Eyes Wide Open

written on 07 June 2021 by Indy Hollway & Erin Iwata

Art by Nat Iwata

Indy: I don’t know about you but since we started this project my mind has expanded so much it’s almost overwhelming. I’ve become much more aware of the biases and assumptions I hold, I’ve learned about loads of new concepts and ideas, and I’ve never felt closer to God.

Erin: I feel the same! I’m so grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow, have my heart and thinking expanded.

Indy: I have started attending a feminist theology group where the speakers are talking about theologies I’ve never heard of before, it’s liberating and exciting. Last night the speaker spoke briefly about the ‘Christa’ project, where Jesus is imagined as an incarnate woman instead of a man, mostly through art. The speaker said that it is a vital thought experiment for us to imagine Jesus as incarnated in any body, and if we fail to picture Jesus in this way, then we can’t claim to believe that all bodies are created equally in the image of God (even if you have a theological understanding of the reasons Jesus was incarnated as a man). If we believe what the bible says, namely that we are all the body of Christ, and that Christ became flesh, as in all flesh, then why would we find it provocative to see Jesus in a female body, and talk to Her in female terms? It’s a simple concept, but it blew my mind.

Erin: That does make my mind tingle. Earlier this year I was learning a lot about older Christian traditions, like the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo tradition. They enjoy a much broader canon than we do. It makes me think about how we regard scripture through history and how culture shapes how we see God. I’ve also been following some non-male/ non-binary pastors such as @mmrohrer and @rev.lizzie whose core message is that you are God’s beloved and hearing this from people who are so often marginalised makes me feel hopeful. It helps me let go of old images of what a Christian looks like. It brings me so much joy to witness the Spirit moving through them to minister to me! The very person who is marginalised is reaching out and lifting me up.

Indy: I’ve also been reading some of the works of Dr. Maja Whitaker who writes about the continuation of embodied identity post-resurrection, and how a body can easily be perfect and still disabled. She calls the church to realise the non-Biblical ableism that worms its way into the culture and argues that instead of the church having this idea that disability is ‘temporary’ or, as is sometimes woefully the case, a perversion of God’s plan, the church should re-evaluate its position on human flourishing. It’s very deep philosophical stuff but I love it.

Erin: I’ve really been thinking about how we interact with children and spirituality and help open the doors to them to help them have a relationship with God. Too often this is laden with guilt and fear, and as a tool to elicit obedience that we as parents need to keep them safe. But I’m listening to a podcast at the moment from a pastor-father and adult son where he speaks about the type of freedom that his parents gave him to think about his own spirituality in a non-anxious way. I’m looking forward to attending a conference to learn more about how to foster Spiritual development in my children in ways that leave as much freedom as God gives us.

Indy: I feel like I’m always catching sight of new and exciting things, new ways of making a difference, or new ways of approaching our relationship with God. I follow all these Instagram pages where people bake cakes with political messages and sell them for charity, and they’re just beautiful. I’ve never been so in love with anything as the piece of toast I saw this morning was beautifully decorated with a mountainscape and the words ‘decolonize your mind’. (I show Erin the toast picture here and we both love it)

Erin: Erin: Amazing! I love how, although we’ve been restricted so much this year, it’s clear that we have been pushed outside of our own boundaries, and God is much much bigger than I previously imagined. Other things I’m following now are a lot of Black Female theologians such as @blackliturgies, and people who are trying to take evangelicalism into a new generation. I also follow a lot of people who just bring me complete joy: there’s a native dancer who I love @notoriouscree, and a couple who just really thoroughly enjoy working together (@kiergaines and @noemiegaines). It’s so inspiring how people are tapping into joy because it has felt really hard to feel that myself this year. It used to feel like we have joy because we have Jesus, but sometimes we just don’t have joy, and we need people who can have joy for us. We need each other.

Indy: I think it’s so important for us to have our eyes wide open for moments of joy, or new perspectives, or fresh experiences, whilst also holding onto those truths that are as old as time itself.

Erin: That toast though.