There is a beautiful moment, when you get just enough puzzle pieces in place, so that you can glimpse the whole picture: this has been that sort of week for me.
The week started with me getting really pissed with the whole concept of South Dakota Nomad, as ‘just’ an exploration of poverty. WordPress was bugging me to renew my stuff, money I don’t have, and my one son lost a box of his stuff–resulting in tears. Mine and his.
Suddenly, I realized I had been in survival mode for too long, and my soul was reaching up and trying to slap some sense into my spirit.
My 7-year-old’s box of things from his old bedroom was the last straw. Somehow in the midst of cleaning at his dad’s house, the box ended up on the open deck during a thunderstorm.
Rain soaked it, and while we salvaged a few things, many…
I’ve been hearing several times now from various Lakota, mostly Christian, that women shouldn’t be by the altar–even in church.
This grieves me greatly, but I fully admit to not understanding fully why Lakota men fear women’s ‘power’ during menstruation or any time they might be of age to.
But I think I have an idea of it now.
Jesus is the holiest of men, and a woman’s power never worried him. He even had a woman with a menstrual disorder touch him, and he could feel healing leave him and looked around only to see who had needed healing.
While the women of Jesus’s time were kept from the inner areas of the Jewish Temple and were often seen as ‘dirty’ during their ‘time,’ Jesus never treated them as such.
Greco-Roman culture was often no friend to women, either, varying between seeing women as sub-human, only there to propagate the human race, but not fully human as men or having them be prostitutes in various Roman temples devoted to goddesses.
Jewish women, especially while they yet were tent people, kept a Red Tent, and were set apart from the community during that time.
The Red Tent is about the only similarity between the way the peoples of the Bible saw women and how Lakota see women.
As someone who has read her Bible, my first reaction when confronted with what I may or may not do when I have my period around Lakota-traditional men is to react as if I’m seen as dirty.
I know that’s wrong, but that’s what I know.
So, if Lakota tradition isn’t teaching that women are unfit, but instead are ‘too powerful,’ to be around men, what gives?
To be honest, as a Christian Lakota, I don’t worry much about it. I respect Lakota medicine men and those under their care and do what I’m expected to do. The last few summers, during Sundance, I had my period, so I did what was necessary.
And bolted for church whenever I could.
Lakota women’s teachings are not always as widespread as the other teachings, so I’m pretty dim on the in’s and out’s of it, but I know a few basic teachings.
Lakota teaching holds the time of women’s menstruation makes her too powerful to be around men, especially medicine men. I confess to having rolled my eyes at that for some time. It felt like code to me for ‘dirty,’ and I kicked against it like I would teaching from the Old Testament.
But now, I must stand and look straight at this, because something more troubling causes me to.
I am hearing Lakota, even Christian Lakota, say they don’t think women should be at the altar–even in church, mostly because of this power.
While I’m also a bit dim on the old Lakota stories, I know a smattering, and so this morning, something came to me.
Lakota medicine men do what they do, because of their Tunkasila–their Grandfather. If they say, “Grandfather told me,” they are referring to this ancestral being that has come to this man’s spiritual aid. I don’t claim to know much more than that, but that I do know. There isn’t one ‘Tunkasila,’ but many.
I have never heard of a Tunkasila speaking to a woman. If a woman received direction, it’s through a man and his Grandfather.
This is also why non-Lakota must be careful about adopting our practices.
Anyways, it occurred to me this morning that perhaps, if our power somehow cancels out this spiritual connection, for example, making a man lose his singing voice or canceling out the power of a pipe, then maybe it’s because our female power is older.
What’s older than those things?
The Seven Rites of the Lakota came through a woman, after all, the White Buffalo Calf Woman.
Hmm. Is that why?
Something tells me, no.
So, older than that?
That’s when I remembered the story of Inyan, who gave and gave and gave, until nothing was left, besides the stones.
And I think of the Flood and Pipestone.
So, I think the power of women, of blood, is an old, old power.
And whatever influence or story you think of, there is nothing dirty or bad about us. It just is a fulfillment of power, it brings the power of the feminine into the same space as the power of a Grandfather and male power, which as anyone who watches anything of ‘magic’ (we just watched the Librarians last night, lol), means that often it ‘cancels’ it all out.
So how does that affect Christians?
It doesn’t matter how old the power of women (or men) is, Jesus was before Inyan and all of the rest of Creation.
He didn’t just show up as a baby, he existed long before that. He’s the very words of God, The Great Mystery, that spoke the beginning of the earth, or even Inyan who was before Maka, if you will into being.
That’s why Christians don’t shrink from women, in all times of the moon, being near and serving at sacred things.
Jesus, Himself, the Firstborn of Creation, didn’t, despite the culture he was born into saying that women were bad. They misunderstood these things about women, yet he still defended us.
He knew better.
That’s why women loved him.
Some of the first deacons were women, whether official or not.
Christians are taught that we are peculiar, so let it be, even today. We believe what it says in Galations 3:
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
This teaching is in itself the fulfillment of a prophecy to Abraham, God’s servant, and who was promised that all nations would be blessed because of.
Yet, it covers women, BECAUSE it pertains to Jesus Christ. Christians, all of us, are the Body of Christ. His blood ‘covers’ us, which he shed on the cross.
That blood is more powerful than ANYTHING else, so when you stand in Church, as the Body of Christ, you are part of Christ Himself.
There is no mediator for Christians between God and the people, besides Christ himself.
There are however teachers and servants, of course, but they themselves are also part of this Body of Christ.
And they can and ought to be women, also, to further fulfill that we are all part of the Body of Christ.
So how should we act as Christian Lakota?
Ladies, be respectful of our traditional Lakota men, staying well away from them during your time, but don’t get confused and take this into the church.
That goes for all those confused about women and the church and the altar.
I’m not a theologian, but I think we need to address these things that cause confusion.
The Christian altar and a Lakota altar are two different things.
Both sacred, but they hold different knowings. There are many Lakota understandings that should come into the Church, but some that should be left outside, because they don’t translate.
Let the takeaway be that women are powerful, not dirty. That is something Lakota knew better than the dark place that Jesus came to so that He might save them from their darkness. Have peace that you carry such a great power.
Remember to keep that power to yourself and stay away from Lakota men, even singers, as an act of Christian self-sacrificing love and of course, as a Lakota woman relative. If you inadvertently, in this modern world, do end up doing something, chances are nobody will say anything anyways, but just move on if they do. Remember, you don’t serve anyone but Christ. And if it is in the context of the Church, then I think we need to trust that in Jesus, if a man is there with power, then our own power must be allowed, whatever might happen. If we are not in the context of Church, then stay back.
PS And a word about these Tunkasila. In a Christian way, we are allowed to speak or pray if you will to Christians who have gone before us, asking them to also pray for us to God the Father in the name of Jesus. We can speak/pray to Jesus. To the Holy Spirit–the one that comes from the Father and the Son. I even speak to the angels who guard me, sometimes, careful not to worship them of course, and usually asking God to talk to them for me. Still. Like I wouldn’t steal someone’s icon of say, St. Paul or something, nor should I interfere with a Lakota man and his Grandfather. We don’t have to understand it, but I think we can respect things from a Lakota kinship perspective. We aren’t to worship the dead as Christians, but I really don’t think that’s what we do as Lakota. We just ask for help, which is in keeping with much of Christian tradition. Stick in that posture of spirit and you should be fine. If in doubt, give it to God.
“The lion shall lay down with the lamb… and a little child shall lead them all.”
My mother taught me that.
The vision of the lion and the lamb in peace, with their fellow creatures, of small children in safety and sacred companionship, is deeply fundamental to every inch of me.
And such was my childhood, thanks to my mother.
The photo above is of a pendent my mother ordered from her church‘s bookstore and gave me when I was a little girl. Recently I unpacked some boxes and so many photos of me I am wearing that pendant, often on a simple strip of leather.
I spent countless hours laying on floors with the dogs near a table where my mother and aunts and grandmother drank coffee and visited with each other and the creatures, dogs, birds, cats, horses and more.
I was the little girl:
who made herself sick by spending a day in her aunt’s Minnesota garden despite severe allergies and asthma,
fed birds on the Mississippi River and
walked through apple orchards with her grandmother.
I am the little girl who wants yet to be a vegetarian (and would be for a year and a half as a teenager and am a flexitarian as a woman now),
the child who read Ranger Rick and
laid on Arizona mesas feeding and talking to ants and praying to God to make it possible for me to talk to animals (if it was okay to ask such a thing),
I climbed over South Dakota badlands in moccasins with my dog
and tried to save kittens and birds and other small things.
One of my best birthday parties was my mother and a dear aunt, with dogs and cockatiels attending to the table as I blew out my birthday candles.
I am still that girl.
During a hellish junior high, I found Narnia in the school library. As a teenager, my first broken heart is when my cat Tigger, who I’d saved as a kitten, disappeared over New Year.
I’m the woman who cries over road kill and whose wardrobe revolves around walking her dog–an adopted Siberian husky.
Imagine my shock then, to find that this verse is not in the Bible the way many of us quote it?
One of the texts for Advent is this text from Isaiah.
I went to look it up for this blog post, and my mind was blown.
The ‘Bible’ I read most is by far the website, Bible Gateway, because I like to read various texts in various translations, which I feel gives me a fuller understanding of what God was trying to impress upon mere mortals.
The first version I looked at, the New Living Translation, has Isaiah 11:6 as ‘in that day the wolf and the lamb will live together…’
I thought, huh, well, maybe it’s all in the translation, so I looked at the Message and various forms of King James. Looked at a couple Standard versions.
All the same.
‘The wolf and the lamb…’
My entire life I have been told that it says, “The lion shall lay down with the lamb…”
Maybe this won’t seem like a huge thing to you.
But what is scary is I know that I have read this passage many, many times by myself.
How have I never noticed?
Why did I just go along believing what I had been told was the Bible, when it really wasn’t.
How many times in American Christianity, do we believe what we are told, but not what is actually in the Bible?
And now, does it always matter?
Isn’t it the story that means something, not the legalese of proof texts and literalism?
The meaning of this portion in Isaiah is clearly about peace. Wolf or lion makes little difference.
The idea of the Lion and Lamb actually also refers to the Lord Christ in Revelation, the ‘Lion of the Tribe of Judah’ and how he is also the “Lamb” that is opening scrolls and getting the earth ready to be translated into the next.
The amalgamation of the two sequences is really pretty natural. After all in Isaiah, the same verse gets specific, the ‘lion shall eat straw like the ox.’
The wolf will romp with the lamb, the leopard sleep with the kid. Calf and lion will eat from the same trough, and a little child will tend them. Cow and bear will graze the same pasture, their calves and cubs grow up together, and the lion eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will crawl over rattlesnake dens, the toddler stick his hand down the hole of a serpent. Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill on my holy mountain. The whole earth will be brimming with knowing God-Alive, a living knowledge of God ocean-deep, ocean-wide.
Which brings me around to the actual post I meant to write…our relationships to the animals, especially those we use for food.
I am so terribly weary from the Amerianity as practiced by so many that puts right-wing American politics in the place of Jesus. A lack of scholarship accounts for much of the ills and evils.
I am not a Biblical literalist. I believe that the Church is evolving, but in this growth, we have spun off a great cancer that is eating us from within and without.
It makes me wary.
My weariness of giving atheists fodder for hating us seems to find no relief.
Is it possible that this Christian imagery, born of several Biblical passages, is progress?
Is this the other side? Is this the antidote to the cancer?
I think we must consider it.
When googling that phrase I found some Mormon evidence that Joseph Smith used that phrase himself in the Doctrine of Covenants. I don’t know if this imagery and phrase was imported from Europe, or if it is distinctly American. These are the moments I wish I was a linguist.
What I do know is that we know the ideal, and therefore, we are at a place where it should be absolutely obvious that the way we treat animals (and children) is of the greatest importance to the heaven we create on earth.
With the darkness we are in now in here in America, a pivot point in history I believe, (as all moment are) we must do what we can to be about the Father’s business.
In permaculture, we learn that the ‘ill’ we see is often the hidden solution to a problem as well.
While I’m not Mormon or into Amerianity, suddenly I feel that the Church in America has hope.
We have internalized the cure for what ills us, peace, in powerful Christocentric imagery. Joseph Smith was definitely a little bit right.
The Lion and the Lamb.
Peace is not a passive thing. It’s a creation thing.
How we treat the animals we care for says much about us. It’s a huge indicator of the rest of how we are peacemakers and about our Father’s business.
I had a dream last night that I went into a health food store and couldn’t find any real food or truly natural home products. I found some beautiful marble rye type of artisan bread, almost a baguette, but I couldn’t get the woman behind the counter to sell it to me. She hemmed and hawed about whether she should heat it or do this or that to it. I just wanted the bread!
While we fought, I wandered the store, and there was a whole shelf of ‘organic’ Velveeta cheese slices. Small little packages everywhere of little bits of processed grains.
Our food is dead.
What do I mean by that?
I mean the remaining zest of life, minerals, vitamins, good bacteria, are zapped from our food. It’s hard to digest. It’s anutritional in that it saps our energy just trying to digest it.
Have you noticed that a truly local meal, garden fare by people who care for the soil, satisfies quicker than other foods. It’s rich in a way that has nothing to do with added fat and calories (not that those are all bad, but there’s a difference to be noted).
A piece of venison for dinner is a far cry from the pale feedlot fattened beef from Wal-Mart.
One gives vibrant life and the other does not.
We need much less food than we think if the food is vibrant food. This is why we have dueling epidemics of obesity and starvation.
That’s why our food industry is the way it is. They’ve ‘hooked’ us on crap food so we keep buying more and more, but yet, we’re really starving.
GMOs, the magnesium deficiency crisis, our inability to process Vitamin D, how grain has been misused, how everything is grown for shelf life not nutrition nor taste, the lack of Vitamin K, etc. result in autoimmune diseases that kill us slowly over time, so that we can continue to feverishly buy and eat and doctor.
So that we can be ‘consumers.’
So, what can we do?
First, realize that we have had the answer ALL ALONG.
We know better, so now we must figure out how to do better.
The lion shall lay down with the lamb… And a little child shall lead them all.
Have I been raped? Well, that’s none of your business. But I sure have been drunk with men I was in the throws of passion with, who when I was too out of it, you know, DID NOT rape me. Who didn’t listen to my assent to more, because they, also drinking, were still able to look at me and think, hmm, yeah, this isn’t right. I would like to think this isn’t just freaking luck. That this is just how things should be, when out drinking with friends. This is the HUGE problem I have with people talking about alcoholism and alcohol as a disease. I do know people who have done things not right while drinking, and who went and got help, because they knew it was more than just drinking. That something in them was acting from a place that needed healing and they went and got…
There is no reconciliation until Lakota Christians stand up, after prayer and wrestling with their angels, and start to share their own peculiar witness as Christians who come from specific cultural, political and family histories and understandings.
I hear a lot about praying our Christian prayers from the prayer book in Lakota. Our hymns.
And that is a nice gesture, but first, we must stop this idea that just because you don’t speak much of the language that you have no understanding of the culture that birthed you and the nation that claimed you.
Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, longtime mentor of the Oak Lake Writers’ Society of which I’ve been a member since I was 21-years-old, spoke often to young people such as myself to respect the language. She and others taught us to use what you knew you knew, but not try to garnish your culture-based writing with words not in you.
Yes, language is culture, but the fragments of culture that have lasted beyond colonization and assimilation, as well as the knowledge the earth and our relatives still give those who listen, cannot be undone. We are survivors.
We must then use English in a way no non-Lakota could.
I do not want to toot my horn in any way, but I wanted to share then, how fighting for equality looks when Lakota and Christian, working to decolonize our cultural imaginations and realities.
Christians have a DUTY to stand up and give space to those brutalized by other parts of the Body, egged on to do so by an unholy cooperation with a colonizing, empire-building government.
Lakota Christianity may not look like other parts of Christianity. We may read the Bible in ways that make you uncomfortable. We may follow our ancestors’ traditions in new ways that we feel both honor God and our duty to our ancestors (in fact, a Biblical theme), even as we honor our Church ancestors and for some of us, our own Euro-American ancestors.
We may even be working to reclaim lost culture in the generations of survival our now iyeska selves show to be, but as tribal members we have a duty to unpack and understand.
But it must be US that makes these cultural translations. You can’t just substitute a few words and/or make us fit your idea of an Indian that then follows how you see us living out the New Creation.
Let me tell you something about being an ally then as a Lakota Christian with those who have good cause to hate the Church, as Lakota or LGBTQ+/Two Spirit, etc. It means you sometimes see an issue, for example, the odd fundamentalism that is creeping even into traditional Lakota circles, causing odd dictations of culture, like the recent rejection by some elders of gay marriage in Pine Ridge, and you recognize it for what it is.
You help name it.
You pull in people you know to be defenders of sovereignty and decolonization, you add in a small way from your own training, then you let it take shape and a life of its own.
And get out of the way. And get out of the way again, as many times as you must, in order to make sure the voices of the truly marginalized and oppressed are given their due.
You recognize even then that equality is medicine, not food, but you try to be the best pharmacist you can be.
That’s how the Church can aim to reconcile, by recognizing the efforts of Lakota Christian writers and thinkers, who have spent their entire adult lives struggling with these issues themselves.
Who are fairly well respected by non-Christian tribal members doing awesome work in academia, activism and media.
Not by merely throwing in Lakota words in a service.
So, my fellow Christians, especially those Progressives of you, please see what happened here.
The Author of Life had his say recently through Lakota Christians.
We are here. We are doing.
Even using English.
We are caught between the privilege of whiteness associated with Christianity, yet we are shaping up to continue doing the new things many have not recognized in those Lakota Christians who have long lived as good relatives and in good ways.
This was my own experience in helping with recent open letters of late and probably into the future.
To the evangelical, fundamentalist Lakota Christians out there, wake up. You’re not helping when you perpetrate the cultural genocide in the name of literal interpretations of a set of books whose history you barely scratch the surface of written by cultures you have wrongly thought you had to fully adopt as your own.
It’s time for the meat of things, not the milk.
Further reading, with links to the original letter:
Blog note: Published previously on South Dakota Nomad. That blog is undergoing a fairly huge rebrand, so some things are being moved over here. Enjoy. ;)
The word ‘entitlement’ is a loaded word often thrown around by those with some measure of power, wealth and success against those with much less power, wealth and success.
I have heard the word used in workplaces by managers over employees, from adults about certain aggravating youth, in social media as racially loaded words smacking of the war against the poor.
Every time I hear or read the word entitlement being used by someone, I want to punch something. I get all Hulked out in about 1 second.
Navigating the waters of entitlement, whether at work, Facebook or Thanksgiving dinner, is perilous.
Many times, the word is used as a judgment of moral failure by those needing government assistance of any sort.
We all need to realize that we are all beneficiaries of government management of roads, infrastructure, post offices, radio, and many other services that we take for granted.
Other times, the word is used as a condemnation of an attitude and expectation by some people that other people should see to their every want and in many cases, needs, despite them seeming more than capable to do so themselves.
If we truly believe in ‘E Pluribus Unum,’ out of many one or ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people,’ then we need to come to some measure of understanding and peace over this word, ‘entitlement.’
And while I hate to hear people talk about entitlement, I have also begun to realize there are certain attitudes in our society that must be exposed.
I feel for the employers with workers who take no pride in themselves or their work. I feel for our collective loss when people think they can suck up governmental services of whatever sort without bothering to even vote let alone give themselves to any sort of civic duty. (Even if just picking up some litter in a parking lot as they walk by.) I am also fearful for our American society and environment if the mass-marketed zombie consumerism entitlement continues.
In the last few years, I probably have been too much a Pollyanna, thinking the absolute best of everyone. Lately, I have also came to realize that some people will never be leaders or anything more than consumer-driven hedonists and zombies.
So, here is The South Dakota Nomad’s guide to navigating the nasty waters of entitlement:
We believe all citizens in a modern democracy have a citizenship right to governmental laws, services and regulation that provides a basic level of economic dignity.
All citizens, regardless of income, class, race, tribal enrollment, etc., should feel a sense of duty, obligation and pride in becoming an active, useful member of our society, our collective governments and to their employers. We all need to check our ‘me, myself, and I’ attitudes. We must ruthlessly manage our own lives, finances, resources, time, health and activity so that we are useful to ourselves and society.
We must make peace with the fact some humans are almost completely useless to society or won’t engage in ways that we want them to. We are willing to provide our neighbors with economic dignity, even if they can’t, won’t or refuse to embrace it for themselves. This stops being about THEM, and becomes about how WE treat out neighbors. Let them sit on their couches in zombie mode. At least they are out of our way, right?
Even while we make peace with these folks who won’t do anything, we recognize the HUGE difference between true zombies and those whose lives are lived in service to others as caregivers, who are artists with talents we should help them to share with the rest of us, and other people we disregard as nonprofessionals but who absolutely have important contributions for their communities. We recognize that it is not entirely their fault that the gifts they hold for the rest of us have not been given traction in our money-driven economy. We celebrate that with economic dignity guaranteed, these citizens will finally have the freedom and a real CHANCE to truly give back in the way that God and nature fashioned them. The rest will truly then be up to them. (And we may find the folks we thought were zombies, were merely locked into a world that didn’t recognize them.)
For the nomad, also remember something of vital importance.
Remember Uncle Ben.
“With great power, comes great responsibility.”
Some of the worst entitlement I see is from people of talent, leadership, skill and other ‘pros,’ who get tired, fatigued and wore out from working with people who just don’t give a shit….every day.
Do not grow weary of being awesome in a world of people who can’t be grateful consistently.
Even the court of public opinion sways against super heroes from time to time.
C.S. Lewis writes in “The Horse and His Boy,” that his young hero had yet to realize that the reward for a heroic deed, is usually another, harder, more difficult deed.
Be meek before your gifting. Don’t give up.
And stick around people who know what you’re going through and who will remind you to remember Uncle Ben.
How do you protect yourself from feeling entitled or judging those who others call entitled? Or both? Leave a comment!
On this Second Day of Christmas, I and my children made our inaugural observation of the Feast of Stephen and Boxing Day.
I totally admit to sleeping in this morning and even just laying in bed, after I woke, researching muffin recipes on my favorite recipe blog.
In the midst of such serious research, and Facebook, I came across this excellent article on Episcopal Cafe about the meanings of the Second Day of Christmas:
Speaking to the Soul: Why Wenceslaus went out that day…
Some of you may know that I’m a fairly newly received Episcopalian and like many Americans, these old understandings of the Church have been lost to me.
So I had to listen to this song again:
The message for those who have been given much, whether gifts of understanding, administration, power or any form of responsibility to then in turn use those gifts for those less fortunate should be striking to any rather ambitious or industrious soul.
This also touched me when I read it. A blogger friend of mine has been visiting with me about contemplation. His way is different than my little bits of contemplation I snatch here and there in my busy family, but I love to hear what he is experiencing.
When I read this then, thinking of Stephen, the calm, compassionate action of those who have well trained themselves in such matters then bringing that peace right into the midst of violence…wow. This is Christ:
While eating our lovely Cinnamon Streusel Muffins and hot cocoa this morning, then, I couldn’t help but give a bit of a lesson on the day’s significance to my sons. After telling them about Boxing Day, and explaining about servants and nobles, the poor and the wealthy, the stoned man who cared for Christians and others who were poor, I questioned my sons, after the quote from Good King Wenceslaus,
“Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing,Ye who now would bless the poor shall yourselves find blessing.”
I asked my sons, then, of the men running for president, who would do justice to King Wenceslaus, walking for over an hour in freezing cold and breaking the snow for his servant helping him deliver food and drink and fuel to a man in much greater need, or for one of the first deacons, servants, of the Church, stoned not so much for preaching, but for giving to the least of these:
Trump or Sanders?
My older kids, especially my teenager, follow politics to some degree, even if just hearing me and their dad discuss things. My teenager has also watched some of the debates with me.
The older boys knew, then, that the answer was of course Sanders.
Then I quizzed them, what religion is each man?
My oldest knew Sanders was a Jew, but not what a secular Jew was, so we discussed that. Neither of them could name what Trump might be.
They couldn’t believe that Trump calls himself a Christian.
So, I asked, which man is most like Christ then?
Does it matter then what you call yourself?
It matters what you DO for people.
Sanders has said if he is president he would want to be remembered for compassion.
Which brings me to another blog post I noticed today:
To be honest, I’m getting as sick of atheists making fun of my faith as I already was of Christians who don’t even attempt to think.
However, I will stand with an atheist who acts like a Christian ought, long before I stand with a Christian who acts like people are nothing.
In reality, though, I suppose I’m standing in the space in between.
While part of me would like to get all gung-ho and feisty, I am mostly impressed with something about being still. We needn’t create work for ourselves, but simply step into what is in our life, and bring Christ with us and our own Christ-selves.
Whether it is the streets of Kiev, placing ourselves between the violence between protestors and police, modeling peace, or the halls of the capital in Pierre, speaking truth and reason to those whose only agreement seems to be that both cannot be found in the same creature.
Most Episcopalians are quiet about their faith. Which is fine. Let a Recovering Evangelical do a little proselytizing on this point: Not all Christians have abandoned reason, sense and respect for their neighbors, nor their responsibility for them.
This idea that we must keep up the fight is wrong. On both sides.
This isn’t how you truly win.
The place of peacemaking is a place of margins, of weeds and wilderness. I can’t speak for atheists, because I am not one.
For Christians who truly want to serve God, we must then stop our pretend wars. Instead we must be those who walk in those margins, in the weeds and the wilderness, sharing what we have, whether it be food, faith or reason, with those who are hungry. And to work WITH those who are trying to give as well.
“The plain fact is that the planet does not need more ‘successful’ people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.” ― David Orr, Ecological Literacy
Caption: My sons received fitness trackers for Christmas that allow them to earn points towards food packets distributed to severely malnourished children by UNICEF. In serving others, then, they secure their own health.
Sermons and full communion are a bit hit or miss in our parishes, because we have one dear priest for nine congregations, all under the banner of the reservation Episcopal mission here.
So, blessedly, the priest I got to know this spring in Brookings, Father Larry, added me to his little email list of folks who receive his sermon in text.
This last one, apparently our readings included Jesus being asked about divorce this last Sunday, was a doozy.
It made me reconsider polyamory for Christians more than anything else I’ve read, but I suppose, the effect might be lost on those who don’t know Father Larry and his dear wife.
I’ve wrote before on this blog that I’m concerned about whether polyamory is expedient to the Christian.
After all, we are supposed to be about our Father’s business, not worrying incessantly about our sex lives or romance of that sort.
I’m also rather suspicious that C.S. Lewis is more than quite right in his observations that sometimes our failed attempts at something (marriage) is still in fact a shadow of a reality we have not met with yet. Not that there’s marriage in the after life, (also discussed in Father Larry’s sermon), but that God has foreseen a nobler, grander vision He would have us live and love into.
And yes, perhaps, I’ve been reading an awful lot of Anne of Green Gables of late.
However, nothing changes the fact that divorce is a sort of awful death, “free love” and hookup culture is grotesque to God, and that people DO fall in love with legitimate feelings, intentions and spirit in ways that sometimes challenge our Christian monogamous ideal.
So, what to do.
I keep coming back to honesty.
How does a healthy, intentional, soul mate, marriage of the highest quality weather another love?
It’s one thing going into a marriage to realize our love’s duty to a coparent.
However, how do we deal with the future unknown? We are living longer and longer lives, amongst a greater amount of people. The chances we or our spouse may fall head over heels for someone else, as well, must be faced before we even marry I believe.
So. This is my proposal for a 21st century, ethical Christian monogamous polyamory or 21st Century Christian Marriage for short.
1. Monogamy must be held up as a peculiar, Christian ideal. We limit ourselves to one spouse, because we all realize there is so much hurt and healing to bring the world, we should probably all be celibate and childless. This isn’t overly practical, so our spiritual fathers have given us guidance in the New Testament for monogamous marriage if we cannot manage celibacy without constant sin.
2. Frivolous infatuations and petty passions do not merit a free love polyamorous attitude for the Christian. Humans are not need – fulfillment machines.
3. Not all marriage is between the greatest of lovers, and even those that are, are difficult at times. Waiting for “the one,” while canoodling close to idolatry in some ways, is worth the wait and effort. However, finding the “One” doesn’t mean neither of you won’t fall wildly and earth shakingly in love with someone else. Have a plan before you marry on how you will handle other true loves.
4. Christians must realize some people are blessed with more than one “true love.” True describes the type of love, not how many. Most of us believe that once we are married we are somehow immune to finding true love again. If you struggle to understand or realize this, please do consider it in the realm of possibility.
5. Do not seek true love. Ouch. Now, maybe God will give you a different direction than this, but for the most part, I believe Christians must stop with the list making, Internet ordering, and especially, the hours and hours of prayer over finding “The One.” Stop it. Please. Our marriages are not what make us Christian. They are merely one more thing, granted a pretty big thing, that ought to be consecrated to God. This goes for unmarried people AND people in marriages who consider themselves open to poly or are thinking about it.
These five realizations add up to my vision of a 21st Century Christian Marriage: Leave the door of communication open to each other so wide, that no shadow of deceit can darken your door. All things can be shared with one another, with the express understanding that flirtations (and all loves start there don’t they, even true loves) can be shared with one another as freely as any other days news. Maybe not in front of the kids, but learning to manage jealousy and aiding one another in self-discipline to weed out those temptations that may teach us something about ourselves but isn’t a fruit FOR us, should happen. Then, if, instead, an earth quaking true love happens, though still not easy, we can discuss, pray, and love accordingly. At this point, maybe you do technically become an open marriage and polyamorous, but NOT because you were out beating the bushes, seeking it.
In keeping with my feeling that we must be about our Father’s business, and having come to a satisfactory OS for myself regarding this issue, I won’t be blogging on polyamory much more in the immediate future.