Radical Grace

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I recently had the heart wrenching privilege of watching Radical Grace.  It relays the story of a group of nuns – actually, all American nuns – who came into hot water with the Vatican.  They faced the possibility of excommunication for focussing too much on social justice.  It follows the nuns from Vatican II onwards, depicting the roles the different popes played in supporting or suppressing the voices of Catholic women.  Seeing their story hit an unsuspecting nerve in me.

This documentary is a rare beauty because there are few insider female voices publicly discussing contemporary issues in Christianity.  This is because among those issues is whether women should be given a public platform to talk about faith.  After all, it is widely accepted that men can’t learn anything worthwhile if the transmitter of that knowledge is a woman standing at the front of a church.  (In many Protestant circles, if it’s a really important message that has been weighing on her for some time, she must get married.  Then, she can quietly approach her husband about it provided she is simultaneously nursing, cleaning something and making his dinner.  That way, he can sieve out her hysteria before he decides whether or not her thoughts are worth sharing more widely.)

That paragraph is angrier than I like to get on this blog, but it is an issue that stabbed at me as a Christian.  I faced similar Bible verses, dismissive stances, theological arguments and holy sexism to what these nuns did.

As I lay awake last night contemplating the challenges Christian women put up with, my heart let out a long throaty, grieving wail.  It physically ached within my chest, feeling a size too big for my ribs.   I reluctantly observed that even though its been a year since I left the Church, I’m still so hurt by this.  Overwhelmed with sadness, I tried to think of other things – my toes, my breathing, the sounds of the night – enough to distract myself from the soreness and the cry of my heart to fall asleep.

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All of the nuns in the film were older women who had been fighting for causes for decades.  To watch them hold their ground and weather the threat of being dismissed from the Church they gave their entire lives to was inspiring.  It was a testament to the strength of their convictions, their faith and their character.

Since I last posted, my husband got a new job in a different part of the province. As quickly as we could, we quit our current jobs and moved to a new city.

As a result, my future has suddenly gone blank.  What do I want to do with it?  The prospect is both scary and delicious.  I hope I can make it into something that has the same flavours of courage, goodness and tenacity that these nuns have.  I hope I can find my own tribe of “sisters” to do it with me.  I hope.  It won’t be in Jesus’ name, because I’ve given up on that now.  Nevertheless this film has supplied me with such hope in the potential of women on a mission.

Watch it while you can online.  I’ve given a link to it, but it will only be available on CBC’s website for free for a short time.

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Why I Am No Longer A Christian: The Documentary

I stumbled upon the documentary series “Why I Am No Longer A Christian” a couple of years ago.  I was a closet atheist at the time, nowhere near being ready to “come out,” and I didn’t have anyone in my life who was experiencing anything similar.  It was an extremely painful and lonely time.

This documentary series happened to be featured as a top pick on a website that showcased free documentaries.  My curiosity was piqued so I clicked.

The graphics are terrible, the music is weird, but his story is oh-so-compelling.  It made me feel less insane.  I identified with many of the stages this person went through and encountered many of the same emotions, realizations and academic research that he did during my own journey.  I highly recommend it for those of you wanting to understand how someone can make the transition from having a flourishing relationship with their Creator to no longer believing in any kind of a divine being at all.  For my friends who are passionate about Apologetics, this would be an excellent series to base a group study on.   The weaknesses in his approach can and should be discussed.  For those of you like me who are transitioning or have already transitioned out of their Christianity, watching this might be one of the most fabulous things you do this week, or year.

It kind of goes on forever… I actually haven’t finished it.  Eventually, after 4 hours of clips, you seem to be prompted to pay for more, but by that point, he’s gotten so technical in his philosophical language that I just lost interest.  BUT the first three hours or so are amazing.  If you watch it, tell me what you think.