Welcome to an archive of links chosen and annotated by Letha Dawson Scanzoni in 2012, leading to some great web destinations. Here we’ll share interesting articles, videos, and other items of interest to Christian feminists.
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December 31, 2012
“From nuns to ‘nones’—10 ways religion shaped the news in 2012”
The Religion News Service reports on ways headline-grabbing stories about religion dominated the past year’s news, ranging from nuns under attack by the Vatican to “nuns on the bus” to an altogether different category of people dubbed “nones” because they declared no religious affiliation. This year-end review also reminds us of the significance of religious views in debates over gay marriage, contraception and abortion, religious freedom, political ideologies, gun control, and more.
December 28, 2012
“After Newtown, a Divine Name for Right Now”
Writing for State of Formation, a website created for inter-religious dialogue and listening to new young voices and insights from up-and-coming religious thinkers and activists, Rabbi Michael Ramberg shares his thoughts about the different meanings of one of God’s many names, El Shaddai. He show how all of these meanings of that divine name can speak to our continuing national and personal grief after the December 14 mass shooting in Connecticut.
December 27, 2012
“A Father’s Journey” by Frank Bruni
In this moving tribute published this past Sunday, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni provides an account of his father’s struggles over many years to come to terms with Frank’s being openly gay, even though the father’s love and acceptance of his son as a person never diminished one bit after knowing his son’s sexual orientation. Bruni talks about a recent father-son conversation the two men had over lunch, in which they talked honestly about the senior Bruni’s journey and how his understanding and views of homosexuality have gradually changed over time.
December 26, 2012
The Neural Bases for Dehumanizing the Homeless
We sometimes forget that Jesus lived as a homeless person. He said, “Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58, TNIV) Yet people so often simply walk by homeless people and feel little or no empathy. Sociologist Lisa Wade, writing for Sociological Images talks about a brain study that showed what may lie behind the all too common attitudes displayed toward homeless persons. The finding is disturbing. You might also want to read “My God Lives on the Street,” a post by Adam Bucko for the Huffington Post.
December 25, 2012
“Give me Incarnation before you give me resurrection.”
Pointing out that “Easter is not possible without Christmas,” and “Easter may be just one more manifestation of the incarnation,” Presbyterian pastor Jenny Warner speaks of the wonder of Christ’s coming into our world. “Flesh infused with God. God encountering flesh. Holiness embedding itself into a human life and revealing itself with compassion, healing, truth-telling and relentless embrace. I want that.” This post is from her blog Breathing Room: Faith Beyond Either/Or on the Patheos Progressive Christian Channel. She wrote it in response to the #progGod Challenge on “Why the Incarnation?” where you can read responses from many others as well.
December 24, 2012
“Prenant Old Ladies and Other Signs that God’s Story Is Better than the One We Tell Ourselves”
In this sermon, Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber shows how all the events surrounding the Christmas story in Luke’s account are “like a musical”—and how they show us that God’s story for our own lives is often different and far better than what we think it will be. This is from her Sarcastic Lutheran blog, which has the subtitle “The cranky spirituality of a postmodern gal.” It’s on the Patheos Progressive Christian Channel.
December 21, 2012
Embracing the Darkness
Julie Clawson, on her One Hand Clapping blog, explains the origin of the church’s observance of Advent as signifying a time of darkness—a time for self-examination and repentance, much like Lent. At the same time, there was the anticipation of the time when light would come. She says, “Too often in Advent we rush towards the light. We make it all about preparing for the event of the Christ child without taking the time to be in the darkness.” Then, by the time she wrote the next part of her Advent series on darkness (her post for December 16), the mass shooting in Connecticut had just taken place. As you read that post, you can feel both her anguish and her faith as she writes of God’s presence in the darkness, not giving us answers but just “residing there in solidarity with those suffering in its midst.” And yet, it’s also important to remember that today marks the winter solstice for those of us in the northern hemisphere, reminding us that the light of day will start to increase and that next Tuesday we celebrate the coming of the One who is called the Light of the world. “The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (Matthew 4:16, TNIV).
December 20, 2012
Preaching lessons for women at a conservative evangelical school
Carol Howard Merritt, who writes the Tribal Church blog hosted by the Christian Century, tells how a daring and caring female professor at Moody Bible Institute introduced her to great works of literature and helped her find her voice. It also helped her move away from the restrictive thinking about women’s place that Merritt had experienced as a young woman growing up in fundamentalism. Merritt’s story is a good reminder of the difference one professor or pastor or writer can make in opening a new world to many Christian women. Take some time to read both the blog comments and Facebook comments included with her article.
December 19, 2012
Attacking the Gender Wage Gap by Speaking Up
In this article for the New York Times, Jessica Bennett, the executive editor of Tumblr, tells how the WAGE Project is reaching out to young women in educational settings. (WAGE is an acronym for “Women Are Getting Even.”) Bennett writes, “For years, legislators and women’s advocates have been seeking solutions. In many ways, the wage gap is a complicated problem tied to culture, tradition, and politics. But one part of it can be traced to a simple fact: many women just don’t negotiate, or are penalized if they do.” The WAGE project helps women learn how to negotiate and play a significant part in determining what they will be paid.
December 18, 2012
A mother of a troubled teen writes, “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother.”
Of course, she is not really Adam Lanza’s mother. His mother was also murdered on the day of the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. But the author of this essay, which was originally posted on her personal blog and then republished online in The Blue Review and on AlterNet, writes,”I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am James Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers— need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.” And if you happened to tune in to The Diane Rehm Show on public radio yesterday, you heard two other mothers call in with similar pleas for help from the mental health system. You can listen to it online by clicking the “Listen” icon, on the left, just above the program’s title, “Mass Shootings and their Effect on the American Psyche.” (The calls from the two mothers are between the 16:40 and 23:40 minute marks into the program. But you might want to listen to the entire program as it focuses on guns as well as mental health issues.)
December 17, 2012
How Great the Darkness: A Prayer for Newtown
Caitlin Michelle Desjardins, a Masters of Divinity student at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, wrote this moving prayer for the State of Formation website in the wake of the mass shooting deaths (including 20 children) in Newtown, Connecticut, this past Friday. You might also be interested in reading a full-length liturgical service written by David Henson on his blog for the Progressive Christian channel at Patheos, titled “Tenebrae, a Service for Shadows and Grieving after Sandy Hook Shooting.” It could be used for a memorial service or for individual reading and meditation.
December 14, 2012
The story behind the beloved St. Olaf Christmas Festival and Choir
Listen to this interview with Anton Armstrong, conductor of the St. Olaf Choir and listen to some beautiful sacred Christmas music as well. A segment from a recent broadcast of the PBS program Religion and Ethics Newsweekly.
December 13, 2012
Baby Jesus Was Poor: How to #OccupytheBible at Christmas
Rev. Dr. Susan Thistlethwaite says that the “alarming growth in the extremes of wealth and poverty needs a biblical message.” She started #OccupytheBible as a series of tweets on Twitter (hence the “hashtag” style of the title), and then expanded it into a book. Jesus was born poor and in adulthood proclaimed his ministry as good news to the poor. Thistlethwaite writes: “When we #OccupytheBible at Christmas, this is what we need to see: a baby Jesus in a cold, dirty stable, his mother exhausted from travel mandated by a Roman Empire only interested in what they could get from those they had conquered.” What does this say to us today?
December 12, 2012
“Lying for Jesus is wrong even if you use a fancy word like abortifacient”
Fred Clark on his Slactivist blog for Patheos has something to say to those Christians who bear false witness about how emergency contraception works. He includes a very brief ASAP Science video to back up his point. This video might also have a helpful message for those pharmacists who refuse to fill some emergency contraception prescriptions because of personal beliefs based on misinformation.
December 11, 2012
In Sweden, Playtime Goes Gender-Neutral for the Holidays
From the Wall Street Journal comes this description of a toy catalog in Sweden that intentionally breaks gender traditions. The intention behind the catalog might remind you of the YouTube video last year featuring the spontaneous rant of a little girl named Riley as she looked at the displays in a U.S. toy store and complained to her dad (who grabbed his camera) about how toys are marketed. A year later, a company founded by a female engineer is using a short new video of Riley praising a new line of building products to teach very young girls some engineering principles. Not exclusively pink this time, but the colors are still pastel— to appeal to girls or to their parents? Still, the toys are a good step to help girls see that building toys are not just toys for boys.
December 10, 2012
Top Ten Reasons Christians should stop whining about secular Xmas
Rev. Erin Wathen, on the Faith Forward blog at Patheos, provides another way of looking at the so-called “war on Christmas” that some Christians bring up every year. She concludes: “When you get right down to it, the best way to ‘keep Christ in Christmas’ is to model Christlike behavior.” And she provides examples about what that means. For related reading, see Susan Campbell’s story on Hot Dogma of how the fundamentalist church of her childhood took away the religious celebration of Jesus’ birthday (and frowned on the secular as well) and how she later reclaimed it.
December 7, 2012
The Wittenburg Door (misspelling intentional) was a Christian satire magazine, originally with an evangelical emphasis, published in some form or another from 1968 to 2008. (It has since kept a static website and archives online.) This humorous piece, imagining Noah writing a blog from the ark, originally appeared in July 2008.
December 6, 2012
Five things you don’t have to leave behind when you leave fundamentalism
Rachel Held Evans asks, “What have you struggled with leaving behind as your faith has changed and evolved?” She shares her thoughts about some of the desirable teachings and practices of fundamentalism that don’t have to be given up when rejecting the legalistic, judgmental, and anti-intellectual aspects of this particular expression of Christianity.
December 5, 2012
The gender politics of the dollhouse
When sociologist Lisa Wade, who writes for Sociological Images, heard about gender-neutral dollhouses, she decided to investigate. She found there were two main types of dollhouses. Read what they are.
December 4, 2012
The Fear of Women as Bishops
In this article from The New Yorker blog, Jane Kramer provides a clear and simple explanation of the politics and procedures behind the recent close vote (more than enough votes for a simple majority but six votes short of the required two-thirds mark) preventing women from becoming bishops in the Church of England. She refers to an interview she did three years earlier with Diarmaid MacCulloch, a renowned Oxford historian of Christianity. She had asked him how he accounted for the lingering hostility to the idea of female bishops. “He laughed and called it a piece of theatre, confabulated by men still smarting from the fact that Christ chose two women to witness and announce the Resurrection.” Meanwhile, during the time that the Church of England was deliberating whether women could be bishops, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa consecrated its first woman bishop who says she will “try to represent the mother attribute of God.”
December 3, 2012
“She who dies with the most ‘Likes’ wins?”
Jessica Valenti, writing for The Nation says, “Women adjust their behavior to be likable and as a result have less power in the world.” Read why that’s a problem.
November 30, 2012
Rob Bell and a New Christianity: A Q&A with Author James Wellman
James K. Wellman, Jr., a professor of religion at the University of Washington, has written a new book titled Rob Bell and a New American Christianity. Deborah Arca, who interviewed Wellman for the Patheos Book Club says the book “explores the passion and complexity of Rob Bell, while affirming his influence and impact on the American religious landscape.” In addition to reading the interview at the link above, you can watch a video of the interview. Wellman believes that Bell’s communication skills especially shine in his sermons. Here is one such sermon from the time when Rob Bell was the pastor of the Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. And here’s a more recent one in which he was the guest preacher at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois.
November 29, 2012
The Power of White Privilege
According to the Sociological Cinema website, “Despite plenty of empirical evidence attesting to the existence of white privilege, many people—white people, in particular—are unable to recognize it in their daily lives. This invisibility appears to be by design, and indeed, unearned privileges are powerful and persistent precisely because whites are socialized not to see them.” Watch this short (under four minutes) video in which Joy DeGruy (Leary), an author, educator, and speaker, illustrates the concept by sharing a grocery store incident from her own life. Dr. DeGruy is the author of Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome.
November 28, 2012
“How to speak Christianese”
Most groups tend to develop their own in-group terminology, but evangelical Christians have been especially adept at developing a distinct subcultural way of speaking. In this brief video, the Bel Air Drama Department (B.A.D.D.) from the Bel Air Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles, parodies a commercial offering recorded lessons on speaking “Christianese.” You might also want to read Christian Piatt’s series on cliches Christians should avoid.
November 27, 2012
“Why we have to make a better case for gender equality in the Church.”
Last week, after the General Synod of the Church of England voted against permitting women to serve as bishops, Rachel Held Evans compiled this list of her previously posted scripture-based arguments for full gender equality in the church and home–and everywhere else.
November 26, 2012
Thanks in Practice by Anne Lamott
In this excerpt from her latest book, as reprinted in Relevant magazine, Anne Lamott reminds us that giving thanks is an everyday, all-year-long practice in both the ordinary and extraordinary events of daily life.
November 23, 2012
A humble, uncelebrated saint from long ago and those who follow in her footsteps today
Writing for her A Musing Amma blog on Patheos, Elizabeth Nordquist originally posted this for All Saints Day earlier this month, but it has a message for all of us anytime. Jesus said the first shall be last and the last shall be first. Some of the greatest saints among us may seem like the last and the least (in human eyes). But they are the people quietly carrying out God’s work of compassion, peace, and justice in both ordinary and extraordinary ways and thereby helping make this world a better place.
November 22, 2012
Thanksgiving song by Mary Chapin Carpenter
Watch the slide show and listen to Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “Thanksgiving Song” with a grateful heart— but also with a prayer for those unable to experience the warmth and togetherness depicted, perhaps because of the loss of homes or loved ones from Hurricane Sandy or from war or other tragedies in our hurting world.
November 21, 2012
“On gay marriage, voters got it right even if the church gets it wrong”
C.S. Pearce, writing for the “On Faith” section of the Washington Post, says “An ever- growing number of Christian leaders and laypeople now believe that traditional beliefs about homosexuality are hurting the church, especially its most vulnerable members: young gay people who are convinced that their very essence is sinful.”
November 20, 2012
“Progressive Christians enter the age of relevancy”
Carol Howard Merritt reminds us that a new day is dawning when the views of progressive Christians are being taken seriously and the views of those who misappropriated words like Christian and evangelical and biblical for their own use are being exposed as contrary to the good news of the gospel. Pastor Merritt writes: “It’s been a sobering few decades for Christians who work alongside the poor, claim their feminism, respect scientific discovery, care for the earth, and yearn for marriage equality. We felt like the voice of Christianity had been captured by some strange ventriloquist, and it was proclaiming things that often contradicted our faith.”
November 19, 2012
“The ‘benevolent sexism’ female faculty members face at Christian colleges”
A recent study comparing the experience of female faculty members at an evangelical university and a secular research university found that “gender inequality on all measures was greater at the evangelical university when compared to the secular university.” Women who taught at at the evangelical school reported fewer opportunities for career advancement than was true of their male colleagues. Yet at the same time, these female faculty members reported greater job satisfaction than did their female counterparts at the secular university. To learn about the researchers’ explanations for this paradox and their description of “benevolent sexism,” read Karen Swallow Prior’s Christianity Today interview with the study’s authors. (You can also read an abstract of the study here.)
November 16, 2012
“Everything Possible,” written and sung by Fred Small
This song has become somewhat of a classic. In a very warm and simple manner, it helps children, their parents, and everybody else realize that being just who we are is what matters. The song stresses that regardless of gender-role expectations, societal ideas about sexual orientation, dealing with bullying taunts, or decisions about careers, travel, friendships, singleness, or romantic partner, the child can know that the parent’s love will always be there. Fred Small wrote this song many years ago after a lesbian couple asked if he would write a special lullabye to sing to their young child. Although it is suitable for any family and has long been used and loved by parents and children in innumerable households, the song seemed especially appropriate to choose this week after voters in four states voted to legalize same-sex marriage, increasing the number of states honoring marriage equality to a total of ten.
November 15, 2012
Tips for dealing with the shorter days of winter
Phil Fox Rose, on Patheos, says that while “seasonal affective disorder” (SAD) is a real problem for some people, the coming of winter affects everybody to some degree or another. It’s just part of being human to feel a bit down as the hours of daylight decrease, the hours of darkness increase. and the weather grows colder as well. Rose provides some useful tips for coping with it and also recommends Therese Borchard’s blog post, “12 Winter Depression Busters.”
November 14, 2012
Playful, Honest, God-Wrestling with Rachel Held Evans
Morgan Guyton, a United Methodist pastor, provides an insightful review essay on Rachel Held Evans’s new book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, and the hermeneutical principles behind it. Guyton writes, “In addition to reading the Bible with the prejudice of love, I think that Rachel models for us an authenticity in dealing with challenging Biblical subject matter that I would call God-wrestling.”
November 13, 2012
Moral Wounds of War
Correspondent Lucky Severson, speaking on the PBS program Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, says, “With the increase in crime and suicide among veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, the notion that war can actually damage or warp the soul has been gaining traction among experts in the field.” In the words of one soldier: “You know you’re different now. . . we don’t really have a consciousness of our own spirit until it’s wounded, and then it needs help.” (That particular broadcast came to mind as I read the horrifying story of one soul-wounded combat veteran as described by Nicholas Kristof in his New York Times column titled, “When War Comes Home.”)
November 12, 2012
Vintage postcards used to oppose suffrage for women
In the early 1900s, those who opposed women’s gaining the vote portrayed suffragists as “upending the gender order” and “masculinizing” women, while “feminizing” men. The link by sociologist Gwen Sharp for Sociological Images takes you to a series of postcards used to spread this anti-suffrage message. Contrast those images with the recent election results when, as Suzi Parker writes in the Washington Post, “For the first time in history, women will hold 20 seats, a record number from the current 17, in the U.S. Senate. From Massachusetts to Hawaii, women made significant gains on a night when the war on women became a referendum.”
November 9, 2012
“Frankenstorm”: A wake-up call showing why climate change cannot be denied
Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite says “global weirding” might be a better term than “global warming” for what is happening today. Writing in the Washington Post, she shares links to numerous examples of religious groups that are not waiting for politicians to take leadership but are themselves stressing the need for immediate environmental education and action as part of their own faith practice. Writes Thistlethwaite, “A wounded earth is speaking. Are you listening?”
November 8, 2012
“When Does Life Begin? Abortion, Judaism, and Ohio”
Tom Breen, co-writer of Hot Dogma: The Belief Blog, provides this brief summary of what he calls “perhaps the most thoughtful and wrenching thing” he has read on the question of abortion. It’s a woman’s personal story and concerns her religion, a medical condition, an unusual circumstance, and state laws. Breen concludes that “this piece should at least get us thinking about the questions we should be asking when it comes to the most intractable debate in American public life.” Be sure to go to the article he summarized and read Tamara Mann’s firsthand account, which begins with these words: “On June 19, the state of Ohio declared that I had a voluntary abortion. My rabbi and my doctors disagreed. I simply wanted to be pregnant.”
November 7, 2012
When Disasters Strike: Complex Questions about God for Clergy and Victims Alike
After the terrible devastation, loss of life, and intense suffering Hurricane Sandy caused for so many people, Jayweed Kaleen, writing for the Huffington Post, interviewed clergy of various religious traditions to see how they viewed such tragedies in light of their theology. Accompanying the article is a slideshow of “Prayers in Times of Calamity” from different religious traditions.
November 6, 2012
Charlene Strong, lesbian Catholic, answers bishops’ call for dialoge on gay marriage referendum
Today, ballots in four states (Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington) include referendums on the legalization of same-sex marriage. In the state of Washington, Charlene Strong, who lost her same-sex partner of ten years in a flash flood (and whose story was featured in our link of the day for February 13 of this year) continues her activism for marriage equality. In this article from Religion News Service and reprinted in the Huffington Post, Charlene tells why her Catholic faith means so much to her and why she has remained in the Church in spite of its opposition to same-sex marriage.
November 5, 2012
“Biblical Womanhood”: Christian Patriarchs Trying to Blow out a Bonfire
Fred Clark, writing in his Slactivist blog for the Patheos website, shows that there is no going back to the days when Christian women submissively accepted the teachings of those who used the Bible as a weapon to prevent women’s full equality. There are now too many of us who know better. Those who want to keep or reinstate male supremacy and female subordination can no longer control how information spreads–even in the most conservative church circles. As Clark points out, “The Powers That Be are losing their monopoly on information and permission. Women are writing things. . .they are spreading and absorbing information not approved by the patriarchy. They are granting one another permission to ask questions….” In other words, all those candles we biblical feminists have lit over the years have been combining to ignite a bonfire. In Clark’s words: “The Christian women bloggers of that Bonfire represent an existential threat to the Christian patriarchy.” And the patriarchy can’t extinguish it.
November 2, 2012
“Writing that Rattles”: Rachel Held Evans talk about blogging, her faith and doubts, patriarchy, “biblical womanhood” and more.
Take some time today or over this weekend to view this delightful, refreshingly honest 29- minute interview with the popular blogger and author Rachel Held Evans during her February, 2012 appearance at Point Loma Nazarene University in California.
November 1, 2012
Eight reasons why Hildegard matters now
Today, in honor of All Saints Day, when many churches remember those Christians over the ages who have gone before us, it’s worth pondering Mary Sharratt’s list of eight reasons why she considers Hildegard von Bingen to have relevance today. Sharrott has written a novel based on the life of this 12th century nun and visionary and prepared this “eight reasons” list for The Huffington Post. For additional reading, read Marg Herder’s review of a unique recording of Hildegard’s music here on our Christian Feminism Today website.
October 31, 2012
Robbing the rich: biblical concern or political preoccupation?
Rev. Craig M. Watts, writing for Red Letter Christians, shows that the Bible has something to say to those wealthy individuals who argue that the government is “stealing” from them and breaking the eighth commandment by requiring the payment of taxes. Watts writes: “Caring for the less fortunate was not left entirely in the hands of the generous and willing. Means of redistributing of wealth were put in place and described in scripture. While the relinquishing of property for the needs of the poor and weak was not for the most part voluntary, neither was it regarded as theft.” An article worth reading and pondering in these politically contentious times.
October 30, 2012
Susan Thistlethwaite speaks out: “Pregnancy from rape is not God’s will.”
Writing for the “On Faith” section of the Washington Post, Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, professor and former president at the Chicago Theological Seminary, has provided an excellent and corrective theological overview of attitudes behind statements by certain politicians recently. She says there is “no failure of compassion so glaring as the way rape survivors are being made into political and religious scapegoats today.”
For further reading about recent religion-based political policy statements on reproductive issues, see “Rape and Richard Mourdock’s Semi-omnipotent God,” an opinion piece by Sarah Sentilles on Religion Dispatches; “Rape and other ‘gifts from God’” by sociologist Caroline Heldman on Sociological Images; and “What God intended? As a victim and survivor of rape, I am appalled and disgusted,” an RH Reality Check piece written by Cindy Harding, a woman whose decision to raise a child conceived in rape was her choice, not because she was forced by the government to continue against her will a pregnancy resulting from a criminal act. Also watch or read this passionate statement by Melissa Harris-Perry, another rape survivor, as an open letter to Richard Mourdock.)
October 29, 2012
Interview with Rev. Phil Snider about his city council remarks that went viral
Sarah Morice-Brubaker, writing for Religion Dispatches, interviewed Phil Snider, a Missouri pastor whose August 13, 2012 remarks during a Springfield City Council meeting unexpectedly went viral on the Internet. The council meeting was called to allow citizens to voice “for” and “against” comments about adding sexual orientation and gender identity protections to a nondiscrimination city ordinance. If you haven’t yet seen this brief video, watch it before reading the interview. And even though you will probably feel offended in the beginning, be sure to hear him out to the end. That’s crucial. You can watch the video as embedded with the article or go directly to it on YouTube. (In addition to the Morice-Brubaker interview with Pastor Snider, you might also want to read another interview with him conducted by Jana Riess of Religion News Service.)
October 26, 2012
Bobby McFerrin sings the 23rd Psalm
Bobby McFerrin dedicated this beautiful rendition of the 23rd Psalm to his mother. Interviewed recently by Krista Tippett for her American Public Media program, On Being, McFerrin tells the story behind the song, which he wrote after rehearsing with an improvisational group in a church when group members “got to talking about the heavy patriarchal element in religion.” That conversation led to his desire to “write something with the feminine gender.” He told Tippett that thinking about God’s love “should encompass the mother and the father.” You can listen to the podcast, read the transcript, or watch an extended unedited video of the interview.
October 25, 2012
A conversation between Nadia Bolz-Weber and Brian McLaren
Nadia Bolz-Weber and Brian McLaren sat down and conversed together at the invitation of the “Progressive Christian Channel” at Patheos, They talked about their vision of Christianity, the value of liturgy as an anchor for faith, today’s political situation, the diminishing interest in church attendance and participation, the message they hope to get out through their respective writings and speaking, the importance of community, and more. Take some time to read the entire two-part discussion.
October 24, 2012
Dealing with inappropriate remarks
Pastor Carol Howard Merritt, writing for her Christian Century blog, Tribal Church, provides advice to help us develop an awareness of those remarks addressed to us that are totally out of place— and in some cases even dangerous— and how to handle them.
October 23, 2012
Why We’re Leaving Church: A Report from the “Nones”
Writing for the Huffington Post, Brian McLaren talks about the recent Pew research report on the rise of the religiously unaffiliated and shares his thoughts about why so many people–especially younger people–are leaving churches and, when asked, listing their religious affiliation as “none.”
October 22, 2012
Rachel Held Evans shares FAQs about A Year of Biblical Womanhood
Popular Christian author and blogger Rachel Held Evans spent a year following literally — without regard to culture or time period— the passages in the Bible that specifically addressed women. The book (official publication date October 30) has already stirred up considerable discussion and controversy. For more on the controversy, check out this article by Amelia Thomson-DeVaux, written for the Public Religion Research Institute. Also see Fred Clark’s post. “Who’s afraid of Rachel Held Evans?” on his Slactivist blog at Patheos,
October 19, 2012
The challenge of disability to Christianity
Writing for The Ooze website, Britain Bullock points out that “Christianity conceals a rather startling concept—that neither our behaving nor our believing is the essential value of humanity—rather, it is our belovedness. This is the gift that those with severe disabilities bring to us. They remind us of the point.”
October 18, 2012
“The Body of Christ could use some sleep”
Kester Brewin subtitled this post, “What the church could learn from iTunes.” In his reflection written for the Emerging Church website, Brewin says we need communities that are “adaptable, resilient, and evolving.” He argues that “we must return to the church as the body of Christ, not the machine of Christ.”
October 17, 2012
A reader of Brian McLaren’s books is troubled by his stance on homosexuality
Brian McLaren, the popular progressive Christian author, theologian, speaker, and former pastor, recently caused a stir within some Christian circles after he officiated at a same-sex commitment ceremony for his son and partner. Brian McLaren has also been speaking and writing about his personal journey of learning more about homosexuality and reconciling it with his Christian faith. Some fellow Christians have been troubled by where that journey has taken him, fearing it has led him away from biblical teaching. One reader of his books who had regarded him as mentor wrote to say he felt he must now “break ranks” with Mclaren. Read McLaren’s kind and warm response.
October 16, 2012
“When Bible Study Goes Wrong”
Vyckie Garrison is a former fundamentalist single mother of seven children who was once a part of the Quiverfull movement. In this article written for Religion Dispatches, she tells of her dismay when a Salvation Army Church took her teenage daughter’s youth group on a field trip to see a politically partisan film as part of their Bible study. Garrison writes: “While I saw the showing of this film as indoctrination, tying political propaganda to a Bible study lesson, Miranda [one of the pastors] argued it was appropriate.” She saw conservative news sources and Bible-based thinking as “a hedge of protection; safeguarding the minds of believers against secular lies—indoctrination, as they saw it, of another kind. We were speaking two different languages.”
October 15, 2012
“I love the Bible” by Rachel Held Evans
Rachel Held Evans says, “I love the Bible, but I love it best for what it is, not for what I want it to be…when I live in the tension and walk with the limp”—a limp much like Jacob experienced after wrestling with God.
October 12, 2012
The brave TV anchor who told the world there is more to life than our weight.
Alyssa Figueroa, who writes for AlterNet, says we need more people like Jennifer Livingston, a news anchor for a Wisconsin television station, who, after receiving a viewer’s letter criticizing her weight, responded with a powerful on-air statement. The video of Livingston’s response is embedded in Figueroa’s article, or you can watch it on YouTube. The news anchor reminded viewers that October is anti-bullying month and told young people, “Do not let your self-worth be defined by bullies.”
October 11, 2012
Media images and church images: The “Miss Representation” film
After viewing the film Miss Representation, Jann Aldredge-Clanton, a minister, author, and teacher, describes both the film and her reaction. She writes: “This award-winning documentary film exposes how mainstream media’s misrepresentations of women have led to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence. As I watched this film, I thought of similar ways that the church limits the gifts of women and girls.”
October 10, 2012
“I’m not a ‘mother first‘”
Writing in The Nation, Jessica Valenti, the founder and former executive editor of Feministing, says that women cannot let themselves be defined by one role or identity. “Yes, we are mothers and sisters and daughters and wives. We’re also much more,” writes Valenti. She emphasizes the importance of recognizing the “sexism of momism,” which she sees as “one more hurdle to overcome on the way to equality.”
October 9, 2012
Egalitarian Jonalyn Fincher’s personal story of taking her husband’s name
On her “Ruby Slippers” section of Soulation, Jonalyn Fincher shares her struggles over whether to take her husband’s name, combine it with hers, or not change her name at all.
October 8, 2012
Artie’s Journey: What a dad learned at his lesbian daughter’s wedding
As part of its “Find Yours” series about the personal reasons people travel, Expedia, the online travel company, includes this true feature about a loving father who travels from Georgia to California to be with his daughter as she marries the woman she loves. The link includes information about the family. Expedia has taken a public stand supporting marriage equality. (The video of the father’s travel to his daughter’s wedding can also be viewed on YouTube.)
October 5, 2012
The Future of Faith: An Interview with Diana Butler Bass
On his Everyday Awakening blog, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove talks with religious historian and author Diana Butler Bass about her new book Christianity After Religion. Disagreeing with what she calls “guardians of institutions,” Bass says, “Jesus was not one who was much interested in protecting or defending. Jesus was about loving and laying aside. Movements that are about ‘protect and defend’ are far outside the Gospel narrative, outside the witness of Jesus.” Read about the “flip” that she says is occurring in theology and practice today.
October 4, 2012
Daddy, stay home and play with me.
David Rupert, writing for High Calling, tells how his life had become extremely busy as he tried to make an impression in a new job. “I believed I needed to be at work early, hoping to beat my boss to work to make that good impression,” he writes. “Over the years, the Protestant work ethic passed on from my father was good for my employer, but wasn’t always so good for the family life.” His life had become work, work, work. Then his young son made a simple request.
October 3, 2012
The Myth of Male Decline
In an opinion piece for the New York Times, Stephanie Coontz, who teaches family history, takes issue with the recent spate of books decrying the perceived loss of power and demoralization of the male sex. But what is really happening is anxiety about a redistribution of power. She points out that “Fifty years ago, every male American was entitled to what the sociologist R. W. Connell called a ‘patriarchal dividend’ – a lifelong affirmative-action program for men.” That has been changing. But, according to Coontz, both “the ascent of women” and “the descent of men” have been greatly exaggerated.
October 2, 2012
“Sermon on Snot-nosed Children, Insecurity, and the Lap of God”
Pastor Nadia Boltz Weber, writing on the Sarcastic Lutheran blog, says that children can be messy and that “Jesus uses children to teach us about welcoming today in our Gospel reading. Because sometimes sacred hospitality can be a messy business.” You can read her sermon or listen to it— or both. Many of our readers will also remember Nadia Boltz Weber’s humorous but spiritually rich and insightful video filmed at a youth conference.
October 1, 2012
Fighting over God’s Image
Many Americans have been baffled by the accusations of blasphemy and the extremely violent protests that have erupted over depictions of the prophet Muhammad in various media. But, say historians Edward Blum and Paul Harvey, writing in the New York Times, “Americans have had their own history of conflict, some of it deadly, over displays of the sacred.” They provide an overview of that history.
September 28, 2012
“You Have to Be There,” sung by Susan Boyle
If we’re honest with ourselves, all of us have to admit to times of doubt—whether it’s about God’s omnipotence or goodness or loving care for us or even about God’s very existence. This song, sung with heartfelt conviction by Scottish singer Susan Boyle, speaks to the deep need for God to “be there”—to experience the reality of God’s presence in a time of questioning, confusion, and despair. It fits well with philosophy professor Cliff Williams’s book, Existential Reasons for Belief in God, recently reviewed on this Christian Feminism Today website. (Note: The video of Susan’s song is preceded by either a 15- or 30-second changing advertisement, so hang in there! It’s short, and her song is worth waiting for.)
September 27, 2012
Three things women should stop apologizing for
Writing for the Women & Co. website, career and leadership consultant Rachelle J. Cantor, Ph.D., says women tend to apologize for the very qualities that are crucial to their success. She says that “the apologizing mindset can be far more subtle but also far more insidious” than simply saying “I’m sorry” or “I apologize.” It’s time to stop such apologizing for who we are and what we can accomplish.
September 26, 2012
“When Everything Changed” —a short video by Gail Collins
In this brief video (under 4 minutes long) from the Progressive Book Club, New York Times columnist Gail Collins talks about her book, When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present. She shows how life before the 1960s and 1970s was very different for women, and many of us in EEWC-Christian Feminism Today remember those times vividly and painfully. Some of us were writing the earliest second-wave Christian feminist books and articles during that period, and it’s important that we keep our history alive today when some religious and political leaders would like to push women back to the period before “everything changed.”
September 25, 2012
Theologian Marcus Borg writes about a chronological New Testament
“A chronological New Testament is not only about sequence, but also about chronological context—the context-in-time, the historical context in which each document was written,” writes theologian Marcus Borg in The Huffington Post. Borg points out how such knowledge can affect our understanding of Scripture. The article is accompanied by an interactive slideshow listing the order in which, according to the most recent biblical scholarship, the New Testament documents were written.
September 24, 2012
Dear Pat Robertson: Time to Retire
We’ve all enjoyed the Rev. Dr. Marie Fortune’s “Dear Pope” letters highlighted as some of our past Links of the Day. This time Dr. Fortune, founder of the FaithTrust Institute, takes on another religious leader, Pat Robertson, host of the 700 Club, over his latest incendiary remarks. The FaithTrust Institute is dedicated to ending sexual and domestic violence and also promotes interfaith understanding, so Robertson’s remarks about Muslims and wife-beating were especially troubling. (You can see the clip of Robertson’s remarks here.)
September 21, 2012
“‘Complementarianism’ is a sham”
Chaplain Mike of Internet Monk debunks “compementarianism”—the teaching (promoted in many churches) that men and women were created by God to “complement” one another in marriage and the church through practicing male headship and female submission. “Christlikeness in marriage has nothing — NOTHING — to do with who ‘leads’ and who ‘follows,'” he writes. “It has everything to do with love.”
September 20, 2012
“Moved to Sing”—the importance of singing together in worship
Lutheran Pastor Peter W. Marty, writing for The Lutheran, reminds us of a time when families and friends gathered around a piano or guitar and enjoyed singing together. Now, even much of congregational singing is replaced by “special music,” with an emphasis on performances by soloists and groups. And in the singing that does take place, individuals are often self-conscious about their own singing and hold back. Pastor Marty writes, “Maybe singing in worship isn’t all about you, or about any one person for that matter. Maybe it is about what we do together — a ‘living together in harmony,’ to borrow words from the Apostle Paul.”
September 19, 2012
“The Muslim ‘other’ is your brother”—and sister
Jana Riess, writing for Religion News Service, tells a beautiful story about Brian McLaren’s prayer for guidance to reach out in love to his Muslim brothers and sisters after the 9/11 attacks. Riess’s blog post goes on to talk about the way religious hatred breeds more religious hatred and why we must move away from such attitudes.”
September 18, 2012
Perfect love casts out all fear
Kimberly Knight, in her Coming Out Christian blog on Patheos, shares a reflection sent to her from a correspondent named Hilary, who contrasts the ways heterosexual people (and political parties) think and talk about same-sex marriage, with some approaching the topic in a fearful spirit, and others approaching it in a confident, welcoming spirit. “Sometimes I wish I could sit down with [the fearful kind of people] someplace safe for both of us and ask, ‘What are you afraid of?'” says Hilary.
September 17, 2012
Sociology professor Gwen Sharp explains “confirmation bias.”
“We tend to perceive what we expect to see, our brains struggling to come up with reasons that justify what we already think,” writes sociologist Gwen Sharp for Sociological Images. She illustrates “confirmation bias” by using a clip from a Jimmy Kimmel Live program in which ordinary people on the street were asked to evaluate the latest iPhone.
September 14, 2012
The Wisdom of Hildegard of Bingen
This visual meditation video, from the “Wisdom of Women” section of the creatively named Seescapes website, highlights some of the sayings of the medieval mystic Hildegard von Bingen. The entire Seescapes website is dedicated to “deepening our awareness of the sacred,” and the text and the beautiful, imaginative photography of this video will both lift and calm your spirit as you read words like these from Hildegard: “God hugs you. You are encircled by the arms of the mystery of God.” or “All living creatures are sparks from the radiation of God’s brilliance.” (The music on this Seescapes video is not from Hildegard, but after you watch the guided meditation video, you might want to listen to a modern rendition of some of Hildegard’s music from the Angel Records CD, Vision which features the electronic musical arrangements and interpretations of Richard Souther and the ethereal vocalizations of Emily Van Evera and Sister Germaine Fritz, OSB.)
September 13, 2012
“I am a woman of valor.”
This is part of a series of guest posts for the “Women of Valor” series on the website of Rachel Held Evans. This one is written by a woman who chose to be identified publicly only by an initial. She tells of finding hope, strength, and a belief in her self worth after years of anguish, stemming from childhood abuse, then dealing with mental illness and at last finding help. “I was terrorized as a child,” she writes, “beaten by my father’s belt and bludgeoned by scriptures that were twisted into weapons against my tiny spirit.”
September 12, 2012
Praising God “who has not made me a woman.”
Eliezer Segal, who teaches religious studies at the University of Calgary and holds a PhD in Talmud from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, provides the latest scholarly thinking on the origin and meaning of a traditional prayer in which a Jewish male praises God for not creating him a gentile, a slave, or a woman. Dr. Segal’s article is found on the website. My Jewish Learning.
September 11, 2012
“My husband is not a ‘non-Mormon’ and other thoughts on religious exclusion”
Jana Riess, writing for her Religion News Service blog, speaks about the pain of being discriminated against because of her Mormon faith and the general problem of religious labeling and exclusion. She points out that it’s appropriate that a new book by Brian McLaren, emphasizing interfaith understanding, is scheduled for publication on September 11—especially in view of all the feelings this date evokes. Summarizing McLaren’s message, Riess writes: “The problem of pluralism, he says, is not our differences but our similarity; we try to build a strong identity by creating fear and hostility to the other. Our common rigidity is the real issue, not differences in belief or practice among various faith traditions.”
September 10, 2012
From the Heart—Angel Unaware
Kathy Vestal, on the Red Letter Christians blog, writes about a personal experience in which two souls touched, if only momentarily, and left an impact on both persons in the spirit of scriptural teachings about showing hospitality to strangers.
September 7, 2012
Jay Bakker, in a guest appearance on the Joy Behar Show
Take some time over this weekend to watch this 14-minute video of Jay Bakker, son of televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, as he is interviewed by Don Lemon about God’s grace, love, and inclusiveness, and his view of hell as “a tactic to scare and frighten people.” Jay Bakker is a pastor and author and tells of the price he paid for welcoming LGBT people into his church. He discusses biblical criticism and literalism and says that people who told him to read the Bible don’t like some of the things he found there. Although this program was broadcast in 2011, his commentary on religion and politics continues to be timely.
September 6, 2012
“Why it’s important to let your child make mistakes”
Writing for her blog on The Huffington Post, psychologist Peggy Drexler emphasizes the importance of encouraging children to take risks (after safety considerations) and, resisting our urge to rush in and help, letting them learn to make their own decisions and solve their own problems.
September 5, 2012
Media subordination in “Killing Us Softly”: Silencing
Sociologist Lisa Wade of Sociological Images calls attention to Jean Kilbourne’s work on the subordination of women in the media, one way being to depict the silencing of women’s voices. “Sometimes this means actually covering a woman’s mouth (forcibly, but also playfully), other times copy simply says that she need not (or shouldn’t) speak,” writes Wade, who illustrates her point with photos from advertisements. (It’s also worth taking time to watch the short video presentation by Jean Kilbourne herself.)
September 4, 2012
Brief animated video about a woman’s desire to go to seminary
This little video, posted on Christian Feminism, an independent blog written by six Christian women, shows how women are often ridiculed and discouraged (if not actually prohibited) from assuming positions of leadership in the church.
September 3, 2012
“Confessions of an accidental feminist” by Rachel Held Evans
Critics often think that those of us who call ourselves Christian feminists would not have taken this path if we had not been influenced by outside “secular” influences, such as women’s studies courses or feminist writings or from listening to someone who fits their negative stereotypical images of what feminists are like. Not so, says Rachel Held Evans, who writes, “I didn’t learn to be a feminist from Margaret Atwood or Simone de Beavoir. I learned to be a feminist from Jesus.”
August 31, 2012
The Parable of the Professor and the Rocks
This story originally appeared in one of Stephen Covey’s books and is retold here on the Cross Examined blog at Patheos. It’s likely to cause you to think about your life.
August 30, 2012
Gratitude: Letting Other People Know that They Matter Benefits Us
Dr. Christopher Peterson, writing for Psychology Today, stresses the importance of being appreciative for all that people do for us–and showing that appreciation. “Gratitude is what we call a strength of the heart because it forges an emotional bond between people,” he writes.
August 29, 2012
Stephen Prothero talks about his book, God Is Not One
In this short video (under three minutes), Boston University religion professor Stephen Prothero shows us why religion matters and what particular human problems each religion seeks to address. “We need to know something about the religions of the world in order to make sense of the world we live in,” he says.
August 28, 2012
Make Room for (the New) Daddy
Marlo Thomas is the daughter of the late Danny Thomas whose TV program, Make Room for Daddy ran for four years during the 1950s. In this article from The Huffington Post, she talks about making room for the new daddy. “Used to be,” she writes that “too many dads were stoic and distant figures who returned home from work just long enough to kiss their kids goodnight.” Thomas says that”gender roles are melting into one another” as the modern family evolves. “And leading this evolution is the newly involved dad.”
August 27, 2012
Income inequality enrages monkey
Brian Fung, an associate editor of The Atlantic, shares this hilarious video of a monkey’s reaction when another monkey gets a greater reward for the same work. The experiment may have something to say to us humans about the unfairness of the gender gap in earnings and the reason the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act is so important. The experiment can remind us of so many other examples of unfairness in our society as well.
August 24, 2012
In this video (under 8 minutes long) from the PBS program, Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, Professor Amy-Jill Levine, an observant Jew who teaches New Testament at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and is the co-editor of The Jewish Annotated New Testament, says, “If I want to understand Jewish history, the New Testament is one of the best sources that I’ve got.” You can watch the video or read the text with brief excerpts from lectures Levine gave at the 92nd St. Y in New York and also at Oral Roberts University. You can also listen to a 17-minute extended interview with Amy-Jill Levine as well as separate interviews with others featured on the program. Related reading: See Amy-Jill Levine’s review of New Jewish Feminism on our EEWC-Christian Feminism Today website.
August 23, 2012
“You Don’t Speak for Me,” sung by Judy Small
If you’ve ever been annoyed, angered, or saddened when someone says or does something outrageous, unjust, and hate-filled and yet claims to speak for all members of your group (your particular religious group, political affiliation, organization, nation, or whatever), then this song is for you. Judy Small, an Australian folksinger, writes and sings on social justice issues. You can listen to an entire concert by Judy from the Kennedy Center from her visit to the US in 2004.
August 22, 2012
Can You Be a Christian and Follow Ayn Rand?
Writing for Religion News Service, Jana Riess says she is surprised to “hear fellow Christians try to reconcile Rand’s utter selfishness with the teachings of Jesus.”
August 21, 2012
Dear Hypothetically Gay Son
After John Kinnear read an online letter from a father who disowned his son after the son’s phone call telling him he was gay (a letter that went viral on the Web), Kinnear decided to write a letter to his own unborn son (sexual orientation unknown, of course), as though he were a gay son, assuring the hypothetical gay son of his deep love and acceptance of him just as he was. Kinnear has a two-year-old daughter and his first son is due in November.
August 20, 2012
The roots of Sunday school.
We usually think of Sunday school as part of a church’s Sunday morning Christian education program. But the idea originated as part of an eighteenth century social reform movement in the UK— a way of providing some basic education for poor children, many of whom worked long hours in factories and elsewhere. Sundays were their only day off work. Visionaries like Robert Raikes thought it would be a good idea to open a school for them on that day. The link takes you to an article by Simon Cross at the website Christian.co.uk. You can read a more detailed article about it here.
August 17, 2012
Mary Chapin Carpenter and James Taylor sing “Soul Companion.”
While yesterday’s link warned us of the dangers of a materialistic outlook that leaves God out of the picture, today’s link reminds us that God created us as social beings. And what really matters in life are relationships—caring, connection, companionship, love. With this in mind, Mary Chapin Carpenter invited people to send in pictures of themselves with their soul companions—however they chose to define the term. She would then assemble them into a video featuring her song, “Soul Companion,” sung as a duet with James Taylor. Eight hundred photos from all over the world arrived for her project, more than enough for the six videos produced to illustrate the song. You can watch and listen to one of them—or all of them—through today’s link. It’s a way to warm your heart, lift your spirit, and help you think about the people you love as you start the weekend!
August 16, 2012
When do we have enough stuff?
In this post from her weekly commentary on the Huffington Post, “On Scripture–the Torah,” Rabbi Toba Spitzer warns us us not to forget God and others in times of of abundance, and not to claim, arrogantly and ungratefully, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me” (Deuteronomy 8:17).
August 15, 2012
Letter to my daughter
A loving father wants his 21-month-old little girl to know how much he appreciates her boundless vitality, curiosity, and growing independence. And he wants to warn her that someday she will meet people who will try to take steal her sense of unlimited opportunity. “They will tell you that some roles in life aren’t for you, simply because you’re a woman . . .They will tell you this is so because God—the same God we read about at bedtime—made it so. . . .They are wrong.” The article was written by Ben Irwin and posted at Christian.co.uk.
August 14, 2012
“Imagining a Story of Spirit”
Elizabeth Nordquist, a Presbyterian pastor and spiritual director, reminds us of the importance of exercising our imaginations in our walk with the Holy One. She talks about the insights, comfort, energy, and uplift such use of the imagination can provide. (Elizabeth Nordquist writes the blog, “A Musing Amma: Gathering the Pieces of our Lives under the Eye of the Holy” at Patheos.)
August 13, 2012
Difficulties in teaching the Bible to children
Julie Clawson writes, ” . . . as a frustrated mom, it is hard to find resources that help me encourage my kids to engage the Bible but that also don’t turn it into a shallow shadow of what it is meant to be.” Her essay explains the reasons for her frustration. (Julie writes the blog, “One Hand Clapping.”)
August 10, 2012
“Scott and Jamie,” a song written and performed by Fred Small
This video describes a true incident that is representative of other such stories. Two men, active in their church and in a committed gay relationship for ten years, decided to become foster parents. But political outcries broke out after it became known that two young brothers had been placed in the care of a gay couple.. Prejudice prevailed, and the authorities came to remove the boys. The brokenhearted children couldn’t understand why. They adored their foster fathers and had been experiencing a sense of family, love, and stability they had never known before. The song is filled with the everyday details of childrearing—going to McDonald’s, buying new shoes and jackets, going on outings to the aquarium. I interviewed Fred Small in 1990 for an article about his social justice music, and he said the special details and touches that give this song such heart came from the foster fathers themselves. They had shared with Fred both their emotional anguish at losing the boys and their joyful memories of the days when the little family had been intact. (Fred had been an environmental lawyer who then decided to devote himself fulltime to his peace and justice-oriented music. He is now a Unitarian-Universalist minister.) For related reading, see this CNN report on adoption by LGBT couples.
August 9, 2012
“Embracing the Humanity of the Bible: Listening for the Divine in Human Words”
“Similar to the incarnation, on which Christ took upon himself the totality of what it meant to be human, so in scripture, God incarnates by taking on the humanness of the writers and the situations they experienced at the time,” writes Kurt Willems at the “Pangea” blog on Patheos. On a related note, you might also want to listen to this hour-long radio interview with Peter Enns, who has written a book on this approach to Scripture (and lost his job teaching at a seminary because of it).
August 8, 2012
Male dominance reflects culture and is not a biblical mandate
Writing for the Ethics Daily website, Bible professor Tony Cartledge disputes the “complementarian” view of male-female relationships and its teaching that separate roles for men and women are God’s intent. Cartledge shows how extremely important it is to consider the particular cultural context in which various biblical passages were written.
August 7, 2012
“Vatican showdown latest chapter in Sr. Pat Farrell’s Life”
This article by David Gibson of Religion New Service, published in the National Catholic Reporter, summarizes the amazing life story of Sister Pat Farrell, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). This is the group that was recently rebuked by the Vatican for its “radical feminism” and social justice emphasis. The LCWR begins its annual meetings today in St. Louis and will decide how to respond to the Vatican’s plan to take over their organization and place it under the control of three bishops. You can listen to Sister Pat Farrell discuss the situation with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air, where you can also read the interview highlights if you don’t have time to listen to the broadcast.
August 6, 2012
“When you feel out of step with your religious community. . .”
Rachel Held Evans turns to Jesus’ words of comfort as she talks about her sadness and fatigue over the latest round of the culture wars. She writes, “I’ve hung on before—through the science wars, the gender wars, the Christmas wars, the culture wars—but I’m just so tired of fighting, so tired of feeling out of place. ” Also, be sure to read her excellent earlier post on “Some words for Christians on both sides of the Chick-fil-A wars.”
For further reading, see Michael Kimpan’s Red Letter Christians article about how the Chick- fil-A skirmishes underscore our inability to dialogue, and you might also enjoy reading Diana Ensign’s post titled, “We can love better—lessons from Chick-fil-A.”
August 3, 2012
Ann Reed singing her song, “Heroes”
In honor of the first female U.S. astronaut, Sally Ride, who died recently, here’s a song that mentions Sally and other history-making women in a slideshow near the end of the song. The song is part of Anne’s theatrical production, “Heroes: A Celebration of Women Who Changed History and Changed Our Lives.” (Related: Ann Reed’s website.)
August 2, 2012
Selling housework and parenting to women only
Sociologist Lisa Wade at the Sociological Images website explains why sociologists speak of the feminist movement as a “stalled revolution.” She shows how advertisers contribute to the situation. (And have you heard about the “Man Aisle” at the grocery store?)
August 1, 2012
A new documentary explores the world of father-daughter purity balls.
Jessica Valenti , a founder of Feministing, shares her reaction to watching the new Swiss documentary, Virgin Tales. The Purity Ball movement emphasizes marriage as the goal of a young girl’s life and her father’s control of her life until then. As one young woman in the documentary says, “I want to be a wife and a mother. I would hate to go off and spend thousands of dollars on an education that I wouldn’t use.” You can watch a brief (under 2 minutes) trailer for the Swiss documentary, Virgin Tales, here. A 2008 British documentary on the same topic, The Virgin Daughters , can be watched in full here.
July 31, 2012
Women’s Time to Shine
Frank Bruni, columnist for the New York Times, praises the women athletes competing in the Olympics and writes, ” At the Olympics we liberate [women] from the straitjackets of convention and conformity that we too often ask them to wear.” For a related but different point of view, see “The Graceful Ghetto of Women’s Sports” by Clare Malone at The American Prospect.
July 30, 2012
Rob Bell discusses his controversial book and other matters.
Rob Bell, author of Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, And The Fate Of Every Person Who Ever Lived, was recently interviewed by the Huffington Post upon the release of his book in paperback. Bell was asked to comment on the cruel and insensitive remarks of a pastor who claimed to know which victims of the recent Colorado movie theater shooting would go to heaven or hell. Bell said, “In a moment of horrific hell-on-earth suffering, to throw around grand judgments about people burning forever in hell is offensive. This is why a lot of people in our culture want nothing to do with the Christian faith and have no interest in church.” The interview also touches on what Bell has been doing since moving to California and news about his new book, due out next spring. (For related reading, read Marg Herder’s review of Love Wins on our website.)
July 27, 2012
The “Bible Dudes” explain feminist biblical criticism
This is probably the most unusual introduction to feminist biblical criticism that you’ll see anywhere! Strange as it sounds, the “Bible Dudes” website uses a comic-book style to provide a simple introduction to some very complex topics in the academic discipline of biblical studies. The “Bible Dudes”are actually two college professors with PhDs: Michael M. Homan, who teaches Hebrew Bible at Xavier University in Louisiana, and Jeffrey C. Geoghegan, who teaches biblical studies and theology at Boston College. Both men specialize in studies of the ancient Near East and the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible (what Christians call the Old Testament). The New Testament section of their website is still under construction. Much on the “Bible Dudes” website might seem totally silly, but it’s one attempt to help people who know little or nothing about the the Bible to learn something about it and the field of biblical studies. Look at the left sidebar to see some of the topics that are introduced.
July 26, 2012
“Stand in the place where you are”
Kimberly Knight, in her “Coming Out Christian” blog on the Patheos website, sorts out some basic values defining progressive Christianity. She writes: “In progressive Christianity it seems we have a hard time claiming ‘fundamentals’ or capital T truth so we end up looking like a bunch of wishy-washy, anything goes goobers. Well it is more complicated than that. . . .” (There’s an interesting discussion in the comments that followed her blogpost, too.)
July 25, 2012
“Dear Boy Scouts of America”
Susan Campbell, a former Scout leader and mother of an Eagle Scout, shares her outrage over a recent decision by the Boy Scouts of America to continue their policy of banning gays. Susan, the author of Dating Jesus and a former columnist for the Hartford Courant, is another member of the EEWC-Christian Feminism Today family. See a profile of her on our website.
July 24, 2012
What Chronically Ill people would like to hear you say
Maybe you know someone who, because of a serious injury or illness, is in much pain and needs to hear words of empathy and genuine caring, not empty cliches or advice, but you’re unsure of what to say.. Toni Bernhard, who has lived with a chronic illness for many years provides some guidance. (She has a link to her earlier post about what NOT to say as well.)
From Psychology Today.
July 23, 2012
“This sacred everyday dancing fool”
Invited to write a guest post for Micha Boyett’s “Mama Monk” blog at Patheos, our own Erin Lane wrote this joyous essay about how she starts her day, still in her pajamas, dancing in God’s presence. (Hey, it’s biblical! See 2 Samuel 6:14.) Erin recently completed a term of service on the EEWC-Christian Feminism Today Executive Council. You can read one of her articles,”Holy Hellion: The Rebellion of a Faith-Filled Feminist” on our website, and she also has her own “Holy Hellions” blog.
July 20, 2012
A short video on gender by Dr. Michael Kimmel
In under five minutes, sociologist Michael Kimmel provides some profound insights into gender, race, and privilege that you won’t easily forget and that may change your own way of thinking about these topics and their interconnections.
July 19, 2012
“Seeking Peace in the Fields of Time”
“How does one attain a state of spiritual centeredness while in the midst of schedules, clock-watching, and the daily demands of life?” asks Dana Reynolds in her blog, Sacred Illuminations on the Patheos website. She suggests that by looking at two contrasting Greek words for conceptualizing dimensions of time, we can learn how to retreat to inner peace in the midst of life’s hectic pace.
July 18, 2012
Religious commitment ceremony for older couples unable to marry
Many older women and men would like to remarry after the death of a spouse but find that legal, family, and financial issues (such as loss of a pension) prevent them from taking that step. Some deeply religious couples in this situation want to live together in a way that both indicates their devotion to God and announces to friends and family their love and commitment to each other— yet without entering a legal marriage. This episode of the PBS program, Religion and Ethics Newsweekly shows how some church leaders are using religious commitment ceremonies as one compassionate solution to the problem, just as holy union services have been used with LGBT couples. This is an issue that increasing numbers of religious bodies may have to confront as the population ages and various legal and economic complexities need to be faced or changed. Take some time to watch the 5-minute video or read the transcript and perhaps also look over the related comments that were sent in to the program. You can also watch a 4-minute extended interview with the UCC minister who performed the ceremony.
July 17, 2012
Preaching about sexual abuse
The Rev. Dr. Marie Fortune, founder and senior analyst of Faith Trust Institute, writes, “It is the job of the faith leader to name the unmentionable sins and then to listen to the story that has been waiting to be told.”
July 16, 2012
Praying without Words
In this essay from the Huffington Post, author and teacher Katherine Towler says that over the years, “my understanding of prayer has shifted from seeing it as a form of supplication to experiencing it as a state of being.”
July 13, 2012
A Playful God
The weekend is coming up. With work so demanding in our lives today, can we shed the guilt of laying work demands aside—guilt that seems built into the Protestant work ethic and inherited from our Puritan forebears—and take out some time to play? An Indianapolis Presbyterian pastor, Dr, Lewis Galloway, says it’s important to do so. He reminds us: “Play is like a spiritual discipline. We learn how to become more fully human through play. The Bible is full of humor,feasting, music, dancing and celebrations that all involve some form of play. ”
July 12, 2012
Acknowledging working women who are far from any semblance of “having it all”
Many working women can’t even think about “having it all” when their wages are so low, the gap between rich and poor is so great, and so much extreme inequality exists within the economic-opportunity structure that it offers them little hope of getting ahead, no matter how hard they are working. Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation magazine shared this excerpted blog post as part of her longer article for the Washington Post, which you can read here.
July 11, 2012
Seventeen magazine vows to show girls as they really are
Christine Haughney, writing for the New York Times, describes the “body peace treaty” drawn up by the editorial staff of Seventeen magazine after 14-year-old Julia Bluhm started an online petition protesting digitally touched-up photos that provided an unrealistic image of how young women really look. Julia felt that such fake pictures contributed to low self-esteem in many girls and the worries about “being fat” that she often heard voiced by friends in her ballet class.
Related reading: See also an earlier article about Julia’s petition from The Guardian.
July 10, 2012
Salvation Army is finding out what Oreo and JCPenney already realized about supporting gay rights.
In this article from AlterNet, Lauren Kelley writes: “Capitalistic motivations aside, it is good news that Oreo put out that rainbow cookie image; it reinforces the fact that LGBTQ acceptance is now something close to mainstream. And it shows what little tolerance our society now has for outright bigotry. This is a lesson the Salvation Army is learning, rather painfully, this summer.”
July 9, 2012
An honest description of what many people feel on Sunday mornings
In tune with recent reports about many young people’s decisions to stop attending church services, while at the same time not abandoning God and interest in spiritual matters, Rachel Held Evans describes her own struggles when Sunday morning rolls around. She writes: “I don’t know how to explain it —to my family, to my readers, to myself—how, when my gay friends aren’t welcome at the Table and my sisters aren’t welcome at the pulpit, somehow I’m not welcome there either.” You might also want to read some of the more than 300 comments that came in after Rachel’s post.
Related reading: See also Kendra Weddle Irons’ essay , “Leaving Church.”
July 6, 2012
An African American pastor’s kindness changes the mind of a Klan leader (From Sociological Images)
Johnny Lee Clary was a white supremacist who at one time was Imperial Wizard of the KKK. His life was turned completely around after he met the compassion and love of God (and some friendly humor) in the person of a black man, the Rev. Wade Watts. It’s well worth taking the time to watch the brief video embedded with the text. (You can also see the video directly on YouTube.)
July 5, 2012
Assuming the doctor is a “he” (from the New York Times)
“A classic study of preschoolers in 1979 showed that even young children ‘knew’ that doctors were men and nurses were female,” writes Danielle Ofri, M.D. But hadn’t times changed? She began pondering some incidents that caused her to wonder anew whether assumptions about professions had changed enough to be in sync with today’s realities.
July 4, 2012
The “Bones Apart” quartet plays “Stars and Stripes Forever
On this Independence Day, you’ll no doubt hear many renditions of John Philip Sousa’s rousing “Stars and Stripes Forever,” but you’ll probably find this performance by “Bones Apart,” an all-female trombone quartet from the UK, unlike any rendition you’ve heard before. Even the piccolo part is played by one of the trombonists.
Related material: I chose today’s link to celebrate the Fourth of July for two reasons beyond its general interest. One is personal: I at one time had planned for (and studied toward) a career as a professional trombonist (as I have written elsewhere on this site as a biographical note on one of my 72-27 blog posts). So I have a special affinity for the trombone. The other reason I chose today’s link was to show that we are slowly breaking away from gender stereotypes in musical instrument choice, although such stereotyping has certainly not entirely disappeared. Studies have shown that traditionally some instruments have been considered feminine (flute, violin, clarinet) and others masculine (trumpet, trombone, drums). Even though signs of a movement toward a more gender-neutral approach to musical instrument choice have been occurring, gender stereotypes often prevail to a considerable degree—especially among younger children, their parents, and some teachers. Here is a link about the top ten instruments that girls and women tend to chose and another about the top ten instruments that boys and men tend to chose. Last, here’s a link about more of the research on the topic.
July 3, 2012
Famillies come in all shapes and sizes (from Teaching Tolerance)
Todd Parr wrote an award-winning book celebrating all kinds of families. In the midst of illustrations and text about stepdads and stepmoms, single parent families, families with adopted children, and so on, there was a line that said, “Some families have two moms or two dads.” A smaill group of parents in Erie, Illinois, strongly objected and demanded the book be removed from the curriculum. The school board caved. Today’s link takes you to Gary Wellbrock’s brief essay about the incident and Parr’s purpose in writing The Family Book.
July 2, 2012
To Have (It All) and Have Not (from The New York Times)
Susan Chira, a news editor for the New York Times, provides a personal perspective on the new round of debates about whether or not motherhood and career aspirations are compatible.
Related material: The current work-family balance discussions firing up the blogosphere were prompted by an essay by Anne-Marie Slaughter in the July/August, 2012 issue of The Atlantic. You can hear an NPR interview with Slaughter here. And here is another point of view on the topic. Also, what about men; can they “have it all”?
June 29, 2012
The value of reading the Bible through in one year.
Kay Campbell is a reporter and Faith and Values editor for the Huntsville (AL) Times. She found that even familiar Scripture passages that she thought she knew well took on new meaning when read in context as part of a special online Bible study plan. (From Red Letter Christians blog)
June 28, 2012
“Christians can change their minds about homosexuality”
“I begged God to change her. But instead, God changed me,” says this Christian mother after struggling with her 37-year-old daughter’s news that she was a lesbian. (From the Huffington Post)
June 27, 2012
Breaking the “Stained Glass” Ceiling and a Difficult Passage of Scripture
As Rabbi Naamah-Kelman,the first woman ordained by the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem, reminds us, “There are many textual and historical sources that can help us promote an inclusive vision of Judaism in which women are recognized as equals.” But at the same time there are difficult passages and traditions that show discrimination and women’s vulnerability.(From the Religion page of the Huffingon Post.)
June 26, 2012
Our “fatal attraction” to what’s not good for our souls
On her blog, Pastor Kathy Escobar talks about abusive churches and abusive relationships. She writes: “When I reflect on the scriptures, especially Matthew 23, Jesus does some serious calling out of the Pharisees and ways they enslaved people through religion. Honestly, I am reminded of how little things have changed from 2,000 years ago.”
June 25, 2012
Beauty and the double standard of aging (from Sociological Images)
Sociologist Lisa Wade reminds us of Susan Sontag’s observation that “Women’s faces are important and valorized for only one thing: girlish beauty. Men’s faces, on the other hand, are notable for being interesting, weird, wizened, humorous, and more.”
June 22, 2012
In Mumbai, India, a Campaign against Restroom Injustice
In this article from the New York Times, writer Jim Yardley points out that millions of people among the 20 million residents of Mumbai (formerly called Bombay) must rely entirely upon public toilets for their bathroom needs. Yet, sexist attitudes prevail — even in taking care of this basic physical necessity. The public toilets and urinals for men in Mumbai total almost 8,500, whereas the public toilets for women number just over 3,500, and only the women must pay to use public toilets. Social justice advocates are now working to end such blatant discrimination based on gender.
June 21, 2012
Amy Simpson asks, “Do we need gender-specific ministries?”
“Traditional women’s ministry just holds no appeal for me.” writes this author in Relevant magazine. ” I have long felt most women’s ministry programs are designed around the lifestyle and desires of one kind of woman—and I don’t fit.” She claims that separating the sexes for traditional activities like men’s breakfasts and ladies’ teas is no longer appealing to many people, whose busy lives already leave too little time for their families.
June 20, 2012
Rabbi Arthur Waskow questions claims made by the Roman Catholic hierarchy
Writing in the Huffington Post, this rabbi says that the actions of a powerful 1 percent of religious officials, by claiming their religious freedom is being attacked, could deny the religious freedom of “the 99 percent” when it comes to legislation about contraceptive availability. He writes:
“I vigorously object to this attempt to deny millions of women — Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Wiccan, atheist — their own religious freedom to make choices informed by their own consciences about the most central issues of their lives.”
June 19, 2012
What is Mujerista theology?
In view of the recent death of Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz, who until her 2009 retirement was professor of theology and ethics at Drew University, it seems fitting to revisit one of her early articles on the development of a feminist theology tailored specifically to the needs and experiences of Hispanic women.
Related reading: Although Dr. Isasi-Diaz’s death in May was announced at the time, a more detailed tribute to her life and work was published in the New York Times on June 5. Especially moving is reading about her dedication to the “sidewalk church,” where she preached regularly. The Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ritual, and Ethics (WATER) has also published a tribute to her which includes this link to her autobiography.
June 18, 2012
The Colbert Report on “Radical Feminist Nuns” (a video under 4 minutes long)
Watch this entertaining and edifying video in which Sister Simone Campbell is never thrown off track by Colbert’s satire but boldly speaks out for Jesus’ concern for the poor. She tells how a group of nuns are using a bus tour to protest proposed and actual government cuts to programs that were designed to help the poor. Such cuts will cause even greater pain to people who are already suffering. Today, June 18, after a prayer service and kick-off celebration last night, the nuns began their 9-state “Nuns on the Bus” tour (“Nuns drive for faith family, and fairness”). It’s sponsored by Network, a Roman Catholic social justice lobby.
June 15, 2012
“Be Not Afraid,” sung by John Michael Talbot
At the end of another busy week, take a few minutes to refresh your spirit by listening to these reassuring words as sung by John Michael Talbot. Whether you’re weary from an exhausting week at work, or anxious about some new challenges ahead, or afraid as you face something you didn’t expect in your spiritual journey, I think you’ll find Talbot’s words comforting and strengthening. Here are some scripture passages to think about along with the song. First, the words of Jesus: “If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28, Contemporary English Version). And God’s promise in Isaiah 43:2, 5 (CEV):”When you cross deep rivers, I will be with you, and you won’t drown.”When you walk through fire, you won’t be burned or scorched by the flames. . . . Don’t be afraid! I am with you.”
June 14, 2012
The Rise of the Stay-at-Home Dad
“According to recent studies, men are shouldering more of the domestic burden — and spending more time parenting — than any generation before them,” writes psychology professor and author Peggy Drexler in Psychology Today.
June 13, 2012
Discovering Christian Feminism—Part 1 (by Julie Clawson)
In this first of a five-part series of posts about her personal journey to Christian feminism, Julie Clawson tells of growing up in a conservative Christian environment where there was great suspicion, often downright condemnation, of what the word feminism was thought to mean. “My culture shamed me away from it and the church told me that to be a feminist was the antithesis of being a Christian,” Julie writes on her blog, OneHandcClapping. Since Julie’s blogpost was written as a “to be continued” story, you’ll also want to read the other four parts in the series. To do so, go to the June 2012 archives on her blog, “One Hand Clapping,” where you can read “Discovering Christian Feminism,” Parts 2 through 5, June 5-8, 2012.
June 12, 2012
The Holstee Manifesto
When two brothers and their business partner were discussing starting a business, they wanted it to be one “with a conscience,” showing they cared about people and the environment. They brainstormed together to formulate the philosophy that would undergird their company. It would be summed up in a statement “about what they wanted from life and how to create a company that breathes that passion into the world every day.” What resulted was what has come to be known as the “Holstee Manifesto.” Millions of people have found it inspiring and empowering. (Thanks, Marg and Lisa, for the link.)
In addition to reading the manifesto as it is printed on a poster and on other items such as greeting cards, you can watch the related two-and-a-half minute, fast-paced Lifecycle video.
June 11, 2012
Dear Pope: About Sister Margaret. . . (by Marie Fortune)
In another of her “Dear Pope” letters, FaithTrust Institute founder Marie Fortune comments on the Vatican’s recent denunciation of the 2006 book, Just Sex: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, by the renowned Roman Catholic theologian Margaret Farley, now retired from Yale Divinity School where she was a highly regarded professor and influential mentor of many, including Marie Fortune herself.
Related reading: See also Mary E. Hunt’s thoughtful Religion Dispatches essay on the Vatican’s “notification” of censure and how this action contrasts with the impact that Margaret Farley’s teaching, writing, and social justice activism has had on so many. Hunt says that Roman Catholic authorities fear the influence of “such intellectually powerful and theologically persuasive women” who are so much more in touch with the needs of today’s world than is the Vatican bureaucracy. For even more reading on the topic, see two articles from the Washington Post : Susan Brooke Thistlethwaite’s essay, “Why the Catholic Church Needs Margaret Farley,” provides insightful commentary, as does Lisa Miller’s article, “Vatican’s Use of Term, ‘Radical Feminist,’ Says More about Cardinals than Nuns They Rebuke.” Miller writes, “What the Vatican hierarchy sees as a “radical feminist” is a woman who dares to believe that she’s equal to a man.” See also Dr. Farley’s own response to the Vatican’s denunciation of her book, as reported in the National Catholic Reporter.
June 8, 2012
“Turning Forty: Ways Every Woman Can Live in 4-D”
Pointing out the significance of the number forty in the Bible, Rev. Lisa Hickman wondered why she was having problems in facing the fact that she would soon be having her fortieth birthday. Then her young daughter said something that got her thinking and caused her to develop four categories or dimensions in which women of any age can learn to live in 4-D. See how you resonate with the list she has provided under each dimension. (From the religion section of the Huffington Post)
June 7, 2012
Rachel Held Evans talks about Internet blessings
In recent weeks, the Washington Post has published several articles about faith in the Internet Age. Author Rachel Held Evans, a leading young voice among progressive evangelicals today, says that to her one of the Internet’s biggest blessings is the way it connects people—especially young people—who have questions, doubts, and struggles that can’t be voiced in conservative evangelical churches, causing many young people to feel alone. The Internet has opened the way to bring such people together so that they no longer feel they are the only ones having such thoughts and raising such questions. They can support each other in their spiritual journeys.
Related material from the Washington Post about the Internet and its impact on religion: “How the web is killing faith” ( an atheist’s viewpoint), “Mormons struggling with doubt turn to online support groups,” the story of a massive meeting of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men in the New York Mets stadium, gathering to discuss dealing with the Internet in the context of their religious beliefs and duties, and Lisa Miller’s article, “The religious authorities and pundits are wrong: Technology is good for religion.”
June 6, 2012
“On Gratitude and Privilege” by Melanie Springer Mock
EEWC-CFT member Melanie Mock, her husband, and their two 10-year-old sons recently traveled to Vietnam, the country from which one of their sons was adopted. (They’ll visit the country of the other son at another time.) Melanie shares with us some of the thoughts she had while traveling. “I spent a lot of time reflecting, on poverty, on war, on alternative realities, on cultural differences,” she writes. “Much of the time, too, I thought about western privilege. . . .”
Related material: Read an earlier article Melanie wrote as a web-only feature for EEWC- Christian Feminism Today, titled, “God’s Gift of Motherhood Comes in Different Ways.”
June 5, 2012
The kids are all right: children of gay parents
Psychology professor and author Peggy Drexler summarizes some of the research on children who grow up with lesbian or gay male parents. Drexler shows that the children fare resoundingly well, contrary to the fears and claims made by those who oppose same-sex marriage and argue against same-sex parenting and adoption. (From the Huffington Post)
June 4, 2012
“Is Patriarchy More Beautiful than Egalitarianism?”
Jonalyn Fincher, observing the beauty of a dance in which the man leads the woman, asks why the same idea (a complementarian or patriarchal pattern) couldn’t also work in marriage and church. Couldn’t that be considered beautiful, too? No, not really, argues Jonalyn. She provides three reasons, using a series of contrasts to suggest that equal-partnership wins the “beauty contest” over complementarianism hands down. A different way of thinking about this topic. (Posted on her Ruby Slippers blog from Soulation.)
June 1, 2012
“A Message to Girls about Religious Men Who Fear You”
Author Soraya Chemaly, writing for the Huffington Post, presents this strong essay in the form of a letter to girls and young women warning them of attempts to keep women “in their place” and encouraging girls and women to recognize their own power. It begins, “Dear Girls, You are powerful beyond words, because you threaten to unravel the control of corrupt men who abuse their authority.” She goes on to say that men who use religion to justify their disdain for women are worrying about girls and women constantly and seeking for ways to control them. She illustrates her points with a wide assortment of links to online material showing discrimination against girls and women. (It’s worth taking the time to check out the links, although they’ll be sure to raise your anger over injustice, One of her links takes readers to a video of one of the most anti-woman sermons I’ve ever heard– a “bully pulpit” indeed, and not in the positive sense! “Bully” is the operative word! If you can stand to listen to it, you can see and hear it here. ) Overall, Chemaly’s article shows the many ways that patriarchy in virtually all religions operates to keep women subordinate. The problem lies in the systemic, hierarchical, male- dominant approach to religion, not the idea of “religion” or faith in God per se. (Note: The first link in Chemaly’s article about the girl on the baseball team appears to be broken, but you can read about the incident on this link instead.
Related material: See this statement from the group called “The Elders,” which includes Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu. They have urged religious leaders of all faiths to purge from their teachings and traditions all forms of discrimination against women and to regard women as fully equal human beings in every respect.
May 31, 2012
“Bishops Look for Condoms in Cookie Boxes” by Mary E. Hunt
Mary E. Hunt, Roman Catholic theologian and cofounder of the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER), has a lot to say about the bullying tactics of Roman Catholic bishops as they go after not only nuns, but now the Girl Scouts. Apparently, these men find empowered girls and women threatening. (Mary wrote this article for Religion Dispatches.)
May 30, 2012
“Life Interrupted: the Beat Goes On” by Suleika Jaouad
Suleika Jouard has been writing a blog on the New York Times website, recounting her experiences as a young cancer patient, having been diagnosed at age 22. In this link, Suleika, a double bass player, tells of losing her love of music during the intense chemotherapy treatment. “Music, and the memories attached to them, reminded me of all that was no longer,” she wrote. And then something happened that brought music back into her life and joy to a whole section of the hospital. Read the article and watch the short video embedded with it.
Related Material: Read a transcript or listen to an interview with Suleika on NPR’s All Things Considered.
May 29, 2012
“The Wedding Season—for Some” (from Marie Fortune’s blog)
The Rev. Dr. Marie Fortune, founder and senior analyst of FaithTrust Institute in Seattle, Washington, tells of recently attending the wedding of her niece and the man she loves. But in the midst of her happiness for them, Marie experienced feelings of sadness about her own situation, knowing that marriage is denied to lesbian and gay people in all but a few states. “Even as my partner and I celebrated our 32nd anniversary last week,” she writes, “it is doubtful that we will ever be legally married.” She was especially grieved that her home state (North Carolina) recently added to its constitution a ban on same-sex marriage.
Related Material: See Marie’s earlier Christian Feminism Today article, “Our Marriage Was Taken from Us,” on our EEWC website.
May 28, 2012
“Why it’s good to let boys cry”
Writing in the Washington Post, psychotherapist Jennifer Kogan provides examples and research statistics showing that a crucial part of a boy’s mental health is being able to express emotions and being encouraged to talk about his feelings instead of believing he must display a tough stoicism associated with stereotypical masculinity. She provides a helpful list of ways parents can help their sons develop awareness of emotions and how emotions can be expressed in appropriate ways. “My concern starts with the boys themselves and extends to the men they will become and the families they will create. ” writes Kogan.
Related Material: On this Memorial Day, see an example of a man in touch with his emotions and not afraid to express them. Watch this 20-minute video of Vice President Joe Biden as he addresses T.A.P.S. (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors), a nonprofit organization for helping the surviving family members and closest friends of men and women who have died in wars. Biden talks about his own honest feelings when, as a young senator, he received the news of an auto crash that killed his wife and daughter and nearly killed his sons. He shares his personal feelings of grief, his anger at God, and even his despair of going on with life after such loss. His experience of being in touch with his own feelings helps him build a bridge of empathy with his audience, offering healing and hope. Regardless of your political affiliation or your feelings about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or any other use of military might, I think you can’t help but be moved by this from-the-heart speech.
May 25, 2012
If Not Now, Tell Me When (Carrie Newcomer song)
Watch the images on the video and listen to Carrie sing this beautiful song, and then ask yourself, “Is there anything I am putting off doing until some other more convenient time that I could be doing today to help make this a better, more just, more compassionate and loving world?”
May 24, 2012
Coming out Christian: A New Blog at Patheos
Subtitled “Conversations on being gay and Christian in America,” this new blog by a lesbian Christian provides a refreshing antidote to the self-righteous, misinformed, and often hate-filled rhetoric that so often poisons the atmosphere today when LGBTQ people and their concerns are discussed. Kimberly Knight writes, “What I know to be true is that debates do not change hearts and minds, people do, people and their stories. As you get to know the people who share their stories here I hope you will hold an open place in your heart just as Christ holds for you.”
May 23, 2012
My Son, the Atheist
Read about Christian Piatt’s bedtime conversation with his seven-year-old son. The boy had been doing some very deep thinking about God and the universe in ways that go far beyond traditional Sunday school approaches. This anecdote provides an example of an honest, open, loving dialogue between a parent who is unafraid of doubts and questions and a child who is unafraid to voice them.
May 22, 2012
The Maternal Face of God
As Father Richard Rohr realized the importance of what he calls “this woman-stuff” in relation to God and the Church, he concluded that his image of God needed some adjustment. This is a very brief meditation with a lot packed in. (Thanks, Reta Finger, for suggesting this link.)
Related Reading: To learn more about Richard Rohr, watch this compelling interview from the PBS program, Religion and Ethics Newsweekly. You can also read the transcript as well as watch the video.
May 21, 2012
The God Boxes
Author Mary Lou Quinlan was aware that her mother had kept a “God box” to hold scraps of paper on which she had written her prayers—usually jotted down at odd moments on any piece of paper that was handy at the time. The prayers were often in the form of letters to God. After her mother’s death, Quinlan was amazed to find ten God boxes, covering the last twenty years of her mother’s life! Read about what Quinlan learned from this discovery. (From The Huffington Post.)
May 18, 2012
“Julian of Norwich’s Timeless Message”
The first book written by a woman in the English language was authored by Julian of Norwich, who took her name from the Church of St. Julian in Norwich, England, in which she lived a contemplative life as a consecrated anchoress. After recovering from a critical illness, she wrote of receiving visions and messages from God, emphasizing love above all else. Perhaps her most well known saying is, “All shall be well; all manner of things shall be well.”
Related links: See this brief video (under three minutes) where you can see the Church of St. Julian as it appears today and also see the cell in which the woman who became known as Julian of Norwich lived.. The video has excellent commentary.
You might also enjoy a music video, “The Bells of Norwich,” with a catchy tune and words that remind us that “all shall be well” — a good note on which to end the week!
May 17, 2012
“But a dream” (from the Burnside Writers’ Collective)
On a morning subway ride, in a time when people are so easily living in their own worlds, concentrating on their electronic gadgets or newspapers or the music coming through their headphones, a little boy unexpectedly brings people together, reminding them of the joy of connection and a spirit of community.
May 16, 2012
Love between a mother and son who disagree on a hot-button issue
This summary article by Terry Cowgill provides an introduction to two articles that appeared on Mother’s Day in the Hartford Courant, where Susan Campbell is a columnist. The first was written by Susan as her regular Sunday column and is titled, “Abortion, My Most Personal Decision.” Before her decision to write the article, she talked it over with her adult son, Sam. It was the first he had known about his mother’s decision so many, many years ago; and he said he wanted to write a response. His article was published the same day as his mom’s, under the title, “A Son Lovingly Disagrees with His Mother.” Their mutual love and respect for each other shines through in their very personal articles—in spite of the difficult and controversial issue they were addressing. This is a most unusual public conversation and is well worth reading. On her blog post about their decision to publish the two articles, Susan has included a photo of Sam and her together.
Related links about Susan Campbell: Susan is known to EEWC-Christian Feminism Today readers through her book, Dating Jesus, reviewed on this site by Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, and through a 2008 profile of Susan, written by Letha Dawson Scanzoni.
May 15, 2012
Theology in the dressing room (by Julie Clawson)
“The tendency these days for Christians to pick and choose who they will love is sadly becoming the defining characteristic of what it means to be a Christian,” writes Julie Clawson on her blog, One Hand Clapping. Read about the incident and conversation that prompted her to make that comment.
May 14, 2012
“How to Win a Culture War and Lose a Generation”
Rachel Held Evans wrote this thoughtful blog post the day after North Carolina passed an amendment to its state constitution that banned same-sex marriage. The title of her piece says it all.
For related reading: See a guest post titled “Blending in While Sticking Out” on the Ain’t I a Woman: De/Constructing Christian Images blog in which a young woman named Molly talks about about growing up lesbian in a conservative Christian household. She shares her honest feelings about the anti-gay attitudes so prevalent among so many Christians. See also Peter Enns’s excellent article, “Speaking of Culture Wars: Evangelicals and the Bible (Again),” posted in the Progressive Christian section of Patheos: Hosting the Conversation on Faith.
May 11, 2012
Six Weeks: A short online film (from PBS’s POV)
This 19-minute video from Poland follows an impoverished birth mother’s anguished decision to give up her baby for adoption— and at the end, the joy of the adoptive parents in receiving their new daughter.
Related links: Mother’s Day reflections from our own EEWC-Christian Feminism Today website include “God’s Motherly Care for Us” by Kathryn Christian, including a song you can hear on our website, listed with Kathryn’s bio information), and “God’s Gift of Motherhood Comes in Different Ways” by Melanie Springer Mock. And on the GLAAD website, you can find an excellent “resource toolkit” that was designed to aid the media in also recognizing lesbian and transgender parents in Mother’s Day celebrations.
May 10, 2012
An interpretive dance about the promise and possibility of second chances
This is a song about healing— healing from wrong choices, past hurts, damaged relationships, and the accumulated sorrows that keep many people from moving ahead. “It’s never too late for resurrection and new life,” is the message brought to life by dancer Rena Jones-Guidry and singers from the Providence Baptist Church in San Francisco. This post on liturgical dance comes from the Center for Non-harming Ministries website.
May 9, 2012
Dear Pope, Now You’ve Done It!
Rev. Dr. Marie Fortune, founder and senior analyst of the FaithTrust Institute in Seattle, Washington, has been posting a series of open letters to Pope Benedict, mostly about the sex abuse scandals among Roman Catholic clergy. In this post, she says the Pope has gone too far this time. “You are attacking the church’s representatives who are the face of the church where it matters most— in the hospitals, the schools, the parishes—the representatives of the church who actually still have moral credibility among the people.” Her other open letters to the Pope are listed as part of her blog post.
May 8, 2012
A do-it-yourself feminist mirror project, by Tanya
Writing for Feministing, Tanya from Dans le Townhouse came up with a clever idea for those times we look in a mirror and criticize ourselves. She points out that what we see (or think we see) is a distortion caused by the unrealistic beauty standards that magazines, movies, television, and advertisements hold up as the ideal. On her own blog, Tanya provides step by step instructions so that you, too, can engage in her mirror project by decorating a mirror of your own.
May 7, 2012
A minister says the United Methodists have “a God-given call to inclusion.”
Writing in the Washington Post, a retired African American pastor, commenting on recent decisions made at his denomination’s General Conference, says he has “failed to understand, why the United Methodist Church, with its history and heritage of affirmation, fairness, and commitment to the God-given human dignity of all persons, has chosen to resist full ministry for same gender couples.”
Related Links: Other articles by Rev. Gilbert Caldwell: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and the Church” and and “Not All Christians Say Same-Gender Love Is a Sin.” Also see this article from the National Methodist Reporter: “After Prayer, Gay Protest Ends–for Now.”
May 4, 2012
“I Believe” as sung by Carrie Newcomer in live concert.
This past October, in a concert at the 2nd Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, Carrie Newcomer introduced her new album, Everything Is Everywhere, which she performed with Amjad Ali Khan, Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan from India. This song is from a video recorded at that concert. In it, she expresses a philosophy of everyday living that sees all of life—even the simplest of things—as holy.
Related reading: See this excellent, detailed review of Carrie Newcomer’s album, written for Christian Feminism Today by Marg Herder. You can also watch a video documentary about the new CD and read the lyrics for “I Believe” on Carrie’s website.
May 3, 2012
“Vagina Monologues” author still working for women’s empowerment
Hartford Courier columnist Susan Campbell interviews Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues, about her ongoing projects and writings to empower girls and women.
May 2, 2012
“De-legitimizing Christians outside the evangelical tribe”
Fred Clark, on his Slacktivist blog, writes about “a deliberate, intentional attempt by a politicized faction of American evangelicals to do two things: (1) redefine ‘Christian’ to mean ‘white evangelical Protestant,’ and (2) redefine ‘evangelical Protestant’ to mean ‘conservative Republican.'” He considers this, along with their tribal claim to be the “real” Christians, to be insulting to Christians who aren’t white evangelical Protestants as well as to evangelical Protestants who are not conservative Republicans and who have different views on such culture war issues as abortion, homosexuality, evolution, and the environment. Clark and other authors urge the media to be aware of these distinctions and be more careful in their use of words such as “Christians” and “evangelicals.”
May 1, 2012
“Practicing Resurrection—Vacant Lots into Gardens”
Writing for the Red Letter Christians website, author and activist Shane Claiborne, who is a founding member of the Simple Way community in Kensington, an inner city neighborhood in Philadelphia, says, “One of the most beautiful things we get to do here at The Simple Way is plant gardens in the concrete jungle of North Philadelphia—and see kids discover the miracle of life, and fall in love with the Creator of life.” He goes on to tell what a difference this makes and how the project fits with the way special gardens are prominently featured in Scripture.
April 30, 2012
“We Are All Nuns”
Mary E. Hunt, cofounder of the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER), wrote this essay for Religion Dispatches on the Vatican’s crackdown on women religious. Church authorities were displeased with the nuns’ feminism and their stands on certain social justice issues with which the church disagrees. Hunt says that the attitude of power and control behind the Roman Catholic hierarchy’s action extends beyond the nuns and is “really about all of the laity, especially women, who see the world in terms of needs we can fulfill, not power we can hold; of radical equality, not hierarchy; of the many, not the few.”
Nicholas Kristoff also cited Mary Hunt’s essay in his New York Times column for April 29, 2012. See also Jamie Manson’s commentary in the National Catholic Reporter, where she argues that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (the major association of nuns that is being targeted by the Vatican) is certainly not acting contrary to what Jesus taught but instead illustrates “a radical obedience to the voice of God in our time.”
April 27, 2012
What does a Christian egalitarian marriage look like?
In this post from the blog, “Wordgazer’s Words,” a woman, married for 24 years, describes daily life in a marriage where the spouses consider themselves to be totally equal partners. Rather than trying to fit into the prescribed roles that some Christians believe the Bible dictates (husband dominant, wife subordinate), this couple rejected that belief and now organize their daily lives around love and mutual submission to one another, with everyday tasks based on the interests and skills of each spouse.
Related extra reading: Studies have indicated that this emphasis on equality and interchangeability of roles comes much more easily within same-sex partnerships than in heterosexual marriages. See this New York Times article from a few years back which summarizes several studies, leading the columnist Tara Parker-Pope to conclude: “A growing body of evidence shows that same-sex couples have a great deal to teach everyone else about marriage and relationships.”
April 26, 2012
Might women athletes open other doors for women in Saudi Arabia?
Writing in the New York Times, Jere Longman and Mary Pilon point out some of the ways women are severely restricted in the male-dominated nation of Saudi Arabia. The writers wonder what other changes may occur for women in that country if its women athletes are permitted to travel to London to compete in the Olympics this summer, as is now a possibility. Might other restrictions be questioned and eventually lifted?
April 25, 2012
“What Not to Say to Someone Struggling with Their Faith.”
On her blog, Elizabeth Esther reports that she grew up in an abusive fundamentalist church, As she recovered, she experienced God’s unconditional love and found a new spiritual home in Roman Catholicism, particularly through contemplating the role of Mary, Jesus’ mother. Along her spiritual journey, Elizabeth Esther became aware of unhelpful ways that some Christians react to those who are dealing with church-inflicted wounds or who are questioning and possibly moving away from their faith tradition. She has compiled a list of 10 statements that shouldn’t be said to those who are seeking answers as they travel their own spiritual path.
April 24, 2012
“The ‘Pushy Parent’ Syndrome in Ancient Rome”
Mary Beard, Professor of Classics at Cambridge University, says the phenomenon of high-achieving children with ambitious, pressuring parents is nothing new. It was also present in ancient Rome. Professor Beard’s commentary, written in a highly entertaining style, is part of a BBC series called “Meet the Romans.”
April 23, 2012
NPR Report on the Bible and Economic Systems
Read or listen to this National Public Radio report on how both conservatives and liberals appeal to the Bible to justify and promote their very different economic philosophies.
Related material: If you appreciate satire as a way of making a point (and don’t find this literary form shocking or irreverent when applied to religious topics), you might also enjoy watching this short animated political cartoon by Mark Fiore, called, “The Jesus Budget.” (It’s under two minutes long.)
April 20, 2012
An interview with Lilly Ledbetter (from Feministing)
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act was the first piece of legislation signed by President Obama when he took office in January 2009. As he signed it, he said, “If we stay focused, as Lilly did, and keep standing for what’s right, as Lilly did, we will close the pay gap and ensure that our daughters have the same rights, the same chances, and the same freedom to pursue their dreams as our sons.” Lilly Ledbetter’s book, Grace and Grit, just published this month, tells the story of her fight for justice. Read the Feministing Five’s interview with her about the importance of equal pay, which continues to be an issue today.
April 19, 2012
“‘Hope’ is the thing with Feathers”
Borrowing words from Emily Dickinson’s poem for the title of this blog post, Rev, Marie Fortune of the FaithTrust Institute shares what we can learn from observing eagles (including through a streaming cam webcast) and reminding ourselves of Scripture references to this magnificent bird.
Related material: Marie’s meditation also made me think of two songs about God’s care as illustrated by eagles. One is the hymn, “On Eagle’s Wings,” The other is a song by Sue Young, “Like a Mother Eagle,” from her album, From the Mother: Songs of the Sacred Feminine, in which she celebrates Divine Feminine imagery in various religious traditions. If you scroll down through her website description of the From the Mother album, you can click on “Like a Mother Eagle” to hear a short sample of the song and find out where you can order it (or the entire album).
April 18, 2012
“Young Adults: Forget Church, Follow Jesus.”
Christian Piatt, writing for the Red Letter Christians website, explores reasons that so much attention is being given to the exodus from church taking place among many young adults and what lies behind the trend. He highlights several themes that have emerged as he examines numerous recent articles on the topic.
April 17, 2012
“I Remember You”
Film critic Roger Ebert’ writes about much more than movies. In his blog, Roger Ebert’s Journal, he shares his deepest thoughts, feelings, and philosophical musings on life. He helps readers understand what it means to be human. In this post, he shares his feelings upon hearing of the deaths of relatives and friends and realizing that he may be one of the few left who remember certain people and events connected with the deceased person. What happens as the memory is shared by fewer and fewer remaining people? He writes, “That is what death means. We exist in the minds of other people, in thousands of memory clusters, and one by one those clusters fade and disappear. Some years from now, at a funeral with a slide show, only one person will be able to say who we were. Then no one will know.” Not only is this essay itself well worth taking the time to read, but so are the moving and informative readers’ comments that were elicited by Ebert’s musings.
April 16, 2012
“Alive Inside”: Nursing Home Patients, Music, and Memories
From The Griowebsite comes this description and preview of a film project by Oliver Sacks, a neurologist and author whose previous work includes books, movies, and television documentaries on how the mind works. Watch the change that comes over Henry, an unresponsive patient in a nursing home, after he is given an iPod with music he enjoyed in his past. (The video is only six and a half minutes long.)
April 13, 2012
Video: Kathrine Switzer: First woman to run the Boston marathon.
As she ran the Boston Marathon in 1967, Kathrine Switzer was physically grabbed and told she must immediately get out of what had been an all male race for 70 years. Here, from PBS, you can not only hear her tell the story in her own words, but you’ll also be able to see the actual photos of the event, including the assault and effort to remove her race numbers. (For related reading, see the Christian Feminism Today article, “Celebrating Title IX as God’s Good Gift,” in which Melanie Springer Mock refers to the Switzer incident.)
April 12, 2012
“The Best Case for the Bible Not Condemning Homosexuality.”
Writing for the Huffington Post, John Shore, founder of “Unfundamentalist Christians,” emphasizes that God’s love must be stressed above all else. He tries to reason with fellow Christians as he speaks out against condemning, marginalizing, and ostracizing LGBT people in the name of Christianity, attitudes and actions that cause intense suffering and even suicides. (For related reading: See my essay, “A Religious Approach to Homosexuality.”)
April 11, 2012
“The Mainline and Me” by Rachel Held Evans
Rachel Held Evans was surprised by the vast number of responses she received after publishing an article titled,”15 Reasons I Left Church,” and another one titled, “15 Reasons I Returned to Church.” Many people suggested the answer to her search would be a good mainline Protestant church. Here she tells why that suggestion hasn’t necessarily been the solution for her either.
April 10, 2012
Letty Cottin Pogrebin describes a feminist seder.
This past weekend, while Good Friday and Easter were being observed by Christians, Passover was being observed by Jews. The holidays coincided this year. Letty Cottin Pogrebin, one of the founding editors of Ms.magazine, has been attending a feminist seder for 37 years, Today’s link takes you to her detailed description of some of themes and rituals she and other Jewish feminists have developed over the years.
April 9, 2012
An Easter Meditation by Rev. Elizabeth Zarell Turner
This meditation from the Women’s Voices for Change website expands upon Dorothy Sayers’famous “Are Women Human” essay which pointed out that women were “first at the cradle and last at the cross.” Rev. Elizabeth Zarell Turner shows it didn’t stop there, as she highlights the women at the empty tomb who were the first witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection.
Related material: You might also want to read this New York Times column by Maureen Dowd in which she likewise ties together both Jesus’ attitude toward women and Easter’s significance for women. She then shows how antithetical these positive messages are to the prevailing discrimination against women that is so much in the news today — from politics to sports to the Pope’s Easter weekend pronouncement reemphasizing the banning of women from the priesthood.
April 6, 2012
“Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?”
Listen to this beautiful rendition of an old spiritual which asks a haunting question. It is performed by the Roger Wagner Chorale, featuring Sally Terri as soloist.
April 5, 2012
An interview with the Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop.
When Bishop Schori visited the newsroom of the Huffington Post recently, she sat down with staffers for an hour and discussed a variety of topics, including interpretation of Scripture, science and religion, climate change, poverty, same-sex marriage, gay clergy, contraception and abortion, and more. The link will take you to a concise summary of the interview.
April 4, 2012
“The spiritual practice of saying “no.” (sisters, take note)”
Nadia Bolz Weber points out how difficult it is for women to say no — even though our failure to say no often means we can’t then say yes to what we really want to do or to the people closest to us. Nadia Bolz Weber is the founding pastor of the House for All Sinners and Saints, an urban liturgical community in Denver, Colorado. This essay is from her blog, The Sarcastic Lutheran, featured on Patheos.com.
April 3, 2012
“On keeping vaginas out of Christian bookstores”
Rachel Held Evans wrote this post on her personal blog after her publisher told her that Christian bookstores would be reluctant to stock her forthcoming book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, if she left in the word vagina in a particular context. The word was OK when used elsewhere in reference to another book’s description of a rape scene but not OK when Evans used the term in a positive way as a natural part of her anatomy as a woman. She writes about both this inconsistency as well as a double standard employed in what Christian bookstores apparently find acceptable in discussing male anatomy. (For related reading, see Caryn Ricadeneira’s commentary about the controversy in the Christianity Today blog for women, Her-meneutics.)
April 2, 2012
Feminism’s final frontier? Religion.
A few weeks ago, Lisa Miller published this article in the Washington Post, citing reasons women are leaving churches. The article has been much discussed on other websites since then. (For related reading, see Kendra Weddle Irons’s essay on “Leaving Church” and Felice Lifschitz’s “Patriarchy’s Peristent Bastion? Religion” in Sightings from the University of Chicago.)
March 30, 2012
Sojourner Truth’s spontaneous “Aint I a Woman” speech
As a marvelous way of closing this year’s Women’s History Month, listen to Alfre Woodard as she brings to life the famous “Ain’t I a Woman” speech, delivered by Sojourner Truth at the Woman’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, in 1851.
March 29, 2012
Religious traditions and women’s head coverings (from Sociological Images)
This feature points out that it is common to think of head coverings only with regard to Muslim women. These photos show women wearing various types of head coverings as part of various religious beliefs and traditions.
For related reading: See this article about some conservative Christians who are interpreting certain scriptures literally and wear head coverings as emblems of submission to God and their husbands. In some religious traditions, there are also male head coverings with symbolic and religious significance as can be seen in this feature on the turban. You can read about the yarmulke (or skull cap) worn by Jewish men by scrolling down through this page of the Judaism 101 website.
March 28, 2012
“Rethinking his religion,” a thoughtful essay by Frank Bruni
If you didn’t happen to read this article in the New York Times this past weekend, take some time to read it now. It has lessons for all of us about continuing to learn, grow, reexamine our personal lives and religious beliefs, while avoiding rushing to judgment about others.
March 27, 2012
150 women who shake the world. (from Newsweek and The Daily Beast)
During Women’s History Month, it’s important to honor not only women of the past but also the many outstanding women who are working to make today’s world a better place for all of us. Click on any or all of the women pictured and you’ll see their names and a short paragraph about the particular woman depicted. (Thanks, Linda, for the link.)
March 26, 2012
“The Hunger Games and Movie Morality” by Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite
Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, former president of Chicago Theological Seminary, is a regular columnist for the “On Faith” section of the Washington Post. Here she examines “The Hunger Games” movie and the book series on which it is based. She asks what the Hunger Games phenomenon says about the world in which our teenagers are growing up and what it may be saying about their outlook on the future.
March 23, 2012
Awakening, Counter-Awakening, and the End of Church
“What we’re in the moment of right now in American culture is that our old institutions, our way of being church—our way of understanding any kind of religious tradition, be it Judaism, Islam or Christianity—all of those older patterns are dying,” says Diana Butler Bass in this Religion Dispatches interview about her just published book, Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening.
Related information on our website: You might also enjoy reading the Christian Feminism Today interview with Diana Butler Bass about one of her earlier books, Christianity for the Rest of Us.
March 22, 2012
“A ‘biblical’ view that’s younger than a Happy Meal” (from Slacktivist)
Fred Clark, former editor of Prism magazine, a Baptist who grew up in evangelicalism and attended evangelical schools from high school through seminary, points out that McDonald’s introduced Happy Meals in 1979, and that it was later than that that a uniform, litmus-test type of “evangelical view” on abortion became the standard — in essence, the only –evangelical view. Before that, many evangelical Christians held diverse views on the topic and mutually respected each other, and discussed the various viewpoints without hostility or rigidity. Clark reminds us of a Christianity Today issue on the theme of contraception and abortion, with articles that would never get published by an evangelical periodical today. He also talks about the only book ever recalled by InterVarsity Press — all because of angry readers’ responses to an author’s chapter on abortion in which he expressed views widely accepted not too many years earlier. This article is well worth reading in view of today’s discussions.
Related material from our website: See Anne Eggeboten’s Essay,”Crazy for Abortion,” as part three of the three-part discussion of Frank Schaeffer’s book, Crazy for God, from the Spring, 2008 issue of Christian Feminism Today.
March 21, 2012
Where are Men’s Voices in the Fight for Women’s Health? (From Ms. Magazine Blog).
Men need to learn the importance of providing supportive efforts in promoting women’s health. It should not be not up to women alone to fight the battles.
Related information: The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is also emphasizing how men and boys can play key roles in women’s reproductive health and empowerment throughout the world.
March 20, 2012
Blogs by feminist parents (from Ms. Magazine Blog)
As part of its Future of Feminism series for Women’s History Month, Ms. magazine has produced this list of blogs that show the interconnections between feminism and parenting.
Related Information: It may be useful to supplement the above information with a 2009 Ms Magazine Blog article, which also lists feminist parenting blogs. Also, see the comments with both articles.
March 19, 2012
“A Bad Romance: Women’s Suffrage.” (From Sociological Images)
In view of some of today’s political debates, this lively musical retelling of women’s fight to gain the vote in the United States is timely. Although this video can be viewed on several sites, I chose to use the Sociological Images site to encourage viewers to also read the comments and concerns about the absence of women of color in the video production, including reading about why that might have been so and what was actually happening during the historical events depicted.
Related information: The Women’s Suffrage video was produced for a site devoted to providing materials that supplement college and high school courses. Related material for the video takes readers to a glossary and original historical accounts and documents on which the video is based. It also provides questions for readers to think through.
March 16, 2012
Ways Women Unintentionally Stunt Their Careers
Writing for the Harvard Business Review, Jill Flynn, Kathryn Heath, and Mary Davis Holt, authorities on women, power, and leadership, describe four behaviors that women often do unintentionally which impede their career advancement.
March 15, 2012
Common Regrets at the end of life (from Inspiration and Chai)
Bronnie Ware is an Australian singer and writer who once worked in palliative care. She often listened to dying patients talk about their regrets as they looked back over their lives. Here she has listed the most common regrets, hoping they will help others avoid the attitudes and actions (or inactions) that led to the regrets.
March 14, 2012
The Trial and Banishment of Anne Hutchinson
This brief biographical essay provides background for one part of the PBS television series, God In America, that is especially appropriate as we continue to celebrate Women’s History Month. It summarizes Anne Hutchinson’s life and tells why she fell into disfavor with the 17th century religious authorities who did not believe God would speak to— or though— a woman or permit her to to teach Scripture. The essay page provides links for further information, including the actual transcript of Anne Hutchinson’s trial. You can also watch the PBS video showing the reenactment of her trial. (To watch the section on Anne Hutchinson in the first episode, “A New Adam” move your mouse over the slider until about the 18 minute mark.)
March 13, 2012
Madeleine L’Engle’s ” ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ and Its Sci-Fi Heroine” ( New York Times)
In this New York Times essay, Pamela Paul discusses the lasting appeal of the children’s book A Wrinkle in Time and the positive impact its female protagonist has had — especially on young girls—over the 50 years since the book’s publication.
Related Material. You might also want to check out this 2000 interview with Madeleine L’Engle, which was rebroadcast by PBS’s Religion and Ethics Newshour Weekly in February 2012 in honor of the 50th anniversary of A Wrinkle in Time. You can watch and listen to the video or read the transcript.
March 12, 2012
“Breast Feeding in Church, and Other Petty Crimes”
Writing in Her-meneutics, the Christianity Today blog for women, Rachel Stone raises questions about why some churches are so unwelcoming to nursing mothers. She points out that breastfeeding can be viewed as a symbol of God’s loving, nurturing care and reminds readers of numerous scripture passages in which God is described as a nursing mother.
March 9, 2012
Barbara Brown Taylor tells the backstory of her book, “Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith.” The renowned preacher, teacher, and writer shares her spiritual journey and helps us understand what it means to seek truth, be honest with God and with ourselves, and take the risk of recognizing our own humanness.
(Related information on our website: See three responses to Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, Leaving Church, by EEWC-CFT members Kendra Weddle Irons, Mary Jo Cartredge-Hayes, and Becky Kiser.)
March 8, 2012
Kristin Lems’s “Ballad of the ERA” as sung at a 1982 rally
(Follow the link and click on “Song Lyrics, samples” on the right sidebar.) The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) had been passed by both the United States Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives by 1972, when it was sent out to the states for ratification. By 1975, hopes were high for its passage, and 34 of the 38 states required for ratification had already done so. But a strong conservative opposition was working hard to stop the momentum. The last state to ratify the ERA was Indiana in 1977. As the 1982 deadline for ratification neared, Kristin Lems was singing her “Ballad of the ERA” at large ERA rallies around the U.S. and recorded it live during a spring, 1982 rally. Unfortunately, the June deadline passed without the ratification of the amendment. Read more about the ERA here.
(Related information: Many members of EEWC-Christian Feminism Today may remember Kristin’s concert at our 1996 conference in Norfolk, Virginia, where she remarked that our group’s energetic and enthusiastic response to her singing reminded her of those days of the ERA rallies.)
March 7, 2012
Women’s History Timeline (text, slide show, and audio)
The BBC’s “Women’s Hour” provides this fascinating and informative summary of women’s history, decade by decade, from 1900 through 2009. For each decade, you can watch a slide show with commentary or just scroll through each decade and glance over the highlights of notable women and events. Clicking on a specific woman’s name will take you to a page of information about her. Although the timeline is especially focused on the UK, the breaking of barriers by women throughout the world is covered. This site is worth bookmarking both for general information and future reference.
March 6, 2012
Rachel Held Evans Explains Her “Biblical Womanhood” Book Project
Author Rachel Held Evans has been writing a book about her year-long project of following literally the numerous requirements for women that are found throughout the entire Bible, not taking into account the time periods, places, and cultures in which various passages of scripture were written. She demonstrates the problems that arise with such an approach and shows that all of us are selective in what we apply to our lives today — whether about “biblical” womanhood or other topics. Read more about her project in Slate or listen to a description on NPR.
(Related information: Rachel Held Evans is the author of Evolving in Monkey Town, which was reviewed by Virginia Ramey Mollenkott last summer for Christian Feminism Today.)
March 5, 2012
To The Contrary (from PBS)
Picture a group of intelligent, articulate women sitting around a table talking together All are well-informed on current events and have definite opinions from across the political spectrum. The conversation is lively and always civil, with no shouting or personal attacks. That’s the kind of discussion you’ll find here. The program is described as an “all-female news analysis.” Different panelists and guests appear weekly. If your local public television station doesn’t carry the program, you can watch it online or download a podcast.
March 2, 2012
“Grace, Magic, and Hard Work” (from OneHandClapping)
Writer Julie Clawson always has important things to say about living out our faith and Christian discipleship in today’s world. As one example, see this blog post about what thankfulness for our food really involves.
March 1, 2012
Meryl Streep at the National Women’s History Museum Gala
Film star Meryl Streep, a strong supporter of the National Women’s History Museum building project in Washington, DC, speaks out for feminism as she introduces the de Pazin honor awards and tells the story of the woman for whom the awards are named. As always, Streep is delightful. The video is under seven minutes. (For additional information, see this article from the Los Angeles Times.)
February 29, 2012
The abuse of power and sexual exploitation (From FaithTrust Institute)
Rev. Dr. Marie Fortune, one of the foremost authorities on dealing with sexual and domestic violence, comments on the recent disclosure that President John Kennedy had carried on a prolonged affair with a 19-year-old intern during his White House years. Fortune asks parents to ask themselves, “How would you prepare your daughter or your son for an encounter with a powerful person who would take advantage of them?” She also challenges faith communities to help young people become aware of such incidents and be prepared to deal with them, whether in religious, political, or employment settings.
February 28, 2012
The “Higher Ground” Author Writes to the Church She Left
If you saw the movie, Higher Ground, or read the book on which it was based (now retitled Higher Ground: A Memoir of Salvation Found and Lost), you know it’s the true story of a dedicated Christian woman who began questioning her faith after 20 years in a fundamentalist group. Perhaps you’ve wondered what happened to her after the book and movie ended. This February 12 article, written for Religion Dispatches as a valentine for the church she left, provides some answers.
February 27, 2012
The Underground Railroad (From National Geographic Education)
This interactive feature provides viewers with a virtual experience of the Underground Railroad. As you enter and click through the feature, the narrative stops at various points along the way to let you decide to go in one of two directions. You’ll then see what is likely to happen depending on your choice. After you’ve completed the journey, click on the accompanying side links for additional information and resources.
February 24, 2012
Singer-songwriter Kristin Lems sings “The First Five Minutes of Life”
Kristin Lems has been singing about gender and racial equality, peace, care of the earth, and other social issues for many years. She wrote this song for some friends who had decided they did not immediately want to know the gender of their baby, but to wait for five minutes after the child’s birth. (For more information about Kristin Lems, you can visit her website here.)
February 23, 2012
Melissa Harris-Perry and Dr.Serene Jones discuss female imagery and leadership
For one of her inaugural television broadcasts this past weekend, author and professor Melissa Harris-Perry talked about the way both children and adults form images from what they see and hear most frequently. Such familiar images help people develop ideas about what they consider the norm — “just the way things are.” If we have an image of God as exclusively male and also think of religious and political leaders as primarily male because that’s what we’ve observed, women are easily left out of the picture. In this 18-minute video, Harris-Perry and the Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, the first female president of Union Theological Seminary in New York, discuss the implications of God language and the imagery of female leadership (including the importance of seeing many more women in pulpits and government) as a way of bringing about change in our religious, educational, and political institutions. Other guests joined Serene Jones and Melissa Harris-Perry in this lively discussion. It’s worth taking the time to listen and watch.
February 24, 2012
February 22, 2012
“John Piper and the Rise of Biblical Masculinity” (from Christianity Today.)
When John Piper recently described Christianity as “having a masculine feel,” passionate responses and explosive debates erupted on Twitter and throughout the blogosphere. This article, written by Rachel Stone for Her-meneutics, a blog for women from Christianity Today, is a helpful, informative response that is excellent in both content and tone.
Some related links in addition to the main link above:
See this blog post by EEWC’s own Kendra Weddle Irons from the Ain’t I a Woman blog that she writes with Melanie Springer Mock. Also see “Where the Piper Leads” on the bWe-Baptist Women for Equality’s Blog (scroll to the Feb. 10 post on that site), where Shirley Taylor, a Southern Baptist woman, writes: “Christianity has a masculine feel because we ignore the female side of God, who is a spirit and neither male nor female.”
February 21, 2012
How the Lovings’ Loving Changed American History
Last week, on Valentine’s Day, HBO released a documentary that told the story of Mildred and Richard Loving, a devoted couple who married across racial boundaries at a time when many states still had laws against intermarriage. The above link takes you to Kate Sheppard’s excellent article about the documentary. Writing for Mother Jones.com, Sheppard summarizes the backstory of this married couple, whose simple desire to live as a couple in their home state near their relatives ended up as the “Loving vs. Virginia” case argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967. In addition to reading Sheppard’s summary, it’s also worth taking time to visit the official HBO site about the documentary. There you will find a synopsis, a teacher’s guide, a film preview, and a director’s interview (which is well worth watching for many reasons, but especially for seeing how “God’s will” was dragged into arguments for keeping anti-miscegenation laws on the books).
February 20, 2012
Wives of American Presidents
Before she was a “first lady” herself, Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John Adams, to “remember the ladies,” sounding a clarion call for women’s rights at a time when women had extremely few rights of any kind. On this Presidents’ Day, as U.S. Presidents throughout our country’s history are being honored, let’s think about their wives as well. The above link takes you to a summary of these women’s lives. By clicking on their names, you can learn about each individual in more detail
February 17, 2012
A New Generation Gap in the Christian Community
The Barna Group, which conducts research on faith and culture, found that one of the top trends of 2011 was a disconnection between young adults and Christianity . “In particular, 84% of Christian 18-29 year-olds admit that they have no idea how the Bible applies to their field or professional interests,” say these researchers. Their research indicates that the church is losing young adults in two categories especially — the “young creatives”(artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers, and so on) and young people interested in science. Churches need to show how vocation and faith can be related. This brief summary report from Barna contains links related to additional studies showing why so many young adults are dropping out of church.
February 16, 2012
Faith and Action: A Child Makes the Connection
From the Burnside Writers Collective comes this essay by Chip MacGregor about a little girl who was not content simply to learn about homelessness, but who decided to help homeless persons in practical ways. The writer uses this child’s empathy, care, and action to illustrate what Matthew 25:31-45 is all about.
February 15, 2012
On this website, you can look up any Bible passage or verse —or read the entire Bible— in a version of your choice and in the language of your choice. Not only can you read the Bible through the Bible Gateway website, but you can also listen to the audio and have the Bible read to you in virtually any translation or language you may wish to hear. And beginning in March, 2012, a Bible Gateway app for iPad and iPhone will be available, with versions for Android and other platforms to be added soon as well, allowing you to carry all the features of Bible Gateway with you wherever you go.
February 14, 2012
29 Creative ways to say “I Love You” (from Relevant Magazine)
On this Valentine’s Day, take a look at Alan Cates’s list of 29 ways to show you really love and appreciate the people in your life. He hopes it will get you thinking of lots more ways to say “I love you” as well. The article is from Relevant magazine, which describes its staff as a group of “culturally savvy Christians primarily college-age to 30s” who hope to “challenge the status-quo and spur a generation to know God and change the world.”
February 13, 2012
Charlene and Kate: A Story of Love and Tragedy (A 15 minute video).
Today, Governor Christine Gregoire, will sign the bill passed last week in the Washington state legislature that will make Washington the seventh state to legalize same sex marriage. The above link brings you the story of Charlene Strong and Kate Fleming, which helped pave the way for this day. Charlene recorded this account for a storytelling program called “The Moth,” heard on many public radio stations. Earlier, she had testified before the Washington State Legislature when it began debating a Domestic Partnership bill in January 2007, a month after a devastating flash flood had taken the life of her partner of 10 years. Neither the hospital, nor later the funeral director, wanted to recognize Charlene as Kate’s next of kin. Until shortly before Kate died, Charlene was prevented from going to her side. Charlene’s testimony before the state legislative body had a profound effect on its members by putting a human face on same-sex partnerships — an effect that was mentioned specifically by Governor Gregoire almost five years ago as she signed into law the 2007 Domestic Partnership bill, a first step toward the new legislation she is signing into law today, granting full marriage rights to same-sex couples.
February 10, 2012
A Conversation with Diane Rehm (from the PBS program, One on One)
In this half-hour video, PBS’s One on One host Maria Hinojosa, interviews Diane Rehm, whose daily radio program, The Diane Rehm Show, is one of the most popular and highly acclaimed programs on NPR because of its intelligent discussions and respectful tone. Here on this One on One video, it’s Diane’s turn to be interviewed. She discusses with candor her childhood, her lack of a college education, her relatively late-starting career, her overcoming of challenges such as the illness that damaged her voice, her marriage that has lasted more than a half century, and her attitude toward aging. Both her words and her example provide a positive role model for the empowerment of women. It’s well worth taking the time to watch.
February 9, 2012
A Prayer of Blessing for Teachers
Recently the media have given attention to studies showing the tremendous impact that devoted, caring teachers make on children’s lives and how it continues to affect their achievements into adulthood. This prayer for God’s blessing on teachers was written by Rev. Keith Herron for The Ooze, an online magazine of progressive, evolving spirituality.
February 8, 2012
Beauty and the New Lego Line for Girls
In this article from Sociological Images and cross-posted at the Ms.blog , Lisa Wade shows how Legos, the popular building set, was once marketed to inspire creative play by both boys and girls. But in more recent years, it has been pitched almost exclusively to boys. Now, hoping to regain the girl market, the company has brought out a line of pastel-colored Legos built around gender stereotypes of femininity.
February 7, 2012
National Visionary Leadership Project: African American Oral History
The mission of the National Visionary Leadership Project (NVLP) is “to ensure that the wisdom of our country’s extraordinary African American elders is preserved by and passed on to the young people who will lead us tomorrow.” Click on the “Visionary Videos” tab to hear stories of African American women and men, many of whom are no longer with us. Since the theme of this year’s African American History Month is “Black Women in American Culture and History,” you might especially want to listen to and read the oral histories of such women as civil rights activist Dorothy Height; poet Maya Angelou; Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to congress and who also ran for the U.S. presidency; Barbara Harris, first woman elected bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church; Mary Alice Chineworth, former director of the nation’s first order of black nuns; as well as other African American women who have demonstrated outstanding achievements in mathematics, physics, architecture, the visual and performing arts, and other fields.
February 6, 2012
This song,with its imaginative imagery, was composed by Colleen Fulmer (music) and Sister Martha Ann Kirk (lyrics). It stretches our minds by providing new ideas about what the metaphor of God as Mother might entail. Both Martha Ann and Colleen have been featured at EEWC-CFT conferences and profiled in our publication, Christian Feminism Today (formerly titled, EEWC Update.) The song is sung here by Colleen Fulmer from her album, Cry of Ramah.
February 3, 2012
Literature, Art, and Medicine Database
This ongoing database project was initiated by the New York University School of Medicine as a multimedia annotated list of resources compiled for teaching and research in the medical humanities and related areas. But you don’t have to be a medical student to find abundant riches on this site. It spans the liberal arts, social sciences, and more. The list is divided into three areas: visual art, literature, and the performing arts. You can also visit the viewing, listening, and screening rooms in each of these sections to see art, read texts, and view online video. You’ll find theological richness there as well. View and read about some of the biblically- themed online paintings of the 18th century poet and artist William Blake, for example, and then read a short biography of Blake, also accessible on the site. Or visit the “What’s New” section of the database and see how some recent movies speak to the human situation in today’s world, such as in the current film Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, about the personal impact of the 9/11 tragedy on one family.
February 2, 2012
If you’re interested in how a faith perspective might have anything to do with movies now playing in theaters or released on DVDs, television programs, digitally recorded music, even comic books and video games, take a look at this the Hollywood Jesus website. It is dedicated to “pop culture from a spiritual point of view.” David Bruce, television producer, minister, and graduate of North Park University Seminary in Chicago (a campus where EEWC-CFT has held several of our conferences) says that he created the Hollywood Jesus website after a challenge from Billy Graham for Christians to use the Internet for good.
February 1, 2012
An Interview with Paul Simon
Many people became familiar with singer/songwriter Paul Simon as part of the Simon and Garfunkel duo so popular in the mid-1960s — and then later through his own solo work and philanthropic endeavors. His latest recording, “So Beautiful or So What,” which the New York Times called one of the best albums of 2011, has a noticeable spiritual dimension. Watch the video of an interview with Paul Simon on the PBS program Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, where he talks about the recording. Or you can read the transcript. Simon told interviewer Kim Lawton, “There seems to be a theme in the album, not intentional, and it’s funny because for someone who is not a religious person, God comes up a lot in my songs.”
January 31, 2012
“Why Am I So Burned Out?” (from Psychology Today)
This article by Christine Louise Hohlbaum not only asks “Why Am I So Burned Out?” but also shows how to recognize burnout and what to do about it. It’s well worth reading in the midst of our busy, work pressured, deadline-filled lives when burnout seems to be an all too common malady today.
January 30, 2012
Barbara Brown Taylor: Hard Times
In this brief video (under 4 minutes), author and preacher Barbara Brown Taylor shares her personal favorite Bible passages for finding strength and comfort. The video was produced for BeliefNet.
Related material from the EEWC-Christian Feminism Today website is below. Read reviews of two of Barbara Brown Taylor’s books, Leaving Church, and An Altar in the World.
January 28, 2012
Dead Sea Scrolls online
The Dead Sea Scrolls are being digitized as a joint project between Google and the Israeli Museum. Watch the video, embedded in the website. It shows how you can access and read from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Moving your mouse over a passage will highlight it and even provide an English translation. You can read more about this digitization project and why it is important here.