In our daily prayers God was every manner of image and metaphor and meaning, and always, "God the Father." We never ever prayed to "God our Mother." What were women in the economy of God? The answer was only too painful: We were invisible. I had given my life to a God who did not see me, did not include me, did not touch my nature with God's own....Joan Chittister, "Called to Question"

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Reflection on the Gospel for Advent 1


Feminist Reflections on Advent 1, 2007 Matthew 24:37-44 by The Rev. Margaret Rose

Questions arise, as I write these first reflections to begin a feminist theology blog using the Gospel text for the first Sunday in Advent 2007. What is it that makes reflections feminist? Is it because I am one that makes the reflections so? Or does it require a deeper exegesis that starts with Schussler-Fiorenza’s hermeneutic of suspicion? Must I begin with experience? Beware of sentimentality? Be clear about the power analysis of the text? Ensure that there is contextual thinking both historically and as I imagine what might be relevant for today? Are there rules? Or can we give ourselves permission to wander in this work of blogging—part conversation, part reflection, part exegesis? I hope so. As I begin this series of what I hope will be fruitful essays by those who participate, I do so with the hope that we will share ideas about texts, and sermons as well as about our lives and how they move us to action in the communities of which we are a part. Thanks in advance from the Office of Women’s Ministries. And particularly to Terri Pilarski who has agreed to manage this work from Chicago.

So what about it? Advent 1A It’s November and the anniversary of my mother’s death, and so in this reflection I am remembering vividly those last weeks of her life and their connection to the admonition to keep awake and ready for the unexpected visitations of Jesus or of a thief in the night.

My mother had been in a coma for about a week and we four siblings kept a hospital vigil. “Wake Up!” we wanted to cry as she went deeper and deeper into the world of the unconscious. “Keep Awake!” we said to ourselves as we stood beside her bed. And then yearned for blessed sleep when we returned home to our own beds at rotating hours of the night. During the two weeks before we finally decided the respirator must be removed and she be allowed to die, I found myself living in two worlds. The one filled with trips to the hospital, praying beside the bed, rubbing my mother’s gradually swelling body, combing her hair, praying that Jesus was somehow with her in that other dimension of her existence, and finally coming to the realization that she was not going to wake up. The other was that busy world of every day, the routines which keep us sane more than we realize: planning liturgies, the eventual funeral, the Thanksgiving turkey, picking up children, receiving care and prayers sent on my family’s behalf. As I look back on it, both worlds seem so precious, each a gift, each a part of what it meant to follow Jesus’ words to keep awake, standing at the edge of death with my mother, and standing in the midst of daily life with family and children making ready for the different worlds that lay ahead.

It would have been easier perhaps to live in only one world, to deny the death, to turn away and let the medical people tend to my mother—especially in the ICU. Our culture offers that. I remember that first night when the nurses suggested I step out while they did some procedure. Automatically, I heard my self responding, “ I trust you but she is my mother and I am not leaving.” Kind in the midst of the pain, they made space for me in the room. Later that week, it would have been easier not to have seen my mother gasping for air when the respirator was removed. Yet as she took her last breaths, I found myself not only reliving the words of Jesus on the cross, “It is finished”, but also those of the Advent text, assured that my mother was ready. And I heard my own voice whispering in prayer and thanksgiving, knowing new truths about the blessedness of life and death.

Perhaps it would have been easier to race home then and allow the funeral home to take over. They want to do that, and often we want them too. But I needed to be close by as they wrapped my mother, to touch her as we made that final walk down the hospital halls, my mother’s body in a body bag shroud. Something about being ready for that death, going deeply into it, being awake to every aspect, made me also ready for life, acutely aware of its fragile nature yet all the more precious: everyday things made extraordinary by their sudden absence in one part of life.

The call to keep awake to the dying and even be ready for it, kept me awake for the living too. Somehow it took away the sting, the fear, not the grief of course. But the experience of death that year allowed the preparations for the birth of Jesus and of the renewal of hope in the midst of brokenness to be all the more real. Keep awake is the admonition—to death and to life. Be ready for staying and for leaving. One is taken the other left in the field. Be ready for the thief in the night—who might even be God intruding on our lives in moments when we least desire it.

Because I am a self named feminist re my reflections necessarily so. Is there a difference between such reflections and what one might call a feminists exegesis? I will leave the conversation on this to those of us who continue this work...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Coming Soon

In Advent this blog will begin a series posting feminist reflections on the Gospel Reading for Sunday. We hope to continue posting reflections on a regular basis from a variety of authors.

Also, in January 2008, we will host a book discussion, something we also hope will become a regular contribution. The book title will be announced soon.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What is Feminist Theology? - A Debate on Wikipedia

If you Google "Feminist Theology" the site for Wikipedia pops up first. On that site a debate is raging... you can find it here

Or, more briefly, here is how Wikipedia descibes Feminist Theology...
Feminist theology is a movement, generally in Christianity and Judaism, to reconsider the traditions, practices, scriptures, and theologies of their religion from a feminist perspective. Some of the goals of feminist theology include increasing the role of women among the clergy and religious authorities, reinterpreting male-dominated imagery and language about God, determining women's place in relation to career and motherhood, and studying images of women in the religion's sacred texts.

Feminists have attempted to counter perceptions of women as morally or spiritually inferior to men; as a source of sexual temptation; as dedicated to childbearing, their homes, and husbands; and as having a lesser role in religious ritual or leadership because of such inferiority or dedication....

Feminist theology attempts to consider every aspect of religious practice and thought. Some of the questions feminist theologians ask are:

How do we do theology? The basic question of how theologians may go about creating systems of thought is being reinterpreted by feminist theologians. Many feminist theologians assert that personal experience can be an important component of insight into the divine, along with the more traditional sources of holy books or received tradition. (The relevance of personal experience to the policies of groups of people is a familiar notion to veterans of the feminist movement.)

Who is God? Feminist theologians have introduced the use of non- or multi-gendered language for God, arguing that language powerfully impacts belief about the behavior and essence of God.

Where are women in religious history? Feminist historical theologians study the roles of women in periods throughout history that have impacted religion: the Biblical period, the early Christian era, medieval Europe, and any period of import to a particular religion. They study individual women who influenced their religion or whose religious faith led them to impact their culture. The work of these scholars has helped feminist theologians claim historical figures as their predecessors in feminist theology. For example, Sojourner Truth's "Ar'n't I a Woman?" speech pointed out, "Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman. Man had nothing to do with him!" Elizabeth Cady Stanton produced the "Woman's Bible," excising the traditional Christian text of all references she thought contradicted the positions of women's