What was Jesus’s Side Hustle?

Jesus talked about Just and Unjust Wealth. The idea, was that wealth made in an unfair manner by paying people poverty wages, stealing land, abusing animals…was unjust. (Luke 16) I don’t know about everyone else, but so much about this economy I’m living in right now seems to reek of unjust wealth.

Here I am a graduate student, and I’m being taught by people that just might be living near the poverty line. Here we have college professors, people who generally have Doctorates, and a good chunk of student debt on top of that, making less than 20,000 a year and selling their blood to survive. Meanwhile, the institutions they work for make millions on their sports teams. That strikes me as something Canon Jesus would probably find pretty unjust.

I’m not excluded from this insanity…I can’t remember the last time I’ve been able to just go straight home from my full-time job. I’m working my own side hustles.

Now, part of that is voluntary. I am working full time and going to seminary after all. The other part, the other part isn’t. Like just about everyone I know who is on their own, I have to have a side hustle. Something else to bring in just that little bit of extra money. Some people drive Uber, some sell stuff on Facebook or Ebay, others work a part time job. My main job is for rent and insurance. The side hustle, well, that’s for everything else.

It is amazing to me that we have people that claim that we are a Christian nation, (and that’s a debate for another blog post anyway) because we sure don’t act like it. Where in the bible does it say to work your employees for exactly 38 hours so they can’t claim to be full time and therefore entitled to insurance? Where does it talk about maintaining a minimum wage that is so low people literally cannot live on it? As proved so eloquently in Nickel and Dimed: On Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich all the way back in 2001. (Spoiler alert, it’s only gotten worse.) Continue reading “What was Jesus’s Side Hustle?”


Eggs, A Migrant Caravan, Islamaphobia and a Wolf Spider Walk into a Bar.

I work in a high school for my survival job, and have many Muslim students so, imagine my dismay when one of my colleges emailed this Teen Vogue article to me.

It came out of nowhere and cracked against my head just as I was leaving school. And then, the slimy yolk slid down my hijab. Then, another hit me. And another. And another. Three other eggs hit me with full force, each one more powerful than the one before. I felt the punch of hatred, ignorance, and bigotry as the yolks began to seep into my clothing. I will never forget that day, because it was the day I stopped eating eggs.

brown eggs in nest
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I ran to the bathroom to try to wash away the remnants of the bullying of my classmates as if water could wash away my heartbreak. I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and helpless. Worse yet, this was a typical day at high school for me.

At 14 years old, my school days were filled with students calling me “terrorist,” classmates trying to rip off my hijab or poking me in the head with a stick. To them, I was an outsider even though I spoke the same language as they did. I wore the same clothes. I was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, just like they were. My family and I enjoyed grilling and watching fireworks for the Fourth of July, and coming together to express our gratitude for our blessings on Thanksgiving. But none of this mattered because I was visibly Muslim. (From Bullying to the “Muslim Ban” — How Islamophobia Has Impacted My Life So Far)

Islamophobia, why were people so incredibly cruel to a 14-year-old girl? There’s no way her teacher didn’t know that this was happening, they stood passively and let it happen. It’s fear.


Why do we fear? Continue reading “Eggs, A Migrant Caravan, Islamaphobia and a Wolf Spider Walk into a Bar.”

We are so so so tired, and that’s not normal.

My friends, we are tired. We can’t allow the last few weeks to become normal. We can’t let them go without showing Jesus’s love to everyone. Regardless of race, religion or creed. Now, more than ever. This, this is a time for Canon Jesus. For understanding our brothers and sisters, and need I say it? Voting in people tomorrow that show that sort of love, regardless of their faith.

There’s a group of people coming from South America, just looking for safety. Trump calls it an invasion… I think Canon Jesus would just call them beloved, and in need of care and safety.

A man gunned down two African Americans in a Kroger distressingly close to where I grew up in Louisville, KY. The Kroger where I’d buy those dollar packs of Dots and Snowcaps and then smuggle them into the movie theater nearby. A place of childhood innocence. Canon Jesus would be there, lying on the floor of that Kroger, shot along with his beloved children.

Someone thought it was a good idea to influence democracy by sending pipe bombs to people that he disagreed with. Then, I watched distressed, as the news hemmed and hawed over if he had a mental illness or not. As if the color of his skin made a difference in weather it was called terrorism or not. Canon Jesus wouldn’t see his skin color, he would cry out against the threatened violence.

I sat in a video conference with classmates right after an interfaith trip with my middle school youth group to a Hindu temple. We were trying to understand the intricacies of one specific aspect of the Jewish Faith, from our Judaism class when we heard the news of the Shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue during shabbat service in Pittsburgh. Canon Jesus, the Rabbi, was often in synagogue.

I mourned with my local synagogue this shabbat, in an interfaith service where we shouted to the heavens, “We will not be cowed.” We will meet hate with love. We are in this together. Violence is not the answer. Guns are not the answer.

We can fix this. This isn’t normal.

We won’t let it remain so.

person dropping paper on box
Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com


Canon Jesus, Fanon Jesus, and Matthew Shepard

I found myself in tears the other day. And for once, they were happy ones. 12xp-shepard-1-jumbo

Matthew Shepard Will Be Interred at the Washington National Cathedral, 20 Years After His Death

20 years after his death galvanized so many, Matthew Shepard, the young gay man who was beaten, tortured, and left to die, was being interred in the national cathedral.

“I’m not gonna lie”, my friend CJ told me over a text, “I teared up as I read that.”

Why was it, that just that headline was enough to make my LGBTQ+ friends and their allies, tear up at the mere sight of it? (And let me tell you, there were tears in the eyes of just about everyone I mentioned it to.)

Well, I have a theory… and it’s really simple. It can be summed up by a phrase that may not make sense to everyone until I explain it. Canon Jesus, is better than Fanon Jesus.

“Wait, what Paula?” You say, “You have gone off your rocker, I know what all those words mean individually, but when you string them together like that it makes no sense.” Well, let’s talk about fandom culture, what some of these terms mean, and then I’ll back up to the phrase itself.

Fandom, is the term coined to encompass all sorts of fan activity. From people drawing art of Tony Stark online, to attending conventions to writing fanfiction. Fanon, is what fans make up to fill in holes in the established canon of the TV, Book, Movie Series, etc.

Fanlore, a fan curated and created wiki edited and maintained by the Organization for Transformative Works defines it as “any element that is widely accepted among fans, but has little or no basis in canon. Sometimes it’s a small event in canon that gets exaggerated; sometimes it’s something in a fanfic story that gets picked up on and repeated by other writers until it’s so common that newbies might think it’s a canonical fact.” (https://fanlore.org/wiki/Fanon)

Now for a few examples.

Interring Mathew Shephard in the National Cathedral? Textbook Canon Jesus is better than Fanon Jesus.

This meme?

Canon Jesus being himself
Canon Jesus is better than Fanon Jesus

Canon Jesus.

The Jesus we find in the Bible is so much better than the Jesus who is made up what we have made him out to be. Jesus served the poor, the outcasts, the lepers. Canon Jesus would be right there with us as we lay Shepard to rest in the coming weeks. Jesus too was beaten, tortured and left to die. Canon Jesus loves us just the way we are, because that’s what Jesus did.

Fanon Jesus, well. Fanon Jesus is why people killed Matthew Shepard in the first place. Fanon Jesus is what happens when people assume that Jesus would support parents rejecting their LGBTQ+ children. Fanon Jesus is preachers proclaiming that you will be saved, if you just give this little bit more to the church.

Let’s welcome more Canon Jesus into our lives, and less Fanon Jesus.

“Drawing Jesus” Photo by Susan Thistlethwaite, used by permission


Tamar Questioned by Senate Judiciary Committee: It was Awful

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I watched Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testify today in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and I could not help but see the figure of biblical Tamar in front of a panel of modern King Davids.

The “Rape of Tamar” in scripture (2 Samuel 13:1-39) bears a disconcerting resemblance to what Dr. Ford reported happened to her. Tamar was sexually assaulted. Her attacker, Amnon, David’s eldest son and heir presumptive, even had a friend help him set it up.

I couldn’t help but flash to a young woman, beautiful, loyal, probably innocent and kind. Weeping in the aftermath of her assault. When she went to her father, looking for solstice, guidance, and yes justice. She was turned away. David loved his son Amnon above all.

As a seminary student, I made the link here, up to and including Tamar not getting justice (right away) from King David as judge. There is a good reason this biblical story is one of the Texts of Terror, as Phyllis Tribble writes.

So many women are so incredibly tired of this story. It’s millennia old.

What will it take to write a different story for those who are sexually assaulted? When will King David back his daughter instead of his son?

The twitter hashtag #BelievetheWomen is everywhere, but that is because women are routinely not believed, and their stories are undermined. #Metoo is as well, because this is so prevalent, so insidious, just about every woman has a story of their autonomy being violated.

As of Thursday, September 27, 2018, three women have now come forward to speak out against the Kavanaugh nomination. Fox decries “Ahead of pivotal Senate hearing, witnesses surface to say Christine Ford may have mistaken them for Kavanaugh” (Source) the spin machine is full swing and old men sit in judgement over a woman for her supposed sins.

When will the immediate reaction to a stories like Julie Swetnick, Deborah Ramirez, and Christine Blasey Ford’s be something other than “She’s making it up for attention!” “She’s lying!” “She brought it on herself!” “Why didn’t she talk about it 10, 15, 20, 25 years ago!”? When will it be something other than the current insidious iteration from the Presidents Twitter

“The Democrats are playing a high level CON GAME in their vicious effort to destroy a fine person. It is called the politics of destruction. Behind the scene the Dems are laughing. Pray for Brett Kavanaugh and his family!”? (Source)

The default, until the present really, has been victim blaming. What did she do to deserve it? What did Tamar do to deserve it? What did Anita Hill do to deserve it? What did the 30 women Bill Cosby assaulted do to deserve it? And what did Dr. Ford do to deserve it?

Frank conversation with our daughters and sons are needed early, and often. Our youth groups and confirmation classes are just two of the places we can do so. It’s where I can do so anyway as someone studying for the Christian ministry. The UCC and UU’s OWL program is a great place to start. We need to address the notion that ‘boys will be boys’ it’s wrong and it hurts everyone involved. We need to teach teenagers about what is at stake for them and their peers.

All I can do for now is preach on biblical Tamar and raise these issues in the church.

Today, I can pray that our King Davids believe the Tamars sitting right in front of them screwing their courage to the sticking place to speak out.

And I can blog and tweet over and over, #IBelievetheWomen