Evangelical Missionaries Preach Death in Uganda by Andreea Nica

Andreea Nica, pentecostalismA former evangelical Christian friend of mine sent me information on the intriguing documentary God Loves Uganda. The newly released documentary addresses how the American evangelical movement has prompted a political and social shockwave in the country of Uganda. While missionaries are typically associated with delivering aid and improving the conditions of third world countries, the spreading of Christian values and ideals has inflicted suffering upon ethnic communities through evangelical indoctrination.

The intent of the film is to raise awareness of the political and social brutality that the evangelical missionaries are instigating; specifically through their teaching that homosexuality is a sin and should be dealt with accordingly. In Uganda this means death. Given the rise of globalization, transnational religious actors have been more enabled to engender other nations with their respective religious beliefs, often with minimal regard for the cultural and political landscape of the nation they wish to transform. Continue reading “Evangelical Missionaries Preach Death in Uganda by Andreea Nica”

Who Is Jephthah’s Daughter? The Cost of War by Carol P. Christ

carol-christIn a provocative essay and heart-breaking painting, Angela Yarber asked us to consider who Jephthah’s daughter is in our time. Angela reminded us that Jephthah was a heroic warrior in the Hebrew Bible who swore in the heat of battle that if his people won, he would sacrifice the first person he would see on returning home. That person turned out to be his unnamed daughter.

Reading Angela’s post and looking at her holy woman icon of Jephthah’s daughter, my mind turned to the story of Agamemnon’s daughter.  In this case, the daughter is named: Iphigenia.  Agamemnon had gathered his troops to sail to Troy, but lack of wind prevented them from setting off.  According to the myth, Agamemnon was told by the Goddess Artemis that he must sacrifice his daughter if the ships were to sail. He did.

In his powerful rewriting of the myth of the sacrifice of Iphigenia, Daniel Cohen questions whether the Goddess requires human sacrifice Continue reading “Who Is Jephthah’s Daughter? The Cost of War by Carol P. Christ”

How I Loved Myself through Charismatic Worship by Andreea Nica

Andreea Nica, pentecostalismBreaking up with your first love can be an excruciating process; especially when it happens to be completely entangled with your being. God was my first love and he stayed for a long while. We had many exhilarating times together, particularly within the branch of Christianity I was raised in: Pentecostalism. I fell in love with God when I uttered his divine language at 13 years of age.

Currently, I’m writing my memoir and narrative nonfiction, Freeligious ™, for which I explore the scientific explanations of my charismatic experiences in the church, which inevitably led to a closer attachment to God. In the Pentecostal church, we were encouraged to connect with God through supernatural phenomena.

Examples include: speaking in tongues (glossolalia), healings, trances (drunk in the holy spirit), visions (hallucinations), prophetic messages (delusions), rebuking evil spirits (paranoia), and many more god-friendly activities. While some of my church peers and most outsiders found the charismatic ordeal to be phantasmical and plain ol’ crazy, I became enchanted by the initiation. The initiation process was quite simple really. As believers in Christ, we must receive the baptism of the holy spirit which usually took the form of speaking in tongues, clinically known as glossolalia. Continue reading “How I Loved Myself through Charismatic Worship by Andreea Nica”

Liberations of Immigrant Women in Western Religious Conversion by Andreea Nica

Andreea Nica, pentecostalismThe prolonged debate around feminist subjectivity and religious participation continues to evoke much compelling discussion in academia, political arenas, and public space. There have been a number of academic studies around the intersection of gender, religion, and migration, specifically on how gender and immigration assimilation is constructed and managed within western religious systems.

I am currently researching the trajectories of immigrant assimilation and conversion, and how gender relations and religious identities are managed within these processes to further develop my proposal for doctoral study. I find this area of research fascinating as it’s so diverse and pertinent to the progression of gender equity amongst religious participants. Continue reading “Liberations of Immigrant Women in Western Religious Conversion by Andreea Nica”

The Purity Complex: Are Men Really Less Affected Than Women? by Andreea Nica

Andreea Nica, pentecostalismWomen’s bodies continue to receive an inexhaustible amount of attention. As a society, we have glorified, scrutinized, degraded, hypersexualized, underrepresented, and misunderstood the female body. Purity culture has orchestrated a movement around the management, perception, and regulation of women’s bodies. As a former Pentecostalist, I grew up knowing there was more focus on my body versus those of my  brothers in Christ. There was a bodily divergence between men and women that I did not fully comprehend but felt obligated to adhere to; the ideological basis of this difference was filled with much ambiguity.

Each time the church organized a sexual purity event and/or discussion, boys and girls were unfailingly segregated. I was always so curious about what was discussed in the boy’s group so I would ask my brother, Christian boyfriend, and male friends at the church to fill me in on the gossip. In my teens, I didn’t know how to perceive the information relayed to me. Looking back now, I am surprised at the discourse around purity culture and masculinity in the church. During my earlier years at college, I convened with the male pastoral leadership, and they confirmed the following main themes taught to men during sexual purity discussions. Continue reading “The Purity Complex: Are Men Really Less Affected Than Women? by Andreea Nica”


carol-christ“They used chemical weapons, we must do something to stop them.”  A justification widely used in support of President Obama’s decision to launch a military strike against Syria.

We fought the Civil War to end slavery and racism. We fought the Second World War to end fascism. Did we end racism? Did we end fascism? Howard Zinn

At the time of the Revolutionary War, “a not inconsiderable Quaker element was on principle opposed to war, as itself a greater evil than any it might seek to right.”

Michelle Obama is against military intervention in Syria. Does the President dismiss Michelle’s dissent as “womanish”?

Dwight-D-Eisenhower-Pacifistic-QuotePatriarchy is a system of male dominance, rooted in the ethos of war which legitimates violence, sanctified by religious symbols, in which men dominate women through the control of female sexuality, with the intent of passing property to male heirs, and in which men who are heroes of war are told to kill men, and are permitted to rape women, to seize land and treasures, to exploit resources, and to own or otherwise dominate conquered people.

“[W]e must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex.”  Dwight D. Eisenhower

The drums of war have stopped beating publically–at least for now. Obama’s decision to ask Congressional authorization to bomb Syria for 90 days—remember that number, 90 days–has been tabled—at least for now.  But make no mistake, the  military industrial complex is still barking at the heels of US government decison-makers.  The notion that while women may be for peace, “real men must make war” is still operative in the American psyche. Continue reading “WAR, WAR, WHAT ARE WE FIGHTING FOR? by Carol P. Christ”


carol-christLast week I wrote about Protestant Neo-Orthodoxy’s deification of male power as power over.  This week I want to ask why the relational Goddess or God* of process philosophy has not been more widely embraced, both generally and in feminist theologies.

Could it be that a relational God just isn’t powerful enough? Are some of us still hoping that an omnipotent God can and will intervene in history to set things right?  Do we believe an omnipotent God can save us from death?

Process philosophy provides an attractive alternative to the concept of divine power modeled on male power as domination.  According to leading process philosopher Charles Hartshorne, the power to coerce, power as power over and domination, is not the kind of power God has.

The concept of divine power as omnipotent (having all the power) leads to what Hartshorne called “the zero fallacy.”  If God has all the power and can dominate in all situations, then the power of individuals* other than God is reduced to zero.  In effect, this means that individuals other than God do not really exist, but at most are puppets whose strings are pulled by the divine power.

Moreover, as Hartshorne argued, the power to coerce is not the kind of power Goddess “should” have.  Although many have been forced to submit to them, tyrants and bullies do not empower others.  Should we not understand the “highest power in the universe” as empowering of others?

For process philosophy Goddess is understood to be the most sympathetic or empathetic of all relational beings.  Continue reading “GODDESS WITH US: IS A RELATIONAL GOD POWERFUL ENOUGH? by Carol P. Christ”

Neo-Orthodoxy: The Apotheosis* of Power as Power Over by Carol P. Christ

carol-christRecently I have been thinking about Neo-Orthodoxy, the leading  Protestant theological movement of the twentieth century, as a deification of male power as power over.  In the language of the schoolyard, this translates as “mine is bigger than yours.”  Or more precisely:  “God’s is bigger than yours.” 

Neo-Orthodoxy dominated Protestant theology in Europe and America in the mid-twentieth century and structured my theological education at Yale in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  Yale may have been “the bastion” of Neo-Orthodoxy, but Neo-Orthodox perspectives reigned in all the Protestant seminaries and were even celebrated in the media.  Neo-Orthodoxy may have some commonalities with fundamentalism but it was by no means an anti-intellectualist approach to theology.

A reaction to the perceived “impotence” of German Protestantism in the face of Hitler, Protestant Neo-Orthodoxy asserted “the commanding power of God” over against reason and culture.  Its leading advocates included the Swiss theologian Karl Barth, the German New Testament scholar Rudolf Bultmann, and the German theologians teaching in the United States, Reinhold and Richard Neibuhr, and Paul Tillich.  For all of them in different ways, the “Word of God” was a dynamic force that imploded into history challenging individuals and communities to turn away from egotism and “idolatry” defined as worship of something less than God–for example, self, nation, or wealth. Continue reading “Neo-Orthodoxy: The Apotheosis* of Power as Power Over by Carol P. Christ”

5 Interesting Facts about Women and Religion by Kile Jones

Kile Jones, atheistPart of my research is focused on how the social sciences relate to “religion” and religious studies.  More specifically, I spend time examining the sociology of religion.  I look at stats, demographics, and polls.  I look at rates of attendance, frequency of prayer, levels of “religiosity,” apostates (or the less religiously-loaded term “exiters”), and political outlooks.  I also look at how bias this area of study is in favor of religion.  One facet of this work that has always interested me, is the differences in “gender” and “sex” as they relate to religious beliefs and observances.  Accepting the fact that there are spectrums of sex, gender, and identity, and the presence of difficult philosophical questions surrounding self-identification and the limits of labels, some really interesting facts and statistics crop up time and time again.  In what follows I will lay out a couple of these interesting facts, along with some thoughts on them: Continue reading “5 Interesting Facts about Women and Religion by Kile Jones”

The Words Ring Hollow by Kelly Brown Douglas

July 2008 the United States House of Representatives passes a resolution apologizing for the more than two hundred years of slavery and the decades of Jim Crow that followed.

June 2009 the United States Senate passes a resolution apologizing for slavery and Jim Crow.

October 2007 Tallahatchie County Mississippi Board of Supervisors and Sheriff William Brewer, Jr. sign a resolution apologizing to the surviving family of Emmett Till for his murder and for the acquittal of the two men who murdered him.

March 2013 Montgomery Alabama police chief Kevin Murphy apologizes to Congressman John Lewis for the failure of police to protect Lewis and other Freedom Riders from mob attacks when they rode through Montgomery in 1961.

April 2012  “I am sorry for the loss of your son,” George Zimmerman says at his bail hearing to the parents of Trayvon Martin. Continue reading “The Words Ring Hollow by Kelly Brown Douglas”

“We Are Atheism” and Amanda Brown by Kile Jones

Kile Jones, atheistSo far, as a regular contributor to Feminism and Religion, I have interviewed a “pro-science” woman and one who started an online community for grieving unbelievers.  In this post, I will interview Amanda Brown, an atheist activist who co-founded a project called We Are Atheism.  Amanda grew up in Independence, MO, in the Assemblies of God and the Restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Since then, she has been involved in helping atheists “come out” and share their experiences.  So without further ado, here is the interview:


Why did you start “We Are Atheism”?

I started We Are Atheism because I saw a gap in the age of atheists coming out of the closet.  I also wanted a way for people to see for themselves that atheists are real people.  We Are Atheism is focused on the fact that atheists are mothers, fathers, teachers, brothers, friends, and so much more. When I was at the 2011 Secular Student Alliance Conference in Columbus, OH, I heard most of the leaders tell stories about their groups and how many of them didn’t know other atheists. I thought this was horrible, and being a person who was in the same position, I wanted to start something that would bring our community together.  Those who met on the internet could take their community from online to the neighborhood. Continue reading ““We Are Atheism” and Amanda Brown by Kile Jones”

The Story of Juneteenth by Kelly Brown Douglas

Tomorrow is a special day for me. It is Juneteenth.  On June 19, 1865, news finally reached Galveston, Texas that slavery had been abolished. This was of course two and a half years after Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. While the actual impact of the emancipation for the enslaved remains a source of historical discussion if not debate, the fact of the matter  is that the proclamation of emancipation and the reality of freedom for black women and men did not necessarily coincide. To be sure, for a variety of reasons, the Emancipation Proclamation did not have an immediate impact on the daily lives of enslaved women, men and children.  While the “official” historical records marks   January 1, 1863 as a day of emancipation, the historical record for the descendants of enslaved men and women marks June 19, 1865 as the day of freedom. For, it was on this day that the last slaves were free.

While the celebrations of Juneteenth have waxed and waned over the years, it remains a day in which African Americans reflect upon the “mighty long way” we have come as well as the “mighty long way” we have left to go on the pathway toward freedom.  As I celebrate Juneteenth, in the words of a black gospel song, “My soul looks back and wonders how they got over.”  And so it is that my theological imagination is stirred, for it is clear that it was by faith that they (the enslaved) got over. And so I ask, what kind of faith was it that allowed them to get over, that is, to survive a life of bondage? This question is even more pressing to me each time that I am reminded that there were those who were born into slavery and died in slavery, and thus, as Toni Morrison once exclaimed, “never drew a free breath.” So, what kind of faith was it that carried these people through life? Continue reading “The Story of Juneteenth by Kelly Brown Douglas”


carol p. christ 2002 colorRape is not something that “just happens” in the military. It is an inevitable product of military training. Unless and until we understand this and change the way soldiers are trained, we will never be able to stop rape in the US military or any other military system.

The right to rape women of the enemy has been considered one of the “prerogatives” of warriors since the beginning of warfare.  Propaganda-Poster-MasculinityCould “military training” which “turns boys into men” by calling them “girls” or “women” or “gay” in order to break down their self-esteem and remold their “character” as soldiers be one of the reasons rape is such a pervasive problem in the military? Are “boys” being taught that the only way to “prove” their “manhood” is to replace “identification” with women—their mothers, sisters, girlfriends, wives—with a new “identity” as a “dominant male” who “dominates” women and weaker men?  I fear that if we fail to address the “core issue” of “military training,” we will never get to the root of the rape culture that pervades the military.

Unfortunately the model of training boys to be men by humiliating them with taunts that they are “girls” or “gay” is not limited to the military but is also a regular part of sports training.  In both the military and sports, terms like “sissy,” “wuss,” “pussy,” “faggot”–and worse–are regularly used by male authority figures in order to “spur” boys “on” to feats of “physical achievement” that require “punishing” their own bodies and the bodies of others.  The use of these epithets in the context of humiliation makes it clear that “a man” is not “a woman” or “a gay”:  “a man” is someone who has eradicated all of his “feminine” qualities while learning to dominate and humiliate women and effeminate men.

Is it any surprise that rape of women and effeminate or gay men is pervasive in the military and in sports culture? Continue reading “RAPE CULTURE IN THE MILITARY AND “TURNING BOYS INTO MEN” by Carol P. Christ”

Betraying Bodies by Kelly Brown Douglas

Her name was Tricia Meili. Their names were Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, Korey Wise and Kevin Richardson.  On April 19, 1989 all of their lives were irrevocably changed. They would never meet, but their lives would become forever linked.  When they entered into Central Park on that night, did they know that they were stepping into a haunting history of dismembered bodies?  Tragically, their bodies would become another story to be told in that history.

On that April day in history some 34 years ago one white female body went into Central Park for her routine jog. Five black and brown male teenage bodies went into Central Park to hang out, but soon became a part of a crowd engaged in mischievous if not dangerous and out-of-control harassment of other park visitors. As the night wore on, police were called and arrests were made. It would later be discovered that Tricia was brutally and sadistically raped, but not by Yusef, Raymond, Antron, Korey or Kevin. Yet, the five young teenagers were badgered into confessions, charged with the rape and sentenced to prison. Continue reading “Betraying Bodies by Kelly Brown Douglas”

(Femen)ism? by Kile Jones

Kile Jones, atheistAs most of us are aware by now, there is a “feminist-sextremist” group from Ukraine called “Femen.”  This group has been very controversial by their public demonstrations of nudity, the words they paint on their bodies, and their explicit condemnations of political structures and organized religions.  They were started by Anna Hutsol in 2008 and have now spread throughout Europe and the Middle East.  The question I pose for this post is: Does Femen harness or hinder the power of the feminist critique?

Image from Konstantin Chernichkin/Reuters
Image from Konstantin Chernichkin/Reuters

Femen is precisely the kind of movement that pushes us in our understanding of feminism, the means by which it is best expressed, and the issues surrounding moral condemnation and religious sensitivity. Continue reading “(Femen)ism? by Kile Jones”

Feminism and Football By Marcia W. Mount Shoop

Marcia headshot“How did race and privilege affect the NCAA investigation of the football program at University of North Carolina?”

This was the question a student posed to me recently when I gave a Skype lecture to a Sports Ethics class at the University of Washington’s Center for Leadership in Athletics

I am going to take a wild guess (and I may be wrong), and assume that most readers of the FAR blog don’t know much about the NCAA investigation of the UNC football program.   I have outed myself on this blog before—I am more than just a feminist theologian; I am also a football coach’s wife.  Lots of people wonder how I manage to pull that off and still look at myself in the mirror.  That’s a complicated question.  I am finding that the challenges presented by our experience at UNC are creating more and more space for the feminist and the coach’s wife to find a common purpose.  Which brings us back to the question at hand—race and privilege and how it played into the football investigation at UNC.

You may want to investigate the many details of this investigation, but I would like to invite this feminist community to see what you think about this question of privilege in particular.   I will provide just a few factual statements for you all.  You tell me if you can think of ways that race and privilege may have been at work to the detriment of certain groups in this situation.  Continue reading “Feminism and Football By Marcia W. Mount Shoop”

Orientations: Body, Space, Authority by Linn Marie Tonstad

Linn Marie TonstadIn her book Queer Phenomenology, Sara Ahmed investigates how we orient ourselves in space with respect to tables – the tables around which we sit, at which we eat with friends and families of choice and birth, and at which we write. She describes moving into a new place and arranging the furniture. “After the kitchen, the room I hope to inhabit is always the study. Or the place that I have decided is the place where I will write. There, that will be my desk. Or it could just be the writing table. It is here that I will gather my thoughts. It is here that I will write, and even write about writing. … Making a place feel like home, or becoming at home in a space, is for me about being at my table. I think fondly of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. How important it is, especially for women, to claim that space, to take up that space through what one does with one’s body. And so when I am at my table, I am also claiming that space, I am becoming a writer by taking up that space.” (11) Ahmed goes on to discuss how certain possibilities are opened up, and others foreclosed, by the way we orient ourselves (or find ourselves oriented) to others and to objects. She describes the bodily postures that result from orienting oneself to the writing table – the way one might hunch over one’s computer, or find oneself with ink-stained fingers.

In a very different context, the queer theologian Marcella Althaus-Reid describes a scene from her childhood in Argentina. She kneels in front of a priest for confession. But instead of kneeling to the side, aslant, as she ‘ought’ to have done, being a girl, she kneels directly in front of the priest, as if she were a boy. Kneeling here too is a form of orientation, a form of direction, a bodily habit of becoming. “Kneeling is troublesome and it has a theological referent in the church’s also troubled waters of sexuality and power. A whole symbolic sexual order is obviously manifested in kneelings as positions of subordination and sites of possible homo- and hetero- seductions, because these are theologically distributed around the axis of the priesthood’s male genitalia. The priest’s penis carries the sacred connotations of the phallus as a transcendental signifier of the theological discourses to everyday Christianity, and kneeling is a liturgical positing designed to centralise and highlight this.” (The Queer God, 11) To kneel in the right (gendered) position in relation to the priest is also to kneel in the right relation to God. Continue reading “Orientations: Body, Space, Authority by Linn Marie Tonstad”

Grief Beyond Belief and Rebecca Hensler by Kile Jones

Kile Jones, atheistIn my last post, “A Pro-Science, Skeptical Woman Speaks” I interviewed a woman with whom I share many views in common.  One of my goals here at Feminism and Religion is to introduce different secular, atheistic, liberal feminists who share many of the same ethical views as regular contributors and readers, but not the same “religious” or “spiritual” ideas.  In this post I examine an online support network for unbelievers, Grief Beyond Belief, and ask a few questions to its founder, Rebecca Hensler.

I met Rebecca in February in San Francisco while on a visit I made to meet with the Unitarian Universalist Association in regards to my ordination.  My girlfriend and I met Rebecca in North Beach, San Francisco for dinner and drinks.  I experienced her as a compassionate, friendly, and genuine person.  Her experiences and insights inspired me to think more about the role of grief and pain among unbelievers.  I mean, atheists cry, agnostics experience loss, skeptics lose family members, and we do it all without a “God” or “spirit” to help us.  And if we were to meet C.S. Lewis, we would make

sure to exclaim, “No…pain is not some megaphone for God to rouse a deaf world.”

R Hensler

Why did you start Grief Beyond Belief?

The original idea was born of my own grief.  After my son died, I found a group in which to share comfort and compassion with other grieving parents: The Compassionate Friends, a mainstream parental grief support organization with a strong online presence.  It was so close to exactly what I needed, but I frequently felt alienated by the religious and spiritual content — not just the offers of comfort that depended on beliefs I do not hold, but the assumption that everyone there held some sort of belief in life after death. And the assumption, so common in mainstream grief support, that even if I am not the same religion as you are, I have a religion, and I believe in some sort of afterlife was equally alienating and hurtful. Continue reading “Grief Beyond Belief and Rebecca Hensler by Kile Jones”

What Does Exclusivism Feel Like? Part II by Janice Poss

This is part two of a post started yesterday. At the end of it I asked why a woman cannot be a follower of St. Ignatius and a Jesuit.

The days of separating religious communities because rape is a possibility should be behind us–as we all know separating the sexes does not prevent rape anyway.  Let’s get real, if I can understand the Ignatian exercises, use them in discernment, prayer, and reflection, understand the concepts and gain the graces, through doing them in a similar fashion as male Jesuits, what’s the big mystery, what’s keeping me out of the Jesuits–except that that it is a male club that is exclusive.  Exclusion of any kind is oppressive, whether it is for racist, sexist, or other reasons.

Communities based on separation and exclusion because of sexual temptation ignore the simple fact that all people need to be responsible for their own actions.  Male religious in exclusivist communities are like the Iowa  dentist who fired his assistant because she was “too” good looking.  He said could not control his own urges, his own temptations.  An all-male court was unanimous in upholding his right to fire his assistant of more than 10 years. Is not an all male court a biased court? The woman in question certainly did not get a decision rendered by her peers!

That such a trial could even take place is an aberration of colossal proportions and reeks of the male, misogynist, supremacist backlash that is going in society right now in America and everywhere.  Continue reading “What Does Exclusivism Feel Like? Part II by Janice Poss”

Marriage as a Commodity (Satisfaction Guaranteed) by Michele Stopera Freyhauf

Freyhauf, Feminism, Religion, Durham, Old Testament, Blogger, Bible, Gender, Violence, Ursuline, John CarrollThis Saturday I will be presenting a paper about Cyberbrides at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.  While my focus for that paper is the impact on mothers and families, my research also revealed how some Cyberbrides (or Mail-Order Brides) are selected from internet catalogues with “satisfaction guaranteed” and how “International Marriage Broker” may be a cloak hiding the agencies’ involvement with human trafficking.

Cyberbrides are essentially mail-order brides, but like pen pals, they can chat and exchange pictures on the Internet and interact through video or instant chat.  There are almost 2.9 million website matches that turn up when Google-ing “Mail-Order Brides” within 19 seconds of pressing the “return” button. With the low cost of social media, a new venue to market and display this “commodity” is available.  Presently,  about 30 Facebook sites exist that advertise “Mail-OrderBrides. Continue reading “Marriage as a Commodity (Satisfaction Guaranteed) by Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

Let the Walls Come Tumbling Down by Dawn Morais Webster

Dawn Morais Webster, the Pope off to his summer palace, Castel Gandolfo. He tells the world he will now become just a “humble pilgrim.”

If we want to see real change in the church, Catholics need a Rosa Parks moment.

Thousands fill St. Peter’s Square for the final blessing. A gleaming helicopter whisks the Pope off to his summer palace, Castel Gandolfo. He tells the world he will now become just a “humble pilgrim.”  But this humble pilgrim will be housed in an apartment behind the “Apostolic Palace,” be addressed as “His Holiness,” share a secretary with the new Pope, carry the newly created title of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and continue to wear his white cassock.  Sound like a humble pilgrim to you?

Speaking with Tavis Smiley recently, theologian Gina Messina-Dysert pointed to the resignation of this pope as probably the most progressive sign in the recent history of the Catholic church. She argued that an act so singular, it has not happened in more than 600 years,  suggests that the church can also break with other traditions.

Continue reading “Let the Walls Come Tumbling Down by Dawn Morais Webster”

Gods of War by Barbara Ardinger

Let’s talk about Mars and Ares. It’s common to think the Greek and Roman pantheons were identical and the gods and goddesses just had alternate names. This is not true. The Roman gods and goddesses personified civic virtues, whereas Greek mythology was largely philosophical.

I’ve been thinking about Carol Christ’s two excellent blogs about patriarchy and its connection to war and our so-called heroes. We read or watch the news today and learn about “our heroes” serving in the Middle East, about warriors who’ve come home and are suffering from deep wounds both physical and emotional. Yes, these men and women do indeed deserve our support…but, still, I ask, Why are people who are trained to kill other people called heroes? It’s a very thorny problem, and I must set it aside as I write this blog. Continue reading “Gods of War by Barbara Ardinger”

Second Class Rape Victims: Rape Hierarchy and Gender Conflict

Deconstructing masculinity isn’t the key to solving social, sexual, and domestic violence across the world but it is a step worth taking when attempting to engage men in affecting change to stop these violent actions since men, statistically are the perpetrators of such crimes that both cause such outcry as well as perpetual silence.

johnThe most disturbing part of the 2006 documentary Deliver Us from Evil isn’t the fact that Father Oliver O’Grady is rewarded by the Catholic Church with a new congregation in Ireland after his short stint in prison for the rape of dozens of children in the 1970s, but rather the hierarchy of gendered victimization which is often created throughout the various rape cases that are both reported and unreported throughout history.

I am often troubled by the ways in which rape cases are discussed and deconstructed via mediums such as blogs, online communities, social media networks, the news, and popular culture.  No series of events troubled me more than the Jerry Sandusky trial, but more importantly, the ways in which the young boys and adult men who were subjected to Sandusky’s abuse quickly overshadowed the other rape cases that are reported on a daily basis, specifically those involving young girls and women. Continue reading “Second Class Rape Victims: Rape Hierarchy and Gender Conflict”

On Pronouns and Liberation in the Classroom by Ivy Helman

photoIn my introduction to Christianity class, almost every one of my students (who come from diverse religious backgrounds – primarily Roman Catholic, Protestant and Muslim), continues to believe that the best image if not the only appropriate image for G-d is male.  When probed they may speak generically about G-d as genderless, an entity or spiritual presence of some kind, yet conclude by affirming their belief that G-d is male often by adding something along the lines that G-d is best described as Father.  Some go so far in these affirmations that they articulate G-d’s maleness as fact.  It never fails that every semester I struggle with how to address this basic feminist issue within the classroom.

At least as early as 1973, Mary Daly, in Beyond G-d the Father: Towards a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation, articulated the problematic basis of the relationship between gender and divine imagery.  She argues that “If G-d in ‘his’ heaven is a father ruling ‘his’ people, then it is in the ‘nature’ of things and according to divine plan and the order of the universe that society be male-dominated.”  In other words, if maleness is associated with divinity, then the power, domination and running of society by men seems to be divinely ordained. Continue reading “On Pronouns and Liberation in the Classroom by Ivy Helman”

Imagine a Catholic Church that Loved as only a “Woman” Loves by Michele Stopera Freyhauf

Freyhauf, Feminism, Religion, Catholic Church I came across an abhorrent display of ignorance Saturday when reading an article quoting the Pope’s theologian, Dominican priest Wojciech Giertych, on why women cannot be ordained.  This man is in charge of reviewing speeches and texts submitted to the Pope to ensure that they are free of doctrinal error.  Once you read this, I am sure that many of you will have the same thoughts that I do ranging from – that explains a lot — to —  we are in serious trouble!

Giertych touted the common arguments made against ordaining women – Jesus was a man, Jesus chose only male disciples, etc.  However, then he put forth statements about, (1) the theologian’s task, (2) why maleness is essential to the priesthood, and (3) what the vocation of women is and is not.

What is the Theologian’s Task?

According to Giertych, the theologian’s task in determining the definition of priesthood:

 “In theology, we base ourselves not on human expectations, but we base ourselves on the revealed word of God” without the freedom “to invent the priesthood according to our own customs, according to our own expectations.”

According to CTSA (Catholic Theological Society of America), the theological task is described as follows:

Theologians throughout history have promulgated the riches of the Catholic tradition by venturing new ways to imagine and express the mystery of God and the economy of salvation revealed in Scripture and Tradition. This is a Catholic style of theological reflection that very many Catholic theologians continue to practice today. The teaching of the Second Vatican Council in its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) is especially eloquent on this responsibility” (See Gaudium et Spes #44).

Continue reading “Imagine a Catholic Church that Loved as only a “Woman” Loves by Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

Truth and Consequences–This Feminist’s Perspective? by Marcia Mount Shoop

Marcia headshotIn John’s Gospel, Pilate’s response to Jesus’ self-identification as the one who “came into the world to testify to the truth” is a simple question:  “What is truth?”  His question hangs in the air as he moves from that conversation to the throngs he sought to please.  Pilate took the temperature of that crowd to decide Jesus’ fate even though he, himself, found no reason to charge Jesus with a crime.  Pilate asks the question from a position of power—literally holding life and death in the ambivalence and maybe even in the sincerity of his words.

The “t” word has been center stage in our collective conversation of late with Lance Armstrong’s Oprah-event confession  and the Manti Te‘o girlfriend-dying-of-cancer hoax at Notre Dame .   The Internet is abuzz with reactions to both confessional moments.  Lance Armstrong’s confession apparently didn’t play well with the general public.   And people are weighing in about whether Manti Te‘o could really be so naïve or if he just didn’t know how to tell everyone the truth when the story got out of hand.   Continue reading “Truth and Consequences–This Feminist’s Perspective? by Marcia Mount Shoop”

The Next Liberal Prophet: What Will She Look Like? By Amy Levin


This past Martin Luther King, Jr. day, I was privileged enough to attend the 57th presidential inauguration at the U.S. Capitol.  Spirits were high and it seemed as if we were breathing recycled air infused with the hope of four years past.  As the President approached the stage, he appeared with the confidence of a second term sage, and yet there was a newer, fresher quality about him – purified and politically born-again. As he began to speak, the religious undertones leaped out into the pews.  Beautifully crafted in diction, rhetoric, and reference, Obama pleased and inspired his dedicated supporters. Guiding us historically through Seneca, Selma, and Stonewall, we understood the meaningful tributes toward women, African Americans, and the LGBT communities. But there was an excess – another constituent represented – God had entered the stage.

Continue reading “The Next Liberal Prophet: What Will She Look Like? By Amy Levin”

Winds of Change in the Roman Catholic Church by Michele Stopera Freyhauf

Michele FreyhaufIn 2007, I had a conversation with a professor who felt that change was in the air for the Roman Catholic Church. The basis of this opinion was based on language. The words and the context used in writings that emerged from the Vatican were changing and somehow different – a difference that went beyond personal writing styles of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. This professor was hopeful that positive change for women could be coming. He was right about change in the Church, however, the changes surrounding women that emerged have not been positive.

As I continue to reflect on these words, I ponder the issue of language; specifically the impact words have and the way they are used to facilitate subtle changes in thinking, opinion, and beliefs. The method of persuasion that seems to be employed is the Aristotelian Rhetorical Theory that utilizes the five canons of rhetoric: invention, organization, style, delivery, and memory.

An example of this can be seen clearly in the changes in the liturgy that occurred last year. First, the teaching comes out with the rationale as to why the liturgy needs to change. From there a discussion, especially through the media, addressing the upcoming modifications are followed by subtle changes in the liturgy beginning with the call – response and the language in the creed. Next, the language of the celebrant began to change. Finally, the full implementation of changes is made with the addition of new gestures or movements. When I discussed the mass changes with a family member, there was an admittance that the changes no longer affect them – the changes were no longer noticeable. Their memory was impacted because the routine is now second nature.

In order to come to grips with the issue of language and the observation of my professor, I wanted to do a cursory review of the writings issued by the Vatican during this period. Admittedly, with a blog post, there is a limitation as to the depth and breadth of information that can be disseminated. It is my hope to eventually complete a thorough review of the modification of language used during Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy. For now, I want to address a few observations.

Continue reading “Winds of Change in the Roman Catholic Church by Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

We Are All Earthings: Speciesism and Feminist Responsibility Toward Animals by Amy Levin

Amy2“earth’ling: n. One who inhabits the earth.” – Earthlings, 2006

“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creatures through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion.” -Henry Beston, The Outermost House

I was passing out leaflets at Columbia University a couple weeks back, when a passerby who took a pamphlet on veganism and the cruel uses of animals turned back around to approach me. He said, “I am a vegetarian, so I understand not eating meat. But what is wrong with some of the uses of these animals? What is wrong with seeing eye dogs?”  A valid question indeed, and one I had to pause for a moment to answer. I mustered up something along the lines of the ways that many of the seeing eye dogs in the industry are unfairly treated or neglected. “Oh, he said.” He seemed content with an answer he could relate to – suffering. In my experience leafleting and participating in animal rights advocacy, I receive a number of questions, many of them wanting to know the same thing, what is WRONG with the horse-drawn carriages at Central Park? And each time I (and I presume many other activists) offer similar answers, the suffering answer. But there is another layer, beyond the quick, violent spark of imagination that connects physical pain with empathy. And it has to do with power and structural inequality, and the use of one group for the benefit of another. And it has everything to do with feminism. Continue reading “We Are All Earthings: Speciesism and Feminist Responsibility Toward Animals by Amy Levin”

SPECIAL AAR SERIES Part 2: Gamer-Player/ Gamer-Avatar: The Potential of a Video-Gaming Body by Sara Frykenberg with introduction and response by Mary Hunt

Sara Frykenberg Mary HuntIntroduction:

This is one of four papers presented in Chicago at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, November 17, 2012, in a session entitled  “Feminism, Religion and Social Media: Expanding Borders in the Twenty-First Century,” organized by Gina Messina-Dysert and chaired by Rosemary Radford Ruether with Mary E. Hunt as the respondent. What follows is the general response followed by, after each of the contributions, Hunt’s appreciative analysis. The first paper was posted here on Feminism and Religion, and the other two papers are posted here and here on the Feminism in Religion Forum

General Remarks by Mary Hunt:

The stated purpose of the panel is to discuss “how digital projects are remapping the feminist theological terrain and creating opportunities for a wide range of voices to participate in ongoing and new conversations related to feminist issues in religion.” These writers have done that and more. Continue reading “SPECIAL AAR SERIES Part 2: Gamer-Player/ Gamer-Avatar: The Potential of a Video-Gaming Body by Sara Frykenberg with introduction and response by Mary Hunt”

%d bloggers like this: