Tuesday, November 21, 2017
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A Podcast, the PCA, and the Conservative Christian Battle Over Gender

August 21, 2017 "Many Christian conferences address 'race, racism, racial reconciliation, trying to do justice in those spheres,' said, 'but yet completely ignore...

Being Womanish Is Not Bad

Womanish girls rebel against the patriarchal standard imposed on them to be silent and invisible. By being themselves, they challenge patriarchal child-rearing structures that stifle young black girls. It should be a positive thing to rebel against the societal norms of slut-shaming, sexism, classism, misogyny, and racism.

Shattering Masks: Affirming My Identity, Transitioning My Faith

... as we read Shattering Masks, we can rejoice with its author that the intersexual transwoman Laura Bethany Taylor is indeed “God’s own child,” resembling and revealing her divine Mother/Father precisely as she was created to do.

Your Beliefs About Gender Differences May Be All Wrong

March 14, 2017 A new book by Cordelia Fine, Testosterone Rex: Myths of Sex, Science, and Society, examines views about gender differences and why they are...

Are men projecting their feelings of sexual shame onto women?

March 6, 2017 This post by Emma Lindsay asks an interesting question. Are women's feelings of shame about the way we look actually a projection of male...

Angels on Earth: Mothering, Religion, and Spirituality

A woman’s actual personhood is a paradoxical irony: young women are valued for their potential to be useful sexually and reproductively, but once they have succeeded in fulfilling those potentials, they are regarded as vaguely defiled.

Reclaiming Your Story: Mary Magdalene and Lady Gaga’s “Judas”

Mary Magdalene is a person in her own right. Her real story is remarkable, and can be uncovered through the accurate interpretation of scripture. Mary Magdalene is featured in the New Testament more than any other women, with the exception of Mary, the Mother of Jesus; she’s mentioned in 14 different verses.

Does the Bible Teach Biological Complementarity?

“For many Christians [who voice opinions about same-sex sexual expression], these disapproving biblical verses imply the case is closed. But why does scripture (or God) disapprove? Or as James Brownson puts it in Bible, Gender, Sexuality, (mentioned in Lesson 8), what is the ‘moral logic’ behind this disapproval?”

A New View of Mary and Martha

Hanson raises important questions about the traditional reading. She points out that we read into it things that aren’t actually there. For example, we assume that Jesus and twelve other tired, hungry men showed up on Mary and Martha’s doorstep unannounced. Any decent host would be alarmed. But the passage doesn’t state that any other disciples were present.

Gender Disputes in Bible Translation

The translation was called Today’s New International Version of the Bible (TNIV), an updated edition of the New International Version (NIV), a favorite of conservative Christians. And many of them were not happy with the new edition. Why the unhappiness? Because the TNIV was the first NIV updating to use gender-inclusive people language.

A Christian Feminist Remembers Elisabeth Elliot (1926-2015)

"During those years, I purchased every book Elisabeth Elliot wrote, and each time I looked forward to the next one. Like many women of my generation, I considered her a role model, an example of what a strong, intelligent, confident, courageous Christian woman could be. "

Prostitutes, Virgins and Mothers: Questioning Teachings About Biblical Women

Certainly this book could be meaningful to any Christian wanting a good overview of the women in the Bible, but I also feel the book could be interesting reading for feminists wanting to understand the way layers of patriarchal interference over the years have worked to influence Christian behavior and attitudes toward women. With that said, I don't think this book is "too feminist" to have a wide audience.

On Christian Femininity and Bragging Rights

But if our greatest treasure is our spiritual gifts, then men and women together should lift up the riches offered by the women of the church. We should open wide the doors to this storehouse of wealth. It means being a little less quick to slap down a compliment with, “Oh, isn’t God great? God did it. I didn’t do it. It wasn’t me.”

I’ve always been taught the inerrancy of Scripture. Paul tells women...

Learn how Christian feminists approach the concept of the "inerrancy of Scripture."

How can a Christian be a Feminist?

Rebecca Kiser responds: There are many distortions of what feminism means in the current culture. Feminists are proponents of women as whole people, who are capable...

Submission, Subjection, and Subversion in Household Codes

"... the overarching message of Jesus throughout the New Testament is a call for those in power to give it up or lay it aside for the sake of the powerless or for the greater good of the community. The theme of “little ones” being greatest in God’s kin-dom saturates the Synoptic Gospels. Jesus flees popularity, risks his life to defy rigid structures that oppress “little ones,” and finally endures the shame of crucifixion as a rebel against Roman domination."

Mutual Submission in This Time and in This Place

But something changed a few decades later that made the early church start to rein in the mutual submission and egalitarianism of its Savior and the teachings of its foremost apostle. What was it? The simple answer is that Jesus did not return.

Wounded by God’s People

I wonder if the“more severe” unshared wounds Lotz mentions in the epilogue were originally the inspiration for the writing, but were later left out to avoid causing more pain to those involved. Or perhaps it was just my own personal wounds hoping she was going to give them voice.

God Places the Solitary in Families: Childfree Doesn’t Mean Childless

For me family is a much broader and expansive concept than the nuclear family. Jesus said that anyone who obeyed God was his mother, brothers, and sisters. I see no reason to limit my family to those I am biologically related to, and I think part of our responsibilities as Christians is to cast a much larger definition of what a family is.

A Christian at the “Final Feminist Frontier”—Housework

"As a Christian, a spouse, and a mother who longs for her family to be happy, healthy, and comfortable, I suppose I should see the house tasks I complete as a servant’s work, part of the way I express love to those I care about most. "

A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself...

"A Year of Biblical Womanhood" is not just for women. Dan Evans is characterized in the book as a partner who trusts, supports, and respects his wife. Dan’s example is a reminder that one does not enact “biblical womanhood” in a vacuum; it is always a performance in relationship and community.

“Having it all” or “Being it all”?

"Much of the media buzz about Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, 'Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,' has focused less on what I consider the book’s intended message and more on the unending debates about whether women can combine marriage and children with pursuing a career outside the home..."

Christian Feminists Weigh Pros and Cons of Women in Combat

"Last week, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta ruled that women can now serve in combat roles with the United States military. I reacted to this decree with decided ambivalence, as the ruling challenges two ideologies I hold closest to my heart, along with my Christian faith.

What Kind of Man Would Want to Marry a Feminist?

The kind of man who would marry a feminist is a man who believes in social justice and “playing fair.” If the woman he loves supports and encourages his interests and career, he realizes that he is just as responsible to support and encourage her interests and career.

The Food Network: A Challenge to Gender Equality?

Perhaps I am being too critical of the Food Network, it is, after all, only entertainment, not intended as serious fare. But it does seem to me an illustration of the pervasive challenge to equality embedded in all aspects of our culture. And, while seemingly identifying the problem themselves, it is clear executives had little awareness about how to address this inequity on a sustained basis...”

Why Have Religions Feared Women’s Brain Power?

"Women who think, women who question, women who are educated are a threat to those men who think power is theirs by right—simply by having been born male. And so in many times and places, now and in the past, education for girls has been discouraged, opposed, made difficult, or actually forbidden —in spite of the impoverishment experienced by nations that hold such attitudes."

Creating Learned Helplessness, One Potluck at a Time

It seems, in my experience (and by what I’ve observed) that most church potlucks are still initiated, organized, and managed by women. Why is that? Why are women the ones who stay long after everyone else is gone, cleaning the kitchen (while a few men linger to stack chairs)?

A Sword between the Sexes?

Like Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen, author of the newly released Sword Between the Sexes?, I’ve remained a fan of Lewis’s works in spite of his blind spots; still, before I read her book, I had never really looked in any comprehensive way at Lewis’s view of gender.

A Third Wave Feminist Speaks Out

My first conference was one of the only times I have felt positive, inspirational feminist community. Should this privilege be reserved for the few women who discover an EEWC poster and tentatively attend? Should we not be more "out there" with our God-filled organization? Women of EEWC, I ask you to reach out to my generation with your message.

My Journey to Feminism

"Ever since my feminist awakening, the proverbial “fire in my belly” has burned for those countless evangelical women who are faithfully practicing the spiritual tradition that has been handed down to them, unknowingly replicating a sexist, exclusivist hierarchy of privilege..."

Answering God’s Call to the Soul: Marjory Zoet Bankson

by EEWC Update editor Letha Dawson Scanzoni I see ‘call’ not as a vocational choice but as a special way of understanding what we are...

Subject, Once Again

The answer given to women at this seminary is that “God expects wives to graciously submit to their husbands’ leadership,” and doing so involves “learning how to set tables, sew buttons and sustain lively dinnertime conversation.” Students in class mention cross-stitching, “freezer pleaser” meatloaf, and using the Internet to track grocery coupons.

Bold Spirit: Helga Estby’s Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America

Years after her death, Helga has become a role model for tough, independent-thinking, risk-taking women everywhere. We would all do well to learn from her, and from Linda Lawrence Hunt who gave her story back to us.

Evangelical Identity and Gendered Family Life

What I probably liked best were her efforts to provide a sympathetic portrait of women whose religious views differ from my own. Gallagher adopts a very even-handed and respectful view towards both gender "progressives" and conservatives.

Jesus Girls

The book began as an exploration of the “un-testimony… an unruly story, a story that refuses to conform to a simple before-and-after pattern,” writes Hannah Faith Notess, the book’s editor.

What Betty Friedan Did and Didn’t Do

Dear Kimberly, You and I are so much on the same wave length and such good friends that I can’t recall our ever disagreeing, even...

Stepping over Boundaries and Finding New Metaphors

Dear Kimberly, Since you’re inundated with your Yale studies and deadlines for papers at this busy time of year, I’m happy to help out by...

“Paradigm Lost” and Slippery Slope Panic

Dear Kimberly, After reading your September 14 post, I purchased Elisabeth Elliot’s Passion and Purity. I didn’t want to discuss something that I hadn’t even read! As you...

More Thoughts on the Writings of Elisabeth Elliot

Hi Letha, As you know, I’ve just returned to school, after spending a summer working in the Pacific Northwest. It feels good to be back...

Relationships: Complementing and Complimenting

Dear Kim, It was wonderful to see you at the EEWC-Christian Feminism Today Gathering in Indianapolis a few weeks ago and to continue these intergenerational conversations before...

Empathy: An Antidote to “Othering”

Dear Kimberly, I’ve been thinking a lot about empathy lately, and it ties in with something you referred to in your December 1 letter --...

Normative Restrictions: From 19th Century Victorian “Ideals” to Twilight

Dear Letha, I appreciated how in your last letter you nuanced the different patterns through which cultures control women. In this letter, I’d like to...

Dreams without Boundaries

Dear Kimberly, Last weekend, the film discussion group that I attend regularly viewed an advance screening of Amelia, the story of aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, who...

Religion, Women’s Status, and Self-image

Dear Kimberly, As you pointed out so well in your last letter, girls and women have had access to education for a relatively short time...

Women, Education, and Expectations

Hi Letha, Thanks so much for your last letter about “great and not so great expectations” for women.” Right now, I am thinking about how...

Great and Not-So-Great Expectations

When Steven Goldberg's controversial book, The Inevitability of Patriarchy was published in the 1970s, he argued for the existence of a "biologically-based male superiority" that equips the male sex for dominance and achievements. He claimed that "there is not a single woman whose genius has approached that of any number of men in philosophy, mathematics, composing, theorizing of any kind, or even painting."

More Thoughts on Women and Pride, also the Interplay of Lookism...

Dear Letha, Now it is my turn to apologize for my slow reply to your last letter! As you know, this past month has been...

More about “Lookism,” also Are Sins “Gender-specific”?

Dear Kimberly, So many things in the news have recently reminded me of your last letter about how women are judged by their appearance, causing...

Faith, Rebellion, and a Larger Story

As a college sophomore I went into the office of my professor of Christian Doctrine, breaking down in tears and telling him why I was going to give up my faith. I could not submit to these expectations of submission and subservience placed on my femininity within the church circles I knew, and I could only assume there was therefore no place for me within Christianity. I was either committed to women’s rights or I was a “Bible-believing” Christian. I could not, surely, be both. (It seems that my black- and-white, either/or thinking, so trained in me by fundamentalism itself, was even at work in my recanting!)

When Gender Roles Become Straitjackets

Dear Kimberly, I've been concerned that some of our recent conversations might strike our readers as irrelevant during this current economic crisis.  It's one thing...

More on Mothers…But Where are the Dads?

Dear Letha, Two things strike me after listening to the NPR segment you mentioned between Alice and Nina Rossi, as well as the humorous song...

Being a Feminist, Being a Mom (or Not!)

Dear Kimberly, In this letter and my next one, I'd like to comment on two topics you brought up in your Sept. 24 letter. One...

More about Gender-Based Division of Labor in the Home

Dear Kimberly, It was great reading your personal "observational study" of fathers and children delighting in their time together!   And thank you for sharing your...

Who Can Nurture? More Thoughts on Parenting

Dear Letha, It is a very curious thing for me to sit back and try to look with a “beginner's mind” at all these notions...

Quakers, Gender Roles, and “Chickified Men”

Dear Letha, As I sit down to write this letter, I find myself sipping tea, listening to Rachmaninoff, and surrounded by many piles of books...

Christian and Mrs. Christian

Dear Letha, Thanks for recommending the essays of Dorothy Sayers. I have not yet read them, but it’s time! I love the distinction her editor...

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Growing Up Trans — #TransWeek

November 18, 2017 "Just a generation ago, it was adults, not kids, who changed genders. But today, many children are transitioning, too — with new...

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In Search of Life-Giving Christian Symbols

For many years I have also believed that a symbol other than the cross should be at the center of Christianity. The emphasis on the cross leads to the glorification of violence and death rather than the love and abundant life that Jesus taught.