SERMON: Sexism: Still Way Too Normal
Two phenomena—women’s basic economic inequality and widespread sexual violence against women—should surprise nobody. They are well-documented and receive considerable media attention. For every dollar men earn in the United States, women on average earn 79 cents. In 2012 18.3% of women reported having experienced rape at some point in their lives and 19% of female college students reported an experience of rape or attempted rape since entering college. Yet huge swaths of American society at best pay no attention or pay attention but don’t care and, at worst, affirm the data as consistent with a conservative, patriarchal world-view—often articulated as God’s will—that assigns women a subordinate status to men and, while claiming to honor women, imagines them not as legitimate wage-earners, not as in control of their own bodies, not as self-determining, moral decision-makers, not as heads of families, but rather as, essentially, the property, the play-things, the servants of men. This may sound overstated, but the persistence of the wage gap, sexual violence, behavioral double standards for women in the workplace and politics, inequities in funding for sports programs, inequities in funding for health research, the hyper-sexualization of women throughout society, multi-billion dollar industries causing and then preying on women’s insecurities about body image, weight, and beauty, increasing rates of sex trafficking and other forms of slavery in every state in the union, and a constant wave of smaller, daily anti-woman indignities suggest to me that the old view of women as fundamentally less human than men remains inordinately powerful in society. Continue reading….
SERMON: “Once Upon a Time, We Were Together”
“Once upon a time, we were together”—words from Indian-born, Canadian poet Renée Sarojini Saklikar. “Follow the trail / To young Douglas firs, tree farmed, / close to power lines, radio towers visible, / western Hemlocks, also planted. / coastal streams built over, where coho once, pink once, chinook, / chum, salmon, steelhead— / Once upon a time, we were together.” These words—like words of so many poets, novelists, artists, theologians, philosophers, prophets, healers, shamans, clergy, naturalists, farmers, elders—like so many words written, spoken, sung, imagined and dreamed throughout the modern era—express profound longing for something that has been lost. Here the poet notes lines of trees planted like power lines, in even rows upon land that is neither linear nor even. She notes how the world has built itself over ancient coastal streams where so many species of salmon once ran. But it’s not just that the trees now stand in straight lines rather than in natural groves, copses and thickets; it’s not just that streams and salmon no longer run—these losses are lamentable enough. She’s naming deeper, hidden loss—difficult to feel, and more poignant when we finally do feel it. She’s naming the lost human relationship with trees, with streams, with salmon. “Once upon a time, we were together.” Continue reading….
BLOG POST: “The Untoward Political Adventures of King Stag”
I suspect more has been said about Donald Trump’s candidacy than all the other candidates combined, but there’s a dimension of the Trump phenomenon that gets no attention: religion. I’m not referring to Trump’s politically-motivated claim to be a Christian. Nothing he says or does indicates “Christian” to me. That identity doesn’t seem to mean anything to him. To the extent Christian Evangelicals support him, that identity doesn’t seem to mean anything them, at least not in a presidential candidate. But there is a distinct religious identity to Trump’s campaign. It’s a form of Paganism—a highly unbalanced, hyper-masculine, non-ethical Paganism. It has no relation to genuine Pagan, Neo-Pagan and earth-based religions—we might call it pseudo-Paganism. Before you decide I’ve lost my mind, consider Trump’s presentation of himself as virile, tough, powerful, physical. Consider his presentation as a sexual being, his history of bragging about his sexual prowess and conquests. When Marco Rubio started talking about the size of his hands, Trump couldn’t ignore it, couldn’t let it go. “Look at these hands. Are these small hands?” he asked. But it was never about hands. His innuendos were crystal clear: It was about genitalia. This is a man who builds towers all over the planet. Phallic symbols and masculine potency matter to him. Continue reading….
SERMON: “For Gravity’s Sake”
Did you feel it? I didn’t either.
In the new issue of Smithsonian Magazine, physicist Brian Greene writes: “More than a billion years ago, in a galaxy far, far away, two black holes executed the final steps in a fast-footed pas de deux, concluding with a final embrace so violent it released more energy than the combined output of every star in every galaxy in the observable universe. Yet, unlike starlight, the energy was dark, being carried by the invisible force of gravity. On September 14, 2015, at 5:51 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, a fragment of that energy, in the form of a ‘gravitational wave,’ reached Earth, reduced by its vast transit across space and time to a mere whisper of its thunderous beginning.” This was not the first time gravitational waves have grazed or graced our planet, but it was the first time scientists detected it. It took fifteen months to determine the data were accurate, but on February 11th, 2016, scientists announced the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), operating identical detection systems simultaneously in Louisiana and Washington, had detected a gravitational wave emanating from the collision of two black holes 1.3 billion years ago on the other side of the universe.
When they pass by a planet or person, gravitational waves squeeze in one direction, and in a perpendicular direction they pull. How often does something more than a billion years old give you a squeeze and a pull? Continue reading….
SERMON: I Am Lush Land and Rugged Rock
Spring arrives today. May ours be a religion that meets us here in this world, in this life—not in some other world, in some other life. Spring arrives today. May ours be a religion whose mission is to knit mind and body more fully together for the sake of saving lives now, not at the end of time. Spring arrives today. May ours be a religion that witnesses and discovers and proclaims and knows the sacredness of the earth, the holiness of the earth. May ours be a religion that asserts our ancient ancestors’ faith in the divine sun, the divine moon, the divine ground, the divine fields, the divine fish, the divine animals, the divine forests, the divine seasons—a religion whose psalms announce: “I am lush land and rugged rock!” Continue reading….
PUBLIC WITNESS: There is No Clash of Civilizations! (Remarks delivered at the “Say Yes to Syrian Refugees” rally, Saturday, November 28th, Hartford, CT)
We hear it said we are witnessing a “clash of civilizations.” We hear it from presidential candidates, from right-wing talk radio pundits, from white supremacist, nationalist and terrorist organizations. They say we live in the midst of a “clash of civilizations.” This is the first great lie of the 21st-century. It feeds on fear and ignorance. It is a tool used to prepare people for war. There is no clash of civilizations. Continue reading….