here on a student visa which expires when she graduates. Before DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) was struck down a year ago, I’m not sure we would have been able to stay together in the States and get married.

Now that our rights are the same as opposite-sex couples, the federal government will recognize and honor our union and allow my girlfriend to stay in the country with a marriage visa.

That being said, our marriage still won’t be easy. The struggle towards full equality continues, but today I want to focus on what we’ve gained.

As my girlfriend once said, “I am really thankful for what I have, not for what I don’t have.”

I wrote a poem and wanted to share it with you today. Please share it with anyone who feels overwhelmed by the darkness of this world. Sometimes we get distracted by the negativity around us and we don’t see the good. But God brings light to the darkest places. Continue reading

The Word in Peace, Third Sunday of Lent: For what do I thirst?

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

In a post on the CTA 20/30 site last week, Justin Sengstock, a blogger-colleague (blogleague?) of mine, reflected on Lent in high school days of yore, when he treated the penitential season as a “competitive sport.” He told of going without food between meals every day, complete with pounding headaches and an ill-placed sense of accomplishment.

Justin is not alone. I’ve tried various innovations of Lenten piety. One year, fresh off of three earned Middle Eastern history credits, I did a Ramadan-esque fast of waiting until sundown to eat (at which point I ended up making up for lost time). Even as recently as this past Ash Wednesday, I elected to limit myself to bread and water for the day. It turns out that it’s hard to adequately perform a high-stress teaching job when my own body is yelling at me to stop starving myself.

I kind of missed the point. And that’s why the readings this week appear during the season of Lent, because a lot of us miss the point. Mortification of the body for mortification’s sake is not really fasting. It becomes either an obsessive-compulsive Christianity that frets over a self-imposed process or the hypocritical “look at me!” Christianity that Jesus warns us about in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:16-18).

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The Word in Peace, Second Sunday of Lent: Where am I going?

4CatholicEducators.com

Genesis 12:1-4; Psalm 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22; 2 Timothy 1:8-10; Matthew 17:1-9

Abram went as the LORD directed him. (Genesis 12:4)

How many of you have faced a decision about moving to a far-off place or to a major career change? In today’s world of expansive communication and transportation, few of us can answer “no” to that question. But the fact that it is now easier to uproot oneself does not make the decision to do so any easier.

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