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A foot in two kingdoms

Well gentle readers, it’s happened again – someone has expressed displeasure with my book “holy cards: dead women talking.” I find it passing strange that these are the first negative comments I’ve heard about the book, and they’ve come four years after its release. In any event, I felt I needed to say something on my FaceBook page about it, and I’ve reprinted those comments below…

In the past two weeks, two people have told me that they read or perused my book “holy cards: dead women talking,” and were surprised (I think “shocked” would be more accurate) that I would write such a book. One of them said they would have to have “a little talk” with me about it. I completely understand. “holy cards” is not for everyone, and it’s certainly not a devotional book. But yes, I did write it and it is clear evidence that I live, like many poets of faith, with a foot in two kingdoms.

I come from an institution that bars me from the priesthood because I am a woman, and tells me it is the will of God that it be so, and the example of Christ confirms it. This same Christ who was companioned by women through his Passion and death when the male disciples scattered. This same Christ who commissioned a woman to proclaim and preach the Resurrection to the male disciples still cowering behind locked doors. This same Christ who welcomed Mary of Bethany when she left the kitchen and took her place at his feet alongside the male disciples, adding she had chosen the better part and it would not be taken away from her. This same Christ who accepted the anointing of the nameless woman who transformed him from Jesus of Nazareth to Jesus the Christ when the male disciples could see only waste.

The Church told me women are holy when they submit like the Mother of Jesus, strangely overlooking the fact that Mary was proud and pregnant in her betrothal year, making her an object of scandal and gossip in the eyes of everyone in her small town. The suspicion of adultery and illegitimacy would haunt her and her child throughout their lives.

The Church told me women are holy when they suffer. Then we must be holy indeed after generations of injustice, discrimination, subordination, and violence. I was made to feel that finding a voice and using it in protest was somehow unchristian, and demanding equality not nearly as blessed as suffering in silence.

I respectfully disagree.

Yes, “holy cards: dead women talking” is a howling. The voices of the women are my voice, raised in outrage and defiance. Like all writers, I have renounced the luxury of privacy in favour of putting down on paper for all to see my doubts, my confusion, my anger and despair, all my frail humanity. And sometimes it ain’t pretty. But it’s me, being true to myself and if there is any value to my writing, it lies in that honesty.

By the same token, when I stand in the pulpit to preach, I hold up the truths and lessons of the Gospel I love, and freely admit I often fail to reach that to which I aspire. And sometimes that ain’t pretty either. But that’s where I live, smack dab in between these two worlds.

In the meantime, I pray the centre will hold, that I will find the strength to abide the ambiguity, and live out the contradictions in my life with some measure of grace. So come, my friends. Let’s talk. And I will listen with an open heart and learn from your wisdom. And then I’ll hope you’ll understand when I must attend to that other Voice, the one who bids me take up my pen.

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One Comment

  1. Chris Bennett
    Posted March 11, 2014 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Well said – written- little sister!

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