When I first started attending a Christian church, as a young adult, I was taken back with how much ‘hospitality’ talk was bandied about. It became very clear to me that Christian communities placed a high value on the notion of hospitality. It appeared like a saintly virtue: one of those good practices that happened all over the world and in all cultures, but of which, Christians had taken on as their own. It took a while for me to realize that hospitality was seen as the imitation of Christ, a pragmatic outworking of Christian discipleship. Of course, I later became aware that a whole system of thinking ‘stranger’ and ‘neighbor’ was driving the push for hospitality. As Arthur Sutherland describes:
‘In the light of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and return, Christian hospitality is the intentional, responsible, and caring act or welcoming or visiting, in either public or private places, those who are strangers, enemies, or distressed, without regard for reciprocation’.
I was always interested in the way descriptions such as this were seen to get at the very heart of God (which Sutherlands argues), and how my status as the ‘stranger’ and the ‘distressed’ allowed those well intentioned Christians I knew to become as ‘gods’. Continue Reading »
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The discussion about working motherhood continues.
Today Professor Beth Haile added her voice to this conversation. Announcing her decision to leave “her other full-time job” as an assistant professor of theology in order to execute her first full-time job as a mother more contentedly, Professor Haile wonders about the happiness of her female colleagues who also parent.
I wonder if we haven’t largely just added another full-time job on top of the ones our moms and grandmothers had as homemakers and caregivers.
I am happy for Professor Haile.
But for the most part, all of us, not just Professor Haile, have been asking the wrong questions.
If motherhood is a full-time job, then isn’t fatherhood a full-time job? And if it isn’t, shouldn’t it be? And if it shouldn’t be, why not?
Continue Reading »
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You haven’t the faintest conception of what I went through with your dear Robert. The ingratitude! It was I who made a man of him! Sacrificed my whole life to him! And what was my reward? Absolute, utter selfishness.
C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce
Rachel: Maybe Joey’s right. Maybe all good deeds are selfish.
Phoebe: I will find a selfless good deed. ‘Cause I just gave birth to three children and I will not let them be raised in a world where Joey is right.
Friends, “The One Where Phoebe Hates PBS” (1998)
Over a weekend earlier this month, I had a text conversation with my brother about the feelings of guilt I was having about not doing more work. I had gotten up in the morning and paid our bills, got together all our tax information to send to the accountant, finally packed up the holiday decorations, and did some cleaning. By mid-afternoon, I was sitting in front of my computer playing games online because I was worn out and lost all motivation to work. When I told my brother what I was doing, he said that I had earned the break. My response? “I still feel guilty about it. There’s so much I could be doing!”
One of the things that I struggle with in graduate school is finding the work-life balance that allows me to be content with the amount of work that I put in and still take time for myself that allows me the space to recharge. I don’t have the answers yet, unfortunately. But I hope that this reflection on gender, Christian selflessness, and work-life balance will raise some ideas in others about how to balance work and life in academia and hopefully start a conversation about things we can do to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Continue Reading »
Posted in WIT Posts | Tagged academia, family, Women's Experience, work-life balance | 3 Comments »
Before the upcoming Academy Awards in March, I’m going to offer some observations about Spike Jonze’s hit movie Her, which is nominated for five Oscars (Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Original Song, and Best Production Design). I am not going to summarize it except to say that it’s about a sad man who falls in love with his operating system, and then it’s about all the ambiguity, weirdness, and happiness that—strangely—goes along with that. More complete summaries abound elsewhere, but, as concerns this particular post now, spoilers are assumed and sometimes referenced when it suits me. Continue Reading »
Posted in Reviews | Tagged Feminism, sexism | 1 Comment »
We prefer division. We prefer it because it’s so much easier to create and sustain communities of (presumably) like-minded people, so that we do not have to be with “them.” – Dn. Nicholas Denysenko
Division is always easier than unity. Denysenko is absolutely right. Division, reinforced by seeking shelter in homogenous communities provides comfortable certainty.
Love requires knowing another person, recognizing them, and acting accordingly. Division is all about knowing and recognizing. Our group, community or body tells us who we are (and who they are), and what we should do and what they should not do.
Division makes much more efficient the process of recognition which underlies love. Division is such a useful shortcut in getting to know (or precluding my need to know) and therefore love another person.
Continue Reading »
Posted in WIT Posts | Tagged difference, Orthodoxy, unity | 2 Comments »
This is the 2nd in a 3 part series. Please read the first post, Refusing to Reconcile: Against Reconciliation before commenting on this piece.
Refusing Reconciliation, Part 2: Spatiality, Fugitivity, and Blackness as Wild(er)ness
The irreducibly spatial positionality of beside also seems to offer some useful resistance to the ease with which beneath and beyond turn from spatial descriptors into implicit narratives of, respectively, origin and telos. Beside is an interesting preposition also because there’s nothing very dualistic about it; a number of elements may lie alongside one another, though not an infinity of them. Beside permits a spacious agnosticism about several of the linear logics that enforce dualistic thinking: noncontradiction or the law of the excluded middle, cause versus effect, subject versus object. Its interest does not, however, depend on a fantasy of metonymically egalitarian or even pacific relations, as any child knows who’s shared a bed with siblings. Beside comprises a wide range of desiring, identifying, representing, repelling, paralleling, differentiating, rivaling, leaning, twisting, mimicking, withdrawing, attracting, aggressing, warping, and other relations. -Eve Sedgwick, Touching Feeling
Blackness is about the beside. Is about being beside each other in the wilderness.
In the first part of this series I wrote about reconciliation as a utility of white supremacy and antiblackness that does its work through the narration of supersession–through overcoming blackness to be united in a white Christ. Many seemed to read my piece as a primarily narrative piece due to my inclusion of some biographical information at the beginning. I want to be clear that the biographical information was primarily meant to serve as a way into one of the ways reconciliation operates as a logic and a desire in churches. The main point of the prior essay, then, is that the work reconciliation does is antiblack and thus, antichrist. I intend to develop more clearly here how blackness and black theology in particular is a refusal of this antiblack work of reconciliation through the notion of solidarity as a life together in the wild(er)ness of fugitivity.
Continue Reading »
Posted in WIT Posts | Tagged antiblackness, Black Theology, racism, reconciliation, white supremacy, wilderness | 22 Comments »