Or, why I described this space as a survival kit for those doing feminist, queer, decolonial and trauma informed church work.
Survival is a team sport.
Sara Ahmed (2017: 235) teaches us that survival ‘refers not only to living on, but to keeping going in the more profound sense of keeping going with one’s commitments. … Survival can be about keeping one’s hope’s alive; holding on to the projects that are projects insofar as they have yet to be realized. … Survival can thus be what we do for others, with others. We need each other to survive; we need to be part of each other’s survival’.
Survival is a team sport.
We need each other to survive. Both in the sense that I want, and need, you to survive, in the work that you do, whether it is feminist work , queer work, decolonial work, or – in all likelihood – a combination of feminist, queer and decolonial work. And that I need you to help me survive and keep doing the work that I do. We need each other to survive. That’s the kind of two-way statement Ahmed (2017: 236) is making when she writes, ‘Feminism needs feminists to survive: my killjoy survival kit is assembled round this sentence … And the reverse too is very true: feminists need feminism to survive.’
So, in calling this space a survival kit, I’m obviously leaning heavily on Ahmed (fun fact: I actually asked her if I could borrow her concept for this, and I’m incredibly grateful that she got back to me and said this was fine).
In the first conclusion (yep, there are two) of Living a Feminist Life, Ahmed explains that feminism itself, and engaging in feminist pursuits and projects with others is a survival kit for keeping on with those very projects.
While there are no strict rules about what we might put in our survival kits, Ahmed (2017: 240 – 247) outlines 10 items: books, things, tools, time, life, permission notes, other killjoys, humour, feelings, bodies.
In time, the vision is for this space is for it to become a bit of a home or platform for some of the things we need in our survival kits: links to books and podcasts; reviews of books; lists of books and other resources you want other people to know about; tools – which might be notes on theory or method or something else; permission notes (I think I need actual permission to ‘take a proper day off’ notes stuck all over my house, on top of my lap top and probably in some of my books); ways to get in touch with other people doing similar work to you; places to share your own writing … basically we can make this want we what, so please reach out and get in contact, and lets create a network, a resource, a platform and survival kit for people doing feminist, queer, decolonial and trauma informed church work and research, because we need each other.
This work can be lonely and it can be tiring, but we’re all going to keep doing it until all our churches are truly safe spaces where everyone can thrive and grow and rest and worship and serve and live.
For me, as a feminist researcher who does a mix of sociology of religion and gender and sexualities studies, putting together a survival kit for doing feminist, queer, decolonial and trauma informed church work and ministry is both an act of self-care and collective care. Yes, I need a survival kit. So this is for me, but I hope it is also for you, for others who do this sort of work. Because I don’t think we can do this sort of work on our own or for ourselves. We need to be connected. We need each other.
As bell hooks (2001: 77) writes, ‘Spiritual life is first and foremost about commitment to a way of thinking and behaving that honours principles of inter-being and interconnectedness’
Just this morning, the Cole Arthur Riley (@BlackLiturgies) shared a little slice of bell hooks that appears on the page before this (and I’m very glad to have woken up to this post on Facebook because it really gave me the kick – or gentle nudge – that I needed to throw these words together).
Here’s the bit from bell hooks (2001: 76) that Riley quoted:
‘Much as I enjoy popular New Age commentary on love, I am often struck by the dangerous narcissism fostered by spiritual rhetoric that pays so much attention to individual self-improvement and so little to the practice of love within the context of community’
We need each other, we need community.
As Riley wrote in her prayer for today:
I can look toward the collective
My path is not solitary.
This is a survival kit not just for self-care and self-improvement, but for community-care and community improvement.
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