Peggy is a Psychology Instructor at Chemeketa and a Licensed Professional Counselor.
I do believe He was resurrected. Bodily. On the third day.
I will always believe this.
For many reasons,but foundationally, fundamentally, deal-breakingly because I will not betray the women.
All the Gospels say that Magdalen and a few other women were the first witnesses. Mark, the first writer says that they were not believed. Matthew leaves that little shame out. John inserts Peter and most likely himself into the story and does not mention incredulity . Luke tries to make amends. Luke is interesting. Tradition says he was a physician in Antioch. Tradition says that Antioch is where Mary, His mother fled. Luke has stories, like the birth story, that are women's stories.
Luke says that "Their words seemed like non-sense (idle tales) and they believed them not."
They were not legal witnesses - no woman was.
What a betrayal that must have been, or maybe they were just used to it.
The Eleven must have felt embarrassed a short time later. I hope they apologized.
Well I guess some of them did. The earliest writer put it in the story. It would have been so easy to forget. To erase. Matthew and John seemed to do so. But Luke was not letting them get away with it. He put the radical, groundshaking witnesses in the story, and he documented the shame of their brothers. If you were cleaning up a myth to make people look good, you would take that bit out. The fact that Luke leaves that in has the ring of truth. It is making amends, which always comes out of a place of truth
Others could have erased it later. But no one did. Not the first tellers of the story, or the first writers, or the the sucessive copiers.
The Nicene Council - Patriarchs all - chose to believe the women, and document their witness and leave in the shame.
And for two millennial no Pope or Patriarch, potentate or preacher has been able to wipe those women out of the story. No one has had the nerve. Until lately.
I will not discredit the voice of Magdalen, nor her spiritual mothers and sisters.
I will not stand with the unbelieving brothers, the skeptics.
I will not turn them into metaphor, or allegory or hagiography.
I will not let my modernist sensibilities black ball their words in shadow - Less than other words, even the words of the Master.
I won't make them smaller. Their part has been shrunk enough.
I won't discount them. They are already a bargain.
I know what it is like to not be believed when telling the Gospel Truth.
I also know what it is like to create metaphor, and allegory, and hagiography.
I have told tales and sold nonsense. I, a story teller, know the difference.
These women told the most important truth ever told.
And if their witness is discounted in my presence, I will not be silent.
Because I believe them. Quite Literally.
A poem for the Apostola Apostolorum
Joyfully Subversive - the collection
From 2010, when I had y own moto in Bujumbura, Burundi - Daniella Hayo was my exquisite Charge D'Affairs.
One of our favorite moto games is shopping downtown.
Certain types of shopping, I never do, because the prices triple when I show my face. So Dani does my purchasing for me. This allows us to act out a wonderful charade on the local stage.
It is odd for me to be on the moto - that we have well established. But the conundrum that is Dani, is not as well plumbed.
The moto boys are pretty sure that I am not a commercial enterprise. But sometimes they wonder, they have seen different people on my pillion. The back seat is the seat of the purchaser, the usual power position. But white is power up, and old is power up, and we subvert both those paradigms when Dani is behind me. It confuses them.
We compound this when we shop. I ride up to the moto stand, and discharge Dani then pull into line with the rest of the boys. She hands me her helmet and says in nice Kirundi “Please wait, I won’t be long.” I say “Oui, Mademoiselle” They are confounded. They try and quiz me, but I have no Kirundi, Well, I can say “Sindabizi Ikirundi” which ironically means “I can’t speak Kirundi.” Their puzzlers are puzzed.
I twiddle my thumbs and watch traffic just like they do. When Dani comes back with her packages, I say “Iko Wapi?” Where to? In Kiswahili. She replies “Home, please” in her nice French and I say “OK” in universal, And I grin at the boys, and off we go.
“Who IS that GIRL????
“How does she rate a lady Mazungu driver??”
“Maybe she is the daughter of the president?”
“Don’t be stupid! There would be guns!”
And the boys have something to think about all afternoon.
The Pillage of Walmart
So There I was...
Looking at the news. Late in the day after the Feast of Gratitude. There was a video clip of a two women being interviewed by a Local TV reporter clearly at the low end of the Totem Pole. It was this poor man’s job to get a story out of how their shopping had gone. I almost clicked off, and then the camera caught an unusually good angle; the woman’s chin up and out, a laugh rolling out of her mouth, and flash of her eye that meant victory. The look was one that in earlier times or other places would be called blood satiation. She had triumphed and was bringing home the trophies, scalps and booty. She had planned and executed an invasion. The God’s and Goddesses of war had smiled upon her. She was the hero to whom the crowds yell “Die Now! Die Now!” for nothing more noble could be achieved.
She had shopped well.
Oh, my sister. How we have fallen. This is our victory. The pillage of Wal-Mart. The plunder of Target. The sack of Sachs.
Clearly, no one has ever told you who you really are. What you were created to do. Let me try and give you a glimpse. See if it does not sound an echo within your soul.
Our most ancient stories tell us the truth of who we are and what we can do. In every culture, the stories exist. Scheherezade knew these stories. Boudica told these stories to her daughters. These stories tell of heroic women; Judith and Xena. This archetypal woman has come down to our day and turns up as a blonde in Sunnydale. But she is here and she will not go away. You know these stories, you have just forgotten their meaning, and failed at their application.
The oldest story I know is of a garden. Firstmother was seduced by a lie. A fear-based lie. A myth of scarcity. She was told that her creator was holding out on her. She bought the falsehood that she must acquire, by deceit or force, what she was not given. She realizes her mistake very quickly, but the adhesive gum of the price-sticker of that lie stuck to her soul and was passed down.
But not before her creator gave her one more thing.
He spoke to her seducer and said this.
“You who were made for glory, you who has never had a predator, you have now made an enemy, and her name is woman, and you should be afraid, very afraid for although you will cut her, in the end, she will crush your head.”
Not Firstfather. Not the second Adam who came to plant the new garden. No, SHE was tasked with vermin eradication. She shall have the final victory. Doubt me? Get thee to a Roman church; find the pretty Lady, the one of the serene face, the upturned eyes. Look at her feet, and see what is crushed under them.
Since that day two forces have been competing for your soul, my sister. One, a foul lie from Hell, which says that you are not complete, that you are not good enough, that you must have more, be more. The other force is deeper and more powerful, but often buried, unawakened. It says that you are more powerful than you could ever know – right now. That force knows that evil itself, fears YOU. You were meant to crush poverty. To thwart abuse. To free captives as well as to bind wounds. You were meant to have clear sight, wisdom and power.
But sister, you have bought the lie. You have bought it wholesale, retail and on sale. You have stocked your cupboards with it and put it away for the winter. You have breast-fed and spoon fed it to your babies. Your soul has root cellars full of it.
You have let your enemy bind your feet, so that you cannot stand your ground. You have let your enemy steal your right to read, so that your may not look upon the truth. You have let your enemy impoverish you through mistaken wars you have enabled with your cooking pot and laundry pail. You have died bearing daughters who do not know who they are.
Yet in your deepest dreams the battle songs of Miriam and Deborah still sing.
“Horses and chariots are no match for my God”
There was nothing wrong with that feeling you felt on Friday night, my dear. You were hardwired to crave it, seek it, fight for it and revel in it. But oh, my sister, my mother, my daughter, you have settled for a pale echo of the truth.
Give it a thought now, before we settle into the cookies and the glass balls and the laughter of children. Any maybe on this New Year, you might want to sing a new song, and laugh a new laugh, and look your true enemy in the eye and let him see that you see him, clearly. Let him see that flash in your eye. Scare the Hell out of him, I tell you it will.
“Get the claymore out of the thatch where you hid it Molly.”
Vini… Vidi… Vi – effin – Ci
Over the Top
I want to express my deepest gratitude to all of you who have read, commented, and shared these posts.
I have been learning to articulate important ideas in ways that echo truth and touch emotion. Your help in the process has been critical. May God bless us every one.
from Oct 2006
So There I was...
Sitting at a lunch table with a group of insightful, visionary, powerful, spiritual women. We were talking about what it would take for our corner of the Body of Christ to embrace an application of our professed testimony of equality. Specifically, what it would take for the spiritual sea to change enough to make gender identity and sexual orientation non-obstacles to membership and ministry.
“What if we just opened that door and walked through it and let them watch? – Maybe they’d follow.” I proposed.
“Yeah, when Hell freezes over!” said one of my sisters.
That phrase haunted me for a while after that. It rattled around in my heart like a marble in a glass milk bottle. Then the bottle broke, and it was spilt milk all over, but I had a jagged glass epiphany.
That is our job.
That is precisely our job.
We are supposed to be freezing Hell.
Turning the thermostat of evil down till the devil is wearing thermal underwear.
Hell requires conflagration.
Badness expends huge energy.
Evil itches, and requires lots of scratching, which leads to angry inflammation.
But the truth is, Hellfire can be quenched.
The best way to chill inequality is to not participate in it,
not cooperate with it, not ignore it.
Racism is not by any means conquered in our world. But in our country in the last century it has been moderated by courageous people refusing to accept that it is the norm. Racism lives, but Jim Crow is history. People, a few people at first, just refused to be segregated, black people and white people. They just stopped participating. They had a chilling effect on evil.
We were created to be effective.
Each one of us individually and all of us together.
Individually we can douse and stomp on fires of evil that spark up around us.
As a people of God we can be the cool soft rain that puts the forest fire to bed.
Hell loves a mob; especially a trauma crazed mob, an unthinking angry mob.
Hell especially loves an armed mob; guns are nice, but machetes will do. But it is amazing what a few people or even one person can do to a mob.
Hell was having a picnic in My Lai, Vietnam when Hugh Thompson, Lawrence Colburn and Glenn Andreotta landed their helicopter between their comrades and their comrade’s innocent prey. They stopped the carnage.
The devil considered those guys to be party crashers.
They were called traitors when they got home.
Eventually they were decorated as heroes.
What we don’t know is how many similar atrocities, in that war, and in the wars since then, including the travesty of a conflict we are engaged in now, have been stopped short by one person saying “Hey, that’s not what were here for” or “Don’t even think about it.” They don’t get written up as heroes for preventing evil. Loyalty and humilty keeps them from talking about it, but It happens all the time.
The devil doesn’t want you to know that he gets thwarted a thousand times for every time he succeeds in getting drunk on mayhem.
And don’t think that it is only warriors who block disaster.
I have seen a pig-tailed eight-year-old walk into a knot of bullies and take a scared six-year old by the hand and walk him out with a “Shame on you – I’m telling” look at the tormentors.
The truth is that evil is the sissie.
Our spiritual adversary and all his minions are cowards of the first order. Hell can be frozen by the kindness of a child, the courage of a man, the voice of a boy, the persistence of an old woman.
All we have to do is wake up, speak up and step right in.
The Road to Goma
So There I was
Breaking one of my cardinal rules of living in an alien environment. I was ignoring the advice of the local friend charged with my health and safety. Muzungu Ujinga - stupid white person!
I was getting ready to head out from Kigali to Goma. It is a long ride on the very best of days. Those days don’t come around very often. My friend was clear that I should be on the 10:30 bus, and that at the latest. It was the last bus that had a good chance of getting me to the border crossing before dark. I was going to have to negotiate that crossing without help, and in need of a visa. It might take time. No one wanted me to cross into the Congo after dark.
Before leaving there was a task that I needed to perform. I had been charged with the duty of interviewing six secondary students at the George Fox Secondary School. They were orphans and at risk of losing their place at school for the inability to pay their fees. I was going to bring their stories back to a group in the US who had scholarships on their mind. It felt important.
My friend picked me up and wanted to purchase my bus ticket before seeing the students. He did not want to risk a sold out bus and a late departure. We got to the bus office. He tried to buy me a ticket. Bad news. There was no 10:30 bus today, just a 9:30 and an 11:30. It was five minutes until nine. My friend stated his intention to buy me a ticket on the 9:30 bus. He was clear about this. He assured me that the students would wait. I knew my return trip would be even tighter and on the weekend, the odds of finding the students at school were not good. I asked him to buy me a ticket on the 11:30 bus. He told me this would not do - he wanted me to get on the 9:30 bus right then and there. I asked him to pray with me for a moment. In those moments of silence I felt a bond and a call to those young people that would not let me go. I could not abandon them. I thanked my friend for his care of me. I assured him that I understood the risk I was taking. I told him that I felt clearly led to go see the students. I asked him to buy me the 11:30 ticket. He politely asked me to buy it myself, as he wanted no responsibility for my choice. This is as clear as an African can be that you are being foolish beyond belief. I bought my own ticket for the 11:30. Then he took me to see the students.
It was a heartbreaking hour. I heard stories that will never leave me. We all wept. I had nothing to promise them except that I would tell their stories. Any possible help was many months away, and it might be too late for some of them. Walking away crushed my heart.
We arrived back at the bus station at 11:25. They were doing repairs on the bus. Duct tape being applied to headlights. I snagged the seat in the center front next to the driver. I am a famous puker, and seeing forward and having air is a good idea. The bus was a Toyota 10 seater, they sold 17 tickets - plus luggage. It was good to be packed in tight because there were no seat belts, as was evidenced by the spider shaped crack in the windscreen directly where my head would hit in a sudden deceleration. Seasoned African travelers like the center of the bus. The air is bad, but the person at the center often survives the crash cushioned by the bodies of their comrades. We left with a locally on-time departure of noon straight up.
Kigali sits in a bowl, a city on many hills surrounded by mountains. Every road out of the city goes up. Every road is serpentine. Serpents would puke on those roads. Our bus driver was in a mood to make time. Cutting curves and not stopping for vegetables or people. Until we were about half way up - then there was a large group of people by the roadside and on it. I do not know what caught his attention, but he slowed and then called something to the passengers and then stopped. Way too far into the roadway for my happiness. So we all got out. Driver trotted up to the people who I could now see were distressed and pointing over the precipice. Driver looked over the edge and screamed. I never like it when African men scream. It is never good.
It turns out that over the edge was the 9:30 bus. Our company’s bus. Yes, that bus.
Some men had climbed down. There was not a soul to bring up alive. Bodies would be eventually hauled up, the bus would be left. Phone calls were made to headquarters. People prayed. About an hour later our driver decided that we needed to try and go on. We boarded our bus in a somber mood. He goosed it up the hill. He started swearing almost immediately. I looked at him. He pointed to the gauges. I watched as the engine heat gauge swung up and over the “H.” He alerted the passenger to our situation. This bus was not going to make it to the Congo today. Many groans tempered a bit by our status of being alive, and our awareness of how lucky we were in that. That status was challenged right off. He turned the bus, put it in neutral and switched off the engine. We coasted silent and swift as death itself down that mountain. We passed the bus plunge scene, and the roadside viewers looked at us with gaping mouths as we flew past. They must have though our driver has gone insane with grief and was planning to take us to follow the lost bus. Our tires screeched at every turn. The smell of burning brake pads filled the cabin. The people of the bus were too shocked to pray. Finally we reached the flats and over the river bridge and coasted to a stop. Then people thanked whatever God they worshiped.
I honestly cannot tell you why I did not find or borrow a phone and call my Kigali friend and bail. But I didn’t. I bought cokes and sambusa with the people of my bus and we waited for the bus company to send us another bus. I am sure that we commandeered the 12:30 bus. But soon (an hour or so) we had another bus and a fresh driver. And again we ascended. It was about 2:30 pm.
As were starting the climb, I spoke in a loud voice and stated that I was going to lead the bus in prayer, apologizing for my English. I prayed loud and long. I prayed for the bus, I prayed for every part of the bus, I prayed for our new driver and for our old driver. I thanked God for our lives and I prayed for the souls of the departed. I prayed for our courage and for the road ahead of us. When I finished, a voice in the back said loudly “In the name of Jesus - I agree with you!” It was the first English I had heard all day. I invited the man named Daniel to come and sit more forward so that we could talk. The people of the bus rearranged themselves for my entertainment. Daniel had lived in Boston for two years, and he told me the story of Mary Dyer. He was very pleased to see that female Quaker preachers were still risking their necks for the Lord.
He had thought we had all been killed. Not quite, Daniel, not quite.
I guess some days is just pleases God to have everyone on their knees.
Number 7 - Fresh Roads
So There I was...
Looking for Fresh Road.
I have to get pretty far from home to get any fresh road these days.
When I got my first motorcycle, one of the things I did was go down to the State Department of Transportation and buy the big map of the county that I live in. It was several feet to a side and showed every road and alley within about 30 miles of my house. I started marking off each road as I covered it. Soon I had to purchase the maps for the five counties around my county. At that point my map took up a whole wall of my house and I had fresh road in every direction of me. After ten years and two bikes, it became harder to find fresh road in the State of Oregon; and Oregon is about 300 miles tall by 500 miles wide.
So around the turn of the century I was offered a preaching gig in Idaho and decided to take the opportunity to knock off some out-of-the-way roads in very far northeastern corner of Oregon.
Perhaps you do not fully understand why fresh road is so important. There is nothing that prevents the miracle in your back yard. There is nothing that even slows down sister Serendipity from meeting you at the corner grocery store if she is looking for you. The kingdom is Heaven is within you and can erupt at any time. However, the major inhibitor of that eruption is your own soul sleepiness. It is way too easy to get stuck on spiritual cruise control. Common intimacy encourages entropy.
The best way I know to break out of this is to find fresh road. I do it quite literally. Riding a road where I do not know what is around the next corner requires a level of awareness that makes me feel very lively. I have to pay attention. I cannot daydream.
I know people who can find fresh road in a laboratory that they walk into every day for years. I know people who find fresh road on a blank piece of paper, or on the well-known strings of their favorite guitar.
Still, I like the wind. The unpredictability of the weather. So I was up in the country of Chief Joseph. His precious blue lake is still there. The Appaloosa descendents of his favorite ride live and eat this year’s grass. His Spirit and the Spirit of his people flow down off those mountains towards the Snake River.
I reached the edge of the Snake after a long descent down the backside of the Wallowa Mountains on an unpaved road. I had been counting on a bridge over a dam on the map. The dam was there but it was no bridge. So like Joseph, I turned north towards Canada and several hundred miles out of my way. Unlike Joseph, my steed could not eat grass. At least there was no cavalry at my back. My limits were the limits of a gas tank, not how far you could push the elders carrying the babies on their backs. I wasn’t worried, because although the ranch houses were few and far between at that point, I knew that the ranch people kept a fill of gas cans and kindness, and the worst I could face was a walk or a wait. I talked to God and to Joseph and to the Appies in the fields.
And just after I had switched my fuel valve over to ‘reserve’ meaning that I had less than a quart left of petrol, I saw a boy. About twelve. Walking.
“Hi Lady” blonde hair, freckles, big tooth smile, Huck Finn.
“Son, I need some gasoline and I need it pretty soon.
How much trouble am I in?”
“Well, I wouldn’t know about trouble, but if you take that next gravel road up there, you can cut through to the road that goes to the place where my dad drinks his coffee and Mrs. Wright, she has a pump in the back – you might have to ask.”
“Thanks. Really, I mean it. Do you need a ride son?”
“No, m’am, my Ma would switch my butt if I got caught takin’ a ride with no helmet. Ma’s pretty strict about the helmets. I don’t have far to go.”
“Sorry I don’t have a spare, son. You take care.”
“Bye Lady – oh, and the pie’s really good – have the peach if she has any left.”
The peach pie was fabulous. The shortcut got me there in less than ten miles. Mrs. Wright did indeed have a small reserve of gasoline. I described the boy to Mrs. Wright and the ranchers taking their coffee. I was hoping to speak a good word about him and his manners to someone who knew him. Maybe leave him a small reward – though I doubted any adult would convey a reward to a boy for just being neighborly – they would expect such.
Mrs. Wright and all the ranchers were of one mind that there was no such boy of that description or even of that age, living on any ranch within 40 miles of that diner. They said they knew by name, every child within that distance. I believed them.
I did another hundred miles of fresh road that day. Wide awake.