Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Legacy

The Legacy of a Patriarchal Church


Growing up in a patriarchal church handicaps a woman for decades.  Following is a compilation of the many ways a woman suffers from a childhood of hierarchical teaching drawing from my own experience. This is not a legacy you want to leave to your daughters . . . or sons either.
How to recognize a woman who grew up in patriarchal church environments:




Sculpture of Katharina von Bora before and after marriage to Martin Luther. Original in the house where she died in Torgau, Germany.

She regrets many missed opportunities to . . .
            apply for jobs, grants, and scholarships for which she did not feel qualified.
            ask for appropriate wages.
apply for jobs requiring leadership skills.
speak up, contribute ideas, add to a conversation.
find mentors, take advantage of mentors.

She is genuinely . . .
content to volunteer her skills which she doesn’t believe deserve payment.
amazed if an employer would ever pay her to increase her skills.
certain she must work twice harder than other employees.
amazed if a male elder or pastor sits down with her and asks, “what’s on your mind?”

She is convinced . . .
if she gets a job, it is because no one else is available.
if someone more qualified comes along, she will be replaced.
someone else, especially men, can do it better.
her best is never good enough. She must be perfect.
female and feminine is inherently inferior.
she is too ugly, old, short, young, weak, or not cool enough to get a job.
if a man has half the credentials, he will get the job.

She lacks self-respect so she . . .
            does not demand respect from others.
sits in the back row. First -class is too good for her.
defers to even much younger men, including brothers.
hesitates to ask questions.
occupies the minimum amount of space.
pretends to understand more than she does.
feels dreams are delusions; hope will disappoint.

In relationships, she feels she . . .
           must always defer to others or she will lose friends.
does not deserve good opportunities that come her way.
good opportunities will disappear as fast as they appear.
must share or deflect praise; escapes being in the center of attention.
must do the lion’s share of maintaining a relationship.
is naïve, if she is taken advantage of it is her fault.
expects people to talk to her only if no one more interesting is available.
is used to people looking through her or over her shoulder.
if a friend or spouse leaves, it is her fault.
will only attract a “flawed” spouse, she must “settle” because no one better will like her.

Personally she . . .
                has been taught to distrust her intuition, emotions, feelings.
                feels that men’s rational, logical thinking is superior to her haphazard thinking.
                tends to talk too loud because that is the only way she gets attention.
                talks too fast because she only gets limited time with important people.
                knows that when men in dark suits approach her, she will be reprimanded.
                is afraid to challenge men, backs down easily when challenged.
                Quickly gives others the benefit-of-the-doubt.

When she reads the Bible she . . .
understands it was written by men for men.
must always filter between verses for men only and verses that include her.
knows if empowered women appear in the Bible, they are explained away.
does not trust her own understanding.

She assumes that God . . .
                puts her “on hold” until a more convenient time.

                has more important people in line for his attention.
                does not speak to her, men are more important.
                has no call for her; only men are “called.”
She notes that . . .
young men get opportunities. Older women never got offers when they were young. Now they are old, they are not considered worth investing in.
when she offers her ideas, no one pays attention. When a man suggests the same thing, it is applauded.
A residue of sin remains in women that the cross did not erase. Brought to light by the various restrictions.


Sunday, June 4, 2017








Mary’s Pentecost           
poem by Mary Stromer Hanson
                                       
art by Gisele Bauche, Canadian


Love at your first breath,                             
My death at your last,
The tomb you escaped,
We embraced, we ate,
Forgot past sadness.

Swallowed in a cloud.
How does a mother
Contain all of this?
Here and gone again.
Enough, no further!

Forty short days, Jesus
I hardly left your side,
You promise to return
Exactly as you rose
by clouds in the sky.

Now wind, tongues,
Of flames on our heads,
Maid servants will prophesy!
It is true, I am blessed,
As the angel Gabriel said.

Your comfort is with us,
In this Spirit you sent,
I feel your breath again.
As you were here before,
I ponder these things.

My other children,
have taken me in.
Yet my first is still here,
I am content now to die

In peace and oblivion. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017






  
THE MASTER’S VOICE     Matthew 29:30
Bread broken, a hymn was sung.
“I will not drink of the vine,
fruit of earthly soil until new
with you in my father’s kingdom.”
He raised his voice a soft rumble;
The root note beneath them all.
Thunder in the distance, his bass
Lifted them sweetly aloft.

Perhaps he voiced high tenor,
His lips shaping clear vowels
That soared above the others.
He set the true pitch sensed
 in shimmering stars.
Did their wet eyes seek his,
Inhale in unison, or did Jesus
Tap the downbeat?

Harmony in fifths and fourths
Angelic voices chimed in above.
Marys and Simons in harmony
Tightly woven, occasional
Dissonance relaxed melts into
the sweetest tension.
Earthly echoes of heavenly resonance
A Capella or did John tune the lute?

This the voice lambs heard,
Stilled the water, raised the dead.
Which psalm duets the last cup?
A tremor here and a catch
In breath, there, they blend again.
A plagal echo lingers eternally
Absorbed in ancient walls,
Witnessed the final Amen.


By Mary Stromer Hanson March 2016
Painting by Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836-1902:  
Last Discourse of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Mary's Sword












Mary’s Sword   Poem by Mary Stromer Hanson 4/9/2017
Art: "Women at the Cross" by William Strang 1859-1921

Huddled beneath the cross,
We sink in blood-soaked mud.
Stones embedded in our knees,
Light, dark, thunder, sun again.
Has it been a day? Time is lost.
Moaning mouths now silent,
No two words cling together.
My son just cried, “Father,
Why have you forsaken me?”

Long ago, Gabriel spoke,
“You are highly favored!”
My young body was eager,
My faith was so innocent,
“May it happen as you say.”
Youthful ignorance spoke,
He meant favored for this?
To see my son brutally die?
God, to this I did not agree!

My firstborn was a delight,
Despite the village gossip,
Dear Joseph at my side then,
Ignored the whispered scorn.
A sword did not occur to me.
At first my younger children,
Did not all agree with him.
He asked, “who is my mother?”
That one day, like I wasn’t there!

Simeon’s mysterious words,
“The rise and fall of many.”
Our house was full of friends,
How was I so naive?
One denied him last night,
Betrayed him with a kiss.
You his Father, you allowed this!
Remember, His earthly flesh mine.
Were we not in this together?

Now I know this sword of Simeon,
He said this child, my son, will
Be the rise and fall of many.
Spouses split, friends fail,
Sheep scattered, curtain rent.
The Jews in disarray,
My heart pierced lifeless.
The mighty win, the poor

still hunger. That sword.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Laments from Childhood: “Will I Ever Really Belong?”
by Mary Stromer Hanson

“Jesus Loves Me This I know,” but he loves the boys more.
“Faith of our Fathers,” but the faith of the mothers is not notable.
“Dare to be a Daniel,” but do girls ever do noble deeds?
“Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing,” but not me, only the men.
“A father, husband, or oldest son must be your head.”
So what is wrong with my own head?
“The twelve disciples are all men,” so I am excluded yet again.

God, you made me a woman, but despise me for being what I am?
If I love you with all my heart, why don’t you love me back?
Do my prayers not soar so high, do you not hear me so well?
Will my arms never be long enough, my voice loud enough?
Will I ever be included even after 1,000,000 years in heaven?


Praise God for new songs, new stories, new lessons, new life!

This was written at a very low point many years ago.
I just found it again. Thank you to CBE, the many authors,
teachers, and mentors who have aided my recovery. 

Monday, February 13, 2017




Sarah’s Pleasure: Genesis 18:12
Poem by Mary Stromer Hanson



Artist: Gabriele Münter
German 1877-1962





These are thoughts for upcoming Valentine’s Day to those who may not have a romantic partner.

Sarah's Pleasure: Genesis 18:12 With trepidation, I address a topic of Christian feminism that has, to my knowledge, never seen the light of day. I have done some reading in perfectly legitimate scientific literature. One of many websites follows. In recent times—centuries perhaps—our embodiment has been downplayed in favor of the spiritual. However, this is a part of our experience; a part of our perfectly-made bodies that cannot be denied.

What is the “pleasure” to which Sarah is referring? The birth of a child, of course, but perhaps a bonus as well? Wider acknowledgment would be a source of positive feelings about our bodies, and/or even a "gift" to ANY woman.

This topic could be expanded in many ways adding to female empowerment. Why is it OK that female bodily phenomena have been kept undercover for eons, but vulgarly exploited by men? So many female body issues have been kept under wraps to our detriment and suffering: female genital cutting; menstruation keeping girls from schooling are only a few examples. These topics have only recently come to popular attention. I am presenting another discussion that allows us to reclaim our bodies.

Sarah’s Pleasure    by Mary Stromer Hanson
Genesis 18:12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought,
“After I have grown old and my husband is old, will I now have this pleasure?”



My body which was given for me;
I beg for mercy from that which
I do not wish to be delivered.
Sarah’s revenge let it be called.
Sarah who thought she was
too old to know pleasure!
In the throes of the dark,
let not the masculine imagine
they have a monopoly on
a night-time guest unbidden.


No forewarning, interrupting
deep REM sleep, riding a bike
through autumn leaves,
a remembrance of playful times.
Tornados about to devastate,
running frantically, fast, faster.
Subconscious memories surface.
Come back sweet sleep.
No, I beg stay, a relief so welcome,
Yes, no, whatever, visit more often.


Secret gift to nuns and sisters,
who are imagined not initiated!
The equalizing angel visits Eve’s daughters.
Next morning’s smile gives her away.
The sleep robber, who stealthy steals
into our dreams and makes them live.
Waves and waves of sweetness,
Sarah’s bed is not so quiet.
Should she wake Abraham?
Naw, leave him undisturbed,


Sarah thought herself long dead,
Again knows glorious pleasure.
She laughs over this gift to even
aged bodies that will not be denied.
If it could only be packaged, but
defies imitation, pads in silently
on cat’s paws, the unbidden angel,
the glorious elixir, the fountain of youth.
Who knows what hormones,
linger for days and prolongs the
secret memory as she spreads seeds?
.



https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolution-the-self/201310/the-three-surprising-types-spontaneous-orgasms

Saturday, December 31, 2016














He Born of Her          

 “No money to pay, no place to stay.”
She birthed with the breath of animals.
He gasped the dankness of fresh dung.
The gold of kings received with joy,
A few coins paid, his body was hung.

His baby lips sought her breasts,
Her lips brushed his soft cheeks.
From her he learned a mother’s kiss.
His lips greeted, loved, farewelled.
The kiss of betrayal he did not resist.

A thirst awakened on his tongue,
Her mother’s milk brought nurture.
She taught him the taste of fine wine.
From water he fermented vintage of joy,
A cup of sorrow in the garden he cried.

A newborn shivering in the cold,
Soft lamb wool swaddled him.
Her warmth the glow of very first love,
He loved the sheep every last one,
Became the sacrifical lamb from above.

Embryo ears heard hints of life outside.
Her voice told secrets of the world to come.
A childhood in Galilee with friends.
His voice healed the lame, the spirits fled.
But in the end voices condemned.

Eve’s flesh the dust of his humanity.
His human body hungered as a boy.
Her strong arms kneaded dough,
He told the lesson of leaven.
Broken bread of life we now behold.

woodblock by Eric Gill 1929  British