I Was Told to Knit While the Men Prayed

A few days ago, I got my hands on Sarah Bessey’s new book, Jesus Feminist.  I’m excited to be part of Sarah’s synchroblog with (as of this writing) around 45 others to celebrate t…

Source: I Was Told to Knit While the Men Prayed

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I Was Told to Knit While the Men Prayed

I will be following this blog from here on out

Stacy N. Sergent


A few days ago, I got my hands on Sarah Bessey’s new book, Jesus Feminist.  I’m excited to be part of Sarah’s synchroblog with (as of this writing) around 45 others to celebrate the release of the book.  This is the (relatively) short version of why I’m a Jesus Feminist.

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TROLOLOL… Feminist Psychology & Internet Trolling

Today we’re sharing a blog post co-authored by Lucy Thompson & Jessica Drakett, both lecturers in psychology and POWS committee members. Find them on Twitter @Quiet_Rumours and @JessicaDr…

Source: TROLOLOL… Feminist Psychology & Internet Trolling

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New blog and website

Hi everyone

Just to let you know, I have started a new blog and website at the following domain.  Come follow me there!

The link is http://www.sophiacommunications.org/blog

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To Burka or not to Burka? That is the question.

I’m fascinated by the recent moves in France to make wearing the burka illegal.  Spain is now considering similar measures.

I live in the UK and there are many women here who wear the burka.  When I go to my local supermarket or shopping mall, I encounter many women in full Islamic dress—niqab, hijab, etc.

As a feminist human rights activist, I am torn about this.  There are two sets of competing human rights at stake.  There is the freedom to practice one’s religion and the freedom of speech which includes how one chooses to dress.  The other are human rights instruments like CEDAW which want to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women.  A burka seems to perpetuate discrimination against women.

As a Christian (and that is a broad label as well and there are all kinds of Christians), I do not appreciate efforts in France and the UK, to limit people from wearing crosses as an outward expression of their faith.  I personally don’t wear a cross at the moment, but I certainly feel it is within my right to do so.   People wear t-shirts with all kinds of slogans that advocate all kinds of competing values.  Many people have tattoos and others have body piercings that are all part of their expressing their individuality.  Why should burkas or crosses or any religious symbols be any different?

That said,  for me as a feminist, the burka has become a symbol of patriarchy.  Many Muslim feminists would view the burka as patriarchal, many other Muslim feminists would not.  I personally wish Muslim women would not wear burkas in western countries    I have travelled to their countries and have dressed with modesty in respect to their cultural values, so I don’t understand why they don’t seem to respect my cultural values in ‘my’ country.

I have written a course on transnational feminisms which explore the various links between gender, culture, women’s human rights and religion.  There are no easy answers.  Cultures and religions are not monolithic or homogenous.  They are not static, but dynamic.

To argue, well they can do what they want because it is their culture, often means to uphold the most conservative reactionary strands in a culture in the name of liberal tolerance.

But to assume all women in all times and all places want liberal western enlightenment style emancipation is also wrong.  It marginalizes different voices.

I want to ask my Muslim sisters of all different strands of Islam–what do you personally want as an individual, as a member of a larger Muslim community?  Why do some of  you wear the burka in the UK, France and Spain?  What is it about the burka you like and wish to defend?  And for those who don’t, why have you chosen not to and what do you think about the issue.  I really want to hear from a wide range of you as I know no one Muslim woman speaks for all Muslim women the same as no one Western feminist or otherwise, necessarily speaks for me.

Anyone out there want to engage with me on this?  Comments much appreciated!

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Women Bishops in the Church of England

Today is the final day of the Synod to discuss legislation that would authorize women to become bishops in the Church of England.

While I am very sympathetic to the plight of Jeffrey Johns and the whole debate over gay bishops, it’s very frustrating to me as a woman, that the debate this week has focused mainly on the ordination of gay bishops rather than women bishops.  It seems every time the issue of women bishops is discussed it becomes overshadowed by the gay issue.

Today’s London Times lead focuses almost exclusively on the Jeffrey Johns situation at the expense of the historic legislation that is being discussed today.  The Telegraph as far as I can tell from today’s online edition doesn’t even mention the debate on this legislation that would allow for the ordination of women bishops!

I am opposed to the Archbishops’ amendment to this legislation and I hope it fails.  Women should be bishops, full stop.  I cannot believe that in the 21st century, the Church of England (C of E) is still debating this issue.  It is for this reason, the C of E has lost all relevance for me and many of my friends.

If the C of E and the Archbishop of Canterbury ever decide to look outside of themselves to wonder why the C of E is declining, they only have to look at their poor response on this issue.  I was never so angry as I was on Sunday, July 4th, watching the BBC’s the Big Question to see smug evangelicals arguing against the ordination of women bishops.  For shame.  This shouldn’t even be a question for debate.

It’s time for the C of E to grow up and be bold about its stance on women  Rowan Williams has gone too far to appease a minority of evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics this time.  He has to ask himself what the church is losing and gaining by such appeasement and ask whether or not it is really worth it?  In my humble opinion, it is not.  But I guess the church doesn’t really care if it loses people like me.

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World Peace

World Peace?

I feel a bit like the hapless beauty pageant contestant who when asked what she wanted to do with her life responded that she wanted to work for world peace. How naïve! How hopelessly idealistic and impractical!

Priorities for peacemaking? How is it possible to set priorities in the face of so many violent conflicts which currently plague the globe? Furthermore, each conflict has its own history and set of complexities.

Initially my response will sound as naïve and as implausible as that of the beauty contestant. My priority for peacemaking entails locating fragile rays of hope wherever they are to be found in the midst of a particular conflict.

First let me say that as I see it hope involves more than waiting for the Lion and the Lamb to peacefully lie down together in some distant future. It includes acting in the here and now; choosing not to return violence with violence in the hope that the future can be different than the past or the present.

Nothing could be more concrete or practical than locating, listening to and learning from those who, living in the midst of an intractable conflict, choose each day to act out of hope and love rather than out of fear and hate. By acting with resilience, creativity, imagination, and love these people create the very seeds of change.

Locating fragile rays of hope includes finding out what motivates people to act out of love. How do they move from hate to love? How do they become involved in this vocation of creating a different future? What sustains them? How could others, not yet so engaged, be persuaded to join them?

In addition to the official peace negotiations at the government level, there are many kinds of conflict transformation activities: Dialogue, problem solving workshops, non-violent resistance, and economic development projects. The insights from those engaging in each of these activities point to possible futures and must be considered if a just transformation of the conflict is to occur.

Two of the most improbable actors for peace I spoke to in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict included a religious Jewish settler and a devout Muslim Palestinian with connections to Hamas. They were engaged in different peacemaking projects and had never met one another. They both were motivated by the hope that their children and future generations would not have to suffer as they did.

If there are people acting for peace even from within these seemingly hardened religious groups, groups considered to be major contributors to the conflict, then spaces for peace and hope are more prevalent than it would appear. It is imperative to bring people from these kinds of perspectives together to forge a common future.

As peacemakers we continually seek out and recognize these different voices, born in the crucible of peacemaking activities. We must then encourage, strengthen and multiply them. World peace is the work of hope.

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