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Being the Banana

In Creative Living on February 5, 2015 at 9:15 pm

By Angela Nicolini

People tell themselves all sorts of reasons why they shouldn’t embrace their creative sides. “I don’t have time to paint or write.” “I’m too old to try something new.” But the biggest excuse seems to be, “I could never produce a true work of art.” But who gets to decide what art is? If it brings enjoyment to your life and the lives of others, isn’t any attempt at creativity worthwhile?

I’ve thought for a long time that I want to be a writer. I love to put pen to paper. And having lived a well-traveled and curious life, I have many anecdotes and facts to include in my stories.

I spoke three languages by the age of five. (Four languages if you include the ‘twin talk’ my sister and I made up.) I’ve had the good fortune of living in such fabulous countries as Italy, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom. I’ve traveled by plane, train, hot air balloon, riverboat, and even by camel in these exotic places, and many more.

Photo by Tammy Werner Zimbabwe

Photo by Tammy Werner
Zimbabwe

My aspiration is to write a fictional book for spiritual people who are not necessarily religious. I have lofty goals. My dream is for this book to be a shining beacon for all who read it. Then I’ll get to go on press tours and talk about my book. And having it made into a movie would be a fabulous cherry on top!

But several things stop me from attaining my goal. Mostly it’s the anticipation of the incredibly hard work involved, if I’m completely honest. It can take three years or more to write a novel. And I’ve heard that the endless revisions are the hardest part. My personality doesn’t respond well to sitting alone for hours at a time, working away at my computer. I also waste a lot of time with a running dialogue in my head: Is this a dream I want to follow because I really love writing, or simply because I want to feed my ego?

When I feel inclined to beat myself up over this world-changing book that has yet to materialize, I remind myself of a talk given by a wonderful Hindu speaker who came to my small, West Texas town several years ago.

The speaker’s message was simple: We are all part of God. And God is inside each of us. Our job as humans is merely to learn as much as we can about ourselves, and to strive to be our best selves. And in doing so, we will get closer to God.

He went on to say that we can change the world using this same strategy, and he illustrated his lesson in the most beautiful way. He explained that ripe bananas emit chemicals that make nearby fruits ripen faster. “If you have green bananas in your refrigerator, and you place them in a drawer with a ripe banana, they will ripen faster. Our job in life is simply to be that ripe banana for those around us.”

I believe the message he was giving is that by recognizing our true nature, embracing ourselves, and honoring those around us, we are emitting ‘goodness’ that those around us can soak up. And they, in turn, will also emit good vibes. And so on.

Photo by Mary Gregory West Texas

Photo by Mary Gregory
West Texas

This took all of the pressure off me to try to change the world in one, singular way. Instead, I decided to take a few extra seconds each day to smile at whomever served me at restaurants. I made an effort to ask the person ringing up my groceries how their day was going. If my friend was telling me about her bad day, I listened with my whole heart, instead of planning what I was going to say next in response. And I decided to make a deep, concerted effort to look at myself with open eyes.

Here’s the thing… after I embraced this new way of thinking, I started getting many opportunities to write in a way that actually fit my personality! Three years ago, I was offered a job teaching a class at a local university. While writing a curriculum for an entire semester was admittedly tedious, it only took one summer to do so. And each semester afterward has been easier than the one before. The most rewarding part was getting to include all of those fascinating facts and stories I’d collected throughout my life, to make the lectures more interesting.

Because of my new contacts at the university, I’ve also had several opportunities to give one-time guest lectures. I get to use ‘both sides’ of my brain to create presentations that offer the students facts, as well as fun.

I have a plethora of stories to draw on when composing my talks.

From my days as a student at an all-girls’ Catholic boarding school,

… to peeking into one of the great Pyramids in Egypt,

… to staying in a tree house in Kenya, that lies on the path of an ancient elephant migratory route (the spot in fact, where Queen Elizabeth found out on her honeymoon that she was to ascend the throne following her father’s death)…

And here I am, writing this article for this fabulous blog thanks to meeting its creator at a local non-profit where we both volunteer.

Don’t get me wrong. I might still write my world-changing book someday. But if I don’t, I know I can still make a difference in this world in other ways that may appear smaller, but are just as important. In short, I’ve learned that we don’t have to pressure ourselves to create masterpieces of art, literature, or music in order to believe our lives are worthwhile. We just need to be the ripe bananas. The rest will take care of itself.

Photo by Laurel Greszler England

Photo by Laurel Greszler
England

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Love Is Creative

In Art, Creative Living, Music on February 15, 2014 at 6:48 pm

In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.”

― Rumi

long wingsBy Heila Rogers

Everyone Wants to Create (Something)

I’ve been to the Fair and people make all sorts of things … pies, cakes, canned goods, quilts, woodwork, monster trucks. Wait. Monster trucks? Yes, someone creates a machine that can do above and beyond the ordinary, and they create a moment when they race.

Once completed, why does beauty thrill us or make us tear up? Why do we get goosebumps when we hear certain music, for example? In the same way, why are we moved to tears sometimes when we witness someone helping in an altruistic, sacrificial way?

I think that what we are witnessing and experiencing are pieces of the same thing.

Acts of love are also different kinds of artistry.

soar

There is also this:

Whenever you are creating beauty around you, you are restoring your own soul. – Alice Walker

This sounds so good, right? And there’s truth to it. However, we can even manage to mess this up. This, “creating beauty” thing. For example, we can get addicted to what we see as helping people. We can go back and back again and again for the “high,” so to speak. For the experience of the positive feeling that comes with giving. We can make rules about it. We can judge others for not doing it, or for doing it worse than us in our opinion. We can formulate it to mean only this and not that. We can resist receiving, and be always the one that is giving. As usual with humans, we can take things too far. We actually get kind of creative about that: taking things too far.

Defining creativity is important. If it means stretching out to include others, but disparaging your close-by neighbors, teachers, or co-workers, then it’s not creative.

To state the obvious, destruction of any kind is not creation.

Unless perhaps it’s this:

Transform criticism into creativity.  – Scottie Hayes

Destroying destruction can be a creative act. I saw the above quote on Pinterest, along with the following comment: “HOW?” How do we transform criticism into creativity? What a good question. It sounds good, but what does it mean? Here’s one way how. Look around you at what is in your immediate life. What is there for you to do? What excites you? Make something. Make anything. Draw a picture. Sing a song. Smile at someone. Do this instead of tearing someone down. Do this instead of railing about the mistakes of others, or citing a list of what they do wrong.

“Let love be genuine. Hate what is evil. Cling to what is good.”  Romans 12:9

“Only God is truly good.”  Luke 18:19b

“We love because God first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

Receive love and give it away.

As it flows into you, then let it flow out.

When we feel love, and know we are loved, that’s a creative, building thing.

When we receive love, and when we give someone good, when we listen and are listened to, when we have fun, those are creative, building things also.

In the words of the legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland, even though she very much enjoyed and appreciated beautiful clothes,

“I mean, a new dress doesn’t get you anywhere. It’s the life you’re living, in the dress.”

In an essay, C.S. Lewis quotes Goethe who says interestingly, that all his previous “love” affairs were, “for my own ennoblement.” Lewis makes the case that those therefore might not have been “love” affairs. Can they have been, if they were for the so-called lover’s own benefit? Without it really being in sight, the benefit of the other person?

dive eagle

This is why when we see before us sudden, unexpected, great or seemingly-small acts of helping, giving or kindness … we are moved to tears. Because the giver has no apparent regard for herself.

I think this is creativity. A Love. An Art. And I think it’s related to the way we can be moved to tears by a beautiful piece of music. I would suggest that they are a part and parcel of the same, beautiful, perfect … loving.

Check out this creative video and music clip, featuring Hilary Hahn playing “Bounce Bounce” on the violin, playing with Hauschka, another musician.

Then, check out this video clip below of Olympian Derek Redmond after injury, continuing on to the finish line with his father’s arm around him.

Beautiful, both of them, no?

With friends you grow wings. – Rumi

feathers

The Art of Communication

In Creative Living, Music, Poetry on September 19, 2013 at 1:00 am

Photo by Doug Stutler
Lily Lake – Lily Mountain
Estes Park, Colorado

“They can be a great help — words. They can become the spirit’s hands and lift and caress you.”

— Meister Eckhart

By Amy Wilson Feltz

Words have the means within them to create and destroy worlds. We know this about our own conversations, even if we don’t want to admit it. Think about the wounds that you have received from sharp words. Think about the wounds you’ve inflicted. Think about words that have brought a smile to your face. Think about words you’ve shared that made others smile.

Poetry gives those words a rhythm, a heartbeat, and draws us into the Life Source.

There’s only so much talking we can do about poetry. To experience it, we need to read some.

We Shake with Joy

We shake with joy, we shake with grief.

What a time they have, these two

Housed as they are in the same body.

— Mary Oliver

There is power in words to heal and transform.

I waited patiently for the LORD;

he turned to me and heart my cry.

He lifted me up out of the pit of uproar,

out of the miry clay,

he set my feet on a rock

and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth,

a song of praise to our God;

Many will see and fear the LORD

and put their trust in him.

— Psalm Forty, verses 2 and 3

yellowstone

Photo by Tami Bok
Yellowstone National Park
Wyoming

Poetry is also a great vehicle to explore matters of faith.

From Spring, by Wendell Berry:

He goes in spring

through the evening street

to buy bread,

green trees leaning

over the sidewalk,

forsythia yellow

beneath the windows,

birds singing

as birds sing

only in spring,

and he sings, his footsteps

beating the measure of his song.

His footsteps carry him past the window,

deeper into his song.

To his death? Yes.

He walks and sings to his death.

Not much of a surprise to people of faith because most of the Old Testament was written as poetry in the Hebrew Language, and in that original language we find rhythm and rhyme and plays on words that we miss in the English.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I fear no evil, for You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

— Psalm Twenty-Three, verse 4

Gingko grove at the arboretum in VA - Susan Speer

Photo by Susan Speer
Gingko Grove
Virginia

What a lovely reminder that it isn’t just the content but the form of the words that can inform and shape us.

The Psalms in the Old Testament give us a way to connect with something universal about what it means to be human, to love and to fear, to grieve and to rejoice.

Poetry in general does this, too.

I Want to Write Something So Simply

I want to write something


so simply


about love


or about pain


that even


as you are reading


you feel it


and as you read


you keep feeling it


and though it be my story


it will be common,


though it be singular


it will be known to you


so that by the end


you will think—


no, you will realize—


that it was all the while


yourself arranging the words,           


that it was all the time


words that you yourself,


out of your heart


had been saying.

— Mary Oliver

Poetry doesn’t just happen. It grows out of awareness. Out of experience with humanity and the divine. Out of an expression of beauty or sorrow that resonates with what it means to be a human being. It is the work of God in us, printing itself in black and white for the world to see.

In poetry, we remember that God is in all things.

Yellowstone Lily pads

Photo by Tami Bok
Dragonflies
Yellowstone, WY

In All Things

It was easy to love God in all that

was beautiful.

 

The lessons of deeper knowledge, though, instructed me

to embrace God in all

things.

— Saint Francis of Assisi

That God lives in us.

The beautiful thing about relationships is that, when they are valued and nurtured at least, they can provide the context and the safe place needed to clarify comments and actions that could be misunderstood.

In a correspondence between two poets* Peter O’Leary remarks that when he thinks about redefining God, he actually means that he’s been set free from making declarative statements about God by the invitation to, “Be still and know that God is God… Not to define God so much as to identify aspects of the radiating diadem of God’s afterimage.”

I think what he means by this is that if we are aware enough to know that God is with us, we’re going to be moved to describe our experience of God or our need of God.

Alicia O’Striker seems to agree, as she says, “My writing is a spiritual practice. My writing is my prayer. I imagine this is true for many poets.”

So, in the sense that poets are human and experience life as human beings do, their expression of their experiences become the expression of humanity. It’s not so much that they speak for us but that they give us the words for which we are searching to describe what we see and touch and taste and hear and feel.

In this way, poetry is very much a communal act.

Sometimes the Psalms and poetry in general can lose meaning when they become too familiar, when we just run our eyes over the words without registering their meaning. Or sometimes our minds are too full of other voices to makes sense of the words and we miss their meaning in the first place. Sometimes we write the Psalms and poetry in general off as being irrelevant, archaic even.

But the stuff of life is in there. Silence can help us find it.

Photo by Roger Brown Costa Rica

Photo by Roger Brown
Flower at Cafe Milagro
Costa Rica

Being still is not the same as freezing. To be still is to wait patiently until it is time to act again, with God’s prompting. Being still and trusting in God affords us the opportunity to take inventory of the many ways God is at work . . . and to be thankful. The spiritual disciplines of being still and then acting upon God’s prompting can be followed by deep and meaningful growth. Thanks be to God!

Alicia Ostriker said, “I believe that God is pregnant with his exiled, mute, amnesiac, repressed feminine side. Pregnant and in labor. Pregnant and in pain, for I believe our human pain is God’s labor pain, and that we can all collectively be midwives bringing the goddess back into consciousness.”

This is the work of poetry and the work of the Psalms, to invite us to see God, whole unbroken, so that we, too, may live in the divine image, whole and unbroken.

Ostriker’s words compare to Romans 8:22-23: For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. And not only they but ourselves, also, the first fruits of the Spirit, even groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, for the redemption of our body.

Feeling that God is hiding from us is cause for groaning, to be sure, but our inner silence and our inner voice and the voices of our community remind us: Absence from God is an illusion.

All we need do is Be Still. And Know that God is God.

Photo by Roger Brown

Photo by Roger Brown
Singing Sands
Dunhuang, China

*http://www.poetryfoundation.org/article/182864

Sources:

Meister Eckhart, The Spirit’s Hands, “Love Poems from God” © 2002 Daniel Ladinsky/Penguin Group

We Shake with Joy & I Want to Write Something So Simply “Evidence,” Poems by Mary Oliver © 2009 by Mary Oliver/Beacon Press

Psalm 40:2,3 New American Standard Bible/New International Version/original Hebrew

Psalm 23:4 NASB

Spring Excerpt, “Wendell Berry: New Collected Poems” © 2012 Wendell Berry/Counterpoint Press

A Masterpiece

In Creative Living, Life in Society on January 30, 2013 at 4:28 pm

By Jane Carter

Eph. 2:10 – “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

While reading Ephesians 2:10, I was struck by the Bible’s description of us as “masterpieces of God.” Merriam-Webster defines a Masterpiece as a work done with extraordinary skill, especially a work of intellectual or artistic achievement. That feels to me like a potentially liberating statement, because it means that in those inevitable moments when I feel invalid (in whatever capacity), I can reflect that I am not a mistake, I am a work done with extraordinary skill. Hence, if I feel as though I don’t have that much relevance, that I’m invalid in the environment I find myself in, I can remind myself that there is more to be seen than I do in that moment.

Even if you believe you are a fine specimen of everything you’re supposed to be, that doesn’t mean you have everything figured out. Actually it does mean that you are precious, and need to be protected and kept in your optimum condition. If you are a masterpiece, it means that you should take care of your surfaces. Exposure to extreme temperatures may dull your beauty and you may need to be touched up, or restored. The challenge for you and I, masterpieces that we are, is to make sure that the conditions in which we are kept and the means by which we are restored do not compromise the original work of art.

The above is a Spanish painting (Ecce Homo, or Behold the Man) originally completed by artist Elias Garcia Martinez in the 1800s. An endeavour commissioned by the church that it has been in for more than 100 years. Recently in August, 2012, a woman took it upon herself to restore the painting (picture on the right). Apparently, critics have taken to calling the painting “Ecce Mono” or, Behold the Monkey, because of the extent to which the church patron altered the work.

To go back to our ideas about masterpieces, some amount of supervision is necessary when you think about restoring yourself to your original glory. If light and moisture (read: the stresses of life) make your colours less brilliant, or etch holes in your canvas, you must be restored. In doing so though, you have to protect the integrity of your original work. To use an argument of adaptive human behaviour, if you find your old methods of behaviour no longer sustainable, as in your actions in relationships are getting you into trouble (read: dulling your masterpiece), then you have to make a change. In this event you must follow a trusted path to restoration, lest you transform or evolve into something altogether separate from your original self.

My position is that you have good inside of you; that the deep seated person that only you can unveil is who needs to come out. Imagine the aesthetic difference between the freshly painted Ecce Homo and the unauthorised restoration of it in 2012. What a tragedy! Now, think of yourself: people walk by, they add a brush stroke here or a hostile environment there, and these things show up on you. Your colours start becoming dull, or you begin to forget who you are, and what you’re worth. When people can’t really describe you when asked, or when they describe you, and you don’t recognise the person that they’ve illustrated, then you know you’re starting to fade. It’s time to be restored.

Do you know where your good restoration is? The kind that will take you back to your original glory? For me, I have several sources of restoration. My biggest source of restoration is to go back to the Artist: Almighty God, my Creator. Notice I didn’t say the church, or religion? No, my source of restoration is firstly from God, and the relationship I have with Him. I often talk to people who have no belief in or understanding of God, and I always say the same thing: ask God who He is. People get very caught up with religion and denomination and I’ve seen far too many people lose their faith because of the religious people around them. God is not a church, I don’t think. God is the Source of strength, the Comforter, the Guide, the Forever Friend. He inspires people to want to come together and I am restored by that. I also think that without a true relationship with God, following the church or even the Bible can become something other than restorative.

alpine

Photo by Roger Brown
Alpine Flowers
Colorado

I am also restored by the word of God. The Bible has so many different kinds of guides, from ways to draw closer to God (James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you) to normalising (and speaking to) my anxieties (Ecclesiastes 3:10  I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart, yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end). I take much strength from the fact that there is an ancient book that still holds relevance to my everyday struggles. Another way that I am restored is through my relationships with loving people. Nothing helps you to grow more than relationships, and a good relationship will restore you because it doesn’t simply highlight the area where you could stand to grow, but it also balms the wounds you’ve already encountered by speaking love and life into you, in a way that is sometimes more convincing than your own voice. Good relationships, from the bona fide relationship you have with God, to the honest relationships you have with your spouse/friends/parents/children will restore you. A good relationship will always bring you closer to owning three very important self statements: I am enough, I have enough and who I am originally is beautiful.

So, how are you restoring your masterpiece?

Part Two: Is Feminism Still the F-Word?

In Life in Society on April 10, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Answer: Yes, because systems of oppression still exist.

By Bekah McNeel

Here’s an underdog for you: An androgynous victim-turned-vigilante whose ideas of retribution are merciless and often gory. Lisbeth Salander is the anti-heroine of the book Men Who Hate Women, also titled The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. We cheer for her because we know how wounded she is, and the book makes little mystery of her oddity being the manifestation of the psychological effects of violence.

It’s tempting to see this violence as a modern perversion brought on by media violence, the sexual revolution, and video games. It’s tempting to hearken back to a sweeter time when a woman could go for a walk at night without fear, back before people were evil. But the heart of oppression is more native to our species. It’s more basic.

When asked about motive behind domestic abuse, men’s answers included anger, fear, insecurity, frustration, and other emotions triggered by desires for power, sex, or control.

(CNN Living, “Men Tell Oprah Why they Beat the Women they Love”, http://articles.cnn.com/2009-04-02/living/o.why.men.abuse.women_1_christy-abuse-sir?_s=PM:LIVING., accessed 3/30/12)

Abuse happens in cycles and abuse happens collectively. It happens to random strangers and to cherished spouses. There is no one answer as to what makes men want to beat or oppress women as a people group or as individuals.

Here is a concise list of disturbing facts lifted from the Oxfam Canada website:

16 Facts about Gender-Based Violence

1.     Around the world, as many as 1 in every 3 women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or abused in some other way – most often by someone she knows, including by her husband or another male family member.

2.     Women are more susceptible to violence during times of emergencies or crisis due to increased insecurity.

3.     1 in 5 women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime.

4.     About 1 in 4 women are abused during pregnancy, which puts both mother and child at risk.

5.     Laws that promote gender equality are often not applied.

6.     At least 130 million women have been forced to undergo female genital mutilation/cutting.

7.     ‘Honour’ Killings take the lives of 1000s of young women every year, mainly in Western Asia, North Africa and parts of South Asia.

8.     At least 60 million girls who would otherwise be expected to be alive are ‘missing’ from various populations as a result of sex-selective abortions or neglect.

9.     Over half a million women continue to die each year from pregnancy and childbirth-related causes.

10.  Rates of HIV infection among women are rapidly increasing.

11.  More often than not, perpetrators of gender-based violence go unpunished.

12.  Worldwide, women are twice as likely as men to be illiterate, limiting their ability to demand their rights and protection.

13.  Early marriage can have serious harmful consequences including, denial of education, health problems, and premature pregnancies, which cause higher rates of maternal and infant mortality. The power imbalance also means that young brides are unable to negotiate condom use or protest when their husbands engage in extra-marital sexual relations.

14.  Violence against women represents a drain on the economically productive workforce.

15.  Each year, an estimated 800,000 people are trafficked across borders 80 percent of them women and girls. Most of them end up trapped in the commercial sex trade.

16.  Gender-based violence also serves by intention or effect to perpetuate male power and control. It is sustained by a culture of silence and denial of the seriousness of the health consequences of abuse.

(http://oxfam.ca/what-we-do/themes-and-issues/womens-equality/16-facts-about-gender-based-violence, accessed on 03/30/12)

For further exploration of these and other statistics, readers may visit the below sites:

International Justice Mission http://www.ijm.org/sites/default/files/resources/Factsheet-Gender-Based-Violence.pdf

United Nations Women’s Development Fund http://progress.unwomen.org/

National Organization for Women http://www.now.org/issues/violence/stats.html

Photo by Kent Bartlett

Feminism is still “the F-word” in systems where it threatens a broken status quo. No one would say that a woman fighting for equal pay is in the same straits as a young girl trapped in the sex trade, but there is some solidarity there. Any system, even a family system, that says that women are inherently less valuable, capable or dignified than men is a system that makes way for abuse. Any system that sees education, health care, and legal rights as strictly belonging to men is a system that fosters oppression. A woman’s health and welfare in this world should not be dependent on the good will of the men around her.

I’m not saying men are evil. I’m not saying women are virtuous. We are all human and prone to abuse each other in large or small ways. Which is why we have to plan for the failure of our own virtue. We have to plan boundaries, structures, and accountability to keep us safe from each other. We cannot assume that we are incorruptible. This is not a new idea. This is why the United States has a Constitution. It’s not perfect, and it’s malleable. Some of the changes to it have come from surges of conscience that propelled us forward and made us better. Like the 14th and 19th amendments, which recognized that unless these people were citizens, they would be vulnerable and unprotected.

Around the world, women are without rights. I’m not talking about the choice to wear a hijab, or stay home to raise children. I am talking about the women who do not have that choice. Women for whom what they wear, say, and do is all limited and mandated by a system designed to control them. Not in the way that we all have to obey laws. Not in the way that we all have to submit to systems for the good of the whole. There are systems that deny women basic human agency. (For that matter, there are systems that deny whole people groups basic human agency … another essay for another day.)

If there are mandates that apply only to women, then that begs an explanation which may contain the DNA of oppression. If the explanation is that women are less capable, valuable or dignified, then a door is open to the stripping of their rights. The dehumanization process can begin with a simple statement about what women are “better suited” to do. So we must be very careful with our choices and how we explain them. We who have choices owe that much to the women who do not.

There are systems that need more than redefining and explaining. In another lesser-known novel, A Walk Across the Sun, by Corban Addison, economic systems built around supply and demand keep sex trade the booming industry that it is. Furthermore it brings women into a world of violence, where they then play an integral role in continuing their own oppression and the oppression of others, whether as brothel madams or teenage “mean girls” critiquing each other’s body shape and hair style.

This can happen on small scales too: women who are abused become abusers. The men who are abusing them were often abused themselves. Inside a system of oppression, there is rarely a simple dichotomy between perpetrator and victim. Inside the system of oppression, whether it is economic, social, or domestic, almost everyone needs rescue on some level.

The rescue begins by acknowledging that the brokenness is real and that it is closer than we realize. There are enemies to violence and oppression: justice, empowerment, and a place to heal. In so far as feminism is promoting these things for women who are denied them, it will always be “the f-word” to systems of oppression.