Beer Goggles and A Feminist Hermeneutic: Part I

by Gregory Stevens (BEA guest writer)

I wrote “A Religious Rape Culture” a year ago for BEA and it sparked some great conversation about feminism, sexuality and Christianity. As a gender studies student and a Christian, I find these two streams of thought most beautiful when in harmony with one another – and yet for many Christians, the two are best left very far apart. These next few blog posts are a glimpse at where I think the conversation can (and should) go…

I remember the first time I ever had a beer. I was 16 and at a bon fire with some of my friends, they were serving keg beer – two words I didn’t really understand, but either way I put my read solo cup under the tap and began my journey toward adulthood, errr kinda.

I had one sip and I hated every bit of it, it didn’t taste good, but that might have been because it was Natural Light. Either way, I remember getting buzzed very quickly. Things get fuzzy after that, but I specifically remember dancing with someone’s mom, you know, the responsible type mom who wanted to drink with her kids friends to “make sure they were safe.” I’m still not convinced that’s true, I mean, she hit on me more than my high school girl friends.

At some point, mid bump and grind with the mom, she screamed out, “I’VE GOT MY BEER GOGGLES ON! LETS RAGE!” Again, she was just a responsible parent making sure we stayed safe ;)

I laughed, kept dancing, and wondered, “What in the hell are Beer Goggles???”

As any good self-righteous high school student, I didn’t have it in me to ask what she was talking about. I was a first time drinker, but even the buzz didn’t make me blunt enough to admit my own ignorance to what beer goggles were. I went home that night, surprisingly safe (after the cops showed up), and went straight to Urban Dictionary and searched “Beer Goggles.” Here’s what came up, “Phenomenon in which one’s consumption of alcohol makes physically unattractive persons appear beautiful.”

Ahhh yes! Beer goggles…

With a few beers, the ways in which we interpret the world around us radically changes. —Warning: As any good preacher type does, I’m about to take this idea and stretch it as if Jesus said it —

It’s an interesting idea, beer goggles. I realized how true it was that often we are wearing goggles or filters at which we see the world through. Maybe not always fuzzy and on the verge of vomiting, like I was when dancing with my friends mom, but nevertheless, we put on interpretive lenses at which to see the world. We approach every day situations with our filters, which are always socially constructed. We often don’t recognize our filters even exist, we don’t know they hinder or help us understand the way the world works. Unlike my friend’s mom who screamed at the thought of rocking her beer goggles, our every-day-
goggles aren’t so obvious. We don’t think twice about them.

In our context, the conversation on feminist thought and Christianity, we have learned through feminist scholarship that often, the cultural goggles we have inherited aren’t that healthy. They are often restricted by race privilege, gender privilege, religious privilege, straight privilege, and historical privilege.

There are many directions I could take from here in describing, “feminist-goggles” or as academics might say, a feminist hermeneutic, but what I find most important in conversation such as this, is the notion of exclusion. The challenge I invite you to wrestle with is, in what ways are your actions and/or language exclusive?

I would suggest that the Christian narrative is that of inclusion over exclusion. Jesus life and work is the clearest model of what it means to include over exclude.

Jesus is born to a poor immigrant family, as if to say God’s saving action will begin with and through the poor and marginalized of society. The first signs of God’s coming commonwealth are in the midst of people our society tell us to ignore. The story has barely even begun and it already has political implications. At Jesus birth the first to show up are Magi, aka astrologists. They weren’t practicing, devout religious Jews. They were stargazers, those outside the chosen people of Israel. In the opening account of Jesus life we not only see the poor included we see people of other spiritual persuasions included. Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well, his story of the good Samaritan, his prayer for unity in John 17, his dinners with rich and poor alike, his inclusion of tax collectors, sinners and the self-righteous are all in stark contrast to exclusion. The very metaphor we use as Christians to describe the interrelatedness and complexity of God, is a three fold relationship, the Trinity. The very nature of God is oneness in otherness. In Gods triune self, we see community, a community of inclusion that we have been created in the image of.

As Christians, I would suggest, that in our actions and in the words we use to describe our lived experiences, that we would seek inclusion of exclusion. When our words and deeds act in ways that harm the Earth, harm others and/or harm ourselves, we are essentially excluding God’s declaration over all that is from good, to unworthy of love, respect, and care.

Read Part II now

GREG STEVENS HOLDS A DEGREE IN GENDER STUDIES FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA AND IS STUDYING FOR HIS MASTERS OF DIVINITY AT CLAREMONT SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY. HE SEEKS TO CONTINUALLY DISCOVER NEW WAYS TO UNITE FEMINIST ACADEMIA WITH LOCAL FAITH AND JUSTICE INITIATIVES. HIS WEBSITE IS http://www.hellogregory.com/, AND YOU CAN FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER @HELLOGREGORY.

The opinions expressed above are those of the guest writer and do not necessarily state or reflect the views of Brown-Eyed Amazon. Publication on this website should not be considered an endorsement.

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Blessed or Cursed?

Powerful and challenging…

“Seeing the poverty, did you realize how blessed we are here in the States?” It is difficult though for me to find a response. If we reverse the question, we ask, “Do you realize how cursed they are?”

fragments and reflections

(I wrote this reflection in the spring of 1998, while living with boys that we were taking off the streets.)

Every time I return to the US, I have been asked by my brothers and sisters in Christ, “Seeing the poverty, did you realize how blessed we are here in the States?”  It is difficult though for me to find a response.  If we reverse the question, we ask, “Do you realize how cursed they are?”

Jesus said, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God.  Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied.  Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.”  I am living with four children who have spent most of their lives scrapping to survive on the streets.  They have known poverty.  They have known hunger.  They have known sorrow.  And they are blessed?  They have experienced…

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Advent: A constant State of Longing

I often feel that I spend my life in a perpetual season of waiting, a constant state of longing. I long for a renewed sense of purpose, I long for healing in broken areas of my life, I long to meet and love the man that God is preparing for me, and I long to know my life has impacted the world. I am constantly in longing and it is this unending waiting which can rob me of the joy of the present. I can find myself so caught up in the anticipation of future happiness that I am unable to fully experience the joys of today.

A spirit of longing marks Advent itself. If I must be caught up in anticipation of future things I would hope it would be in the spirit of this season. The word Advent is derived from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming”. It is a time of preparation and reflection. As we reflect on the Hebrews who waited on Christ before us we echo that same act now.

Wrapped up in this yearning for Christ is a desire for freedom. People, across each continent, now echo the same cry for freedom of oppression first expressed by Israelite slaves. For some it is a desperate appeal for autonomy from sin and brokenness and for others it is a plea for physical freedom from their oppressors.

The Advent season provides an opportunity for deeper reflection and solidarity with those experiencing injustice. This is a chance for unity founded in a shared desire for deliverance from brokenness, illness, poverty, human trafficking, and injustice in all its forms. It is a shared cry of longing for a God who hears us and participates in our grief as well as our hope. If I must be in a constant state of longing I pray it would be for a God who brings peace and justice and righteousness to the world.

Are Christians Co-opting Halloween?

Do not adjust your screens… this is real.

It’s okay to cringe, guffaw, laugh, smirk, or giggle like a schoolgirl.

It’s October 31st! That means it’s…. JESUS WEEN?

JesusWeen is a non profit organization also known as JesusWin.  It is the “Godly” alternative to Halloween.

“Every year, the world and its system have a day set aside (October 31st) to celebrate ungodly images and evil characters while Christians all over the world participate, hide or just stay quiet on Halloween day. Being a day that is widely acceptable to solicit and knock on doors, God inspired us to encourage Christians to use this day as an opportunity to spread the gospel. The days of hiding are over and we choose to take a stand for Jesus. “Evil prevails when good people do nothing”. JesusWeen is expected to become the most effective Christian outreach day ever (big claim) and that is why we also call it” World Evangelism Day”.”

Sometimes I wonder about “my people”, Christians I mean.  We choose to put our efforts towards the oddest things.  This sort of thing is like having a socially-awkward little brother.  I love him and he’s family but he does stuff that makes me want to pretend I don’t know him when we’re in public.

Jesus Ween revelers are expected to wear white tops instead of costumes to symbolize righteousness and are encouraged to hand out bibles and invitations to church.  Because that what every “demon-worshipping” batman, clown, and ninja is really wanting.

“Candy? Forget candy!  I hope this house gives me a tract!”

yeah... I don't think that's how It'll actually go down...

Apparently Christians are so uncomfortable with Halloween that they were desperate for an alternative; because not observing it wasn’t an option.

What’s next? Jesus Hashanah? Ramadanachrist?

If you feel a holiday (one that is not even observed for religious purposes) is in contradiction to your faith… don’t participate.  Who are we to commandeer things?  Obnoxious much?

As for the argument that this day was set aside to celebrate ungodly images and evil characters… fail.

This wasn’t some holiday created by satan-worshippers to manipulate innocent Christians into abandoning their God.

The earliest recorded origins of Halloween actually date back to a Celtic Festival called Samheim.  Apparently, the celtic culture included a November 1st celebration that acknowledged the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter.

According to one article I read, “This particular time of year was often associated with high human death tolls as well. In fact, many in the Celtic culture believed that on the night before the New Year, the threshold separating the world of the living and the world of the dead became harder to distinguish. It was on this night-the night of October 31st- that they celebrated the aforementioned Samhain, during which it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to the earth. In addition to causing general mayhem and destroying crops, Celts believed that the presence of the ghostly spirits in the human world made it easier for the Celtic priests (Druids) to make predictions about the future.”

Over time this holiday was melded with Roman celebrations and was even influenced by the Christian church.

“By the 800s, the influence of Christian religion had extended across the Roman/Celtic lands, and during seventh century, Pope Boniface IV named November 1st as “All Saints’ Day” (a time to honor saints and martyrs). As most historians agree, the pope was more than likely trying to substitute the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The religion-oriented celebration was sometimes called “All-hallows” or “All-hallowmas” as well (possibly derived from Middle English “Alholowmesse” meaning “All Saints’ Day”). In addition, the night before the festivity-originally the night of Samhain-began to be called “All-hallows Eve,” which eventually evolved into the moniker we know today: Halloween. Following this time period (around A.D. 1000) the Catholic Church also went on to title November 2nd as “All Souls’ Day,” which paid homage to the memory of the dead. Celebrated in a manner similar to the Celt’s Samhain, the memorial festival included the lighting of large bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes such as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints’, All Saints’, and All Souls’, were called Hallowmas.”

By the 1800’s Halloween had morphed into a community event.  It was , and is, about food, costumes, and parties.  It has become a secular event predominantly geared towards children.  This is a day about imagination and entertainment.

Slapping a new name on the day is not a victory for Christ (IMHO).  If you want to limit the spooky and frightening side that is totally understandable.  I get that.  I don’t understand demonizing (pun intended) a day of dress-up when there are many true evils in this world that the church could stand to focus on.

I’m a 26-year-old Christian woman and I still get excited at the idea of costumes and candy.  If it saddens me to think of taking that away think of what it will do to the children. THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

Next year I'll wear a white shirt and go as a Jesus Weener. wait... Who thought up this name?

Zombie Wonder Woman!