Thursday, October 27, 2005

Whoring for Christ

Christine aka Rising Up recently introduced me to the work Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, a Christian lesbian scholar. After reading the transcript from an address she gave entitled Whore-ishly Implementing the Political Vision of the Christ-Sophia, I feel full as a tick! (an expression not lost on my friends from the American South)

I can easily write five posts about the content Mollenkott covers in her brief talk and her refreshing insights into how Jesus embodied the sort of political activism that not only reaches out to marginalized and oppressed minorities, but also incites liberation. She also talks about how in Jesus' day, all women not under the direct control of a man (husband, father or brother) were considered whores. So it wasn't just what you do, but who controls you.

In speaking about activism and our need to join with other oppressed minorities, Mollenkott says,
We lesbians can live in separatist bliss if we want to, but that does nothing for the larger society or the churches to which we belong.

If we want to implement the political vision of the Christ-Sophia, we must learn to strategically affiliate ourselves with other political or religious groups in order to overcome exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism and systemic violence, not only against ourselves but against oppressed people everywhere.

As Phelan says, “Our politics must be informed by affinity rather than identity, not simply because we are not all alike, but because we each embody multiple, often conflicting, identities.”…

To say it another way: because society defines us as outsiders, we can gain clout by making alliances with other outsiders in projects where our goals intersect.
Read the whole thing for yourself.
To view streaming video of Mollenkott and other progressive female theologians, visit here.


At 12:16 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus was a radical! That is why when you are living a Christ-like life, you are often seen as radical and misunderstood.

At 12:17 AM , Blogger Jennifer said...

I guess I'm whoring for Jesus too, since I'm not under the direct control of anyone, including myself! :)

At 7:16 AM , Blogger abbyladybug said...

Separatist bliss has always been a problem for me. At Obelin, there were many lesbian students who lived in a women's collective which did not allow men to enter. As a woman with many friends who are men, I found this place offputting, especially because my boyfriend at the time was verbally insulted walking past one day ("Look. A man... who is smoking... two of my favorite things." I needed to meet gay women who were more compassionate, more caring... it was important. I'm not getting to a specific point exactly... I just like that way this woman is talking about the troubles with a separatist bliss. Separatist is not blissful, even if it may feel that way in the moment. I don't see how any doctrine can get very far with that as its basis.

At 7:16 AM , Blogger abbyladybug said...

Doh! I misspelled my own alma mater: Oberlin!

At 12:20 PM , Blogger Peterson Toscano said...

Abby, I know for me that often I tend towards separatist bliss out of either fear or hurt. It is hard to reach out. We can carry lots of hurt from the oppression we've suffered.

Other oppressed people, particularly those who have experienced oppression from men and white people, might reject me, question me, hurt me back--not because they are necessarily enacting the same oppression back that they experienced--rather because they may feel the need to protect themselves from further oppression and ignorance.

Some people talk about reversed racism, and I sometimes get asked questions by heterosexuals in my audience if gay people oppress non-gays. I try to explain that because of power and privilege it is not the same thing.

Sure as a gay man, I can get sassy and make fun of a straight guy, but the real issue is a matter of employment, housing, opportunities to minister in a place of worship, etc.

Often straight white men have the power to shut out gay men, lesbian women, straight women and people of color (male and female). That is oppression that just doesn't hurt someone's feelings, but limits individual's life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

At 5:19 PM , Blogger Ann said...

Back in the 70's, I lived in a townhouse full of lesbians as was the townhouse next door. I was within walking distance of the famous lesbian bookstore, Lammas. We went to women-only music festivals, poetry readings, coffee houses, and community center as well as special events like my personal favorite, the vulva photography exhibit. We bought and listened to women's music. We used a lesbian mechanic, shopped at lesbian-owned health food store and mostly went to lesbian bars (one of which, P.J.'s, would bodily toss out any man, friend or foe, who happened in.) B/c of where they worked, some women could stay in that radical, lesbian, separatist, feminist bubble.

And women do need their own space at times, but as we find in the glbt ranks, there was often a pecking order among women-only groups as well. For all our consensus-building and cooperatives, some pigs are always more equal than other pigs. There were litmus tests and bickering even among folks who were supposed to be like-minded. And there's the rub, it all just gets so tiresome. Everyone took themselves and their p.c.-ness oh so seriously. And at 22 y.o., my priorities were getting a dog, a car and a date...not necessarily in that order.

The lovely thing about the Body of Christ is the build-in diversity. The natural differences and bumping-up against each other that can bring about change, growth and strangely enough, healing.

At 8:43 PM , Blogger Christine Bakke said...

Ann, what a great contribution to this post! Thank you for sharing this. I am all about reaffirming the feminine in me (and sometimes I do like to listen to only women's music for a period of time, for example; if only to get a break from the male-dominated real world). But I agree it can be taken too far and we all need each other.

Also, any community is going to have problems, whether it is a separatist community or not. People (especially lesbians sometimes) think that it'll all be just great if we are only in contact with each other, and I sure the heck don't think that's anything close to the truth. However, I still am sometimes seduced by the (fantasy) idea of it. :) Thanks for pointing out the reality and the experiences you had.

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