Mostly Naked Skeleton-Like Women Looking Almost Dead in Some Sand

February 14, 2007

0213_illustrated_si_275.jpg

I saw an ad/video clip thing about the new Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition that is about to come out. I didn’t watch the video, but based on the picture that you see here (which was the “cover” to the video clip), I thought that maybe Sports Illustrated would like some help thinking of creative subtitles for the swimsuit edition. If the whole “Mostly Naked…” one doesn’t work for you, please feel free to suggest others. I was also thinking that “Mostly Naked Starved Sickly Women Who Have Collapsed from Hunger In the Sand” might work too…

While I am being sarcastic, I do mean to be quite serious about the issues that such sickly (not to mention drugged-looking) models bring up about body image, sexuality, and women. I find pictures such as the one below simply irresponsible. Magazines, companies, models, Hollywood, beauty companies, etc. are not somehow immune to the moral responsibility that comes with distributing anything to the public or being in the public eye, particularly when it influences younger people who often do not have the ability or will to be able to sort out the messages that something like the below picture c

onveys. I know that I, raised as a feminist, was still deeply impacted by the images of women and beauty like the one below and I know of no women in my culture who was not similarly impacted. But, as with so many things, I can’t think of a good way to legislate moral responsibility when it comes to bodies, body image, and perceptions of beauty. So I am just left to blog about it and do my little part. Which feels so little sometime. Sigh.


Transition

February 13, 2007

Hi all. This blog is in transition from my Blogger blog over at http://internelizabeth.blogspot.com. Eventually this blog will also appear at www.elizabethslittleblog.com but for now the old Blogger blog remains there until I get it all worked out.

For the time being, I’ll post both places until I am sure that things have transitioned smoothly. One difficult thing is that the imported pictures from Blogger do not line up correctly with the captions in the WordPress import, and my html isn’t good enough to fix it and moving things around in the “what you see is what you get” mode doesn’t work to fix things. But mostly it was a very smooth transition. Feel free to offer comments on the layout. It is maybe somewhat in progress. I don’t like the big quotations that appear when I indent or do a block quote, but this seems to otherwise be the layout that works best for me. Maybe I’ll just have to suck it up and live with the super big quotes.

That’s all for now. Let me know if you see kinks in the new blog. E


a prayer

February 11, 2007

For each Sunday service I write a prayer/meditation for service. I think I will start sharing them here. This is for tomorrow, so if you are from FUUSM and don’t want to know the prayer ahead of time, stop reading now.

god whose name is not god,
spirit whose love exceeds our comprehension,
we ask that you are with us as week journey through this life,
through this week.

it is hard to be the person we want to be.
it is hard to be the community that we would like to be.
the work of love and justice often makes for weary souls,
and sometimes broken hearts.

While we know that it is only in learning to be at peace with ourselves that we can be peace within the world…

this is just very hard.

a life imagined and a life envisioned,
is sometimes very different than a life lived.

this morning, we ask for the serenity that we need to love our life as it is.
to find peace in the bumps and challenges and pains and aches and beauty and joy that is all mixed up together.

let us learn and work to focus on those things in our life that we can be grateful for.

let us learn to let the waves of sorrow wash over us, and have the strength and the peace to be washed anew, baptized by the waters of life that are gentle and rough and beautiful and dark all at the same time.

god whose name is not god,
spirit whose love exceeds our comprehension,

be with us as we do that hard work of love and justice.
we seek gratitude for the joys of our life.
we seek comfort for our aches.
we seek love and peace for our souls.

amen and blessed be.

*Please feel free to use in a religious service with no attribution. If you repost online, please include attribution to this blog and a link.


Darkness: Finding a Balance Between Being Real and Over-sharing

February 5, 2007

So this morning I gave a sermon titled Living With Darkness. This was the description:

Many people come to church or come to a religion when they are hurting – when they are struggling, looking for answers, or going through a difficult time. This morning’s sermon deals with those times of darkness in our lives – how do we bring this to our faith, or bring our faith to our darkness? How can we make space in church to talk about depression, addiction, or aching emptiness? And how can our personal stories of healing open up space for others to share, learn, and be at peace with the darkness that will inevitably be part of all of our lives?

I raised (although did not solve!) the issue of how we bring our darkness and our struggles to our faith. I actually mentioned this post over at Trivium that mentioned the Christian (more charasmatic-ish) tradition of testifying – of sharing with the congregation one’s struggles and problems, and offering those struggles and that darkness up to God, and, implicitly, to the community. This often involved sharing how God had helped with the problem, but not always. The Trivium blog brilliantly called this “joys and concerns amplified” which cracked me up. Amplified, I think is such an understatement. But anyway. I digress.

The point is that it is one thing to point out that many Unitarian Universalists struggle with difficult things in their life and are somewhat reserved in sharing this with each other – there is a lot of judgment, even with the most loving wonderful congregations, with issues like depression, addiction, financial struggles, or abuse. It is another thing to suggest what should be done about this sort of properness that surrounds how we share our struggles and woundedness.

Over at Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, in the context of writing about post-Christian worship, Dan Harper points out that Joys and Concerns is often a challenge and not an appropriate venue for congregations to deal with the struggles that individuals face. He writes:

At the most basic level, if you can no longer count on gaining a deep connection with God during post-Christian worship, there may be a desire to find other ways to have some kind of intimate relationship. On another level, it is likely that some people confuse private devotions, which are personal and intimate and revealing of the deepest secrets of the self, with common worship, where the needs of the common good must take precedence over, or at least balance with, the needs of the self. Similarly, it is likely that people confuse the experience of small support groups, where a semi-public confession about one’s personal problems may be made, with common worship (for example, when the “candles of joy and concern” serve merely as an inappropriate public confession of very private matters). Other things that can contribute to a cult of false intimacy include: the increased secularization of the wider culture and a concomitant ignorance of the purposes of common worship; the spread of false intimacy throughout the wider culture.

One of the questions that I have is what “inappropriate public confession of very private matters” means. Of course, there certainly are inappropriate things that one would not want to bring to joys and concerns. As I pointed out in my sermon, I am not calling for everyone to come up to joys and concerns next week and share their deepest struggle or secret.

But, what I am looking for is a way for my congregation to find ways that we can bring our more difficult, less-polished selves to church – to our church community. I think one of the reasons that evangelical Christianity has such appeal is because it does give people a way to say, “Oh, Lord, I am struggling. I am hurting and aching and I need healing.” How can we develop a Unitarian Universalist version of this where people who are in great pain can feel comfortable bringing that to our church? Not only people who already have a support system in the community, but the person down the street who has no church home and needs a place to go after her mom dies? Or the teenager whose boyfriend broke up with her after she got pregnant and had an abortion? Or the single, middle-aged man who has no church home, but is longing for something in the midst of a very difficult, empty, lonely time in his life? Do we just say, look you need to see the minister for pastoral counseling? I guess I want to find a way for our churches to be less proper and decent and “appropriate” in how we handle the darkness of people’s lives. It all seems so controlled. I don’t have an answer, and I acknowledge that, for instance, joys and concerns gone haywire with tearful confessions and such is not what we are looking for.

Yet – how can we invite people into our faith communities and really mean and really say it is okay to be broken. And wounded. With all that comes with that –

Or, is it that if you are too messed up, you might want to go down to the evangelical church in across town where you can be messed up and they will take you, but before you come to our churches, you need to have your stuff a little bit more together and be ready to be on some sort of committee….

Hard questions. Way harder answers.


(One of the) Best Seminarian Blog(s) – Whoo-Hoo

February 5, 2007

Hey folks. Exciting stuff over at the UU Blog Awards. This little blog won first place in the seminarian blog category, but was nominated with several other seminarian blogs that are quite deserving of the award as well. So yay for all the nominees and winners. And thank you for those who voted for this little blog. Its been a fun year and amazing to read all the wonderful other thinkers and writers out there in this faith of ours. I’ve loved getting to know the blogging community and learned so much. And had some great laughs as well. Off to the library – I’m taking Explorations in the Colonial and Post-Colonial History of the Veil, and continuing three whole-year classes – a colloquium on religion and gender, my thesis writing (which counts as a class), and Early Christianities and the body. Exciting stuff. But lots of reading.

Much peace,
Elizabeth


All the Cats are Saved

February 1, 2007

Well, for those of you who follow my cat rescuing adventures, we currently have all five abandoned cats in our extra room (see a few posts ago for the situation – how we got them, where they come from, etc.). Everyone has had shots, dental work (a lot of acute gingivitis), tests, check-ups and so on. A big thank you to some UFETA donors who helped to cover the cost of everyone’s medical care (which, by the way, was not cheap even with a 50% discount) and to Second Chance Shelter in Jamaica Plain who has helped to adopt Abby out and helped pay for the cost of the medical care. Goldie had frostbite, which was sad because it is quite painful. Everyone had fleas and earmites. Poor kitties’ ears are all red and Goldie was also allergic to the fleas he had, so he had sores and scabs from that. It is clear that the little guys are SO content and happy to be in a warm, clean, safe place. They LOVE to be rubbed (except Bigfoot/Marisol who is veerryyy temperamental). Mama Calico threw up today, all yellow looking bile (sorry to be gross) which does concern me a bit. So she may have to go back to the vet. But the point is that everyone is doing well and it was, I think, the most compassionate and caring thing to do to get them treatment and care for them (a few posts back you can see that I was considering whether or not euthanasia would be a more compassionate option since they are quite old and will likely never be adopted). The three older ones are moving to a great shelter where they don’t use cages and they will get medical care and human love and interaction. The two younger ones will be adopted to loving homes. They love to purr and the two younger ones love to chase the ping pong ball. Here are some pictures.

J.R.

JR sleeping

Goldie and Mama Cat

Mama Calico and Goldie

Comforting Goldie

This is me sleeping next to Goldie on the floor trying to comfort him because he was yowling the whole night and Wolfgang had to work the next day so I went in to try to get him to calm down and fell asleep. Wolfgang found me and took a picture.

Marisol

Marisol, also known as big foot since she has seven claws and seven paw pads on both front feet.

goldie-and-mama.jpg

Goldie greeting his mom Calico after she was caught several days after him. Once his brother and Mom joined him, he stopped yowling all the time. Thank goodness.


Let’s Aim for at Least Fifth Place

February 1, 2007

So the UU blog awards are going on here and I would just like to humbly ask for some votes – I don’t actually feel like Elizabeth’s Little Blog needs to WIN but my goal is not to come in very last or with, like, seven votes when the winning entry gets, say, 100 or so votes. Let’s go for fifth place people! Of course, vote with your heart. If you think that another blog deserves the vote (even if it means total humiliation coming in last place), well, follow your conscience. I can take it.

Results: http://uupdates.net/uublogawards/votes
Voting: http://uupdates.net/uublogawards/

(you can only vote one time from your particular computer, as if you would ever try to cheat in the UU blog awards by voting two times)


A Great Start (not)

February 1, 2007

This would be funny if it wasn’t real.

Senator Joseph Biden, who is silly enough to think he has a chance against Hilary Clinton and Barak Obama in the Democratic primary, started off his campaign by pointing out, among other things, that he thinks that Obama is “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” Yes, that’s actually what he said.

According to the New York Times, Jesse Jackson, who ran against Biden in the 1988 Democratic primary “pointed out that he had run against Mr. Biden for the 1988 Democratic nomination, and had lasted far longer and drawn more votes than did Mr. Biden.”

Obama noted that he “didn’t take it personally and I don’t think he intended to offend.” But good old Barak noted also that the “way he constructed the statement was probably a little unfortunate.”

Unfortunate, huh? I would say probably a little racist. And a little stupid.