Tag Archive: gender


4 – 5 August 2017, the Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies curated a symposium to explore feminist theological perspectives on dialogue, disagreement and conflict, as well as the intersections of theology with ethnicity, race, and cultural “norms”. Welcoming international keynote speakers M. Shawn Copeland (Boston College, Boston), Ruth Duck and Cynthia Wilson (both Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Chicago). 

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Questions, Connections and Stories – Ruth Duck

Womb of life, and source of being, home of every restless heart,
in your arms the world’s awakened; you have loved us from the start.
We, you children, gather ’round you, at the table you prepare.
Sharing stories, tears and laughter, we are nurtured by your care.

(Chalice Hymnal, 1995 Ruth Duck)

Many women clergy are part time – is that our of necessity or by choice?

Invited to share our gifts with the church but not invited into leadership and planning.

Sugar-coated feminism unites people by choosing to ignore our differences. Are woman respecting one another in their diversity? How can we share a position on issues without marginalising one another?

Been re-writing hymns since 1974, need to be wary of use of language e.g. using light (good) and dark (bad) > this language reinforces racial stereotypes.  Need to be using accessible and expansive language.  Not just male or female but neither like living water, bread, vine….

Galatians:  27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Lead on, O cloud of Presence, the exodus is come,
in wilderness and desert our tribe shall make its home.
Our slavery left behind us, new hopes within us grow.
We seek the land of promise where milk and honey flow.

(The Faith We Sing Hymnal, Ruth Duck ref: Exod. 13:21-22)

 

“Being ordained and finding a job are two different things”
– Bryan Cones

“A woman in leadership is not necessarily a feminist in leadership”
– Stephen Burns

 

At the table of Christa – Nicola Slee

The women do not serve
but are served

The children are not silent
but chatter

The menfolk do not dominate
but co-operate

The animals are not shussed away
but are welcomed

At the table of Christa

There is no seat of honour
for all are honoured

There is no etiquette
except for the performance of grace

There is no dress code
except the garments of honesty

There is no fine cuisine
other than the bread of justice…. (cont.)

WELCOME TO HER TABLE

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“Why don’t you call him your husband?” Negotiating the Heteronorm – Bryan Cones

In a parallel reading of the Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant (same-sex civil union) and the Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage  in the Episcopal tradition we see differences in the rubrics (instructional notes), spoken words, and bible readings selected.

  • erasing gender from language also erases hierarchy
  • same-sex couple recognised as arriving as a couple/unit rather than starting the liturgy as individuals who are brought together but the rite e.g. compare: do you take this man/woman to be your husband/wife vs. I [name] take you [name]
  • taking or giving language? e.g. compare “do you take…” language vs. “I [name] give myself to you [name]”
  • Hetero weddings use Genesis or Mark reading; Covenant Blessing uses Ruth or Samuel.

What are some of the implications of the differences?

Wedding symbolising Christ with Church.  Return to Creation – brought together by God, made by God, seen as “good” by God. None of that in the Covenant Blessing but instead Trinity readings – work in the world and perfect communion.

Is this version equivalency or equality? Relationship not treated the same by theology or text.  Changes to the gendered language has impacted the liturgical theology.  Different, competing (?!) theological accounts.

Biblically “covenant” not helpful language as it has usually followed some punishment/ judgement (Hosea, Jeremiah, Ezekiel…).

A relationship is already present and active – church ritual recognises and affirms what’s already there.

Missed an opportunity to have one liturgy.  A liturgy should be written recognising all types of households and relationships and families that are currently being erased.

Like the Catholic approach of couple marrying themselves to each other but others witness… helpful to have resources to offer but not to impose them I think.

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‘You don’t understand me’: Serena Williams, Christology, and non-identity – Janice McRandal

Between tennis, race, her gender… we don’t see Serena in the fullness of her humanity. We hold her up to an ideal of personhood and she becomes a series of failures of conform.

Born 6 September 1981 in Compton, Serena has 23 Grand Slam titles and is one of the greatest sportsman of all time. She is seen as both hypersexual and hypermuscular.

People of colour are seen to have “natural ability” whereas white people are considered as being intelligent and working hard.

Serena disrupts narrative. A commentator calls her a “crusader” and she responds:

“Nah, I’m just doing me.”

Another interview ends…

“You don’t understand me.”

Theology is trying to understand (perhaps proscribe?) the personhood of Christ… but we need to let Jesus move not be locked in. Jesus can, and does, say: “You do not understand me.” e.g. WWJD bracelets lock in ‘rules’ about what that looks like with non-normative standards… this creates exclusion.  This is a commodification of Jesus. Which Jesus do you buy/sell? Once you make something a commodity you will want to measure it’s productivity and see a return on investment.

Disciple-driven sublimation          vs.          Christology of non-identity

Not a timeless call but relationality… Knowing here and now.  This gives us multiplicity instead of a single discourse. We need to de-economise theology from capitalism.

Unknowing is a dispossessing that remembers and forgets.

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Poem: Listen (I lost my voice again today) – Talitha Fraser

“Why the Body Matters: Feminism and Christian Faith” – Shawn Copeland

Theology is worrying about what God worries about – God worries about the world that is broken.

The terms body, feminist, and Christian have many diverse meanings and understandings.  Also, imperatives, involved in a period and a context. Symbols that point to what is visible and invisible. Gender, race, sexuality become concrete in the body. The body is us but there is more to you and more to me. SImilar but different. SPirit and body are not separate but one. We need embodiment and engagement and communion with other embodied selves.

There are physical and social layers of meaning to gender, sex and sexuality.  Meaning and worth are allocated externally to our bodies through sex, gender, sexuality. The transcendence of men is an ideology.  God makes the earth… Creature. ALL created matter very good. This is contextual theology.

Jesus had gender, sex, race… existed within the social morays of his time and transcends these. Feminism is not monolithic but pluralist. Where bodies matter… eucharist matters.

We need to live in a humble praxis of solidarity
with the bodies piled up.

Race

Statements such as “racism did not exist in the US before Obama” silences and makes invisible.

Having no race then can also therefore mean no identity > race matters SO much.  When race is considered an objective condition intelligence is seen as fixed and hereditary.  When one is equal to one’s race your identity becomes “fixed”. This tramples on personhood and experience. Racial formation (or deform-ation) is organised around a society of oppression.  Knowing race becomes crucial to “knowing” relationships – how to relate to and treat people. Are you black or brown? Chinese or Vietnamese? Once I can categorise your identity I will know how to treat and talk to you.

Sex and Gender

There is a disconnect between our body and our identity. Became medical.  Sex is biological and our gender is subject to socio-normative treatment/behaviour.  There are differences amongst women… what about class, race, sexual orientation…?  You can be dually discriminated.  Plurality of discourse can be disruptive.

Ref: Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity

Eucharist

Love forms one body with our body. Joined with the eternal transcendent. Solidarity is the incarnation of Christian love. Standing with the other in their otherness.

Owe the wealth and privilege we have to exploitation, massacre, death, slavery… we need to acknowledge the humanness of the other. Even if we suffer rejection or loss.

Solidarity must always affirm life.

Christianity

Stand beside/join with others. Because you are the body of Christ. It is your mystery that lies behind the altar. Our gendered, raced, sexed bodies are one in eucharist. Our ceremonies – we must give as as well as receive.

Be what you receive.

Incarnation means loving others.

political theology > systemic theology. What does it look like to do communion in Baltimore or Ferguson, Missouri (#blacklivesmatter). Not just “All that we have” but “ALL that we have” How can I express myself without my hands, my voice, my body…?! My body is not an illusion. Our body has to be part of our spirituality. It’s what sops us being all-spirit.  Ordinary and extraordinary that.  We are given and embodied example (enfleshed) of what that looks like lived out. [Christ].

Ref: Susan Griffin, Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her

Q+A

Latin ‘procure’ meant ‘care for’ NOT ‘acquire’

Multiculturalism – honour diversity and richness without “smushedness”. Individuality and interculturality – no domination/subjugation to make alike.

How? Engage, encounter, serious conversation, humility… not acquire or appropriate.  Can’t pick up the cultural mores but you can learn. The Word is being made flesh now.  It’s about being filled with divine breath and living that out.

 

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Panel: Chi Vu, Amos Gebhardt, Candy Bowers, Lisa French

Writers are men, Directors are men. I realised ‘That’s where the influence is’. No one asked me to audition for those roles… I had to write my own where black characters are at the centre – not “other” or sidelined… sick of the male storyline, had it for 100 years, can we hear 100 years of women’s stories now?

Candy Bowers

Have to resist the ‘gaze’.  Hollywood is the value-driver of who we are to love, to empathise with, who to victimise, who to villainise… there’s a distance from male/female to this non-conforming space. You can have a binary conversation about art-making. Alternative gaze: all women, women of colour, all oppressed by these stories… perspective as an artist is gender fluid.

Amos Gebhardt

I’m Vietnamese. I was born here but Vietnamese is my first language.  I was thinking and dreaming in Vietnamese until I was 12.  I’m bilingual, not two monolingual languages in one person.

Chi Vu

We know the tropes of the male gaze. Their product and process… set, thinking, psychology… very fast. That’s male. It would be great to see something more embodied, with more emotionality, given space.

Amos Gebhardt

Female gaze can be a starting point – not codifed though – but to open space for exploring other view points. Where there is a minor character we are invited to dislike, someone else liking them draws you closer to them… the audience member flips perspective.  The “alternative gaze” is not a fixed gaze but fluid.

Chi Vu

Of those coming through NADA 90% are white.
How do we create beyond our colonisation?
We’re yet to see the fullness of what’s possible.

Candy Bowers

I know this movie was directed by a woman because my emotions are being prioritised over what’s getting done.

Lisa French

When we create new worlds we can create safety. [eg. sci-fi/fantasy]
Allows space to take greater aesthetic risk – culture, gender, etc…

Chi Vu

This  is what success looks like: I’m the only black woman in the room.  Wardrobe can’t do my hair and makeup. We need cultural safety and support.  I need people expert in ‘me’ around me.
When it’s there… feel more free.

Candy Bowers

Language exists in a moment.  Not forever.
Female and Asian… don’t always want that label.

Chi Vu

Feel held if filmmaker is listening.
Spiritual dimension and depth of characters on screen.

Amos Gebhardt

Fear and freedom.  We’re all trying to get a gold star.
It’s a risk to try something new. In the end the final panel is 4 white men.  Don’t want to have to try and impress them anymore.
Activism is built into the struggle.

Candy Bowers

There are different well-worn roads, the Hollywood Highway.
Going a different way there can be a small or no path.
It takes longer. There is no one around you.
If you’re lucky, you might meet someone else stumbling around,
then it might go faster. It takes courage to go off the path.

Chi Vu

The female gaze is the collection of all other gazes.

Lisa French

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Welcome, we acknowledge that we gather on the land of which the people of the Kulin Nations have been custodians since time immemorial.

This is our fourth in a series called The Art of Discipleship where we showcase the material of different books and engage with their material creatively.

WEEK FOUR

The activity this week is taken from:

Women of Spirit: Woman’s Place in Church and Society

This Australian book by Janet Nelson and Linda Walter looks at how church and society both have ways that they tells us what  we are and aren’t supposed to do and how we are and aren’t supposed to look.  How can we reinterpret our self-esteem and identity understanding ourselves to be made in the image of God?

As has been done before, in a Seeds small group and a Women’s Circle at Surrender, images of women doing sacred ordinary things are blu tacked around the room with bible verses referring to women, where God is speaking to women and where “feminine” metaphors are applied e.g. God: “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 66:13) or “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:27).

This time we also had images of men juxtaposed with this “feminine” language and imagery.

So we had a time of some music playing while people walked around the room ( a reflection space created with pictures, bible passages, mirrors) immersed in these images and words and people were invited to grab a verse or image if it spoke to them and bring back and sit when they were ready.

  • What stands out?
  • What jars? What resonates?
  • What image/text do you have? – tell us about it

Read the story of The Bunyip of Berkeley’s Creek (a theme of the main book)

  • What does it mean to dwell in this idea that: God delights in you!!?
  • Where do you look for your identity? Sense of self?

“If this is my experience, it means that something of the greatest importance is happening.  It means that God is inviting me to discover “Him” no longer as another beside me but as my own deepest and truest self.  He is calling me into the experience of meeting Him to the experience of finding my identity in Him.  I cannot see Him because He is my eyes.  I cannot hear Him because He is my ears.  I cannot walk to Him because He is my feet. And if apparently I am alone and He is not there that is because He will not separate His presence from my own.  If He is not anything at all, if He is nothing, that is because He is no longer another.  I must find Him in what I am or not at all. (Williams 1976)” p.171

How might seeing yourself in the image of God change your life/the way you live?

Using a camera, take some pictures of yourself – not a “selfie” that is about looking your best/who you’re with/what you’re doing but perhaps some part of your body you feel critical of, somehow a part that captures your ‘self’that you might feel critical of – scroll back through the images you have taken and prayerfully try and hear what God is saying to you in the mix of how you feel about yourself.

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People can share their photos (if they feel comfortable to do so).
Discuss how the exercise makes you feel or what it gets you thinking about.

Close with the ‘Greeting Circle’ from p.194  – go around the circle blessing each person.

Blessed are you among wo(men) ____________________ [name]
For you have found favour in God’s sight.

 

 

Ephesians @ FCOC

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EPHESIANS 4: 7-16

But to each of us grace is granted and measured by the gift of Christ. Thus it says, “As He ascended on high, He led the captured away into captivity, He gave gifts to men.” But what does “He ascended” mean, except that He also went down into the lower parts of the earth? The One who descended is the very one who ascended far above all the heavens to fill the universe.

So He has given some to be apostles and others to be prophets; some to be evangelists and others to be pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the task of ministering toward the building up of the body of Christ, until we all may arrive at the unity of faith and that understanding of the Son of God that brings completeness of personality, tending toward the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. As a result, we should no longer be babes, swung back and forth and carried here and there with every wind of teaching that springs from human craftiness and ingenuity for designing error; but, telling the truth in love, we should grow up in every way toward Him who is the Head – Christ, from whom the entire body is fitted together and united by every contributing ligament, with proportion power for each single part to effect the development of the body for its upbuilding in love.

  • God’s grace and the scope of it are God’s gifts to me
  • The apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are NOT saints but are here to equip the saints.
  • “Building up until we all may arrive” – commitment to a process/a journey of growth through discipleship that brings completeness of personality… our personalities are not complete? “growing and transforming always… tending towards the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”
  • Guard against the human craftiness and ingenuity for devising …Guard against my own devising – conscious and unconscious.
  • Misuse of “telling the truth in love” – need to be telling my own.
  • We should grow up – Jesus the cornerstone
  • Fitted together and united – partners in building
  • Each single part to effect – each part necessary to the whole; if each part is necessary then tearing a part down or smothering it is counter-productive.
  • Upbuilding in love