Every time I pray Thy will be done on Earth as in Heaven I stop and pause and think…Really? Do I mean this? Do I really want God’s will done on Earth? The stories and mythologies Forming the backbone of the tradition Speak of radical events of upheaval and chaos When God makes divine footfalls on our terra firma, When God beckons humans to reconsider, to look elsewhere, to hear anew. The vibration from Divine steps and voice renders pre-existing structures Rubble and dust; removing ground under feet once sure and confident; Plummeting sure and confident human beings into voids of doubt Flirting with despair and terror and fear and panic; Returning full grown adults to infancy: needy and desperate. But the meaning of my pause is ironic: aren’t I already in tumult And chaos and upheaval? Haven’t we done just fine with that On our own?
We kill black and brown people in streets and on borders We declare war on neighboring Nations and people groups We’ve stolen land and then sold it back to the people we stole it from We render humans without homes as blights on our quaint Main Streets We perpetuate the starvation of the Hungry while feeding dumpsters We make undrinkable water for the Thirsty but we have our enterprises We make life a thing to be earned, baited with the carrot of healthcare We throw people in cages while retirement accounts and mutual funds surge We sell lies of security to people through the idolatry of Militarization We put all of our hope in science and then turn our backs on it when it threatens to restrain our liberty and freedom for others We’ve grown isolated and alienated, packed in below the earth, safe in our bunkers from the enemies outside; but the irony is… we’re the enemies we fear most.
So, what if praying fervently: Thy will be done on Earth as in Heaven Means comfort and solidarity rather than chaos and loneliness? What if it means solid ground rather than groundlessness? What if it means right side up rather than upside down? What if it means breathing in deep rather than holding breath? What if it means mutuality into community rather than competition unto isolation? What if it means surety of divine presence in the other and with the other rather than the surety of the doctrines and dogmas of human made systems and kingdoms? What if it means I can collapse into the divine embrace of a loving Elder Ancestor who whispers to me the stories of the perpetuity of divine love in the world and for the world—the stories and myths that feed life and liberation to all those who hear— rather than being stuck in the alienating and destructive mythology of man, held by none? What if it means rest in loving warmth rather than tumult in chilled indifference? What if it means light and life rather than darkness and death?
In this episode, my friend, Rachel Cohen (@pwstranger), tells me her story. As I make mention of in the introduction, Rachel and I have been friends for the better part of a decade. Our paths have overlapped and split an overlapped again. We share some of that story in the episode, so I won’t go into detail here. Rachel also spends time throughout the episode telling her story of her self-alignment and realignment about her sexuality and embodiment with what she believed and was taught. Rachel’s story is unique and one that is best in her voice, so I won’t go into detail here about that either. What I will say about this episode is that Rachel and I cover good ground looking at the capitalization of self-gaslighting to peddle a false gospel and how we can monetize our shame and guilt for likes and retweets and shares, how certain schools of popular theology use the theme of brokenness and failure as a means of self-justification, and how the freedom of confession can be freeing for a moment and turn into putridness like manna kept longer than commanded. Rachel mentions that for her (and I’m guessing for many other people) there is a perception of thriving that is disconnected from the inner self. We can present as thriving while on the inside the core of the person is being suffocated and starved. The way this misalignment of the self persists is by controlling what information is accessed by the self. In other terms, you are dunked deep into the echo-chamber and held down so that liquid is your self’s amniotic fluid from which you can never be born. But is this actual “thriving”? No, it’s a perception of thriving according to the rule and approval of those around you. To actually thrive necessitates an ability to be *yourself* even in the midst of encountering new information, new people, and even information and people you disagree with and that/who disagree with you. You cannot find *your* voice if you are forced to speak a certain way, so gaining alignment and having “integrity”, Rachel explains, necessitates finding your voice for yourself and to come to your conclusions. No one gets to tell you what to think—even if you are informed by teachers and leaders and mentors, you decide what you are going to think. This ownership of thought is important especially when engaging with theology which is a form of human meaning making, as Rachel explains. And it’s important because here you can distinguish between shame that is healthy conviction and your own conviction because you transgressed *your* own boundary and shame that is destructive because it’s imposed on you by an external system. But this is only the first part of our conversation…there’s part II. So, start listening here and then get ready for part II…*
In part two Rachel goes into depth about the role a robust theology of suffering plays in the life of a queer person and how that theology is used by the dominant culture group to oppress and dominate the lgbtqia+ community. She shares more of her story and her journey while incorporated the work of Dr. Miguel de la Torre (Doing Ethics from the Margins) through out her sharing. We talk about echo chambers, shame, fear of being ostracized and exiled from the group…things that shouldn’t be synonymous with Christians but often are. In group and out group is the way the dominant group maintains its control and primacy, without the fear of exile…or hell (!) how else do you keep the dissenters quiet? To be honest, the episode is long, so there’s no way I’ve done it justice in this summary. So, find some time, crank it up to 2x speed and jump in. It’s a great conclusion to part III of #sexandrevolution
Excited? You should be. Listen to Part II here:
Listen here to Part I here:
Rachel Cohen is a licensed therapist who currently lives in Denver, Colorado with her lovely partner and dog. She has two Master’s degrees: one in Theological Studies, and the other in Counseling. While in seminary, Rachel began to examine and move beyond many of the deeply held beliefs and ideas that were pervasive in the evangelical Christian circles in which she was residing. It was also during this time that she began the complex and liberating journey of coming to understand and embrace herself as a queer woman. She is passionate about helping others untangle unhelpful narratives and ideas, discover more of who they are, and learn how to establish healthier boundaries with others. Her favorite recipe is BBQ salmon bowls with mango avocado salsa. Her favorite pastime is songwriting. She’s currently reading Untamed by Glennon Doyle and The Body Says No by Gabor Maté.
*In this episode Rachel and I speak about a podcast, Millenneagram, that I listened to late in 2019 and early in 2020 as part of my personal therapy practice as I was processing some major pain. When Rachel and I recorded the host and producer of the podcast, @riverpaasch was not publicly going by “River”. Rachel Cohen brought this to my attention and I felt that I should add something here in the blogpost because it’s important. That podcast is no longer in production. And their work is profound and insightful, and I highly recommend hitting those old episodes as well as finding them on social media to learn from them.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
Ancient Laws and Contemporary Controversies: The Need for Inclusive Biblical Interpretation by Cheryl B. Anderson
Heterosixism in Contemporary World Religions: Problema nd Prospect by Marvin Mahan Ellison
To Shake the Sleeping Self by Jedediah Jenkins
Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist: How to End the Drama and Get on with Life by Margalis Fjelstad