Sunday, November 25, 2007

Belly Dancing and Stilt Dancing

Clam here. High time I jump into the crustacean scrum. For my first entry, I thought I might check in with the website that almost makes this blog unnecessary, the (in)famous From the "you can't make this stuff up" department, comes news of a conference hosted and sponsored earlier this month at this still-in-good-standing ELCA congregation. I'm tempted to let their copy speak for itself:

Wisdom’s Urgent Cry
A Faith and Feminism
Womanist/Mujerista Conference

hosted by Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran
and co-sponsored by San Francisco ELCA Conference

A gathering for feminist (men and women) faith seekers, church leaders, Interfaith leaders to experience and discuss the urgent implications of God/dess imagery and gender issues which transform the church, the world and our daily lives so that together we seek and speak justice.

Now I suppose that I could Google "mujerista," if those of us in the undersea kingdom had Google, and figure out what a "mujerista" is. But Clam would admit to be scratching his head at that one.

In any event, one might wonder who, exactly, are the "Interfaith leaders" participating in this conference. The answer is not obvious, but it seems the reference is to these folks (excerpts from biographical information follows):

Mara Lynn Keller, ritualist of the Eleusinian Mysteries of Demeter and Persephone

Judith Lavender Dancer, dancer, healer and movement educator. Her work incorporates teachings from both Western and Eastern modalities, including Feldenkrais, Chi Qong, clowning, Bioenergetics, belly dancing, improvisation, meditation, and stilt dancing.

Arisika Razak, educator in the field of Women's Studies/Women's Spirituality. Arisika's work integrates the disciplines of Women's Studies/ Women's Spirituality, and Women's Health and Spiritual Dance, through the incorporation of the teachings of earth based spiritual traditions, women's spirituality, and women's health into the language of movement and dance.

Apparently the conferencegoers began each day in the sanctuary, with a program including "Grounding", "The Sacred Dance" and "Sing Inclusive Hymns". All of which leads Clam to ponder the question: is it still syncretism if the other "faiths" aren't actually religions, as commonly understood?

Keep Clam!


Anonymous said...

That website scares me... I never heard of a minister of embodyment...

My concern is why Ebenezer doesn't admit reality and admit they long ago left the realm of Christianity and Lutheranism for their pagan mismash?

Cap'n Bill said...

Hey,Megan, you are sort of on staff there, right? Could you explain some of this to us? How are we who think that we to worship only God supposed to understand having worship of Diana and Persephone in the sanctuary of a ELCA congregation?

Second, this was really sponsored by a conference of the ELCA?

Lastly, what form does pastoral counsel take when your Bishop hears that pastors in that synod bend the knee to the Ba'al and Asherah? Email for verification? Phone call to say, "Uh, well, you know some people might misunderstand so could you be a little more discreet?

Rev. Megan M. Rohrer said...

You guys are funny! I wonder sometimes you you just read for things that you think will prove your points, rather than reading all the info that is available.

I was a speaker at the conference... I know you're probably all shocked (sarcasm). It was really great to have so many female Lutherans together to talk about our faith in the triune God, who in all versions of scripture has female metaphors and pronouns for God (especially the King James). Of course it's most prominent in the Greek and Hebrew.

I don't know the background of any of the posters on this blog because you use aka's rather than your real names so I don't know if you read the bible in the Greek and Hebrew.

In fact in the early middle ages it was quite common to talk about Christ as female with breasts. But I'm sure you all knew that already. Certainly almost all the pronouns about the Spirit are female and many of the images for the "father" and Christ are as well. Like in the parables and talk about the hen watching her brood and all that.

Usually whenever I talk about the bible someone just points to some other text (which is why the bible is great!), so try this one on for size. Christ (the body of Christ) is the church. When we talk about the church we use a female pronoun. Therefore we can use a female pronoun for Christ. Herchurch also always uses male pronouns in its services (because that is appropriate too).

Sometimes I know that we can cling to ideas more than what is in the bible. This conference was about looking at biblical texts that are not often lifted up by people who are more interested in degrading women (as Luther was prone to do as well). Usually it is this disrespect for the feminine that is the root for problems with homosexuality. At least this is the case for Luther (LW24 on Romans) who states that it is effeminacy that is the sin of sodom.

"mujerista" is a Latin American expression of feminism. They do not mean the same thing, because "mujerista" is particular to the expression of Latin Americans and is deeply rooted in story telling and narratives. Alicia Vargas from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary (plts) presented info on this topic.

If you'd like more info on the biblical texts we studied in depth send me an email: and I'd be glad to share them with you.

Rev. Megan M. Rohrer said...

P.S. It's not about worshiping the gods of other religions. It's learning about how the stories of other traditions influenced and inspired our Sacred stories in the Bible. Actually the alter of her church has a picture of Jesus and the apostles on it. There is also a large cross. I can send you pictures of the alter and sanctuary if you are interested.

The conference was attended by the ELCA churchwide staff that work on Women's Issues - can't remember what their department is currently called because it keeps getting cut and renamed.

Rev. Megan M. Rohrer said...

Oh yeah, and you may enjoy sending a letter to Bishop Mullin of the Sierra Pacific Synod, he will send you a letter in response about why HerChurch is not heretical.

Anonymous said...

In the early middle ages, they spoke of the 4 elements of earth, fire, wind, and water, and believed that they could turn lead into gold.

They're wrong then and Christo-pagans are wrong now.

ELCA continues its slide into mediocrity and willful abandon of Christianity.

Anonymous said...

I have no doubt that the bishop wants to avoid any more controversy and state that herchurch is not heretical...I have no doubt that the bishop would be wrong.

Rev. Megan M. Rohrer said...

Well, Jesus was around before the Middle Ages and I believe his words are true, even if it's not really true that the mustard seed is the the smallest seed in the world.

I know that science has learned many knew things about seeds and the elements, but I respect the faith life of those who have come before me. I don't believe that I know the best just because I live in contemporary society. I think there is wisdom in scripture and I listen for God's wisdom guiding my life each and everyday.

I imagine that the Bishop has at least attended a service at Her Church and thus would be a better judge of how Lutheran their services are. If you have actually been at one of their services then I'd love to hear about your experience.

Cap'n Bill said...

Well, let's all write Bp Mullin. Thanks for the tip! And say, thanks for actually almost answering asking one of the three questions I asked. So, Mullin has a form letter on why herchurch is not heretical? Interesting.

Here are the two you skipped before going on with your talk on the middle ages:

How are we who think that we to worship only God supposed to understand having worship of Diana and Persephone in the sanctuary of a ELCA congregation?

Second, this was really sponsored by a conference of the ELCA?

(and yes, please send your Greek and Hebrew research. I also read French, German, Spanish and Portugues, and of course, Latin).

Rev. Megan M. Rohrer said...

It looks like it was sponsored by the San Francisco Conference (ELCA). I know a number of local congregations supported it financially as well.

As to your first question, I can't really answer it because it's not accurate. The folk at Her Church worship the One God who takes Triune form. As I answered above, they study about how texts have illumined and influenced the writing of our sacred text the Bible.

Just as some folk find a deeper understanding in the fiction of C.S. Lewis, Her Church learns about the ways of Christ by reading other works. This is far different from worshiping them. And its really a silly thing to conclude.

I guess we all see what we want to see. The liturgy of Her Church is derived from the LBW and filtered through the lens of thealogy. Jesus spoke in parables about God this was not considered heresy. Her Church participates in this teaching tool of Jesus using story telling and narratives to make known the One who is source, our sustainer and brings us salvation.

Cap'n Bill said...

Megan, surely you can guess that we are not asking you about what you would like to present here as to the beliefs of "HerChurch"thought it is very interesting that it seems like you are presenting/defending a whole new movement though it sounds like someone who is in a sect explaining to her parents why wearing sheets is perfectly normal. No, what I am asking about is the guest presenters such as Mara Lynn Keller, "ritualist of the Eleusinian Mysteries of Demeter and Persephone." Get it? How do you make a case that woshiping the old gods/desses is copacetic with the ELCA constitution? YOu might say that they were just part of a conference, but that conference was held at an ELCA congregation with ELCA clergy present.

Big mistake.

Anonymous said...

Luther denied Zwingli as a fellow Christian over a single point at the Marburg Colloquy.

I can only imagine what he would call these folks with their paganistic goddess worship and their "find the goddess within you" nonsense.

I fear he, too, would not recognize the ELCA as a descendent of his teachings.

As for the Jesus has womanly breasts, garbage...apparently, like the heretical views of the Gnostics, Arians, Samosatenes, etc., that horrid idea was properly dispensed with.

But go more "spiritual," whatever that entails....

Rev. Megan M. Rohrer said...

Interfaith conversations happen all the time. Should we never talk to people of other faiths or invite them to our conferences. The main facilitator was Baptist and not Lutheran. It was an event to learn, not to worship other God's. Its not so much defending as accurate representation of the events.

I imagine that anything I say that doesn't agree with you will just seem defensive to you. That's fine with me. It was a panel that was to represent diversity of opinion. I know that you know the difference between a worship event and a conference.

And it is really funny that you would say that you are not interested in hearing what the community at Her Church believes since you are all so convinced its heresy. I would think that what they believe would be the heart of the matter.

cap'n bill said...

I didn't say that I wasn't interested in what that "faith community" believes. I was remarking about your speaking for them. I'm sorry to seem so, oh I don't know, judgmental, but I know what each congregation of the ELCA believes, or should.

Listen, ELCA congregations should sponsor conferences and reach out to other people, but we don't have them as speakers when we know that they are going to be trying to persuade people that worshiping other gods is a good thing. You say the maiin speaker was a Baptist?

Since you have you refused to answer about "Mara Lynn Keller, ritualist of the Eleusinian Mysteries of Demeter and Persephone," folks can now go to her bio and link to her article at the end:

It is good of Dr Keller to point out that her religion is in "marked contrast" to Christianity."

A classmate of mine in seminary years ago asked me to read Eisler's "The Chalice and the Blade." So sad ot see that this kind of romanticizing has made its way into liturgies in Lutheran churches, but I supposed one could have guessed it would happen. And on the one hand, it is no big deal.

Of course, it is if one takes apostacy seriously...

Rev. Megan M. Rohrer said...

I am an Associate Pastor at Her Church (just as I am at Christ Church, St. Francis and Sts. Mary and Martha), I have been called by the faith community.

I know that there is no amount of sharing what ACTUALLY happened at the event that will make much difference.

I will state again for the third and final time that Dr. Keller came as a representative of voices outside Christianity to give a diverse voice of reflection to the key note addresses that were about studying the bible. Just as Alicia Vargas represented a diverse view point.

After Alicia's presentation none of the white folk present became Latina. Just as the Christians did not begin worshiping pagan God's as you stubbornly keep proclaiming.

Yes, it's probably not what Luther would have done. But, we no longer try to kill the Jews or Mennonites anymore. Thank God!!!

Jesus said he has many sheep that are not of this flock. I do not pretend to believe that only people who think like me can go to heaven or belong in sacred spaces. I believe that God's is bigger than my own mind and heart. Time and time again Jesus said that you let people who do not agree with you speak - even Jesus was thought to be a demon by his own family.

Clam said...

Clam is just tickled pink (not easy for a crustacean) that his maiden blog entry has generated such commentary. And in fairness, Clam must admit that he was not present at the conference, so he can only pose questions. That said, it does seem to stretch credulity to claim that this was just an interfaith dialogue. Why, for example, was dancing performed by Ms. Lavender Dancer, who from bio is manifestly NOT a Christian, held in the sanctuary of the church and labeled "Sacred"? Why was putative Christian worship listed as an element of the agenda of a supposed "Interfaith conference"? And while we're at it, I'm intrigued by the capital G in the phrase "other God's" (sic) in one of Megan's posts above. Is the capital G intentional and reflective of theology?

Pastor Zip said...

Megan wrote: The folk at Her Church worship the One God who takes Triune form.

Well, I just took a look at the publicity for herchurch's Re-Formation Festival on Oct. 28, whose main presenter is described as "an internationally known presenter, chantress, spiritual teacher and sound and energy healer. Lisa’s healing chants are rooted in the tradition of vowels as the sacred language of God/dess."

Has me wondering what happened this last Sunday, the Festival of Christ the King?

cap'n bill said...

Megan, I congratulate you for your wanting to engage in dialogue, but not for acting like the offended person, OK? Get honest, you had dialogue and worship from whatwhat we read. I'm not sure if you poured libations--did you?

Please don't make out like this is about you are open-minded and we are closed (you know the joke, don't be so open-minded that your brain rolls out?).

Some of us are pastors and old enough to be your father. We do care very much about you, and your soul, and as we take our crusty old faith seriously, I hope if you did pour libations, you consider well that it could well be worship of some old demon and not a wonderfully modern ancient-future goddess thing after all.

Anonymous said...

My question is, why does this church not use the name it was called (I presume) from its inception, namely Ebenezer, but instead uses the politically correct, feminist cognomen of "herchurch." It's not "herchurch", it's Christ's church...well, wait...with this worship of pagan idols and false gods, it may not be. On second thought, herchurch is probably a propos.

Pastor Zip, according to Meghan's theological background of the Christ of the Womanly Breasts, it may have been "Christ the Queen."


Sorry...I rant, thus I vent.

It sounds as though Meghan would blame Luther for the holocaust.

Rev. Megan M. Rohrer said...

If you're interested in seeing what the conference was actually about you can check out the youTube video from the weekend... not the Christian hymns, crosses and pictures of Christ and the Saints at the alter.

The good ship ELCA...

The good ship ELCA...
Or the Shellfish blog...