Over the past few weeks, I have had ongoing conversations on Twitter with religious leaders that have become a bit overwhelming. Honestly, I am surprised to get a response after being ignored for so long; finally feeling like I am being taken seriously in a world that once dismissed my voice because I’m a woman. Part of the reason I engage with these leaders is because I have been in their world, and I want to add a new perspective. Whether my conversations with them are effective or not is debatable. I don’t think they are ready to hear in one Twitter conversation what took me several years to learn, and they aren’t exactly open to listening. Lots of assumptions were made about me rather than asking questions about who I am. Many of these things are sparking self-reflection for me, but I have noticed it is starting to take a toll. I need to get back to why I like Twitter in the first place, which is engaging in conversations with people who have a perspective I wouldn’t hear otherwise. Twitter has raised my consciousness and has helped me see the world in a new way. I have discovered books and podcasts through this medium that takes a short tweet into long-form story-telling. But Twitter is nice because I can dialogue with the leaders and authors and other people who are part of the comment threads. I have even made some friends through comments; it is delightful.
The conversation that got to me the most had to do with feelings. Someone tweeted something to the effect that we need to eliminate our feelings of the flesh. It was said much more harshly than how I am paraphrasing. I understand what they were saying, but I also know this theology is dangerous. It makes us think being human is evil. They are misusing Paul saying flesh is against the spirit. What they are saying makes sense based on the English translation. And our flesh is weak, but the Greek language has a different word for flesh that doesn’t mean our actual flesh and blood. (This is one reason why I need to go to seminary.) Richard Rohr would describe it as our ego in English. He says it has been a great travesty to our humanity to think we are separate from spirit. I was listening to Richard Rohr on The Liturgists podcast. He says it is too bad we start our theology from Genesis 3 and human sinfulness, instead ofGenesis 1 where we hear over and over again that creation is good.
This is why it was important for me to engage in this particular conversation (and although I don’t regret that I did, I won’t do it again). I grew up with this kind of thinking and it wastraumatizing for me as a kid, but I had the Care Bears and Mr. Rogers telling me a different story. It is amazing how many of us were ministered through our PBS channel listening to Mr. Rogers telling us we are good, and he likes us just the way we are. Knowing humanity now, I am not surprised he was protested against for giving us this message, but I am glad I did not know that as a child. When he died, I was an adult, but I cried as if I had lost him as a child.
The Care Bears were my absolute favorite. Looking back, I never realized how prophetic these bears actually were and still are. Every bear had a picture on their belly that let us know their strength. A rainbow for Cheer Bear, a rainy cloud for Grumpy Bear, a heart for Tenderheart. Isn’t it great that they showed being grumpy as a strength? I loved it because when I was grumpy I knew it was okay, as long as I dealt with it like Grumpy Bear. Grumpy Bear has my favorite saying that I always use now: “the caring meter is down!”
The Care Bears could have stayed in Care-A-Lot and not messed with Earth, but they did not choose to ignore human suffering. They went down to comfort any child who needed them – the oppressed and the oppressor both. That is what is so unique about them: they never left the side of either, but never brought together the oppressed as the oppressor until the pain was dealt with appropriately. They would try everything to reach the one who was doing the harm. There was one episode where they were all turning gray because no one cared anymore. Doesn’t this feel so relevant? Then Grumpy Bear yelled my favorite line. I thought it was funny as a child, but now I find myself seriously yelling, “The caring meter is down!”
This brought up a lot of feelings for me that I don’t want to destroy. I have been crying a lot more lately. A very wise friend and mentor told me, “Sounds like you are growing again.”Maybe the tears are a reminder that the caring meter isn’t absolutely zero.