|by Mixed Media Paintings|
Here's where the path diverges: I have great respect for the teachings and ancient practices of the Catholic Church. I feel close to God in the sacred rites of the Holy Eucharist, the Our Father (what my husband calls "The Lord's Prayer"), kneeling in reverent preparation for communion, and the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday.
In some way I've come to accept I'll never fully understand, I believe in the transubstantiation of Jesus in the Bread and Wine. And for those who are worried, no, I do not believe it's akin to cannibalism. I believe that when, as most Christians say, the Holy Spirit lives in each one of us, that somehow, in some way, Jesus concretely lives within us as we empty ourselves before the breaking of His Body and pouring of His Blood. In more colloquial Christian terms, it's a mystery similar to the Trinity or to Mary having a virgin birth or even to two becoming one in marriage. As a Catholic Christian, I have a much greater appreciation and acceptance of mystery as an integral, rather than roadblock, to a deep faith in Christ.
Yet, as with most Catholics, there are quite a few points of contention when being part of this hierarchical, patriarchal community. I disagree vehemently with the Chuch's stance on a range of controversial topics, such as women's rights and leadership in the Church, their stances on sexual ethics from sexual abuse to reproductive rights to contraception, and choosing rules over the reason for the rules as my father says.
The Church is literally the hands and feet of Jesus around the world, especially in developing nations. But you know who often is doing the gritty, grueling work on the ground? The nuns and sisters who, like those who taught me art and reading growing up, are devoted to loving God and loving others in tangible ways. And yes, the same nuns and sisters who have recently been disciplined by the Church hierarchy in the United State for their "radical feminist themes" (I wish I wasn't serious).
As I've said before and will say again, I am a feminist because I am a Christian, but I am Christian because I follow Christ. In that order, my faith in this homeless, migrant, unmarried, miracle man who came to atone for the sins of the world as the Messiah instructs my views on power, privilege, gender, and the intersectionality of these traits -- some of the central components of feminist theory and the movement itself. Yes, I am a feminist and a Christian because my faith in Christ disrupts the status quo, including the current system of patriarchy which privileges one half of human beings over another for the sake of power.
Countless articles and studies have revealed the hordes of young people and women leaving the church. Books like The Resignation of Eve: What if Adam's Rib is No Longer Willing to be the Church's Backbone? have been written on the topic. My favorite bloggers (see "Blogroll" tab) write about these issues. And I come back, time and time again, to the simple question of are women human?
From looking at Jesus's life, I can say adamantly that yes, women are human. They are not property. They are not less than men. They are not less worthy. They are not either virgins or whores. They are beloved daughters of God, made in God's image, and fully human.
But I'm not so sure if women are fully human in the Church.