Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mary is the Velveteen Rabbit

Mary is the Velveteen Rabbit,
Made real by love, worn in places.

She is not a toy, shut away in a box,
With unblinking eyes
And perfect unchanged white cotton insides.

Mary is Pinocchio, at the end of the story.
With flesh on her bones.
And feet that take her where she wants to go.

She is not wooden sticks
Controlled by strings.
Put away on a shelf,
Behind glass,
That I must push my face against.

Mary has a soft belly
And stretch marks.

Mary does not have
A whitewashed body.

Her scars show.
My scars show.

Mary is the Velveteen Rabbit.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Confessions of a Christmas Crackhead

I luh huh huh huh huv love Christmas. I will pay lip service to the "isn't it terrible that Walgreens has their Christmas display up in October" lament that everyone else engages in, but secretly, little joy bubbles start coursing through my blood stream.

My hot and heavy love affair with Christmas has been going on ever since I was a little girl. I remember sitting in our darkened living room next to the fully lit Christmas tree. At one point, we had lights for the tree that not only played Christmas carols, but BLINKED ON AND OFF IN TIME TO THE MUSIC. I LACK THE VOCABULARY FOR HOW AWESOME THIS WAS.

Here is my list of what I love about Christmas, no particular order. This is not exhaustive, by any means.

1) Hustle

2) Bustle

3) The line to see Santa at the mall. Particularly since I don't have to stand in
this line. My favorite type of kid are babies who haven't hit the "terrified of
Santa" phase. You can see them go through the mental Rolodex before settling on
"I have no idea who the hell this is".

4) That house on your block. You know the one I mean. The one covered in lights, with an animatronic Frosty the Snowman bringing myrrh to the Baby Jesus while a fully lit up Santa will all the reindeer sits perched on the roof. Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas" blares from a speaker that's hidden on under the manger. I will troll this house like I'm thirteen and Justin Bieber lives there.

5) Food. People basically wander the streets offering you chocolate at Christmas. Awesome.

6) The Opryland Hotel. If you live anywhere near Nashville, TN, you must visit the Opryland Hotel at Christmas. The Opryland is eleventy million square feet, and all of it gets pimped out for Christmas. They also have the most obscene Christmas brunch ever conceived by man (see "Food").

7) Christmas Carols. Typically Christian music makes me twitchy, but I love high octane Jesusy carols. "O Holy Night", sung by belters. Josh Groban, Celine Dion, Martina McBride. "Faalllll on your kneeees" must be sung with the proper amount of badassery.

8) The Charlie Brown Christmas special. Linus shows how to articulate the Christian meaning behind the holiday without being a sneering, "don't say Happy Holidays!" asshole.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go turn on my Christmas tree and stare at it for the next three hours. (Squee!)

Friday, November 11, 2011

You've Got To Be Kidding Me: Stuff Christians Like

Ok, seriously, I really like Jon Acuff over at Stuff Christians Like. His blog is funny. His book was funny. His Twitter feed is funny.

He has a guest post up right now, though, by a "comedian" named John Crist, that is just absolutely befuddling. Entitled Stuff Christians (Guys) Like: Girls That Have a Past , Crist goes on to lay out a list of categories that women fall into and assign positive and negative slut points to each.

Curious what activities might fall into the ho-bag category?

Wearing heels to a prayer meeting.
Wearing hoop earrings.
Social drinking.
Having a picture in your Facebook profile of you and a male friend.

YES Ladies! These are some of the wild and risque activities that will alert the men in your congregation that you are a Girl With A Past.

As you might imagine, a number of Acuff's readers responded negatively to this bit of what-the-fuckery. Acuff responded with a heartfelt apology and a promise to try harder to see women as fully realized, complex human beings.

HA! I'm such a kidder. That's not what happened. In response to some women being a tad upset at being held up to a list of standards that the Taliban would see as overly strict, Acuff defended the post. It was "satire". It pointed out a problem in men. He'd heard countless men parrot what was said in the post.

Ok, it's not like Christian men being jerks is exactly going to blow up my world view, but I guess I've been naive. I really didn't get that "countless" church guys were operating at this level of douchenozzelry.

So, thanks Jon Acuff!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to pour a glass of wine (one point) put on some hoop earrings (two points) and not hang out with church people this weekend (two points)! Whoring it up!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Divine Feminine, Or Mary Is My Homegirl

I have no basis for The Virgin Mary. I was raised by an atheist father and an uber-Episcopalian mother. There is much that I love about the Episcopal Church. The open Communion Table. The liturgy. Female priests. The generally welcoming attitude to everyone, no matter how sketchy your theology.

But Mary was totally absent, save her one time appearance every year at Christmas.

When I joined (or was recruited into) the POS church in college, it was made very clear to me that as far as God was concerned, men were large and in charge. Women were to be secondary and submissive at all times.

When I left, I tried to be a traditional Christian that was, for the most part, still embracing traditional roles. I didn't find peace. In fact as time went by I felt that I was sliding deeper into the pit. I started having panic attacks in church.

It finally got to the point where I was sitting in my bathroom, crying uncontrollably. With the passage of time, my fear of God had dissipated to the point where the truth could come out.

I thought of Father God as an abuser, and I hated him.

If I could have honestly become an atheist at this point, I would have. But I knew deep down that there was something "out there". So my spiritual life looked like this: I believed in God, and God was a monster. A bad place to be.

It was in the middle of this struggle that I started reading "The Dance of the Dissident Daughter" by Sue Monk Kidd. Kidd was raised in a conservative Christian denomination (and was working as a Christian writer) when she started to investigate the "Divine Feminine", the female side of God.

Now, Kidd is pretty "let's dance on the beach under the full moon to celebrate our womanhood!" (No thank you), but there was so much that resonated in this book. I wasn't sure what to do with strange words like "Divine Feminine" and "Goddess". I heard angry voices in my head, yelling that to address God in the feminine was the most vile insult imaginable. God could never be female; invisible, inferior, incomplete.

Then I came to this section of the book, a prayer of Kidd's:

"Mothergod, I have nothing to hold me. No place to be, inside or out. I need to find a container of support, a space where my journey can unfold."

Mothergod. Mothergod. I could say this name, I could pray to this name, without fear or adrenaline rush or fists up or panic or anger.

And my Mothergod is Mary.

Kidd describes a moment with Mary in the book. She, like me, did not have a religious background that included her.

I was spending the night at the home of a Catholic family, and on the mantle in the guest bedroom was a porcelain statue of Mary. Standing upon a sliver of crescent moon, she was a mystery that called upon an inexplicable rush of feeling. I experienced what I suppose could be called a magnetic pull to the Feminine Divine. With a gesture of spontaneous adoration, I reached out and touched her, whispering the only words for her I knew: "Hail, Mary".

Mary whose female body kept God-on-earth alive. Mary whose words prompted Jesus to perform his first miracle (yes, I know he was a little lippy at first, but he came around eventually). Mary who was at the cross when most of the male disciples had fled (do you really want to argue that there were no female apostles? Really? REALLY?)

Mary is not quiet. Mary is not inferior. Mary does not glower at me with a list of rules, breathing fire and brimstone. Mary is not the monster.

Prayer is still weird for me, so I have a Virgin Mary candle instead. It sits on my windowsill along with my Episcopal prayer beads. It doesn't make sense, but Mary is ok with the prayer beads. She was an unmarried pregnant teenager. She gets that sometimes what is going on in your life looks odd to other people.

So I light the candle, and I watch it flicker in the window, and I know that Mary gets what is in my heart. I don't have to say.

Friday, October 28, 2011


This cartoon is from the fabulous David Hayward at nakedpastor.com. He describes himself as a "graffiti artist on the wall of religion", and man oh man, has he drawn some stuff that hits me in the gut.

This drawing is one of them. This was my life in the POS church. After a certain point I was a zombie, tasked with going out to make other zombies.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Curvy Girl's Guide to Buying Pants

The majority of clothing designers seem to make pants based on the figures of 16 year old Ukrainian supermodels. For those of us who are built with hips and butts and (let’s be honest here) thighs that go OUT, and waists that go IN, shopping for pants can be excruciating. So, when the fashion world is not ready for your jelly, I’ve developed a few tips to try and make the shopping process more bearable.

First, this is a shopping trip you do alone. This is not you and your best friend Tiffani giggling as you pick out cute outfits and then go do lunch. This trip is a dark night of the soul, a time of examining the nature of good and evil and questioning the existence of a benevolent God.

I'm guest blogging today for the incredibly generous (or totally insane) Elizabeth Esther over at elizabethesther.com. Please head on over to read "The Curvy Girl's Guide to Buying Pants". And yes, I know you are supposed to hyperlink or hyperdrive or something. Be patient. I have the tech skills of a sloth.

Monday, October 17, 2011


I've been thinking a lot about forgiveness.

It seems to me that the God of the Bible expects much more of people in this area than he expects of himself. We are supposed to forgive "seventy times seven" regardless if the offender takes accountability or not. But God only forgives if we apologize and repent. If we don't do these things and decide to "follow Jesus" the Biblical God banishes us to a lifetime in hell, which seems to me like the ultimate in holding a grudge.

I think forgiveness in Christianity can be used as a way to protect an abuser, or to keep others from having to experience intense or unpleasant emotions from someone who has been hurt.

I've been reading this book "Dance of the Dissident Daughter" by Sue Monk Kidd. There is a line in there that really resonates.

"You forgive what you can, when you can. That's all you can do".

What you can, when you can. On your timetable. Not under threat or manipulation.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Getting Off the Hamster Wheel of Healing

When I was in my twenties, I read a book by a popular Christian author which told the story of a blonde virginal Christian co-ed who is attacked and raped by a stranger. She becomes pregnant and decides to go through with the pregnancy. Her fiancĂ© dumps her and her Christian school kicks her out. By the end of the book, she has given birth to a perfect baby girl, she has forgiven her rapist (within nine months), completely gotten over her rape (within nine months) and has a handsomely rugged new preacher fiancĂ© (within nine – ok you get my point).

Good Christian girls don’t have PTSD, evidently.

This is all perfectly consistent with the modern day Christian Theology of Pain, which is that no matter how horrific the event, God will buff out all the rough edges and make you as good as new. The signs outside churches promise it. The preachers on tv guarantee it.

I certainly believed this is the way it was supposed to work for a very long time. When I first left the POS church, I went in search of the sermon, the small group lesson, the Bible Study that would get me better. Then it was the conference, the therapy session, the book, the blog. And I would certainly find things that would educate or enlighten or make sense to me in some way and YES! I had it all figured out! I was all better now! It was like a temporary high. But in a few days or weeks I wold be hit in the face with my damage and brokenness, and I would be back in the pit.

The emotional and spiritual abuse I've survived are like an amputation. And for years, I've kept waiting for God to grow my leg back. Every story I heard and every book I read seemed to say that was how it was supposed to work.

And yet, the leg didn't grow back. I got furiously angry. I got depressed. I thought God hated me personally and intensely.

I'm beginning to wonder how many other people sit in church who feel how I felt. The couple who is called to testify how God "restored" their marriage after an affair, when in reality the consequences and the pain still haunt them both. The parents who have lost a child who can never say out loud that they no longer believe that "God works things for the good of those who love him".

What happens when the leg doesn't grow back?

I'm ready to get off the Hamster Wheel of Healing. It's not that I don't see the value in the blog or the book or the therapy session, but I'm ready to stop believing in salvation or rescue. I'm ready to strap on a prosthetic and limp through life, rather than waiting for God to turn me into this pink and perfect person.

Maybe that is what true healing is, when you stop waiting to be saved or fixed, and just live life how you are.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I heart cursing

I love to curse.

Most people associate cursing with being angry. While I can certainly let the four letter words fly in the car with the best of them, most of the time when I swear, I feel little joy bubbles bouncing around in my chest. 

Fuckity fuck fuck fuck. See right there? Imagine Maria with her arms stretched wide, singing about the sound of music. Happy. I have to remind myself when I'm out in public that some people are offended by cursing. That parents don't like their children to hear it.

If I had a kid his nursery would be painted with "Nantucket" limericks. Which is probably why I don't have a kid.

I know this glee stems from the fact that at the POS church, cursing was strictly forbidden. Unwholesome talk. You could talk about hell, but you could never SAY "oh hell". The "curse" words of choice were "stinkin'", "cotton pickin'" and maybe if you were really on the edge "freaking", although that would probably get you in trouble.

So when I say real 100% full octane curse words now, some little voice in the back of my head pipes up "Free at last! Free at last! Motherfucking free at last!" (quote may have been changed slightly from the original).

I've also had some realizations about "unwholesome talk". You don't need curse words to terrorize someone, to show up in their nightmares for years. To leave scars on their soul, to destroy their concept of God.

I think about some of these preachers out there. I'd much rather hear salty language than words that give parents the license to beat their children to death, words that send gay kids to commit suicide, words that make women feel inferior in the sight of God.

Isn't THAT unwholesome talk?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I hate intros

Couldn't I just start talking in the middle? Do I really have to introduce anything?



I was in an abusive church for 12 years (henceforth known as the "POS Church"). Now I'm in a never never land where I can't be a Christian anymore, but I'm trying to figure out how spirituality plays some role in my life.

I want to ask the hard questions. Who is God? What is God? Why don't they make pants for girls with big butts?

Ok, I also want to talk about the totally random things that run through my brain. Some of my posts may only be two sentences long. (Why DON'T they make pants for girls with big butts?)

I may only be talking to myself. That's ok. If you happen to find my little corner of weirdness? Welcome. I'm sorry.