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A Preferrential Option for God As 'She'

The Scandalous Feminine Three weeks ago I wrote a piece for the Catholic blog “God In All Things.” It’s a website devoted to the spiritual practices of St. Ignatius of Loyola, featuring writing on prayer, discernment, imagination, and a basic willingness to see God in, well, all things. The topic of my piece was “Spiritual Déjà vu,” an expression I coined to describe the heightened sense of God’s presence when we encounter deep truths.  The essay was a total of 1,148 words in length, but there was only one word that evoked controversy: She.
It was used only once, in the first sentence:
“I used to be quite frustrated that God never spoke directly to me the way She spoke to the Hebrew prophets.”
And yet, it provoked a deluge of comments ranging from the dismissive, “Why is God…”she”? I do not understand that? I’m reluctant to even read past that” to the recommendation that I, “review the sins of Heresy, Apostasy and Schism.”  Basically the comments section reads like a modern-day Inquis…
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The Genetics of Compassion

Genetics can be tough. One look at both my parents’ dental history reveals I had zero chances of inheriting strong teeth. A winning smile, sure, but quality, cavity-resistant chompers were out of the question. This is why, by the time I graduated college, I’d lost count of the number of fillings I had endured (over twenty).I can tell you I had precisely two root canals because they involve the most intensive drilling, complete removal of the pulp of the tooth, and two additional appointments to reconstruct and crown your sad shell of a tooth. And while you might imagine that the aggregated hours, ney weeks, I’ve spent underneath fluorescent lights with latex fingers and a suction in my mouth have made me into a steely veteran, the opposite has been true.I’m sorry to say that experience has left me more traumatized than heroic. So it was with sudden panic that I woke one morning to a throbbing toothache.For two days I traded terror for denial, hoping I was hallucinating or misreading…

For days of Auld Lang Syne

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?
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The New York I flew into Friday night was chilled with snow and ice. The Empire State building, perhaps out of consideration for those of us traveling during Christmas, still beamed festive red and green lights. My breathe puffed white on the cab ride home, while the city lay still and breathless from New Year’s revelry. I had made peace with the fact that this New Year’s was, in almost every way, unremarkable. I watched the ball drop from my grandparents’ California home and made silent wishes that my friends in Time Square were safe and smooching.I made no great New Year’s resolutions, donned no sparkly attire, and reflected very little upon the triumphs and losses of 2013. In short, the holiday seemed oddly vacant this year. As I unpacked my bags and began making space in the closet, a heavy sweater tumbled from its shelf. It was the sweater that Mark,…

Religion, Conflict and Kitchen Diplomacy: Where My Divinity Education is Taking Me

“You know you are everything that’s wrong with this nation. It’s people just like you, with your liberal thinking and compassion and nothing bad to say about anyone that is going to get the rest of us killed,” he said hovering a foot and three decades above me. I ran my fingertips along the grout between countertop tiles, trying to trace the way back to calm. The conversation had escalated far too quickly after I had poised what seemed an innocent question: “What are you passionate about right now?”
Roy had popped into my aunt and uncle’s home during my weekend stay, an aunt and uncle with whom I was joyfully reconnecting after the 15 years that followed my parent’s divorce, and consequent familial separation. More than anything I wanted to keep peace in their kitchen. I had had plenty of battles in my own kitchen, resulting in a deep aversion to conflict. The question itself, about Roy’s passions, was inspired by a friend who insisted it was a much more generous conversational entr…

Listening to the Radio: A New Year's Resolution

If I were to make any resolution for the New Year, and these are seldom, I would listen for the year as I listen to a newly discovered song. Just the other day I was driving along the 5 freeway; on my left, the sun guiding the Pacific, and on my right, Oceanside’s famous stretch of mustard fields. These are just the kinds of drives that lull me into a meditative trance, that dispel the doggedly anxious thoughts from my mind and allow me the simple pleasure of being in the world. There is nothing else to do in the car but drive, and while this made me crazy with boredom as a child, it has since become a favored form of contemplation. Even my radio listening habits must adapt to these long drives. Because I am crossing multiple county lines, my go-to stations become static, and I am forced to explore the uncharted musical airwaves.And because I hold no expectations for what I will discover there, my reception of the unknown changes. I wait with curiosity for a song to unfold. I wonder a…

“Storyteller”: Yet Another Tribute to My Aunts & an Account For My Hope

Rod Stewart is one sexy man.This is, at least, what my aunts have conveyed to me over years of concert going, stage crashing, and radio blasting rides.Apparently, the only thing that compares to that dirty blonde rock and roll mane and those skin tight leopard pants, is a voice so raspy and soulful it “will steal your heart away.” And while I wanted nothing more than to tag along with my mom and aunts, each of them icons of that oh-so-distantly-enchanted womanhood, the concerts were always waaay past my bedtime.So I perched on the edge of the bed as late as I could, watching them gussy up in a cloud of Hairnet and polka dot ensembles, as they convinced me that a dab of confidence was all one needed to storm the stage like a rock star.And dance with Rod, of course.Were You Tube around in the 80s, they would have video footage testifying to their stage-robbing fame and you would have no trouble imagining how enormously cool they really were.Whether boosting one another up from speakers …

Just Crazed

There’s nothing about this lemon-colored umbrella in my drink that is necessary. It is frivolity and glamour under the faint Seattle sun. And while I know all too well the limits of its luster, it charms me still.
And isn’t that the point of every sweet and senseless surprise? Isn’t that behind every wink, every kiss mistaken, every nickname ever given? Each gestures beyond mere utility.
And yet, if a bee can land upon it,believing my little umbrella a font of nectar- a bee so evolutionarily intelligent, so mathematically inclined- then I too can resist bitternessfor the ways in which I have been undone by seduction. I can admit my weakness for pyrite, and still smile for the way it makes me stumble and shimmer, often interchangeably.
And I give thanks for being as crazed as a bumble bee.