when i am a christian feminist in retrospect (#femfest day one)

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It happened, I suppose as all true things do---like falling in love and falling out of love and and conversion itself---in a sort of retrospect. I had been living and making a sort of life in the acceptance of the thing for so long, that it was not until a particular moment of being asked, outright, if I considered myself a feminist that I felt an obligation to have a particular articulation of my answer to the question.

Retrospect. I'm not sure where the beginning of this is, where the lines of belief and grace quite met, but I can say that it has something to do with the Eucharist, as most of the things I profess belief in do.

All those years ago now, when I sat in the parking lot of the Episcopal church in Waco, when I had told God that I didn't have words to form prayers anymore, when I had made my ultimatum that He would need to show up or I needed to stop doing this cycle of prayer and doubt and leaps and grace, and He came whisper-roar over the hills with, Go inside. Learn to pray again. I walked into a church where a woman presided over the Table, raised Body and Blood, called them the gifts of God, and she placed them into my hands, to my lips.

And I suppose, then, I became a feminist.

Not because of the woman, though she plays a part, but because of the Eucharist itself.

The Eucharist, Christ's body---whatever that means and, in all things retrospect, it depends on what day you ask me, though I say to hell with symbol and feel unease at literal flesh and re-sacrifice---unites in the sign of His grace, His radical overturning of systemic sin, His radical authority in all things, His radical self-giving, self-disclosing, self-effusing Presence in the midst of our ordinary.

He teaches us, as He taught us, as He spoke through prophets and poets and Law---which are, I sometimes think, all the sort of same kind of things just retold age to age---what it is to be human.

Truly human.

Human, in likeness and image of God, as St. Paul terms it, that being in Him, we must put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

And this made me a feminist. Well, in retrospect.

It took some time for me to see that the Old Testament suffers under the weight of patriarchy, that what God is going about in the New Testament is usurping not just the sin within us but the sin stitched into the cosmos, the oppressive institutions that enslave, or ensnare, or do whatever it is that results in seeing someone, as treating someone, as less than human.

Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.

Rebecca West. Shall we call her saint in her own right?

See, that's what made me a feminist.

Between the Eucharist and the recognition that women are, in fact, full persons in and through and by and for Jesus Christ.

And this is imperfect. This is unfolding. Women as pastors? Done. Resolved. I'm done discussing it, at least, as something I think still needs discussing. But, see, I come to this all in retrospect, I've come to an answer I can at least give when it comes up, and it does from time to time, when I'm washing dishes in a friend's house after a house party and I find that between the wine and the living, we've circled 'round to speaking of Him.

Yes, I am a feminist. But I am a Christian feminist. And whatever else that might mean or may mean or will mean tomorrow, it means that I believe that apart from Jesus, patriarchy is systemic, oppression will not be overthrown, and any labour toward equality, no matter how noble, will fall short of the glory of God.


This post is part of a series J.R. Goudeau, Danielle Vermeer, and I are thrilled to be hosting: a three-day synchroblog devoted to exploring feminism and its importance---and we're inviting you to join in!

You'll be able to hop between our three spaces this week to encounter different voices, perspectives, and stories. When you're tweeting, use the hashtag #femfest. We want to open a large conversation here and see what each of us has to offer and offer well.

Prompts and links:

  • {Day 1} Feminism and Me: On Tuesday, February 26, link up at J.R. Goudeau's blog, loveiswhatyoudo.com, and write about these questions: What is your experience with feminism? What's a story or a memory or a person that you associate with that word? Why does it have negative or positive connotations for you? How do you define the term, either academically or personally? What writers have you read whose definitions you want to bring out? Or, if you don't have a definition, what are some big questions you have?
  • {Day 2} Why It Matters: On Wednesday, February 27, link up at Danielle Vermeer's blog, fromtwotoone.com, and write about these questions: What is at stake in this discussion? Why is feminism important to you? Are you thinking about your children or your sisters or the people that have come before you? Or, why do you not like the term? What are you concerned we're not focusing on or we're losing sight of when we talk about feminism? Why do you feel passionately about this topic?
  • {Day 3} What You Learned: On Thursday, February 28, link up at Preston Yancey's blog, seeprestonblog.com, and write about these questions: What surprised you this week? What did you take away from the discussion? What blog posts did you find particularly helpful? What questions do you still have?

Ready to join in? Head over to J.R's space!

(Image source.)