From Sweden with Love

A scene from the campus of the University of Lund, Sweden

by Johanna Bos
16 April, 2011

Spending a week in Sweden, a country I have never visited, to attend a conference, organized by the Swedish Theological Institute in Jerusalem and the Centre for Theology and Religious Studies at Lund University in Sweden to celebrate its 60th anniversary, has been quite an experience. The official title of the conference was “Stereotyping the Other – Exploring the Anatomy of Religious Prejudice and Ways to Dismantle it, and it included presentations from a wide range of participants from Muslim, Jewish and Christian perspectives. A theologian and a philosopher from Great Britain spoke on the nature and power of prejudice and love, on sexual stereotypes and confidence; scholars from Israel and the North-West Europe explored Catholic-Jewish reconciliation and Muslim Occidentalism, Judaeophobic films from the Nazi era and religion as it is portrayed today in the media. In the afternoons shorter papers included topics as the possible banning of homophobic sermons in Sweden as well as the topic of the new Radical Orthodoxy and Evangelical Christian views of Islam in Sweden. It was a heady brew indeed.

I was teamed with Pamela Eisenbaum of Illif School of Theology. She spoke on the possible relationship of the thought of the apostle Paul and Emmanuel Levinas, while I addressed the issue of stereotyping the other in the form of erasure. Lively power point slides accompanied my presentation and those of the younger participants in the conference. I began by instructing the audience in the singing of “Turpitude, Moral Turpitude,” also known as Calvin’s Round. We had no time to practice and get the song perfected into a round but it was the only time the audience sang.

In terms of women’s participation, eight of the sixteen who gave major presentations were women. Of the twenty one people giving shorter papers, only six were women. Most of the afternoon presenters were young and it seemed a pity that the percentage of women was lower in that contingent. Of the rest of the conference goers, I guess about one-fifth to have been women. That too is somewhat disconcerting. I think that the organizers, all male, did their best but a conference of this sort also shows that we still have a long way to go, also, perhaps especially, in academia to achieve greater equity between the genders. In some ways I consider this to have been a hugely successful conference because of the interfaith participation and also because of an atmosphere of genuine communication and conversation around issues of religion and faith. Because the number of people attending was fairly small, about 70 or so, everyone got to talk to everyone, and engage with the neighbor in a unique way, something that does not often take place at academic conferences.

A formal banquet closed the festivities on the last night, for which we went into town to one of the old hotels in Lund. Apparently, it is a Swedish custom to be treated on such an occasion to singing by a small choir. We heard an exquisite quartet’s rendition of Swedish, German and English songs. For the grand finale they sang “Turpitude,” having practiced and perfected it under the guidance of a conference participant who was also a member of the group. That time, all the guests got to participate in the song as a round which we sang three times, until all the tables ended together with “inherent baseness,” naturally the high point of the event for me.


On the April Calendar

Easter is on the April calendar

April 24, 2011 is Easter Sunday on the western liturgical calendar

This is what’s on the Women’s Center’s calendar for April:

April 8 we will join hands in prayer in solidarity with Join Hands for Congo, at noon in the Women’s Center. Anyone who can’t be with us in person is invited to pray with us where you are in solidarity with the women and men who will be joining hands around the US State Department to raise the call for US diplomacy to further the cause of peace and security in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We are praying for a speedy end to the conflict and the sexual violence in DRC, for responsible and effective action by the United State government in aid of this cause, for the safety of the women and men who are taking part in this public action on April 8, and for clarity and compassion in our public life.

April 12 the Women’s Center will wear red, and calls on others to do the same, to celebrate Pay Equity Day. Pay Equity Day is the day that “women’s earnings catch up to men’s” — from the previous year. (In other words, if we started adding up earnings on January 1, 2010, then what US men made by December 31, 2010 is what US women will have made by April 12, 2011.) We will celebrate the day (and raise awareness of the persistence of gender inequity in paid work in the US) by wearing red; the Gender and Ministry Committee invites all members of the Semninary community to gather in the LPTS quadrangle at 11:30 a.m. to raise their voices in support of pay equity. Anyone who wishes can talk more over lunch in the Women’s Center.

Later that same day, we will hear Grawemeyer Award winner Dr. Luke Timothy Johnson lecture at 7:00 p.m. in Caldwell Chapel on his work on the early Christians (many of whom were women).

April 14 & 15 we will attend the Presidential Inauguration festivities, which will include participating in the Fan Fair at 10:00 a.m. April 15 in Winn Center. The Women’s Center will be there with information about our purpose, program, and prospects.

April 16 is the final Seminar in the series “Mending the World: The Margaret Hopper Taylor Seminars Challenging Domestic Violence.” JoAnn Rowan, a veteran of Louisville’s Center for Women and Families, leads this seminar, “It Happens in the Nicest Congregations: What Everyone Needs to Know About Domestic Violence.” Since it is not a question of whether but of how, precisely, domestic violence will affect the congregations in which LPTS graduates will serve, we encourage students to take advantage of the scholarships available to defray the $12 cost of the seminar, and to REGISTER ONLINE FOR THIS SEMINAR. Additional information is at our page on Mending the World.

April 17 is Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week. We are delighted to have been invited to the More Light at LPTS B-B-Q this afternoon in the residential commons area. We’re looking forward to the pitch-in celebration of community and are trying to think of something reasonably delicious we can contribute.

April 24 we will be celebrating Easter with Christians around the world, giving thanks for the good news that Mary Magdalene announced, and praising God for New Life!

April 28 the Women’s Center will serve as the venue for More Light Movie Night.

We will be missing our Faculty Liaison Dr. Johanna Bos from April 8 – April 18, as she attends a conference in Sweden, and will be praying for her pleasant and productive travel, and her safe return.

During April, the Women’s Center will also be looking for next year’s Student Coordinator. We are seeking someone who has a heart for gender issues and gender justice and who could see themselves spending 16 hours a week contributing their energy, intelligence, imagination, and love to the work of the Center — and getting Field Experience credit for doing so. If you or someone you know fits that description, please contact the Women’s Center right away for more information!

We continue to provide space for the meetings of Just Faith, which meets in the Center on Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m., and now also host the Board of the Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, which meets the fourth Sunday of each month. We are delighted to be able to make our space (WE LOVE IT!) available to others whose efforts further the ends the Women’s Center also seeks.

The House of Mourning

Along with Rev. Dr. Johanna Bos and her family, the Women’s Center mourns the death yesterday of Rev. David Bos, even as we celebrate the legacy of his vibrant and committed life.

We call to mind the words of “the one who assembles” —
A good name is better than precious ointment,
and the day of death, than the day of birth.
It is better to go to the house of mourning
than to go to the house of feasting;
for this is the end of everyone,
and the living will lay it to heart.

(Ecclesiastes 7:1-2)

And yet, there are other words of wisdom . . .

Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;
for love is strong as death,
passion fierce as the grave.
. . .
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it.

(Song of Songs 8:6,7)

We bid our readers hold the family of David Bos in their prayers at this time.

Inside The Art of Presence

what is the boundary between life and art?

from Johanna Bos

1/11/11 Snow day; Seminary closed, but we continue with class because Cheryl will have to leave after two weeks. The second day of class with Cheryl and a report on our activities is be in order. I am part of the class to create close encounters with the biblical text in a group of nine participants. We begin the day with warm-up exercise and checking in on our state of body and soul. We then move to sit around tables for our discussion of the Sarah/Abraham/Hagar cycle in Genesis (Gen.11:27-23:20), beginning with the lineage of Terah in Ur, and ending with the death of Sarah in Canaan.

Because this is a rich cycle we have selected six episodes for a closer look. We spend the first hour and a half or so taking notice of events, imagining a historical context, being mindful of the way plot develops, characters are set on the stage, how the stories say what they say. Today we considered Abram’s move to Canaan, and the story of Sarai having to pretend, on Abram’s direction, that she is Abram’s sister in Egypt. Questions that arose: was it normal, moral, O.K., for a man with greater power to kill another man and take possession of his wife? Did Abram plan the whole thing, i.e. did he know that Sarai would be taken into the harem of Pharaoh? Did Pharaoh have sex with Sarai? If not, why did God strike the Pharaonic household with plagues? (Cf.the parallel story in Gen.20 where the narrator explicitly states that Abimelek did not touch Sarah (vv.4 and 6). Why is there a duplicate story? We noted the prevalence of words for moving: walking/going/leaving/setting out/traveling/going down/coming close almost all with male subjects. The males in the story are also in charge of much “taking.” Terah “takes” his family, Abram “takes” Sarai and Lot, Pharaoh “takes” Sarai. In the prelude to the episode in Egypt, there is a description of God “appearing” to Abram and Abram engaging in altar construction. The word for “appear” is in the passive form from a root “to see,” and can also be translated “being seen.” We observed that Sarai does not speak, she does not reply to Abram, so we can only surmise that she agreed to the plan. She has not yet received voice in the story.

For the last hour of the morning we go into ensemble work. Throwing puppets in distinct patterns to each other while standing in a circle, walking through and around the wonderful space in Hundley Hall, which we have opened up for the purpose, to a count from very slow to very fast and everything in between. Cheryl gives us a count of three different speeds and tells us to stop and start at the same time. We get a long way toward stopping at the same time, and start all together as if pulled by a string. We stand in a circle again and sing “The soul loves the body, they are one, they are one; the soul loves the body, my body, my soul, my love.” Then we begin to tell our three-minute stories recounting an experience that moved us profoundly, one we will later connect with a biblical character who will provide material for a monologue. I am stunned by the stories; they leave me in awe of the honesty and trust, and the eloquence that comes forth from this group. I can’t wait to hear the monologues on the biblical characters! We also play some wonderful games, designed to help create a spirit of ensemble work among us. We play the “What Am I Doing” game and I for one shall never forget Jaeseok playing guitar. How fortunate we are to have Cheryl as our teacher in all these endeavors.

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!

Thank You, Arts (and Crafts) Lovers!

The Fall Arts and Crafts Sale was a beautiful success

If the Women’s Center could smile, it would be smiling . . . because even though today is a cold and snowy day in Louisville, the warm glow of this year’s delightful Fall Arts and Crafts Sale is still with us.

First, an enormous THANK YOU to the many friends of the Women’s Center who came out on Thursday evening to set up the sale — Brian, Blair, Christy, James, and Daniel, — and the many more friends who came out on Friday afternoon to tear down/pack up the sale — Beth, Billy, Carl, Daniel, Erin, Jeremy, Sarah, and Sherry. So, THANK YOU. A particularly warm THANK YOU to Daniel Tipton and More Light LPTS for promoting the event, mobilizing volunteers, and generally adding a uniquely festive tone to the event — quite a feat, since the Arts and Crafts Sale already has a pretty festive persona. Kudos to our Faculty and Financial Liaison Rev. Dr. Johanna Bos, Knitter and Model Extraordinaire, for demonstrating the appeal of the merchandise in an especially erudite and convincing fashion. Thanks, also, to all our donors, without whom there truly would have been no sale. A special word to donor Dana Butler and her Dana Buttons, who arranged to customize merchandise on the spot — a unique contribution to this year’s sale!

The sale has so far netted right around $1,000 for the Women’s Center Fund — for which we thank our patrons!!

And Now — Extended Shopping Hours!
This year, folks who missed the sale in Winn Center on Friday, December 11, will still have a chance to browse and buy at our special extended sale hours in the Women’s Center this week:

  • Today, Monday, December 13, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, December 14, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
  • Need more? Contact us at

Once again, thank you, everyone involved in making this year’s Women’s Center Fall Arts and Crafts Sale a delightful success!