Braxton's Lear - Io, Bacchae!
Until now, Braxton's Lear has been an individual, but today we have something different. I am bestowing the honour upon a Greek Chorus. Even more, a two-part Sophoclean-style Greek Chorus, performing antiphonally.
Enter the the First Chorus:
The Episcopal Women's Caucus receives with deep distress and dismay the decision of the Panel of Reference that, "while the Communion is in a process of reception, no diocese or parish should be compelled to accept the ministry of word or sacrament from an ordained woman."Unfortunately, Mrs. Schori holds the copyright on the word "lament", and she's not too flexible when it comes to property rights, so we had to make do with "distress and dismay". It gets the point across, though; the audacity of these gentlemen! What next? Let them get away with this, and before you know it they'll be saying things like "There is no compulsion in religion"!
Right on cue, here comes the Second Chorus:
We are female human beings poised on the edge of the new millennium. We are the majority of our species, yet we have dwelt in the shadows. We are the invisible, the illiterate, the labourers, the refugees, the poor.Look! Look! Dancers with streamers! Now a clash of cymbals, and
And we vow: "No more"
We are the women who hunger - for rice, home, freedom, each other, ourselves.Can you spot the missing category? And yet we STILL manage to be the majority of our species!
We are the women who thirst - for clean water and laughter, literacy, love.Genocide, femicide - same thing, right? Call in the CSIs! Just push that 51% of the population out of the way, they're stomping all over the crime site and messing up the clues that will reveal that women once existed.
We have existed at all times, in every society. We have survived femicide. We have rebelled - and left clues.
We are continuity, weaving future from past, logic with lyric.
The First Chorus is back:
This decision provides a basis for the reason that a "foreign curia" is antithetical to the Spirit of Anglicanism in general and the Episcopal Church in particular.Now here comes a jolly old Kick The Pope band, playing "The Old Orange Flute"! Oh, shhh, it's drowning out the Second Chorus.
We are each precious, unique, necessary. We are strengthened and blessed and relieved at not having to be all the same. We are the daughters of longing. We are the mothers in labour to birth the politics of the 21st century.Psst, hey, what page are you on? We're on page three...page THREE. Mother Jesus is in labour to birth a...what? Where are you...?
We are the women men warned us about.
We are the women who know that all issues are ours, who will reclaim our wisdom, reinvent our tomorrow, question and redefine everything, including power.And we're NOT going to let some so-called "Dallas Plan" get in the way of decades of work when we're so close to supreme power we can almost taste it! 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it', yeah right! Betcha it was a MAN who thought up that expression! First Chorus:
We have worked now for decades to name the details of our need, rage, hope, vision.
What "appears to have worked successfully for ten years" to the distant perspective of an uninvolved few brings a harsh reality more painfully into focus for those Americans who will continue to be denied the sacramental, liturgical, pastoral and prophetic fullness of the ministry of women which is enjoyed in 108 of 111 dioceses.Why does everyone always take the side of the poor man with the one ewe lamb, instead of the rich man with many flocks? What, you expect him to go backward and lose one of his own sheep? Of course he's going to take the poor man's sheep! Who wouldn't? It's called "having a complete set", dear. Here comes the Second Chorus, waving their thyrsi:
We have broken our silence, exhausted our patience. We are weary of listing our suffering - to entertain or be simply ignored.It's there in the UN Declaration of Human Rights: "The right not to be bored or ignored."
We are done with vague words and real waiting; famishing for action, dignity, joy. We intend to do more than merely endure and survive.
They have tried to deny us, define us, denounce us; to jail, enslave, exile, gas, rape, beat, burn, bury - and bore us. Yet nothing, not even the offer to save their failed system, can grasp us.
For thousands of years, women have had responsibility without power - while men have had power without responsibility. We offer those men who risk being brothers a balance, a future, a hand. But with or without them, we will go on.And the First Chorus thunders back
Even more deeply troubling, the clear recommendation of the Panel of Reference that "it is legitimate for a diocese to ask of candidates that they abide by the particular policy of the diocese in relation to the ministry of women, and that theological views on the ordination or consecration of women should not be ground on which consent might be withheld by the Province/House of Bishops" not only calls for flagrant disobedience of the constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church, but also preserves and promotes a system of institutional sexism and misogyny.PENTHEUS: This Dionysian arrogance, like fire,
keeps flaring up close by—a great insult
to all the Greeks. We must not hesitate.
[To one of his armed attendants]
Go to the Electra Gates. Call out the troops,
the heavy infantry, all fast cavalry.
Tell them to muster, along with all those
who carry shields—all the archers, too,
the men who pull the bowstring back by hand.
We'll march out against these Bacchae.
In this whole business we will lose control,
if we have to put up with what we've suffered
from these women.*
(What the hell?? Who let HIM in here???)
For we are the Old Ones, The New Breed, the Natives who came first but lasted, indigenous to an utterly different dimension. We are the girl child in Zambia, the grandmother in Burma, the women in El Salvador and Afghanistan, Finland and Fiji. We are whale-song and rainforest; the depth-wave rising huge to shatter the glass power on the shore; the lost and despised who, weeping, stagger into the light.Uh, can we go home now?
All this we are. We are intensity, energy, the people speaking - who no longer will wait and who cannot be stopped.Hey, Suzy, can you give me a lift? My car's in the shop.
We are poised on the edge of the millennium - ruin behind us, no map before us, the taste of fear sharp on our tongues.Yeah, Ted drove me here. Could you drop me off at the Olive Garden? I'm meeting him for dinner, then we're going to a movie.
Yet we will leap.
The exercise of imagining is an act of creation.He said he wants to see Superman again. I said I don't care.
The act of creation is an exercise of will.
All this is political. And possible.
Bread. A Clean Sky. Active peace. A woman's voice singing somewhere, melody drifting like smoke from the cook fires. The army disbanded, the harvest abundant. The wound healed, the child wanted, the prisoner freed, the body's integrity honoured, the lover returned.Are you ladies done? Can I turn off the lights now?
The magical skill that reads marks into meaning. The labour equal, fair, and valued. Delight in the challenge for consensus to solve problems.
No hand raised in any gesture but greeting.
Secure interiors - of heart, home, land - so firm as to make secure borders irrelevant at last.
And everywhere laughter, care, celebration, dancing, contentment. A humble, early paradise, in the now.
We will make it real, make it our own, make policy, history, peace, make it available, make mischief, a difference, love, the connection, the miracle, ready.
We are the women who will transform the world.
Labels: Braxton's Lear