Summer, 2010 by Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Web Explorations is a quarterly digest of annotated links, leading to websites and web pages where you can read articles, listen to audio podcasts, watch videos, or preview movie trailers. I hope you’ll take some time to scroll through the entire list and read the short descriptions. Then click on any links that immediately grab your attention. Skip the ones that don’t. Maybe you’ll want to come back and click on some of the other links at another time. I hope you will. (Please keep in mind that EEWC-CFT can’t be responsible for any content in links outside our website.)
In this edition, I have clustered the links into six categories: (1) Prayer, Worship, and Living in Faith; (2) Feminism: The Importance of Gender Equality; (3) Issues Related to Race; (4) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) issues; (5) Issues Confronting Religious Institutions; and (6) More Issues Calling for Compassion and Social Justice. I hope you’ll enjoy exploring them as much as I have enjoyed compiling and describing them
Prayer, Worship, and Living in Faith
Does E-Mail Make It Harder to Pray?
A Jesuit priest reflects on ways the digital age is affecting our spiritual lives and what we can do about it.
(From the Huffington Post)
Diana Butler Bass on Prayer Wars
Noting some of the bitter controversies surrounding the National Day Of Prayer, 2010, Diana Butler Bass provides us with a history lesson and concludes: “National prayer without a state church is utterly unrealistic and consistently raises knotty theological and political questions, as our forebears discovered.” (From the Huffington Post)
Taking the Next Step in Inclusive Language
Pamela Payne Allen reflects on pronouns for God and why many people find them so troublesome. This is an older article (1986) but it’s as fresh as the discussions many Christians are having today. (From the Christian Century originally and reprinted at Religion-Online by permission )
“Contemplating Feminine Incarnation”
Julie Clawson ponders the question, “What if Jesus had been born a girl?” (From the Sojourners God’s Politics blog)
“Hymnwriting is Alive and Well”
Joan Huyser-Honig provides evidence that “more hymns are being written now than ever before.” (From the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship). For more on the subject, viewers may want to read Mary Louise Bringle’s article, “Songs as yet Unsung: Why the Church Needs New Hymns” in the spring 2003 issue of our publication, Christian Feminism Today.
Described as “the only near-comprehensive index of hymnals published in North America,” this website is filled with information on hymn tunes, texts, and the people who wrote them.
“What the Success of Women Rabbis means for Judaism”
Rabbi Laura Geller writes that “Judaism has changed because women rabbis have helped shape the conversation” and shows specific examples of what is happening (From the Huffington Post). This is a good companion piece to read alongside Amy-Jill Levine’s review of Elyse Goldstein’s anthology, New Jewish Feminism from the Winter, 2010 issue of Christian Feminism Today.
“The Evolution of an Evangelical Creationist”
Rachel Held Evans tells of her own journey and that of many other young people as they move away from the rigid teachings and culture wars of a version of Christianity they have learned to question. “Young evangelicals are in the process of picking apart and deconstructing this tangled mess of ideas in order to get back to the most basic teachings of Jesus,” she writes. (From the “On Faith” section of the Washington Post)
DVD recommendation: As It Is in Heaven
(This link takes you to an interview with the co-writer and producer and has a partial trailer embedded.) This is one of the best movies I have seen in a long time, and I am puzzled about its having received so little attention in the U.S., since it was so highly acclaimed in other countries. it was , however, one of the finalists for best foreign language picture at the 2005 Academy Awards. My thanks to Susan Campbell of “Dating Jesus” for calling it to my attention. It’s a Swedish film with subtitles and has both lovely scenery and beautiful music. But more than that, it’s a warm, touching story in which you will get to know and love the characters and feel you are part of their lives. It’s centered around a renowned orchestra conductor who, after a heart attack, returns to the village of his childhood and gradually finds both his life and the lives of many of the townspeople changed after he reluctantly becomes director of the church choir. But such an overly simplistic description doesn’t do the film justice. What is really significant is how various individuals come to realize they don’t have to wait until heaven to appreciate their worth — it can be “as it is in heaven” right now as people (especially the women) come to see themselves as persons of value who can give themselves permission to make significant changes in their lives. A battered wife gains the courage to leave her bullying husband; the submissive wife of a emotionally cold, legalistic minister finds the courage to reject his judgmental, sin-centered theology; a man mocked for his weight gathers the courage to stand up to his tormentor. Take some time to read this review by an Australian Christian (the review is a wonderful spiritual statement in itself) and also this one, and then rent the DVD. I think you’ll be glad you did. (As a Netflix subscriber, I was able to watch it instantly as a streaming video.)
Feminism: The Importance of Gender Equality
Reclaiming the term feminism
This article about the importance of speaking out for feminism by name is one of many such articles on a blog for teenage feminists. Their writers and commenters don’t shy away from the termfeminism and let it be known that they understand the importance of gender equality. Take some time to read such short posts as “Proclaiming Oneself as a Male Teenage Feminist” or some of their thoughts about sexism they’ve observed in classes or science projects. These young writers are also not afraid to provide critical analyses of books and authors they consider biased against feminism. The comments of other students who write in to respond to the blog posts are always interesting, too. (From the F-Bomb blog for young feminists)
Attitudes toward Australia’s first female prime minister show why feminism is still needed
A young Australian feminist decries the widespread sexist attitudes and comments she heard and read online upon the election of Australia’s first female prime minister. (From the F-Bomb blog for young feminists)
“Feminism is alive and well — even Sarah Palin wants to be one”
That’s the headline AlterNet gave to this transcript of a CBS “Women’s World” discussion among Katie Couric, Gloria Steinem, and Jehmu Greene. director of the Women’s Media center. You can watch a video of the interview here. (From AlterNet and the “@Katie Couric” blog at CBS news)
Anna Quindlen on “To Kill a Mockingbird” anniversary
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publication of To Kill A Mockingbird, Mary Murphy asked various well-known personalities what this classic novel has meant to them. She published their responses in a new book, Scout, Atticus, and Boo. One of the contributors, writer Anna Quindlen, says that to her the central character in the book was always six-year-old Scout because Scout dared to be herself and not a “girlie girl.” Quindlen says “there really aren’t that many of those girls. There were hardly any of those girls in our real life, and there aren’t that many of them in books. So you store them up as a hedge against the attempts of the world to make you into something else.” (From the Huffington Post)
In Sweden Men Can Have It All
In Sweden, both mothers and fathers are granted paid parental leave to care for and bond with new babies. Increasingly, men as well as women want work work-life balance in their lives, and some countries are trying to make that possible. (From the New York Times)
Pew Poll on perceptions of gender equality around the world
In this survey of respondents from 22 nations, most people indicated a belief in gender equality but were inconsistent in beliefs about male privilege in jobs and education and in the reality of everyday lives of women and men. (From the New York Times)
Gender neutral clothing
Did you know that at one time pink was the color for boys and blue was the color for girls? (From Slate)
“For Working Mothers in Academia, Tenure Track Is often a Tough Balancing Act”
This article by Daniel de Vise outlines some of the problems. (From the Washington Post)
The Equal Partner Marriage of Martin and Ruth Bader Ginsburg After the June, 2010 death of Martin Ginsburg, husband of Supreme Court Justice Ruther Bader Ginsburg, NPR’s Nina Totenberg presented this tribute to the wonderful egalitarian marriage the couple had enjoyed over their 56 years together. (NPR audio and transcript). The program inspired me to do some further research and then contrast Ginsburgs’ equal partner marriage to the patriarchal image of marriage presented by those who describe themselves as Christian complementarians. See my post, “Complementing and Complimenting” on the intergenerational 72-27 blog for July, 2010.
The Persistence of Patriarchy
In visiting some conservative churches, EEWC’s Anne Eggebroten found that teachings about male headship and female subordination are very much alive. She delves into the topic of complementarianism and provides a critique of neo-patriachy. (From Sojourners magazine, July 2010)
Patriarchy in the church and its effects
Sara VanScoy, a psychiatrist who also has an M.Div. and who was raised Southern Baptist, has strong feelings about patriarchal teachings. She writes, “As a board-certified psychiatrist, I have to say that there has been more harm done to women — young women in particular — in the name of ‘biblical manhood and womanhood’ than anyone can possibly imagine.” (From God’s Politics, a Sojourners blog.)
Leaving the Quiverfull movement
On her “No Longer Quivering” blog, Vyckie Garrison, a mother of seven tells of her escape from the fundamentalist Quiverfull Movement after her oldest daughter attempted suicide. She describes her blog as “a gathering place for women escaping and recovering from spiritual abuse.” (From No Longer Quivering.) For more information on the Quiverfull movement that Vyckie Garrison left, see “Arrows for the War,” by Kathryn Joyce (The Nation, November 27, 2006 issue).
Issues Related to Race
Thoughtful essay on the social construction of race
“When Obama marked his Census form, he offered another lesson in what has been an intensive if unintentional seminar on the social construction of race.”
Read what Princeton professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell meant when she wrote those words. (From The Nation, May 3, 2010)
Roger Ebert on Race
Have you ever thought about how you formed your feelings about race and how those feelings may have changed over the years? That’s the kind of reflection that film critic Roger Ebert does in this thoughtful essay. (from “Roger Ebert’s Journal,”Chicago Sun-Times)
Seeing Our Place in the Matrix
EEWC member Kimberly B. George wrote this essay for the Sojourners “Culture Watch” blog, urging Christians to see the connections between sexism, racism, and other injustices.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) issues
DVD. Fish Out of Water–A new documentary about homosexuality and the Bible
When Ky Dickens was a senior at Vanderbilt University, she decided to come out of the closet as a lesbian. Her sorority sisters did not take it well, reacting harshly and bombarding her with biblical and theological arguments. At the time, she did not know anyone in the gay community and began feeling she didn’t belong anywhere but was “like a fish out of water.” So she sought out ministers who showed her how misinterpretations and mistranslations had distorted biblical teachings. She decided to make a film about her journey (and that of so many others). She interviewed ordinary people in a large area of the U.S. and found that most people had no idea what, if anything, the Bible taught about homosexuality; for the most part, they said they had just heard the Bible was against it. She interviewed LGBT people who told of how the Bible had been used to condemn them and assign them to hell. And she interviewed biblical scholars, such as Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, Bishop John Shelby Spong, and others who helped her sort through the small handful of Bible passages that have been used against LGBT people. Narrated by a cartoon figure representing herself, and using animation throughout to illustrate biblical passages, Dickens and her colleagues have produced a fast-paced hour-long documentary that is creative and entertaining as well as informative. It could lead to some great discussions with friends.
Other films you might want to view in which LGBT persons of various faiths struggle with their sexual orientation in view of religious teachings are Trembling before G-D (Judaism), A Jihad for Love(Islam), and For the Bible Tells Me So (Christianity). The pain and struggles depicted in all three faiths are much the same. All of these films are available on DVD.
DVD. Freeheld This award-winning documentary told the story of a lesbian couple who sought justice from the police pension system when a terminally ill police officer wanted her pension funds to go to her partner, as would have been the case with a heterosexual spouse. I mention it now because a feature movie, with the same name as the documentary, is now being planned. It will feature Junostar Ellen page.
What About Love?
Seminary professor Patrick S. Cheng shows why he believes that Judge Walker’s ruling, overturning California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage, “is theologically correct.” (From the Huffington Post) You can access the entire 136-page text of Judge Walker’s ruling here (From CNN’s AC360) or a summary here (From the Wall Street Journal Law Blog).
Frank Rich on same-sex marriage
Written shortly before Judge Walker’s ruling was announced, columnist Frank Rich predicted that this ruling, whatever it would be, would outshine all other news in the traditional month of weddings and would be “the most significant marital event of June 2010.” (From the New York Times.)
“Is Homosexuality an Abomination?”
Rabbi Brad Hirschfield shares some thoughts he had “while sitting in synagogue reading Leviticus 18:22.” (From BeliefNet)
A Religious Approach to Homosexuality
This is the keynote address I presented at the “Faith beyond Boundaries” conference, sponsored by People of Faith for Equality in Virginia, held at the Holocaust Museum, Richmond, Virginia, Sunday, September 25, 2005. I now have it posted on my personal website. The gathering where this speech was given was held as the commonwealth of Virginia was planning its referendum on amending the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. The amendment’s wording was some of the harshest of any such amendments passed by various states. It passed 57% to 43% in November 2006.
Poll shows Americans’ changing attitudes toward homosexuality
According to this article by columnist Charles Blow, the changes in men’s attitudes have been especially noteworthy (From New York Times and Gallup Poll). See also this CNN poll specifically on how Americans feel about same-sex marriage and the Constitution. (From CNN)
The Evil of Indifference: Evangelicals, Race, and Sexual Orientation
Andrew Wilkes calls for compassion and rethinking. (From Sojourners)
Issues Confronting Religious Institutions
Towards the Liberation of Men in the Roman Catholic Church
“With only one gender building the kin-dom of God, we have only half the kin-dom.” writes Nicole Sotelo. (From the National Catholic Reporter)
Mary Hunt on Sisters Saving the Church
Disagreeing with Maureen Dowd’s call for a female pope to “clean up the mess” of the scandal-ridden Roman Catholic hierarchy with its sex-abuse incidents and cover-ups, Mary E. Hunt of the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER) writes, “Rather, new models of Church need to emerge lest another small group—even women religious who have a long and proud history—be invested with the power and responsibility that belong to the whole community. I repeat, they don’t want it and neither do the rest of us. What we want is a democratic, participatory, egalitarian church.” (From Religion Dispatches)
Diana Butler Bass on Anglican-Episcopal rift
Talking about the problems within another religious body, Diana Butler Bass sounds a note similar to that of Mary Hunt above. According to Bass, the current Anglican-Episcopal divide is not at its roots about orthodox doctrine or gays and lesbians. No, she points out, “This is a fight between rival versions of Anglicanism, a quarrel extending to the beginning of Anglicanism that has replayed itself periodically through the centuries down to our own time.” She sees top-down authoritarianism giving way (not necessarily willingly) to another approach within Christianity. ” The tides are pulling most ecclesiastical boats toward bottom-up versions of faith.”(From The Huffington Post)
“Vatican Equates Women’s Ordination with Priest Pedophilia?”
Feminist theologian Mary E. Hunt has strong words to say about the Vatican’s pronouncement that seeking women’s ordination is a grave crime against church law, deserving of excommunication. (From Religion Dispatches)
Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC) Responds to Vatican Pronouncement.
“The Vatican’s decision to list women’s ordination in the same category as pedophiles and rapists is appalling, offensive, and a wake-up call for all Catholics around the world,” says the Women’s Ordination Conference. (From Women’s Ordination Conference Press Release)
More Issues Calling for Compassion and Social Justice
Loving a mother who is mentally ill and homeless
Penny Gruener Carothers is preparing a book on her unconventional growing-up years. In this brief, heart-touching essay, written just before Mother’s Day, 2010, she shares what she has learned from her weekly lunches with a mother who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and lives on the streets. (From Relevant magazine)
Audio: Running for the Women of Congo
An interview with Lisa Shannon, who gave up everything to help the women of Congo. (From “On Point”)
Blame the Babies
Syndicated columnist Connie Schultz exposes the mean-spirited attitudes behind the anti-immigrant movement and its targeting of what its spokespersons label “anchor babies.” (From Creators.com)
Sexism in the Immigration, Birthrate debates
Jen Phillips highlights the racism and sexism behind the talk about revising the 14th amendment. (from Mother Jones)
World Council of Churches statement on the 65th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
“The pain of this important anniversary is threefold,” states this document upon the early August commemoration. See what the three parts are. (From the World Council of Churches)
Audio/Video. Sarah Thompson’s song “Message for Freedom”
A sobering reminder of the tragic human costs of war, the song is a fitting accompaniment to the remembrances of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. (Internet Archive; Democracy Now)
Restoring Eden:Christians for Environmental Stewardship
This is one of a number of organizations working to alert Christians to our responsibility to care for God’s creation.
How to Recycle Anything
Tips for practicing recycling as an aspect of our environmental stewardship. (From Real Simple)
That’s all for now. Enjoy your exploring, and I’ll be back again in the fall with more links you’ll want to know about
Your Web Explorations Guide
Letha Dawson Scanzoni
© 2010 Evangelical and Ecumenical Women’s Caucus