Slant the Truth by Esther Nelson

esther-nelsonSeems to me that our society nowadays “believes in” slavishly following step-by-step instruction found in “how-to” manuals.  By following such rigid-like instruction, we hope to find meaning that enables us to live fulfilled lives.  This became evident to me (all over again) during a recent departmental meeting at the university where I teach.  We put aside discussion of items on the agenda because our director had invited a guest speaker, the Vice President of the Division for Inclusive Excellence, to talk to our group about “equity and inclusivity.”

In the wake of the University of Missouri students’ complaints (Fall 2015) regarding persistent racism (among other things) and their demand for more inclusion within the university, a group of students recently made their way into our university president’s office to demand change.  More Black professors.  More Black counselors.  Cultural training on campus.  After listening to the students, the president invited them to participate in an upcoming forum on diversity and inclusion, promising that his staff would work to get them excused from class.  Continue reading “Slant the Truth by Esther Nelson”

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”

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