Tag Archive: women of spirit


diversity in language and liturgy

I went to an event this week that talked about racism and how most people make it to the level of “tolerance” but rarely make it to “acceptance”. Acceptance is the level where diversity is incorporated and celebrated. A panel was asked: “What signals that a space is safe?” And the answer is: “Evidence that you have done your own work on this.”

So, how a space is configured, it’s art and decorations might contribute to safe space but so too does language. Churches often talk about being spaces of “welcome” but in how many languages are you saying it? Do you express the multiculturalism of your community? Do you have it in Braille? Is it large print for the elderly? Colourful for the children? Indicate that those who are LGBTIQA+ are welcome?

I don’t necessarily mean literally having a welcome sign that incorporates all those things but holding space to learn from how someone with a Vietnamese or Sri Lankan cultural lens experiences God, what does the God who calls us to look and see, or hear and listen, mean to someone who is blind or deaf? What does faith in a triune God mean to someone with an extra chromosome? How does someone identifying as LGBTIQA+ who has been disavowed by their family relate to a Holy Father?

In no particular order, playfully explore language and liturgy now that invites you into another way of knowing, follow links for more…

THE LORD’S PRAYER: MAORI & POLYNESIA

Eternal Spirit,
Earth-maker, Pain bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:

The hallowing of your name echo through the universe;
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world;
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings;
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom
sustain our hope and come on earth.

With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trial too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and forever. Amen.

The New Zealand Book of Prayer

ABORIGINAL LORD’S PRAYER

(there is a lovely sung version of this)

You are our Father, you live in heaven
We talk to you, Father, you are good
We believe your word Father, we are children,
Give us bread today
We have done wrong, we are sorry,
Help us Father, not to sin again
Others have done wrong to us and we are
sorry for them, Father today
Stop us from doing wrong, Father
Save us all from the evil one
You are our Father, you live in heaven
We talk to you, Father, you are good.

Easter to Pentecost

Wondrous God, lover of lion and lizard, cedar and cactus, raindrop and river, we praise You for the splendor of the world! We thank You, that woven throughout the tapestry of earth are the varied threads of human diversity. Created in Your image, we are of many colors and cultures, ages and classes, gender and sexual identities. Different and alike, we are Your beloved people. Free us, we pray, from fears of difference that divide and wound us. Move us to dismantle our attitudes and systems of prejudice. Renew our commitment to make this a household of faith for all people – gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender, and straight – that all who worship and minister here may know the grace and challenge of faith. In our life together, grant us minds and hearts eager to learn, reluctant to judge, and responsive to the leading of Your loving Spirit. We ask in Christ’s name, Amen.
Rev. Ann B. Day, Shaping Sanctuary

Alternative language for Psalms and Scripture…

Child Play by Joy Cowley

Father Mother God,
every now and then you call me
to drop my burdens at the side of the road
and play games with you.
I respond sluggishly.
Carrying burdens can make me feel important
and sometimes I’m afraid to drop them
in case I suddenly become invisible.
But when I do let go for a while,
how simple life seems –
and how beautiful!

God of play and playfulness,
thank you for castles in the sand,
for swings and slides and soap bubbles,
kaleidoscopes, rainbows,
and wind to fly kites.
Thank you for child-vision
of flowers and stones and water drops,
for child-listening to the universe
humming inside a seashell.
Thank you for showing me one again,
a creation filled with laughter
and the enjoyment of your presence.
An thank you, thank you,
dear Mother, Father God,
for the knowledge
of your enjoyment of me.

Aotearoa Psalms: Prayers of a New People by Joy Cowley

Laughing Bird Liturgical Resources – Australian scripture paraphrasing.

Mark 1: 4-11

John the baptiser showed up in the desert preaching to the people. He called them to be baptised, to completely turn their lives around and receive God’s forgiveness for their toxic ways. Everyone came flocking to John from Jerusalem and from all the rural districts of Judea. They owned up to their wrongdoing and were baptised by John in the Jordan River, promising to mend their ways.
John was dressed in rough clothes made of camel hair and animal skins. He lived on bush tucker – grasshoppers and wild honey. This was the guts of his message: “After me comes the One who is way out of my league – I wouldn’t even qualify to get down on my knees and lick his boots. I’m only baptising you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.”
During those days, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. The moment he came up from the water, he saw the sky open up and the Spirit coming down like a diving kookaburra and taking hold of him. And a voice filled the air, saying, “You are my Son; the love of my life. You fill me with pride.”

©2001 Nathan Nettleton www.laughingbird.net


Dadirri – A Reflection By Miriam – Rose Ungunmerr- Baumann

NGANGIKURUNGKURR means ‘Deep Water Sounds’. Ngangikurungkurr is the name of
my tribe. The word can be broken up into three parts: Ngangi means word or sound, Kuri means water, and kurr means deep. So the name of my people means ‘the Deep Water Sounds’ or ‘Sounds of the Deep’. This talk is about tapping into that deep spring that is within us.

Many Australians understand that Aboriginal people have a special respect for Nature.
The identity we have with the land is sacred and unique. Many people are beginning to
understand this more. Also there are many Australians who appreciate that Aboriginal
people have a very strong sense of community. All persons matter. All of us belong. And
there are many more Australians now, who understand that we are a people who celebrate together.

What I want to talk about is another special quality of my people. I believe it is the most
important. It is our most unique gift. It is perhaps the greatest gift we can give to our
fellow Australians. In our language this quality is called dadirri. It is inner, deep listening
and quiet, still awareness. Dadirri recognises the deep spring that is inside us. We call on it and it calls to us. This is the gift that Australia is thirsting for. It is something like what you call “contemplation”.

When I experience dadirri, I am made whole again. I can sit on the riverbank or walk
through the trees; even if someone close to me has passed away, I can find my peace in
this silent awareness. There is no need of words. A big part of dadirri is listening.
Through the years, we have listened to our stories. They are told and sung, over and
over, as the seasons go by. Today we still gather around the campfires and together we
hear the sacred stories.

As we grow older, we ourselves become the storytellers. We pass on to the young ones
all they must know. The stories and songs sink quietly into our minds and we hold them
deep inside. In the ceremonies we celebrate the awareness of our lives as sacred.
The contemplative way of dadirri spreads over our whole life. It renews us and brings us
peace. It makes us feel whole again…

In our Aboriginal way, we learnt to listen from our earliest days. We could not live good
and useful lives unless we listened. This was the normal way for us to learn – not by
asking questions. We learnt by watching and listening, waiting and then acting. Our
people have passed on this way of listening for over 40,000 years…
There is no need to reflect too much and to do a lot of thinking. It is just being aware.
My people are not threatened by silence. They are completely at home in it. They have
lived for thousands of years with Nature’s quietness. My people today, recognise and
experience in this quietness, the great Life-Giving Spirit, the Father of us all. It is easy for
me to experience God’s presence. When I am out hunting, when I am in the bush,
among the trees, on a hill or by a billabong; these are the times when I can simply be in
God’s presence. My people have been so aware of Nature. It is natural that we will feel
close to the Creator.

Dr Stanner, the anthropologist who did much of his work among the Daly River tribes,
wrote this: “Aboriginal religion was probably one of the least material minded, and most
life-minded of any of which we have knowledge”…

And now I would like to talk about the other part of dadirri which is the quiet stillness and the waiting. Our Aboriginal culture has taught us to be still and to wait. We do not try to hurry things up. We let them follow their natural course – like the seasons. We watch the moon in each of its phases. We wait for the rain to fill our rivers and water the thirsty earth… When twilight comes, we prepare for the night. At dawn we rise with the sun. We watch the bush foods and wait for them to ripen before we gather them. We wait for our young people as they grow, stage by stage, through their initiation ceremonies. When a relation dies, we wait a long time with the sorrow. We own our grief  and allow it to heal slowly.

We wait for the right time for our ceremonies and our meetings. The right people must
be present. Everything must be done in the proper way. Careful preparations must be
made. We don’t mind waiting, because we want things to be done with care. Sometimes
many hours will be spent on painting the body before an important ceremony.
We don’t like to hurry. There is nothing more important than what we are attending to.
There is nothing more urgent that we must hurry away for.

We wait on God, too. His time is the right time. We wait for him to make his Word clear
to us. We don’t worry. We know that in time and in the spirit of dadirri (that deep listening and quiet stillness) his way will be clear.

We are River people. We cannot hurry the river. We have to move with its current and
understand its ways.

We hope that the people of Australia will wait. Not so much waiting for us – to catch up –
but waiting with us, as we find our pace in this world.

There is much pain and struggle as we wait. The Holy Father understood this patient
struggle when he said to us:
“If you stay closely united, you are like a tree, standing in the middle of a bushfire
sweeping through the timber. The leaves are scorched and the tough bark is scarred
and burnt; but inside the tree the sap is still flowing, and under the ground the roots are
still strong. Like that tree, you have endured the flames, and you still have the power to
be reborn”.

My people are used to the struggle, and the long waiting. We still wait for the white
people to understand us better. We ourselves had to spend many years learning about
the white man’s ways. Some of the learning was forced; but in many cases people tried
hard over a long time, to learn the new ways.

We have learned to speak the white man’s language. We have listened to what he had
to say. This learning and listening should go both ways. We would like people in
Australia to take time to listen to us. We are hoping people will come closer. We keep on
longing for the things that we have always hoped for – respect and understanding…
To be still brings peace – and it brings understanding. When we are really still in the
bush, we concentrate. We are aware of the anthills and the turtles and the water lilies.
Our culture is different. We are asking our fellow Australians to take time to know us; to
be still and to listen to us…

Life is very hard for many of my people. Good and bad things came with the years of
contact – and with the years following. People often absorbed the bad things and not the
good. It was easier to do the bad things than to try a bit harder to achieve what we really
hoped for…

I would like to conclude…by saying again that there are deep springs within each of us.
Within this deep spring, which is the very Spirit of God, is a sound. The sound of Deep
calling to Deep. The sound is the word of God – Jesus.

Today, I am beginning to hear the Gospel at the very level of my identity. I am beginning
to feel the great need we have of Jesus – to protect and strengthen our identity; and to
make us whole and new again.

“The time for re-birth is now,” said the Holy Father to us. Jesus comes to fulfil, not to
destroy.
If our culture is alive and strong and respected, it will grow. It will not die.
And our spirit will not die.
And I believe that the spirit of dadirri that we have to offer will blossom and grow, not just within ourselves, but in our whole nation.

Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann is an artist, a tribal elder and Principal of St
Francis Xavier School, Nauiyu, Daly River, N.T.
© Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann. All Rights Reserved.

Experiencing Dadirri

Clear a little space as often as you can, to simply sit and look at and listen to the earth
and environment that surrounds you.
Focus on something specific, such as a bird, a blade of grass, a clump of soil,
cracked earth, a flower, bush or leaf, a cloud in the sky or a body of water (sea,
river, lake…) whatever you can see. Or just let something find you be it a leaf,
the sound of a bird, the feel of the breeze, the light on a tree trunk. No need to
try. Just wait a while and let something find you, let it spend time with you. Lie
on the earth, the grass, some place. Get to know that little place and let it get to
know you- your warmth, feel your pulse, hear your heart beat, know your
breathing, your spirit. Just relax and be there, enjoying the time together. Simply
be aware of your focus, allowing yourself to be still and silent…, to listen…
Following this quiet time there may be, on occasion, value in giving expression in some
way to the experience of this quiet, still listening. You may wish to talk about the
experience or journal, write poetry, draw, paint or sing…
This needs to be held in balance – the key to Dadirri is in simply being, rather than in outcomes and activity.

It’s also worth looking up Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr’s Stations of the Cross and the Aboriginal Eucharistic Liturgy.

mujerista theology

I am currently reading “Mujerista Theology: A Challenge to Traditional Theology” by Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz and am struck by the way Isasi-Diaz uses Latina words and concepts to describe the theology and methodology of Latina women; the role this plays in identity and belonging of the group and in grounding the words and praxis of Latina theologians in a cultural context.

Here’s an excerpt:

…Lo cotidiano for us is also a way of understanding theology, our attempt to explain how we understand the divine, what we know about the divine. I contrast this to the academic and churchly attempts to see theology as being about God instead of about what we humans know about God. Lo cotidiano makes it possible for us to see our theological knowledge as well as all our knowledge as fragmentary, partisan, conjectural, and provisional.  It is fragmentary because we know that what we will know tomorrow is not the same as what we know today but will stand in relation to what we know today.  What we know is what we have found through our experiences, through the experiences of our communities of struggle. What we know is always partisan, it is always influenced by our own values, prejudices, loyalties, emotions, traditions, dreams, and future projects.  Our knowing is conjectural because to know is not to copy or reflect reality but rather to interpret in a creative way those relations, structures, and processes that are elements of what is called reality. And, finally, lo cotidiano, makes it clear that, for mujerista theology, knowledge is provisional for it indicates in and of itself how transitory our world and we ourselves are.

Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz, Doing Mujerista Theology pp71-72.

 

As a Pakeha/Ngai Tahu woman living as a visitor on the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nations – how do my cultural identity and location within place inform my writing, thinking and theology? And the language that I use to communicate my ideas?

In my experience, most books of theology loaned or recommended to me have come from a predominantly North American or northern hemisphere context. There is a disconnection and displacement in that which feels rarely spoken of or acknowledged, for instance when the symbolism, art and exegesis are located in a different hemisphere but used in ours – an easy example is noting such times like Easter (darkness) and Christmas (cold).

Acknowledging of course, all those women of colour and woke women who are and do use language and cultural context in their theological exegesis, for those who aren’t using ‘local’ language in our theological discernment and writing, what are we offering that is specific to our personal and geographic context?  Is this language lack linked to the disconnection from our cultural tale?

We cannot tell a story we do not know.

How do the ideas of Kaupapa Maori or Mana Wahine, or unresolved Australian identity politics and influences of policies such as Terra Nullius, already influence and inform my thinking, theology and writing in conscious and unconscious ways?

I think there might be an idea that our writing is more professional, academic or more universally relevant if these “personal” elements are left out, but are we still looking to our euro-centric, patriarchal forebears to tell us what to do and how to do it rather than finding God here, on this country, and speaking to that? What are words and ideas we could be drawing on that shape and inform our feminist praxis and writing based out of the Pacific?

Tell me, and show me, what can the South Pacific theology offer to the North?

That is the book I want to read.

Submissions to the Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies call for papers are due tomorrow and the words for the theme play over in my brain, “Power, Authority, Love: Write, Rite, Right”.

I’m not great at drawing but this sketch came to me this morning… my first attempt at icon arrives as an Eve figure with attitude.

She’s not taking any of your crap or blame and she hates it when people say: “I’ve never thought about it like that before” in a condescending tone as if a woman doing theology was as much a marvel, or as clever, as a dog learning to rollover. She is smart, she is strong, she sees right through you and in her deep well of silent appraisal is your sinking self-awareness. Check it – those earring are available from Haus Of Dizzy.

Dr Alana Harris Kings college gender equity in academia

The Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 “to encourage and recognise the commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research” In 2015 the scheme was extended to arts, humanities, social science, business and law (AHSSBL) subjects. Dr Alana Harris and Professor Abigail Woods participated in the bronze accreditation being rolled out at King’s College, London but also headed the project to analyse and assess across an audit of the framework which institutional contexts, working practices and interventions are most conducive to advancing gender equality…  for more information read the report or play a round of Gender Equity Snakes and Ladders.

  • When we looked at lecturing staff the gender ratio of men to women was 60:40 but when you look at professorial level that ratio shifts to 80:20. At the age you might be offered that seniority, women are often caring either for children and/or aging parents.
  • Doing a staff survey in real time gave everyone a voice and ensured they felt heard. Respondents replied more honestly. When you are sitting in a room with your colleagues and x indicate they “don’t feel they are consulted or able to contribute to decision making”, you feel that in the room and its powerful.
  • In an assessment of staff shared working space…  70% of women were sharing and only 7% of men.
  • If you are to apply for the Athena SWAN Bronze Award that work needs to be resourced. Attainment of the first level takes 5 years. It’s a commitment to a process.
  • A cultural shift is not just about women joining in more to existing structures. Change happens with longevity and legacy.  In staff meetings we use a collaborative process of decision making.  This has been habituated into virtue and staff would revolt now if someone tried to take it away.

Is there anything feminist about the framing of this model?

It looks different on the ground everywhere its been applied.  Sometimes women are empowered to lead it and sometimes men encouraged to so it’s not seen as just “a women’s thing”.  When you start looking at systems and structures for parity you very quickly see beyond gender and that informs the process. Eg  in auditing assigned reading lists, how many readings are by women? You can’t help but also ask, how many by people of colour? Creating assessment tools for LGBTIQ inclusion and religious diversity will be next.

 

Anything you would suggest for consideration by the Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies at the University of Divinity?

You are named in the Strategic Plan “To be a centre of excellence in feminist theological scholarship and in mentoring academics so as to challenge and transform patriarchal structures and assumptions in the academy, church, and wider world.”  You need to have impact beyond being UD strategic aim 3.  What impact into other areas of work, institution and structure can be implemented?

Hold events during the day, not evenings. Our event are not held in a pub, moving away from the ‘old boy club’ feel. We host an academics book party once a year at 3pm in the afternoon and cross-read our texts eg. modern history lecturer trades their book with the medieval history teacher.

It seems senior male academics support younger counterparts but senior women don’t? External support scaffolding, if it’s not available within the institution, can be really useful. Ref. Facebook group: ‘Women in Academia Support Network’ or Australian Collaborators page.

What are the vision and mission statements of the UD?  These set the culture of the institution and its frameworks – if these have inclusive language then then culture will be inclusive and staff attracted to that culture be drawn to work for that organisation.  If your work sits outside the scope of these statements you may not be fighting only students to accept new ideas and thinking but other staff.

What do you do with the resistant remnant?

Isolate them. Move them to one side where they can do the least harm. If they’re not able to support or participate in change their means to prevent it needs to be minimised.

You’ll always get people who will say: “There aren’t women to cite. They aren’t there”, if you were taught to a reading list that was all male, the conference speakers you here are male, the professors you look up to are male… we need to be able to interrogate our own networks of influence.

Activist fatigue is real.  You need allianceships. Rather than being  one strident voice… ask someone else to raise it in a meeting and lend your voice to theirs. Need mix gender mentoring and people who will back you up in meetings… and at conferences introduce you to the right people.

If you are looking for increased balance in curriculum and representation… crowd source knowledge from within the network. Aim for 25% female.

Questions to ponder:

  • Would the UD undertake an audit of its course set reading lists? Or undertake the Athena SWAN Bronze accreditation?
  • What does ‘external support scaffolding’ look like? Can/should we provide it?
  • What are the precedents? eg. getting a researcher when you come back from mat leave. Case study for part time work…If something’s offered at another like University/College/ department, you might be able to use that as leverage at yours.
  • In what ways can the Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies stimulate and promote momentum in the areas of feminist and minority voices at the UD?
  • What are the vision and mission statements of the UD?

Our Vision

Together we empower our learning community to address the issues of the contemporary world through critical engagement with Christian theological traditions.

Our Mission

We fulfil our vision through:

  • excellence in learning, teaching, and research;
  • growth of our resources and capacity; and
  • engagement with the churches and community in Australia and internationally.

Vision, Mission, Strategy

Whole worlds

Whole worlds becoming
At the tips of her fingers
Weaving sticks and stories
Into a landscape of happening
For who, what, why…?
She delights in her creation
And Creation delights in her

Talitha Fraser

Salam Fest 2019 Artist Panel: Hanifa Deen award winning author, visual artist Ms Saffaa and Asia Hassan, creative director of ASIYAM clothing.

“A quality you forget about migrants is that you need a heart big enough to love two countries… you cannot choose between two children. We should want people to come here with hearts this big.”

Hanfia Deen

“In 2016, an image I had drawn went viral: I am my own guardian.
I didn’t want it to… I’m an accidental activist.”

Ms Saffaa

“I was visiting a detention centre, it was over Christmas and they had a Santa come in to give out presents as a human gesture. The Santa was calling out children’s numbers not their names and someone said to him, “Use their names” and he replied, “I don’t know them”.

Hanifa Deen

“There are three different kinds of Muslims who live in Australia and research indicates you can roughly break them into these kinds of categories: about a third are orthodox and they pray 5 times daily, another 1/3 fast during Ramadan and go to the mosque occasionally and another third are what we would call Muslims of the heart.”

Hanifa Deen

“I think it’s important to dispel myths about Muslim women.
Just the way that I exist asserts a different way of being Muslim.
There are 1.6 billion ways.”

Ms Safaa

“I started my own fashion label because when I was growing up I felt like my clothing bought me no joy and no particular effort went into making it, so I made my own. A learning was realising that my product is not going to appeal to everyone and it never will. It’s only really for those Muslim woman who dress like I do.”

Asia Hassan

“Muslims are not used to being a minority population
they aren’t in the country that they come from.”

Hanifa Deen

“Identity is not a singular thing but made up of many parts I’m Muslim, Australian, and a woman. We must accept people as individuals.”

Asia Hassan

“Asked where come from, sometimes I play a game with people and tell them “I’m from the desert, guess which one” and they start guessing the names of different countries and I say, “Further south, further… eventually I tell them I grew up near Kalgoorlie.”

 Hanifa Deen

“I know that “I’m a gift to the Earth.”
I’m confident and happy in the room…
I bring my positivity with me and
can share it with others.”

Asia Hassan

“It’s not my job to educate or make people better.
I exist comfortably within myself and
exude goodness in the world.”

Ms Safaa

Any advice?

“Know why and who you are before you go into battle.
Have empathy for others and move on.
Be true to yourself.”

Asia Hassan

“Don’t take permission from anyone.”

Ms Safaa

“Make alliances… you are not alone.”

Hanifa Deen

Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies the state of feminist biblical scholarship 11 May 2018 where are we now?

 

May the Source of All Life nourish us and bind us together,
May the Wisdom of the Holy One enlighten us and enable our sharing,
And may the Courage of Holy Fire inspire is as a network of love and freedom
today and always…

And we the people say: Amen

New Testament Keynotes – Chair: Kylie Crabbe


Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies the state of feminist biblical scholarship 11 May 2018 where are we now? Mark 7 greek NRSV literal

Clean and Unclean: Multiple Readings of Mark 7:24-30/31 – Dorothy Lee

 

1. MISSIONAL READING

  • Gentile mission
  • Priority of Israel
  • Postcolonialism
  • Inclusion

 

2. PEDAGOGICAL READING

  • who is teacher?
  • woman as teacher, Jesus as student
  • peirastic iroy
  • Jesus and woman as co-teachers

 

3. PARADIGMATIC READING

  • discipleship
  • spirituality
  • courage
  • women and outsiders
  • communtiy of faith
  • clean and unclean

 

4. CHRISTOLOGICAL READING

  • God and suppliant
  • Identity of Markan Jesus
  • subversive authority
  • shame and suffering
  • divine guardian and protector
  • Eucharist

 

CONCLUSION

These four ways of reading the text overlap and invite us to take the story seriously. especially in our thinking around inclusive table, diversity, cleansing and expanding borders.

‘The text is not out to get me.
There’s a radical inversion of power.
I’m not trying to rescue Jesus or the woman –
but see them through Mark’s eyes.
Dorothy Lee

 

 

Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies the state of feminist biblical scholarship 11 May 2018 where are we now? Adela Yarbro Collins

The Leadership of Women in Early Christianity – Adela Yarbro Collins

Referencing mention of females in literature and inscriptions it is evident women have held positions of leadership since the very earliest days of Christianity: House churches (leadership, hosting), Apostles (commissioned by risen Christ or local community), Episkopoi (head of house churches, financial and administrative organisers), Diakonoi (messengers, envoys, mouthpieces, delegates), Presbuteroi (elders, presenters and priests)…

‘Evidence is so rare…
but indicates there would have been more’

‘Women in the early church ministered in a variety of functions, including as apostles. The literature and inscriptions only serve as evidence of what they were trying to suppress. Female leadership was approved of and recognised by both male leaders and those communities whom they served’

‘It would be great to see the Catholic church restore women to the diaconate and then to priestliness… I don’t think I’ll see that in my lifetime but I’m willing to be surprised.’

– Adela Yarbro Collins

 

 

Three short papers – Chair: Stephen Burns


Desolate, devastated, redeemed, restored: Feminist visions of Daughter Zion reframed in Deutero-Isaiah and the conversation around domestic violence in Australia today – Angela Sawyer

Key passages: Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies the state of feminist biblical scholarship 11 May 2018 where are we now? zion domestic violence in Australia

  • Isaiah 49:14-26; 50:1-3; 51:17-52:6; and 54
  • Zion’s personification – what is her identity? her role?
  • Dealing with metaphors
  • Zion, violence and trauma theories

Responses:

  • raising the profile of a poetic character such as Zion
  • Zion’s voice and Zion’s silence
  • Cognitive approaches to metaphor theory, trauma theories and biblical studies
  • the benefit of this combination when reading with those in contexts of violence and trauma
  • Contextual Bible Study, creativity of expression – Zion’s metaphorical image can offer something to women experiencing domestic violence in Australia.

‘We need to reappraise texts of violence.
When we “make nice” these texts. We “make nice” the issues’
[domestic violence]

‘There is distorted and false teaching speaking to issues of family violence, male authority, divorce… we need biblical criticism not literalism to reinterpret, reframe or reject these passages.’

– Angela Sawyer

 

Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies the state of feminist biblical scholarship 11 May 2018 where are we now?

Are You Shaved? A Hermeneutic of Hair Removal – Caroline Alsen

“equality feminism”, “radical (justice) feminism”, “biblical feminism”…

‘The Bible might offer answers to questions
but it’s not a women’s liberation document’
– Caroline Alsen

 

  • engaging critique of asymmetric power structures
  • move from authority to function
  • awareness, not author-ity
  • key to power = key to feminist reading

Bible talks a lot about piercing, circumcision, purification rituals… and the idea that when you lose hair you lose strength. Enemies were shaved to feminise and shame them (2 Samuel 10:4) … also ritual liminality, social humility for priests, Israel elite male gaze.

For Egyptians and Assyrians shaving was normal – when Joseph decides to shave is it an imperative of Israelite survival? assimilation? participating in the colonising? being “civilised”?

Father (Jacob) and son (Joseph) alter their hair at moments of transition of power but at the same time are feminising their Israelite identity.

 

Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies the state of feminist biblical scholarship 11 May 2018 where are we now? Tamar Rachelle Gilmour

“But he would not listen to her”: Revisiting the story of Tamar in 2 Samuel 13 – Rachelle Gilmour

Does Absolom kill Amnon as revenge for the rape of Tamar or for his own ends?

The rape of Tamar is an act against David, challenging his position as King. Absolom kills Amnon for the threat to his father and protection of his inheritance and to assert his masculinity (strength). Absolom is presented as hero and avenger but is really serving his own ends.  Tamar is silenced and has no comforter.

Parallels between 2 Samuel 13 and the concubines of 2 Samuel 16 are broken by God intervention in the latter.  But God’s intervention comes too late for Tamar or the concubines. Is God listening to Tamar? In these passages whose voice do we hear? Who is voiceless? Who has a voice but is silenced?

‘Rape is more to do with men’s power over other men
than men’s power over women’
[if the husband or father were “strong” it wouldn’t happen]

‘It’s our role to critique society then and now’

– Rachelle Gilmour

Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies the state of feminist biblical scholarship 11 May 2018 where are we now?We sit in silence – holding space for brief moments to acknowledge all the complexity arising from these topics and texts…

 

Old Testament Keynotes – Chair: Katharine Massam


Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies the state of feminist biblical scholarship 11 May 2018 where are we now? Gerald West

Rape, Royal Power and Resistance in 2 Samuel: Intersecting gender and class in biblical text and South African context – Gerald West

African feminist women’s theologies ‘struggle’ to emerge fro within African ‘father’ theologies: African Theology, Ujamaa Theology, SOuth African Black Theology, South African Contextual Theology.

Culture, Economics and Race are the core systems of these African liberation theologies (it’s difficult to get gender in as a point of intersectionality).

African Feminist/Women’s Theology adds ‘Patriarchy’ as a core and intersecting system.

African women tracking intersections… between gender and economics (Makhosazana Nzimande and Musa Dube)

Letters Longing for Intersection

  • From Bathsheba to her grandfather Ahithophel
  • From Tamar to Ahithophel
  • From the Pilegeshim (wives of David) to Ahithophel
  • Graffiti on the wall of Jerusalem

David has taken,
Amnon has taken,
Absolom has taken,
Ahithophel was taken…
your daughters!
Vuka!

The narrative builds tension, waiting for Ahithophel to speak.

“What shall we do?”
“Rape your father’s wives.”

Locating Ahithophel socio-historically and narratively and looking at the advice he offers what can we understand of his motivations and intentions? There are intersecting injustices… are there intersecting resistances?

Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies the state of feminist biblical scholarship 11 May 2018 where are we now? Jione Havea

Terror of texts: Talanoa on three letters around Numbers 27:1-11 and 36:1-12 – Jione Havea

 

“If we save the planet and have a society of inequality,
we wouldn’t have saved much” – James H. Cone

Talanoa – story, telling, conversation

LETTER ONE

Somewhere at the meeting place of the Kulin nations:

Wurundjeri
Boonwurrung
Taungurong
Dja dua Wurrung
Wathurung

May 04, 2018
Just passed midnight

Dear Ana Loiloi…

A story is told of five named sisters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah.

They raise 6 things and the Lord answers… 1.

Talanoa has the capacity to create history and truth.
Talanoa ridicules the private-public divide.

 

LETTER TWO

Dear Sela Kakala…

We hear your name and we remember you. I’m wandering and wondering tonight how your children lives will be different without you.

Where is the mother of these 5 sisters? Their mother is nowhere in their story.

  • do they share the same Mum?
  • would the story be different if she was alive?
  • are they making this claim for their rights at their mothers’ urging?

We give her a name.  That name is: Kulin.
We resist by reclaiming her, giving her a name, and putting her back into the story.

Talanoa is not about telling everything

  • talanoa is particular
  • talanoa is partial
  • talanoa holds back

 

LETTER THREE

Dear Diya Lakai…

If the sisters are married into mother Israelite tribe, then their inheritance will go with them.  Moses adjusts the rules so that the sisters must marry one of their own tribe, keeping the wealth within their tribe.

  1. See, judge, act for yourself and your company
  2. Resistance is good. Find company. Solidarity is empowering.
  3. Challenge the written [laws].  Don’t limit yourself to those causes which affect only humans.  See islands lost. Grieve. Try and save others.
  4. Beware of materiality.  Read Maya Angelou’s ‘Still I Rise
  5. Find more mother’s for Kulin’s daughters.
  6. Marry who you want when you grow up. See, judge, act for yourself. Live beyond the shadows of your father.

P.s. read your Bible carefully.

“I like letters – you can tear, hold, keep, read, share them…
but they can be a resistance too.”

– Monica Melanchthon

“Reading texts and doing bible study with marginalised
people brings their voice, that of ordinary women,
and brings them to the conference.
We need to run bible study that
ordinary people can access.”

– Gerald West

Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies the state of feminist biblical scholarship 11 May 2018 where are we now? candle and pine table pieces

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
9.30am–5.00pm

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

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

Bookings:
www.trybooking.com/366028

 

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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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