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Winter, 2010 by Letha Dawson Scanzoni

Welcome to the Winter, 2010 edition of Web Explorations for Christian Feminists. Here you’ll find a totally new list of websites with my descriptions and comments about each one.  As always,  the links I’ve listed call attention to a wide variety of subjects — subjects that I think we, as Christian feminists, along with our sisters and brothers of other faiths, will want to learn more about.  Please remember that the links in Web Explorations take you to sites outside our own website, and thus we in EEWC-Christian Feminism Today can’t be responsible for any content they may display. Nor does the inclusion of a link mean that a particular item necessarily represents our organization’s views. The links simply take you to a number of interesting, informative sites that I’ve discovered since posting the last Web Explorations edition (Fall, 2009).  Some topics will no doubt interest you more than others, but take some time to scroll through the entire list.  There’s no hurry.  Skip the ones that don’t immediately grab your attention, and maybe you’ll decide to come back and click on some of the others at another time.  I hope you will.

“What if Jesus meant all that stuff” 
Sometimes the message of Jesus shows up in unexpected places. Aware that Shane Claiborne was controversial among his fellow evangelicals, Esquire magazine invited him to address nonbelievers.  Claiborne started out with these words: “To all my nonbelieving, sort-of-believing, and used-to-be-believing friends: I feel like I should begin with a confession. I am sorry that so often the biggest obstacle to God has been Christians.” Take some time to read the rest of Shane Claiborne’s article and share it with others.

Audio:  An interview with Barbara Brown Taylor 
Many of us in EEWC-CFT have appreciated the spiritual depth and insights of Barbara Brown Taylor through her books and sermons.  Here you can listen in on a delightful conversation as Mary Hynes, host of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s religion program, Tapestry, interviews her about her life, her work, and her latest book, An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith I was greatly impressed with Barbara Brown Taylor’s utter honesty and openness about her personal faith, her questioning, her ever-learning (and ever-teaching) spirit, and her wonderful sense of humor.  This is well worth taking out some time to listen and be enriched!  And if you want more, here’s her website with a list of other interviews for reading or listening.

Jimmy Carter’s December 2009 speech on religious discrimination against women 
Invited to address the Parliament of the World’s Religions meeting in Australia in December 2009, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter told the delegates, “The truth is that male religious leaders have had -– and still have -– an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter.  (More links and a discussion of Jimmy Carter’s earlier remarks on this topic can be found on the August 27, 2009 post of our 72-27 blog.)

More commentary on ways religion is used to discriminate against women 
New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristoff, writing in January 2010, likewise shows ways religion is wrongly used to discriminate against women. But at the same time, he says the empowerment of women through the ministry of Pentecostals in some parts of Africa, offers “a glimmer of hope that reminds us that while religion is part of the problem, it can also be part of the solution.”

Women in Somalia whipped for wearing bras 
The report from Reuters news service provides another example of harsh treatment of women by religious extremists.

Jewish women arrested for wearing prayer shawl 
This woman’s arrest by the Israeli police once again calls attention to the efforts of the Women of the Wall group in Jerusalem. The group seeks to obtain recognition of their equality with men in the sight of God.

Marie Fortune exposes ways that Scripture is twisted and misused 
In every religion, there are so many ways that sacred texts are misinterpreted, misapplied, misused, and distorted in ways that hurt people rather than help them. Marie Fortune, founder and senior analyst of the Faith Trust Institute, exposes some of those ways this has been happening in Christianity.

Video: Steve and Cokie Roberts discuss their interfaith marriage (A Washington Post video) 
Cokie Roberts is well-known as a news anaylist for National Public Radio and also for her appearances as a commentator on ABC. Her husband, Steve, is likewise a journalist as well as a professor of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University. He is also frequently featured on radio and television.  Cokie is Roman Catholic and Steve is Jewish, and the two have been married since 1966.

A former student writes about Mary Daly’s life and death 
Feminist theologian/philosopher Mary Daly, who died recently, was often at the center of controversy, but she was also highly revered by many, including former students.  Here, one of them talks about her life. (From the Women’s Media Center)   

Also from The National Catholic Reporter comes Sr. Joan Chittister’s comments on Mary Daly in which she points out that Daly raised “two of the most important theological questions of our time: one, whether the question of a male God was consistent with the teaching that God was pure spirit, and two, whether a church that is more patriarchal system than authentic church could possibly survive in its present form.”  In commenting on Daly’s firing for not allowing men in some of her classes at Boston College, Chittister says, “But at the same time, no one else in Catholic colleges — or elsewhere — lost their jobs for excluding women from access to theology degrees or various medical specialties, among others, on the grounds that women, as women, were unfit for such programs.”

An Interview with Phyllis Tickle 
In her new book, The Great Emergence, Phyllis Tickle says something new and momentous is happening in the world of religion today. Read journalist David Crumm’s interview with her on the Read the Spirit website.

Will 2010 begin another bad decade for women? 
Pete Dau says the world has a long way to go in changing how women are regarded and treated. (From the Huffington Post)

Ellen Goodman on how far women have come and how much farther we need to go 
In one of her final columns before retiring as a syndicated columnist for the Boston Globe, Ellen Goodman reminisces about the many societal changes that have occurred for girls and women during her forty-year tenure.  But she also points out other ways that some things remain the same.

More change is needed in equitably sharing home care, child care, and careers 
In this review essay, Ann Friedman discusses two new books that show issues around career and family to be far from settled (From the American Prospect.)

Work Life Balance not for women only 
In this thoughtful essay, Courtney Martin says, “We have to stop using ‘work/life balance’ as coded language for ‘working-mom stress.'”  A life that keeps in balance all parts of life–work, relationships, recreation, and just enjoying life–is important for everyone. (From The American Prospect.)

Beauty Myths 
Michelle Goldberg wonders whether modern beauty standards that are impossible to attain might be “a subconscious cultural reaction against women’s growing political power.”  (From The American Prospect)

Women and bankruptcy 
Elizabeth Warren says, “When the credit industry controls the bankruptcy rules, women lose.”  And that is what has been happening since the bankruptcy laws were changed in 2005.

Video: Evangelist Anne Graham Lotz: Breaking through glass ceilings by preaching 
In this section of an interview by Sally Quinn, Anne Graham Lotz, daughter or Billy and Ruth Graham, talks about obstacles she has faced in following her calling and using her preaching gifts in God’s service. She said if people have a problem with her ministry, they can “take it up with Jesus.”  She also says that her parents were not supportive of her ministry at first because of their beliefs about the traditional role of women but they changed their minds later and encouraged her.  (From the Washington Post “Divine Impulses” series of online videos.)  You might also want to read Tammi Reed Ledbetter’s Baptist Press report summarizing a 2001 segment about Anne Graham Lotz on CBS’s 60 Minutes with Morley Safer.

Miep Gies, Woman who sheltered Anne Frank and her family dies 
Miep Gies, who help protect Anne Frank and her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands and preserved Anne Frank’s diary, died recently at age 100.  You can read more about this courageous woman in the New York Times obituary, in the biographical section of the official Anne Frank House website, and in these resources from Scholastic (including an interview with Miep Geis).  On a related note, you might also like to read about Corrie Ten Boom, another woman who bravely risked her life working with the Dutch Underground, sheltering Jews, and helping hundreds escape from the Nazis. She later wrote about it in The Hiding Place, and other books.

Video:  Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? 
“Justice,” taught by Professor Michael Sandel, is one of Harvard University’s most popular courses.  Over the years that it has been offered, thousands of students have learned to think critically about the kinds of moral decisions we all face in our everyday lives.  If you haven’t seen it on public television, it’s well worth your time to watch all twelve sessions online.  I’m impressed with the way Professor Sandel is able to engage the students in weighing different opinions and pondering their own feelings about crucial issues of our time, including examining the different ways of reasoning that go into answering the question, “What’s the right thing to do?”   For a preview, watch the four-minute YouTube video at the top of the site.  I think you’ll be hooked!

Audio. Alexander McCall Smith interview 
I know many EEWC-CFT members are fans of the Number One Ladies Detective Agency series of books, so I’m sure you’ll enjoy hearing the author, Alexander McCall Smith. as he is interviewed by Tom Ashbrook on NPR’s On Point.  You’ll also be interested to know that several of the books have been produced as an HBO-BBC television series, now available on DVD.

Helps for Meditation from the “Explore Faith” website 
I want to close our Winter Web Explorations with this link about meditation because, in our fast-paced modern lives, it’s ever so easy to feel overstimulated, overstretched, overworked, and overwhelmed.  We’re constantly confronted with a ceaseless barrage of news, requests, and other information; we have a sense of always being “on call” because we’re tethered to technology in a multitude of forms; and we face endless demands, both internally and externally, on our time and energies.  We need time apart from all the distractions, time to “be still and know that God is God” as the psalmist said (Ps. 46:10).  But we’ll only get such time if we take it.  Psalm 46:10 in the Contemporary English Version (CEV) is translated like this: “God says, ‘Calm down, and learn that I am God.'”  This section of the “Explore Faith” website provides help for “calming down” and quieting our spirits through choosing one of four avenues for meditation: art, music, poetry, and reading.  The site also has a related section to help us in our prayer life.


That’s all for this edition of Web Explorations. See you again in the spring when I’ll be back with the next edition. In the meantime, enjoy exploring.

Your Web Explorations Guide
Letha Dawson Scanzoni