Wednesday Warriors – Rob Bell

Rob Bell is one of the most controversial members of the modern Protestant church. He previously founded and pastored one of the fastest-growing churches in America only to leave after internal conflict. He now runs the popular Robcast podcast, continues to write and publish books, as well as speaking at conferences around the world.

So what’d this guy do, and why are we writing about him today?

Rob wrote the book Love Wins, bringing a progressive interpretation of the Gospel (New Testament) that revokes the status quo’s damning image of Hell and who goes there. (For those interested, this is called universal reconciliation.) He consistently brings people onto his show who are of different traditions, cultures, religions, identities, and life experiences, firmly believing that, “…truth anywhere in any religious system, in any worldview. If it’s true, it belongs to God.”

There’s humor, intense conversations, and amazing guests including the likes of comedian Pete Holmes (Crashing) and Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat Pray Love). No matter what tradition or non-tradition you come from, you will finish listening to his podcast feeling better than when you started. For his writing, even the theological books are succinct and void of religious jargon making them accessible and impactful.

Rob Bell is a disruptor of the modern church. His message is to spread as much love and compassion as possible, which he believes is the true tenant of what Jesus was trying to accomplish. In a world where Christianity has been sorely lacking in those areas, Rob is a much needed voice. Where others have previously only seen divisions between religions, peoples, and nations, Rob has found the common ground. By doing so, bridges are built between otherwise separate and potentially hateful groups. For me, nothing could be more impactful than this.

Wednesday Warriors – Kat Blaque

I…love Kat Blaque. Like so much. Because 1) her style is A+, and 2) all of her videos are poignant and insightful. She has made me understand things and change my views over and over again through her education. She is unapologetic and amazing.

Is this post just going to be me gushing? Maybe. I love her.

Kat Blaque is a black trans woman YouTuber. Her YouTube videos focus on race, gender, and social justice issues, and she contributes to a bunch of websites including one of my faves, Everyday Feminism.

Kat really speaks best for herself, and I recommend watching her videos. Here is one of my favorites:

Wednesday Warriors – Maria Bamford

Ask Steven Colbert or John Oliver who’s their favorite comedian, and they name Maria Bamford. Her impressions are hilarious with a pretty much unlimited supply of voices at her disposal. Her fast-paced wit keeps the audience just one step behind her, something reminiscent of a Robin Williams hour, but with fewer Hawaiian shirts and much less sweat.

But what makes Maria stand out, or perhaps, why she has yet to reach the fame of her counterparts no matter the gender, is her unabashed discussion of struggles with mental illness. She is unafraid to tell her story of breakdown and time in a mental hospital, no apologizing (and she definitely shouldn’t). Check it out here. It is uncomfortable. Unsettling even. And it should be. However, Maria also makes it funny and lets the audience laugh, turning what should be a horrifying nightmare into a mechanism to share, release, and maybe even heal.

You can find her on many a Youtube video and her special on Netflix, Old Baby. Enjoy.

 

Wednesday Warriors – Marina Franklin

I’ll be honest. This post’s content was partially chosen so that I had an excuse to binge watch more Youtube clips of Marina Franklin performing standup comedy. She is just that funny.

You can watch her on Conan here, and on Late Night Show with Steven Colbert here. (Don’t worry, we’ll get to talking about white guys later *cough, not, cough*).

And if, by happenstance, you’re one of those people who has convinced themselves that they don’t like stand up comedy, Marina is a host of Friends Like US, a podcast by women of color on contemporary hot topics, which you can find on Itunes or Spotify. Remember the whitewashing of Ghost in the Shell? They interviewed the makers of this Public Service Announcement.

Her comedy shines in the visual and auditory departments, and by that I mean, she makes really funny faces and voices. Many of her stand-up bits talk about issues between white and black people, like when she was dating a white guy. She has a knack for pinpointing the little moments of difference in inter-racial relations and turning them into a laugh, without dismissing the inequality that exists nor blanketly condemning white actions (even if it’s deserved).

So come on, Netflix, and can we get a stand-up comedy special with her, please?

Wednesday Warriors – Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft is our Wednesday Warrior for the sake of her work A Vindication of the Rights of Women, which I highly suggest everyone read. It is an early review of the socialization of women and how their perceived “inferiority” is largely a product of society, in particular, a lack of education. That is, women fitting the paradigm of the weaker sex only occurs due to social conditions. However, Mary’s unconventional life made critics lessen her credibility during her lifetime.

In London, Wollstonecraft persued artist Henry Fuseli, already married, and proposed a platonic living arrangement that his wife rejected. Following this rejection, Wollstonecraft left to travel France. There she fell in love with Gilbert Imlay, becoming pregnant and giving birth to a girl she named Fanny.  When Britain declared war on France, he registered Wollstonecraft as his wife though they were not married.

Imlay left Wollstonecraft, and she attempted suicide. He saved her life, and in an attempt to win him over again, she went on business to Scandinavia for him. When it became apparent that their relationship was over, she attempted suicide again. She was rescued by a stranger.

She eventually started a relationship with William Godwin, and became pregnant. The pair decided to marry to grant their child legitimacy. This revealed that she had not been married to Imlay, and lost Wollstonecraft many friends. The marriage also reflected badly on Godwin, who had advocated ending marriage in his treatise Political Justice. They moved into conjoined houses.

It was upon her death that Godwin released a memoir of Wollstonecraft, and this memoir revealed much of her unconventional life, including her illegitimate child and her suicide attempts. These were used to delegitimize her work, however, I seriously suggest reading it. She was clearly a woman who felt very deeply and passionately, and her work, especially Vindication is well-crafted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Yes, this contains an affiliate link. I am a poor grad student, forgive me.*

 

Wednesday Warriors – J.K. Rowling

This lady needs no introduction. Author of the Harry Potter series and universe, she’s the lady who single handedly raised children’s literacy rates as none has done before her. But with all of her popularity, I believe many of us have forgotten what an underdog’s tale she is. And, she did it all without the use of magic. At least, as far as we know.

The success of the Harry Potter series followed only after her mother’s death from multiple sclerosis, miscarriage of her first child, an abusive marriage and subsequent divorce. Rowling was unemployed and with her daughter on welfare. But what she writes and speaks about now is how those very dark times, especially the shrouds of death in her life, made their way into the books in ways that spoke to millions of people.

Rowling epitomizes who we all so desperately would like to be: someone who can turn the moldiest of lemons into lemonade. A person with so much character and heart that she can learn from the very dark and ugly feelings, and make them into a way to connect with others. She, through her characters and novels, has helped us feel a little less alone and misunderstood in the world.

J.K. Rowling may have most of us beat on the scale of connecting and encouraging people, but that doesn’t mean we cannot do the same each and every day in our own circles. A smile, and hug, and friendly word or the hundreds of ways that we can express ourselves make a difference. It doesn’t have to be through words, although that is certainly a great medium. Other methods of art, not just literature, can channel those thoughts and feelings.

And hey, this is how I’m starting, a big smile and hug from me to you!

Wednesday Warriors – Elinor Ostrom

Don’t you want to be friends with this lady already? I mean, look at that smile and that sweater!!

As if you needed any more reason to like Elinor, she happens to be the first and only female winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics. Now, any Nobel award is a big effing deal, but did you know that only 48 women compared to 822 men have received these awards? And Ostrom won in Economics no less? This field has all the patriarchy and bias of mathematics and politics put together. Not a great combo.

It’s been challenging for female economists to be accepted or recognized even today, no less in the ’60s and ’70s. Ostrom was actually denied entry to an Economics PhD program since girls had not been allowed to take certain (required) advanced math courses in high school. So, she had to enter the Political Science department instead. Ouch.

Despite setbacks, she went on to do amazing research on the (get ready for some fancy phrasing) success of small to medium-sized collectives maintaining and sustaining public goods. In less fancy words, she and her team studied how communities across the globe took care of their lake, or farm land, or any other communal resource, aka “the commons”. It is fascinating and says a lot about human beings’ ability to be sustainable, if we try and work together.

Ostrom passed away in 2012. Watch any lecture she’s given and your spirits will be lifted, even if you have no clue what she’s talking about. She has left a bright spot in the economics field not just for those who believe in the power of cooperation and community, but for many women like myself. Heroes come in many forms. Not all are social activists and flag-wavers. Some lead by simply following their path no matter what comes their way.

Thanks, Elinor.

Wednesday Warriors – Maximillian Kolbe

So, I spent this spring break in Poland studying for a class on Religious dialogue after the Holocaust. We visited Auschwitz I and II, and everything about the trip hit powerfully. I wanted to do this week’s Wednesday Warrior on someone we heard a lot about.

Maximillian Kolbe was a Catholic priest and a Franciscan. He was the only one of his brothers to remain in the monastery in Poland after the beginning of the WWII invasion. He was in prison for three months before release, and later arrested, sent to prison again, and then transferred to Auschwitz.

As a priest, he experienced great violence and harassment in the camp. There is a rather well-known quote that new prisoners heard from Newly arrived prisoners were greeted at the camp by SS-Hauptsturmführer Fritzsch: ‘You have arrived not at a sanatorium but at a German concentration camp in which the only way out is through the chimney. If someone doesn’t like this, he may at once go to the wires. If there are any Jews in this transport, they have no right to live longer than two weeks. If there are any priests, they may live for a month, the rest only three months.’

During his second month in Auschwitz, there was an escape attempt. Prisoners, including Kolbe, were forced to stand before Fritzsch as he choice 10 prisoners to punish to deter further attempts. One of the men chosen cried out about his children and his wife, and Kolbe volunteered himself because as a priest, he did not have a family to be there for after the war. The substitution was allowed.

These prisoners were taken to a starvation cell, too small for the number of people. After two weeks in the cell, Kolbe still survived, and was killed with lethal injection. Later, he was sainted as a matyr.

There are two major ways to respond to the types of horror that people experienced in the camp. There is complete selfishness, self-preservation, a thing that none of us can blame anyone for truly. Then there is the attempts to maintain goodness and kindness, to be selfless and help those who are suffering even as you suffer. Those who make this choice exist to remind us that it is possible, in the hardest times, in the worst times, for there to be good.

And yeah, I just wrote about a Catholic guy in the Holocaust. So I want to say: the Holocaust is a Jewish tragedy and to say otherwise is utterly ridiculous regardless of the other people who died and were targeted. Of the few people approaching the level of targeting the Jews were at, the Catholics were certainly not one. But I am a Catholic, and we do love our saints.

Wednesday Warriors – International Women’s Day 2017

It is Wednesday and you know what that means. Welcome all to our little world of activism and badassery! This week’s rendition of the Wednesday Warriors series is a big round of applause and general worship of all the women who have ever, in big or small ways, fought for justice and equality.

I’m not here to emphasize binaries and exclusivity in the world, I’m here to share with you some inspiring people who battled for human rights.

So, to start your day off right, please find below some inspiring content for your viewing and subsequent awesomeness boost. You’re welcome.

Movie Time

MV5BMjA2NDYxOTI1MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTgyMjU3NjE@._V1_UY1200_CR90,0,630,1200_AL_

ldrdm

A movie about the Suffrage movement in the Great Britain and another about Lili Elbe, one of the first identifiable recipients of sex reassignment surgery (if you would rather not support this Hollywood rendition, which is understandable, please read her autobiography, Man into Woman). Sit down with your placards and tissues at the ready.

Poetry

still2

You can listen to Maya Angelou’s beautiful and empowering poem, And Still I Rise, in her own voice here.

Painting

Artemisia_Gentileschi_-_Judith_Beheading_Holofernes_-_WGA8563.jpg

Artemisia Gentileschi faced torture for not denying that she painted Judith Slaying Holofernes. Enough said.

Music

Billie-1050x700.jpgIn addition to being one of America’s favorite singers, Billie Holiday sang Strange Fruit (although not written by her) protesting racism in America. It’s creepy, condemning, and positively crucial to any activist’s playlist. Enjoy.

Wednesday Warriors – Audre Lorde

Alright y’all, for my first Wednesday Warriors, get ready for a good ol’ lesson in feminists you should know.

Audre Lorde was a black, lesbian poet, essayist, and novelist born of immigrants in New York City. She wrote on many injustices, such as racism, misogyny, and homophobia. Her position as outsider led to her poetry frequently dealing with issues of difference between one’s self-understanding as well as one’s interaction amidst groups.

She is recognized as a starting point for the concept of intersectionality, arguing in her essays that while feminists made the distinction between man and woman, class, race, sexual orientation, among other things, were also deeply important issues in understanding one’s experience a woman; these things could not be separated from each other.

I talk about her now as a white feminist because of the proliferation of White Feminism™. It is important right now to commit to issues of rights in regards to race, gender, and sexual orientation, and for those white people who find their activist identities in feminism, it is important for us to understand exactly where we stand among multiple intersections. Audre Lorde’s work in this area is insightful, digestible, and enlightening, and I highly suggest reading, at minimum “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference” (available with a google search I won’t link you to because legality is a whole question I don’t want to get involved in).

And of course, as we cannot forget that she is a poet, we can end on a poem of hers titled “A Woman Speaks”

Moon marked and touched by sun
my magic is unwritten
but when the sea turns back
it will leave my shape behind.
I seek no favor
untouched by blood
unrelenting as the curse of love
permanent as my errors
or my pride
I do not mix
love with pity
nor hate with scorn
and if you would know me
look into the entrails of Uranus
where the restless oceans pound.
I do not dwell
within my birth nor my divinities
who am ageless and half-grown
and still seeking
my sisters
witches in Dahomey
wear me inside their coiled cloths
as our mother did
mourning.
I have been woman
for a long time
beware my smile
I am treacherous with old magic
and the noon’s new fury
with all your wide futures
promised
I am
woman
and not white.