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.

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Open Doors

It does not take a Ph.D. in public media to see that women have been at the forefront in our news and politics. (Let’s go ahead a give a giant shout-out to Wendy Davis!) Sen-Wendy-Davis-filibusterAside from the government attempting to (re)take control of the female body through draconian legislation and fear-mongering, not the least of which stems from ignorance and a lust for power, a phenomenal and well-orchestrated event transpired this past weekend. The FBI succeeded in their largest nation-wide bust on the sex-trafficking industry here in the US. Over one hundred individuals were freed from the tyranny of their pimps and trading routines with even more arrests made to secure the freedom of the innocent. The majority of those rescued were women, the youngest only 13. Unfortunately in this case, good news does not make the bad more palatable. Like the ubiquity of the sex-trade for one instance.

I preached a sermon this past week from the lectionary passage Luke 11:1-13. The “Parable of the Persistent Neighbor” is a quirky little pericope exploring the idea of charity and compassion. The protagonist needs a loaf of bread to entertain some unexpected guests. Unfortunately, he called upon his neighbor at midnight for the favor of sharing his bread. Inconvenienced by the late-night call the benefactor eventually shares of his resources–not because they are friends, but because the guy was so persistent in his asking. He was not going to leave until he got what he needed! The crux of the story comes when Jesus says that God is not the curmudgeon neighbor trying to cover his head with the pillow when our middle of the night door knocking won’t cease. Seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened. God is eager to share the gifts and goods that make for abundant living.

Except when we are still lost and the door is locked, right?

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Are women across the globe not knocking loud enough? Have we not been knocking all night, so to speak? How dare our governments turn a deaf ear to our knocks. (Let’s give another shout out to Wendy Davis, our s-heroic persistent neighbor!) And what of the governments around the world who leave their female populations even more lost and wandering than America does?

God is a communal God. Jesus lived in community and spent his life compelling others to care about those who are left out in the cold night after night seeking food/security/shelter/equality/justice. God acts through God’s community of people. God continually shapes us into God’s fuller intentions for us. This means that we get to help God respond to those persistent and pesky knocks. The great doors of freedom and justice do not magically open on their own accord, especially with the winds of patriarchy and dominance bellowing to keep them shut! This means we have to react against the thrusts of looming legislation, entitled power-hungry, politically savvy men, and rise up ourselves in the middle of the darkness to usher in those whose rights are compromised.

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The Women’s Center operates with an open door policy. (Well, not literally 24/7; I like to sleep in my own bed at night.) As we are formulating and growing our calendar of events for the coming academic year, we seek to be in partnership with the God who says, “Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened.” We long to see this promised reality now. We also seek to participate with other women and organizations in Louisville who are also about the business of sharing our resources with those who have need. Will you partner with us?

A few events for you to anticipate this Fall:
October 10th  Celebrating National Coming Out Day (10/11) in Chapel
October 13th Louisville AIDS Walk
November 17th  Transgender Awareness Memorial Service in Caldwell Chapel

Events TBA:
> A film showing of “Pink Smoke Over the Vatican” followed by a conversation with two women seeking ordination in the Catholic Women Priest Movement.
> Our Light + Lunches with special guests from the community

Finally, William Sloane Coffin, former senior minister of The Riverside Church in NYC and rhetorical genius extraordinaire prophetically claimed in a sermon about the subjugation of women during the 19th and 20th centuries that God will not be mocked. (Published in this book.) How so? Sloane Coffin instructs us to remember early suffragists. These women who were martyred for their work and who are today celebrated, emulated, and revered. They are in our history books, their work having paved the way for many of the liberties we to which we are privy. We have erected statues in their honor, in some cases in the very cities that outlawed and murdered them. 01302012_AP070523074824_600Women like Anne Hutchinson, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojouner Truth (just to name a few of the big ones) along with more contemporary names like Katie Geneva Cannon, Emilie Townes, Sheryl WuDunn, Hillary Clinton and now Wendy Davis inspire and remind us to run with God to open wide the doors of oppression and truth.

What will our great-grandchildren celebrate in a few years because we kept our doors open with God today? Indeed when one who seeks is found and one who knocks is let in, God’s justice prevails. God will not be mocked!

“A Woman’s Voice” Resounds

Interfaith Conference A Woman's Voice Brochure

A Woman's Voice inspires!


What a weekend it’s been! The events of the Interfaith Conference “A Woman’s Voice,” which enveloped the Fifth Annual Katie Geneva Cannon Lecture, proved even more richly enjoyable and memorable than we had anticipated. Lunch on Sunday, which we expected to be informal (yes, it was) and “nothing special” (it was not!) turned out to be a delightful swirl of reunions and first meetings, animated conversation and anticipation. The opening ritual, “Dancing on Common Ground,” which we expected to be animated and moving, was also serendipitously interactive and celebratory. Suendam Birinci’s first plenary session presentation, “Places of Authority for Women in the Muslim Context–Shared Perspectives” was eye-opening and thought-provoking. Dr. Gay L. Byron’s lecture “Teaching Empires, Interpreting Texts, Redefining Authority” opened up a glimpse of multiple worlds: the neglected world of the ancient Axumite Empire, the newly-dawning world of critical womanist literary studies, in which Dr. Byron is a pioneer and to which she is an inspiring contributor, and the world of engaged scholarship, a planet whose air is always bracing.

Monday brought further ritual challenges as we contemplated and enacted “Reaching Across the Boundaries–Accepting and Respecting Difference.” We heard from Dr. Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer on “Places of Authority for Women in the Jewish Context” with fascinated delight. We were able to see the many and complex ways that the histories and texts of the three religious traditions represented at this conference — Muslim, Christian, and Jewish — form patterns of distinctions and similarities that led us to new insights about our own religious traditions and commitments, as well as deeper understanding of our neighbors’. By midday on Monday, it was difficult to pull people out of the enthusiastic conversations that were forming in the morning’s workshops, to reconfigure and renew those conversations with a shifting cast of participants.

When we finally gathered around the table of the closing ritual, shared some bread and fruit, and heard Dr. Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer recited a poem* in blessing over the group that was able to delay their departures to places near and far that long, we knew that we had, indeed, been vouchsafed a sojourn in “holy space and time.” Like all such sojourns, this one has left us both elated and a little exhausted — in that good way that means gathering the lessons and renewing the energies spent for the next push at the work that remains.

[It would be wrong to say it was “a mountaintop experience” — that metaphor is overused, and in this case it would be imprecise. This conference might be better described as “a shoreline experience.” That is, it brought us together at a place where we could look out at a distant horizon together, and practice pointing out to one another what we see, based on our different, but related, skills and practices of discerning possible, hoped-for, and worked-for worlds. Like all such moments of standing, right around dawn perhaps, at a place where we can begin to catch sight of the wideness of the forces at work, in their multi-hued wildness and deep beauty, it was breathtaking, and rejuvenating.]

Many and deep thanks are due to all the people, in many roles and capacities, who made the occasion of hearing “A Woman’s Voice” the marvel it was. In particular, students and alums of Louisville Seminary brought a treasure-trove of gifts to the planning and presentation of this conference. These, along with the grace and good cheer with which they came, demonstrated that these remarkable women, along with their much appreciated male allies, have riches to contribute to the church and the world. We are blessed to be able to call them our friends.

Pictures from the lecture on Sunday night are online.

*“To Be of Use,” by Marge Piercy

Eagerly Awaiting the Conference

Dr. Gay Byron, Suendam Birinci, and Dr. Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer will speak at the Fifth Annual Katie Geneva Cannon Lecture and Interfaith Conference A Woman's Voice

Dr. Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer shared the following link with us this morning http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nancy-fuchs-kreimer/park51-should-not-be-comp_b_690452.html; she warned us that it is “not on the issue of women, but it speaks directly to the Interfaith context of our gathering and is of topical interest.” It is indeed of topical interest — the topic of the increasingly nationalized and politicized question of the Park51 Islamic center planned near Ground Zero in New York. Her quiet words of wisdom remind us of the many, deep reasons an interfaith conference matters.

Dr. Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer will participate as presenter and workshop leader in the Fifth Annual Katie Geneva Cannon Lecture and Interfaith Conference “A Woman’s Voice,” Sunday, 9/12 and Monday, 9/13. We are looking forward to seeing many readers, friends, and neighbors there.

Interfaith Conference A Woman's Voice Brochure

Register now through 9/7/10

Delay Thou Not!

Online registration for this unique conference is still open — but the caterers are drumming their fingers to know how many will be joining us for the opening lunch and the dinner reception preceding the lecture. We would LOVE to hear from everyone before next Wednesday!

[Click the link below for more information about the conference, and access to online registration.]

Interfaith Conference A Woman's Voice Brochure

Fifth Annual Katie Geneva Cannon Lecture and Interfaith Conference 'A Woman's Voice' September 12 - 13, 2010

Register Now for “A Woman’s Voice”

Online registration is available now for the Fifth Annual Katie Geneva Cannon Lecture and Interfaith Conference “A Woman’s Voice.” Details and access to the registration site are available by clicking the brochure below:

Interfaith Conference A Woman's Voice Brochure

Fifth Annual Katie Geneva Cannon Lecture and Interfaith Conference 'A Woman's Voice' September 12 - 13, 2010

In Our Mail

Some e-mails are long overdue for a response

A couple of items of potential interest to Wimminwise readers surfaced in a sweep through the editor’s knee-deep e-mail. They are:

The July edition of the newsletter from our friends at the Holy Wisdom Monastery in Madison, Wisconsin. The monastery has recently received prestigious Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum certification, which is wonderful news for them, for the prairie they nurture, and for the globe their commitment encourages us to protect. Sadly, however, we will have to miss the showing of the awards ceremony on Sunday, September 12, as we will be in the midst of the Fifth Annual Katie Geneva Cannon Lecture and Interfaith Conference “A Woman’s Voice.”

An outspoken comment on under-representation of women on the UN’s Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Group by Jodi Jacobson, of RH Reality Check.