Sunday, January 31, 2010

Theology of Eratosthenes

One of my friends from school put together these two videos in an effort to artistically portray his own theology at the end of last term. He has granted me permission to post them here for your own viewing and interaction.

Looking For God, Part 1: Loneliness from Tos Fackenthall on Vimeo.

Looking For God, Part Two (In Relation) from Tos Fackenthall on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Yup. That's actually what I want to write about this morning. Some people go to church on Sunday mornings, but I sip coffee and ponder upon such things as breast augmentation while listening to music (over the background noise which consists of little girl giggles and occasional arguments over whose turn it is on the wii - yes we are a house full of heathens). I've actually been wanting to write about this subject matter for a little while, but the discovery of a magazine article that outlined the history of this form of female mutilation engorged my desire to take to the keyboard(pun intended).

I should start by admitting that I am a small-busted woman. Making peace with this reality is a struggle - I won't lie. I'm just over 5'8", big-boned, and athletically built (when I'm at my best). Having a small bust has never felt very proportionate, but it is how I've been made and I'm committed to learning to love my own unique form. This is quite the task when we live in a world that has constructed an illusory ideal female form and named it beauty. What we have claimed as beauty is actually not even real. It's fake. It's unattainable in actuality. It requires face and body paint, hair extensions, starvation, injections, multiple surgeries and an airbrush to achieve.

I was recently spending some time with a couple of girlfriends and we stumbled right into a discussion on breast augmentation. One of my friends confessed that after she was finished bearing and nursing children that she was planning on having at least a lift, but that she would also consider just going slightly larger in size. This was coming out of the mouth of a petite and lean woman who naturally fills a size C cup easily. I read today that this is the longing of 70% of all women (assuming Allure magazine's statistics are accurate). This particular conversation carried a tone of casualness that made it difficult for me to offer my own thoughts on the matter. But the conversation has replayed over and over again in my mind in the past month. The tale of Hollywood's latest plastic surgery poster child, Heidi Montag, has equally implanted itself into my mind.

So I've taken to this space to say what I wish I would have said in that conversation. I'm so saddened by how this mythyical picture of beauty has robbed men and women from experiencing and identifying true beauty. Are we so blinded by the lies that we're bombarded with daily that we can no longer recognize how distorted our understanding of beauty is? We call what occurs to a woman's body after she has birthed and nurtured the life of another UGLY or DEFORMED. I have nursed three babies - I know personally what happens to a woman's body afterwards. I struggle to look into the mirror and declare BEAUTY where beauty is not seen in this world. I struggle because I don't feel the truth at all times. But I refuse to live my life in honor of the lie. I refuse to give into the distortion on behalf of myself and on behalf of my three beautiful daughters. I want them to know always that how they were created inside and outside is a gift to this world. I want them to know that their mother embraces the ways in which her body has evolved as a result of bringing them into this world - they are the marks of a life truly lived! I can only hope that I continue to wrestle the lies as I encounter them through the natural process of aging.

But even as I feel the tears well up as I'm typing so passionately about this subject, I'm aware of the ways in which I succumb to the cultural construction of feminine beauty nearly every day of my life. I will likely shave and pluck hair that grows in various places on my female body and paint my face before walking out the door today. I too am a part of the perpetuation of these myths. We all are.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Beauty By Faith Gauthier (age 9)

Beauty is the flowers
in the
The water
in the
A person
in the
A face
in a thousand
The life
that you
That is

Musical Mama

Recently I had this epiphany about the power of music in my life. Without going into too many of the personal details surrounding this epiphany, I must confess that music has had the quality of mothering nurturance in my life for as long as I can remember. There has been something of the tone, lyrics, rhythm and movement of countless songs that reflect back to my baby self the attunement I'm often desperate for. It is no secret that I am an emotionally sensitive human being (some may actually think that description is an understatement since eruptions of Russell-Lady-squeals and buckets of tears are never far from the surface). But despite this fullness of emotion I have often struggled to make sense of why I feel what I feel so intensely. I often don't have words for the feelings. And without words or language of any sort I become paralyzed and unable to be comforted, to process, to move through the torrent of emotion. So music has offered me attunement time and time again. I am soothed by the mirroring back of what I'm feeling in these songs I've grown so attached to.

Last night I was able to view a documentary film-debut about one of the Singer-Songwriters that has offered this mothering quality to me many times over. Rosie Thomas is a lovely soul. If you haven't heard her music you should check her out below.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Be forewarned squeamish readers: this is a gross one

I think I have a rare disease of some sort. I'm pretty sure I've suffered from it since shortly after birth (or perhaps I contracted it in utero). My meager attempts at self-medicating haven't really worked out so well and I'm trying desperately to make peace with the persistence of this illness. So instead of dissociating with an episode of the Bachelor where I can get lost in analyzing the messiness and pathologies of another, I'm attempting to work out some sort of peace treaty with my personal plague here in this space tonight.

For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with parts of me oozing out all over the place. Almost every place I've travelled to, every person I have met, every situation I have encountered - has been stained with the presence of my own personal form of ooze. The actual oozing isn't even what irks me the most -- it's that I feel like I have little control over when it oozes, where it oozes, how pungent the smell of the ooze is or how others respond to what oozes out. It manifests itself in the form of anxiety most frequently - rapid speaking and breathing, shakiness and unease. At other times it's demonstrated in a quickness to anger or tears. I honestly think I could live with the oozing if it only happened in the comfort of my own home - the place I love to hide and find rest in.

Today was a day where I felt like I oozed all over the place (and surprise surprise - I'm still oozing right here right now). And I hate days like today. I think part of the self-contempt comes from a deep place of shame because I often feel as though so many of my peers are better at controlling their oozing. I've at least come to believe that no one is free from ooze entirely, yet some exhibit a greater capacity to contain and prevent leakage. If only I could learn this skill.

But I haven't thus far. I haven't learned how to completely self-soothe in every situation. Maybe I'm not supposed to be able to accomplish such a task. If I knew how to control my oozing entirely I swear I'd never let it out in public. It never feels very safe. But if I did that then I may never be able to find someone who knows what to do with the substance that desperately needs to get out from inside of me. If I could control it, it would be left unattended deep inside of me - eating me from the inside out. It would turn into an even more deadly infection.

Yes, my oozing can seem obnoxious or annoying to some (especially when it leads to an inability to focus in class and a need to talk out of desperation to one of the few friends I feel understands me). It can create awkward moments of certain exhibitionistic behaviors. But there are times when my ooze temporarily loses it's stench and the sulfuric shades of green fade long enough to see the beauty amidst the nastiness. Do I really believe that? It feels a bit like I'm trying to convince myself that there is beauty in my own desperation, my own neediness that manifests itself in anxiety, anger and sometimes sorrow. But I do long to believe such a thing. It's easier to believe it on behalf of the other than it is to believe it for myself. Maybe someday. Maybe someday I'll make peace with my oozing all over the place.

like it

a very provocative blog post from a fellow MHGSer.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Faith like a child

I am contemplating a new understanding of this phrase tonight after experiencing a Gauthier family discussion about the earthquake in Haiti. I once believed that to have "faith like a child" meant to trust blindly, to simply believe without reservation, doubt or questioning. And then I had children of my own. I discovered that children often have questions.

This morning as we were getting ready to head out the door, Bailey asked me what causes earthquakes. I attempted to give her a rather scientific explanation (since I've grown quite accustom to her need to know how things work in this world). But after my response I could tell that she wasn't quite satisfied with my answer. She looked me straight in the eyes and said, "So does that mean that God didn't cause the earthquake...or does it mean that God did cause it?" Needless to say, I felt ill equipped to tackle such a heavy theological question in the few minutes remaining before we would depart for the day...and I didn't think that responding with the answer "Perhaps it's both/and" (the seemingly standard Mars Hillian response these days) would suffice in this conversation so I told her that we could pick up with that question when we returned home in the evening.

Coincidentally, or maybe not so coincidentally, I had my Theology II class today where we pondered upon the agency of the Holy Spirit as the outworking of God in our world. I sat in class most of the morning thinking to myself that every theologian should be required to sit with an inquisitive 8 year old. I wrestled with my own sense of inadequacy in explaining God to my 8 year old because I'm often asking the same questions in my own theological and experiential journey of faith.

But, lo and behold, I took the leap and attempted to converse with my girls about this heartbreaking tragedy that struck some of the poorest of the poor in our shared world. Once again, Bailey asked her poignant question and as I began to confess that I did not believe that God caused such a disaster to occur, Faith interruppted and asserted, "But doesn't God know what is going to happen? Isn't God in control of everything? Why wouldn't God stop something like that?" I struggled to find words to share what my heart believes to be true of God's character - that the God I know is not one who would allow something such as this disaster for the purpose of punishment, but that I imagine that God's heart is aching for all of those impacted by this event. And yet, I confessed to my three curious young ladies that I too have many questions for God and that there are plenty of things that I don't fully understand.

So tonight as I'm reflecting upon our conversation together I'm wondering if having faith like a child is really about being unafraid to ask the hard questions - the potentially unanswerable questions. Maybe it's not about trusting blindly at all - maybe it's ultimately about trusting that God can handle our reservations, doubt and questioning - that to bring them to light is the path towards a more genuine and honest relationship. Maybe it's about having a relationship that is strong enough to hold the questions without needing immediate answers.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Thinking about how I can be a part of addressing this problem in our world today.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


We decided to tackle our annual post-Christmas task of purging and re-organizing this weekend (our first weekend home in 3 weeks). It's amazing how much stuff we actually have tucked away in this relatively small apartment. This 1200 square foot pad, occupied by three little people and two not-so-little people, was right on the verge of feeling rather cluttered. I am not a clutter-loving person. I'm not even a clutter-accepting person. I need space to breathe, to think, to be...which is probably why the prospect of building a house on my mother's 5 acres of land in Castle Rock once we've finished this stretch of Operation: Get Masters Degree and Figure Life Out in Seattle Mission (yeah right) is so appealing.

Despite the challenges we faced in re-organizing this year, I am quite pleased with the result. After 6 hours of sorting through piles and piles of all things girlie, 2 trash bags filled with toys and a few clothing items worthy of a Goodwill donation, 3 trash bags of..well, trash, a few hundred dollars worth of Ikea and Target organizing thing-a-ma-jigs, 2 hours of assembling said thing-a-ma-jigs and 2 pooped-out parental units - I can finally breathe once again.

Ahhhhhhh (that is a relaxed sigh escaping my virtual mouth). Now, to unwind, I am partaking in my last binge on holiday junk food before beginning Operation: Get My Ass Back in Shape for another Half Marathon Prior to Conceiving Baby #4 while scouring online deals on great fabric! I am so freaking domesticated. It's pathetic - I know- but check out this great Robert Allen design I found on for only $12.98/yd.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Lost and Found

Has it really been a month since my last post? Apparently. So where have I been? That's a damn good question...and I'm still trying to figure out the answer. I think I've been lost in my own head. It's amazing how easy it is to get lost in there - so many corners to explore, so many places to hide. I often wonder if other people spend as much time retreating to their own inner world as I do. Do others feel haunted by all that they haven't made sense of or are they able to somehow disconnect, dissociate or detatch from the perplexities involved in the circumstances of their own lives?

Retreating to my own inner world is likely a favored coping strategy. Journals and music have been the avenues most frequented as a means to this end. As I write I release the words discovered in these solitary places that exist in my mind. Music offers a maternal presence in the journey - it's where I find attunement - the tone of the music, the lyrics of the songs - they offer a mirror to what I'm feeling, they provide the language I'm searching for. It is how I've survived, how I've tended to the wounds that have never really healed.

Perhaps these wounds are left unhealed because in my best effort to cope I attempt to be the doctor and the patient at the same time. Early in my faith I was taught to believe that Christ was the Healer - that He, and he alone, was the One who could wipe away the tears, stitch up the gaping wounds, and tend to the swollen ankle causing an undeniable limp. It's been over thirteen years and I'm still crying, bleeding and limping. Does this reality reveal his lack of healing powers? Or maybe it is reflective of my weak faith and propensity to live entrenched in sin? Or maybe...just has more to do with our skewed theology. Maybe healing isn't about the tears miraculously disappearing. Could it rather be about someone witnessing them, acknowledging them, knowing of what they reveal, feeling their power to drench and tracing their faint stain upon the cheek of the wounded.

I'm beginning to believe in the power of Imago Christi. As I'm attempting to expose the wounds to another, I am hoping to learn something of Christ's healing in a new way. But this kind of exposure feels foreign to me. It is not about suddenly ripping my hand away from the infected and grotesque wound in an effort to shock, frighten or push people away. It is about taking the hand extended and squeezing it while I allow her to remove the inadequate bandages placed upon the wound so long ago. It's about letting the tears fall in the presence of another. Letting her see the pain and bringing it out from the seculsion of my inner world so that I stop hiding in the lostness of it all. It's about recognizing that when someone is standing right next to me, it's easier to contend with the limp that may never fully heal in this life.