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.

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!

An Invitation

Join us for an informal celebration in the Women's Center Tuesday, August 16, 3:00 p.m.

The Women’s Center cordially invites all TSE students (and their friends, neighbors, and teachers) to a Study Break and Welcome Reception in the Women’s Center on Tuesday, August 16, 3:00 p.m. It will be an opportunity for folks new to the campus to FIND the Women’s Center (we know that’s a challenge sometimes: look for us on the ground floor of White Hall on the Seminary campus), and to FIND OUT about the place, the people, and the possibilities connected with the Women’s Center.

We hope everyone will take a break from their TSE studies to join us. Refreshments will be served!

Click here to help fill the Women's Center's cup.

There is still time to help fund this year’s Women’s Center programs by making a donation to the Women’s Center during our Summer Donation Days!

You can go to OUR ONLINE DONATION SITE, the LPTS Online Donation Site (designate your gift to the Women’s Center), or send your check payable to LPTS – WOMEN’S CENTER FUND to The Women’s Center at Louisville Seminary, 1044 Alta Vista Rd., Louisville, KY 40205.

Thank you!

Breakfast to Be

An inviting breakfast

Invitation! Anticipation! Preparation!

We are just one week away from the annual
Women’s Center Alumnae Breakfast
Tuesday, May 3
8:00 a.m.
in the Women’s Center

The Women’s Center looks forward to the re-enactment of this recent tradition with joy and delight. It holds the promise of renewing fond acquaintances, reviewing the challenges, changes and accomplishments of the past year (or perhaps, years), and revisiting momentous memories. It is a brief, precious chance to share coffee and conversation with some of the women – and, always, a few men – who have traveled back to the Seminary’s and Women’s Center’s spaces for the Festival of Theology and Reunion.

A core element of the mission of the Women’s Center is “the celebration of the gifts and achievements of women in the church and the world.” This annual breakfast is an instance of that celebration. We celebrate the work and worth of these remarkable women who are connected by experience and memory to this place by spending time in their presence, sharing their laughter and liveliness. Whether we find ourselves congratulating or comiserating, empathizing or enthusing, we always find ourselves actively recognizing the profound gift of relationship and communion these women bring to the church and the world they serve.

So we look forward to seeing the faces of many friends, both familiar and new, on Tuesday, May 3, and eagerly anticipate the celebration that is the Women’s Center’s annual Alumnae Breakfast.

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.

Announcement and Invitation

Celebrating the completion of a large scholarly project

by Johanna Bos

December 17 – Heather Thiessen Day in the Women’s Center

This fall Heather Thiessen successfully defended her dissertation entitled Messianic Light – Utopian Discourse in the Work of Theodor Adorno, Luce Irigaray and Giorgio Agamben. On December 15 she will receive her Doctorate in Philosophy in the Division of Humanities of the Graduate School of the University of Louisville. Heather’s achievement in writing on three profound thinkers, who also present some of the most complicated ideas and writings available in English today, is a monumental one. Utopian thought and utopian space is what informs and motivates much of what we do in the Women’s Center. We are so very fortunate to have this brave and talented woman as the director of the Center in our midst and want to celebrate her special gifts with a party in her honor.

Please, all who read this

    come to the Women’s Center
    Friday, December 17
    4:30 p.m.
    for congratulations, presentations and libations!

Johanna W.H.Bos

On the December Calendar

Cats Observe Advent Calendar Candle

Keep an eye on what's coming up in December


Here’s what the Women’s Center has on its calendar for the month of December:

December 1, World AIDS Day, supporting More Light’s dedicated worship service and information tabling event focused on that event.

We will be enthusiastically and gratefully accepting items for the Fall Arts and Crafts Sale through December 8 (or 9th, if you come to the pricing party and help us price them!)

December 2, attending Lisa Larges’ talk, “Humor, Hospitality, & the Politics of Prefigurement,” 7:30 p.m. in Caldwell Chapel. Lisa Larges is Minister Coordinator of That All May Freely Serve, an organization dedicated to an inclusive church for all who are disenfranchised, a goal that includes the welcome of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people into full membership, including eligibility for ordination to all church functions.

December 3, Lunch with Lisa Larges and informal conversation in the Women’s Center, 12:30 p.m. All are invited to share — in the conversation, and the lunch!

December 9, Pricing party for the Fall Arts and Crafts Sale, 12:00 p.m. until all the items are priced, in the Women’s Center. This will be the last chance to donate items for the Sale, so we hope all crafters and artists will come by the Center. If past experience is any guide, this will be a wild and wooly time of roll-up-your-sleeves fun with a purpose, not to be missed!

December 10, The Women’s Center’s Annual Fall Arts and Crafts Sale, always featuring an amazing variety of treasures from the hands of students, faculty, staff, and friends of the Women’s Center. (Years past have seen everything from watercolor portraits to fresh eggs, with batik, jewelry, glassware, knits, and legendary spaghetti sauce in between.)

The sale takes place in the Winn Center Commons, from 9:00 a.m. until approximately 2:00 p.m. All interested members of the community are invited to help clean up the area after the sale and transport arts, crafts and display materials back to the Women’s Center at that time, for post-sale bargains and festivities.

December 13-17, we wish the students of LPTS well with Research, Study, and Finals!

December 15, Heather Thiessen, Part-time Director of the Women’s Center, will pick up her diploma at the University of Louisville’s Graduate Student Hooding and Award Ceremony, 4:00 p.m. in the Kentucky Yum Center.

December 25, Merry Christmas!

December 31, and a Very Happy New Year! We are especially looking forward to January and this J-term’s Art of Presence with Artist-in-Residence Rev. Cheryl Goodman-Morris and Dr. Johanna Bos.

Oh, and one more thing . . .
The Women’s Center is now happy to be able to serve as the regular Tuesday evening meeting space for a local Engaging Spirituality group, a program of JustFaith Ministries. [updated 12/1/10 18:04]