Important Disclaimer

Since I currently have several employers/supervisors/churches/etc., please know that none of the words on my blog represent them or their beliefs. This blog is my own creation.

It also does not represent my children's perspective, nor my mother's; they think I am funny, but misguided.
(Quick update: only my mother thinks I'm funny now.)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Please Don't

Please don't.
     Why not?
I don't like it.
     But I do.
I didn't give you permission.
     I didn't ask, actually.
My point, exactly.
     Wait, what?

Please don't.
     Don't what?
This is my space.
     I know, it's nice here.
Step back, please.
     You're so hostile.
I'm not.
     And argumentative too.

Please don't.
     What's wrong with you?
I asked you to stop.
     Did something happen when you were a child?
That's not the point.
     If you don't tell me, how do I know if your request is valid?
This is a further violation.
     *nod* I can see you are damaged.

Get your arm off my chair.
     What? I always do this.
Please don't touch my body.
     It must be sad to be so wounded.
I asked you to stop.
     Stop what? This is how I am.
Step. Back. Get. Off. Let. Me. Be.
     If you asked nicer/clearer/politer, I could hear you better.

I miss the desert.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Arise, My Fair One

A sunrise in Florida (my photo)
This morning's sermon I have preached before. I defend myself with some words from G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy:

“A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

Sermon, Sunday June 23, 2013
by Katie Mulligan
(and thank you kindly for the invitation!)

Scripture Readings: Song of Songs 2:8-14 and Matthew 11:28-30

I beg your indulgence this morning as I read from Song of Songs. I know it wasn’t on your approved scripture list, but it was such a very long winter, and the storms were so bad. I thought this year that

Monday, June 17, 2013

Donkey Dung

Yesterday's post was about triggers ("Trigger Me This, Trigger Me That"). In the spirit of that, here's a trigger warning: I will be talking some about intimate violence in this post. I will also be talking about Redemptive Suffering--entered into with consent--but nevertheless a frightening, distasteful, and triggery subject. Your mental health is more important than reading this particular philosophical musing, so please feel free to close the window anytime.

Also, upon finishing this post, I realize there is a certain absurdity to engaging internet blog conflicts with the seriousness that I have here. Yet, social media is becoming a primary method of interaction and relationship; this conflict mirrors our face to face interactions in many ways.

In thinking through triggers I was also thinking through why women might enter "masculine spaces" (I really need to unpack this phrase, but today is not the day) and then claim to be triggered, describing abuse and generally making themselves vulnerable in spaces not particularly open to it. I wasn't wondering whether women should do this or judging whether it is effective. I was just thinking through the various reasons I myself might do this--and even why I myself blog about intimate violence in an open forum. There is an element of additional suffering in exposing oneself to the world.

So here's some possibilities--and again: not judging whether we should do this or whether it works. Just saying that I do it, have done it, and others do it as well, and thinking my way through what my/our purpose might be. If you doubt my own participation in this, here is a link to Intimate Violence posts on my blog. Let me just slap a trigger warning on that too.

The example I want to use comes from Tony Jones' blog post "Where Are the Women?" This is my last post on this particular kerfluffle. The first two posts can be found here and here.

Dr. Jones' question and comments section was highlighted by Ana Mardoll in her post, "The Cycle of Fauxgress", which I got to from @graceishuman's post, "When dudebros protest too much". Both of those posts are excellent. And pointed. With good reason.

The comments on this post, "Where Are the Women?" continue across several threads. What I've been able to glean is that one woman shared that she does not visit Dr. Jones' blog because his behavior (and that of his regular followers and commenters) reminds her of abusive men in her past. Dr. Jones

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Trigger Me This, Trigger Me That

Trigger Warning: Just a heads up I'm talking about triggers and I share some of my experiences. Just a heads up, do as you will.

So I've backspaced over the opening paragraphs to this post about 8 times in the last few hours. I've been working through some thoughts on triggers and redemptive suffering. I've blogged the last couple of days on a particular internet conflict, which you can find at "Elbow Room" and "Kissing Girls & Other Playground Games".

As I've been thinking through those posts, my thoughts turned toward triggers, and the way in which many of us women are navigating masculine spaces (and if there was ever a vague term that deserves unpacking, it would be "masculine spaces").

A lot of us women have had some downright terrifying experiences of sexual/spiritual/physical violence in our lives, most often perpetrated by men. I'm pretty uncomfortable with this generalization, seeing as how gender is a very flexible concept, but I've been pondering the idea of triggers in the context of male-identified bloggers asking where the women are.

Sometimes in my youth ministry work, people ask me, "Katie, why don't the youth come to Church/Potlucks/SewingCircles/CommitteeMeetings?" Actually, I was asked that today. I have a standard set of answers based on the 20 years I've been working with youth and families and the bunches of books and articles I've read. I usually spout those answers off. Sometimes I suggest a meeting with the youth to ask them. Those meetings usually suck.

I think my new response to people is going to be, "I'm not sure. Why do you think they aren't coming?" And then I'm going to hold us on point until we really examine what it is about our adult behavior that is closing the doors on relationship.

Why aren't the women present in larger numbers in Emergent circles? Why aren't women present in

Thar Be Dragons

I met her in Florida. She later hid under the algae,
but tho invisible, she was always present.
This sermon came about because I auctioned myself and the pulpit to raise money for my youth programs. the winner of the auction, one Mr. B, got to choose any scripture and I would preach on it. I made no promises that he would like the sermon, but I would preach the scripture. Mr. B chose Job 40-42.

As I was preparing for last Sunday's service, one of our members died, and I realized I would be preaching with folks who were grieving deeply in the moment. If you know something about Job, you may know that it's not the best scripture to whip out in the midst of fresh grief. "Gird up your loins like a man," is not pastoral care when someone has died, it's spiritual abuse.

The presence of one of our own grieving shaped this sermon. I believe both Mr. B and Mrs. E's family were pleased in the end. The Spirit has a ridiculous sense of humor, even in grief.

Sunday, June 9, 2013
Sermon by Katie Mulligan
preached at the Lawrence Road Presbyterian Church

Scripture Reading: Job 40-42

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Kissing Girls & Other Playground Games

Laura and Miriam Kiehl playing with a barrel,
Fort Lawton, Washington, February 20, 1899
I posted yesterday about "Elbow Room" and the idea that we are simultaneously called to make space for others and to claim space for ourselves where we have been denied. Today, as I was thinking about intersectionality and the complexity of what happened over at Tony Jones' blog ("I'm Tired of Being Called a Racist"), I stumbled upon Grace Ji-Sun Kim's blog. In her post, "Journey Towards Reimagination" she writes:
Much of my personal life intersects with race, religion, and gender issues. In some ways, the word intersects is too gentle. Perhaps collide better captures what occurs in my life as an Asian North American woman theologian, writer, minister, and mother. As I try to engage in theological dialogue, live in community with the dominant, unfamiliar culture, and raise my kids with concerns on how to be just in this world, I realize that the lives of all people, especially people of color, collide and clash with others on the critical issues of race, religion, and gender.
Collide and clash--I love this. It's messy to claim multiple intersections of identity. It seems to me that this is what happened when Dr. Jones responded to Dr. Cleveland's blog post, which was itself a response to public remarks Dr. Jones made at a conference. A collision and a clash, and the mess that went with it.

When I first saw Dr. Jones' post and the outraged tweets that inevitably went with it, I rolled my eyes. His blustery style takes more energy than I have to read most days. But I clicked over and read it, so it's my own fault I read the last line that said "and quit calling me a misogynist too." A few days later, I saw Dr. Jones' invitation to feminist Christians to guest post. And then I saw two men argue over the course of 30 or so comments about the definition of "ad hominem". This is why I spend no time on that

Friday, June 14, 2013

Elbow Room

"Ave B" by James Jowers, 1969
I am re-posting this essay for two reasons. First, it was originally a guest post for Anna Blanch (@goannatree on Twitter), but I noticed recently that her blog is no longer available. The idea of taking up space comes up again and again in my life, so I'm revisiting it.

Second, Tony Jones posted "An Invitation to Christian Feminists" on his blog last week, in response to a bit of a fuss/kerfluffle/pickle he created/landed-in on the topic of racism and misogyny. I have been pondering a response to this mess for several weeks now, but I have my own blog and prefer to post here. I have been carving out my own space--my elbow room--for a few years now on the internet.

I am weary/wary of our well-worn conversations around gender, race, and sexuality. I'll still have the conversations, but I sure wish we could find a new way through. I'm not interested in rehashing the blogposts or the twitter/blog comment discussions, but I am interested in making some space for Dr. Christena Cleveland, an academic focused on social psychology, faith, and reconciliation. Her blog was the inspiration for Dr. Jones' kerfluffle, but she has not responded to the fuss at all publicly. Dr. Cleveland is the author of Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart. It is set for release in November, and perhaps all of us caught up in the kerfluffle might take some time to read it. You can find her on twitter at @CSCleve.

In particular, this post by Dr. Cleveland's was helpful: "Listening Well as a Person of Privilege"

I'll note also that I reached out to Dr. Jones, and he listened. I appreciated that because I didn't have nice-nice things to say.

We have a long way to go before folks are comfortable with people of color and women taking up space in this world. It's going to be uncomfortable, because after a while people get tired of asking

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Two Cans of Tuna & Five Hot Dog Buns

Hungry Child Gets Piece of Bread From Soldier
Sunday, June 2, 2013
Sermon by Katie Mulligan

Scripture Readings: 1Kings 17:8-16
John 6:5-15

So, we have two stories this morning, one from Elijah’s time as a prophet of God and one from the days of Jesus. What they have in common is that some people were hungry, and a servant of God fed them. 

The prophet Elijah was a difficult man, as prophets are wont to be. Prophets have to do things like knock on the door of kings and queens and inform them that they are morally bankrupt. Prophets stand on street corners and declare that disaster will befall the nation if people do not repent of their terrible sins against the poor and the widowed. Prophets insist that there is another way to live outside of institutions and systems—that there is a way of abundance and plenty—that the kingdom of God is not limited, nor is love scarce, and that there can be food aplenty if we might share amongst ourselves. Prophets speak against their own churches in times of scarcity, to remind them that fear and hoarding only serve to exacerbate troubled times. And this is why prophets are generally driven out of town and thrown off a cliff. Nobody likes a prophet. They are annoying.

And so prophets often find themselves spending time in the marginal places of the world—the wilderness, outside the gates, on a deserted hillside. Elijah (whom King Ahab called “Troubler of