Saturday, February 28, 2009

March 8 - Women of Gaza

Linda Brebner, formerly on EEWC's governing Council, sends this suggestion from Alice Walker and Code Pink for International Women's Day, March 8:

A Letter from Alice Walker to Code Pink

February 20, 2009

Dear Linda,
During the recent ruthless assault on the people of Gaza when so many people were injured or murdered, I lost my own sister; she had been ill for many years. The loss of this one person, whose death was anticipated, was such a blow, that when I considered the losses to the people of Gaza - of mothers, children, fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, and friends, I wondered how the anguish of so much tragic loss could be sustained. Housing, hospitals, nurseries, libraries, schools, were also lost. Surely the blow to the human spirit would be intolerable for many, and there would seem little reason for continuing to live.
Going to Gaza is our opportunity (my partner Garrett Larson's and mine) to express solidarity with the people there. To demonstrate the concern we feel each day for the suffering endured. Read more…

We are delighted that Alice Walker and her partner Garrett Larson will be joining our delegation to Gaza as will 25 other amazing people from around the world. The response to our call to spend International Women's Day with the women of Gaza has been overwhelming!

We were invited to Gaza by the women who run the Gender Division of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) who work everyday with poor women whose families have been devastated by the occupation and invasion.

When we asked them what we could bring with us in terms of humanitarian aid, they responded,

"Bring the women some nice gift baskets that, in addition to useful products, have something special for them as women. This is the one day we can really honor them and lift their spirits."

So we have developed gift baskets that will both pamper and sustain:

For $10, you can purchase one of these baskets, to be hand-delivered to a woman in Gaza for International Women's Day. The baskets will contain vitamins, first-aid materials, and food items, but also sweet-smelling soaps and shampoos, a beautiful pink head scarf, sweets and tea. Click here to buy one gift basket.

The women of Gaza are living with grace and resilience under incredibly stressful and dangerous conditions; for $10, you can brighten their day and remind them that the women of the world are with them in solidarity. For $50, you can do something special for 5 women. $100 will bring a message of love and support to 10 women's lives.

Please donate today and encourage your friends and family to donate, as well. You can even hold fundraisers in your community to reach as many women in Gaza as possible.

To make your gift even more personal, you and your children can send letters and drawings to 712 5th Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002 and we'll place them in the baskets.

If you wish to deliver the gift baskets in person, click here to find out how you can travel to Gaza with Alice Walker, Medea Benjamin, Ann Wright, Gael Murphy, and other amazing people from around the globe on March 5--March 12 or how you might join a delegation in the future.

Thank you for helping to show the women of Gaza that we love and honor them.
In solidarity,Audrey, Blaine, Dana, Deidra, Desiree, Farida, Gael, Gayle, Jean, Jodie, Liz, Lori, Medea, Nancy, Paris, and Rae

Green Envelope Day

Margaret Meier informs me about a "red envelope" campaign and suggests we counter it with a "green envelope day."

She writes:

This looks like a project that it might be worth countering, by sending envelopes of a different color - yellow or pale green maybe - to the White House - with a note that says:

This represents the hope and life given back to a woman who, though sad, felt that pregnancy termination was best for her, the potential child and the other people involved in her life. I am pro-choice and believe it is very important that we keep the door open for women to make their own choices about what is a difficult decision.--- or some such thing.

An anti-abortion woman writes:

Goal: 50 Million red envelopes to be sent to the White House on March 31.

"Red Envelope Day"

Get red envelopes and mail them on March 31st to the White House. You can buy them at Kinkos, or at party supply stores. On the front, address it toPresident Barack ObamaThe White House1600 Pennsylvania Ave NWWashington , D.C. 20500On the back, write the following message.This envelope represents one child who died because of an abortion. It is empty because the little one is now unable to be a part of our world.We will mail the envelopes March 31st, 2009. Prepare the envelope as soon as you can but mail it ON March 31.

Woman, Catholic, and Priest

Pastor Maria Riter Wilson officiates at a wedding in Cambria, California, this past weekend.
She is a priest in the Old Catholic Church... another one of the branches of Catholicism that is ordaining women.
She shared in the Sacred Emerging celebration with Carolyn McDade earlier in February.

Job Wanted: Caregiving

A young friend of mine, Ryan Gonzalez, cared for John, an elderly man with dementia, 12 hours per day, 6 days per week for four years.

I saw him every day when I visited my mother at Sunrise Assisted Living.

But then about ten days ago, John's family decided to move him to a facility in Arizona, probably to save money.

Ryan writes, "The worst part is that I was informed the day before he was leaving. I don't have any work right now and am still looking. If you know somebody who's is looking for a male caregiver in the Santa Monica area or somewhere close to where I live, please refer me so I can work directly with no agency involved.

I'm still flabbergasted right now and overwhelmed by what has happened. It was so fast that I had no any single clue at all."

John kicked Ryan, spit on him, and did other really difficult things, but Ryan stayed patient with him and fairly cheerful. (John's cantankerousness was such that he could not have stayed at Sunrise without one-to-one care.)

Ryan was getting maybe $6 an hour--but his agency was getting $12 or more. These agencies provide no health insurance or other benefits, no vacations. They regard the caregivers as independent workers, not employees.

Employment justice for those who care for the elderly and children is a big issue. Most caregivers are recent immigrants without education but with a tremendous personal generosity.

If anyone needs a caregiver, I highly recommend this young man.

Letha, Virginia, and Harvey Milk

Don't miss the latest Web Explorations on the EEWC website,

Besides providing recent articles and web resources on women's issues, Letha Dawson Scanzoni discusses the movie Milk and tells of the time she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott met Harvey Milk five months before his death.

In comparison with other websites that use the term "web explorations," EEWC's is listed as Number 3 out of 1,840,000 sites that can be reached with the key words "web explorations."

Congratulations, Letha!

Ever the evangelist, Letha writes, "...this is one more way that people can find their way to the EEWC website and discover what Christian feminism is all about!"

Help Obama Limit Refusal Rights

What would you do if you arrived at your local pharmacy to pick up your birth control pills and were told, "It's against my religion to fill your prescription"?

In some small towns in the US, this is happening. It's even more likely if you try to fill a prescription for the "morning-after" pill.

A few years ago a teenage friend of my daughters was being treated in a Catholic hospital for an ovarian cyst and was told that the hospital would not give her her birth control pills, prescribed to prevent excessive bleeding.

Just before leaving office, ex-President Bush issued a regulation increasing health care providers' rights to refuse information, counseling, and referrals for contraception and abortion based on their religious beliefs.

President Obama is now in the process of rescinding this increase in rights to refuse service, but he needs lots of letters, emails, and phone calls showing public support for this effort. (Those who are opposed to contraception and abortion are sending messages telling him not to do it.)

For help in sending an email or letter, go the the website for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice at or click on "Take action" below.

White House to Rescind Refusal Regulation!

Take Action!

Express Support to President Obama

The White House has issued a notice that they are taking steps to rescind the Federal Refusal Regulation. This rule, put in place in the closing days of the Bush administration, allows healthcare workers to refuse to provide information, counseling and referrals for abortion and family planning if doing so would violate their religious beliefs. This is a vast and unnecessary expansion of existing refusal clauses that have been in place for more than 30 years.

This notice is just the first step in the process the Obama administration must go through to repeal the rule, and criticism from pressure groups will be loud and constant. Please contact President Obama to express your support for repealing this ideologically-driven regulation that would limit and even deny reproductive health services for women. The voices of pro-choice people of faith must be clear in support of repeal of this unnecessary and harmful regulation.

Peace and Blessings,
Reverend Carlton W. Veazey

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Junk Food, Junk Sex

Interesting column by George Will today in the New York Times.

He says many people today are puritanical about their food but indiscriminating about their sex lives.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Jane Via, Roman Catholic Priest

Rosemary Radford Ruether writes the following report on a Catholic church with a woman priest in the San Diego area:

Mary Magdalene Apostle Catholic Community: A Good Church

On February 15 of this year I attended the Sunday Eucharistic liturgy at Mary Magdalene Apostle Catholic Community and preached the sermon on divine Wisdom.
It was one of the best experiences of a worshipping community I have had in a long time. It could be a model of how to be church for many others.
MMACC was founded by Roman Catholic Woman Priest Jane Via in 2005 and currently meets in a Methodist Church in Mission Hills, San Diego, California.
Jane Via did a Ph.D. in Religious Studies at Marquette University and was for some years a professor of Religious Studies at San Diego University, a Catholic institution and was a popular teacher in parishes. She also holds a J.D. from the University of San Diego and works in her "paying job" as a county prosecutor.
When Jane Via heard of the Roman Catholic Women Priest movement in Europe, she recognized her call to become a priest. She went to Europe where she was ordained a deacon in 2004 and two years later as a priest.
Jane decided to found Mary Magdalene Apostle Catholic Community to provide a worshipping community both for herself and her family and also for the many people of Catholic background who felt alienated from the official Roman Catholic Church.
This alienation has many causes; some feel unwelcome because they are gay or lesbian or ex-priests; or because they are turned off by its patriarchal structure, its refusal to accept needed reforms, such as women’s ordination and reproductive rights, and the cover-up of sexual abuse by the clergy.
Such people longed for a worshipping community where they could really be welcomed and feel at home.
Jane was aided in the development of the community and its liturgy by
*Rod Stephens, a liturgist by training who was a priest of the Diocese of Orange County, California for thirty years and served as Director of liturgy for the Diocese.
*Nancy Corran, who holds a Diploma in Theology from Oxford, an MDiv from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California and also studied theology and Biblical languages in Switzerland.
These three members of the Pastoral Team prepare inclusive language readings for the liturgy every Sunday and preach regularly.
In addition to the Pastoral Team, MMACC is governed by a Board of Directors and a nine member elected Community Council.
An education committee sponsors regular lectures or other educational events.
The MMACC is presently working toward a three-day workshop and Town Hall Meeting to discuss plans for further development. Among the topic for discussion will be the development of a succession plan for pastoral leadership, seeking greater diversity of members and increasing the vitality of MMACC in the larger community.
About ninety people attend MMACC regularly, with more at times of special events.
On entering the worship space for the Sunday liturgy at MMACC one immediately feels the strong sense of community in the assembled people, their joy and anticipation of a good experience in worshipping together.
An excellent choir is practicing rhythmic melodies at once modern and musically inspiring.
The liturgy has been carefully prepared, with constant reflection on how to make it more inclusive, more participatory and more authentic to the Catholic tradition in its deeper meaning.
The creed has been rewritten to express its renewed vision of faith.
It begins with the words:
We believe in God who made us all and whose divinity infuses life with the sacred. We believe in the multiple revelations of God alive in every human hearts, expressed in every culture, found in all the wisdoms of the world.
The Eucharistic Prayer is shared by all who attend, with four "voices" scattered through the congregation saying words of blessing, usually including one in Spanish. The whole community says the words of consecration.
The Lord’s prayer has also been rewritten to reflect inclusive language, as well as attention to the different versions of this prayer in the Gospels. It begins with the words:
Loving God, in whom is heaven, may your name be honored everywhere. May your Kin-dom come, may the desire of your heart for the world be done, in us, by us and through us.
After the liturgy the community often goes to a parlor for a bountiful reception. People linger and talk with a clear sense of enjoying each other’s friendship.
Although there are more things that could be done to make MMACC even better, more ethnic diversity, more activities in the larger community, what I experienced at this gathering was simply good church, doing church the way it should be done.
It expresses the kind of church many of us want and have been hoping for. There should be many more such churches.
When one thinks of the millions in the US alone who have been alienated from the official Roman Catholic Church, the constituency for such an alternative is enormous.
MMACC is alive, it is spiritually nurturing; it is deeply rooted and yet renewed in the best of the Catholic traditions.
It understands itself to be "apostolic" in the authentic sense of flowing from the community and vision of the Jesus movement.
Despite Vatican excommunications, it knows that no one can separate them from that Catholic tradition, from the love of God who is in Christ Jesus.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sacred Emerging

To sing with Carolyn McDade is a holy experience.

She flew from Cape Cod to California for the tenth year to lead a group of thirty-five women in a sacred time of touching the Divine within us and within all creation.
Dawn Waring, in plaid holding the cake above, has led the planning of this event since 2000, when she was living in the Los Angeles area (she and Nancy Steeves now fly in from Alberta).
We sang Carolyn's most well-known songs such as "This Ancient Love," "Come Drink Deep," "Shadow of Your Wing," "Spirit of Life," and "Sister, Carry On."
There were new treasures too, including one song written as a prayer for change approaching the election year 2008, "O Say, Can You See?"
O say, can you see
By dawn's early light?
What can you see?
O say! (repeat various ways)
Poems by Mary Oliver and William Stafford were central to this year's singing, including four practices/prayersongs built by Carolyn from Stafford's poem, "You Reading This: Stop."
Another new treat were six feminist Tai Chi movements, taught by Chris Berardo, who learned them from the Korean theologian Chung, formerly known as Chung Hyun Kyung.
These movements were "Fly like geese," "Pick up the moon," "Dragon rising from the sea," and others.
We were hosted by a United Church of Christ in Simi Valley.
The older women present were in their eighties; Paige Polcene brought her daughter Claire Markin, and Gay Arst came with her granddaughter, Mieko Farley. (Mieko is shown with Rae Wilken above).
Three women brought delicious soups, and Claire Hoffman baked wonderful desserts. Joyce Holmen and Joanie McClellan are the annual local organizers.
Carolyn's music is available from

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Is Jesus Pro-Life?

I returned to my car this evening after jogging on the beach to find a message written on a napkin and pinned under my left windshield wiper:




I presume this is a response to my bumper stickers, which include:

"Pro-Family, Pro-Faith, Pro-Choice" and

"Prayerfully Pro-Choice."

I wonder: Is Jesus pro-life?

Well, we're all in favor of life--the anti-abortion people own one of the most positive words in any language to express their position: life.

Is Jesus against women having the legal right to end a pregnancy in the first few weeks of gestation?

In the case of any one teenager who is pregnant, whether by rape or her own misguided choices, does Jesus want her to bear that child?

Would he mind terribly if she gave that life back to its Maker and continued to live as a child, not a mother?

I don't think so.

I could see him telling those who gathered to condemn such a girl, "Let the one who is without sin throw the first stone."

He might then say to her, "Neither do I condemn you... go your way. Try not to get into this kind of a crisis again."

Note: I collected personal stories by Christian women on this subject in a book published in 1994: Abortion--My Choice, God's Grace: Christian Women Tell Their Stories (available on Amazon or from Hope Publishing in Pasadena, CA).