I went to college in the Diocese of Missouri, and from orientation week to graduation, I was part of the most awesome campus ministry to ever awesome. We did all sorts of amazing things with liturgy (with the approval and encouragement of our Bishop) and music and it was generally four years of wonderful, life-changing fellowship and communion. Before Wednesday night services, our hardworking assistant chaplains & chaplains assembled a full-text booklet including the liturgy, the readings, the lyrics to the music, and some illustrations to populate the white space. (Don’t worry, we were very conscientious about recycling afterward.) When we celebrated the daily offices, we generally took them right out of the Book of Common Prayer. At other Episcopal services I attended, copies of the BCP & the hymnal could be found in each pew. The UCC church where I also worshiped (and helped lead the youth group) for a year also went the paper booklet route.
When I moved to Chicago, same deal. When I moved to New York, I found that some churches would reference page numbers in the BCP rather than reprint the text in the booklet, but that made sense to me, given that there were plenty of BCPs handy.
You know what makes no sense to me? Having no text copy of the liturgy or readings available. At all.
I have encountered this not once but twice since I moved to the West Coast. The first time, I didn’t think it was a big issue until I found myself so uncomfortable and disoriented in the middle of a lengthy service that I left and went home. The second time, I sent an email… only to find that the Grace Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Diocese of California, has no full-text copy of their Sunday service available.
You read it here first, friends.
Now, this email exchange is ongoing, so I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to get a copy and maybe start some dialogue about this issue with the Cathedral in the near future. But my question is, why did this even happen in the first place? How can a Cathedral that is so well-known for its radical hospitality have issues meeting basic accessibility standards?
Radical hospitality means radical accessibility for everyone, regardless of impairment. Here’s some of my ideas for what any congregation can do – and honestly, having helped put together services during my time in campus ministry, I don’t think they’re all that hard. (These suggestions are geared toward Christian congregations, particularly those with a standard liturgy book available, but I invite you to extrapolate to other contexts.)
- If you’re not going to include readings or text that’s not responsory (like the Great Thanksgiving AKA Eucharistic Prayer), you need to not only provide citations, but also provide the places to find the stuff you’re citing. Which means you need to make a Bible available for readings and a BCP available for bits of the service you’ve taken out of the booklet.
- If you don’t have those things available… you’ve got to put them in the service booklet. I don’t care if you’re concerned about wasting paper. I don’t care if you don’t know of anyone in your congregation who might need the text available. Being a welcoming congregation means not only serving those who are currently members, but reaching out to those to come. Being a welcoming congregation means making worship accessible to everyone without forcing anyone to disclose their disability status. That is an incredibly difficult and fraught issue for many, especially those whose disabilities do not have obvious outward signs.
- You know what would be even more helpful? Putting the full text, including readings, online. Make your site accessible to people using screenreaders and browsing from mobile devices. Make it available as a download for e-readers. Really want to save paper? You need to go digital. (That said, digital is a supplement but not a replacement for paper. Not everyone has access to a computer or mobile reading device.)
- I see recordings of sermons online all the time. No text provided by the speaker? Crowdsource transcription. Accessibility is and should be a communal effort.
- The BCP has a Braille edition. Do you have that available? Have you considered other ways to make your service more accessible to people with visual impairments?
This has been a service bulletin from your friendly but slightly incensed neighbor (they don’t call me the thurible of great justice for nothing). That is all.
this is in the same universe as “holding out for brownies.”
summary: Natasha didn’t know that much about wine at first, but she’s a quick learner.
contains: a feminist bookstore, a wine shop, queer ladies, friendship, complicated relationships, tea
I’ve been in San Francisco for less than two weeks, and I’ve already found a job, a church, and taco happy hour. Hurrah!
Thus far, I like San Francisco a lot. I’m sharing an apartment with my friend K and two cats in the Mission Distict, which has nice weather and lots of taquerias. I’m within comfortable walking distance of my church in Potrero Hill. San Francisco reminds me a lot of St. Louis, albeit a much more expensive St. Louis, with much nicer weather.
It feels good to be here. Now I just need to find a neighborhood joint where I can chill and write. Here’s to my honored list of former hangout spots:
I’m terrible at maintaining a public blog. I suppose I’m not a very public person. I am friendly to talk to face to face, but I feel a little weird spilling my guts to anyone who might happen by, even for values of “spilling my guts” that are “Scrivener is shiny!” or “OMG MY LOVE FOR THE LITURGICAL SEASON IS SO UNBEARABLY SERIOUS RIGHT NOW.” (Both are true, dear friend and/or passing stranger. So very true.)
I’ve been in New York for more than a year now, having moved here rather by accident, and I’ve grown to love it. But it’s time for a change. So I’m gearing up to move across the country to San Francisco. My last day at work is next week. Then I’ll be hurrying up and down the northeast corridor, across the Atlantic to France, and then south again to Florida, for a long goodbye to my life on this side of the continent. That sounds a bit more melodramatic than I feel. There are so many people and places I love and I can’t be everywhere and with everyone at once. It’s tough.
It’s also time for adventure. I like adventure!
Aside from being a regular reader of FWD while it was active, I am neither a member nor a follower of the social justice blogosphere at large. I don’t have time to argue with folks on the internet, and I’m not interested in educating anyone about their privilege or obliged to do. When it comes to online interactions, I try to stick to Charles’s Rules of Argument. In person, or between friends, it’s a totally different story. But, as a general rule, I believe in activism by walking the walk, not talking the talk. (This is hardly the only, or always the best, form of activism and advocacy. It’s just mine.)
One thing I am getting really tired of right now – and when it is prevalent enough that it gets insular ol’ me’s attention, it concerns me – is folks’ urge to label people, beliefs, or actions as “not feminist.” There’s a few issues here, so let me break it down for you.
Feminism is not a monolith. There are many different schools of thought, and what’s “mainstream” on the internet isn’t necessarily what’s “mainstream” in academia or offline activism. Reducing feminism to an arbitrary rubric – one that might be particular to your social group, or even just to you – is misrepresenting both the ideology as singular and your views as general. It does a disservice to your work and your credibility. Don’t do it.
Many folks, groups, and philosophies may not be concerned about whether their actions are “feminist” or not. There are, in fact, many different forms of marginalization, and racism, ableism, cissexism, heterosexism, classism, etc, are not more or less important on some mythical hierarchy of oppressions than sexism. It is possible that, from your point of view, they appear less urgent. That’s called “privilege,” fyi. What we should all be concerned of, when it comes to areas in which we have privilege, is supporting others working for social justice. That support does not need to be uncritical, but dismissing social justice work or discrediting it solely on the basis of whether folks identify as “feminist,” their work satisfies some kind of “feminist” rubric, or whether folks actively reject the label “feminist,” is both uncalled for and completely missing the point. (Dismissing social justice work which has rejected a “feminist” label is also perpetuating the cycle of negativity that leads people to reject that label. Just sayin’.)
“Feminist,” when it comes to people, is an identity. It’s problematic to retroactively assign it: as much as I love Christine de Pizan, I’m not going to call her one of the great “feminist” writers of the early modern era. It’s also problematic to assign or attempt to strip a “feminist” identity from folks you know or know of today. We can criticize or celebrate other folks’ positions or actions, but we can’t assign their identity or take it away from them. Loving Christine de Pisan or Margaret Cavendish doesn’t make them “feminists.” Loving the work of disability bloggers who have rejected the label “feminist” doesn’t make them “feminists.” Their work is just as important, however they choose to label it. By the same token, disliking the work of other feminists doesn’t invalidate how they choose to identify themselves.
I’ve identified as a feminist since I was a very little girl. I learned about feminism from books and posters of fierce ladies on my wall and Our Bodies, Ourselves, because for some reason it was easier for my parents to give me that book than actually talk about sex ed. It’s who I am. That doesn’t mean I believe or agree with every feminist philosophy or political position, or have an uncritical love for the movement as a whole. I know that I have plenty of work to do when it comes to areas where I have privilege: I’m a white, queer, cisgender lady with disabilities from a middle-class, suburban family in the US. When I say that I’m not obliged to educate anyone, that doesn’t mean I’m not obliged to learn. To listen. That’s where we should all start.
Okay, dance party time now!
Apparently, the content of this blog is “stuff I would happily share with my mom,” which is great, as she is currently the #1 commenter on this blog. (For the record? I think that’s awesome.)
Tonight, persuaded by someone’s enthusing over Panorama, I decided to upgrade to Firefox 4. I’ll have to check back in after I’ve been using it for a few weeks, but overall, I like it a lot. Most, though not all, of my add-ons have been updated for FF4, which is important – I rely on things like FireGestures and NoScript and I don’t know what I’d do without them. I had to hack the Delicious add-on to make it compatible, but as that was a fairly simple fix, I’m not too cranky.
I’m very excited about using Panorama, but the add-on I think will rock my world? Integrated Gmail. I always find it annoying to have to click out to go to Google Calendar, and I’m really bad about keeping up with Google Reader for a similar reasons, but now I’ll be able to have everything all together. Inspired, I finally added all the blogs I read to Google Reader and got everything current, and also found a neat way to have the icons I star appear in the sidebar here (under “What I’m Reading”) so you can see what I’m checking out, too.
I remember when I first installed Mozilla in 2002. Tabbed browsing ROCKED MY WORLD. I have a feeling that Panorama and Integrated Gmail are going to do the same for me.
I went to a reading from the new anthology Whedonistas: A Celebration of the Worlds of Joss Whedon by the Women Who Love Them (featuring Racheline Maltese, Teresa Jusino, & Priscilla Spencer) in Brooklyn on Monday. I haven’t gotten my hands on a copy of the book yet, so this isn’t a review proper – just an informal response to what I heard on Monday night. (Which, by the way, was FABULOUS. Go out and buy this book, y’all!)
Although I am deeply passionate about Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BtVS), I would not class myself a general Whedon fan. There are many reasons to love Whedon’s work (Teresa spoke very movingly of his depictions of outcasts), and to admire the man himself, but I’ve just never found his other narratives compelling. I’m indifferent to Firefly, unimpressed by Dollhouse, still stuck in the middle of season 2 of Angel: the Series, and while I enjoyed Dr. Horrible (the first work of Whedon’s I actually watched in full or in real time), it’s not something that’s left an enduring impression. All of these shows have a number of factors working against them: I don’t like watching most TV/film (it makes me anxious), I don’t like stories about straight men, I prefer stories about ladies with agency.
Also, they aren’t about Buffy.
I started watching BtVS during a very difficult period of my life. Actually, my housemate and her boyfriend started watching it during that period, and I dropped in every now and then to eat a bowl of cereal in front of the TV and make fun of Sunnydale’s bad 90s fashion. I didn’t get hooked on the show until “Something Blue,” the eighth episode of season four – you know, that one where Willow does the “my-will-be-done” spell and wishes Spike and Buffy would get married? (Look, I’m not going to pretend I got into the show for some highbrow reason like its complex and compelling metanarrative. I just wanted Spike and Buffy to make out again, and I had to wait 12 more DVDs for that. Such torture!) From then on, I was glued to the TV every time BtVS was on in our house. I offered to make dinner multiple times a week to entice my friends to watch Buffy with me. And, after years of absence from fandom, I started desperately hunting for fanfiction about the show. (“The show” = “Spike and Buffy.”) Then I started writing again, for the first time in years. I haven’t stopped since.
Why does BtVS inspire me? Because Buffy Summers is one of the strongest, fiercest, and most compassionate women to ever appear on television. She goes to dark places and she comes back. We go with her and we come back. We descend into the Hellmouth with her in “Prophecy Girl” and we climb out of it in “Chosen.” Buffy never gets an easy victory, an uncomplicated sacrifice. Whedon’s penchant for torturing his characters got a little old, after BtVS, but on BtVS all of the pain and all of the joy seemed to evolve organically. I loved the characters and I felt for them. I loved them when they were bad, good, divine, human. (Except for Angel when he was doing tai chi. Or, you know, generally ensouled. No show is perfect!) There are characters I don’t like – Willow, for example – but I still love them.
A real essay about my love for Buffy (and BtVS) would take many more words than I have time to string together right now. For those who’ve never watched Buffy (or dipped their toes into the Whedonverse), the list of things I love might seem rather general and superficial. There are, after all, a lot of strong, fierce, compassionate women on TV – and I am grateful for that! But there’s only one Buffy Summers.
Angelus: Now that’s everything, huh? No weapons… No friends…No hope. Take all that away… and what’s left?
In the very darkest hours of my life, I was able to reach inside myself for strength, and I did not find myself wanting. But it was only in witnessing Buffy do the same thing that I could recognize and value that resolve in my younger self.
Tara: The Slayer does not walk in this world.
Buffy: I walk. I talk. I shop. I sneeze. I’m gonna be a fireman when the floods roll back. There’s trees in the desert since you moved out, and I don’t sleep on a bed of bones.
Buffy’s a survivor. She’s the Chosen One. She’s a daughter, a sister, a girlfriend, a lover, a fighter, a dancer, a bad cook, a beautiful smile, a deadly weapon. But she’s Buffy first and foremost. She fights, over and over again, for the ability to define herself, and for the freedom of others to live to do the same.
Jonathan: We have one more award to give out. Is Buffy Summers here tonight? Did she….um…This is actually a new category. First time ever. I guess there were a lot of write in ballots and the prom committee asked me to read this. “We’re not good friends. Most of us never found the time to get to know you. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t noticed you. We don’t talk about it much, but it’s no secret that Sunnydale High isn’t really like other high schools. A lot of weird stuff happens here.”
Student: Hyena people!
Jonathan: “But whenever there was a problem or something creepy happened, you seemed to show up and stop it. Most of the people here have been saved by you. Or helped by you at one time or another. We’re proud to say that the class of ’99 has the lowest mortality rate of any graduating class in Sunnydale history. And we know that at least part of that is because of you. So the senior class offers its thanks and gives you, uh… this.” It’s from all of us. And it has written here, Buffy Summers — Class Protector.
Erin K. BartuskaI'm a writer, artist, and feminist-of-all-trades living in San Francisco. My passions include baking, social justice, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and God.
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