Leaning In to Greatness

Barack Obama follows this month a course his presidential predecessors walked, the path originating with JFK, by awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to several noteworthy individuals. These women and men contribute(d) to the American legacy by dedicating themselves to living out the proposition that all women and men are created equal. There are several women on the recipients list this year:

imagesOprah Winfrey
Sally Ride (astronaut)
Loretta Lynn (country music singer)
Maria Molina (Nobel Peace Prize winning chemist)
Patricia Wald (judge)
and the one for whom I hold most anticipation | excitement | celebration:
Gloria Steinem7652011044_6cc07d1046_n

This recognition traces back to the idea that God and God’s people will not be mocked, not by history or oppression or the lie that women and men are not created equal. (Here are those thoughts.) As women continue to shatter wide the glass ceiling, for which Steinem and Freidan and so many others liberally and radically revealed, we younger women are more equipped to follow Sheryl Sandberg’s lead and lean in to the conversation. It is a conversation and business tactic that defies gender norms. Who would have thought that literally shifting our bodies forward while at the board room table empowers us women to pursue our ambitions with great confidence while demanding of our colleagues greater respect and equality? (You can join the facebook group here.) 14421v9-max-250x250The rapid, wildfire growth of this movement, sparked by Sandberg’s book, testifies to our ongoing glass-pulverizing, compassion-building, strong yet tender, feminine approaches to leadership and just how much this is making the world a better place for all of humanity. The ash that wisps through the air from this electric, feminist firestorm reminds us that our work for equality is not yet complete but totally worth celebrating.

This post is keeping it simple! The Women’s Center leans in to the celebration, rejoicing alongside the White House with those who will be recognized for their bravery and achievements. Way to go Women! Thank you for passing on to us, once again, the torch of God’s freedom.


Water – a Women’s Issue

Many women around the world spend hours each day getting water

“Human issues are women’s issues, and women’s issues are human issues.” In the mail today came another reminder of the truth of this motto: “Women, Water and Violence,” the fourth week of the Ecumenical Water Network’s series of information, resources and meditations for Lent focusing on the connections between water, conflict, and peace with justice around the globe.

“Women, Water and Violence” reminds us that fetching water is women’s, and girls’, work.

It’s a lot of work. (The Water Page estimates an average S. African household needs two trips of water at 2 km/trip for a total of 4 km/walk and 2 hours of total time daily.) Girls fortunate enough to go to school have to fit their studies in after their water-fetching chores are done.

Moreover, violence sometimes goes with the territory. Women and girls fetching water are targets for sexual harassment or rape. Water can also become a prop in situations of domestic violence, as a pretext or a mechanism for exerting power and control.

Water – a basic human need – and a women’s issue.

“Human issues are women’s issues, and women’s issues are human issues.”

The “Women, Water and Violence” site includes a video, informational resources, a meditation on the connection of these water issues to scripture, and suggestions for action.

On Preventing Domestic Violence

Mending the World - Margaret Hopper Taylor Seminars Challenging Domestic Violence

Who might enjoy and benefit from the first in a series of seminars challenging domestic violence being offered in the Women’s Center on Saturday?

Perhaps, anyone who wants to be part of ending and preventing domestic violence. In this interactive seminar, “Gender Respect: New Directions in Preventing Domestic Violence”, led by Rus Funk will address some of the path-breaking work he and Menswork are doing to build positive self-image and modes of interaction with adolescent males, and make the connection between this work and the prevention of domestic violence explicit. The seminar takes place

Saturday, March 12
9 – 12
in the Women’s Center
lunch follows the seminar



Women on Women of Antiquity

A few good books on the subject . . .

A Short and Eclectic Bibliography of Works by Women on Women in Christian Antiquity

Elizabeth Ann Clark, Women in the Early Church (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1983)

Susan Ashbrook Harvey and Sebastian P. Brock, Holy Women of the Syrian Orient (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1987)

Deborah F. Sawyer, Women and Religion in the First Christian Centuries (Routledge: 1996)

Lynda L. Coon, Sacred Fictions: Holy Women and Hagiography in Late Antiquity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997)

    the lives of the early sainted women are of tremendous rhetorical interest, which qualifies the way they may be read as historical sources – but which tells us a great deal about the way the world is being depicted from the perspective of the hagiographers — and their pupils (in some cases, us).

Ross Shepard Kraemer and Mary Rose D’Angelo, eds, Women and Christian Origins (Oxford University Press, 1999)

Ute E. Eisen, Women Officeholders in Early Christianity: Epigraphical and Literary Studies, (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2000)

    using an archaeological method, reconstructs the often suppressed or contended history of women officeholders in the early church, concluding that women did hold and exercise a wide range of offices.

Jennifer A. Glancy, Slavery in Early Christianity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002)

    Glancy pays special attention to gender and the treatment of the body, metaphorically and practically, in the practices and rhetoric around slavery in early Christianity

Gay L. Byron, Symbolic Blackness and Ethnic Difference in Early Christian Literature (Routledge, 2002)

    Katie Geneva Cannon lecturer Gay L. Byron finds intersections of gender and sexuality in her investigation of the rhetorical use of race and color thematics in early Christian literature.

Joan E. Taylor, Jewish Women Philosophers of First-Century Alexandria: Philo’s ‘Therapeutae’ Reconsidered (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003)

    offers new arguments on the significance of this educated group and their relationship to the Alexandrian school of textual interpretation.

Patricia Cox Miller, Women in early Christianity: translations from Greek texts (Catholic University of America Press, 2005)

    A comprehensive selection of primary sources in translation, edited by Patricia Cox Miller,
    whose other work focuses on imagination in the ancient world. (See e.g., Dreams in Late Antiquity: Studies in the Imagination of a Culture and The Corporeal Imagination: Signifying the Holy in Late Antiquity)

Lynn Cohick, Women in the World of the Earliest Christians: Illuminating Ancient Ways of Life (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009)

    argues that status as much as gender shaped the daily realities of 1st century women’s lives. Cohick notes that this ought not to astonish us; see, e.g., her response to remarks by Albert Mohler at her.meneutics

Gail Corrington Streete, Redeemed Bodies: Women Martyrs in Early Christianity (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009)

    examines the responses to martyrdom, in the context of early Christianity, with reflections on the meaning of martyrdom and its intersection with gender and family, in contemporary US culture.

Virginia Burrus, ed. Late Ancient Christianity (Grand Rapids: Augsburg, 2010)

    a look at everyday life in late antiquity, edited by a scholar whose own work includes The Making of a Heretic: Gender, Authority, and the Priscillianist Controversy, The Sex Lives of Saints: An Erotics of Ancient Hagiography, Saving Shame: Martyrs, Saints, and Other Abject Subjects, and a collaboration on Augustine with Mark D. Jordan and Karmen McKendrick, Seducing Augustine: Bodies, Desires, Confessions

Happy Women’s History Month reading, everyone!

In Memoriam – A. David Bos

from Rev. Dr. Johanna van Wijk Bos

In Memoriam
A.David Bos – February 15, 1935-February 12, 2011

David was born before the outbreak of the Second World War, at the tail-end of the depression, in Holland, Michigan, at the time a homogenous town, settled by Dutch dissidents in the middle of the 19th century. He went on from Holland High School to attend Harvard College and subsequently Union Seminary in New York. As a Presbyterian minister in the town of Olean, New York, he was awarded a Fulbright scholarship, which he spent in The Netherlands at Leiden University where I was preparing for an advanced degree in theology. We met there and married in the Pieterskerk in Leiden in 1966. This coming year would have marked our 45th wedding anniversary.

David was raised in a household fairly typical for the time, with his parents filling traditional roles of breadwinner and homemaker. Yet, from the beginning of our acquaintance, David was a major cheerleader and booster of my studies and eventual career. When my world was turned upside down by Mary Daly and other feminist thinkers of the seventies, he was right there alongside me, often ahead of me in identifying and critiquing the patriarchal nature of the structures in which we live and work, in secular and religious contexts. When eventually the Women’s Center came into existence at the Seminary, his interest in and support for our activities was enthusiastic and unflagging. He was present at all our major events, did not miss a single one of the Katie Geneva Cannon Lectures, furnished financial backing for our fundraising dinners, marched with us during the Louisville AIDS walk, and rejoiced with us when we acquired new space on the campus. While he was engaged in a number of movements for social change, among them housing and health care for all, gender equity was always in his sights as a part of our structures that is in crucial need of change. He helped me to understand heterosexism and homophobia as part and parcel of the patriarchal mores and standards that rule our world and our religion.

His death entails a loss for the movement toward single payer healthcare, for our family and my household, and also for the Women’s Center. I have established a memorial fund in David’s memory at the Seminary, to be administered through the agency of the Women’s Center. In the coming months we shall determine the specific use to which we will put the fund. As we celebrate Women’s History month, I lift up and celebrate the enormous significance of this man in my personal life, a life partner without whom I would not have been able to see any of my undertakings to their end.

Gender Respect and Preventing Domestic Violence – Seminar March 12

Mending the World - Margaret Hopper Taylor Seminars Challenging Domestic Violence

The Women’s Center is looking forward to an exciting installment in “Mending the World: The Margaret Hopper Taylor Seminars Challenging Domestic Violence”

“Gender Respect: New Directions in Preventing Domestic Violence”

Saturday, March 12
9 a.m. – 12
in the Women’s Center at LPTS
lunch follows the seminar
$12 covers registration, materials, and lunch


Rus Funk, MSW, founder and director of Menswork, Inc., leads this interactive seminar that will focus on the ways positive models of masculinity can contribute to the prevention of domestic violence, and introduces participants to the concept of gender respect, and examines the challenges and possibilities in cultivating gender respect with young men.

The series of seminars “Mending the World: The Margaret Hopper Taylor Seminars Challenging Domestic Violence,” honors long-time activist and friend of the Women’s Center Margaret Hopper Taylor. It is made possible by a portion of a generous grant to the Women’s Center in honor of Margaret Hopper Taylor by the Rev. Arch Taylor.


The Art of Presence Begins

The Art of Presence J-Term 2011Today is the day!

The day for the unveiling of “The Art of Presence: The Text, Theatre, and Theology,” that is, a long-awaited J-term course being taught by Rev. Cheryl Goodman-Morris, Women’s Center J-Term Artist-in-Residence, and Rev. Dr. Johanna Bos, Dora Pierce Professor of Bible and Professor of Old Testament and Women’s Center Faculty and Financial Liaison. The course begins this morning at 9:00 a.m. in Hundley Hall, Gardencourt.

We are particularly happy to welcome Rev. Cheryl Goodman-Morris to campus as this year’s Artist-in-Residence. Goodman-Morris is a distinguished alum of Louisville Seminary (M.Div. ’77 ), a nationally recognized playwrite (“Puah’s Midwife Crisis”), founder and Artistic Director of the Portola Valley Theatre Conservancy, and Minister of Worship and Arts at Valley Presbyterian Church in Portola Valley, California. We are fortunate to have the benefit of Goodman-Morris’s experience and knowledge of theatre and its resonances with textual interpretation and liturgical practice.

We look forward to this term’s exploration of the connections between textuality, interpretation, performance, and the various forms of inhabiting and coming to achieve familiarity with the scriptural text.

The themes addressed in The Art of Presence highlight the mission of the Artist-in-Residence program, which was conceived as a way to celebrate and cultivate “alternative intelligences,” adding to a curriculum that leans heavily on the linear, left-brain, analytical models that prevail in the academy. We are convinced that God’s intention for creation and humanity is diversity, and we observe that the wealth of diversity in our world is a gift we often fail to unwrap and take delight in. The aim of the Artist-in-Residence program is to encourage its participants to embrace that diversity through the medium of the arts, explore the novel insights a different approach to learning makes available, and then share those insights with the community in a relevant way. This year, that sharing will take the form of a final public theatrical performance, Friday, January 21, 8:00 p.m., in Hundley Hall, Gardencourt.

We wish the students and teachers of the Art of Presence well, and look forward to seeing and hearing the fruits of their exploration later this month!

In the meantime, members of the Seminary community are cordially invited to welcome Rev. Cheryl Goodman-Morris to campus at an informal reception in the Women’s Center, Friday, January 14, 4:00 p.m. We look forward to seeing many of our friends and neighbors there, and to sharing a pleasant time with our Artist-in-Residence.