Navigation


Archive | social justice

Maybe there is despair – but there is also hope in Haiti

Haiti-Ferrrier-Village-Lg-001-7895.jpg

Photo by Scott Wade, provided by Help One Now

 

Haiti makes Walter Brueggemann make a bit more sense to me.

The Bruegg (as I affectionately and irreverantly think of him) is the theologian who has been wrecking building my life over the past few years.  In The Prophetic Imagination, he writes that real hope only comes after despair. Only if we have tasted despair, only if we have known the deep sadness of unfulfilled dreams and promises, only if we dare to look reality in the face and name it for what it is, only then – can we dare to begin to imagine a better way.

Hope is subversive precisely because it dares to admit that all is not as it should be.

And I thought: Of course….Haiti.

Today, we mark the fifth anniversary of the earthquake. Five years. 

There has been despair.

There is despair.

We see life before and after the earthquake – the poverty, the gross domestic product, the politics of a developing nation, and so on – and we know it isn’t right. This isn’t what God intended for us.

But because of our Jesus, our hope sees with new eyes, with Spirit-eyes, and imagines a better way. We see the goodness. We see the health. We see the holy. We see the strong communities, we see Pastor Jean Alix, and Pastor Gaetan, and Rosena, and St. Cyr with Help One Now, and then there’s Troy and Tara, Beth and John, and everyone at Heartline and all of the ways that heaven is breaking through right in the midst of it all.

Maybe there is despair – but there is also hope.

Hope cultivates the seed of the Kingdom that is already growing wild and free.

Hope comes alongside of each other, in friendship, and says, let’s do this. 

Hope is an act of faith.

Haiti collage 1

from my most recent visit to Yahve Shamma in April 2014

 

Since my own story intersected with Haiti, I have had my eye out for that subversive hope. We’ve made friends and we’ve built a school together, we’ve started a preschool and rescued kids from trafficking. I’m late to to the party perhaps but for the past five years, Haiti hasn’t let go of me even here from my life in western Canada. The world is small, neighbour.

Together, we are holding out for, working for, listening, creating, prophesying, and living into something better. For the Kingdom to come, for oaks of righteousness to tower, for leaves to blossom for the healing of the nations, for swords to be beaten into ploughshares, for joy to come in the morning, and for redemption.

Light a candle for Haiti today.

Say a prayer.

Make room to remember Haiti’s complex story.

And, if you can, perhaps send a bit of money to Help One Now projects in Drouin, Port Au Prince, and Ferrier village or to Heartline Maternity Centre which not only delivers babies but empowers women to raise their children. You can trust that your money makes a difference right on the ground in real lives with these two groups – they’re the real deal.

Also, all of the profits from the Jesus Feminist collection go to support these two worthy orgs.

 edited from the archives

Continue Reading · Haiti, social justice · 2

Introducing the Jesus Feminist Collection!

Jesus Feminist Necklace

Five Amazing Things about the Jesus Feminist Collection:

1. The products were created in partnership with Imagine Goods whose work, particularly in Cambodia, focuses on ethical, just, and sustainable production practices to support employment for vulnerable and marginalized people. You can read more about them here.

2.  ALL (yes, all, as in 100% of the) profits from this collection will be donated to Help One Now and to Heartline Maternity Centre in Haiti. Both of these organizations are grassroots justice work, staffed by people we personally know, love, and trust who reflect so much of the heart and passion of Jesus Feminist.

3. These items are beautiful. Seriously gorgeous design work. Andrea Levendusky designed the shirts and the prints, I need say no more.

4. The necklace alone makes my heart sing: it’s made from recycled bombs. Hello, swords into ploughshares, meet bombs into jewellery that will continue to do the work of justice. Can you even stand it? I want to cry every time I think of it. I imagine we’ll sell out of that one pretty quickly and I’m already planning a re-order. Then the t-shirts were made by survivors of trafficking in Cambodia. Every purchase helps people on the front end AND on the back end of production.

5. If you’ve read Jesus Feminist, you know my heart for the small grassroots efforts towards justice and shalom. We saw this as a way to not only support people we love and know, but also a way to begin to create a bit of employment. And so my husband, Brian, took this idea and connected with Aiyana at Imagine Goods then Andrea for design, and he did all the legwork for every piece to create this shop. It’s Brian’s baby but I have loved collaborating with him on all of it. My heartfelt thanks to him and to Aiyana, in particular, for creating this collection and being open to my ridiculous ideas like, hey, let’s give away every cent we make! (<— for real.)


 

 Voilà! the Jesus Feminist Collection!

(Clicking the link will take you to Imagine Goods to purchase the item.)

Jesus Feminist Necklace 2Jesus Feminist Necklace

This simple circle necklace stamped with “Jesus Feminist” makes a statement with class. Made in Cambodia by disadvantaged artisans of brass recycled from old bombs, and hanging on an 18″ brass cable chain, it arrives in a 100% recycled jewelry box—perfect for gift-giving!

$42

 

 

 

 


 

Unisex Jesus Feminist T-shirt“I Am a _____ and I am a Jesus Feminist” Unisex Fit T-Shirt

This unisex t-shirt is cut of soft cotton with a slight stretch (95% cotton, 5% spandex). Made by survivors of trafficking, your purchase empowers women and their families to live changed lives!  The artwork echoes a community based photo project from the book’s release – you can grab a white marker and fill in the blank however you like!

$30

 

 

 

 


 

 

Jesus Made a Feminist out of Me decal

“Jesus Made a Feminist Out of Me” Decal

“Jesus made a Feminist out of me” laptop decal is made of high-grade vinyl with UV coating and a crack-and-peel backing. Measures 3″x3″.

$8.00

 

 

 


 

Jesus Feminist t-shirtJesus Made a Feminist Out of Me” Women’s T-shirt

This women’s fit t-shirt is cut of soft cotton with a slight stretch (95% cotton, 5% spandex). Made by survivors of trafficking, your purchase empowers women and their families to live changed lives!

$30.00

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Outside Jesus Feminist Print“I want to be outside with the misfits” print

After a reader poll, this is one of two prints that you requested. Full quote: “I want to be outside with the misfits, with the rebels, the dreamers, second-chance givers, the radical grace lavishers, the ones with arms wide open, the courageously vulnerable.” Print measures 8″x10″.

$12.00

 

 

 


 

Rest in your God-breathed worth - Jesus Feminist Print

“Rest in your God-breathed Worth” print

After a reader poll, this is one of two prints that you requested. Full quote: “Rest in your God-breathed worth. Stop holding your breath, hiding your gifts, ducking your head, dulling your roar, distracting your soul, stilling your hands, quieting your voice, and satiating your hunger with the lesser things of this world.” Print measures 8″x10″.

$12.00

 

 

 


2013_Jesus_Feminist_LA_signing_087-L

And of course, make sure you pick up Jesus Feminist to include with your gift!

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

Barnes & Noble

Book Depository

Chapters Indigo/Coles

our local Abbotsford bookshop, House of James, has it, too!

and almost everywhere books are sold.

 


 

Giveaway!

You knew I wasn’t going to end there, right?

I have one signed copy of Jesus Feminist and the “I Want to be Outside” print for one lucky commenter! Just leave a comment below telling me your favourite item in the collection, make sure your email address is included, and you’ll be entered to win. I’ll do a random draw from the comments in a week and send it along to the winner.

 

 

Continue Reading · Jesus Feminist, social justice · 87

Christmas is for family, Christmas is for Drouin

It seems nobody loves Drouin. It’s a sequestered, hot, poor, and isolated spot in rural Haiti, far from the TV cameras, the decision makers, and the big NGOs. The earthquake left them largely untouched but they suffered mightily in the cholera outbreak and continue to navigate the fall-out from rice subsidies which put them largely out of work.

This community of proud and hard-working Haitians captured my heart precisely because they are a bit on the margins of the rest of the world’s love, resources, compassion, and consciousness.

Even now, out of all our initiatives in Haiti, the kids in Drouin are among the last to be sponsored.

I’ve always loved to root for the underdog though.

Christmas is traditionally a time for family. We gather together for worship and celebration, for meals and for gifts, for parties and to make memories. Whether our families are together by birth or by choice, Christmas is a time for gathering and connecting with one another in beautiful ways. We make time and spend money and tell stories with our families, Christmas gathers us together.

And in Drouin, that is exactly the value that guides our work: family.

Our work in Drouin is all about keeping families together, empowering parents to raise their children, ensuring that these kids don’t ever end up in an orphanage because of preventable economic reasons. 

Orphan prevention is a key part of orphan care.

Too often, we show up after the crisis when the holy work can also be found in making sure that the crisis never happens. 

If Christmas is for family, then Christmas is also the time for Drouin.

 

A Tale of Two Josephs

On the day that I wrote about Drouin when I was in Haiti last April, my mother was prompted by the Spirit to participate in redemption’s story here. She decided to sponsor an older boy named Joseph. She saw his picture on the website and some part of her heart just knew that this was the boy she could focus her bit of good and prayer and resource onto in Drouin – he shares a name with her only grandson, after all.

That night, my mother emailed me in Haiti and told me what she had done. I was sitting on my bunk, sweat running down my back like a river, enjoying a brief moment of wifi connection when I read her email and then I wept.

Because Joseph was a boy that I knew. I knew his name and his face right away. I get overwhelmed in large crowds of strangers so I typically find just one or two people to talk to in a bit more depth. On this hot day in Drouin, it was Joseph who caught my eye and became a friend for the day. Earlier, we had sat together under a tree and talked, we ate together. Out of all the kids at that school, I hung out with that kid, I had pictures of him in my camera phone, and of course that was the boy my mother felt lead to sponsor.

These are the ways of the Spirit, aren’t they? Just those little kisses from heaven to let you know you’re not alone and we’re in it together and it all matters.

This Christmas, our family story includes two Josephs – my Joseph here in Abbotsford and another woman’s son named Joseph in Drouin.

My mother is making sure that Joseph stays with his mother.

Christmas1

This Christmas, we will love Drouin

As you prepare and budget for Christmas, would you make some room in your family for Drouin?

Look through the website here and pray, ask God which one of these kids belong with your family Christmas conversations and gatherings this year.

Click here to sponsor a kid in Drouin for Christmas.

From our corner of the Internet, I believe we can sponsor 20 kids. That’s not outrageous, but it will have an outrageous and lifelong affect on 2o families.

With your sponsorship, you’ll ensure a child receives one good hearty meal a day at school. You’ll contribute towards paying for the teachers at the school as well as supplies, towards childcare for the younger children so their parents can find work in peace and remain confident that child-traffickers or predators have no access to their unattended children, and also towards community development funds to improve roads, build homes, water, and finance farming initiatives.

All of these things will keep families together, you see?

That’s a happy Christmas, indeed. I can’t imagine a better gift for your family and for the families of Drouin.

Together, with Drouin, let’s celebrate family this Christmas.

Photos courtesy of Help One Now.

Continue Reading · Haiti, social justice · 4

Soapbox Warning: On Jian Ghomeshi and the acceptability of sexualized violence against women

Soapbox

Trigger warning: rape, abuse, sexualized violence. 

One of my blogger-jokes is that I like to think about and write about the stuff we don’t usually discuss in polite company – things like marriage and religion and politics, for instance. But I have to say I’ve never in my life considered or entertained the idea of writing about a topic like this. To those of you who need to avoid this topic or to click away because it will violate your peace of mind or heart, please do so with my complete understanding.

But my conscience won’t allow me to remain silent, I’ve got a fire in my bones today.

I read it. Oh, yes, I read it. I read Jian Ghomeshi’s statement about his firing from the CBC. I have loved Q for years. My sister and I both listen to it and we swoon regularly over the opening essays, over the thoughtful and deep interviews, over the brilliance of the contributors and, of course, the host, Jian Ghomeshi.

So when Ghomeshi was fired from the CBC this weekend, we were stunned. And let’s be honest: it takes something incredibly horrific to be fired from the public broadcaster. Don Cherry has enjoyed immunity for 35 years even though he’s offended everyone at least twice on matters of race and politics and sexual identity. So for CBC Radio’s golden boy to be fired, well, this was a big deal. We all knew it.

I read Ghomeshi’s statement from the standpoint of a dedicated and long-time fan, someone who was inclined to give the benefit of the doubt. And the further I read, the more my heart sank: it reads entirely like abuser rhetoric and gas-lighting. It was raw and emotional, yes, but it was textbook justification. Of course an employer has no place in the private or sexual lives of its employees – this was clearly not that.

Then came the article in the Toronto Star this morning, detailing conversations with four separate women who allege that Ghomeshi did, in fact, abuse them without consent. So much for the “jilted ex-lover” defense. And they will likely never come forward to press charges or make public accusations because they fear Internet retaliation. A very real and very terrible reality, one I completely understand. I have experienced my own share of violent threats for being a woman online: one needn’t exercise much speculation to understand why these women would shy away from public court cases or lawsuits or accusations. It’s dangerous enough to be a woman these days, let alone a woman who dares to stand up publicly against abuse. Who among us doesn’t understand that fear? We can make the logical arguments about why we are obligated to report cases of abuse or rape and how victims names are shielded (tell that to the victims of Internet doxxing) but the truth is that most cases of abuse and rape go unreported for very real reasons, let alone the public interest component here. The lack of formal charges proves nothing, either way: it doesn’t prove it happened but it doesn’t prove that it didn’t either. And now come the women weighing in on the comment sections of the articles, claiming similar experiences.

So I’m left not knowing whether to cry or throw things. Instead, I’m sitting down to write this post – against my better judgement, if only for the spam comments I’ll receive alone, let alone the rest of the very real and rational reasons as both a Christian and a feminist to never write on this topic.

Because this isn’t really about Jian Ghomeshi right now. After all, we have no idea of the particulars or details or truth here, not yet anyway. He claims persecution for his sexual appetites, the victims are claiming abuse. It’s complex and I pray that the truth will come out and that justice will be done.

Really, this is about the acceptability of sexualized violence against women.

Feminists have long been split on these sex-related issues, from being anti-pornography to pro-pornography, pro-sex-work and anti-sex-work, anti-BDSM to pro-BDSM. There are scholarly arguments for all sides, I’ve read them and I understand how each side arrives at their conclusions on a purely academic basis. I also know why I land where I land on those issues for more reasons than simply my Christian convictions.

Consent always lies at the heart of the arguments: is there consent? If yes, then go for it. Mutual consent is the new moral arbitrator for our sexuality.

I understand that logic. It makes sense to me from an academic or secular standpoint, absolutely. I understand that if Ghomeshi is proven to have engaged in these acts with consent, that it falls within acceptable boundaries for most.

But that logic fails to take one thing into account for me: the whole “Jesus” part of being a Jesus feminist.

I’m a feminist because I follow Jesus, my feminism is shaped by my discipleship to Jesus. And so yes, I dare to have an opinion precisely because of that distinction.

I’ve grappled with writing about sexuality on several occasions – mainly because I think the Church has often gotten it so wrong. Over the years, I’ve taken issue with everything from purity culture to modesty rules to how we treat those of us who not only engaged in premarital sex but dared to enjoy it as “damaged goods.” I’m never one to argue for repression or shaming as healthy sexuality, let alone someone who places one individual in the relationship (typically the man) as the sun around which our mutual sexuality should orbit. I rarely fall neatly on any one “side” – I’m often too conservative for liberals and too liberal for conservatives.

Christians rarely hear a healthy and freeing message about their sexuality, about the importance of consent and mutuality, about being in charge of our own bodies, about the realities of sex right alongside of the delights and desires, let alone a sexual ethic that tenderly cares for victims of abuse. We tend to take an all-or-nothing approach when it comes to sexuality, painting with broad brushes across complex people, ignoring nuance and making up a new law, one that – let’s be honest – usually puts women at risk of abuse or shame-based rhetoric.

I remain wary and yet here I am with a broad brush and a soapbox: this way of treating each other – violence, dominance, bondage, abuse, exploitation – is wrong. WRONG.

We who claim to follow Jesus know that there isn’t really any corner of our lives that is exempt from our discipleship. We are a people who are meant to be a glimpse of life the way that God intended it to be, we’re to be about the business of living prophetically into the Kingdom of God right now. We are people of shalom.

This means seeing the humanity in one another, justice, mercy, faithfulness, loving one another well, peace-making, even purity (a much misunderstood word) and mutual honour. And that commitment includes our sexuality and our most intimate partners.

These kinds of sexual acts are dehumanizing, period. Full stop.

Even if there is consent, it is dehumanizing to fantasize about and enact sexual violence against women. It’s a short walk from fantasizing about violence and rape to becoming someone who commits violence and rape – and even with consent, it is wrong to do so. These acts are dehumanizing and soul-sucking for all participants.

As we think in our heart, so we are, according to Proverbs. Or as Marshall McLuhan wrote, beholding is becoming.

So here, this theologically and socially progressive Christian feminist will say it:

These sexual acts have simply become a socially acceptable way of excusing dehumanizing each other, of abuse, abuse grooming, oppression, language of hate, rape, and violence. Even with consent, it’s exploitative, evil, and wrong. 

All of those acts of sexualized violence run completely counter to the way we are to treat one another, according to the Church and to the Spirit. We are called in Scripture to honour God with our bodies – these acts are not honour. And even apart from the specifics in Scripture about sex in particular, we have a whole ethic for how we treat one another now in the Kingdom of God – with love.

Christian relationships are meant to be characterized by mutuality, not dominance.

Our sexuality isn’t exempt from our identity in Christ.

Scripturally, sex is intrinsically connected to love. And the one who is Love is described in 1 Corinthians 13 among other beautiful qualities as patient and kind, not boastful or rude, it doesn’t demand its own way, our example is to be a people who are faithful and hopeful. We’re made in the image of Love. We are to treat each other in this way.

People are sacred. Women are sacred. Men are sacred. Our bodies are not separate from our spirituality – our bodies matter, our words matter, the way we treat each other sexually matters, the way we believe we should be treated sexually matters.

Then there is this….

In a world where women are repeatedly and consistently raped and abused, how dare we?

Oh, I’m angry. How dare we?

How dare we make light of the very real terror and horror that women have endured and are enduring? You talk to a woman who has been raped or sexually violated or beaten or abused and then try to tell me that it’s okay to be turned on by that. It is NOT okay. It is never okay, it never will be okay. Violence against women is epidemic and evil, it’s not to be mined for sexual pleasure. How dare we forget our sisters? How dare we make light of or sexualize for our own pleasures the unmitigated horror that is endured by women even at this moment? Whether in the context of a classroom power dynamic or a war torn refugee camp, women are preyed upon, groomed for abuse and abused in horrifying numbers in this way from the youngest to the oldest. There are women who believe they deserve to be treated in this way – think about that for a second.

From the account of creation in Scripture, we see that we are all made in the image of God. These acts are part of the Curse in the garden, right along with patriarchy: dominance and an absence of mutuality is not our identity in Christ.  Calling these acts by pithy acronyms or pontificating about consent don’t remove the inherent violence and evil of them.

What a tactic of the enemy – to take the very thing that is a curse upon us and twisting it to make it seem acceptable.

I don’t care if it’s soft patriarchy or BDSM, this is an example of the enemy twisting the very thing that enslaves us, the curse, a consequence of the Fall, and making us think it’s not only acceptable but sexy and desirable. We have been set free from walking in that oppression.

This post isn’t about Ghomeshi. Not really. We don’t know enough to make claims yet and it might very well be none of our business. We can only pray for true justice to be done now, however that shakes down.

But it is about the larger question – how do we view women? how do we treat women? how do we think about women? what is an acceptable way to treat another human being who is made in the image of God? and what do those things say about not only us but the God whom we claim to know? what does this say to the women among us who are abused and sexually violated?

We should be part of redemption, not part of promoting the acceptability of oppression.

 image source, used with permission

Continue Reading · Jesus Feminist, social justice, women · 234