The Longest Day

A long day in the sun

Today is the Summer Solstice — the longest day of the year. From here on in the days get progressively shorter. It’s as if we’re poised at the peak of the annual solar rolar coaster, about to throw our hands in the air for the descent into the short days of fall and the dark tunnel of winter.

That’s the solar calendar. On the liturgical calendar, we’re already a week into the long, long stretch of ordinary time that runs from Trinity Sunday, this past Sunday, through November’s celebration of the Reign of Christ Sunday and the beginning of Advent on the last Sunday in November — November 27 this year. If it’s true that “when you’re green, you’re growing,” these months of ordinary time should be a stretch of growth for those of us tuned in to the rhythms of the church year.

On the academic calendar, the bass beat for the dances of seminarians, teachers, and mothers of school-age children, this is still the heat of summer in every way. It’s the brief, intense time for team sports and competitions, summer camp with its provisioning, packing, and packing-off-to, tending to gardens, getting in some afternoons at the county pool or some hours at the local library. For some it’s the time of packing, moving, re-organizing and re-structuring, taking a deep breath and taking the plunge into a new movement of the dance.

In the Women’s Center we notice all these rhythms, as each day brings us closer to the events of the Fall: Katie Geneva Cannon Lecture, September 18, and the Post-Lecture Events of Monday, September 19; the Louisville AIDS Walk the following week, Sunday, September 25; a series of lunch-hour talks with Louisville-area clergywomen, on the delights and demands of life in a religious profession; the Transgender Day of Remembrance, Sunday, November 20; 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence (November 25 – December 10), for which we are hoping to do something . . . active; and of course, more fundraising, in the form of the Evening with the Stars Benefit, and the now-becoming-traditional Fall Arts and Crafts Sale.

We recognize that the days, even though they still seem long, sunny and warm, are growing shorter daily. We appreciate their tremendous potential for reflection, deliberation, learning, and growth. And we know that they are limited, and for that reason, precious: the summer doesn’t last forever. Nor would we want it to. One day in August, we know from experience, we will notice that leaning towards the fall that is anticipation and desire for its new beginning. For now, though, we are trying to make hay while the sun of this long day is shining, and to cultivate what is green and growing now, so that it will be fruitful, and nourishing, in the days to come.

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

Among the green and growing things we are cultivating this summer is our annual fund! You can help by making a contribution 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!

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Hope and Vision

The ancients used stars for navigation

The ancients used stars for navigation

Another word or two, now, on the substance of last night’s Evening with the Stars.

It should probably not be surprising that so many of the offerings, musical and oratorial, sounded notes of hope and vision. Hope and vision are qualities we like to associate with the Women’s Center, that we hope others also associate with the Women’s Center, and that we heard last night people do over and over associate with the Women’s Center.

Still, I have my theories. And one is that there is, indeed, a new mood of hope and a new sense of genuine possibility moving in our context. Johanna Bos, in her opening remarks, referred to the congratulations, smiles, and hopeful blessings communicated to her by strangers-become-well-wishers as she returned to the US after a sojourn in Europe, on November 5. It feels like something is happening.

Another (theory, this is) is that we partisans of the Women’s Center actually know what we’re doing, and do a reasonably good job of communicating it. We know that the mission of the Women’s Center (“the equality and dignity of all women, including in religious professions”) is a utopian one, in the best sense of that word, in that it is a call to the prophetic imagination and the hopefulness that energizes it, and we know that all the practical work we do is about communicating the imaginative possibilities of new worlds beyond the conventional, sadly-gender-bound one in which we find ourselves.

On that reading, it is no surprise that Johanna cites Emmanuel Levinas’ formulation “infinite possibilities,” once again, as the horizon towards which the Women’s Center leans. It is no surprise that perspicacious students talk about becoming carriers of the vision, or stretching out like “ribbons in the wind of hope.” [We will try to post some of those remarks here, as they become available. “Why a Women’s Center,” Heather Thiessen]

But I don’t have a theory, really, to account for the precise commentary on that utopian vision provided by the evening’s music. There was Cheri Harper’s and Christine Coy-Fohr’s hilarious send-up of the Femmebot 50’s show tune “I Enjoy Being a Girl” — in case we were in doubt about what we were trying to get beyond. There was Jorge Gonzales’ moving acoustic cover of Brett Dennen’s “Heaven” — in case we needed some images of what we were trying to imagine. There were Loren Townsend’s jazz/blues improvisations, reminding us — if we were paying attention — that there’s always more than one way to play any score. And there was Jorge’s and Claudio Carvalhaes’ duet, of a song Claudio introduced simply as “a love song,” in Portuguese, or Spanish, or both — not languages I know, except for maybe a few words: mi corazon, porque, no se. All I know is that the refrain brought tears to my eyes. Why? I don’t know.

But I have a theory. Because there was another word in it I think I know: La feliz. Happiness.

I could be wrong. But maybe every profound meditation on happiness has the power to bring tears of joy and longing to our eyes. Because as Adorno said, “all happiness is a pledge of what has not yet been . . .”* — the pole star of the infinite possibilities, the direction of the tell-tale ribbons, fluttering on the wind of hope.

[* Theodor W. Adorno, Negative Dialectics, trans. E.B. Ashton (New York: Continuum, 1995), 352.]

Evening with the Stars Rescheduled

Evening with the Stars now scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 9

Evening with the Stars now scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 9

We have been working diligently to reschedule the fundraising event An Evening with the Stars since the events of September 14 took their toll on the original event. At this point, we can say, with as much confidence as we can ever say anything (see James 4:15), that the Evening with the Stars will go on — on Sunday, November 9, 7:00 p.m., in Hundley Hall, Gardencourt, on the Seminary campus.

We are missing four of our originally anticpated stars, who are needed to shine elsewhere, we have found a star we were missing in September, we have had to rearrange a few other details, and the climate (physical, and economic) has changed since early fall. But we look forward to the evening, now to be held in the cool clarity of late autumn, with eager anticipation nevertheless.

Evening With Stars Gone With the Wind

Sunday will see an Evening with the Stars

Lights were out on Stars this past Sunday

We, along with so many others in Louisville and the Ohio Valley, are still recovering from the giant windstorm that swept through the area on Sunday afternoon. (For instance, electricity is at last restored in my area of Corydon, Indiana, permitting this post.)

While we were sorely disappointed that we couldn’t stage the STARS and share a meal and words with the guests who’d planned to attend, it seemed safer to respect the gusts of 75-80 m.p.h. that were busy snapping trees and downing power lines all over the area.

Our hearts go out, especially, to those who lost loved ones in or as a result of the storm.

We are pursuing plans to reschedule later in the semester and hope to post some of the words at a later date right here.

Stars Will Be Out Sunday

Sunday will see an Evening with the Stars

Sunday will see an Evening with the Stars

The Women’s Center is looking forward to its first fundraising dinner, “An Evening with the Stars,” set for Sunday night, 7-9 p.m., in Hundley Hall, Gardencourt on the Seminary campus. The stars in question are drawn from the talented LPTS community, who will offer the group music, song, and words of wisdom and testimony, all to benefit the cause of the Women’s Center at LPTS.

We have high hopes for the festivities associated with this Evening with the Stars: to communicate the message of the Women’s Center, and to encourage people to open their hearts (and wallets) to the endeavor to change the world, particularly in regards to the arrangements we make around gendered humanity, by changing the paradigm from which the ministers of the church act, preach, and counsel.

[Insofar as the church is a “community of promise,” charged with the responsibility to pursue the life that human beings could live together if they availed themselves of God’s overwhelming grace and took the instruction they have received from God seriously, then the church should be a place where the best, most liberating, most fully humane, most egalitarian and respectful, most cognizant and empowering, least oppressive and excluding and marginalizing and exploitative and silencing arrangements around gender should prevail. As a Reformed theologian, recognizing the continuing power and presence of sin this side of the resurrection, this author reminds herself that even this “should” has to be qualified. Even so . . . the church militant still has a long way to go.]

And walking and talking along the way is not free. It costs money to run the Women’s Center, although we do our best to make ends meet with as little as possible.

So on Sunday we take to heart the words of the Biblical Qohelet:
Feasts are made for laughter,
Wine gladdens life,
and money meets every need.

(Ecc. 10:19)