Monday, July 29, 2013

A Pope for Gays and Women?

"Who am I to judge?" said Pope Francis yesterday when asked about his position on gays who are in sexual relationships.  

You're the Pope, Jorge.  Remember?

If even you take this profoundly biblical and humble position, that undercuts the entire world-wide campaign against same-sex unions.  (Pope Francis echoes the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:1.)

Wake up, Focus on the Family.  Wake up, legislators in Uganda who want to institute a death penalty for "repeated offenders"--homosexual men who are not celibate.  

Wake up, Christians for Biblical Equality and churches that judge a faithful same-sex relationship as an abomination in God's eyes.  Self-righteousness and judging the GLBT community is not the way of Jesus.  

Even more amazing is his response to questions about the status of women in the Roman Catholic Church:

"Mary is more important than the apostles."

That brings tears to my eyes.  

It puts a crack in the 1700-year old policy that only men can be priests, a  view partly based on enshrinement of Jesus's choice of twelve men as official apostles, representing the twelve tribes of Israel.  

That view requires overlooking the many women who also travelled and ministered with Jesus: Mary of Magdala, Joanna, Suzanna, "and many others who were contributing to the support of Jesus and the twelve with their own funds" (Luke 8:1-3).

That patriarchal view requires overlooking Mary, the mother of Jesus.  It allows the church to honor Mary while ignoring all other women on this planet. 

Thank you, Pope Francis, for allowing these reporters to question you so freely as you flew back to Italy after your visit to Brazil, and thank you for your gracious answers.

See also: -- website of a Christian feminist organization that supports gay rights

The Catholic Labyrinth: Power, Apathy, and a Passion for Reform in the American Church by Peter McDonough.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

More Biblical Than Thou

Evangelical fervor is catching.  I don't usually hand out pamphlets or cards with the message of salvation, but after this weekend of immersion in the CBE community, I was passing out EEWC-CFT business cards to the strangers next to me on a plane, a woman and a man.

This conference was like a world missions conference.  Many of the speakers were head of an organization to help women in Africa or Cambodia or somewhere else.  Donating and learning more about their work was clearly an option.  Many also said, "Come visit us.  We will house you and use your gifts.  Tell us what you could do if you came."   

Prayers were always in another language, then English.  Every other year the conference goes outside US.  10 or so Africans were present as speakers or workshop leaders, 6 or so Asians, maybe 15 African-Americans, 6 Asian-Americans.  Lots of men--maybe 30%. Esp. male speakers.  One of the staff told me the total registration was 250+ (some just for one day).  

And there were so many men at the conference--maye 30%.  The plenary speakers were two men, three women.  I feel more relaxed in a mostly-women conference.  I was pretty invisible at this conference, until I identified myself as being there for EEWC-CFT, but I felt that I had to be on my best behavior. 

Today's highlight for me was Bettina Tate Pedersen's workshop, "Reading the Bible, Reading Literature: Becoming a Feminist Christian Reader of the Bible."  She discussed the word "biblical" and noted that the Conference on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, CBE, and EEWC-CFT all use the word biblical to describe themselves--but come out at different places.  Sigh.  

Another similarity between CBE and EEWC-CFT: we are both viewed as dangerous by those on the more conservative end of the spectrum.  At one point we were told to turn to the person on each side of us and say, "You are dangerous!"  That phrase then came up again in many speeches.

More on Bettina's workshop:
It was in the last block of workshops, Sunday morning 9:15 to 10:15, just before the plenary worship that ended the conference, but the small room was packed with about forty people.  She provided a detailed 2-page outline and a glossary of terms used in the talk.  

Here are the main points of her outline:
I.    Reading: A Personal History (Reading's Importance in my Life)
II.   Literature Studies, Bible Interpretation, and Literary Criticism
III.  Literary Criticism: Feminist Foundations and Practice
IV. Feminist Reading Practices for Bible Reading and Sermon Listening
V.  Reading Suggestions--Feminist Effects and Realities Going Forward (Some Feminist Interpretations of Figures, Language, Messages)
    A. Descriptive vs. Prescriptive messages in the Bible
    B. Essentialist vs. Constructivist starting positions and how they shape our reading
    C. Context sometimes helps / Sometimes doesn't
    D. Selective literalism as an interpretive act
    E. Tentative/partial nature of language as inescapable (as in Deconstruction/Post-Structuralism)
    F. Label of "biblical"--like personalized hermeneutics
    G.Jesus' teaching/reading by parable

"Every reader is at the same time an interpreter," Bettina said, because we all bring to the text our own "linguistic reservoir" (a term from Louise Rosenblatt). 

"Sometimes what we bring to a text unintentionally leads us astray or causes us to bring in a foreign interpretation," she continued.  This consciousness should lead us to humility and tenderness in dealing with a text.

Bettina pointed out that "Words are referential by nature"--we use words to define words, and we use them to refer to real objects such as a rose.  

"Indeed, we live in the tentative and slippery world of words all the time."  

When you translate, things get more complicated because there may not be an English word that exactly matches or conveys everything in a Greek or Hebrew word.  

Then there are two big problems:
1) the context of a passage, methods to figure it out, and 
2) what we bring to the text in terms of our view of women and men and whether they are essentially different or just somewhat different as influenced after birth.  

In conclusion, quoting Gail A. Yee, Bettina asked: will we accept the Bible as open to multiple interpretations like any other work of art?  or will we believe that there is only one interpretation of the Bible?  

It depends on "how conscious we are of the multiple and complex task of reading."  Thus we come to see "what it means to see through a glass darkly."  

I sighed--communication and written communication are so hard!  

It was a profoundly moving conclusion, and I had to smile seeing that Bettina herself was close to tears as she ended.  That doesn't happen often.  I wanted to hug her afterward, but the room was abuzz and she was surrounded.  Another day!

Worship service:
First there was a talk by Fatuma Hashi, who has worked as director of gender and development for World Vision since 1999.  She is a lawyer and has researched women's legal rights in Sub-Saharan Africa; she's from Somalia.  

More devastating statistics: In a survey 64 million girls 20-24 years of age reported that they had been forced to marry before age 18. 12.5% of girls in Africa undergo FGM between ages 12-14 (2 million per year, 6,000 per day).  More than 60 million girls are missing (gender selective abortion or infanticide).  Girls are 30% less likely to finish primary school.  

"These are moral issues--I think this is spiritual warfare," Fatuma said.  "Christian organizations have a responsibility to do justice, to witness that men and women are equally in the image of God."  We need to end the cultural oppression of women--we need "to honor and empower them."  

Churches and pastors are the key.  She does gender trainings around the world and uses CBE materials/curriculum.  "We are dangerous," she repeated.

Then there was a Kenyan Liturgy for Holy Communion (kind of Anglican) preceded by praise singing of "Lord Most High" with some other praise singing interspersed (many raised hands).  

The mixture of super-formal language (Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy...) with simple praise songs (words shown on two screens at each end of the room) was funny.  Baptists, Anglicans, charismatics, etc.

After one very Anglican prayer, the response "Alleluia" was prompted on the screen and the room rang with "Hallelujahs!"  

The Reverend Tina Lockett gave the homily, followed by communion (wine and gluten-free wafers) at three stations.  

At mine were two African male pastors.  I walked to them and almost picked up a wafer to dip it instead of waiting with cupped hands for it to be given to me.  No moving or dancing in a circle--and I had worn a long skirt expecting something like that.

Afterward I had lunch with my South African friends Xana and Alan Macauley, who have the Hands of Compassion ministry/community of 120 people just south of Johannesburg, supported by the mega-church Rhema.  Very intense lunch--they are opposed to abortion, but Xana wanted to hear why I am pro-choice.  She said they have pregnant women come to them for help; they give them housing and food until they can place them in a more permanent place.  Two women have done abortions on themselves; Xana (pronounced Shawna) thinks perhaps HOC should change its policy to allow taking pregnant girls to a place where they can get a safe abortion if that's what they want.

All in all, I'm glad I went.  It was difficult but valuable. 
- show quoted text -

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Splattering Brains at CBE

Fashion report: 

Today at the CBE conference I wore the t-shirt from EEWC-CFT's Norfolk gathering"Walking on water and making waves" (my all-time favorite theme) with a green malachite necklace and green 3/4 pants that I call pedal-pushers but my daughters call something else (which I can't remember).  

Bettina was dressed very nicely in a green-and-black-on-white dress, I think.  (Correct me!)  As Marg Herder would say, She showed up in style today.

Real meat report:

At 10 am I walked in late to a workshop about gender-based injustice in sub-Saharan Africa by Medad Birungi, a pastor and lecturer at Kyambogo University in Uganda (I chose that workshop partly because I had attended a man's workshop yesterday and thought that Medad was a woman.  Wrong.)  

The first words I heard were, "All girls are a curse on a family....If women don't submit, they are beaten.  The man is priest, prophet, and king... The woman is a beast of burden."  Kind of a tough way to start the day--close to tears by the end of the first workshop. 


At the end of the day I was getting Medad's autograph on Tombstones and Banana Trees and he said, "You should come to Uganda."  

"I'd like to," I said, "but I don't have the money to travel to Uganda."

"If it's God's will, it's God's bill," he answered.  I stared blankly.  

He explained with a long story about his six-year-old son who had a brain tumor and needed a $250,000 surgery; the family was flown to the US, and the son was given surgery for free in Tennessee.

Next--the plenary by a young whipper-snapper (J.R. Daniel Kirk) about patriarchy in ancient Greece and Rome with quotes from Aristotle (women are whiny, jealous, deceptive, fearful, etc) and Plato and Philo of Alexander, but the Gospel "creates a new society where the standards of the old world no longer apply."  

The crucifixion (killing, shaming) was to show people the folly of challenging Rome and its hierarchies, which are the exact opposite of God's kindom.  "It shall not be so among you" (Mark 10:43). Servanthood is the key to power and should overturn patriarchy.

After lunch, another plenary about the veil in the ancient Near East and today by Cynthia Long Westfall.  Just before it Lily Lee (Cambodian I think, middle-aged) came up to pray and first said, "We need to splatter the brains of gender hierarchy out of its dense skull!"  I was wide-eyed.  

Lee Grady's cheerful exegesis of Judges 4:21 (see yesterday's post) has kind of infected the whole conference (as Claire's "Very good, very good, yay!" did at EEWC-CFT's last conference).  

He had commented on the biblical theme of "women dealing fatal head blows" (Gen. 3:15, Judges 4:21, Judges 9:53-54, II Samuel 20:16-22, and also Esther, omitting Judith in the Apocrypha).  

Taking it a step further, he concluded yesterday, "My prayer is that we help women in this country get over the hump and discover the tent peg that is inside them."

Tonight after an awards banquet there was a kind of stand-up comedy talk by Daniel Fan: "Our tendency is not to take the sin of patriarchy seriously... If you can't do anything else, at least point and laugh."  

Then more Lily Lee (female infanticide, abuse in the family, trafficking).  

Then Domnic Misolo of Kenya (FGM, wife inheritance, dowry, and other ills combatted by the Ekklesia Foundation for Gender Education). 

Just when we were about to fall asleep, we were hit by a Fifty Shades of Grey description and battle cry presented by an officer of the Salvation Army, Lisa L. Thompson, and Kristyn Komarnicki (youngish biblical feminists).  

I personally have ignored FSG.  Hearing about it was one of the more stressful parts of this day, and I was not pleased to learn that "Christians should lead in opposing this" (BDSM--don't ask).  

However, since I know someone who met his third wife at an online S&M site and this wife just filed for divorce, for the second time, I guess I need to know about it.

Auld Lang Syne Report:

I had a nice chat with Aida Bensancon Spencer and Bill Spencer (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary).  Also asked Arbutus Sider how Lucille Sider is doing.  She's living in Binghamton NY in a nice home rebuilt after it was flooded by the Susquehana a few years ago, still doing some counseling.  

All the pens have been passed out and most of the EEWC-CFT business cards.  Earlier I was beginning my introduction of EEWC by saying "It's a sister organization to CBE," but now I am saying, "It's actually a mother organization to CBE...."  

Marg Herder wrote about the two groups as complementary, but I've heard the word "complementarian" one too many times today.

Thanks to EEWC-CFT member Deb Vaughn for explaining that the statement-of-faith requirement for CBE's exhibit tables is probably meant to keep Wayne Grudem and the Complementarians away from CBE, not us.

Inclusive Language Report: 

Almost every prayer starts with "Father, we just...."  Lots of "Lords."  But my friend Bettina Pedersen reports that she heard God addressed as "Mother Father God" in the Vesper Service.

I went to the workshop on "Gender Language in Worship" by Jeff Miller, who teaches Bible at Milligan College, TN.  Mimi Haddad asked him to do this workshop--she's way beyond most of the CBE members.  

Jeff reported on the number of times the words "Father" and "Son" appear in Greek in the Gospel of John, Hebrews, James, and 1 & 2 Corinthians.  John refers to God as father about 120 times, Hebrews only twice, James three times, 1 Corinthians (Paul's second longest letter) only three times.  Jeff also discussed the frequency of other titles and metaphors for God and how various translations handle Greek pronouns. 


What he liked best was that Paul in quoting 2 Samuel 7:14a changes "he will be to me as a son" to "you will be to me as sons and daughters" (2 Corinthians 6:18 in the Greek).  Miller concluded that modern translation changes such as "brothers" to "brothers and sisters" should not be derided as merely "politically correct" but appreciated as "pertinently covenantal and positively Christian."  

After all this, my brain feels splattered.  

On the plane home tomorrow, sleepy or not, I will start Catherine Booth: Laying the Theological Foundations of a Radical Movement (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2013) by John Read, who was at the workshop on language in worship today.

Friday, July 26, 2013

"Timidity Is a Sin"

There are two of us EEWC-CFT members at this CBE conference in Pittsburgh!  I'm so happy that Bettina Pedersen is here, presenting a workshop.  I feel a little apprehensive, waiting for rejection because I'm from a gay-friendly group--kind of like being back in the 1970s and being a feminist in the church.

At the first meeting I sat next to Sarah Robertson of Wheaton, IL.  She recognized my name and told me she had been at the Fresno conference in 1986 where the Minnesota chapter of EWC split off from us over the issue of homosexuality.  Sarah was very friendly.  I wonder how many of the 200+ people in the room had been EWC members back when.  

This conference so far is stunningly good.  The title of it, "Take Every Thought Captive to Christ," turns on a metaphor that doesn't appeal to me and in fact feels repressive.  It's from 2 Corinthians 10:5.  However, Mimi Haddad's keynote address emphasized the subtitle of the conference: "Ideas Have Consequences."  

What a profound and feminist insight--like Mary Daly's "If God is male, the male is God."  

Mimi's talk was about the idea of patriarchy, understanding its consequences over the centuries, and the need "to expose and dismantle patriarchy as a 'biblical' ideal... We through the ages have constructed a world view that is harmful...."  

She said that a Weltanschauung (world view) includes epistemology, metaphysics, teleology, and ethics.  "A distortion in these elements leads to oppression, injustice, and suffering."  

We need to expose "the underbelly of patriarchy and its consequences."  She talked about abused women coming to CBE in its early years: "We learned that abusers relied upon a particular reading of the Bible to excuse their abuse.  Ideas have consequences."  

She showed the Bill Gothard graphic of God's hand using a hammer and chisel (the husband) to work on the stone (diamond?), which I think represents a woman.  Just a tad abusive.  

Mimi cited a prominent (unnamed) complementarian woman who has now left the Christian faith. Her husband's "abusive behavior chiseled away at her dignity and ultimately her faith."  Gothard's view of women's roles is related to Quietism, she said, a theology now discredited.  (Mimi holds a doctorate in historical theology from the University of Durham, England.)  Statistics show women leaving the church over ideas such as these; the number of women in churches has decreased 11% since 1991.

In the main portion of her talk, Mimi systematically refuted the four main arguments given by those who hold to patriarchal views in the church: 
1) Jesus, a male, is God.  
2) God is a father (not mother). 
3) Jesus chose 12 male disciples. 
4) Jesus submits eternally to God the Father.  

Next she did a long and dazzling riff on Katherine Bushnell (1856-1946).
* attending medical school, one of the first women to do so
* being a medical missionary toChina
* fighting against the holding of women as sex slaves for US miners, 
* working against prostitution and sex trafficking in India
* deciding that the only way to end trafficking of women is to change Bible interpretation--writing God's Word to Women so that women would no longer be seen as "morally, physically, and spiritually weaker than men."  

Mimi concluded with the preference for male offspring resulting in 100 million girls missing from the planet right now: we must work for "a world where male rule is no longer seen as biblical."  

I was deeply moved by this address.  As a speaker, Mimi Haddad does not disappoint.

Next I heard a surprisingly good lecture by Rick McKinniss (pastor in Connecticut and author of Equally Yoked) about gender issues in first-century Ephesus. 

McKinniss holds that 1 Timothy 2 (which he considers to be genuinely Pauline) is Paul's rebuttal to several tenets of the cult of Artemis.  
* To the priority of Artemis before male gods, Paul says "Eve was not formed first."  
* To the superiority of female wisdom accepted in Ephesus and in the cult of Artemis, Paul says "Eve was deceived but not Adam."  
* To Artemis as goddess for protection in the life-or-death crisis of childbirth, Paul says "women will be delivered through the ordeal of childbirth if they trust in Jesus, don't use amulets etc." as mentioned in Acts 19:18-19. 

I hadn't heard this approach before--I haven't been keeping up with current books and articles on the subject.  I did know that in general these two letters are written in opposition to Gnosticism among early Christians.

McKinniss thinks that Paul, who so often endorsed women leaders in the church, made a temporary exception in Ephesus to counter Christian women who were syncretist, blending Artemis ideas and Christian ideas.  

Sadly, McKinniss was very anti-academic and scornful of the theory that a follower of Paul wrote 1 and 2 Timothy.  Mimi Haddad, however, reined him in a little on this in the Q & A.

As a medievalist, I know that before the printing press it was considered extremely egotistic to put one's own name on a treatise or other original composition.  It was better to translate an earlier author or to comment on his work.  Another approach was to expound on the views of a famous earlier authority and give that person credit for your writing, rather than claiming that your own ideas were somehow valuable.  I'm sure that the author of the two letters to Timothy felt that he was writing what Paul wanted the church to hear.  

A third highlight of the day: the talk by Lee Grady, father of 4 girls and author of 10 Lies the Church Tells Women.  It was excellent and very funny.

He spoke about God calling Deborah to be judge over Israel and about Jael killing Sisera in Judges 4-5--texts "not often preached upon by evangelicals."  His conclusion: God wants women to act independently, to be fiercely brave (timidity is a sin), to be unconventional, and to sometimes "deal the final blow in battle."  

I recommend listening to both Mimi Haddad and Lee Grady's talks.  CDs are available on the CBE website.  

I also enjoyed meeting Xana Macauley and her husband Alan from Johannesburg--so exciting after corresponding with Xana by email for several years. 

Another good thing about this conference: the opening prayer of each plenary session is in a different language, given by a native speaker and then translated into English.  CBE's conference next year will be in Medellin, Colombia.  Getting the message of biblical equality out to women/men in other cultures is primary goal.

In short, it was a good day except for the intensity of so many interactions, often with very conservative Christians ("Is your husband here?).  I even wore a skirt and 1" heeled sandals.  Mimi greeted me in a friendly way and we talked a bit.

I'm passing out business cards with EEWC-CFT's website to many of the women I talk with.  My constant question is whether and when to introduce our materials.  I need to do this because we do not have an exhibit table (see yesterday's post), but I debate whether I'm being too aggressive or too hesitant.

The weekend's MC, Tom McCarthy, began the conference with a plea for restraint: "We war against principalities and powers--not against people.  Let's all commit to be gracious."  

Half of those present are first-timers to a CBE conference, and some are still new to the concept of male/female equality in the church.  After the McKinnis talk on Ephesus, there were a few questions about whether the traditional patriarchal reading of I Timothy 2 can really be refuted.

Today's conclusion on CBE: I would like them to take a welcoming and affirming stance toward gays and lesbians, but I can see that the One Who Loves Us All is using them where they are, flawed though they be--and I guess that's true of all of us.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


After bouncing around this month between Norfolk VA, Huntington NY, Santa Monica CA, and Telluride CO, I arrived today at a smallish hotel (8 stories in a vertical block) about 30 miles south of Pittsburgh.

I'm here for a conference of Christians for Biblical Equality, a group founded by the Minnesota chapter of EWC (Cathy Kroeger and others) in 1986 when that chapter split off from Evangelical Women's Caucus over EWC's passing of a resolution endorsing the civil rights of gays and lesbians.  

We're not talking gay marriage here--it was just rights to jobs, housing, and hospital visitation without getting kicked out for being homosexual.  Such was life in the US in 1986. 

Note: this is my first CBE conference.  On principle, I will not join CBE, even to get a discount on the price of the conference, and I have stayed away from the group's conferences. 

There's the little problem of one word in CBE's statement of faith: 

We believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, is reliable, and is the final authority for faith and practice.
We believe in the unity and trinity of God, eternally existing as three equal persons.
We believe in the full deity and full humanity of Jesus Christ.
We believe in the sinfulness of all persons. One result of sin is shattered relationships with God, others, and self.
We believe that eternal salvation and restored relationships are possible through faith in Jesus Christ who died for us, rose from the dead, and is coming again. This salvation is offered to all people.
We believe in the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation, and in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of believers.
We believe in the equality and essential dignity of men and women of all ethnicities, ages, and classes. We recognize that all persons are made in the image of God and are to reflect that image in the community of believers, in the home, and in society.
We believe that men and women are to diligently develop and use their God-given gifts for the good of the home, church, and society.
We believe in the family, celibate singleness, and faithful heterosexual marriage as God's design.
We believe that, as mandated by the Bible, men and women are to oppose injustice.

All the rest I agree with 100%.  It's just that one word.  

If you watch the new documentary God Loves Uganda, you'll understand why I think it's so important not to subscribe to organizations that make a point of being against gays and lesbians.  In Uganda, some legislators (funded by anti-gay Christians from the US) want to set up a death penalty for persons who commit same-sex offenses.  Any individual or organization that is anti-gay contributes indirectly to the continuing deaths of homosexual persons at the hands of others.  

Though I refuse to join CBE, I have tried to stay in touch with CBE members off and on over the years.  I see that God has reached many women and men through the ministry of CBE, people who could not have been reached by EEWC-CFT.  Because the test of being a Bible-believing Christian these days is one's position on homosexuality and abortion (forget the rest of the statement of faith), EEWC-CFT has been branded as outside the fold and our endorsement of equality for women in the church cannot get heard in some circles.

I have emailed with Mimi Haddad, its president, and met her when she was speaking in Minneapolis in 2010 for alumni of Gordon-Conwell who were also attending a General Assembly of the PC-USA.  Mimi holds a doctorate in historical theology and gave a passionate recitation of all the 19th-C. evangelicals who supported women's equality in the churches.  I loved listening to her speak.

To my surprise, this conference in Pittsburgh appears to be maybe 200 people or less.  I expected it to be larger because CBE has held conferences in places like Australia and Kenya. Instead, I find here a room filled with 40 round tables, each set with 6 seats facing the front.  

Nothing starts until Friday, even registration.  EEWC-CFT conferences have usually started on Thursday evening.  The only conference-included meals are dinner on Friday and Saturday, unless a table with bagels or something turns up in the mornings.

Bettina Pedersen, an EEWC member who wrote Being Feminist, Being Christian several years ago, is giving a workshop.  I met her at a meeting of the Conference on Christianity & Literature ten or more years ago.

There are 10-12 exhibit tables set up, mostly seminaries.  I was planning to sign up for an exhibit table for EEWC-CFT until I found out that you have to agree to CBE's statement of faith to have a table.  That's how they keep out the heretics, I guess.

I'm here partly to meet Xana McCauley, who wrote in to EEWC several years ago from Johannesburg SA after discovering our website.  I've been corresponding with her off and on, and in one of our first exchanges I suggested she get in touch with CBE because her faith community in South Africa is fairly conservative.   

The church and ministry she and her husband founded is called Hands of Compassion Rhema:

When she told me they were coming from South Africa to this conference in Pittsburgh, I began praying about whether it would be God's will for me to attend as well, traveling from California.  

Many things pointed in this direction, and today here I am--excited to meet Xana tomorrow.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Day 8, Archivisting

The good news: Letha and I mailed 4 big beautiful boxes to the Archives for Women in Theological Scholarship at Burke Library, Union Seminary/Columbia University in New York City.

1) Files on EEWC conferences, 1975-2012,
2) Issues of Christian Feminism Today (previously called EEWC Update) 1976-2012, with correspondence and info on writers, books reviewed, etc., 
3) Reports from annual (national) Council meetings, 
4) Financial records and miscellaneous files on the logo, EEWC brochures 1978-2012, etc.
5) Media reports on EWC/EEWC-CFT.  

We also mailed a box to me of extra Updates/CFTs--anyone who wants a year or two of them or specific issues, let me know.

The bad news: we went to bed at 3 am and got up by 8 am.  

We both plan to sleep this afternoon—Letha in her cocoon, me on the plane to New York to visit my mother-in-law, who has been hospitalized with pneumonia and then with sepsis.  She’s 90 yrs. old with another birthday coming up in September.

I’m hoping Letha and I will both be able to recover from our exhaustion within a day or two.  Thanks for your support, prayers and good wishes!

Letha packed me a nice lunch for the plane: a cinnamon-raisin bagel with strawberry cream cheese, peach, banana, and a huge piece of cold chicken.

But the plane is delayed by weather--it's 3:30 pm (when the flight was going to arrive in New York), and we haven't even left Norfolk.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Day 7, Archivisting

It's the Sabbath.  

As I lie in bed repeating my morning prayer "One thing have I asked of YHWH, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of YHWH..." (Psalm 27:4), I realize that I am already in God's house.  

I'm surrounded by seven bookcases of Bibles, Bible commentary, church history, Christian biography, and social commentary--and the apartment above Letha's is an Orthodox Jewish household, as are many in her complex of two-story colonial style buildings.  I feel blessed and holy just to be here.

Last night Letha and I were struck by the contrast in communication resources between 1975 and 2013.  We looked at the first Evangelical Women's Caucus newsletter (summer 1977), eight pages typed with one drawing and the EWC logo, copied onto 11 x 17 paper, folded and collated, mailed out to a few hundred people.  

In 2013 articles, news, and blogs are posted with color photos, art, and rolling banners on EEWC's website available to thousands.  Letha's article ten days ago "There's More than One Christian View on Homosexuality" has now been viewed by over 987 people who spent an average of 8 minutes reading it.

Meanwhile, Letha keeps me posted on national and world news almost faster than my husband John does.  Texas abortion battles--Ohio--SF plane crash, where a passenger (@eunner) immediately tweeted to the world, "I just crash landed at SFO.  Tail ripped off. Most everyone seems fine.  I'm ok. Surreal."

Last night while we were sorting papers, Letha played from YouTube the Bill Moyers Frontline interviews in February with  Sandyhook parents.and also the concert with Francine Wheeler, Dar Williams, and Peter Yarrow singing.  Very tough to watch.  At 2 am we ate more German chocolate ice cream and went to bed.

Today we persevere and have much material in boxes, neatly filed and labeled--almost ready to go.  But Letha will have more to do after I leave, so family and friends will no doubt help her with the boxing and mailing

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Day 6, Archivisting

Panic sets in!  Only two days left!  

So many files recording biblical feminist history, so little time.  

Letha had to wake me up at 9 am.  We decided to forego our leisurely morning blueberries and oatmeal routine and not even take showers.  

Instead, off to the PO, the UPS store for boxes, and Baker's Crust Restaurant for sustenance.  Letha had a healthy Mediterranean omelette with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and goat cheese.  

I confess to Jamaican French toast with bananas soaked in rum and all sprinkled with coconut (the toast was cinnamon bread 2 inches thick).  

Letha says my daily reports are misleading--we do more than eat.  Anyway, we're at work now, before noon. :)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Day 5, Archivisting

No light at the end of the tunnel... There are more boxes of Christian feminist history in Letha's apartment than we can sort and mail in this one week.  

I trust someone else will have the pleasure of helping Letha to carry on at some later date.  

Today's treat in Letha's Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk, Virginia: fried catfish and hush puppies at a place called A.W. Shucks.  Delicious!

We were both ready for a nap after that big lunch, but we worked all afternoon.  At 5 pm Letha (who had stayed up past 2 am) got tired and had to lie down--too much reaching and lifting.  But she got up and carried on.

At 10 pm after a light supper of La Brea bread (flown all the way from Los Angeles) and cheese and Edy's German chocolate ice cream at 10 pm, we decided to turn in around midnight--after checking email which took another 45 minutes for Letha and two hours for me.  

Resolution: up and at 'em early in the morning--8 am.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Day 1, Archivisting

A slow day.  

We moved several boxes out of Letha's storage closet and started looking through them, but what exactly to do with the various items was not clear.

* Newspaper clippings about two of our speakers at the 1980 conference: the niece of Susan B. Anthony and the granddaughter of Catherine Booth.  

* A list of political resolutions from the 1984 conference at Wellesley College.

* A 3-foot by 2-foot poster of Letha posing for the centerfold of The Wittenburg Door in the early eighties.

* Letters and emails from EWC founders and members who are now deceased.

* Minutes of Council meetings in which we debated things like the name, the logo, the statement of faith.

After a day of trying to get a method going, we went out to eat at the No Frills Grill, a favorite of many of Letha's guests. The meat loaf she ordered turned out to be indeed a loaf, and the baby back ribs I chose were twice the size I've seen in other restaurants.  

I began with the cornbread and systematically chowed down through the messy but delicious baby back ribs.

We were both surprised when the waitress came afterward--not to ask if we wanted dessert but to congratulate me on my eating prowess: "You finished the ribs--most men can't do that!"

Chalking up victories for women...