Tag Archive: leadership

poster australian collaborators in feminist theologies the state of feminist biblical scholarship

The title of the upcoming Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies network event poses this exact question and I wonder… less postgrads, less promotion, less published – where are the female-centric stories and who is telling them?

I want to get to hear about the Nuns (Adorers of the Blood of Christ, environmental protectors and activists) blocking the Standing Rock gas pipeline development. I want to hear more about Teresa Lee, Emily Wood, Leonnie Wickenden, and Abigail Benham-Bannon – Christian women getting arrested for Love Makes a Way for their belief in, and support of, the rights of asylum seekers arriving by sea. I want to hear more about Aunty Sharyn, an Indigenous Christian leader from Brisbane, called to a vocation rising out of her personal experience who has started up B’ira Women’s Ministry – a significant community ministry addressing domestic violence and sexual abuse in Indigenous communities. I want to hear more because I do not doubt that there is a strong biblical theology that underpins the choices of these women to put themselves in the way and turn out fear for their faith.

Bir’a is Wakka Wakka Language for ‘High Spirit’ and is all about when ‘Women meet Jesus’. Bir’a run yarning circles – providing a safe space to talk through grief, trauma, healing and relationships and do art therapy for when women can’t find, or just don’t have, the words to describe what has happened to them.

Hearing about this ministry I was put in mind of the women in Mark (5:21-43).  Jesus is walking along with his disciples and a leader of the Synagogue comes along asking for healing for his daughter who is unwell. Jesus agrees to come, yet along the way a bleeding woman who, against all purity codes, reaches out to touch a Jewish man in the desperation and hope of being healed. This woman reaches out for and takes what will heal her.  v.29 “Immediately her haemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.” but v.33-34 goes on to say  “the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth”.  He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”  She had already been healed of the physical symptoms (v.29), this second healing aims to address the mental stress of what the disease had cost: exclusion from temple which was a central part of life; if she had a husband perhaps he left – not being able to touch what she had touched or share intimacy; perhaps people worried they might catch the disease; or perhaps the priests tried various means and methods of cleansing or praying out demons… what isolation and exclusion had this woman known over these 12 years?  How long does it take to pour out this tale of grief, fear and loneliness?  Long enough for the Synagogue leaders daughter to die – does one persons healing come at the cost of another’s? No.  Jesus goes on to ‘wake’ her.

What part do women’s truth and storytelling have to play in our healing – personal, family, community, political…? We need times and spaces to hear truth, we need to be willing to tell our whole truth, we need to be willing to listen to others’.

Lydia Wylie-Kellerman reminds us “Telling stories is an act of resistance. It is part of discipleship. It is movement work. Stories are provocative and powerful while at the same time nourishing. They hold us. They remind us who we are. They help us know who we want to become.”

We need learn from the wisdom of women’s ways of knowing. We need to learn from the wisdom of women’s encounters with Spirit, Christ, God and what calls them to move. The powerful experiences, perspectives and stories of women have much to teach us and we need to pay attention. Thirty years on from Phyllis Trible’s pioneering Christian feminist perspective to biblical scholarship (Texts of terror, 1984), the upcoming conference pauses to reflect on the current state of feminist scholarship, mythological issues and texts that continue to terrorise.  Issues worth thinking about for all those students, researchers, ministers, faithful, knowing women contributing now, and emerging, to remind us who we are and who we want to become.

You are invited.

The State of Feminist Biblical Scholarship – Where are we now?

Friday 11 May, 2018

Centre for Theology and Ministry
29 College Crescent, Parkville VIC 3052

$40.00 waged / $20.00 unwaged
includes a catered lunch and snacks



The prayer of the martyrs ought to be outlawed, forbidden on our lips.  In the middle ages, popes placed whole towns under interdict. No public prayer, no eucharist, no baptisms, no burial service for the dead – until public crime was expiated.  The Church could not continue the work of Christ while the will of Christ was violated, despised.  In somewhat the same way today, the pope should order all churches closed, all services suspended in those nations which prepare nuclear war.  A universal interdict! For the nuclear arms race threatens the greatest crime since the crucifixion – the Hiroshimizing of all the earth, a firestorm, the finis of the human adventure…

…The moral void precedes the cosmic one, and prepares for it.

…What could be more contemptuous of the God of creation than the presence of the Beast in the sanctuary?

…”Every time a bomb falls in Vietnam,” wrote a Catholic from Saigon in 1966, “every time a village is burned or a child maimed, all your fine Christian words, your words about peaceable Christian intentions and good faith, are put to naught.”

…His works are otherwise…

– His works are performed in the desert, where people are at the end of their rope, without armies, weapons, protection, money, self-assurance, magic rites, strange gods.
– His works are a liberation. They unmask our inward slavery, out fitful wills, our egos, our violence.
– His works are penitential. They include a willingness on our part to endure his absence, his silence, his furious anger.  They will not allow is our fifty-fifty compromise; so much for Caesar, so much for God. (For those who serve God, there is nothing left for Caesar.)
– His works are gracious, in the root sense of the word. His favour does not wait upon our “ups” and “downs,” the narcotic of our moods, nudged this way and that by the tides of this world. “Turn to us that we may turn to you.” His is the first move. Indeed how else could we be moved?

…when we pray, we pray to an exiled king, a renegade among the peoples, a raging holy one, steeped in dishonour.  He is the sport and mockery of all, pushed to the edge of the world, edged out of consciousness.

…Grant us at least the presence of your absence.  Let us taste that void, at the heart of the raucous yelling of prisoners, the void between the bars, between the hours that hang around like days, the days that stand like years. Touch our hearts that die in your absence. Bitter, bitter.


excerpts from pages 50-68, Beside the Sea of Glass, Daniel Berrigan

A stunning invocation to authentic practice and expression of faith both for non-violence/nuclear disarmament but also any other issue of justice.

by Talitha Fraser with Kaumatua Gregg Morris
[this piece first appeared on Radical Discipleship‘s website 17/02/2017]

Allow me to invite you to join in for a game of kilikiti, to sing and dance with us, to walkabout…  sit here at the campfire and I will tell you story…

Coranderrk was one of several Aboriginal missions set up in Victoria .  Wurundjeri leaders William Barak and Simon Wonga advocated for Aboriginal people to live in their own place, their own way. Many times to petition the Victorian Government Barak and Wonga would gather a delegation together, speak to motivate and inspire them, then they would walk together the 60 miles (12 hours) to deliver the message: “Please leave us alone, give us our land back, don’t take it away again”. Leaders of one people to another, approaching as equal and in person.

The Mau was a passive resistance movement seeking Samoan Independence.  When hundreds of members were arrested, hundreds more turned themselves in until all were released because there were more than the system could contain.  People stopped paying taxes and gave the money to the Mau. All local Councils and committees stopped meeting, children stopped turning up to Government run schools which were forced to close, instead of working in the plantations to harvest bananas and coconuts the women would play kilikiti all day.

Communities at Ratana, Hiruhārama, and Parihaka in New Zealand saw a farm converted to a township as taking people was more urgent than the harvest; a poet-led commune of Maori and Pakeha living together; an invading army greeted on the marae with songs, food, and children holding white feathers of peace running counter to the cultural tradition of utu.

All of these expressions of non-violent resistance share elements in common:

  • they were born out of an intention to create safe space – refuge for the dispossessed. Any political activism or engagement brought about was a by-product, not an intention, of what these places existed to protect.
  • they were led by or held in close relationship with indigenous peoples of the land.
  • there was, be it tendril or tap root, a connection to and influence of Christian belief.

Having people elected over you who are imposing laws and structures that are not aligned with what we know about how to live in harmony with each other and with the land is not a new idea.  Romans 12:20 says: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”  How may we engage a world that is broken, challenging what comes our way – to change it or be unchanged by it – preserving our peace and not be overcome?

As High Chief and leader of the Mau, Tupua Tamasese Leolofi III, lay dying his last words were, “My blood has been spilt for Samoa. I am proud to give it. Do not dream of avenging it, as it was spilt in peace. If I die, peace must be maintained at any price.”  The message of  Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi, leaders of Parihaka: “Just as night is the bringer of day, so too is death and struggle the bringer of life.”

We need to tend to the sovereignty of our own belief in what is right, to the inspiration of ideals bigger and beyond ourselves, to seek the Spirit and be led thereby to feel and act. Who do you look to, to define who you are? Come, sit here at the campfire and tell me a story…

When Jesus called, he said “Take nothing for you journey…”
Were the twelve afraid?
God’s peace be with you

Did they wonder if they could do these things?
Next to the quality of your ministry did they feel inadequate and unworthy?
God’s peace be with you

Did they want to postpone their journey until they had all the possible things they might need? Until they were sure of their abilities?
            God’s peace be with you

Did they want to hold off on a commitment until they were absolutely sure it wouldn’t be a mistake? Did they ever feel they had no time, no talent, no knowledge, no energy, no guaranteed results?

Jesus said “take nothing”, and they went.

They went with His power.

            God’s peace be with you.

Father God, I want to thank you for ——–, I want to thank you for calling them to be leaders.  There are times when responsibility can seem too much to bear and we wonder how we came to be here, to deserve this trust. That in ‘taking nothing’ we ‘have nothing’.  Grace each of them with the sense of peace of knowing you are with them, the sense of faith that is born of giving up our will to yours, and the sense of love that is born of forgiveness and communion.  May this spirit which passes understanding, and this grace which makes us what we are, and this fellowship of His communion make us one in spirit and in heart. Let them find ease in You who are our leader. We need not be afraid, for you are with us always. In Jesus name, amen.

[Sharing communion @ Kinfolk]