Not So Pinterest Perfect

Originally published on the Emerging Voices blog, 3/11/2015. 

I am a mess.

I’ll take “This is not news” for 500, Alex.

But for real, though, my life is absolute chaos.

I run between being a full-time seminary student, a part-time web designer, a writer, a wife, a mom-to-be, and what feels like eight million other things during every moment of my life. And I have a feeling this isn’t exceptional–most of you probably feel the same way.

And yet, for some inconceivable notion, I have a Pinterest account.

Why? WHY?!? Why do SO MANY of us think this is a good idea? Raise your hand if you have a Pinterest account, but you haven’t touched it in months because instead of being all crafty and creative like you thought you’d be, you’re just left feeling like you do absolutely nothing with your time.

*Raises hand*

I even have a theology board on Pinterest. I intended to fill it with meaningful quotes from brilliant theologians and find a way to bridge the gap between my highly abstract theological mind games and my much more concrete compulsive social media habit. Instead, this board contains a handful of halfheartedly pinned Rumi quotes pasted over perfectly toned white women doing yoga and some stupid theology jokes.

Not exactly the intended result.

It’s strangely fitting, though. My theology isn’t pretty. It’s not even logical, most of the time. I’m making it up as I go, trying to work out a new hermeneutic every time I’m confronted with a new spiritual reality. Any paper I write that’s more than eight or so pages probably doesn’t have a consistent theological arc from beginning to end. I am the paragon of inconsistency.

In spite of this, my messy theology seems to work. It doesn’t fit any tradition’s doctrinal statements, and it’s almost certainly heretical. As I haven’t been hit by lightning yet, I have to assume that the Divine has seen worse.

As Womanist theologian par excellence (who I have the incredible benefit of having as a professor), Alika Galloway, says, “It doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to work.”

And that much, it at least appears to do.

Maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world if we don’t know what we believe. If it draws us closer to the Divine, to ourselves, and to the rest of Creation, if it causes us to keep asking difficult questions, if it causes for love to grow, then perhaps it’s good enough.

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Sacred, Pregnant Waiting

Originally published on the Emerging Voices blog, 12/8/2014. 

Advent. This time of year has always been somewhat sacred to me.

Despite the fact that I live in Minnesota, and I hate winter.

Despite the fact that Christmas in the United States is pretty much just a celebration of consumerism.

Despite the fact that I haven’t identified with Christianity for quite some time.

I think it’s the mystery of it all. The unknown, the waiting for something that hasn’t yet happened but is so palpable you can nearly taste it. This year, it is especially palpable for me as I have my own bundle of heartburn and kidney punches joy on his or her way.

It’s also especially palpable because there is so much unknown to hope for.

Even though I am no longer Christian, I still have a deep respect for the liturgical calendar. I get so frustrated when people celebrate Christmas early, especially when pastors preach Christmas messages before Christmas. This is a time of sacred waiting, and we could all learn a little something from that.

In the wake of the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner–and the countless others who have been murdered simply for daring to go out in public with dark skin–we have a lot to hope for.

We also have no promise that what we hope for will come to fruition.

Prior to becoming pregnant, I always thought of pregnancy, especially the last few weeks before delivery (the stage at which Jesus would, in theory, be during Advent), as a time of great excitement, hope, and joy. Now that I am pregnant, though only 19 weeks, I have found that there’s a lot less joy and a lot more paralyzing fear about all the things that could go wrong. There are no promises in pregnancy. Doctors can test for a million different abnormalities, and while normal results are reassuring, even waiting for those results is terrifying–let alone the fear one might experience with an abnormal result. Assuming the baby makes it to full term, and even though the likelihood of something going seriously, irreparably wrong during birth is very low in the Western world, there are still no guarantees about that child’s health or life in general.

And this is in 2014. Imagine what it must have been like for Mary, carrying what she believed to be some especially precious cargo.

As I sit and hope for a healthy baby, I can’t help but apply the same thought to our society’s construction of race. We have so much to hope for, but there are no guarantees. These tragedies, while absolutely awful in a way that I could never understand, could be the spark that starts a whole new revolution on how we approach race in the United States. And yes, there is a lot we can do as a whole, but individually, it feels like there’s a whole lot of waiting for something to happen, something we can almost taste, but have no certainty of. I’ve asked the question, “What the hell am I supposed to do?” so many times in the last few weeks. I know I need to be working towards change but there is little direction.

We can still hope. We can hope that change is coming, and we can do all we can to prepare for it, to usher it into existence. But will it happen? Will my child find him- or herself asking these same questions in twenty or thirty years? Will this be the revolution we’ve been waiting for throughout all of history?

I guess we’ll just wait and see.