Happiness is… Friends!

Constance…this post was a wonder and joy for me to read…because at long last I know what it means. Read and enjoy, and call your friends to just say “thanks for being there!”
To my bff ddh…thanks love…squeezes! ❤

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CALLIOPE'S LYRE

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Happiness, as a state of mind, or a state we exist in, is in itself a very fair weather friend. You can only find happiness when everything’s going fine. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, tra la la la la la la, everything’s perfect. So, you’re happy.

But what when it’s not all so peachy? What about when every minute of the day drags you down a little more, and your head aches and your feet ache, those days when your very mind hurts from thinking… What defines ‘happy’ then?

It’s quite simple, really. Happiness is… friends. Friends you can fall back on, friends you know will make you smile even in that moment where you’re walking through absolute and utter despair. Friends who worry, friends who care. Who put themselves in the background so that they can be there. Friends who understand, and even when they don’t…

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Mama You Told Me

You told me there would be silences,
differences between
mountain streams and valley brooks,
You told me Your flow was warm,
liquid collecting of the gifts
and graces of valleys.
You said my bracing quick lightening was
“clear and quenched thirst, but good lord girl,
to bathe in that electric chill??
I might never sleep again!”

You said.
You told.

And Your Face
so still and mobile
and wreathed in grace,
always grace…
and determined healing.
You wear tears naked
like jewels, like chrystal
chips of Your Clear Heart,
intimate on Your face.

and me…spit up and emptied
and waiting for You
to fill the silent spaces
that ate grace and jeered
while feasting on my food.
me emptied, waiting …
and my heart,
ego-stained and washed clean,
captured
by Your face,
Your gift,
Your grace…

waiting…for that one grain of sand
to start an avalanche within me
of hope, nay!
of Hope,
sure and certain of its end,
like a leaf on a stream floating easily
on its way to the sea is certain
that it shall the voyage endure
and enjoy rejoicing!

You told me there would be…
You told me warm…
You told me…
You

 

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Jacob’s Half-Sister

words.

swallowed in medicine times
but found to be only poison
slow half-life killers
just in time spat out
in relief,
in apprehension,
in hope…

i am jacob’s half-sister
confessing her sin of being…
her…

“guilty of wasting a perfectly good man”
say those words that lay writhing
in a painful pile of self-loathing
at my feet, finally, and not
at my throat, those words
with their acrid foul smelling stench
befouling my legs and
the air around me.

i am expiated.
and my Mama is well pleased
and readying me.

the stone under my head grows soft
and i think about my long ago
half-brother, and his ladder.
i search the brooding night sky
for mine, my eyes
pleading like puppies
hungry for milk

but my ladder is my heart.
i know that, finally,
and the skies will open
only as my heart pries open
to spit the pearls formed
within this shell-shocked soul

the stone under my head becomes flesh
and i think about how jacob named
that stone, that ebenezer memory
of open skies and accessible heavens…
bethel…and it echoes in the dark,
rings midst the stars and
chimes in cloudy choruses.

that stone,
that living stone had legs
to wander, God’s house sojourning
from place to place and time to time
ever wandering…
the stone of Scone
stone of destiny
stone of coronation
old, red, sandstone

the stone under my head becomes red
and throbs and thrums and thrills
my soul open and searching the skies,
and i sense it will speak
as it spoke so long ago
and whisper my name,
my new name from heaven.
but it pushes me to listen elsewhere,
my answers not from
rock and sand and ruin
but from the Cornerstone Rock
and its bloody open hand
red and throbbing and thrumming

my half-brother was grasper
and then God Persists…
and me…
i was messenger,
herald blood bought
price paid
white as snow
washed.
but now,
named now…

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the stone under my head becomes blue
and then becomes wind,
and disappears to run
in trees and mountains and back to me
from Mama singing Her sweet answer
to my bitter long palaver…
singing my name’s song,
yes, my stone singing
the singing stone
the wind stone singing
my name-song on my face,
singing Love on my face
and my name, my name
echoes ever in me singing
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Privilege 101: A Quick and Dirty Guide

So Constance…I was wracking my lil pea brain, trying to find a way to begin to teach others around me about privilege.

The man that I interacted with last week was so steeped in privilege that he was like a fish in water, who would be befuddled if you tried to explain privilege to him…

…and I am going to have to become erudite on this topic, beginning today.  So when I found the article below, I decided to just post the whole thing here…I hyperlinked the title so you can go to the website itself, Everyday Feminism (which I highly recommend as a good source of information).

Join me on the journey?  Let us resolve to live like this: giving to others the privilege we want for ourselves, for if we all of us did that…

…yeah, that would mean that we

did justly
loved mercy
walked humbly.

Love, Charissa

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Privilege 101: A Quick and Dirty Guide

Source: No Greater Joy

“Privilege” is a word you’ll hear often in social justice spaces, both offline and online.

Some people understand the concept easily. Others – and I was like this – find the concept confusing and need a little more help.

If you’re willing to learn about privilege, but you don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place!

Before we get started, I want to clarify that this article is not entirely comprehensive. That is to say, it’s not going to explain everything there is to know about privilege. But it’ll give you a good foundation on the basics.

Think of privilege not as a single lesson, but as a field of study. To truly understand privilege, we must keep reading, learning, and thinking critically.

Defining Privilege

The origins of the term “privilege” can be traced back to the 1930s, when WEB DuBois wrote about the “psychological wage” that allowed whites to feel superior to black people. In 1988, Peggy McIntosh fleshed out the idea of privilege in a paper called “White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences through Work in Women’s Studies.”

We can define privilege as a set of unearned benefits given to people who fit into a specific social group.

Society grants privilege to people because of certain aspects of their identity. Aspects of a person’s identity can include race, class, gender, sexual orientation, language, geographical location, ability, and religion, to name a few.

But big concepts like privilege are so much more than their basic definitions! For many, this definition on its own raises more questions than it answers. So here are a few things about privilege that everyone should know.

1. Privilege is the other side of oppression.

It’s often easier to notice oppression than privilege.

It’s definitely easier to notice the oppression you personally experience than the privileges you experience since being mistreated is likely to leave a bigger impression on you than being treated fairly.

So consider the ways in which you are oppressed: How are you disadvantaged because of the way society treats aspects of your identity? Are you a woman? Are you disabled? Does your sexuality fall under the queer umbrella? Are you poor? Do you have a mental illness or a learning disability? Are you a person of color? Are you gender non-conforming?

All of these things could make life difficult because society disenfranchises people who fit into those social groups. We call this oppression.

But what about the people society doesn’t disenfranchise? What about the people society empowers at our expense? We call that privilege.

Privilege is simply the opposite of oppression.

2. We need to understand privilege in the context of power systems.

Society is affected by a number of different power systems: patriarchy, white supremacy,heterosexism, cissexism, and classism — to name a few. These systems interact together in one giant system called the kyriarchy.

Privileged groups have power over oppressed groups.

Privileged people are more likely to be in positions of power – for example, they’re more likely to dominate politics, be economically well-off, have influence over the media, and hold executive positions in companies.

Privileged people can use their positions to benefit people like themselves – in other words, other privileged people.

In a patriarchal society, women do not have institutional power (at least, not based on their gender). In a white supremacist society, people of color don’t have race-based institutional power. And so on.

It’s important to bear this in mind because privilege doesn’t go both ways. Female privilege does not exist because women don’t have institutional power. Similarly, black privilege, trans privilege, and poor privilege don’t exist because those groups do not have institutional power.

It’s also important to remember because people often look at privilege individually rather thansystemically. While individual experiences are important, we have to try to understand privilege in terms of systems and social patterns. We’re looking at the rule, not the exception to the rule.

3. Privileges and oppressions affect each other, but they don’t negate each other.

I experience my queerness in relation to my womanhood. I experience these aspects of my identity in relation to my experience as a mentally ill person, as someone who’s white, as someone who is South African, as someone who is able-bodied, as someone who is cisgender.

All aspects of our identities – whether those aspects are oppressed or privileged by society – interact with one another. We experience the aspects of our identities collectively and simultaneously, not individually.

The interaction between different aspects of our identities is often referred to as anintersection. The term intersectionality was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, who used it to describe the experiences of black women – who experience both sexism and racism.

While all women experience sexism, the sexism that black women experience is unique in that it is informed by racism.

To illustrate with another example, mental illness is often stigmatized. As a mentally-ill woman, I have been told that my post-traumatic stress disorder is “just PMS” and a result of me “being an over-sensitive woman.” This is an intersection between ableism and misogyny.

The aspects of our identities that are privileged can also affect the aspects that are oppressed.Yes, privilege and oppression intersect — but they don’t negate one another.

Often, people believe that they can’t experience privilege because they also experience oppression. A common example is the idea that poor white people don’t experience white privilege because they are poor. But this is not the case.

Being poor does not negate the fact that you, as a white person, are less likely to become the victim of police brutality in most countries around the world, for example.

Being poor is an oppression, yes, but this doesn’t cancel out the fact that you can still benefit from white privilege.

As Phoenix Calida wrote:

“Privilege simply means that under the exact same set of circumstances you’re in, life would be harder without your privilege.

Being poor is hard. Being poor and disabled is harder.

Being a woman is hard. Being a trans woman is harder.

Being a white woman is hard, being a woman of color is harder.

Being a black man is hard, being a gay black man is harder.”

Let’s look at the example of people who are both poor and white. Being white means that you have access to resources which could help you survive. You’re more likely to have a support network of relatively well-off people. You can use these networks to look for a job.

If you go to a job interview, you are more likely to be interviewed by a white person, as white people are more likely to be in executive positions. People in positions of power are usually the same race as you, so if they are racially prejudiced, it’s likely that they would be prejudiced in your favor.

A poor black person, on the other hand, will not have access to those resources, is unlikely to be of the same race as people in power, and is more likely to be harmed by racial prejudice.

So once again: Being white and poor is hard, but being black and poor is harder.

4. Privilege describes what everyone should experience.

When we use the word “privilege” in the context of social justice, it means something slightly different to the way it’s used by most people in their everyday environment.

Often we think of privilege as “special advantages.” We frequently hear the phrase, “X is a privilege, not a right,” conveying the idea that X is something special that shouldn’t be expected.

Because of the way we use “privilege” in our day-to-day lives, people often get upset when others point out some of their privileges.

A male acquaintance of mine initially struggled to understand the concept of privilege. He once said to me, “Men don’t often experience gender-based street harassment, but that’s not a privilege. It’s something everyone should expect.”

Correct. Everyone should expect to be treated that way. Everyone has a right to be treated that way. The problem is that certain people aren’t treated that way.

To illustrate: Nobody should be treated as if they are untrustworthy based on their race. But often, people of color – particularly black people – are mistrusted because of prejudice towards their race.

White people, however, don’t experience this systemic, race-based prejudice. We call this “white privilege” because people who are white are free from racial oppression.

We don’t use the term “privilege” because we don’t think everyone deserves this treatment.

We call privilege “privilege” because we acknowledge that not everyone experiences it.

5. Privilege doesn’t mean you didn’t work hard.

People often get defensive when someone points out that they have privilege. And I totally understand why – before I fully understood privilege, I acted the same way.

Many people think that having privilege means you have had an easy life. As such, they feel personally attacked when people point out their privilege. To them, it feels as if someone is saying that they haven’t worked hard or endured any difficulties.

But this is not what privilege means.

You can be privileged and still have a difficult life. Privilege doesn’t mean that your life is easy, but rather that it’s easier than others.

I saw this brilliant analogy comparing white privilege and bike commuting in a car-friendly city, and it inspired me to broaden the analogy to privilege in general.

So let’s say both you and your friend decide to go cycling. You decide to cycle for the same distance, but you take different routes. You take a route that is a bit bumpy. More often than not, you go down roads that are at a slight decline. It’s very hot, but the wind is at usually at your back. You eventually get to your destination, but you’re sunburnt, your legs are aching, you’re out of breath, and you have a cramp.

When you eventually meet up with your friend, she says that the ride was awful for her. It was also bumpy. The road she took was at an incline the entire time. She was even more sunburnt than you because she had no sunscreen. At one point, a strong gust of wind blew her over and she hurt her foot. She ran out of water halfway through. When she hears about your route, she remarks that your experience seemed easier than hers.

Does that mean that you didn’t cycle to the best of your ability? Does it mean that you didn’t face obstacles? Does it mean that you didn’t work hard? No. What it means is that you didn’t face the obstacles she faced.

Privilege doesn’t mean your life is easy or that you didn’t work hard. It simply means that you don’t have to face the obstacles others have to endure. It means that life is more difficult for those who don’t have the systemic privilege you have.

So What Now?

Often, people think that feminists and social justice activists point out people’s privilege to make them feel guilty. This isn’t the case at all!

We don’t want you to feel guilty. We want you to join us in challenging the systems that privilege some people and oppress others.

Guilt is an unhelpful feeling: It makes us feel ashamed, which prevents us from speaking out and bringing about change. As Jamie Utt notes, “If privilege guilt prevents me from acting against oppression, then it is simply another tool of oppression.

You don’t need to feel guilty for having privilege because having privilege is not your fault: It’s not something you chose. But what you can choose is to push back against your privilege and to use it in a way that challenges oppressive systems instead of perpetuating them.

So what can you – as a person who experiences privilege – do?

Understanding privilege is a start, so you’ve already made the first move! Yay!

There’s a great deal of information out there on the Internet, so I’d firstly recommend that you read more about the concepts of oppression and privilege in order to expand your understanding. The links in this article are a good place to start.

But merely understanding privilege is not enough. We need to take action.

Listen to people who experience oppression. Learn about how you can work in solidarity with oppressed groups. Join feminist and activist communities in order to support those you have privilege over. Focus on teaching other privileged people about their privilege.

Above all else, bear in mind that your privilege exists.

Sian Ferguson is a Contributing Writer at Everyday Feminism. She is a South African feminist currently studying toward a Bachelors of Social Science degree majoring in English Language and Literature and Gender Studies at the University of Cape Town. She has been featured as a guest writer on websites such as Women24 and Foxy Box, while also writing for her personal blog. In her spare time, she tweets excessively @sianfergs, reads about current affairs, and spends time with her gorgeous group of friends. Read her articles here.

Oh Death, Where is Thy Sting

Death.

Just the word gives my soul a dead shiver of inverted light, black shimmering on dark.  And deep down inside, it does for you too.  It is the one reason that a fire burns at my core, bright-hot and fierce, when I think of Jesus, His one mission and intention midst the myriad of wonders that streamed off Him and trailed behind Him like miraculous rain in ever dry desert lands…Jesus and the absolute single minded attack He made on the last great enemy death…a death-match with death, and Jesus won, but He won in the least expected way ever.  He laid down His life, and trusted that the Father would do what He retained the right to do…whatever He says He will do, and He told Jesus ahead of time that He would raise Him up…

…or rather behind time.  Because this transaction happened before time, before space…before there was anything but Them and perfect relationship in mutual trust and sacrifice…that is when Jesus the Lamb was slain…that was when the “moment” (can there be moments before there is time?) of total trust occurred.

Death knew nothing about this.  Nothing…and nothing about resurrection.

Think about that.  I can never think of death without thinking of the fact that Jesus forced His life down its throat and crammed Himself into its maw…and now death runs tharn like a dog with a foxtail stuck in its nose…

Anyway, the singleminded determination of Jesus, the glint in His eye as He took dead aim at death and then dove to the bottom of bottom, and started walking back up.  Throwing doors open and inviting whosoever will to follow to freedom forever.  And then, before He left, He turned and looked at the last enemy who was shocked, defeated and sitting stunned that One was simply walking out of its grasp and there wasn’t a damned thing it could do about it, and said “I’ll be back”.

I hold onto that.  I have requested a front row seat, for me and my loved ones…front and center at the edge of that arena where at last Jesus puts that monster under His feet once and for all…and exacts complete and utter justice for every last tear, every scintilla of agony, every drop of despair…and I am going to scream in exultation until I cannot scream any more and then scream with my inner ever scream of horror become my screaming victory-chant.

That is the view that They have imparted to me.

But there are many other views, many other thoughts, much speculation about what death is and isn’t, and what lays beyond its gaping maw…and that is the subject of the devotional below.

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Dark Riddle

In 1952 philosopher Mortimer Adler co-edited a fifty-five volume series for Encyclopedia Britannica titled The Great Books of the Western World. Overseeing a staff of ninety, the editors created a diverse index of topics containing selections from many of the finest thinkers in the history of Western Civilization.

Upon completion, Adler was asked why the work included more pages under the subject of God than any other topic. He replied matter-of-factly that it was because more consequences for life and action follow from the affirmation or denial of God than from any other basic question.

What we do with the subject of God is a far-reaching choice, defining life, informing death, shaping everything. The one who lives as though there is no God lives quite differently than the one who lives confidently that there is a God. It is a subject of consequence because it reaches everything and everyone; whether mindfully or indifferently, a decision is always made.

Through avenues of every emotion known to humankind, the Psalms make the astounding claim that God not only exists, but that God is present and can be found. In victory and defeat, illness and poverty, health and prosperity, the psalmist maintains that it is God who gives all of life meaning, that God alone answers the deepest and darkest questions of life whether in the depths or from the highest vantage.

Calling to the multitudes, crossing lines of status and allegiance, the psalmist pleads for care regarding a subject that concerns all. Like Adler, the psalmist makes it clear that what is being communicated is of consequence. “Listen, all who live in this world, both low and high, rich and poor together… I will incline my ear to a proverb; I will solve my riddle to the music of the harp.”(1)

This riddle the psalmist wants to bring to the attention of all is a riddle forever before humankind. It is a riddle to which all must diligently attend but many wholeheartedly ignore. Fittingly, the Hebrew word for “riddle” has also been translated “dark saying” or “difficult question.”

The psalmist continues, “When we look at the wise, they die; fool and dolt perish together and leave their wealth to others. Their graves are their homes for ever, their dwelling-places to all generations, though they named lands their own. Mortals cannot abide in their pomp; they are like the animals that perish.”

It is easy to go about life as if we know what we are doing. The psalmist stops us to ask, what is the point of it all? Some accumulate wealth, others remain in poverty, some live well and others live wickedly, but all are destined for the grave. The one who claims there is no God in life, so claims emptiness in death. But then is life also empty? Again the psalmist admits it is all a dark riddle: What is the point of it all?

Solving the riddles of life and death, like religion and politics at a social gathering, means, for many, changing the subject. As Woody Allen once quipped, “It’s not that I am afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

But that our lives are fleeting could awaken a sense of urgency, a sense of inquiry. That life is fleeting, though inarguably full of meaning, is indeed either a peculiar contradiction or a hint that creation is being made new, both now and in what is coming.

This is not to say that death, for the Christian, is not a mystery. We know that death is the last great door through which we must walk, the mark of a broken world. Yet we know also that through death God has declared the end of that broken hold on our lives, that the one who loses his life will save it, and that by Christ’s death the Spirit works Christ’s life in us even now.

As C.S. Lewis once said of the Christian, “Of all men, we hope most of death; yet nothing will reconcile us to…its ‘unnaturalness.’ We know that we were not made for it; we know how it crept into our destiny as an intruder; and we know Who has defeated it.”

In the riddle of life and death, the psalmist expounds this certainty of God’s action. “But God will ransom my soul from the power of the grave, for he will receive me.”

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

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