Tuesday, July 28, 2015

7 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Mary Magdalene

Our church celebrated the Feast of Mary Magdalene on Sunday, and it was wonderful. I have always found Mary to be fascinating, an unmarried woman, singled out by name in all four Gospels. I am certainly not alone in my fascination - there is quite a mythology around Mary Magdalene.

Our rector's sermon about Mary Magdalene was excellent, and some of my material is derived from it.

Without further ado, here are some myths about Mary Magdalene!

1. Mary Magdalene is a prostitute. There is no evidence that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. (If you are Catholic, I understand that you evaluate certain evidence differently. I respectfully disagree with you on this point).

2. Mary Magdalene was Jesus' wife. There is no evidence that Jesus was married, or that He was married to Mary Magdalene in particular.

3. Mary Magdalene had a child with Jesus. Let me just say it: Dan Brown is intellectually dishonest. This myth has no support. 

I'd like to pause here and point out that these myths are very concerned with Mary Magdalene's sex life. It seems that we very much want to know who Mary Magdalene was having sex with. Is this because the idea of a celibate woman drives men mad with frustration - the ultimate forbidden fruit? Is it because a celibate single woman exercising power and agency is threatening to men?

4. Mary Magdalene was the sister of Lazarus. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived in Bethany, not Magdala.

5. Mary Magdalene was the woman who washed Jesus' feet with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair. It's likely that the woman who did this was named Mary. The evidence supports that. But given that Mary Magdalene in every other instance is introduced with her identifier, Magdalene, it is highly unlikely that she was the woman with the perfume.

6. Mary Magdalene had hair all over her body. Part of the myth of Mary is that she fled to Gaul to escape persecution and lived in a cave. While there, her clothing disintegrated, but her natural modesty caused her to sprout thick hair all over her body.

7. Mary Magdalene was not a disciple. We like to focus on the chosen Twelve, the men. But the Gospel accounts are extremely clear on two points: There were many disciples with Jesus who weren't part of the Twelve; some of those people were women. In Acts, we learn that not only were there many more than the Twelve, there were many who had been with Jesus from the beginning of His ministry and witnessed his resurrection: enough that the Twelve felt comfortable choosing a replacement for Judas.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Feminism and Sunday Shoes, II

We can all agree that the practice of foot binding is horrific, inhumane, and barbaric. The very idea that we should deliberately break the toes and footbones of a 5 year old girl in order to reshape the foot into an entirely impractical and artificial form for the purpose of beauty is awful. It’s important to note that foot binding also effectively crippled women, restricting them to upper rooms and sedan chairs. Chinese women who had to work outside used a form of false binding because their families couldn’t afford to lose that labor.
And yet, in the 21st century we have invented our own form of foot binding. We don’t inflict it on unwilling 5 year olds, but it is a sign of sexual maturity, economic prosperity, and a desire to please others at the expense of comfort. Of course I mean high heels. 

High heels are notoriously uncomfortable. Just watch any fashion show and you’ll hear someone say, “Oh, and these heels are actually comfortable.” No one says that about a fleece Snuggie or oversized sweatshirt. And if you’ve ever worn heels, you know this to be true. Why else would so many women wear socks and tennis shoes on their commute, changing into their foot bindings once at the office?

High heels are also extremely bad for your body, specifically your posture and spine. They can cause bunions, hammertoe, plantar fasciitis, and pain. Men’s shoes don’t deform their feet, why should women’s?

High heels are also impractical for walking. Not only do they impair a woman’s balance, they distort her posture by shortening the back calf muscle, thrusting out her buttocks, and shortening the amount of contact her foot has with the ground. Go ahead - Google walking in high heels and you'll find these 2 articles. I really can't decide which one is more insulting! 

There’s a reason we applaud Ginger Rogers for doing everything Fred Astaire did, “backwards and in heels.” Doing anything in heels is difficult. Even models, whose expertise includes walking in heels, fall flat at times!
How does this rant relate to feminism and Sunday shoes? Well, the feminism connection should be obvious. 
Why would we wear shoes that impair our ability to walk to a workplace? 
Why don’t we have enough self-esteem to say, “No, I’m not going to purchase an item that harms me no matter how pretty it is!”?

I have a four year old daughter. And I love to dress her up on Sundays for church. When she was an infant, I adored the classic gowns her grandparents gave her. I dressed her in pastels with lacy ruffled socks and lacy bonnets. I even put useless little Sunday shoes on her tiny feet, little soft black or white Mary Janes with no structure at all. As she started walking, I made sure to buy her a good sturdy pair of every day shoes, spending as much as $50 to make sure her feet were properly supported and there was no risk of blisters, but then I would buy cheap dress shoes. Who can spend $50 on shoes that only get worn once a week?

And now I wonder, what am I teaching her? She’s old enough to know that she wears special shoes on Sunday, shoes that are “dressy” and go with her outfit better. She has learned that shoes transcend function. I have my limits. I don’t buy anything with any kind of heel (and yes, they have heel shoes that would fit a 4 year old). 
The Payless website I just linked to actually states: "For girls, mastering the art of wearing heels is an important part of growing up." 

Excuse me, I have to go barf now.
When will we stop binding our feet? When will we accept that wide toes and long feet are beautiful exactly as they are? 

For now, I'm focused on making sure my daughter knows that her clothes must function well first and foremost. That if she chooses to wear her rainboots on a Sunday, that's OK with me.

So I may not continue to buy her Sunday shoes. Or I might.

But one thing I will do: I will make sure her shoes and her Sunday clothes are appropriate for running, playing, jumping, AND going to church.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Top 7 Things Picky Eaters Don't Want to Hear (Again)

I'm a picky eater. I was born that way. For a long time, I accepted it. I never challenged myself to try new foods or consider other options. And then, after college, I decided to branch out. I grew bold. I tried salad dressings, Chinese food, Moroccan food, Mexican food, Korean food, condiments, and new meats, fruits, and vegetables.

I discovered that I am still a picky eater. I dislike most salad dressings, Mexican food, anything spicy, all condiments, bitter vegetables, and some fruits.

I am not alone, however! Picky eaters (toddlers as well as adults) are legion, and we are tired of hearing the same old thing over and over! So here are the top 7 statements that we picky eaters don't like hearing!

7. You just haven't had any GOOD _____.
Look, I've been to more Mexican restaurants than I can count, and I don't like Mexican food. Just because it's authentic or high quality doesn't mean it appeals to my tastebuds.

6. Have you ever tried _____?
Yes, yes I have. But you know what, even if I haven't, that's not really relevant. Until we are in some kind of famine situation, I have a right to decide what I will and won't eat. I ain't never gonna eat sushi, and I refuse to feel bad about that!

5. Oh, this version isn't spicy/fatty/bland.
When I say I can't eat spicy food, I mean it. If there's too much black pepper in a meal, I break a sweat. I get that you want to share this culinary experience with me, but can we share something else instead?

4. But it's SO GOOD!
I'm sure it is. If it were disgusting, it probably wouldn't be available. But it really just isn't so good to me!

3. Oh, your poor spouse.
Yes, my poor unfortunate husband. He never gets to eat Mexican food or sushi (except for lunch, or dinner when I'm out of town). I'm sure that given the choice, he'd rather be alone and eat Mexican food every night. Husbands and wives are capable of eating independently of each other. I mean, it would be one thing if I married a sushi chef (is that what they're called?), but I married a regular guy who has tastes different from mine.

2. You're eating THAT?
I like my burgers plain - meat and bun. And people stare at my delicious, simple burgers as though I have loaded them down with dead leaves and centipedes!

1. Oh, can we go to [insert name of least favorite restaurant here]? I've got a coupon.
If I don't offer guidance as to what I like and dislike when discussing meal plans, my least favorite foods invariably get picked as options! It's totally my fault for being so picky, but it's just so awkward - I hate to sound like a prima donna when someone asks me what I like to eat.

Obviously, this post is meant in fun - this is NOT a big problem.
And I bet that people on special diets hear the same comments - what do you say, vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free people, allergy-ridden people? What do you hear all the time about food?

Friday, July 10, 2015


I’m thinking about ordination again. Haven’t I learned my lesson? I’ve been scrutinized and found wanting by two churches now, and yet I’m thinking about ordination again.

Is this a calling? Is that what it means? It’s not a desire for personal glory, to stand at the front of a church and be seen as some kind of holy person. It’s not a desire to consecrate the sacraments. It’s pastoral, shepherd like in nature. I don’t want to consecrate the bread and wine, but I do want to be able to perform marriages. I don’t want to preach, but I do want to go into the world and teach non Christians about my faith – to show them that the ignorant hateful nonsense that is spewed in the name of my beloved Jesus is NOT Christianity.

I just read through the ordination process to become a Deacon in the Episcopal church. It’s not a light thing. It will take a few years. It requires a 10 month internship at a church that is not my home church. Ten months attending church away from my family? That gives me pause. At least three times during the process, I have to earn the approval of my church’s parish committee and vestry. Did I mention I’ve already been found wanting by two churches? Found wanting in secret meetings where I was not allowed to speak or explain myself?

Why would I even consider this? I have my ministry, in the form of my business. I have my evangelism, in a form that is authentic for me. I am among people who have rejected God, pouring God’s love on them without saying the name of Jesus who gives it. I have no need for letters after my name or a title. And yet, I want to be affiliated with the Episcopal church. I want to represent something concrete and beautiful.

Do I want to pursue ordination?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Feminism and Sunday Shoes

I was thinking about my daughter's Sunday shoes the other day. When it comes to church clothes, I'm a pretty traditional southern mom. I break out the white mary janes each Easter, and replace them with black ones in September. This year, I broke with my own tradition and bought her some adorable Lelli Kelly shoes for church - beautiful canvas mary jane style tennis shoes covered with beading. Still just for church, and still dressy.
As I was thinking about her upcoming birthday, I realized that she would very likely want to wear her brand new galoshes this Sunday. At first I thought, "darn, I'll have to talk her out of that." But then I questioned myself.
After all, women's shoes are incredibly unhealthy, on the whole. Whenever I shop, I'm forced to choose between wearability or fashion. It's the 21st century, people! Why should I cripple myself to look "good"? And what are my daughter's Sunday shoes teaching her about shoes and fashion?
By upgrading her dress shoes to a particular pair, am I teaching her that to look good, you must wear different shoes from every day? Yes, but I'm OK with that. But are the shoes I pick out comfortable? Do they stay on her feet and allow her to run and play? Because if not, then what am I teaching her? I'm pretty sure I'm teaching her that fashion restricts her activity and movement, and that I'm OK with that.
Am I overthinking? Sure! As a mom, I'm pretty sure that's part of my job description. Will it be the end of the world if she wears stillettos to her prom? Nope.
Just my random musings on how feminism affects not only my clothing decisions, but how I clothe my daughter as well.