My Red Sea Road Day

 

Today (May 27, 2019) is the Celebration of my Red Sea Road – Exodus day. My liberation day. My get the hell out of there day.

To know me is to know that milestones and anniversaries are a pretty big deal to me. This is one of those days.

I began putting miles between myself and my manipulating spiritual, emotional abuser.
Literally packed up a uhaul with the help my yoga teacher and some of their friends.

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A city that I loved, unfortunately, was too much of a reminder that I couldn’t be there any longer.

I had long run out of reasons to stay. The air I was breathing had become toxic ever since the day I arrived. Maybe the nerves I felt arriving were an early indicator that something was not right. Maybe the tears I cried every time we had a conversation were an indicator that something was not right. Maybe the tension and confusion that built up in my body because “do I listen to God or the pastor?” was making me sick.

Oh, but don’t worry they just wanted me to repent and recant for calling out spiritual abuse. The ugliest, most awful email I’ve ever read and received, was full of the very manipulation they were denying.

My physical symptoms were undeniable. The wear on my psyche, my heart, my soul, and my mind and body.

Just do what you’re told. Just be the good little church girl, your voice isn’t valued here. Your gifts as a worship leader aren’t needed, your skills, your training, and your church music degree. It was like I didn’t even exist.

You will be condescendingly criticized, belittled, betrayed, manipulated and gaslit.

So yeah, I know what it feels like to leave, and I know what it feels like to be excommunicated. Only, I never understood why they felt like they had to have the last word…

A Brief Timeline:

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*I moved to Chicago in the Summer of 2012
*I found yoga in April 2014 – yoga saved my life.

*Visited my sister on Memorial Day Weekend 2015 – This was beginning of the end of the spell I was under. I was criticized and warned against visiting my pregnant sister by my abuser. On my own long weekend, which I paid for. I mentioned this particular time further in this post.

short video clip of Apollo Chorus & Northwester students rehearsing Mahler for our Northwestern University performance, followed by a performance in Downtown Chicago on Sunday.

*I left Chicago on Memorial Day 2016, just like a Red Sea parted, God made a way for me to get out. The day after performing with the Apollo Chorus of Chicago at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, a dream come true, and the best way to leave on a high note.  Pictured, my view from the stage, my Backstage pass wristband, and after the performance with a couple of my favorite kiddos, with the stage behind us.  The same stage where I saw Andrew Belle, the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, and Idina Menzel the previous fall. mahler choir.jpg

THAT WAS THEN, NOW I’m FREE

AND NOW, 3 years after leaving

I am free.
I am whole.
I am fully alive.
I am healing.

I am a vocal advocate against spiritual abuse.
I help women reconnect with their bodies.
I sing regularly and am a valued part of my worship team.
I am writing songs, and finding my sound. I hope to have some coffee shop gigs later this summer or early fall. I hope to one day record music for television and get paid for it. I want to compose a choral piece for my women’s choir to sing. I want to write an orchestral symphony or suite.

I celebrate and savor life, delighting in the beauty found in each new day, and practicing gratitude. I practice nonjudgment and self-compassion on hard days and allow myself to feel, and go at my own unique pace. I journal and reach out to friends. I am connecting with old friends and new and building new relationships that are rooted in wholeness, being fully myself.

I am creating art, words, music, and resources for healing, spiritual agency, and wholeness.

I am a yoga teacher, integrated soul mentor, songwriter, and auntie.

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Harmonizing and drawing from my background studying art, music, worship, theology, and yoga, I teach gentle yoga classes and empower women to love their bodies in the present tense.

Interwoven with my passion for social justice, peacemaking, and spiritual agency, preventing spiritual abuse and speaking truth to power, paired with my personal story of awakening, departure from, healing and recovery of spiritual trauma by employing spiritual and personal agency.

Synthesizing contemplative Christian practices to help you live an integrated faith & embodied spirituality, rooted in love, free of religious platitudes, spiritual bypass, or legalism.

I believe deeply that we are not powerless. My desire is that you would feel less broken, more empowered, and discover your own inner wholeness. Loving our bodies is a vital element of a healthy, integrated soul.

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I am just getting started. I have risen from the ashes, and will not be silent.

My sacred calling is to create, nurture, and heal. Making space for other women to embody and integrate their faith, find healing, and embrace the sacredness that is within.

Will you celebrate with me? 

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the feminine wound

I didn’t even know it had a name. I didn’t even know if other women felt the same way. I have done a lot of my own healing and acknowledging of this wound before I knew it was a collective wound. Centuries worth.

There is a feminine wound and it can’t be healed in a masculine, patriarchal setting. It begins by acknowledging that religion and empire harms and hurts women.

Keeps us bound in corsets of their choosing. Suffocating and unable to take deep breaths, we think it’s all there is. Because some people decided to interpret holy words in one way.

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Author of Eve’s Revenge calls it the original sin of being born female.

Did you hear that? The guttural ache? The knife through the heart?

That so-called church fathers gathered to debate if women even had souls. (Are we infuriated yet?!)

This is why I created Your Flesh is a Poem. Because before we can heal and find wholeness we must acknowledge the ache. We must recognize that which has hurt us so deeply to have affected centuries and decades of women.

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We address, acknowledge and dismiss what insults our very own soul. Unravel, reexamine what we’ve been told and conditioned to believe and shake free and cut the ties of these awful, suffocating corsets. Reclaim our god-given sacredness, lives, agencies, voices, bodies, and power.

And we will do this with art, journaling and creating self-expression pieces to process the wounds and the hurt and the anger we feel about this. We will dialogue and talk and think out loud, and share together as we begin to heal.

Then we get to reclaim and rediscover what is life-giving and what gives us true nourishment for integrated wholeness and embodiment and loving our whole selves.

Because I truly believe that your flesh is a poem and that the sacredness of your body and soul is not conditional.

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Full details are available here: bit.ly/yourfleshapoem.  The 5-week creative journey includes mentoring, a workbook, journaling reflections and prompts, weekly teaching, meditations, and yoga. On sale now for $59, or with a sliding scale. A $250 value, includes a 1-hour mentoring session valued at $50. You are welcome in this space and I want to remove any barriers keeping you from joining. Begins June 3rd and I’m so excited to invite you to this journey of healing and wholeness.

For a walkthrough of an outline of the 5-weeks, watch this video here: https://www.facebook.com/lorijoanneyoga/videos/433835430515376/

And part two with more logistics what to expect / time / cost etc.

 

 

Your Flesh is a Poem

your flesh is a poem course logo

Your Flesh is A Poem is an Online Course:
A Guided & Creative Journey & Integrated Spirituality
of the Body Designed to:

+ CONNECT with the FEMININE HEART of GOD 

+ HEAL the RIFT BETWEEN YOUR BODY, HEART, & SPIRIT 

+ UNRAVEL CENTURIES OF CONDITIONING

+ RECLAIM YOUR LIFE, YOUR VOICE,
YOUR BODY,  & YOUR POWER, ALL DIVINELY GIVEN


Practical, creative, expressive & embodied. Engaging the senses, your heart & emotions, your body, your spirit, & your mind. Interwoven with some of my own personal art as well as other artists & my own journey, philosophy, & theology.

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This 5-week online course is truly a creative, art-inspired journey,
including mini art assignments, art appreciation including poetry, literature, fine art, photography, sculpture & more.  Journaling prompts, group sharing in a small intimate setting, spiritual practices, & embodiment practices to bring healing & wholeness & freedom,  live fully alive, & love your very own body.

BEGINS JUNE 3RD. SIGN UP TODAY FOR $99*

*$24 discount available for Lori’s Letter subscribers & sliding scale available based on need. 

DOORS ARE NOW OPEN

click here for full course details & registration

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The Soundtrack of Deconstruction and Spacious Faith: Gungor’s Last Concert at the El Rey Theatre: The End of The World Tour and The End of Bad Religion

The Soundtrack of Deconstruction and Spacious Faith: Reflections on Gungor’s Last Concert at the El Rey Theatre: The End of The World Tour and The End of Bad Religion and the past Ten Years

A walk down memory lane, a timeline.

How do you put words to something that has been the soundtrack of ten years of your life? Not only the soundtrack, but I am grateful to have seen them many times over the past ten years and the way they have been woven into my own story. I dug out these photos from shows I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy.

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Gungor releases Beautiful Things February 16, 2010

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May 7, 2010  – Costa Mesa, CA
Beautiful Things at Rock Harbor for a Worship Central Conference. The first time I heard them in their full splendor with a full band. I was completely blown away by their musicality, skill, musicianship, and beautiful melodies & harmonies.

I was inspired as a musician and as a songwriter. I had several charismatic type experiences during these two days, altar calls, tears and snot and prayer, and beginning to embrace songwriting as a spiritual calling. I’m not really sure what to think about that experience in hindsight…it was positive at the time. Though my memories are unfortunately marred by my abuser’s presence that weekend.

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March 3, 2011 – Irvine, CA
One year later, Michael, Lisa, and a cellist played at Catalyst West and I heard Michael chat on a panel on Creativity with Amena Brown & Jo Saxton. I still remember he shared that he went into music because it was something he couldn’t not do. That really resonated, and I felt similarly while connecting with his musings as a fellow music student.

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Ghosts Upon the Earth – Album released September 20, 2011

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March 10 2012, The Observatory, Santa Ana, CA
Ghosts Upon the Earth Tour – Amena Brown and The Brilliance opened the show.  A black umbrella and a chandelier draped over the stage as Lisa opened with the song “Let there be Light.” As the music built the lights came bursting aglow.

Behind the scenes, I was weeks from deciding and in the middle of begging God for confirmation about moving to Chicago.  I spent the weekend prior in San Diego at a hotel, on my own for a mini prayer retreat / and a bit of a vacation and I ended up feeling like I was saying goodbye to San Diego. One month later I committed to making the move.

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Creation Liturgy Live Album with Recordings from the Ghosts Upon the Earth Tour
Released October 9, 2012

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I am Mountain –  Album Release – September 24, 2013

gungor march 19 2014 with steph

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I am Mountain Tour – The Metro, Chicago IL (Just a few steps away from Wrigley Field)

At this time I was living in Chicago, in the middle of losing my job, which was confirmed with about a week, and right before I began going to yoga every week (yoga saved my life). My friend from L.A. was visiting and joined me for the show. In a lovely full circle turn of events, I saw her again last night, right before going to the final show in Los Angeles at the El Rey.

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One Wild Life:
Trilogy Released in 3 parts, respectively: August 7, 2015, March 25, 2016, & September 30, 2016

This also became the soundtrack to my yoga practice as well as my departure from Bad Religion.

 

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Almost entirely due to the recommendation of Gungor, I attended a Premier showing just north of downtown Chicago of the film Last Days in the Desert with Ewan McGregor, and it was a fascinating film. I really enjoyed it. Gungor opened with some music and conversation, just as they advertised and set it up really well.

Unfortunately, on my way home I received a troubling phone call to learn that one of the pastors was asking some questions, and so instead of getting to reflect on the movie I had just seen, I spent a couple hours before bed finishing up a 6-page document that I had already begun drafting, naming symptoms of Spiritual Abuse and how they were affecting me and calling out Spiritual Abuse and Bad Religion, and lastly, naming my abuser. Feeling a sense of urgency as a result of that phone call, I sent the email.  I blew the whistle. I wanted it to be clear what was and wasn’t going on. And within hours of my departure from the city, I received the most awful, abusive, manipulative email in response, I stood there shaking as I read the email on my phone. Let Bad Religion Die. Indeed.


Back in 2017, on August 22nd, I played the song Brother Moon on repeat for my nephew who snuck out for juice past bedtime, and he picked up on this gorgeous ethereal line as I sang along. (super short video).  Would you listen to that adorable baby musician? So sweet.


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June 26, 2018
Last year, Lisa released her book, The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen. I was able to get a copy from NetGalley and this was my review:

I’ve just finished Lisa Gungor’s memoir, The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Ever Seen. It is beautiful, lyrical, and cinematic. I highly recommend it, especially to Gungor fans and to those who have difficult family tensions, and those with whom we don’t always see eye to eye. It’s poetic and eloquent, evocative, insightful, and a true work of art. Super judgy, analytical readers may not find it appealing. It is a stunningly, achingly beautiful memoir. I especially loved the way all the threads were woven together: giving color and nuance and context and expression and experience.

I loved reading how as she told her own story, of her childhood, as well as their love story, and their journey making music adding more color and nuance as well as gravity and ache to the small pieces that had been shared with fans and readers of their blog, and on social media. It really was very lyrical and cinematic the way she told the story, and I loved it so.

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Archives – Album Release – March 1, 2019
I’m so grateful that the Gungors decided to release this archive full of music. There are so many songs on here that I am loving so much.

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The End of the World Tour – May 6th, 2019 – Los Angeles, CA
And so we come to the end. The End of the World Tour. Gungor, the musical collective’s last tour, and very last show at the El Rey in Los Angeles, CA.

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  • IMG_1648I was joined by a group of friends who met online as a result of loving Gungor and/or the Liturgists Podcast which was started by Michael Gungor and Science Mike. How in the world does that even happen?! A group of us created a subgroup as an offshoot from the main group and started a new group to discuss our lives as single people, navigating the (already) confusing dating world in our various stages of deconstruction and reconstruction. We have regional meetups, and love getting together and bonding over this One Wild Life.IMG_1559.JPGIMG_1598.JPGI honor and thank Lisa & Michael Gungor for all their blood, sweat, and tears and the pure and honest artistry and musicianship that they have poured into the Gungor Collective. For sharing their lives and their journey with us. It has been ONE WILD LIFE. For sharing their family, their stories, their hearts, their spirits, and for their music. I grieve the ending of something that has been so profoundly meaningful, been the soundtrack to much of my own journey for these past 10 years. Thank you. And looking so much forward to what comes next. Thank you both. I could not have asked for a more perfect show, the setlist so lovingly curated and joyously. This yoga teacher is so grateful for the breath meditation moment that Michael led.

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    Some favorites from last night’s show:
    Woman (Fierce & Feminine) by Lisa
    I am Mountain
    Please Be My Strength
    This is Not The End
    Oh, What a Beautiful World
    We’ll All Be Free

    Hearing William Matthews, Israel Houghton, Propaganda, and The Brilliance, the Younger Gungors, and everyone else who joined them on the stage that night was such a delight. Two cellos, two drummers, simply amazing. Truly, a musical feast, full of heart and soul, and full of the honesty of humanity.


*For more on my story, if you felt like I left you hanging…it is a long story, I didn’t want to make this longer; if you would like to know more, follow the bread crumb trails here on my blog, here are a few places to start:

  1. An Odyssey Moment
  2. Loved Back to Life: Redemption
  3. One Year Ago | A Uhaul & Unforced Rhythms
  4. Taking My Voice Back | One Year Later
  5. Surprise, it’s a Podcast!
  6. Integrated Soul Podcast Ep. 2 & 3 Shownotes

Befriending My Body: A 5-Day Series

befriending my body lead magnet page blog version

Loving my body is healing for my soul.

Befriending My Body is a FREE 5-day email series of affirmations, simple embodiment practices, creative assignment, printable journaling pages, and breath meditation. Designed to bring heal the rift between body & soul and help you befriend your body.

Sign up today to get day one. Emails will be sent over 5 consecutive days following that.

You can sign up for the 5-day series here:

 

What people are saying:

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Virtual Vision Board Workshop

How Do You Want to Feel in 2019?

Envision 2019 and Embody How You Want to Feel. Unearth goals with soul as you give voice to your dreams and desires for the coming year.

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Join my Free Group on Facebook where I’ll walk you through the process throughout the month of December, in just a few sessions. If this is a busy month for you, this will reprise again at the end of December and the beginning of January, so please go ahead and sign up!

Join Today: Virtual Vision Board Workshop

Doors are now open. Stay tuned for the date and time of the first Live Session & Meditation. Jump in now to make sure you don’t miss anything. 

Join me as I walk you step by step through a Vision Board process that will help you curate an intentional, deeply meaningful, motivating, tangible creation to revisit throughout your year. Together, we’ll talk about what brings meaning to our lives, any directional shifts we want or hope to make, tapping into our desires, and paying attention to how we feel, find new affirmations that resonate, and get inspired and excited about the new year. This will be a month long process, done in a group setting, to share, bounce ideas, make connections and you are invited to jump in when you have a few minutes.

 You can follow along in the group as you have time, and enjoy these three sessions:

Session One: EMPOWERED to Dream: Full Permission to Dream.

Bonus Meditation on Desire: Desire is not a dirty word.

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Session Two: ENVISION & EXPLORE: It’s All About the Process

Reflecting to unearth and rediscover, explore and uncover.  

Join Today: Virtual Vision Board Workshop

 

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Session Three: EXPRESSEMBODY: Make it Happen, Live it out, Feel Alive.

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Join Today: Virtual Vision Board Workshop

 

What’s included in the Free Facebook Group?

  • 7 Live Facebook Videos: Practical Tutorials, Meditations, and Reflections
  • A Resource list
  • A short Materials list (make use of what you already have: things like cork or poster board, glue, scissors, any magazines, markers or paints, photos, quotes, cards *not exhaustive)
  • A 17-page Full-Color Printable Workbook see below for workbook contents
  • A special Live Interview on Vision Casting with my guest, and very dear friend, Rachel V. from Order Your Lifestyle, a Time Balance Coach.


Here is a snippet from Rachel:

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Vision is EVERYTHING! It's that time of the year where we began to look back and evaluate our progress. It's also that time of the year where we begin to look forward in anticipation. Personally I look forward to taking off the last two weeks of the year and focusing just on Vision Casting. Technically speaking, I believe having awesome vision is an ongoing, daily practice, however, I also believe that it is important to take a big pause, a big step INWARD and allow for the creation of quality vision in all areas of life. It's easy for me as a mompreneur to see vision for the business, but setting, maintaining and balancing goals for multiple areas of life takes practice and time. As 2019 quickly approaches, #whatcanyousee ? #yearend #lastquarter #itstime #twentynineteen #time #balance #coach #mompreneur #entrepreneur #wahm #wahmlife #lifestyle #stressless #planner #blogger #vlogger #leaders #vision #passion #family #thankful #business #priorities #orderyourlifestyle #purpose #success #christmas #newyear #organize

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Workbook

Journal Prompts and Reflection Questions to guide you as you prepare.
  • Workbook: Full-Color 17-page print it out or view digitally as PDF
    • Journaling Prompts & Reflections
    • Desire Meditation and Further Reflections
    • the difference between intentions & goals

journaling oils

If you have any trouble accessing the Facebook Group, go to my page FB / @lorijoanneyoga / Click on the Groups tab, and you’ll see it there: Virtual Vision Board Workshop. If you’re unable to access it from your mobile device, please try accessing it from a computer, just to log in the first time. 

I look forward to Envisioning & Dreaming alongside you ❤ Lori

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*Just to be clear, I do not currently sell oils, just because they’re pictured, but I do LOVE to SMELL them. 😉 No hidden agendas here. I may ask for a small donation/tip if you enjoy the workshop, but that’s it! (and fully optional, no pressure)

Indigenous Peoples Day Link and Learn

Happy Indigenous Peoples Day!

Today, I simply want to direct your attention to some incredible resources to enhance your own learning about our history. I am just at the beginning of learning and understanding the scope and depth of this but want to at least share resources I’ve been made aware of so we can continue to learn together. Celebrate the good and lament and acknowledge the devastating history. Get ready to listen and learn. It’s the least we can do.

Who to Follow:

I learned of these fine humans and their work via twitter and the Justice Conference:

Kaitlin Curtice has a book of prayer/meditations called Glory Happening that I’m eager to read soon. I regularly enjoy her writing, articles, and tweets and learn a lot just from those spaces, and look forward to getting her book.

I value Siouxsan’s insights and stories through her photos on Instagram.

Mark Charles has a forthcoming book that I’m looking forward to reading entitled, Truth Be Told about the Doctrine of Discovery , which he describes succinctly in this 7-minute video: and can be read in this blog post.

Follow them on Twitter:

Find them on Facebook:

Follow Siouxsan on Instagram:

View this post on Instagram

The reason why I dance. Since I was a little girl I always loved dancing. I would dance in my living room all the time because it took the pain and sadness away as a child . . . It brought me great comfort and happiness. Growing up I didn't have anyone to make me an outfit because I didn't have consistent caregivers. I remember watching the dancers and being so mesmerized by them. Especially the ones who danced with their heart. I liked how they moved. . . It was as if they were in their own world. One year my mom made me a fancy outfit and it was really simple, but I absolutely loved it. Shortly after, I remember going to a powwow with my grandparents in Siksika and I used my shawl as my blanket to sit on. Lol. My grandma said, "Your shawl should always be folded. Respect your outfit and always keep it neat." Then at the same powwow, I remember dancing during intertribal, but I kept stopping and starting again. When the song was over, I went to sit by my grandma and she said, "When you are dancing. Don't stop until the song is over because you ruin the enjoyment of those who are watching you." After my grandma passed, I would and still imagine her sitting in the crowd. I would dance for her and others who could not. Then as I got older, my late dad gifted me my black and white traditional outfit for my graduation. I was extremely intimidating by it because all I knew was how to dance fancy. But I remembered a faint memory of my auntie Pauline dancing traditional when I was younger, so I did the same. Later I realized it was called the Blackfoot style and that is was our Blackfoot women's warrior dance. Hence, the straight up headdresses some women wore because they went into battle long ago. Very rare, but awesome. So when I danced traditional, I felt pride because I was representing my Blackfoot people and carrying on our own unique style of the double step. Dancing is the beautiful gift the Creator has given me to heal and restore my broken spirit. God always knows what we need.❤❤❤

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Indigenous Resources

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from She Loves Magazine

http://shelovesmagazine.com/2018/indigenous-resources-subvert-columbus-day/

http://shelovesmagazine.com/2018/jesus-was-not-patriotic/

Idelette Vicker, who leads the community of SheLoves and authored the piece above, shares about and recommends learning about the land you live on, at the close of her piece. I’m just starting to do this myself:  https://native-land.ca/


Read and Buy books from Indigenous Authors

Kaitlin Curtice has compiled this incredible list of 25 books:

https://kaitlincurtice.com/2018/09/06/25-books-by-indigenous-authors-you-should-be-reading/

and she also wrote this piece:

https://relevantmagazine.com/article/christians-cant-just-ignore-indigenous-peoples/


This thread from Sarah Bessey today also includes a few book recommendations:

And a couple more posts for thought and reflection:

 

One final thought, while we’re on the subject please make sure that you’re not making someone’s culture your costume, especially Native culture. It’s not your costume. Do NOT appropriate other peoples’ culture. Culture is not your costume. Research. Do NOT fetishize or dehumanize or make others out to be superhuman. They are fellow humans. Who’ve had their land stolen and their people and ancestors killed.

Take the time to learn and do what you can. I hope this is a helpful starting place and encourage you to stay open and keep learning about our beautiful world, and lament all the awful, horrible, dehumanizing, evil that was done to our fellow man/woman-kind. We’ve got a long way to go, but it’s time to start somewhere. 

If you have any great resources to share, you’re more than welcome to comment.

And to put it succinctly, I’ll let Janet, the Good Place robot take it away to close this out.

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Raise Your Voice

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The words you are currently reading are about this important book, Raise Your Voice by Kathy Khang. This introduction is also about the background of my personal/ emotional/ connection and how it is all interwoven with taking back and raising my own voice. (while clumsily learning how to spend my own privilege)

Three years ago on an early Saturday morning at the beginning of May, I think it was May 9th, 2015, I walked into an unfamiliar venue alone after taking an Uber to get there when I was living in Chicago. I knew only one or two faces, and a couple names of the speakers. I had been at my new job and practicing yoga for one year, I was able to attend the event because of a generous scholarship. (These details aren’t in themselves the main point, but they were key milestones, and important to the overarching story and my freedom. I guess you never forget every little breadcrumb trail that contributes to your freedom.)

I remember hearing Kathy Khang speak that morning and eagerly following her work online afterward. I took notes, though I admit I don’t remember much, but that she was engaging, and I think the impression I recall is that she was funny and deeply thought-provoking. Recently, I enthusiastically reached out to Kathy, cheering her on as she received her yoga certification and sharing our common love for yoga, excited to read as she voiced her own yoga journey.

What was happening internally and behind the scenes in my own world at that very moment of that event in 2015 was a little bit of finding my voice when it turns out my personal agency and decision to travel to visit my sister for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend was being strongly discouraged…to the point that my abuser wouldn’t grant his blessing but threatened that I shouldn’t go. (That I would be choosing cursing instead of blessing by failing to listen to spiritual authority, blah, blah, blah. Bah humbug.)

To visit my sister. When she was pregnant. For the first time. My only sister, 8 hours away. On my long weekend holiday.

The whole thing was ridiculous and caused much unneeded emotional tension and turmoil and I was determined to go, had the means to go, and no reason not to go…so I went.

This also coincided with the beginning of the end of my abuser’s tight grip on my life. Gratefully, I lost a great deal of trust in him at this point. I was absolutely perplexed & bewildered why in the world he was making a big deal about this. As you know, I recently recorded my story, raising my voice, this literally taking back my voice and telling my story in my own words, with my own voice. Since this post isn’t about me, I won’t link to that today. You can find it on my site if you dig around. 😉

Raise Your Voice Launch Team

Upon hearing about Kathy’s new book, I jumped at the chance to be part of the launch team and help amplify this incredible book. It’s so delightfully practical, spiritual, and encouraging. Filled with enough anecdotes that give honest, real-life examples. Weaving in narratives from the Bible from her perspective. I loved the way the author described  Esther’s cross-cultural, dual identity, having two names; Esther and Hadassah, along with a time to step up and raise her voice – for such a time as this – to hear it told from Kathy’s perspective was vivid and powerful. As an MK/TCK (third culture kid) growing up outside my passport country, though very much still privileged, not economically, but because of my skin, I could identify with that in my own way as well.

This is a book I want to hand to several people in my life, in hopes that it might help them see past the binary issues of our day, and see more nuance, but also how our silence can speak loudly, and especially the need for diverse voices, and to stop the silencing story about a false kind of unity and niceties.

Kathy articulates this point wonderfully; with the verse from 1 Corinthians 12:12-20 and verse 26 about the beauty in the diversity of our gifts and how we are one body of many parts. This doesn’t detract from a holistic desire for unity, but unity isn’t about sameness, or homogenizing. Repeat after me, sameness isn’t unity. Sameness isn’t the goal. Sameness isn’t the gospel. This very point from Paul was counter-cultural, that each individual person had a part to play in their community, in their church, in Roman society, affirmed and loved uniquely by their Creator.

I was reminded of the familiar verse about every tribe, every tongue, every nation. How dare we as Christians think that is the vision of heaven and simultaneously refuse to actively live that out in our world, in our neighborhoods, and in our cities right now. Instead, despite our great intentions many are promoting or at the very least permitting racism and white supremacy, because of one or a few singular complex issues, stubbornly refusing to budge from, but are unwilling to hear and listen to the voices crying out demanding to be heard, for their own safety, for their own survival. By the way, reverse racism is not a thing, you guys. Not a thing.

What about the prayer ‘on earth as it is in heaven’ on EARTH, right now. Like Kathy says at the beginning of her book, we have a responsibility, to steward, our domain.

In Raise Your Voice, Kathy says the following:

“I believe that Christians desire and can handle more complexity. Race and reconciliation can no longer be framed solely as a justice issue but rather as core to the gospel, theologically grounded in the Imago Dei (the image of God). As Christians, if we truly believe we are all created in God’s image, and that God the Creator had a hand in developing, creating, and shaping not just our embodied souls but also the places and spaces we steward and have dominion over, then reconciliation with one another is not merely an option – it’s part of God’s mandate. It requires us to speak up and speak out.”


“When more of us from different intersections and margins raise our voices, we live a fuller picture of the good news.


“Words are powerful and can be used to free people from captivity or to sentence people into captivity. God created humans to communicate WITH one another, not so we would use words and actions to hurt and destroy one another but to be a blessing to one another. God used words to assure Moses of his identity as one beloved and known by the Creator, and then asks Moses to go out and speak up on behalf of the Israelites.” “Likewise, we are seen by God and called out of our imposter syndrome wilderness to proclaim freedom and good news to the world. God asks you to raise your voice.”


“Our unity in Christ does not erase diversity. Our unity in Christ affirms and even demands diversity for the flourishing and stewarding of this world. Our diverse voices allow God’s truth to be told in many ways.”

  • “We are all children of God, and diversity is part of that unity – not conformity or assimilation.”
  • “Knowing who you are also helps you recognize everyone else’s humanity.”

Speaking up doesn’t increase division. It brings injustice and sin to the forefront. Speaking up can be an avenue of truth and healing, which can be painful for you and your friends.”

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I’ll let the author’s quotes and excerpts continue to speak for themselves. This is where the practical, tangible, personal work comes in:


“Be informed and learn from people who are different than you.”

Here are some practical, tangible steps and actions that you can begin today, the following excerpt is a paragraph that I re-formatted into a list for you:

  1. “Walk away from the screen.
  2. Commit to reading books by authors of color, particularly theologians and Christian leaders of color (like this one).
  3. Commit to reading books by authors who have a different viewpoint on issues than you do or come from a different racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic experience than you do.
  4. Think about the podcasts and subjects you are most interested in and then add a few from the ‘least interested’ pile.
  5. If you are a man, listen to women preach.
  6. If you are a woman, listen to women preach.
  7. And don’t limit your consumption to Western voices. There is an entire world out there.
  8. Take a hard look at your circle of friends and be honest about the diversity reflected in your relationships. And then take your questions, along with what you are learning, back to the spaces you can influence and use your voice.”

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The injustice we do not understand:

“We often stay silent and do nothing by convincing ourselves the offense isn’t actually that offensive. Sometimes we don’t speak up because the injustice doesn’t affect our daily lives. We don’t understand the impact of a law or the injustice inflicted on others because it doesn’t impact the people closest to us or it isn’t a matter of our heart or heart language.

Queen Esther may have been able to avoid getting involved if it wasn’t for the actions of her uncle Mordecai.”


“Being a Jesus-follower, trusting in God’s sovereignty, and believing in our hearts that God is in control doesn’t absolve us from taking action or speaking out against injustice. In fact, it should be a reminder for us to take the risk and speak up in our churches and communities.”


“How can we pray ‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ without recognizing this is an invitation to raise our voices?”


“The reason I most often choose to stay silent is the one I don’t want to admit. If I benefit from the status quo, I have a vested interest in maintaining it. Silence is complicity. Speaking out is often labeled as rocking the boat or causing trouble, but silence is just as dangerous.”


“Speaking out against injustice isn’t about my personal feelings and opinions being prioritized over someone else’s feelings and opinions – instead, it’s about recognizing that our individual feelings and opinions about a situation are secondary in importance to the overall impact on our community and society.”


“However, I don’t consider it divisive to point out the problems as a way to work toward finding solutions. We can trust in God and still question what is happening around us. We can live out our beliefs even if the ultimate outcome isn’t changed for the better.

Mordecai understood that trusting in God doesn’t excuse us from speaking up when given an opportunity to name injustice and fight for justice….And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?

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Thank you Kathy, for this incredibly powerful, practical book. For in raising your voice, you encourage us (me) to raise our (my) own voice(s), listen to the voices of others, and recognize how much we need each other. I needed this book, in my journey of reclaiming my voice, in my healing and freedom from spiritual abuse, in my own anti-racism internal work and education, and in learning how to amplify the voices of others, in doing so, even if I’m clumsily flailing about or imperfectly speaking out.

The book is out today! To order your copy from Amazon or directly from the publisher: InterVarsity Press

Please follow and support Kathy Khang’s work. You can find Kathy online:
Twitter: @mskathykhang
Instagram: @mskathykhang