Sunday, September 25, 2011

Electricity Fast Day 2

To read about what the Electricity Fast is and why I am doing it, please read my introductory entry.

So, the second day of the Electricity Fast rolled around. This time, I only accidentally turned on the lights twice! I spent a lot of my time in the library doing research for my thesis, and went on a really nice walk through town. I spent some time at a friend’s place watching a Bollywood flick with a group of friends (which, as I said, I don’t consider breaking the fast as long as it is not me consuming electricity that would not otherwise be consumed if I were not there). All in all, it was a great day.

But… My main challenge during day two was sticking to the fast. Once the sun went down it was all I could manage to keep from turning the lights on or to watch the television. I had the light of a few candles, which was more than enough to read or write, but my comfortable lifestyle, the enjoyment of thinks like light bulbs and television, reared its ugly head and caused a major challenge for me. The first day of the fast had the novelty to keep me going. But once that wore off by this week, it really became a challenge. I ended up cutting the fast short by an hour, which I regret. The challenge for next week will be sticking to my guns for the entire fast. As nights get shorter I will have to be more conscious of my addiction (for lack of a better term, yet appropriate) to electricity, and really challenge myself to get past the dependency on it.

Next fast day will be Friday, September 30th. So, until then, I'll spend some time thinking about the comfortable lifestyle many of us take for granted. I can't believe that just twenty-four hours proved too much this go round. Twenty-four hours. Why does just one day prove too much? How many of us, living in this comfortable lifestyle, dependent upon (and addicted to) electricity, would be able to transition into a less harmful lifestyle? No wonder there is an ecological crisis. Over the next week I will be thinking about my addiction to electricity, thinking about ways to combat that addiction and become less dependent on it. And what it might look like if we were less dependent upon electricity.

Until next time!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

If you could write a letter to your younger self, what would you say?

I want to tell myself to be brave
except for those times when it is okay to be scared
I want to tell myself to speak out
except for those times when I need to listen
I want to tell myself that being a man
is simply being yourself and nothing more
That the mysteries behind every face
are greater than the grains of sand
The moon is peace on a clear blue sky
and the muddied soil is home

I want to teach myself to see
beauty in everything
To make a friend with that old
oak tree and
To listen to momma and remember
the music of the spheres
can be heard if you have ears to hear

Love and peace may be worth fighting for
but can only be won by open arms
The earth is not yours, but you are the earth’s
Nothing cures heartache like
a Beatles’ song and don’t forget to
smile on rainy days when the earth
smells like copper

And yes, I want to tell myself
that everyone deserves
to be truly seen and everyone
deserves a second chance
And Elysium still shines through
broken skies

I want to tell myself that
Bad will happen, but good, too
Yes, good, too.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Book Review Page is Up!

Just put up the book review page. You can access it via the tab marked "Links, Books, Recommendations" below the blog title/image, or just click here. My hope is to update this page at least once a month to keep ya'll abreast of what I'm finding meaningful (in addition to helping me keep track of the resources). My hope is that some of these books and resources will be meaningful to you all, and help in your journeys toward becoming. Peace!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Electricity Fast: Day 1

To read about what the Electricity Fast is and why I am doing it, please read my introductory entry.

Yesterday was my first day of the electricity fast. Twenty-four hours without utilizing any electricity... well, it was both harder than I thought it would be and easier than I thought it would be. To begin with, I cannot tell you how many times I turned on the lights without realizing what I was doing. Depending on lights is second nature to many of us, and every time I would walk into a room the first thing I did was turn on the lights before realizing what I was doing. Of course I would turn off the lights within a few seconds. Next week I need to be more careful so I don't turn on the lights, even accidentally.

Also, I forgot I had a doctor's appointment. Over twenty miles away. I considered calling a taxi or asking a friend to drive me, but either way, it would still be utilizing a car. With no decent public transportation in the Gettysburg area, I was more or less forced to drive to the appointment. On the way back I stopped and got coffee. Which brings me to my next realization.

As I explained in my first post, the goal is that I do not utilize any electricity within a period of twenty-four hours. I realized after getting coffee that I need to make a distinction. I said that I wouldn't consider it a breaking of the fast to go to the library or to a friend's place since the electricity would be on whether I'm there or not. But, going out to eat or getting coffee--that is utilizing electricity that would not be used if it were not for me (whether it's an espresso machine or a grill). I am trying to make as little impact as possible for these twenty-four hours, so going to a coffee store is out of the question.

Also, another realization I made during the fast was that it defeats the purpose if I end up utilizing more electricity than normal on the day before and the day after--whether it's for making food for the fast day or watching extra television or extra computer-ing. So, this means I need to be intentional about how I utilize electricity throughout the entire week, not just making sure not to use it on the fast day.

Overall, the first fast day made me really aware of just how much I do rely on electricity. Throughout the next five weeks, my hope is to continue to become more mindful of how I use electricity, but also to become less reliant on it even when the one day a week fast ends.

Any way, questions, comments, whatever--all are welcome. Next week fast day will be on Saturday, so tune in for more.

(P.S.--still working on the recommended books, so expect to see that up sometime this week).

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Book Review: Beyond God the Father

Mary Daly’s Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation

“…[T]he depths of anger and alienation to which some women point are not inappropriate. It really has been ‘that bad.’ Unless one is willing to take the journey into that deeper anger, even to risk going a bit mad, one really will never understand the depths of the evil of sexism. The great importance of a feminist thinker like Mary Daly is precisely that she insists on taking herself further and further into that journey and insisting that others who wish to be honest follow her. She lays before our eyes the ‘passion drama’ of female crucifixion on the cross of male sexism.” Rosemary Radford Reuther, Sexism and God-Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology, page 187

Mary Daly’s book Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation (1973) is often considered one of the classics of feminist theological literature. The book is essentially a critique of Christian religion as the exemplary force behind patriarchy. Even almost forty years after being written, I find the book to be just as shocking, revealing, and challenging as it probably was for the original audience, and, even more, I find the book to be just as important and necessary.

Daly writes that the purpose of the book is to be, at least in a sense, a theology and philosophy (both “torn free from [their] function of legitimating patriarchy”): “For my purpose is to show that the women’s revolution, insofar as it is true to its own essential dynamics, is an ontological spiritual revolution, pointing beyond the idolatries of sexist society and sparking creative action in and toward transcendence. The becoming of women implies universal human becoming. It has everything to do with the search for the ultimate meaning and reality, which some would call God” (Daly, 6). Not only does Daly create a beautiful and powerful attempt towards an ontological understanding of universal human becoming, but in so doing she reveals the very harmful connection between patriarchy and Christianity—indeed, she would argue, the two cannot be separated.

What then follows is an attempt to both legitimatize an argument for a “theology” of feminism but also legitimatize the need for feminism to confront Christianity. Daly uses Tillich often in her argument, particularly his notion of ontology, which Daly claims can be potentially liberating, but stops short of being so for failing to confront sexism.

Perhaps most enlightening is Daly’s humorous take on Christianity: the idea of a male God sending down a God-Man. She claims that if God is man, than man is God. Daly then calls for a castrating of this male deity, and the patriarchal androcentric religion and culture that springs forth (ejaculates) its way into the world, prohibiting and cutting off true religion and androgynous society from taking place. While I describe Daly’s take as humorous, as I believe it is intentionally meant to be taken with good humor, I do believe that the points she raises are very serious (and also intentionally so). Is a male savior able to save women? Even if the God-Man’s ministry was proto-feminist, does that really matter since the God-man has been utilized by Christianity as a legitimization of patriarchy? These are questions that cannot be answered lightly—as often has been and continues to be done in theological circles—and, I believe, for Daly, the answer to both the questions after profound thought is ‘no’—the God-Man is relevant only insofar as he represents a broken deity that must be overcome by universal human becoming.

Daly then goes on to speak of the death of God the Father, and the subsequent ability to participate in God the verb as community. She also has a chapter on Eve, in which she reinterprets the Fall of Eve as a fall into freedom, a fall into being. She also writes of a phallic morality that is entwined with God the Father and what she calls "Christolatry," and rejecting them, calls for a feminist ethic to be made. She ends with a reinterpretation of the telos, the Final Cause, freeing it from a static-Aristatilian understanding and instead interpreting the final cause to be a continually changing state of becoming.

Daly’s work clearly falls in the radical feminist camp, as she readily admits, so her work is certainly controversial among those on both sides of the argument—those who believe Christianity can be saved from patriarchy (or those who feel Christianity is fine as is), but also among many feminists who believe that God-talk is irrelevant to the feminist becoming. I believe that both criticisms should be heard and considered, but I also believe that Daly is on to something important that also must be heard and considered.

Daly has also been criticized by third-generation feminists for not taking into account the roles of culture in what it means to be woman. Certainly this can be seen with Daly’s criticism of black liberation theology and others for avoiding confronting patriarchy within their own communities and the larger society as a whole. As a radical feminist, Daly stands clearly in her view that patriarchy is the root cause of oppression, and all other movements to end oppression—ecology, the civil rights movement, etc.—have to confront patriarchy if they hope to be successful in moving towards human liberation and becoming. Even so, I did not see Beyond God the Father to be at fundamental odds with third-generation feminism—while Daly speaks of an androgynous community and of women binding together and sharing a sort of community, I do not think that either of these are at the expense of cultural and ethnic traditions. However, this is also the first book of Daly’s I have read and I can definitely see those threads being spun out to an unfortunately more exclusive distinction between what it means to be woman and what it means to be of a specific cultural, ethnic, social, or creedal context (as opposed to a more holistic approach).

I end this review by lifting up the quote from Rosemary Radford Reuther’s book Sexism and God-Talk that I began with. Many people—primarily those who do not consider themselves feminists, but also those that do—find a book like Beyond God the Father to be full of a deep anger that they find very uncomfortable. Like Reuther, I feel that the anger expressed by Daly is not only appropriate, but necessary to understand the depths of the hurt that patriarchy causes, particularly the hurt that Christianity causes. The anger is part of the journey, but it need not be the end. But it is nonetheless important to be able to immerse yourself in the anger and alienation, to “go through a certain level of truth” (Reuther, 188), before taking the next step. “To skip over this experience is to become ‘reconciling’ in a way that is basically timid and accommodating and not really an expression of personal freedom” (ibid). In other words, Daly’s work is important, and has a lasting importance, because it takes us where most of us are reluctant to go: to confronting the beast for what it is and not backing down. Only after the separation can new growth begin.

Post Script: You will see a new page go up on this blog in the next few days! This page will be a book recommendation page. Basically, it'll be a list of books important to my growth and understanding in the areas of feminism and ecology simply offered in the hope that they could be of some help to those who are seeking/exploring/finding/becoming/being found in those areas =D

Monday, September 12, 2011

Electricity Fast

How much electricity does the average American use per day? According to the United States Energy Information Administration, "[i]n 2009, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,896 kWh, an average of 908 kilowatthours (kWh) per month." Simple math shows that approximately 29.8 kWh, then, are used by the average U.S. household per day. Forty-eight percent of this electricity comes from coal (Visual Economics). Coal is well known to be a dangerous source of electricity--dangerous to the environment (producing about 2 pounds of carbon dioxide per kWh) and to the coal-miners who are charged with meeting the United States' demand of electricity.

With this information in mind, I decided to challenge myself to an electricity fast. One day a week for the next six weeks, I will abstain from the use of electricity. By doing this I hope to lessen my burden on the environment and lessen my modern Western lifestyle dependency on technology and the electricity it requires.

What this does not mean:
Well, first off, to be completely honest, there are three exceptions to my electricity fast:
-Cell phone
Unplugging my refrigerator for an entire day would save a lot of money and electricity... but, as a single man with no roommates, I would end up wasting plenty of food, and my attempts as frugal spending and organic foods would become unfeasible. Second, I do not wish to freeze to death as the nights grow colder (also, my apartment requires the use of the heater on low heat throughout the colder months so the pipes do not freeze). Finally, I do not have a land-line, so a cell phone is currently a must. I will say this, though, my phone is not a smart phone. It is a very dumb phone with only texting and calling capabilities, and I will severely limit the use of my phone during the fast day. I also will not charge my phone during the fast day.

What this does mean:
Everything else is a no no. No television, no computer, no hot water, no cooking (so making food that must be cooked ahead of time). It means unplugging all my appliances (with exception of the fridge) for the entire twenty-four hour period to prevent phantom energy consumption. It means no lights. It means no air conditioning. It also means no car, except for emergencies.

Perhaps a loop-hole in my energy fast is that while I will keep the lights off for the entire twenty-four hour period in my own apartment, I will allow myself to go to public places or friend's houses that have lights on. In other words, I will still need to study and read for class, so I will probably be a frequent guest at coffee shops and the libraries within walking distance after dark. And, not being a hermit, I will leave my apartment, which also means the reality of going to places that use electricity. I am unsure if I will allow myself to use public computers (such as in libraries) yet. Right now I am tentatively saying no, but as the semester work load picks up, we'll see if that is able to be a realistic goal.

Benefits (in addition to being more eco-friendly)?
I hope to save a little money (although in campus apartment housing, I don't pay monthly utilities so how much money saved wouldn't be as much as if I were paying a monthly electric bill), but also to be able to take a break from the hectic and busy lifestyle that I have grown accustomed to. It will hopefully give me a time to be present in the moment for a little bit, some more time for reading and writing, some more time for thinking.

Why six weeks?
Lots of reasons. Six seems like a good number. Six weeks is a good amount of time to try something out. It takes a little more dedication than a simple month. It also ties into biblical fasting--six weeks contain just over forty days. In six weeks' time I will reevaluate how this fast worked, and see if it is something I will continue and what adaptions need to be made if I do choose to continue. Perhaps I will determine that I don't even need my cell phone. Perhaps I will determine that I really do need electricity, even if just for a part of the day. Who knows?

What can one expect to see here?
I will be chronicling this attempt on this blog in addition to the regular postings about feminism and ecology (and Doctor Who), though obviously these observations will have to wait to be shared on the blog until at least the day after fast day. I'll be exploring the benefits (saving money!) and draw backs (an entire day of cold food?). Hopefully this will inspire others to do mini-electricity fasts of their own--if not for a whole day, what about a few hours a week, or even just one hour a day?

So, this week, my electricity fast day will be Friday (It will probably be on Fridays most weeks, but I do expect it to change to a different day at least once or twice, depending on scheduling). So, tune back in Saturday to see how the first day went!

(Or, click below!)
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Days 4 and 5
Day 6

Friday, September 2, 2011


It it just me, or is every Silurian episode on Doctor Who exactly the same, but with different doctor and companion?

Images owned by BBC