Events of the Day!

Dr. Claudia Fegan

We hope many will take the opportunity to hear from Dr. Claudia Fegan, Associate Chief Medical Officer of the Ambulatory and Community Health Network, of the Cook County Bureau of Health Services, co-author of “Universal Healthcare: What the United States Can Learn from Canada” (The New Press, 1999), a member of Physicians for a National Health Program, and a recognized expert on national health policy. Dr. Fegan speaks today, at 12:15, in the McAtee Dining Rooms, on the needs and possibilities for health care delivery in the United States. She is brought to the LPTS campus by the Hazardous Health Care group at LPTS. Dr. Fegan will be speaking tomorrow, Saturday, January 15, at the Louisville Urban League, 3:00-5:00 p.m., to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose advocacy of justice in the area of health care should perhaps come as no surprise to us.

an informal celebration

This afternoon, members of the Seminary community are cordially invited to a reception celebrating Rev. Cheryl Goodman-Morris, the Women’s Center 2011 Artist-in-Residence. Rev. Goodman-Morris is co-teaching the J-term course The Art of Presence: the Text, Theology, and Theatre. Please join us in the Women’s Center at 4:00 p.m. to welcome Cheryl to campus, and to share in refreshment, conversation, and celebration!


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.

On the January Calendar

image of auspicious dates in Chinese calendrical format

Mark your calendar with Auspicious Dates

Here is what the Women’s Center has on its calendar for January, 2011:

January 10 we welcome Rev. Cheryl Goodman-Morris as the 2011 Women’s Center Artist-in-Residence with the commencement of the J-Term course The Art of Presence: The Text, Theology and Theatre at 9:00 a.m. in Hundley Hall. The course, which will be co-taught by Rev. Dr. Johanna Bos, focuses on the profound connections between textual and performative practice. The course runs through January 21.

January 14 we join the Hazardous Healthcare task force of LPTS in welcoming Dr. Claudia Fegan to campus. Dr. Fegan, Associate Chief Medical Officer for the Ambulatory and Community Health Network for the Cook County Bureau of Health Services, and a past president of Physicians for a National Health Program, speaks at 12:15 in McAtee Dining Rooms A&B on the diagnosis and prognosis for the contemporary US healthcare environment.

Also January 14, members of the Seminary community are cordially invited to a reception welcoming Rev. Cheryl Goodman-Morris, Women’s Center 2011 Artist-in-Residence, at 5:00 p.m. in the Women’s Center.

January 15 we will be attending a talk by Dr. Claudia Fegan celebrating the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 3-5 p.m., Urban League, 1535 W. Broadway, Louisville; her talk is sponsored by Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care and Physicians for National Health Care – Kentucky

January 19, Theatre of the Oppressed, presented by the WENCH Selfcare Education Collective and facilitated by Lindsay Gargotto, is part of a series of Louisville events commemorating the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, which ruled the denial of safe, legal abortion options to women unconstitutional. 6-8 p.m., McAtee Dining Rooms A&B.

January 21 we look forward to a public theatre performance which concludes The Art of Presence, 8 p.m., Gardencourt (Hundley Hall).

We look forward to seeing many friends and supporters at these events!

Fall Arts And Crafts Sale

Fall Arts & Crafts Sale coming Dec. 10

Yes, the Women’s Center’s Annual Fall Arts and Crafts Sale is just around the corner!

There is still time to bring your hand-crafted or otherwise unique items for sale to the Women’s Center; we will be having extended hours this week to accommodate our beloved donors! (More details are in the sidebar.)

We look forward to seeing everyone in the Winn Center Lounge Friday, December 10, starting at 9:00 a.m.

All proceeds from the sale benefit the Women’s Center’s ongoing programs.

The Women’s Center can use lots of help in setting up for the sale on Thursday, Dec. 9, and in cleaning up from the sale on Friday afternoon, Dec. 10. To make that offer more enticing, we will be having a warm and delicious post-sale event back in the Women’s Center for helpers, once the [no doubt FEW] unsold items are brought back to the Center after 2:30 p.m. on Friday. We look forward to seeing many of you there!

V is for Va-Voom!

People came, saw, . . . concurred!

People came, saw, . . . concurred!

The events of V-Week frankly overwhelmed us here at the Women’s Center — but in a wonderful way! And not least with the climax (if you will) of the week, with Friday’s performance of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues.

We were completely taken by surprise at the demand for tickets. We had to shut down online sales by Wednesday, for fear of double bookings, and were apologetically telling people we would be selling standing room long before the end of the week. (Our apologies to everyone who turned away in discouragement! Next time we’ll plan more performances.)

As it turned out, we were able to squeeze in everyone who turned out for the packed-house performance, and what a performance it was! Thanks go to the talented cast of students and faculty, and to our incomparable director Christine Coy-Fohr, who along with the talents of art director aaron guldenschuh, lighting director Daniel Stillwell, and sound director Sonja Williams created a visually rich backdrop for the varied tones and voices that narrated Ensler’s sampling of women’s experiences around sexuality, embodiment, relationship, and wonder, as well as experiences of violence.

Over the course of the next few days or so, we hope to sort out some of the highlights and insights of the week. For now, however, this first observation: that the narratives of women’s experiences around sexuality, embodiment, relationship, and wonder constitute a context for the narratives of experiences of violence.

As we know from exegesis class, context matters. Without it, the pericope floats, excised, in an abstract space of intellectual consideration, apart from the body of the text in which its fuller meaning becomes apparent.

People often consider “violence against women” in this decontextualized and recontextualized way — as something that shows up on a list (e.g., of “women’s issues” or “contemporary problems”) of things to think about or donate money to, as something “we’re against, obviously,” as something with its own awareness day and ribbon color and “focus on” Sunday. The sitz im leben of violence against women is not (or not only) the shelter, the flourescent agency lobby, the living room, the counseling session in the pastor’s study. It’s got to include women’s lives and experience, women’s embodied possibilities for pleasure, creative achievement, joy and exuberance.

That seems obvious enough. And it’s precisely a dramatization of [some of] those experiences, from women’s perspectives and in women’s words, that The Vagina Monologues presents. We will be reflecting on the new insight that’s given us all into the meaning of “violence against women” for some time, and trying to work out ways to respond to the renewed and even clearer call to end it.

/edited for content 2-18-09/

Bringing Arts and Theology Together

Restorative Table Justice

A sample of finished pottery from Clay Forms: Restorative Table Justice

About 17 people gathered in Caldwell Chapel last night to consider the possibilities of “Arts and Theology Integrated,” possibilities held evocatively before our imaginations by Women’s Center J-Term 2009 Artist-in-Residence Rev. Dr. Ann Laird Jones.

As Ann wove together insights into the reality of doing theology — “articulating the form of our understanding of God” and “giving form to the desire for reconnection with God” — and the reality of making art — the exploration of new symbolic forms, using “other ways of speaking to the body” — she made increasingly clear just what the church misses in keeping art and theology apart, excluding art from the theological conversation, and theology from the conversation of the arts. And she gave her audience — which assembled in Caldwell Chapel, undaunted by the impending snow — glimpses of what the church might gain from such a marriage of faith seeking understanding and spirit seeking expression in form.

Ann reminded us of the sacramental theology of the Reformed tradition, in which “ordinary materials” are made, by divine fiat, into sacred spaces, capable of communicating to us the presence and promise of God and the operation of invisible grace. The tactile mode of knowledge characteristic of the artist, characteristic of children, characteristic perhaps of the disciples at Emmaus who first recognized Jesus in the very ordinary — familiar, tangible — act of breaking bread around a table like the one around which they had last seen their friend and savior, has the capacity to open our understanding, beyond the verbal and conceptual formulae of creeds and propositions. But at the same time, the words of Scripture and testimony, reflection and shared recollection, have the capacity to enrich and deepen the conversation between artist and material that issues in the work of art, to shed light on that personal conversation, and to encourage it to return to and enlighten the conversation of the wider community.

If form provides the occasion for the temptations of idolatry, Ann pointed out, this is no less true of the fixed forms of theology done with words than of the symbolic forms of theology done in clay or wood or color. Quoting Hölderlin (if, in some vessel, we see glimpses of the divine, let us then break the vessel, lest the divine turn into human work), she suggested that perhaps the vessel that needs breaking is the one that separates art and and theology. She intimated that the proliferation of forms, donated by a body of artists to the community gathered around font and table, is yet another way of breaking the static and limiting forms that are the price we pay for idolatry.

There was more! But this will give Wimminwise readers a taste of the richness of reflection and insight Ann served up last night. We were privileged to be part of this shaping, transformative program. Thank you, Rev. Dr. Ann Laird Jones!!

The studio set up for Ann’s class Clay Forms: Restorative Table Justice will shortly vanish into boxes and bins and return to its various sources. But the class’s beautiful works are slated to be on display in the Winn Center dining room February 2-13, and Rev. Dr. Ann Laird Jones will be returning March 19 to lead a hands-on workshop in the Women’s Center, “How Then Shall We Thrive?” designed to address the issues faced by women in ministry. We are looking forward to it! [Here’s online registration for that workshop]