Sarah Moon - The Person Behind the Blog

Today we meet Sarah Moon, the blogger behind Sarah Over the Moon. Sarah is an honest blogger who is not afraid to talk about real life issues such as rape, depression and abuse. Though not a Christian she brings a wonderful blend of pathos, beauty and depth to the discussion of Christianity. What you read in Sarah's blog is not theology, dogma or apologetics but living, breathing Christianity which holds meaning for modern Christians. She also brings the feminist dimension to the table, something which I for one think has been all too absent through the years of Christian dialogue. Something which many of us men need to shut up and listen to.

Sarah tell us where are you from and where you live now?

I grew up in the Metro Detroit area of America’s high five. I spent a few years in Ohio and Indiana for school, but now I’m back in the mitten, living in my parents’ basement like an authentic blogger. Of course, next month I’ll be moving back to Ohio to take another shot at this “being an independent adult” thing.

Tell us a little bit about your childhood and growing up.

I grew up in a fundamentalist church and school that taught me that the Loch Ness Monster might be real and was proof that dinosaurs and humans can coexist and therefore evolution is false! But I also grew up with parents who were constantly encouraging me to question everything. I also spent a lot of time with my sister, chasing my neighbours’ cats around, pretending they were Pokemon, but that’s beside the point.

Why did you choose to move to Patheos?

It seemed like a good way to grow my little blog, and to pursue my writing career.

What do you mean when you say you are working your way from fundamentalism to freedom (without losing my mind)?

Growing up fundamentalist shapes your mind in a specific way. You’re taught lies about the “outside” world—taught that you should be afraid of it. Many of these lies are actually really fragile, and just spending some time in the “outside world” is all it takes to start being able to see through them. For instance, you’re taught that all atheists are miserable, immoral people. Then you meet an atheist who’s a happy, friendly person. The lie breaks, but since you’ve built your entire world view on these lies, you lose footing. You find yourself in this void between what you’d always thought was true and what you are seeing right in front of you, and sometimes it’s hard to get out of that void.
I went through a whole year of feeling like I’d totally lost my mind. I’d talk about the reality I was seeing, and my fundamentalist friends/family members would tell me I’d been brainwashed. I’d wonder what was wrong with me. I’m starting to find my footing now, but I still have those “lost in the void” moments everyone now and then where I have to remind myself that I’m not “crazy.” The world just looks a lot different than I grew up thinking it did.

You say that you are pro-life and pro-choice surely the two are mutually exclusive?

At this point in my life I identify as pro-choice or pro-reproductive justice. I’m too fed up with the hypocrisy and misogyny coming out of so much of pro-life movement to bother with trying to reclaim the name. I doubt the pro-life movement would accept me anyway, since I think abortion is a medical necessity and not something people should be ashamed of for needing.
However, I definitely don’t see a binary between “choice” and “life.” Making abortion illegal doesn’t actually stop abortions. It stops safe abortions. When abortion is illegal or inaccessible, people die from illegal, back-alley abortions. That’s not very “pro-life,” in my opinion. Also, reproductive justice advocates who work to insure access to safe abortion also want people to be able to access birth control, health care, prenatal care. They want people to have safe housing, affordable childcare, and a liveable wage. These are things that actually reduce abortions. There are people who call themselves pro-life because they are uncomfortable with abortion, but who work to improve access to all of these things, while letting others make their own choices. There isn’t always a clear-cut line between pro-life and pro-choice.

You also say in that post that we all need to strive toward making the world a better place for women. Isn’t it already a better place for women? Surely Feminism has had its day?

Usually when people cite the accomplishments of feminism, they are talking about what feminism was able to do for the career aspirations of privileged white women. Women can work outside of the home, right? And of course we won the vote. So what more could we need?

Unfortunately, sexism goes a lot deeper than that. Add that to the fact that other forms of oppression (racism, classism, ableism, homophobia and transphobia, etc.) can compound that sexism. Even those privileged white women that 2nd wave feminism “broke the glass ceiling” for face discrimination (just pay attention to how the media treats Hilary Clinton). Women still disproportionately face rape, intimate partner violence, and poverty. We don’t have guaranteed paid maternity leave or equal pay. We are objectified and animalized and stereotyped in the media. Many states (like Texas and Ohio) have already severely restricted access to reproductive health care and still aren’t satisfied. Trans* women still face horrific violence. Many of us face blatant or subtle discrimination in our religions.

And despite what ground we may gain, there are still systems of patriarchy working to take back that ground from us. No, I don’t think feminism has “had its day.” We’ve got a long journey ahead of us.

What do you say to people who accuse feminists of being bitter?

I just flip them off. ;)
Nah. I would say that we’re fed up with being treated as less than human. We’re allowed to be. Calling us “bitter” is just a way to dismiss our legitimate concerns so that they don’t have to face them.

As a feminist is there any man that helped the feminist cause that you would hold in high regard?

I love your header image with the Robot. Where did it come from? Does it mean anything?

The robot is from a piece of street art in Columbus, Ohio. It may mean something to the artist, but I just like it because robots are cool.

Where did the title of your blog Sarah Over the Moon come from? What does it mean?

My former piano teacher, Brenda Martins, suggested the name. It’s a play on my name, obviously. I thought it sounded fun and hopeful.

You are a sexual abuse survivor and a survivor of intimate partner violence and rape. How have these events shaped you as a person and a blogger?

These events were horrible to go through. I can’t pretend that I’ve made peace with them. I’ll probably always be working through the problems that they’ve caused me. There’s really no “bright side” to these events, but I can say that surviving these events made me more aware of the existence of rape and abuse culture—something that many people like to think doesn’t exist. These events shaped my faith very strongly. When I started to see parallels between my abuser and the God I was raised to believe in, I was forced to change my theological beliefs.

Like any blogger or writer, what I write about is shaped by my experiences. I have a passion for calling out abuse wherever I see it, because I know first-hand how devastating it can be.

You said that we need to teach our children (and remind adults) that no matter what, they are valuable. To teach them otherwise is abusive. Do you think much of the contrary happens in the Christian churches today?

I think it does often in fundamentalist churches. Many hold to the doctrine that we are all born worthless sinners, and that the only thing we deserve is an eternity in hell. In fact, God is loving even when God sends us to hell, that’s how worthless we are. Many of these churches teach that even a crying baby trying to communicate with the world is a worthless sinner (as proved by the crying). These same churches will advocate hitting children to train them to behave. It’s hard to see yourself as valuable when you grow up learning that you don’t deserve love, and that trying to communicate with/express yourself to the world is proof that you’re a worthless sinner.

Who have been your major influences?

bell hooks (her name is spelled with all lowercase letters) has been a major influence in my life as a feminist writer. Her writing has taught and challenged me so much. Also, her dedication to making feminist thought easy to understand and accessible to all has been an inspiration in my life. Her blending of personal experience and political thought in her works has been a huge influence on my writing style.

Also, as silly as it may sound, Stephen King. Stephen King is the reason I started pursuing a career as a writer. I read his book On Writing which convinced me that if I would just actually write I could be a writer. It changed my life forever.

When did you start blogging and what drove you to start blogging?

I wrote my first blog post during a weird transition time in my life. I’d left a conservative Christian college, and was home for the summer, planning on attending a state school in the fall. I’d changed a lot just from attending a Christian college that was slightly less fundamentalist than the church I’d grown up in, and was in the process of re-evaluating my beliefs, knowing that soon I wouldn’t be in a place that would be telling me what to believe. So, I wrote about some of the ways I’d changed since high school. I decided to share what I wrote with the world, and thus my blog was born.

Do you plan your blog posts in advance or do you blog on the fly?

I have an entire notebook filled with blogging ideas. I have dozens of blogging ideas written on Post-Its around my room. Every week, I write out ideas for what I am going to blog about that week.

I never actually follow any of these ideas. I just sit at the computer and what comes out comes out. So, I plan blog posts in advance, but you know what they say about the “best laid plans . . .”

Who is your favourite blogger?

It would be hard to pick just one blogger as my favourite. Dianna Anderson is a good friend and her work has been extremely influential ever since I started blogging. I’ve also learned so much from my friends Grace from Are Women Human? and Libby Anne from Love, Joy, Feminism. I recently discovered and have been very challenged by Christena Cleveland’s blog.

You say that you break bread alone or with your cat. Is this because you are not associated with any church? If not why not?

I actually attend a wonderful church when I am in Ohio called The University Church. Right now, though, I live in Michigan and it’s too far of a drive to attend there.

I’ve tried looking for churches in Michigan and eventually gave up. Though there are exceptions like The University Church, and a Unitarian Universalist church in Detroit that I attended for a while (that was also a bit too far of a drive to keep attending), I have trouble with churches. I’ve been in so many that were not safe spaces for anyone who questions or challenges the status quo, which makes it frustrating to look for churches. I also have social anxiety disorder, which makes it even harder. I find that, for the most part, I get more spiritually out of staying at home with my cat.

What would be your desert island books?

Can I say ALL of them? I don’t think I even want to imagine a world without an endless supply of books. But if I had to choose, I’d bring my Stephen King collection, and some feminist theology.

Do you pray regularly? What do you pray about?

I’ve never been good at what most people think of as “prayer.” I appreciate the words of Anne from the book Anne of Green Gables, when she says :
“Why must people kneel down to pray? If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I'd do. I'd go out into a great big field all alone or in the deep, deep woods and I'd look up into the sky—up—up—up—into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I'd just feel a prayer.”

I’m much better at “feeling” a prayer. Since I’m allergic to nature I don’t usually do this in the woods, but sitting at the piano playing hymns.

From where do you draw inspiration for your blog posts?

I read a lot, and I spend a lot of time on Twitter. Many of my blog posts grow from what I’ve learned in a book I’m reading, or a conversation I’ve had on Twitter.

Do you like to listen to music? Who/what type of music do you like to listen to?
I do like music. I love classic rock, which The Beach Boys and Queen being two of my favourites. I’m also a huge They Might Be Giants geek. I don’t listen to much “Christian” music, but the ska band Five Iron Frenzy is one of my all-time favourites as well.
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1 comment:

  1. Sometimes I believe that those of us who have been through abuse see the world, and especially religion, through a much different set of glasses. We don't wear rose-colored glasses, seeing everything has perfect, or one set way as perfect. We don't wear shades, blocking out whatever we don't want to see. We see it all... in all it's controversial and seemingly mutually exclusive light (and dark, and grey).

    I also like what you said about prayer... this is something I, also, do. I have tried to say a prayer. But I usually end up just sitting there (or standing, or walking, or laying) and opening myself up, and feeling the prayer. Personally, I think this is a much more efficient way of praying - God can hear/see what is in our hearts. He doesn't need our disjointed, hesitant, uncertain words.

    Great interview!