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Week #13 Reading Reflection Assignment

Reading Reflection Assignment for Week #13: Religious Imagination of American Women, p. 86-149. Please use the discussion questions below AS YOU READ to focus your critical attention and to prepare for this assignment.

-- Please note extension of deadline to post this assignment for full points:
-- Due for full points by Sunday, April 19; due for "grace period" reduction of points (no change), Thursday, April 23.

• What were some of the examples in this chapter about “Revelatory Power of the Ordinary” that particularly struck you, that made you think about what is sacred and what is “mundane” (originally “of the world”) in new ways?
• After reading these articles on the revelatory power of the ordinary, what examples from the reading caused you to rethink features of your own experience?
• How do these articles build on the understanding of the divine as “immanent,” which was discussed in earlier for last week?
• If people took these ideas seriously, how might these ideas change their lives or their actions?
• In responding to the chapter on “The Challenges of Relationality,” how can these ideas change how we think of “sin” or make decisions about ethical behavior?
• What are some ways that women can find connections across different communities?

Comments

There was one particular example from this week’s reading that struck me—it was the “ordinary experience of sickness, aging and death.” Bednarowski’s account of McCollum’s take on living with an illness was interesting. McCollum disagrees with the notion that the body and knowledge (mind) are separate and even goes so far as to say that the “body is the origin of constructed reality.” This really spoke to me because my Dad recently died from cancer and watching him struggle emotionally, spiritually and physically within a body that had “betrayed” him was terribly difficult for me. He spoke often of his altered spiritual journey and how his impending death forced him to “re-evaluate” the simple (ordinary) things in life and the sickly state of his body most definitely imposed a new reality upon him (and me too).

Zoloth-Dorfman’s “theology of interruption” speaks quite loudly to me for I have two young (demanding, active, and relentless) boys that constantly interrupt those times that I’m trying to cultivate a deeper understanding of God. However, I find that because I’m a mother I have a heightened sense of awareness of events, words, behaviors, attitudes, etc. of which, often compel me to frequently “check-in” with God and recalibrate my faith. So to some degree my journey has lagged behind because of the interruption, but in other ways, it has been thrust forward at an alarming speed.

The articles in this section all explore the divine as immanent in the “ordinary” facets of daily life—“the inter-connectedness of all aspects of reality.” I believe this chapter brings the divine closer to oneself—instead of ‘looking’ out beyond in the distance for the divine, it (HE) can simply be found and experienced in near proximity within the various people and mundane activities that consume our daily lives. In my church this is what is known as “being in relationship with God.”

I think that if we took these ideas more seriously, or were simply more cognizant of them, we would stand a chance at finding fulfillment and/or contentment within our lives thereby abandoning the tiresome and sometimes, unattainable, quest for the ultimate or “perfect” connection with the divine. In my opinion, when we can’t recognize the divine in the ordinary, and when we think that it (HE) must be experienced somewhere else or somehow differently, we rob ourselves of the opportunity for profound growth.

The question on sin or ethical behavior is confusing to me—I really don’t understand what you’re asking for—sorry.

The two ways that women can find connections across communities are through the sentient understanding of the body and through “granting legitimacy” for varied and distinct discourses. The first, asserts that our bodies—the mere existence of such—actually serves as the common denominator for all people and in recognizing such, we then feel a broader sense of “empathy and compassion” thereby bridging the gap that has long ‘separated’ communities. The second, seeks to appreciate women within their respective communities by systematically understanding their particular discourses which serve as the foundation for constructed “reality”. Both of these methods allow a person to put things into perspective—and this contextual understanding creates the aura of inter-connectedness that stands as the hallmark for many world religions.

What were some of the examples in this chapter about “Revelatory Power of the Ordinary” that particularly struck you, that made you think about what is sacred and what is “mundane” (originally “of the world”) in new ways?
The involvement of de-mystified and re-sacralization in the group of Latinos women who belong to an organization called Las Hermanas (Pg 107). These two processes helped the Latino women to grounding in the ordinary elements of these women’s life. These women are trying to develop their own form of worship so that only women have leadership roles. I also agreed that there is no scared place unless you make it one with heartfelt intent, there is no connection from their social-economic or educational status. Religious rituals lift up from mundane; existence on earth is sacredness of life to me in new way.

• After reading these articles on the revelatory power of the ordinary, what examples from the reading caused you to rethink features of your own experience?
One example from these articles is that creating poems, stories, and significance of converting oral to written in order to carry important tradition and meaning to next generation. As we know that there are many things that are missing or intentionally delegated from The Bible or history about women.

• How do these articles build on the understanding of the divine as “immanent,” which was discussed in earlier for last week?
From last week’s reading, Benarowski claimed that there are two ways that women could bring imminence in religion; one is that to make religion more accessible and to change the meaning of God. As same thing in this week’s reading, “the familiar critique that historically women have had little access to sacred offices and rituals and have seldom participated…” (pg 105). One way to gain access to the scared is to create interpretation that could make us to gain more accessible and understandable.

• If people took these ideas seriously, how might these ideas change their lives or their actions?
I think that there will be more equality between men and women, and creating peaceful environment. “Selfless” in term of Buddhism, means there is no self to think about all the time. “Is it possible to have a compassionate connection to others and still retain a powerful sense of self” (pg 126). Gilligan way of interpretation of compassion is based on equality and sameness between oneself and another.

• In responding to the chapter on “The Challenges of Relationality,” how can these ideas change how we think of “sin” or make decisions about ethical behavior?
I think these ideas may change their mind or may not. It is true that crossing traditions and communities brings another set of complexities (pg 139). In terms of some religions, people still don’t except any gay and lesbian marriages even in these days.

• What are some ways that women can find connections across different communities?
Women can find connections across different communities through women’s discourses and Feminist Theology (pg 145). For an example, the three regimes are a small group of Pentecostal Mountain Women, Presbyterian Women, an organization of the Presbyterian Church.

• What were some of the examples in this chapter about “Revelatory Power of the Ordinary” that particularly struck you, that made you think about what is sacred and what is “mundane” (originally “of the world”) in new ways?
One of the stories that I took notice of is about Rachel and Juana. It discusses how Rachel had to struggle to learn. She had the people of the church that were in the position of authority trying to hinder her reading and learning. They even went so far in making her take a vow. There is another thing that I liked about the story of Rachel. The part of the way she saw God. She got messages out of everyday life and circumstances. She saw it with the children playing to household work like cooking. Although there was opposition against her she kept on learning. This did not strike me as much but reminded me that if God is wanting you ro learn something He will reach you no matter what.

• After reading these articles on the revelatory power of the ordinary, what examples from the reading caused you to rethink features of your own experience?
The articles did not cause me to rethink things in my life but to bring reminders of. The things that I am talking of is how the Lord does not need anything of man to teach you He will make a way for you to learn. The other thing that I have thought of while writing this response is of the past. The area that I am talking of is that people did not have it wrote down like we have the Bible today. What they did have is the stories and things around them to remind them.

• How do these articles build on the understanding of the divine as “immanent,” which was discussed in earlier for last week?
I wanted to be sure that I had a good grasp on what the word Immanent meant. So I got an American Dictionary and looked it up. This is what I have found, “Impending”. The word impending means to take place. I am not sure if the word immanent is the correct word for God for the word leaves too much open ground and that is not good. For I see God as all around all knowing and all seeing. If you take the word pending it sounds like something is not developed.

• If people took these ideas seriously, how might these ideas change their lives or their actions?
For these Ideas to take place the person would have to make some changes in their life first so that they understand. God said it best when He brought the people of Israel out of Egypt. He called the people a stiff necked people. The people of today are no different. I am not sure of how they were back then but the people of today are not for anyone else besides themselves and no one else. Take a look at an example that I will give. Back in the 80s and 90s people cared for their neighbors. Now they could care less if your house was on fire and you lost everything. They have thoughts that the salvation Army will help them and do nothing.

• In responding to the chapter on “The Challenges of Relationality,” how can these ideas change how we think of “sin” or make decisions about ethical behavior?
First a person needs to look at themselves and see how they are today. Once they have made a change in their lives then they can see the sin and make decisions of their behavior.

• What are some ways that women can find connections across different communities?
There are a few that I can think of. One of them is to unit and help each other. Then work toward the community that they live in. Once they do these things they may be able to make changes in their community. The first step would be first themselves then other women for support then the community.

• What were some of the examples in this chapter about “Revelatory Power of the Ordinary” that particularly struck you, that made you think about what is sacred and what is “mundane” (originally “of the world”) in new ways?

I think the part that struck me the most was the group of Latino women that belonged to the group Las Hermanas. The Latino women wanted to have their own leadership roles and did what they could to accomplish this. There is some places that my family and I would call a sacred place because we make it like that. That is what they did in this story as well. I think that in order to have it be like that the person of persons have to make it feel like it and be like it at the same time. I don’t think you can just call a church a sacred place unless it is made sacred. I think once work is done to make it a more Godly place then it will be so.

• After reading these articles on the revelatory power of the ordinary, what examples from the reading caused you to rethink features of your own experience?

Like Wendy’s experience and how she has kids, I can kind of relate too. I don’t have any kinds but I have a lot of kids in my life that I have a sense of awareness towards. I do that because I want what is best for all of them, and I care a lot what is happening to the world events, actions, wars, and such. I always want to check my faith and make sure what I am doing is correct and is what I want it to be. I want to make sure whatever they are hearing and watching is safe for them and I always want the best for them, even though I am not their mother, I feel like what I do for them and to help them has a great influence on them and will always affect them.

• How do these articles build on the understanding of the divine as “immanent,” which was discussed in earlier for last week?
I found a lot of similarities to Benarowski on last week’s readings when he said there are two ways that women could bring proximity in ones religion. I found some similarities in this weeks reading towards this. It said to gain access to the sacred was t create understanding. This would help us better understand what is going on and what is happening at the same time. I agree and found this interesting to see this in both this week and last weeks readings as well.

• If people took these ideas seriously, how might these ideas change their lives or their actions?
I think that people would try to be fairer towards each other. I think that both genders will want to be equal and want the same things for each other. I think there would be more peace in the world towards women and men. I think this wont always be the fact but most of the time it would. I think this would be ideal, because we would do a lot to have more peace in the world, especially the way the world is right now.
• In responding to the chapter on “The Challenges of Relationality,” how can these ideas change how we think of “sin” or make decisions about ethical behavior?
I think we would be confident with all our decisions if we listen to all these ideas that we read. I think a person needs to know they are doing a sin then repent from what they are doing because they know it is wrong. Once you know you are doing and you realize it is wrong repentance is the best thing you can do and it is what God wants you to do as well.
• What are some ways that women can find connections across different communities?
I think all women can help each other. Women know other women, and I am sure they have different ways they can connect and help each other out with it. I think if they do talk about it they will be able to connect and towards other and it could be towards different communities. I also think there are ways to connect and you can find these online or newspapers. A great way I think it word of mouth.

The example in this chapter about “Revelatory Power of the Ordinary” that continues to stick out to me is Scoville’s opinion on page 115 of how food and eating is sacred because of our connections to the land. I somewhat understand where Scoville is coming from because as Bednarowski states, “She found herself compelled to dwell on the endless meanings of who we are and how we are connected to the land and to the natural world in the midst of the deceptively simple job of figuring out what to have for dinner”. It makes sense when you think of the body as sacred to question what goes into it – an idea I haven’t explored before. However, I must agree with Saiving and her views on the body. Bednarowski quotes Saiving on page 94: “In our search for a new understanding of the relation between our bodies and ourselves, we must somehow take account of the fact that bodies, by their very nature (because they are alive), not only are born and grow to maturity, but also grow old, sicken, and die.” I, like Saiving and the disabled women included in this section, do not consider the body a sacred thing. Our “spirits” and our bodies are two separate entities. When we die our bodies are buried in the ground. We cannot take them with us wherever we go, so other than to prolong life, I do not see why it’s necessary to worry about what we put into or do to our bodies. This article about the body being mundane reminds me of my own experiences with peoples’ opinions on my body art. I’ve heard numerous times that I should not tattoo or pierce my body because it is “a gift from God and therefore sacred”. God may have given me life, but my physical being will not follow me into the any afterlife so I will “decorate” it in any way I choose. It’s my soul that really matters because that’s what will follow me into the afterlife. I believe that not worrying about what’s on the outside so much as who we are on the inside builds on the understanding of the divine as immanent. I think that “decorating” the body is our way of expressing ourselves creatively whether it be through art (tattoos and piercings) or clothing. The idea of clothes being sacred was another example that stuck out to me. One question asked for this assignment was, “If people took these ideas seriously, how might these ideas change their lives or their actions?” People do take these ideas seriously. For example, because Cannon did not see herself as worthy to wear the sacred garments worn by Muslims, she does not enter the temple and felt torn after her marriage when she was supposed to wear the garments. Another example goes back to viewing the body as sacred. Those who view the body as mundane are not concerned with what goes into or onto the body as opposed to those who see the body as sacred.

In response to the chapter on “The Challenges of Rationality”, some of the ways mentioned that women can find connections across different communities are by viewing our bodies as common and in relation to each other and by trying to better understand differences and commonalities between cultures. Having a better understanding of another cultures’ views on a topic could change how we think of “sin” or make decisions about ethical behavior. What is appropriate behavior to me may not be considered appropriate behavior to someone from another culture unless that person has a better understanding of why I’m behaving the way that I am.

I liked the first chapter a lot because it didn’t deny the role of a woman as a loving-mother, as a house keeper, a caring wife. The chapter shows more the possibility of combining these things with women’s role in the society, giving woman and man equal rights. At the same time women’s everyday responsibilities shouldn’t be taken for granted, putting men’s duties above, treating men as more important humans. Women’s care of others should not be seen as female’s only purpose. “Extraordinary ordinary” of daily lives is something that women have a lot to say about.
The discussions that stroke me the most was about humans’ attitude to everyday things as to ordinary, taken for granted life. It was an important reminder and an eye opener about people who live a different life just because they consider it as a luxury a style of life that some of us take as granted everyday things: good health, beloved family, good food on the table, ability to cover human’s necessities and wishes. It was given an example of people with disabilities who have to overcome so many “physical limitations and social barriers” before they start to live like, for example, I do. We should learn how to see the “holy gift in the ordinary,” teaches chapter four. The chapter was looking at the human’s body from one side as a main treasure and blessing, on the other hand like as at the main betrayer. These articles treated the divine as “immanent,” by given it a name “higher power,” that for some can be taken from the land, like for Native Americans, for others from the spirits of beloved people, who are gone.
I was impressed by the discussion about garments. I always agreed with the way the discussion went, but could never organize my thoughts in such a great expression as “when the heart is truly open, there is room for yes and no.”For me, because of Judaism and its dressing code, clothing traditions always were a big issue. I learnt though that the wisdom of tradition is not based just on its verbal interpretation. And the discussion on eating pork – how impressive it was presented; it was a new, fresh point of view.
I really like the idea of Native Americans to overcome our grief and suffering with hope and believe. Because nowadays there is always evil and pain that have to be defeated by some means and Natives offer kind and smart solutions. Jewish culture also concentrates attention that can be very useful today by practicing everyday’s improvement of ourselves, by following G-‘d’s ways, that teache us to be kind to each other, to be sincere and helpful, no matter how you are treated as a result. Making moral decision and following the truth is much harder to follow than it seems from the side.
One of the ways to connect for women in communities was using a wisdom as a source of inspiration and validation. Performance of women’s rituals can unite women, giving them a needed spiritual, physical and intellectual strength, by building relationship among them. It was an interesting example of Miriam’s cup usage for Jewish woman and the bimah experience for Conservative and Reform Jews.

The area of discussion that struck me the most was by Miller-McLemore and Laurie Zoloth-Dorfman who “speculate about what new theological visions of mothering, family and work will diminish the ordinary pain of women who find themselves constantly torn between the requirements of the two roles” (103). Where are the women in “sacred texts that depict the spiritual quest as a solitary male pursuit away from the ordinary…with no clues as to who is supporting this quest by making it possible” (103)? Are the domestic contributions of women really so insignificant? And is their discipline and prayerfulness in the midst of so many distractions less holy and revelatory than that of a man left to pray and create in peaceful solitude?

The other discussion that struck me were the parts on disability, illness, and aging and the need to “affirm our bodily life in its totality, including the realities of sickness, aging and death” (95). McCollum offers the interpretation of “understanding of immanence and transcendence ‘generated from body, change and deterioration” (93).

The discussion on aging and illness, for me, changed how I think about the positive attitude change in people who experience a fatal illness. I always thought the positivity grew from a sense of wanting to enjoy every last minute, but now I think I understand it has more to do with suddenly seeing the sacredness in ordinary things and taking care to pay attention to them. On the day I sat down to read these writings, I was very upset with a frustrating day at home with the kids where I couldn’t get a minute to myself to study while everyone else had more immediate needs to be taken care of. In retrospect, if I had treated their needs and the needs of the household with more focused care and attention, and discipline, it would all have gone much more smoothly.

In past discussions of immanence, it felt as if we were searching for it in ordinary but beautiful things. Now it feels like we are searching for it in ordinary and mundane things, things as simple as the care and attention in the actions of washing, drying and folding a baby diaper (111). Being more mindful of the importance of caring attention to everyday activities would make them less monotonous and more meditative and free peoples minds of anxieties and distractions, perhaps allowing for more creative thinking and positive relations with others.

Suchocki understands “’sin ‘ involves not so much the act of one person against another; it is a communal act because of the inter-relatedness of all things” and describes sin as “violence to any aspect of creation” (133). In that case, when we sin we would not turn to God for forgivness, but to our neighbors who we have sinned against. We would also need to behave more ethically in our treatment of all forms of life, and be considerate in our habits including our choices of food and community behaviors. This expanded concept of sin allows us to broaden our idea of what sinful behavior means. This seems to work two ways, we need to be more considerate of seemingly mindless choices that are actually violent to creation and therefore sinful (not recycling?- who and what does it harm – our bodies, the Earth, our future generations) and perhaps being judgemental of choices that may actually be harmless to creation (being gay or lesbian – who and what does this harm? Seemingly no one in consensual, loving relationships?).

Even as women need to explore the particularities of their experience, whether they are their body experiences, cultural experiences or otherwise, they should continue to reach out, as according to Cahill, “women will suffer more if we give up all efforts to formulate moral foundations that sound familiar and appealing across cultural and moral traditions” (143). Creating connections is not an attempt to homogenize religion but to continue to find ways to create more authenticity and accessibility.

What were some of the examples in this chapter about “Revelatory Power of the Ordinary” that particularly struck you, that made you think about what is sacred and what is “mundane” (originally “of the world”) in new ways?
• After reading these articles on the revelatory power of the ordinary, what examples from the reading caused you to rethink features of your own experience?
• How do these articles build on the understanding of the divine as “immanent,” which was discussed in earlier for last week?
• If people took these ideas seriously, how might these ideas change their lives or their actions?
• In responding to the chapter on “The Challenges of Relationality,” how can these ideas change how we think of “sin” or make decisions about ethical behavior?
• What are some ways that women can find connections across different communities?

One is about the clothes that are sacred and about washing them with other clothes. I would think that you would know about your sacred clothes and wash them correctly. About the ordinary duties I think that doing them doesn’t make it sacred, I think by doing household work you are giving of yourself and that is what we are to be doing is giving more than receiving. I also think that by giving birth to a child is also something very sacred. I believe a lot of people do not understand that children are a blessing and you are to treasure them and not make them your slaves (treat them has you wish).
If people took these things seriously we would not have service help being on the bottom of totem pole. Right now I believe US believe that they are to good the clean rooms or provide service to customers. Think maybe corporate would shrink and service help would blossom not won’t that be a change. I could see a lot of greed going away and possibility the “me” attitude would also disappear. I believe this would make our world better. That is probably why it is written in the bible we are to put others before other selves in order to keep the echo in check.
I like on page 131 Patrick writes that a relationship is a personal moral awareness, experienced in the of anticipating future situations and making moral decisions, as well as in the process of reflecting on one’s past decisions and quality of one’s character, that is, the sort of person one is becoming . I believe we need relationships to continue to grow if we don’t have relationships we don’t speak or have change in our hearts. You always need a relationship to learn the give and take model. It is also by having relationships we can look at our own situation and see that we are better off that what we thought we were. We are very good at feeling sorry for our selves and with no one to put us back in our spot we would always see everything as dark and gloomy. I also believe that you need to work at your relationship because if you don’t they fall apart. It seems to work out that when both parties are working on the relationship this allow for someone to fall off a little while the other does more and then vice a versa.

• What were some of the examples in this chapter about “Revelatory Power of the Ordinary” that particularly struck you, that made you think about what is sacred and what is “mundane” (originally “of the world”) in new ways?
On page 88 Mary reflects upon what Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz writes regarding Latin American Women. That we need to stop ‘devaluing and rejecting women’s traditional roles in families.’ These roles should be valued and embraced and this is something women in all communities and cultures can embrace. That since we as women are already caretakers it’s very easy to be caretakers of the planet. This is a transition many women have taken. I can also see where this is true not just for environmental causes but for health care, social work, social and environmental justice to name a few.
Another example I liked was the ordinariness in the lives of the disabled. How person’s ordinary live has become so radically different, altered, changed after a disability. That what was once ordinary has now become a challenge. I understand how we on the outside looking in see what they can teach us about living with a disability. How we view them as being extraordinary. Yet expect them to adapt, on top of learning how to live with accept their disability and limitations a society that is predominately able bodied. I have a new respect for those living with a disability.
• After reading these articles on the revelatory power of the ordinary, what examples from the reading caused you to rethink features of your own experience?
I’ve been trying for awhile to get the word ‘chores, housework, etc” out of vocabulary because chores are just that a chore to do. Dull boring and feel like “work.” One more thing to do on top of homework. When I use a word like house, home or apartment beautification it actually feels like something worth while. When I do something “ordinary’ around my home like organize paperwork, clean the bathroom or kitchen, it feels like I am actually making my home beautiful. After reading this section of Chapter 4 I have a greater appreciation for ‘housework.’ That by doing something as ordinary as washing dishes or doing laundry and I pray at the same time I encounter the divine.
• How do these articles build on the understanding of the divine as “immanent,” which was discussed in earlier for last week?
In “The Daily Pain, Anger, Hope, and Endurance of Native American Women” Mary discusses the reactions of Native Americans when they attend a 12 step group. They have a problem with Step 1 ‘Admitting I’m powerless and turn it over to a higher power. Whatever that may be for me.” The problem is they do not believe that the Creator, The Great Spirit, is higher than them. Rather that the Great Spirit is in them. I think this belief is shared by other religions. I also think that this belief is a little freeing. It also goes against what I was taught in Catholism, and is definitely not a belief of the Evangelical Church. Though it could be, it would just depend on the variation (Evangelical Catholics and Lutherans for example.)

• If people took these ideas seriously, how might these ideas change their lives or their actions?
People would not look at housewives or househusbands in a demeaning way. People would also appreciate the kitchen help, grounds crew, building maintenance, Sunday school teachers, daycare workers, greeters at church / Wal Mart, ‘blue collar’ jobs, and other service industry type jobs as being just as vital.
• In responding to the chapter on “The Challenges of Relationality,” how can these ideas change how we think of “sin” or make decisions about ethical behavior?
I think it depends on what one believes sin to be. For me after doing the readings it comes down to. “Love thy neighbor as you love yourself;; and love your God/dess (I couldn’t remember the femine o for Lord.) with all your heart, soul and might.” In other words treating others as you want to be treated, even when you don’t feel like it.
• What are some ways that women can find connections across different communities?
Having friends of all ages, participating in rituals, joining a multicultural bible study or church. Being willing to explore different ways of connecting with women and being open to the possibilities.

What were some of the examples in this chapter about “Revelatory Power of the Ordinary” that particularly struck you, that made you think about what is sacred and what is “mundane” (originally “of the world”) in new ways?
None of the topics in this section of reading really struck me. Everything the articles talked about from being a woman with a disability to the oral culture of a community to the clothing one chooses to wear seemed pretty relative to me. Things aren’t sacred or mundane just because they are. We choose to give things the power of being sacred by labeling them as sacred. Anything in our personal lives can be revelatory; it’s how we choose to see it. If we consider something to be sacred then we are going to, by our own nature, consider that more revelatory than something that we experience every day. Every day I come home after work and sit on the couch for a little bit in silence because it brings me a sense of peace to just enjoy the silence. However, when I spend a day out in the woods or taking pictures by a stream I feel a lot more rested and peaceful, not because it was more relaxing, but because it is not ordinary to me. Since it’s something more sacred to me it gives me more peace than my ordinary ritual of relaxing after work.

After reading these articles on the revelatory power of the ordinary, what examples from the reading caused you to rethink features of your own experience?
I think that the whole reading assignment really made me think about my own personal faith because I really don’t believe in any one religion even though I was raised born again Christian. The reading just makes me want to learn more about a variety of religions and see if there is one that I can “settle down” with. The reading also made me think of my family lately. I now have three nieces and my uncle is getting married this summer and I realized over this weekend and seeing them all a lot that in the past year or so I have really started to try to cultivate the relationships that I have with them because I’ve realized how important family is…regardless of how much we fight. I think the second half of the reading also made me think of relationships in general and that it doesn’t matter what types of relationships that you have as long as you work at them with care.
How do these articles build on the understanding of the divine as “immanent,” which was discussed in earlier for last week?
These articles, for me, stress the idea of the divine as immanent. Especially, in the first half of the reading when the articles were discussing the revelatory power of the ordinary. I think that really being able to find something sacred in the everyday mundane things comes about from having some personal awareness of self, not from some “big guy” in the clouds. For me, these articles, especially the one about the native Americans and Iris Heavy Runner having to help them understand the idea of a “higher power” (p. 96) really seemed to push the idea of any divine power being immanent and really coming from one’s self.

If people took these ideas seriously, how might these ideas change their lives or their actions?
I think these ideas could have a profound effect on people, if they were not living by something similar already.

In responding to the chapter on “The Challenges of Relationality,” how can these ideas change how we think of “sin” or make decisions about ethical behavior?
I think the biggest thing that this can change is the decisions that people make about ethical behavior. The idea of considering both the “many” and the “whole” in order to come to a decision could have a profound impact on people. Instead of people making decisions based on their own personal situation at the time they could make decisions based on how it would impact their local community or state, etc. This type of thinking could really bring about major changes in the world even just as far as people taking time to consider those around them.

What are some ways that women can find connections across different communities?
Talk to people. You can’t make a connection if you stay silent. Women know more people than they think they do. A perfect example is a woman’s daily routine. You have your immediate family that you see in the morning, if you have kids you may know their school teachers or bus drivers, at work women have many contacts. Then of course there are the outlying areas. Women tend to have their favorite cashier at the bank, grocery store, their lunch stop, the coffee shop, etc. If women actually thought about all the other women that they see on a day to day basis I think they would be surprised at how many connections are missed on a day to day basis. All we have to do is say hello to a few extra people every day and soon we could have connections all over the world.

WEEK #13
There are two examples that particularly stuck out to me when I was reading about the “Revolutionary Power of the Ordinary.” First was the idea of eating, and what we choose to eat, as a sacred experience. Scoville states, “in the act of eating ‘we experience our own most intimate connection with the world.’ (p. 115).” I think that the act of nourishing ourselves is an excellent example of a ritual that could be considered sacred, because everyone participates in this act, and it is full of potential for symbolism and reflection and celebration. I liked the perspective of looking at our choices of what we eat from an ethical standpoint. “What kinds of happiness or success or gain are to be celebrated as part of what one should hope for and work for and what kinds of happiness come too much at the expense of others (p 119).” I think about all of the pleasure that we get out of eating a good meal. I am not a vegetarian, but when I eat meat, I cannot reflect too much on it or I lose my appetite. Preparing a meal that involves handling the raw carnage brings to my consciousness the reality that some poor living creature had to die to satisfy our appetite. This has to do with spirituality because it coincides with the theory that we are all inhabitants of the earth, and it is important for us to be compassionate and loving to achieve the harmony and justice that is discussed in the text. Awareness of these things is a path of spiritual awareness, of being spiritually awake. The second idea that struck me was this: “The most important thing you need is the ordinary life (p 108).” I could identify with being “grounded in ordinary tasks ( p 108).” I used to hate doing the dishes when I was a teenager, but now I embrace the task, because for me, it is a mindless task that allows me to take a moment to listen to myself think. I feel that it is really important to allow yourself time to process everything you take in everyday. If you are always talking and doing, but never taking a moment to reflect, how can your spirit or God communicate with you? A lot of people don’t have time to sit and meditate, and I like that this theory allows you to meditate while completing everyday tasks.

The portion of the article where fear is discussed caused me to analyze my feelings about changing religious patterns. Looking for a belief system that I can identify with, in itself, requires courage and faith. I have to have faith that if there is a God out there, that I will not be punished for moving beyond blind faith and looking for answers. I have to have courage to ignore the condemnation, and stand alone, ostracized from my family and faith community. I don’t think I am alone in my doubts within the community, but, I feel that fear is what inhibits others from looking for answers and rituals that satisfy their needs. “Presenting new ritual visions of what the community should look like is risky business, because it requires improvisation – a clear sign of departure from the solid foundations of the past (p 107).”

These articles build in the concept of the divine as immanent because it alters the religious practice to make it more accessible to a greater number of members of the community. Some members of the Jewish community, (as mentioned on page 105-106) are changing ritual to “de-mystify” certain aspects of what is considered sacred and intangible to women in that community. Some religious communities are taking what used to be a practice designated for males only and are changing them to include women, they are reclaiming these practices to facilitate full participation, and to claim access to what used to be elusive.

If people took these ideas seriously, I feel that there would be an increased awareness of spirituality in general. People could be more inclined to care for one another’s spiritual path and be more conscious of how their practices and actions could impact others feelings on how they relate to the divine. I am inclined to hope for this type of holistic approach.

This leads me towards the ethical impact of this way of thinking. The impact is summarized nicely by Cahill: “Social ethics proceeds on the assumption of a shared humanity and a least a fundamentally shared moral vision, whether of not the philosophical warrants for that assumption are clearly in place…responding to suffering bodies and communities, that will go a long way toward helping people of different traditions to recall what they hold in common about the meaning of a just society (p 148).” This way of thinking is more ethical and holistic. I feel that it changes the definition of sin. Rather than a sin being defined as breaking some rule defined by a religion, a sin would be an act that is harmful, that causes suffering. Initially I thought it would narrow down the acts that could be classified as sin, with no 10 commandments to go by, but after I thought about it, the list of “sins” seem to expand greatly because it includes acts that harm the earth and all living beings. When the viewpoint is holistic, it seems like everything we do is harmful to something or someone. The more I think about it, the more complicated and filled with ethical dilemma this becomes.

Two commonalities that seem to facilitate finding connections across different communities are “body” and “discourse.” The body holds an understandable uniting force, as it is common to all of us, but each of us are unique, like snowflakes. In a general way of looking at things, our living bodies are our common ground, and we all die someday; this we share as human beings. The concept of discourse was a bit more difficult for me to understand. It is described as “distinctive languages that shape and are shaped by interpretive communities, and several way that granting the legitimacy of different discourses expands the possibilities for unlikely relationships (p 141).” I think the challenge lies in finding language that diverse communities can relate with in order to find a common ground.