i heart america

I fell back in love with my country yesterday.

A country that I fell out of love with in high school. I think it was the moment I was informed that the United States was bombing Iraq. No, I don’t think, I know it. I was at youth group playing sardines and I ran to the women’s restroom and sobbed. Images of trucks with American flags after 9/11 and the far too easy chorus of America the Great, instead of questioning filled my head. It was a year in the making and as human lives were lost in Iraq I mourned.

I have not loved my country for half of my life, and certainly none of my adult life. I saw glimpses of hope in the Obama administration and I came close, but still love eluded me.

Growing up, my mom would wistfully say that I should have been born in the 1970s, that’s where my spirit was. I am at my root a person of questioning, a theologian (theology is faith seeking understanding) who doesn’t assume that authority has the truth automatically. But, my mother is unfortunately wrong and the past few years have proven it. The rights that my foremothers fought for in the 1970s have been whittled down, dismantled, and the dream of equality is still not a reality.

But, the 2010s are here and I have finally found my entry into effective activism. It took me until my 30s, but I am here. My time studying theology has engrained the radical justice of the Bible, my time in the marketing department of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington gave new meaning of what it can be to be an American, my time at the Methodist Federation of Social Action taught me how to be both Christian and American, and my time at Faith in Public Life got me to DC in a time such at these.

I should have been born when I was born.

The past few months have been hard on my soul, but through refusing to sit down, rooting my justice work in the gospel, marching for justice I am finding my way.

Seeing the 1/2 million women who rallied and marched in Washington, DC cleared my mind and filled my heart. Hearing from friends across the nation who marched and rallied in major cities, and small ones. Even friends who live outside of the United States joined. Millions took a stand and practiced our American values chanting: Tell me me what democracy looks like! THIS is what democracy looks like.

I fell back in love with my country yesterday. The hope and possibility of a justice nation seeking out to embrace of of humanity was evident. As a person of faith, I saw a glimpse of the Kin-dom of God, the Beloved Community, and I will continue to dedicate my life to actualizing that hope and possibility.

make america great again, more like keep America patriarchal

This post will be one of many for me exploring/reflecting on the past week in America as I grapple with the devastation I feel, my privilege as white and straight, concern about my body as a woman, and finding my hope again.

In high school I read The Portrait of Dorian Gray and a few days ago, I realized that novel was now my metaphor for America. For those of you not familiar with the novel by Oscar Wilde, it’s about a beautiful man who is painted and wishes to remain beautiful, to age through the painting. In his quest for beauty, he becomes cruel and it reflects on the painting. Gray continually does the wrong thing, purposefully at times, and the painting becomes heinous, where it is locked up in an attic. Tuesday night, America the Beautiful was revealed and we are more like the painting hidden in the attic than the ideal of democracy. Our collective sins have been illuminated and nation’s ugliness revealed.

What strikes me about this, is that it wasn’t as if people didn’t known that Gray was cruel, people had suffered at his hands, a woman died, yet, it was hidden away. People knew, people were complacent. What do we do now that we see America for what it is?

America is a patriarchal society. Period. We have not transcended to a nation where all are equal, we were build on the backs of the displacement of our Native Peoples and the enslavement of Africans, while treating women as property. White, cisgendered, straight men were lifted up, given a voice and power, and have yet to share it with the rest of society. But we know this, I have lived in Seattle, in the progressive haven of the West. How could the rest of America not have Indigenous Peoples Day? Have voter registration that is simple and accessible? Care about telling the truth during a political debate? Believe that Black Lives Matter? Believe that religious liberties are not only for conservative Christians? Who are these people subscribing to the patriarchal systems that make America ugly?

Before the election, I tried to understand the Donald Trump phenomenon that was sweeping the Republican Party and years before, the Tea Party. My white, middle class, college educated brain couldn’t fathom. Then the woman who I had supported throughout the primaries, had spoken for during my caucus, lost. I went to bed shocked and woke up crying in fetal position.

I failed to love my neighbor as myself. As much as a Trump presidency affects me as a woman in her reproductive years, it is nothing compared to my fellow Americans who are not Christian, who are immigrant or migrant workers, who are people of color, whose love is not bound by heteronormative expressions, and those struggling to make ends meet.

The patriarchal system of sin we live in, has been voted into office. Hope has been replaced by fear, and we will not be stronger together because Trump wants to divide us, pitting us against each other because he, and many others, is afraid of losing power. For the most part, America has seemed safe. For a white, cisgendered straight woman, it felt like home. American doesn’t feel that way today and for many of it’s citizens it never did.

America is ugly and now we need to deal with that. It’s been ugly and for those of us finally seeing it for the first time, we cannot turn away.

Those of us with unearned privilege must roll up our sleeves after we process this. It’s past time, but we need to seek understanding and be firming rooted in America’s next steps. The patriarchal system must be dismantled and it will take all hands on deck. It’s going to take a long time, it’s not going to be a quick fix. Mourn America the beautiful. Take the time you need, but come January 1st. It’s time to get to work.

beginning to reclaim the word tremendous

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people ruin things for me; whether it be restaurants, boots, wearing the color white, my initials, scripture, games… It rubs me the wrong way. A few years ago I decided I was done with the seemingly irredeemable and contentiously started reclaiming certain areas of my life. I reclaimed places I went with an ex, started wearing boots again, began looking more critically at scripture, and started this blog. Reclaiming is a part of my process and journey in life.

This post is almost a week late, but better late than never. The below is something I tweeted during the second Presidential Debate. Mr. Donald Trump, I don’t even want to go into my feelings about him and sexual assault right now, kept using the word tremendous.

After watching Trump in two debates, countless speeches and parodies (nailed it Alec Baldwin), I realized during the last debate that perhaps the word tremendous needed to be reclaimed because whenever I hear the word now I cringe.

But what does tremendous really mean? I felt so gaslighted by Trump I had to look it up to double check.

 very large or great or very good or excellent

Merriam-Webster

Or…

a combination between horrendous and terrible

Urban Dictionary

I feel that America is associating tremendous with the less classical definition aka the one from the always delightful Urban Dictionary.

However, proper uses of the word are as follows:

  1. He has a tremendous amount of energy.

  2. The engine’s power is tremendous.

  3. She is a writer of tremendous talent.

  4. We had a tremendous time.

Merriam-Webster

Trump when speaking seems to use tremendous about himself in the Merriam-Webster sense of the word, but factually, he probably should be using the Urban Dictionary form of the word. He isn’t a very good or excellent politician, his businesses aren’t doing excellent, and his morals are horrendous and terrible. Yet, he keeps saying he and the things he does is so very tremendous.

So how do we stop cringing when the word is used in vain? Does reclamation need to wait until after November 8th? Or maybe we need to start using it more. Here are some of my attempts of reclaiming tremendous.

  • Hillary Clinton is a tremendous politician.
  • The work that Hillary Clinton has done has tremendously helped women in America and all over the global community.
  • Hillary Clinton will be a tremendous President.

It feels pretty good reclaiming it, but at the same time, tremendous is such a great word that maybe it should be used sparingly. How would you reclaim tremendous?