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Gabrielle shared her story in the way that Toni Morrison proclaims stories should be shared, as she implores the storyteller, “Make up a story. For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.” Gabrielle makes a story that connects to the greater story of all of humanity. Her words reveal “belief’s wide skirt” as she offers us a glimpse into both the dark and light places that she has trodden in her first four plus decades. There were moments that I was certain that I knew this girl she writes about. I knew that catch in the back of her throat, that loneliness and that determination. She is clever and honest in her telling and, for me, she reveals that “stitch” Morrison demands as she loosens the veil of fear by connecting her revelations to my own. Revelations that remind me: I am not alone.
In her words, “Here’s the set-up: a girl walks into a bar….. (in oxford, mississippi), and here’s the punch line: Friends. For. Life.” That’s a great punch line!
(Posted on Post Script – 2/21/13)
Come meet Gabrielle and hear her speak about Blood, Bones & Butter at Emmett O’Neal Library this Saturday morning at 9 a.m (click here for more information). Read more from Jorja on her blog, Living Beyond the Pale.
So, now I want to address those who would consider themselves ‘liberal’ or committed to the ‘social gospel.’ Or, quite honestly, those who do not espouse faith at all. There are a limited number of individuals that do not see themselves as having some sort of responsibility for humanity at large. And quite frankly, I know far more liberal friends who are far more committed to changing the ills of this world than those who proclaim a strong faith.
So, that being said, does the other side of the coin offer a better soulution than those who come at it from a ‘faith’ perspective? Can education and poverty reduction be the answer to the atrocities that I have read about in Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide ? It certainly is a foundational part of bringing about true and lasting change, but I believe, it is not either or, but both and.
We can give these women education and build into their lives a stronger sense of self by equipping them to provide for themselves and their families, but ultimately, if their hearts are empty, if their self-worth is found only in their ability to produce and survive, what happens when their efforts do not flourish?
They too must have a change of paradigm about the value of women, the value of their own lives, and if there is not a higher power that attributes that value, what will they do? We are what we worship and if there is truly nothing that is transcendent, where will these women find themselves? Even if they have escaped the brothels, the genocide, the rape, where will they be if they do not see beyond the finite? Faith, in my opinion, must be a part of the change that needs to happen.
However, many on the left side, those who have a deep-seated mistrust of the church and those of faith, have separated themselves from all that do not espouse their worldview. What would happen if we laid down our arms against each other in the name of coming together to end such horrible ills in our country and our world? What if the left, the liberal left, chose to respect the faith of the conservatives, or even the faith of many of their own, and work, hand in hand?
Jesus said, in one of the gospels, as his closest followers questioned the motives of a group who was preaching in Jesus’ name. It is probable that their path was different, possibly even the way they lived out their faith was different. Jesus answered the critique with a rebuke. He simply said, if they are not against us, they are with us. I recognize I am taking liberty with this passage, but ultimately, if we in the church long to see redemption, can we not work with and along side those who are working for the same thing?
Is God so small that we must fight for him to have the Christian fish stamped on every effort that we participate in or of which we are a part?
One of the women who read Part I of this topic wrote this:
“Jorja, Thanks for this. First, I would like to say that I am hopeful b/c I have found a Baptist church here in Frankfort, KY (our capitol) that is doing a great job caring for the sick, poor and marginalized. We have a medical and dental clinic and pharmacy that is run by volunteers and serves people in our community who don’t have other health care options. We also have a clothes closet that is like a department store and are a part of a local food pantry that is making plans to organize in a way where people get to ‘shop’ and choose the foods they need and want. We partner with the local health dept. and many other non profits and churches of all types to do these things. We manage to do this in spite of many differing political views within our own congregation. We also have a center for creative arts that offers free music practice and lessons to children. Now, all of that said, I am aware, thanks to you, that we can do more addressing issues that oppress women specifically. I celebrate that we are evangelical, but we ordain women as lay people and ministers and strive to use inclusive language, etc. Many churches do this, but sadly, not many Baptist ones in the south. Still there is so much more we could do to raise awareness about sex trafficking, slavery, etc. I will definitely be thinking and praying about how I can and should be a catalyst for this. Thanks a bunch.”
How encouraging to see that there are churches that are caring for the ‘least of these’ in a combined effort with a multitude of organizations who are committed to the same things. To see human beings coming together because they too, as Dr. King said in his Letter from Birmingham Jail believe what he wrote:
“…I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states…Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.“
I do not have answers. I only have questions. But they must be asked, and pondered if their is to be real change in this country and this world. I believe more than I ever have that I am a part of ‘an inescapable network of mutuality’ and a ‘single garment of destiny.’
What do you think? What are your questions?
Hello people…iI know my posts have dwindled…I hope to have a clear vision of what i am going to write about beginning with the new year. I am torn, a lot, when I sit down to write and I have sought a bit of counsel as to how to give myself permission to write what I really want to write, for those that I truly want to be a part of Living Beyond the Pale. I sincerely hope you all have a fabulous holiday season. Cheers and lots of love from me!