May 2002 by Letha Dawson Scanzoni
- The World Wide Web and You
- Resources for Christian Living
- Topic of the Month: Feminist Theology
- Current Issues
1. A reminder: When you click on the links below (words underlined in a contrasting color) you’ll be taken outside the EEWC site. In most cases, you can come back to the EEWC website by clicking on the back button on the toolbar at the top of the screen. (In some cases, when you click on the link to an external sites, a new window opens up, and the back button won’t take you back to the site you just left. In such cases, try clicking on the X in the upper right corner of the new window to close it. You’ll find yourself back at the EEWC site, which was there the whole time, underneath the new site’s window.)
2. Since the links are outside the EEWC website, we cannot be responsible for their content. Their inclusion in this column doesn’t necessarily mean EEWC endorses all or any of the content you may find in a particular site. A listing under “Web Explorations” only means they’re websites that I think you’ll find of interest.
3. All “Web Explorations for Christian Feminists” columns are archived, so be sure to visit the archives from time to time to check out tips and links in previous columns.
Dealing with E-mail hoaxes and chain letters
Each month, in talking about “The World Wide Web and You,” I like to introduce some general sites with information about the Internet–useful materials outside our main topics in Parts 2, 3, and 4 below.
This month, I thought we’d look at helpful material for sorting out those annoying messages that so often clog our e-mail boxes–e-mails sent out to a long list of addresses, usually by well-meaning acquaintances and friends. They may spread a rumor or an urban legend, ask you to sign a petition, or issue a dire warning about a computer virus. Sometimes they’re chain letters that attempt to make you feel guilty (or warn that something bad will happen), or they may imply that unless you forward the e-mail to a certain number of other people (or to “everyone you know”), you’re not a caring friend or you’ll miss out on some special blessing.
The About.com “Current Netlore” section has some of the best definitions and descriptions of Internet hoaxes, urban legends, rumors, and Internet “junk” that I’ve found anywhere on the Web. For example, if you’ve wondered about some of those strange claims (such as the claim that Bill Gates or Disney may pay you $1000-$5000 for sending their message to everyone you know to help Microsoft “track e-mail,” or that Gap, Inc. will send free clothing certificates for e-mailing your friends, or that the government has passed a bill to charge a 5-cent tax on every e-mail you receive), check out the hoax encyclopedia.
The About.com site also has helpful information about those endlessly circulating petitions that you might have felt obligated to sign to support some worthy cause or simply because a good friend sent it to you and you don’t want to let them down. For example, if you’ve rushed to add your name in good faith to the petition to save National Public Radio, you’ll want to read “The Case of the Pointless Petition“. Another e-mail petition that originated with sincere good intentions years ago, but which caused lots of problems for the university where it originated, was a student’s petition on behalf of the women of Afghanistan. When you check out the information on this “petition that goes nowhere,” be sure to scroll to the end and read the letter from Brandeis University telling why the sender’s e-mail privileges were cancelled after sending out the petition, even though the cause was a good one.
Besides hoaxes, urban legends, rumors, and petitions, there are the bogus virus warnings. Sometimes you’ll receive an e-mail with lots of names in the “To” window and lots of CAPITAL LETTERS and !!! in the text of the e-mail to make sure you get the (exclamation) point. Such messages warn you of some monstrous virus that will eat up your computer’s hard drive. You can be reasonably sure that such virus warnings are hoaxes. (The sensational tone, exclamation points, and caps are good clues.) Check out some of the many virus hoaxes and learn how to deal with them.
At the same time, stay informed about the dangers of real viruses that can do great harm. Consult the About.com guide’s virus information databases. And make sure your computer is protected by up-to-date anti-virus software.
Finally, if you hate chain letters as much as I do–and if you’re offended by the effort to manipulate and coerce you into sending them to others–you’ll want to check out Break the Chain. This site shows how such efforts are not only annoyances which clog our e-mail boxes; they’re also violations of privacy by listing everybody’s addresses for all the world to see (and which, like e-mail petitions, can open you to even more junk e-mail). The site will give you courage to do exactly what its title says, break the chain.
This month, rather than list a large number of different sites where you’ll find resources for Christian living, I thought you might like to visit the many areas offered on the American Bible Society (ABS) website.
Clicking on “About the Bible” on that opening page will take you to information on how we got the Bible, how translations are done, a time line of biblical events, and other helpful material.
Notice the American Bible Society’s emphasis on diversity, with special Bible related materials that celebrate various racial, ethnic, and cultural heritages, such as providing a new easy to read popularSpanish translation of the New Testament and the Jubilee Project, which is an effort toward “building bridges and healing hearts,” bringing Black and White believers together for honest dialogue on race issues.
You can also see sample pages of the new Jubilee Bible, which celebrates the African American cultural heritage. A “frequently asked questions” (FAQ) section of the Jubilee Bible description points out that 300 pages of material supplement the Bible text, offering “an Afrocentric interpretation of the Scriptures that has not been available before” and that “liberates all readers from narrow Eurocentric interpretations of the Bible and helps make it more immediate and relevant to people of African descent.”
If you click on the American Bible Society’s Bible Learning Center, you’ll find all sorts of other useful material. Click on “Bible 101″ on the Bible Learning Center opening page and you’ll find a useful chart summarizing what each book of the Bible is about. Or click on “Games and Devotionals for Kids” to find materials to help children learn to pray, understand the Bible, and more.
In the Research Center part of the ABS website, you can find information about the Music & Scripture project and other media projects, and you can find full text articles on topics related to serious Bible study. Just click on “Key articles/Papers” on the menu on the left side.
Moving on to a different website, you might want to check out “Resource Pages for Biblical Studies,” a website designed and regularly updated by Torrey Seland, a professor of Biblical Studies at Volda University College in Norway. Numerous online materials for serious scholarly research in Biblical studies may be found there.
For an introduction to this month’s special topic, feminist theology, click on “The Word of God according to Female Biblical Scholars“, a brief overview from the Hartford Courant, which quotes (among others) Sister Miriam Therese Winter, a name very familiar to EEWC members.
Another excellent introduction to what feminist theologians are saying is Rev. Maggie McNaught’s summary of Rosemary Ruether’s feminist theological approach.
I think you’ll also enjoy the National Catholic Reporter article by Thomas Fox, “She’s a Benedictine, Bible based Feminist,” a description of a speech by Joan Chittister, whose speaking at our own EEWC conference in 2000 was such a highlight.
The full text of numerous scholarly papers related to women and theological concerns are available on the Web. Here are some you might want to check out:
Feminist Studies in Religion and a Radical Democratic Ethos by Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza and an interview with Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza from the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion in which she tells how and why the journal came into existence in 1985.
An oft-quoted classic article, “Jesus was a Feminist,” by Leonard Swidler can be accessed online, as can Virginia Ramey Mollenkott’s 1982 Christian Century article, “An Evangelical Feminist Confronts the Goddess.”
Both are available at religon-online.com, which offers numerous full text articles on religious subjects. For more articles specifically on feminist theology that may be found on that website (such as some I’ve included in this column from time to time), look under “Theology” and click on “women’s, feminist.”
In recent years, there has been a movement away from speaking of feminist theology in the singular and thinking instead of feminist theologies in the plural, as women from diverse cultures reflect on biblical and theological matters in the context of their own experiences and concerns. Check out this brief summary from the Religious News Service, “Feminist Theology Charting New Course(s)” by Kathi Wolfe.
You might also want to explore Women in Judaism, an online journal on gender issues in Judaism, and Jewish Feminist Resources. And check out the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance’s website to read the article, “Bless This Holy Congregation” by Blu Greenberg, who writes that Orthodox Judaism is in a “transitional state” with regard to women’s issues. She talks about a number of questions that will remind many Christian feminists of the questions and struggles we, too, have undergone in thinking through traditional understandings of our faith in terms of our feminism and our feminism in terms of our faith.
This month, in view of the recent attention being given to sexual abuse by members of the clergy, this part of “Web Explorations” is being devoted to this one current issue only.
Check out Call to Action’s “Responses to Current Issues: The Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal” for a very thorough list of resources that can be found on the Web. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom to view the list in its entirety. Then check out the links that interest you. You’ll find plenty, I’m sure!
Also read the many useful materials available online through the Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence. And if you’re called upon to comment on the recent cases of clergy sexual abuse, be sure to click on the “talking points” offered on that website. You’ll find some wise and useful suggestions.
There are so many links embedded within the two sites just mentioned that I think I’ll stop right here. I’m sure, with all the other links provided in the previous sections of this column, that you’ll have more than enough sites to explore over the next month . So I’ll sign off for now and see you again in June.
Your Web Explorations tour guide,
Letha Dawson Scanzoni
© 2002 Evangelical and Ecumenical Women’s Caucus