Firsts for women are still happening all over the world. I was thrilled to see news reports that Saudi women are now registering to vote for the first time! The first elections in which women will be eligible to vote will be held in December.
Especially poignant that this is happening around the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment when women in the United States won the right to vote 95 years ago.
It's a major step forward, of course, but it certainly doesn't mean all is now well and equal for all women across the globe. There's still more to be done.
A new original Broadway musical tells the story behind the song "Amazing Grace" - John Newton's transformation from a profane atheist and slave-trader to Christian abolitionist - and the cast performed the title song on Jimmy Fallon's "The Tonight Show" last week. It gave me goose-bumps. Listen:
(Here's a link if the embedded video doesn't work.)
This piece, "Question: Why must we still talk about race? Answer: Twelve," a straightforward explanation of why historical perspective is important when talking about race and racial issues. Slavery persisted in the US for twelve generations. It's only been about half that much time since slavery was abolished after the Civil War.
And I'd never heard the Brian McLaren joke she quotes:
Why did Jesus cross the road?
To get to the other.Then I read this article in the Guardian, "Study of Holocaust survivors finds trauma passed on to children's genes." Of course, the scientists specifically studied Holocaust survivors, but surely twelve generations of slavery qualifies as trauma as well. It provides interesting food for thought on the lingering effects of major trauma on later generations.
A new website, Out in Zion, "attempts to deepen and enrich the conversation intersecting membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender" through blog posts and podcasts. I deeply admire many of the contributors to this site: Laura Skaggs Dulin, Tom Christofferson, Kendall Wilcox, and others.
While I haven't had a chance to listen to the podcasts yet, two recent posts touched me. Excerpts are below.
From "If I Could Reach Every Ward":
This is the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to heal, to deliver, to set at liberty. And although Jesus’ message may have anticipated at least partially his role in the resurrection and our eternal life, his ministry demonstrates that he meant to offer these gifts for our time on earth as well.
He spent most of the years of his ministry healing bodies and minds, delivering captives from rigid beliefs, and setting at liberty those who believed they were less deserving of God’s notice: the poor, the Samaritans, even the lepers who were seen as deliberately stricken by God. It was precisely those who did not experience themselves as belonging in the religious mainstream that Jesus focused on, spent time with, and defended from others’ criticism...
It has been my experience that God is not put off by my real feelings, not even my anger, nor does he turn away if I let him know that I mistrust what I see of his plan for my life. His tender care allows him to hear our complaints and bear our burdens, and his tender care can help us find others who understand our burdens so we do not have to bear them alone.From "In That Quest, All Are Needed and Wanted":
My hope is that each of you have received that personal confirmation that Heavenly Father knows you, uniquely and individually, that He knows the whole of you, the past, present and future of you, He knows that you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and with that knowledge, not in spite of it, He loves you without reservation, completely, eternally. We do not earn His love through our obedience or sacrifice any more than we earn the privilege of resurrection, the privilege of repentance, the privilege of discipleship. His love is bestowed without condition. If you take no other message away from our time this evening, I hope you will realize the perfect love and complete knowledge that your Heavenly Father has of you.
Once that witness has been burned into our souls, we can let go of self-loathing, we can move beyond the feeling or focus on what I heard the other day referred to as “unwanted same-sex attraction”, we can embrace the knowledge that who we are is not in need of repair. Instead, we can concentrate on learning to love as He does. With the Beloved apostle John we can testify, “We love him because he first loved us.” That love is what impels us along the course of discipleship. His Spirit guides us and we can do hard things – as you well know, no path you may choose is without cost.