KAYA OAKES Feb. 27 at 10 am at First Church Berkeley

Kaya Oakes: Art Meets Life on February 27

Sunday, February 27, 2022 at 10 am

As part of our occasional Art Meets Life series, we’ll be joined for both worship and a learning hour to follow by the salty, brilliant, darkly hilarious Kaya Oakes! Kaya is the author of five books, most recently The Defiant Middle, an exploration of social, cultural, and religious expectations of women throughout history and today. She was born and raised in Oakland, California, and has taught writing at UC Berkeley since 1999.

Kaya strives to be a Dorothy Day kind of Catholic but often ends up more like a Stephen Colbert one, but ecumenical and interfaith friendships are at the heart of her faith life.

Kaya will have signed copies of The Defiant Middle available for purchase. All speaking fees from her current book are being donated to organizations that work for trans rights and inclusion, including the Oakland LGBTQ Center. 

Here’s a bit more about the book if you want to get the bug to buy it ahead of time:

For every woman, from the young to those in midlife and beyond, who has ever been told, “You can’t” and thought, “Oh, I definitely will!”— this book is for you.

Women are expected to be many things. They should be young enough, but not too young; old enough, but not too old; creative, but not crazy; passionate, but not angry. They should be fertile and feminine and self-reliant, not barren or butch or solitary. Women, in other words, are caught between social expectations and a much more complicated reality.

Women who don’t fit in, whether during life transitions or because of changes in their body, mind, or gender identity, are carving out new ways of being in and remaking the world. But this is nothing new: they have been doing so for thousands of years, often at the margins of the same religious traditions and cultures that created these limited ways of being for women in the first place.

In The Defiant Middle, Kaya Oakes draws on the wisdom of women mystics and explores how transitional eras or living in marginalized female identities can be both spiritually challenging and wonderfully freeing, ultimately resulting in a reinvented way of seeing the world and changing it. “Change, after all,” Oakes writes, “always comes from the margins.”