Render to Caesar…

img_0262-1

The collusion of church and state, once again, is wreaking havoc on the world.  The 2016 U S elections allowed a christian right wing to usurp what was once a democratic system.

Religious leaders in Jesus’ time tried to trap him by questioning  his allegiance to politics or religion. Jesus settled the problem of divided loyalty between Roman Law and Jewish religious law.  Jesus pointed to the image imprinted on the Roman coin.  Caesar had made it perfectly clear what he demanded from the people … paying taxes with the coin that was inscribed with his image.  Everything else belonged to God.

Jesus himself would be confused today about loyalties between government and religion.  With the inscription “In God We Trust” on all our currency, the distinction between God and the power of money is greatly blurred.  Money has become the God in whom we trust.  Trusting in money, do we need to trust in God?  Today they are one and the same, as inscribed on our currency.

In our day it takes enormous sums of money to elect our leaders, so it seems natural to religious authorities to anoint elected leaders as if chosen by God.  By trusting in the Government to provide, we can feel that we are exempt from taking responsibility for our nation’s actions and our own lives.  With God’s name inscribed on our currency, God  no longer appears to be in the heavens, and all is not right with the world.

This is a time of weak men preaching weak messages in weak churches. What we need more than ever are bold and prophetic cries against this prevailing idolatry of money.  It is the only hope for our people, our nation, our world.  But who would dare? Like the people of Jesus’ time our loyalties between religion and government are not only confused they are very much fused: Caesar and God have become one and the same.  We are rendering to Caesar the things that are God’s and no pharisees have come to put us to the test and question it.

 

 

Image

Found in the Upper Left Corner

 

img_0031

The mystic woman

My friend, Evelyn Mattern, had died shortly after she had published a book about women mystics titled, “Why Not Become Fire”.  The legacy of the women  in her stories had not been part of my catholic education. From my friend’s book I learned quite a lot about these women of the past who lived with strong courage, faith  and deep conviction in their own experiences of God. They defined God in their own terms and often exceeded the limits put upon God by the church of their time. Some dared to describe the divine in feminine language and images of love.  In the past woman mystics had been  depicted  as religious fanatics and in some cases mentally unstable.  They lived under threat of execution by the defenders of the faith. Many in fact died at the hands of the church.

Discrediting women especially in the realm of religion was/is  important for maintaining a patriarchal system that must control the souls and bodies of the people.  Such freedom of thought about God was/is dangerous to male establishments.  We fool ourselves if we believe otherwise.  Church and state are not separated when it comes to the status of women (and other minorities) in our own time.  It is just disguised now as “religious liberty”  But with the present political regime change, bigotry will be permitted to drop its disguise.  “The truth shall set us free”,  but first it will divide us and make us miserable.

I found this image several years ago when I was playing with the idea that artist, Helen Broncato, promoted in “Why Not Become Fire”.  By dropping black ink into pools of water and allowing images to emerge we can find surprise paintings that call to us from our unconscious/soul.  My mystic image was hiding in the upper left corner of the paper.  It only needed three black lines and a few  shadows to bring her into focus. It’s not always the big picture where we need to focus.

 

He’ll Never Do It Again!

Tags

img_0168Expecting Violence Everywhere

Domestic violence must not be kept hidden.  Women and children victims carry hidden scars throughout their entire lives. The experience distorts their understanding of love, since it is executed and excused in a guise of parental/romanic love.

At every level of society silence and shame give great cover for the abusers. Our rape culture, drug and alcohol addiction, are logical offspring of the self doubts and the sense of powerlessness left in the  victims of domestic violence.  Perhaps the ability to remain silent toward violence in our homes conditions us to tolerate ongoing abuse and violence on an international scale.

Thousands of years of violent histories cause one to question where God stands on the matter of violence.  The story of salvation, is riddled with broken promises of peace and demands for forgiveness. The God  portrayed in our sacred stories and liturgical dramas, stands idly by, threatens violent punishment for transgressions, and condones violence against our enemies as part of a divine plan. Women become devout followers of Jesus because they can say of their abusers,”we forgive them, they know not what they do”.

Abuse, forgiveness, abuse, forgiveness,….that is not how love works,…that is not how peace comes about…that is a cycle that has to end.   Divine revelation is incomplete until  the silence of God breaks out in a new word….STOP!  

With this word God calls the human family to put an end to its violence toward one another.

 

 

Where are you heading my dears?

Tags

, , , ,

img_0037

What’s Wrong with This Picture?

I painted this picture as a challenge parable for the women who were gathering in Philadelphia for the 2015 Women’s Ordination Conference.  I thought it was self explanatory.

These women having waited too patiently (2000 years) for full equality in the church finally believe in the authenticity of their call from God. They have taken ordination unto themselves.  They have assumed the sacrament reserved for men only, and have created communities of faith around themselves.  But they continue to hold onto the hope that  Roman Rite Catholicism will eventually recognize the error of its refusal to include women into its priesthood.

Usurping the mind of Jesus, the official church in Rome claims not to be able to ordain women because Jesus did not do so.  The patriarchal Bishops would rather hold to these limiting views of the mind of God/Jesus. They prefer to allow the celibate male priesthood to diminish and to create the ever growing scarcity of Eucharist in the Catholic communities of the western world.  I can understand the inability of the male mind to stretch their boundaries.  I can’t, however, understand the tremendous energies these courageous and creative women spend in working to reform the Roman Rite Catholic Church.  Shouldn’t the release of the spirit contained in the vision of Vatican II give ordained women the freedom to launch a new Vatican II catholicism in keeping with its long tradition of change.

Approval and inclusion from the  patriarchal/hierarchical/legalist leaders of the Roman Rite would surely be a warning to women that they are heading in the direction of dangerous stormy waters. So what’s wrong with this picture for ordained women?

Now what?

IMG_0250 (1)

This painting portrays a person who is at her wits end.  One of those times in life when all seems lost….when one has no place to turn.  Faith in an intervening God has waned and we are left to hope against hope.

It is just at these times when our God questions loom large and God seems too small for the task. Is God perhaps beckoning us to a new quest, to see with less understanding and more unknowing? Is this where we let God be whoever/whatever God is or is not?

Perhaps we are overwhelmed because we are not willing to be just human and must face the fact that we are ultimately unable to control the world and life around us?  

OVERWHELMED can lead us to complete trust or total despair.  It’s a choice…..choose life.

Shatter the damn slipper, Cinderella!

Tags

, , ,

IMG_1910

 Bound to Fit in.

Glass slippers.  Many girls have them but not every woman will allow herself to wear them.  Fairy godmothers have fashioned them for us out of nothing. They serve as accessories to dreams of satin gowns,  golden carriages and  royal balls. They are transparent and extremely fragile.  One must walk most carefully in them. They readily slip off when a woman moves too rapidly or when she travels in unfamiliar places.

Men seem to be attracted to women who fit into and wear glass slippers willingly.  Girls who dream of princes and hope to escape their destined limited life of drudgery are especially willing to wear them.

Cinderella shows us that, at the end of the day (midnight), such dreams fall apart…leaving her back in her own mundane world waiting to be found by a prince.  Cinderella had been keeping the matching slipper and had been open to wearing glass slippers.  But royal balls come to an end and without the fancy gown and cosmetics, Prince Charming doesn’t even recognize the natural beauty of the belle who fled from the ball. He is searching for a woman who can fit into the glass shoe perfectly. Whoever fits in the glass slipper is  the woman who fits his expectations and dreams.

The awakened Cinderella watches her step sisters resort to self mutilation to make the shoe fit. But she will have none to it. Fairy tales written by men and even revised by Disney will not be her creed to live by.  Today’s Cinderella has dreams of her own.  The glass slipper is the promise of the prince and a fairy tale life. She must shatter the slipper she holds dear in order to choose her own walk in life.  By rejecting glass slippers, she can take bold steady steps toward freedom. There will be many glass surfaces to shatter on the way; but freed from glass slippers, she can run in any direction and enter any arena. And yes, even political ones!

GOOD INTENTIONS?

Tags

IMG_1895

Is the Universe a Friendly Place?

Einstein had this question about the friendliness of the universe from the point of view of an earth human.   Now after the moon landing and its follow up excavations (already having set off a bomb on that celestial body 10/09/09 ), planning for Mars One, the first human settlement, various intrusions with space stations and satellites, and at this very moment the “probing”of the planet, Jupiter, I would ask,” does the earth have good intentions about its relationship toward the universe?  Do we already see it as the next virgin territory that waits to be exploited and raped by its human inhabitants?  Is the human fear of scarcity and our tendency to lay claim, to colonize, to dominate our true motive behind space exploration?  Will there be deadly clashes among nations to protect our interests in outer space?  That’s been the story line of history.  Or will there be a new story line  of searching for partners for sharing the great mysteries of creation with awe and homage ?  Will we finally find enough and more than enough for all to share?  Can our imaginations conceive  of universal peace projects with all of creation, instead of countless versions of star wars?

 

The Blind Leading the Blind

Tags

, , , ,

IMG_0142

                                                 STILL UNDER THE TABLE

There was a time when….not all women were equal in Jesus’ eyes….when he too needed his vision corrected….and he allowed a woman to make him see his own, dare we say,  blindness.

While it is true that Pope Francis has won the hearts of the people,  perhaps  he has not won their minds.  While his leadership style is a model of mercy for all, where justice and equality is concerned he too, has a blind spot.

Like Jesus, in the story of the Syrophoenician woman, is Francis afraid or reluctant to remove the doctrinal ills that restrain the daughters of the church.  Within the catholic tradition women are viewed  as some kind of foreign refugees begging for a place at the tables   Like Jesus, Pope Francis uses patriarchal rationalizations, a kinda, “I would if I could” reasoning,….even offering a suggestion of waiting until the time is right, until the matter is thoroughly studied for theological correctness, another 2000 years perhaps?

Jesus’ followers saw the Syrophoenician woman as an intruder. They tried to dismiss her.  She would not be put off not even by Jesus’ self justifications. “It is not right to take the food of Sons and daughters and throw it to the dogs.” NAB (Mt. 15:26)   Jesus proclaimed a banquet table and a kingdom that was all-inclusive yet he compared his attention to her and Gentile people like her, to casting crumbs to dogs under the table.  She was quick to overturn his favorite divine banquet table metaphor.  She used her words like  a radical artist,  and Jesus and his followers certainly got the picture.

Did the onlookers gasp at her brazenness?  Horrified they waited for  for a solemn apology or a stern dismissal.   Jesus’ pubic chastisement of her was based on Judaism’s long held beliefs in a discriminatory status as chosen people of God.  It was a theological “put down” but it did not deter this woman’s faith and determination.

Jesus realized apologies wouldn’t cut it. He needed to correct this erroneous judgement with action   He publicly changed his mind, praised the faith and courage of the woman, and promised that her daughter would be freed of her infirmities.  Thanks to this woman,  Jesus was able to shed his blind eye.  Now he could see the Kingdom of God with a much broader view.  The story was meant to change the hearts, minds and actions of his early JudeoChristian followers who were dealing with just such challenges in their global world. Those early followers were able to include Gentiles and even women as equals in their christian communities.  If Jesus could change.  So could/must his followers.  Perhaps in our time, Francis could with lift the patch that blinds the church from seeing women as equals.

That nameless foreign woman represents all the women and their children still suffering from exclusion and barred from full participation in the divine banquet intended for all.  She reminds us of what is possible when women expect and demand more respect, and won’t take no for an answer.


 

Seeing is believing/believing is seeing?

Tags

, , , ,

IMG_1782

….and you expect me to believe that?

Skeptics. Seems like they are everywhere today.  Young and old, women and men…in our churches, schools, and governments.  Where did they all come from?  We’re living in an age of disbelief.  If we could develop some dogmas, doctrines and perhaps a creed or two around our disbeliefs perhaps we all would have  a religion that we could all profess together.

But aren’t some of the things we learned and believed in the past, worth holding onto?

Do people who question everything have more faith than those who are afraid to question?

What if Jesus is not the answer, but the one who left us with the greatest questions.

Can skeptics believe in themselves?

 

I Don’t Know You!

IMG_1442

Ten bridesmaids came to a wedding banquet prepared and on time.

They brought lamps and oil.  Five had just enough(foolish).  Five had a surplus(wise).

The bridegroom was late and the wedding turned into a total humiliation.

Wherein does the fault lie?

The groom’s unexcused lateness?
The poor planning by the”foolish virgins, or the selfishness of the “wise” bridesmaids?
Blaming and punishing the women?
Focusing on the wrong character/s?

HERE COMES THE BRIDE  (She’s not even mentioned)

Shouldn’t she have been be consulted about her own wedding feast?                                           Why didn’t she intervene?
Bridesmaids, her best friends,  were barred from her banquet?                                           What kind of controlled life is she getting into?

Happy ending or a miserable beginning?

Surprise, we don’t like this story!   Who/what do you find unacceptable?                       Jesus is putting  women down, pitting women against one another?
He callously separates the haves and the have nots.                                                                Doesn’t the lock out strike you as offensive?

What’s going on here?

Parables were used by Jesus as mirrors to show us the distorted images we hold of God or of God’s intended kingdom.   Jesus resorts to the negative when all else fails,  to show how off base we are.

God and God’s Kingdom

Does this parable show a welcoming God?                                                                                 What happened to “knock and the door will be opened? ”                                                                                                                                                                                     The prodigal son and other banquets stories about God’s kingdom have a positive and welcoming ending, why is this one different?                                                                                      Is our God fickle, partial?

Does  looking out for oneself cut it in Gods kingdom?                                                                 Who are the people still being shut out of the banquet?                                                                     What doors are still closed to women in God’s kingdom?                                                        When you are being shut out, do you go back and demand your rightful place?                 Our spiritual torches have grown dim in this age  and for some they have gone out . Who will provide the light we need?

So, it’s not happily ever after.

Women’s stories, even biblical ones, are being resurrected and retold today so that now we can enjoy, or at least imagine, the stories from a women’s perspective…. and even perhaps, with  different endings.

How would  the story  be retold to reflect the God you now believe in?