This month’s Herstory Profiles are going to be on two extraordinary, courageous, and underrepresented Chinese Women. Afong Moy was the first Chinese Immigrant to America who found fame and ridicule. Anna May Wong was the first Chinese American Actress who was at the forefront of the ever-changing media and silver screen. These two women are trailblazers, revolutionaries, and have long been regulated as footnotes.Continue reading “Herstory Profiles: The First amongst many, Afong Moy and Anna May Wong by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”
ESCORT SERVICE by Esther Nelson
These days, I spend most of my time in Roanoke, Virginia. I moved here—a three-hour drive west—from Richmond, Virginia. One of the ways I’m settling into my new community is by volunteering as an escort at Planned Parenthood.
The job is straight-forward: Greet people as they exit their vehicle when they arrive at the medical facility’s parking lot. Usually, there are several protestors in front of the building, and clients must drive past them before turning right into the driveway. Protestors wave pink, plastic bags filled with anti-abortion literature as well as pamphlets that outline a specific, Christian view of “salvation.” Not many drivers stop. If they do, I walk over to the line that divides Planned Parenthood property from public space and wave the cars forward. The drivers are grateful. So many clients are nervous, upset, and unsure of protocol. One woman asked me if I was associated with “those people out there,” pointing to the protestors. “Not at all,” I assured her. She smiled with relief.Continue reading “ESCORT SERVICE by Esther Nelson”
The Daughter, the Alliance-Maker (Women in the Book of Daniel, part 2) by Liz Cooledge Jenkins
Note: This is the second in a two-part series reflecting on women in the biblical book of Daniel. For part 1, see here.
The second female character I noticed while taking a deep dive into the book of Daniel appears even more briefly. Daniel 11:6-7 includes her story: “The daughter of the king of the South will go to the king of the North to make an alliance, but she will not retain her power, and he and his power will not last. In those days she will be betrayed, together with her royal escort and her father and the one who supported her. One from her family line will arise to take her place” (NIV). It is a brief story—and not a happy one, in the end. But I think it’s worth reflecting on.
In this chapter of Daniel, an unnamed supernatural messenger gives Daniel a detailed account of a long series of violent power struggles between various kings. Empires accumulate and then are broken up (vv. 3-4). One king is strong, but his commander proves stronger and overtakes him (v. 5). Attacks are victorious, and valuables are seized and carried off (vv. 7-8). Retreats are made (v. 9). Great armies are assembled (v. 10). Kings “march out in a rage” toward battle (v. 11). Armies are carried off, and thousands are slaughtered (v. 12). You get the idea. Everything is violent. Everything is bloody. Everything is one brutal war after another, one brutal kingdom after another, one brutal ruler after another. It all starts to blur together.Continue reading “The Daughter, the Alliance-Maker (Women in the Book of Daniel, part 2) by Liz Cooledge Jenkins”
From the Archives: Recognizing Abuse by Karen Tate
This was originally posted on March 8, 2019
I’ve been thinking a lot about abuse. Of course, most of us know about the domination, exploitation and need for control meted out by patriarchy, but I wonder if we have actually normalized many abuses? Abuse in the home, in the workplace, in our culture. Perhaps we accepted it unconsciously because so many of us are conditioned by religions that tell us to make noble sacrifice and tolerate suffering silently. I wonder if we’re calling it out when we see it – often and loudly – or if we’ve become conditioned to quietly accept the abuse with little push back.
My intent is not to offend anyone with this. I want to find common ground and defeat the polarization we find around us, but our President is the poster child for abusive behavior. Do we recognize his lies and fear-mongering and so many of the ideas he gives credence and license to as abuse? Not only is he eroding our democratic institutions but he poisons the political, social and cultural arena with negativity, fear and hate, rather than uplifting us and encouraging us to evolve and be the best version of ourselves. I equate him to poison in a well from which we must all drink.Continue reading “From the Archives: Recognizing Abuse by Karen Tate”
Herstory Profiles: Indian Royalty, Suffragette, Women’s Rights Activist by Anjeanette LeBoeuf
April is Sikh Awareness month which is incredibly important this year due to what is currently happening in the Punjab by the Indian Nation State. If you haven’t heard about the government shutdown largely targeting Sikhs, you can read here. To keep the focus on the Sikh Community, this post will be focused on the amazing royal turning fierce activist and suffragette – Sophia Duleep Singh.Continue reading “Herstory Profiles: Indian Royalty, Suffragette, Women’s Rights Activist by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”
Legacy of Carol P. Christ: REMEMBERING MERLIN STONE, 1931-2011
This was originally posted on February 20, 2012
“In the beginning…God was a woman. Do you remember?” Feminst foremother and author of these words Merlin Stone died in Feburary last year.
I can still remember reading the hardback copy of When God Was a Woman while lying on the bed in my bedroom overlooking the river in New York City early in 1977. The fact that I remember this viscerally underscores the impact that When God Was a Woman had on my mind and my body. Stone’s words had the quality of revelation: “In the beginning…God was a woman. Do you remember?” As I type this phrase more than thirty-five years after first reading it, my body again reacts with chills of recognition of a knowledge that was stolen from me, a knowledge that I remembered in my body, a knowledge that re-membered my body. My copy of When God was a Woman is copiously underlined in red and blue ink, testimony to many readings.Continue reading “Legacy of Carol P. Christ: REMEMBERING MERLIN STONE, 1931-2011”
Divinely Feminine Events to Change the World by Caryn MacGrandle
In the bathroom at 4am in the morning, I hear the birds start to sing. Instantly, I am transported back to my tent at Midwest Herbal Conference in Wisconsin to the excitement of starting a new day with the feeling of being in nature with fellow conmadres, amazed at the knowledge and wisdom the women around me hold. Watching them go into the forest, bend down to see a plant, put it in their mouths and eat it.Continue reading “Divinely Feminine Events to Change the World by Caryn MacGrandle”
From the Archives: No Hope, No Problem: Reflections on Pesach, Time and Paradox.
Author’s note: This post was originally published on April 19, 2019.
In “Time Telling in Feminist Theory,” Rita Felski suggests that there are four main ways feminists discuss and use time: redemption, regression, repetition and rupture. They are aptly named as they behave similar to their labels. Redemption is the linear march of time, hopefully progressing step by step towards a redeemed, or at least better, future even if sometimes things get momentarily worse. Regression is the want to go back in time or at least return to idyllic and/or imagined pasts: to matriarchy or to a time before patriarchy’s violent arrival. Repetition is a focus on the cyclical nature of time in bodies, in daily chores, in seasons and so on. Rupture posits a break in time in a way what was before no longer makes sense or doesn’t exist. Think utopia or dystopia.Continue reading “From the Archives: No Hope, No Problem: Reflections on Pesach, Time and Paradox.”
Herstory Profiles: Irish Women of Faith, Activism and Politics by Anjeanette LeBoeuf
As it is March, and March is a month for me that is always devoted to celebrating my Irish roots and women, my Herstory Profiles will be on a few exemplary women from Ireland: Brigid (Irish Goddess and Catholic Saint), Margaret O’ Carroll of Éile (Paragon of Leadership, Strength, and Compassion), and Mary Robinson (Historic Leader, Activist, and Humanitarian.)Continue reading “Herstory Profiles: Irish Women of Faith, Activism and Politics by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”
Vayak’hel-Pekudei: On the Contributions and Gifts of Women by Ivy Helman.
This week’s Torah portion is a double one, Vayak’hel-Pekudei (Exodus 35:1 – 40:38 and Exodus 12:1-20). Vayak’hel covers the construction of the Mishkan, or the temple that traveled with the Israelites while in the desert, and Pekudel outlines the requirements for Pesach, particularly the sacrificial lamb, the blood on the doorposts, and the requirement to eat unleavened bread. For this post I will focus on Vayak’hel as it is the only portion that makes direct mention of women. It reminds us of the ways in which religion and religious institutions would not be possible without the contributions of women.
Vayak’hel centers on the construction of the Mishkan beginning with the general assumption that everyone (here men and women) will donate the items needed to construct the Mishkan. The text also contains verses in which women are specifically mentioned. They donate their gold jewelry (35:22) and mirrors (38:8) as well as spin wool and linen into yarn to be used for the Mishkan’s copious amounts of curtains (35:25-26).Continue reading “Vayak’hel-Pekudei: On the Contributions and Gifts of Women by Ivy Helman.”
That Old, Old, OLD Story – The Warts and Wisdom of the Ancient
My grandmother Clarine was an incredible human being. I absolutely could not be more proud to be her granddaughter. She started her first teaching position in 1927 at age 17. She met my grandfather in seminary; but despite her clear talent and call, the church apparently felt one minister was enough for the family and refused to ordain her. Undaunted, she famously wrote a one line reply to the bishop: Well, Moses got along fine without it, and Jesus got along fine without it, so I’ll be fine without it, too.Continue reading “That Old, Old, OLD Story – The Warts and Wisdom of the Ancient”
Herstory Profiles: Activist Preacher Fannie Lou Hamer by Anjeanette LeBoeuf
Throughout the course of this year my monthly posts are going to spotlight extraordinary women; a FAR Herstory Journey. Our first Herstory profile will be Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977): a staunch Civil Rights, Voter Rights Singing Activist, Preacher.Continue reading “Herstory Profiles: Activist Preacher Fannie Lou Hamer by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”
Legacy of Carol P. Christ: Woman and Nature: Our Bodies Are Ourselves
This was originally posted on June 26, 2017
This earth is my sister; I love her daily grace, her silent daring, and how loved I am how we admire the strength in each other, all that we have suffered, all that we have lost, all that we know. We are stunned by this beauty, and I do not forget: what she is to me, what I am to her.
These words are from Susan Griffin’s Woman and Nature which I often recommend as one of my favorite books. Over the years I have read this passage and others from Woman and Nature aloud with my students, and we have always been moved, most of us to tears. More recently these words have become the center of the “Morning Blessing” on the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete.Continue reading “Legacy of Carol P. Christ: Woman and Nature: Our Bodies Are Ourselves”
Rhiannon by Diane Finkle Perazzo
This poem is dedicated with gratitude to my “Women in the Mabinogi” writing group…
Rhiannon comes to me in my dreams.
She ebbs and flows like the waxing and waning
of the moon.
clop, clop, clop
and then, in a rush of beating wings
leaving a swirl of tiny white petals that spiral like stars.
Women, Blame, and Patriarchy by Mary Gelfand
Last May I had a vision in the shower. It wasn’t the kind of vision I like to have—where the Goddess and I dance across a meadow with flowers springing up as we pass and cool breezes bringing sweet fragrances. This was the kind of vision I’d rather not have, but probably needed to. This is from my journal.
Something happened during my shower recently that feels relevant. As I stepped into the shower, a phrase thrust itself into my mind: “I was forced to watch them die and it was all my fault.” As I ‘stood’ there with water pouring over my body and that statement vibrating in my brain, it attached itself to a scene where I was the spiritual leader of a community that came under attack. I was forced to watch the women and men who believed in what I taught as they were executed. Many of them were friends and relatives. I was restrained and couldn’t intervene to save them, or join them in execution. Having to witness this was part of my punishment. Instead I was carried to a bigger town, publicly humiliated and beaten, and then executed in some painfully unpleasant way I can’t recall–probably because I don’t want to.Continue reading “Women, Blame, and Patriarchy by Mary Gelfand”
Legacy of Carol P. Christ: FORGIVENESS or TRUTH: WHICH IS THE BEST REMEDY?
This was originally posted on March 5, 2012
What happened to you really was bad. This should not happen to any child. It should not have happened to you.
In our culture there is often a rush to forgiveness that precedes acknowledging the harm that has been done. When I was a child and my father yelled at me or withheld love, I was told by mother, “He really does love you. He just does not know how to show it.” She sometimes added, “Even though he will never say he is sorry, you should forgive your father, because he did not really mean what he said.”Continue reading “Legacy of Carol P. Christ: FORGIVENESS or TRUTH: WHICH IS THE BEST REMEDY?”
Legacy of Carol P. Christ: Speak the Truth about Conflict, Pain, and Suffering: It Is Not All Love and Light
This was originally posted on July 23, 2018
Walk in love and beauty.
Trust the knowledge that comes through the body.
Speak the truth about conflict, pain, and suffering.
Take only what you need.
Think about the consequences of your actions for seven generations.
Approach the taking of life with great restraint.
Practice great generosity.
Repair the web
Legacy of Carol P. Christ: “What Would Happen If One Woman Told the Truth about Her Life?”
This was originally posted on September 24, 2018
According to poet Muriel Rukeyser, “the world would split open.”
This poem accurately describes what many women experienced in consciousness raising in the 1970s and what many women experience today in the #MeToo movement.
For many of us the world did split open. We began to take ourselves and our experiences seriously. To do so we had to question received wisdom encoded in such questions as: “What was she doing there in the first place?” “Was she drinking too?” “Why didn’t she change out of her bathing suit?” Underlying these questions is the assumption that: “whatever happened, she must have asked for it.”
A lot of people are wondering why congressmen and voters who claim to uphold Christian principles are not more outraged about credible allegations of sexual assault against a child whose name was Christine Blasey. What this question fails to address is the fact that the Christian principles (if any) held by conservatives are steeped in patriarchy. Liberals may argue that Jesus would have cared about the girl, and I believe they are right. But the Christianity that developed after his death was centered on the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all of whom are male. This Christianity is patriarchal to the core: its deep message is that power belongs the hands of males and that male power is not to be questioned.Continue reading “Legacy of Carol P. Christ: “What Would Happen If One Woman Told the Truth about Her Life?””
Legacy of Carol P. Christ: The Mountain Mother: Reading the Language of the Goddess in the Symbols of Ancient Crete
The blog was originally posted on May 22, 2017
Before he told the story of how his people received the sacred pipe, Black Elk said:
So I know that it is a good thing I am going to do; and because no good thing can be done by any man alone, I will first make an offering and send a voice to the Spirit of the World, that it may help me to be true. See, I fill this sacred pipe with the bark of the red willow; but before we smoke it, you must see how it is made and what it means. These four ribbons hanging here on the stem are the four quarters of the universe. The black one is for the west where the thunder beings live to send us rain; the white one for the north, whence comes the great white cleansing wind; the red one for the east, whence springs the light and where the morning star lives to give men wisdom; the yellow for the south, whence come the summer and the power to grow.
But these four spirits are only one Spirit after all, and this eagle feather here is for that One, which is like a father, and also it is for the thoughts of men that should rise high as eagles do. Is not the sky a father and the earth a mother, and are not all living things with feet or wings or roots their children? And this hide upon the mouthpiece here, which should be bison hide, is for the earth, from whence we came and at whose breast we suck as babies all our lives, along with all the animals and birds and trees and grasses. And because it means all this, and more than any man can understand, the pipe is holy. [italics added]
In this passage Black Elk illustrates the multivalency of symbols: the sacred pipe does not have a single meaning, but many meanings, in fact, more meanings than anyone can understand.Continue reading “Legacy of Carol P. Christ: The Mountain Mother: Reading the Language of the Goddess in the Symbols of Ancient Crete”
Two Steps Forward, Three Steps Back By: Anjeanette LeBoeuf
It is a new year, 2023 and with it, some truly concerning elements. One of the most all consuming is that of the persistent and continual attack on women, communities of color, non-Christian communities, and the queer community.
One of my last FAR posts talked about the situations, uprising, and horrible killings done by the Iranian Fundamentalist regime. The protests are still happening, more people are being arrested, and the death toll has continued to rise. We have also seen the death of the longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, and the surprised resignation of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.Continue reading “Two Steps Forward, Three Steps Back By: Anjeanette LeBoeuf”
The Patriarchal Dilemma by Janet Maika’i Rudolph
I was listening to a newscast when it was reported that the Ukraine sent missiles into Russia. My initial thought was “it’s about time they took it to the Russians.” The next moment I was horrified at myself. I am a pacifist. I think the proliferation of weapons is one of humankind’s great evils and here I was cheering on an attack. One that could escalate an already nasty war, lead to nuclear weapons use and possibly even a world war. And yet when I look at what is happening in Ukraine, my mind simply can’t comprehend what the people are going through. The trauma of the children cuts particularly deeply. And I can see no sane reason behind the strikes other than rank cruelty.
There it is in a nutshell, what I have come to call the patriarchal dilemma. It’s a no-win situation with no right answer. While life might place us in such positions all on its own, the patriarchal form of this is created by design. It is nasty, it is cruel, and loss of human life and ecological destruction are not glitches but features.Continue reading “The Patriarchal Dilemma by Janet Maika’i Rudolph”
Legacy of Carol P. Christ: What I Celebrate at Christmas
This was originally posted December 28, 2020
Though I have not been Christian for many years, I love to decorate my house for the holidays. I have many decorations that I have collected over the years, including a Hummel angel gazing at the Christ child that was my father’s mother’s and a small crocheted Christmas tree given to me by my mother. My Christmas tree is a living one in a pot, and I usually manage to keep it alive on the balcony or outside for several years. One of my hobbies is collecting ornaments for the tree. Among my favorites are glass icicles and snowflakes crocheted by my friend Alexis many decades ago. There are white doves and brown birds that land on the tree branches and glass balls that have come into the stores again in recent years.
Continue reading “Legacy of Carol P. Christ: What I Celebrate at Christmas”
Deconstructing and Reconstructing Love by Chasity Jones
Note: This is based on a podcast which can be heard here.
What is love? What’s love got to do with pain and suffering? Are they related? Pain and love? Must one always be present with the other? In this blogpost I explore pain and suffering through a womanist perspective (centering the perspectives and lived experiences of Black women) and discuss how to live into wholeness and wellness. This is especially important because the Black community/women in particular’s experience in the US (and globally) has been and continues to be defined by pain and suffering. What are the theological implications?
How have Christian frameworks at associating love with sacrifice and pain justified the pain and suffering of Black women? How can we decolonize love so that liberated Black women are empowered to embrace a love that does not hurt first with false promises of rewards later in life or afterlife? Black women, pain does not equal love.Continue reading “Deconstructing and Reconstructing Love by Chasity Jones”
Legacy of Carol P. Christ: On Believing Things That Are Not True
This was originally posted on August 19, 2019 (when the former guy was President. Although former guy isn’t in power now, Carol’s points are still operative in our world.)
Anyone who is following American politics these days knows that the American President and his acolytes have little respect for what the rest of us consider to be the truth—or at least the best approximation of the truth that we can discern. Last week, while discussing the “lie” of white supremacy that approximately 40% of the American public has bought hook, line, and sinker, I had occasion to reflect again on the relation between traditional religious beliefs and rejection of reason and common sense. As is also well-known the President and his supporters have no respect for factual truth.Continue reading “Legacy of Carol P. Christ: On Believing Things That Are Not True”
We Endure Abuse to Survive, Part 1 by Karen Tate
I considered myself savvy and educated and an advocate for peace, fairness and equality. I thought abuse was something that happened to others, not me. But it was happening to me. It had happened to me and I didn’t see the danger signs as my life careened off the road. I became aware abuse and the resulting trauma can happen to anyone. I came to realize we have to examine all aspects of our lives for both blatant and insidious abuse. We must recognize it and take steps to eradicate abuse from our lives and society. That’s where I’ve been on for the last five years and I’m only now able to begin to share that journey. To write a new book, Normalizing Abuse, and bring my radio show, Voices of the Sacred Feminine, back on the air after a long hiatus.
If you knew me before my unraveling, you might remember I was the hostess of the Voices of the Sacred Feminine podcast for more than a decade where I had the privilege of interviewing some of the most prominent thought leaders in spirituality, politics and academia. I’d published six books, gave talks at the Parliament of World Religions, the Academy of Religion and various other public and private associations. I had done dozens of interviews and was all over YouTube. I was out there and then gradually I wasn’t. I faded away and became a shadow of my former self. And for a time I don’t think I cared if I ever came back. I had no motivation or inspiration. I didn’t open my closet for three years. I didn’t care if I bathed or brushed my teeth. I was dreaming someone was trying to push me into a dark hole in the wall of a building. I’d hear floorboards creaking and feared the foundation of the house I was living in would collapse. I’d wake up with heart palpitations because the latest dream was one where our home had no ceiling or roof. I’d think cars slowly driving by my house were surveillance.Continue reading “We Endure Abuse to Survive, Part 1 by Karen Tate”
Carol P. Christ: Weaver of Visions by Beth Bartlett
Author’s Note: Today’s post is the 4000th FAR blog post! I first became aware of the Feminism and Religion blog when participating in a symposium honoring the life and work of Carol P. Christ in October 2021. I was inspired to write a piece on Christ’s contribution to ecofeminism, that was posted in the FAR blog a year ago today. I wanted to post another piece on Christ on the anniversary of that first post. I’m delighted that it is the 4000th, and so fitting that it is written in honor of Carol Christ, who was such an important part of the FAR blog.
A while ago, a friend asked me what spiritual reading I’d been doing lately. I told him that I’d been revisiting classics from the past. When he asked me who specifically, the first name I mentioned was Carol Christ. Even though he was a minister, he had never heard of her. Sadly, I suspect the same would be true for the vast majority of ministers, priests, rabbis, theologians, and other religious leaders. Yet, I can think of no one who has had a greater influence on my religious and spiritual thought and beliefs.Continue reading “Carol P. Christ: Weaver of Visions by Beth Bartlett”
Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete – Reborn! by Laura Shannon
Thirty years ago, Carol P. Christ founded her Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete, which she wrote about in her book A Serpentine Path: Mysteries of the Goddess (original 1995 title Odyssey with the Goddess) and in numerous posts on this site over the years. She led over 40 groups of women Pilgrims to encounter the history and sacred sites of the peaceful, egalitarian civilisation of Bronze Age Crete.
Here, the Goddess-honouring culture of Old Europe survived the longest, when patriarchal Indo-Europeans were taking over in the ‘Kurgan waves’ Marija Gimbutas has described. The sophisticated artworks of ‘Minoan’ Crete show women in positions of honour and authority, and do not depict violence, slavery, or war. People celebrated at ceremonial centres, made offerings at cave and mountain shrines, and worshipped the Goddess in sacred trees and stones.
As many readers know, before Carol passed away, she asked me to take on the leadership of her Goddess Pilgrimage, and to serve as her literary executor and the director of her Ariadne Institute for the Study of Myth and Ritual. Deeply moved by her trust in me, and guided by very clear dreams I received around the time of her death, I accepted Carol’s request. In October 2022, after a three-year delay due to the pandemic, the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete was reborn.Continue reading “Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete – Reborn! by Laura Shannon”
Legacy of Carol P. Christ:“Ursula Niebuhr, Ursula Niebuhr”: Unacknowledged Co-author of Great Works of Theology?
This was originally posted on August 26, 2019. It fits in with our new project of Unsung Heroines.
A few days ago while watching the movie The Wife, I kept hearing the words “Ursula Niebuhr, Ursula Niebuhr,” in my mind. I knew the reason was Ursula’s unacknowledged collaboration on the work of Reinhold Niebuhr, which I discovered while writing an earlier blog on uncredited co-authors.
I had not been particularly interested in seeing The Wife because I assumed it was the familiar story of the woman who gives up her career interests when she marries. Want to become a rabbi? Marry one. Want to become an artist? Live with him and become his muse. This is a very old story, and for me, not a very interesting one.Continue reading “Legacy of Carol P. Christ:“Ursula Niebuhr, Ursula Niebuhr”: Unacknowledged Co-author of Great Works of Theology?”
Willful Women, Feminist Killjoys, and Jesus: Reflections on Sara Ahmed’s Living a Feminist Life by Liz Cooledge Jenkins
I’ve been thinking about willful women and feminist killjoys—two main guiding images in feminist scholar Sara Ahmed’s book Living a Feminist Life (Duke University Press 2017).
The idea of the willful woman (or willful girl, or willful person) is something I can easily get behind. The way I understand it, it has to do with women getting in touch with our own wills and being willing to speak and act and live out of our wills. Particularly if these wills turn out to exist in opposition to the things other people might will for us.
It’s about learning to stand up for ourselves, learning to affirm our full humanity in a world that often expects…less. It’s a way of consciously, intentionally being willing to be called “willful” as a negative thing—as in, stubborn, selfish, antagonistic, difficult—because the affirmation of our own wills is worth it.
I like all of this and find it helpful. Be willful. Expect pushback and penalties for it. Be willful anyway.Continue reading “Willful Women, Feminist Killjoys, and Jesus: Reflections on Sara Ahmed’s Living a Feminist Life by Liz Cooledge Jenkins”
The Problem of Jehosheba: Reading One Biblical Character in Two Different Feminist Ways by Jill Hammer
Tucked away in II Kings 11 is the story of a mother-daughter feud that is personal, political, and ultimately fatal. Jehu, a charismatic military commander, is anointed by Elisha as the next king of the northern kingdom of Israel. Jehu kills the previous king of Israel, Jehoram, and also Jehoram’s mother Jezebel (yes, that Jezebel—the famous/infamous queen). As part of his violent rise to power, Jehu also kills Ahaziah, king of the southern kingdom of Judah. Ahaziah’s death should mean that Athaliah (Atalya), who is queen mother of Judah as well as the daughter of Jezebel, cedes power to a new king and a new queen mother. Instead, according to the Book of Kings, Athaliah has the rest of the king’s sons and grandsons murdered, and seizes the throne for herself.
All seems lost for the Judean line, except that Jehosheba (Yehosheva), wife of the high priest Jehoiada and sister of the murdered King Ahaziah, saves one of Ahaziah’s sons, along with the child’s wetnurse, and hides them both in the Temple. Jehosehba keeps the boy, Joash, and his nurse in the Temple until he is six years old. At that time, Jehosheba’s husband, the high priest, anoints Joash king, stages a coup, and executes Athaliah as a usurper. Jehosheba’s action saves the Davidic line. The collection of Jewish legends known as Otzar Midrashim lists Jehosheba as one of the righteous women of the Jewish people.Continue reading “The Problem of Jehosheba: Reading One Biblical Character in Two Different Feminist Ways by Jill Hammer”