On the May Calendar

image of auspicious dates in Chinese calendrical format

Mark your calendar with Auspicious Dates

We are winding down to the end of the academic year, but not entirely to the end of activities for the Women’s Center. Here is what’s on the calendar for the month of May:

Today, May 3, was the Friends of the Women’s Center Breakfast, an annual opportunity for alumnae and other friends to gather in the Center to share stories over coffee and croissants (or something like that) before moving on to other events on the schedule of the Festival of Theology and Reunion.

May 6 is not only Oaks Day in the city of Louisville, but a final meeting of the Gender and Ministry Committee in the Women’s Center at 1:30 p.m.

We will be scheduling interviews for 2011-2012 Student Coordinator shortly; we have a number of applications in hand, and continue to encourage interested students to apply for this position.

Wednesday, May 11, 12:30 – 1:30, is a key Katie Geneva Cannon Lecture Planning Group meeting, as we will be establishing the planning group for September’s events, featuring Dr. Traci West as the 2011 Katie Geneva Cannon Lecturer.

Sunday, May 22 is Graduation for the Class of 2011. The Women’s Center wishes all the seminary graduates well in the future endeavors. We encourage each one to remember what they have learned during their seminary experience about the ubiquity and importance of gender in the life of the world in which they have been called to serve. We hope that, as part of their education to participate in the redemptive ministry of Jesus Christ in the world, each has realized the imperative to confront, name, and challenge oppressive patterns of differential power and privilege based on gender, and to articulate a more inclusive vision of gender justice as part of the good news of the coming realm of God.

The Women’s Center continues to host the Engaging Spirituality group on Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m., and monthly meetings of the Board of the Kentucky Religious Coalition on Reproductuve Choice.


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.

Subjectivity and Suffering

 Since Sunday night, I’ve been returning to and thinking about Johanna Bos’s address “In a Just Nation.”  [An address to the Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, at the dinner to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.]  It was an address with staying power – ideas, images, implications that return and remain, and perhaps even provoke to practical action.

I woke up this morning thinking about the scene depicted in Sherry Tepper’s novel The Gates to Women’s Country that Johanna quoted – and about what it meant.  That there are places where women marry, or feel duty-bound to engage in sexual relationships, much too young.  That there are men, and women, who have sex with one another in ways that have nothing at all to do with encountering each other as unique and precious individuals, but instead are about the exercise of privilege and disprivilege, performances of power or of joyless obligation, that are pre-scripted, pre-scribed, almost like bureaucracy in the bedroom.  That there are lots of ways to ignore obvious human suffering, to fail to let expressions of human suffering change anything.

The question of whether realizing that people are suffering will impel people to change anything seems to be at stake in the invocation of female genital cutting, too.  Here is a practice, a widespread one (Johanna cited a statistic that estimates 130-140 million women in the world today have been affected, some 60,000 of them in the US) that hurts everyone involved in it, in various ways, but that continues in spite of that hurt.  Why?  Because the felt imperative to control overwhelms, subjugates whatever impulse to acknowledge, to respond with compassion to, human suffering?  (But what?? is being controlled?  Can we name that?  Can we begin to understand that?)

So I thought:  the ethics of the situation are not really complicated.  The ethical position is the one that is in solidarity with the person who, right now, is screaming in pain.  [I think Theodor Adorno would agree, by the way – I cite Negative Dialectics, p. 365]  What that means for practical action, how to make the world change, can be complicated and not entirely clear, I agree.  But the ethical position isn’t. 

This is to come at Johanna’s point from a slightly different angle.  Johanna’s point, that is, that “women are subjects, and recognizing women’s subjectivity is necessary in a just nation – and a just world.”  She made that point by noticing, along with Susan Bordo, that the discourse around reproductive choice, reproductive rights, and, in the contemporary US, abortion, increasingly erases the subjectivity of the pregnant woman.  Our public conversations about abortion, and the laws that flow out of them, more and more make of the pregnant woman a physical thing, a body or a container for the real subject, the fetus.  Johanna spoke of regression, a collective backing away from securing women’s rights to choose reproductivity freely, to make decisions for ourselves about sexual behavior, motherhood, and the relationships in which those occur, a regression that represents a continuing reluctance to recognize women’s subjectivity.

But it’s no coincidence, it seems to me, that Johanna’s examples all had the thread of suffering running through them.  Because one of the first casualties of recognizing someone else’s subjectivity is the ability to respond to, care about, try to relieve their suffering.  Someone could see, hear, register the plain signs of suffering, and not acknowledge it as [real] suffering, because suffering takes a subject.  For suffering, hardship, the experience of injustice to provoke people to end it, it has to be someone’s suffering. 

So we need to keep saying, reminding, insisting:  women are someones.  [I think the Bible would agree, by the way – I cite Genesis 1:27]