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Weekend links!

Here are a few of my favorite moments from the internet this week! Enjoy!

Five women who changed God’s rules” by Fred Clark at Slacktivist: Sometimes I don’t think God’s laws are fair. Sometimes they’re sexist. Sometimes I let God know how I feel about those rules. Turns out, this makes me a “biblical woman,” and turns out that, God listens to women. This article tells us of five women in the Bible who challenged one of God’s unjust laws and paved the way for more equality for women of the ancient world! It tells me that God isn’t as “anti-progess” as some people think he is. Definitely post of the week!

Helping is for everybody!” by Abe Kobylanski: So, who should feed the poor and right the world’s wrongs? The church? Or the government? Why not both?

Why I am not Joe Paterno” by Dianna Anderson at Relevant Magazine: When Relevant Magazine published a highly offensive article entitled, “We are all Joe Paterno,” Dianna Anderson boldly stepped up to the plate to defend the voices of rape survivors. I was proud.

Christian Dating Bingo” by Dianna Anderson: And, on a lighter note, this post made my week.

“Two Reasons Mark Driscoll’s Popularity Doesn’t Bother Me” by Rachel Held Evans: I needed to hear this one after all the “Real Marriage” and “Mars Hill church discipline” news lately. Very encouraging.

“She Won’t Let Me Wear The Pants Or Stick My Thingy In Her, And Other Pressing Problems Facing The Church Today” by Jo Hilder: An awesome response to all the “recent rash of Driscollisms.” I mean, the title alone, right? So great!

“Biblical manhood, or fruits of the spirit?” by Bram Cools: Bram wonders, why do we place so much focus on “Biblical manhood or womanhood?” Why not focus on the fruits of the spirit?

“Famous Paintings Improved by Cats” at Sad and Useless: Amazing. Just amazing.

“What NOT to say to someone struggling with their faith” by Elizabeth Esther: SO much truth!

And, of course, two of the greatest episodes of the Colbert Report aired this week (which is saying something, since Colbert is always amazing. Check out Stephen Colbert’s interview with Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are and other children’s books.

Grim Colberty Tales, part 1

Grim Colberty Tales, part 2

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Sometimes you fight. Sometimes you pray for peace.

It’s been a rough week for many of us survivors of rape.

Some of the responses to Joe Paterno’s death (the one’s that blantently stated that we should forget his role in enabling the rape of young boys in light of his awesome football legacy) had been fighting back panic attacks, tears, hate, and rage as I tried so hard not to let anger suck away all the joy and healing that I’ve managed to find over the past few years. Walking the line between a desire to love/forgive and a desire to live in a just world can be an exhausting task.

But today, thanks to the words left by Scott Morizot in a comment on yesterday’s post, I have managed to find peace. Not joy, or healing, but peace. And that’s a start.

I don’t pray very often anymore. Sometimes, I question the point of prayer, and I still don’t completely understand what that point is.

And I’ve never prayed for the dead before (well, when I was little and my favorite aunt died, I used to ask Jesus to tell her things for me, that’s all).

But today, I prayed for Joe Paterno.

I don’t know what happens after we die. I certainly don’t believe in the fire and brimstone hell that the Baptist church taught me to believe in, but a dark part of me whispers that it wouldn’t mind seeing Joe Paterno there. But I believe in a God that is a hell of a lot more loving and merciful than I am. I believe in a God that can restore even the worst of offenders to wholeness. So, for Joe Paterno, I can only speak these words, bitter and broken.

Kyrie eleison. Requiem in pacem.

Though, even as I speak them, through cracking voice and sobs and tears, I find peace. I find peace in leaving Joe Paterno’s soul in the hands of a God who makes all things good and new.

And, then, I prayed for the survivors of rape–for Sandusky’s victims, and for others, and for me. For those who could hardly turn on the television or read the newspaper or scroll through our Facebook newsfeed without being reminded that the feelings of those who rape and enable rape so often are treated as more important than the feelings of those who are raped. For those of us who felt that tinge of guilt when we heard of Joe Paterno’s death because, deep down in our hearts, we wished for it. For those of us who are lost and confused and longing for healing, this prayer, from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals.

Lord, why do we suffer?

Why do we hurt?

Shall our only answer

be the eternal abyss of the cosmos?

…Why do the wicked flourish…?

Grant us your healing peace.

And, for those of us who fight for justice. For those of us who feel so overwhelmed with the evil in the world that our happiness collapses under the weight of it all. A prayer for the justice seekers and the peace makers, also from Common Prayer.

Fill us with laughter and joy while we work for peace and strive for justice.

Amen.

Do you pray? Why, and how, and does it bring you peace? If you’re not the praying type, share some ways in which you cope with rough times like this.


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Rape culture, Relevant Magazine, and other things that make me want to swear a lot

Trigger warnings: rape, and rape enabling

Some of the responses to Joe Paterno’s death were triggering for me. You know, the ones that basically say (albeit in much more eloquent terms), “Everyone, shut up about the rape victims and how they’re feeling! Joe Paterno was really good at winning football games! Can’t we just talk about that?”

As a rape victim, this was painful to hear, but not unexpected. As soon as I heard of his death (or rather, as soon as the media falsely reported his death a few hours before he actually died) I braced myself for an inevitable onslaught of Facebook statuses and secular news articles defending JoePa’s great legacy against those of us who have the audacity to place human life over a football career.

But, for some reason, be it naivety or delusion, I wasn’t expecting to hear this from any Christian sources.

I expected to see Christian articles that mourned the loss of a man, loved by God and his family and his players, but a man who made a terrible mistake. A man who became so disconnected from humanity that he put a greater priority on protecting the reputation of his school and his football team than on protecting young boys who were being raped.

For some reason, I expected more from Christians.

But when I read a column on a popular Christian webzine, Relevant Magazine, that stated, that because Joe Paterno was a good coach he was, “He was better than us.” In which the author expressed, “He was so great that I think the ultimate story about him will eventually outshine the awful ugliness of a child molestation scandal that happened…” and that that was “OK.”

And that made the guilt-inducing, shaming claim that “We are all Joe Paterno.” That many of us would have done the same thing in his situation. That we aren’t doing enough to stop the child rape and abuse and therefore, “If Paterno is ugly, then you are ugly. Does that make it right? Of course not. We’re all wrong and we are all missing the mark on this issue—just like Paterno did.”

My initial response was as follows (language warning):

Rather than posting an article encouraging us to see Paterno as a human, like all of us, while acknowledging that he made an inhumane mistake, this article asked us to view Paterno as a super-human, who made a measly mistake that ought to be glossed over in light of his football accomplishments.

 Rather than empathizing with how lost and confused the victims must feel right now, this article bemoaned the fact that the curtains of this scandal were covering the shining light that was Paterno’s legacy.

Rather than encouraging us to direct our anger toward Paterno into a productive path so that we could someday learn to forgive, this article sent already confused and hurting people on a guilt-trip.  

Rather than educating us about practical ways to help victims of child abuse and rape, this article equated Paterno’s misuse of power to our feelings of powerlessness.

A magazine that posts articles insisting that we are too soft on “sin” when it comes to consensual, premarital sex and homosexuality, referred to enabling rape as “dropping the ball.”  

And, again, a section of mainstream Christianity takes its place as a cog in the powerful machine that is rape culture.

And, again, I sit here and cry and thank Jesus for my Zoloft that is preventing the panic attacks, and I wonder why I even bother calling myself a Christian.

I wonder why I’m searching for religious fulfillment.

I wonder why I think it’s going to be worth it.

But, deep down, I know it is. Deep down, I know that for every shitty article on Relevant Magazine, there will be Dianna Andersons and Elizabeth Esthers and Jo Davises making a stand.

I see hope. And that hope is small and quiet in the midst of the roar of rape culture, but it’s there.  

So, church, let’s break away from rape culture. Let’s throw our wrenches into the machine. Let’s call out the Christian magazines that defend rape enablers. Let’s call out other Christians that use modesty standards to blame victims. Let’s stop teaching our boys and men that they are not responsible for their own actions. Let’s get involved with organizations like RAINN that fight rape. Let’s tear down patriarchal power structures and replace them with a world where all are viewed as equals. Let’s use our platforms as pastors, writers, teachers, parents, neighbors, and friends to spread the message that human life is not more important than a person’s reputation as a coach (or a pastor, or a Christian, etc.).

Rape culture is strong.

But so are we.

As for Joe Paterno, a prayer via Scott Morizot–

Kyrie eleison.
Requiem in pacem.

And let us pray that all survivors of rape can find healing in forgiveness.