12 July 2010

Summer Teleconferences

Here at the WATER office this summer we have continued our series of teleconferences, this time featuring speakers from our upcoming book, New Feminist Christianity: Many Voices, Many Views, edited by Mary Hunt and Dianne Neu, due to be released this July. So far, we have had teleconferences with prominent scholars Victoria Rue and Rosemary Radford Reuther. Listed below are brief summaries of the discussion topics and links to listen to the teleconference. There is also a reflection by Laura Downton, a recent graduate of Princeton Seminary, who came to visit the WATER office for the Rosemary teleconference. Please enjoy and feel free to continue the discussion on the blog or any thoughts you may want to share. We look forward to having you join us for our next teleconference on September 15, 2010 1 p.m. EDT with Professor Tracy West of Drew University.


Thanks to Victoria Rue for a wonderful conversation on “This is My Body: Feminist Ministries at the Grassroots.” Victoria talked movingly and insightfully about her hospice work (“a chance to love”), her liturgical work as a Roman Catholic woman priest at the Sophia in Trinity Catholic Community in San Francisco and her theatre work as a writer and director where she weaves life journeys with justice concerns. Feel free to listen to the conversation, use it for teaching or discussion. It is on our Web site under the heading "Monthly Teleconference Series"

Victoria has suggested the following resources:; her Web site; the site for her ministry; the site for the RCWP organization

Among her publications are:

CancerBodies: Women Speaking the Unspeakable, Feminist Theatre Enacts Feminist Theology (Doctoral dissertation, Graduate Theological Union, 1993).
Acting Religious: Theatre as Pedagogy in Religious Studies (Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 2005).
• Victoria Rue, "This is My Body” forthcoming in New Feminist Christianity: Many Voices, Many Views edited by Mary E. Hunt and Diann Neu. (Skylight Paths, 2010).

• She also recommends: Dorothee Soelle, The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress. 2001).


Thanks to Rosemary Radford Ruether for leading our conference call. It was a wonderful chance to hear her sweeping overview of the field of feminist theology. Much of that part of her presentation can be read in her chapter entitled “Feminist Theology in Theological Education” in the forthcoming (this month) volume New Feminist Christianity: Many Voices, Many Views edited by Mary E. Hunt and Diann L. Neu, available through WATER.

Rosemary mentioned a number of resources. Two that she singled out are:

1. African Women, Religion and Health: Essays in Honor of Mercy Amba Ewudziwa Oduyoye, Isabel Apawo Phiri and Sarojini Nadar, editors, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2006.

2. Taiwan’s Buddhist Nuns by Elise Ann DeVido, Albany, NY: SUNY Press, June, 2010.

Among Rosemary’s many publications is the invaluable three-volume Encyclopedia of Women in North America, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2006. It is 1,464 pages and not inexpensive, but every institutional library should have it for a comprehensive look at and interpretation of the various topics covered.

Rosemary also spoke of her recent experiences in Taiwan. What a fascinating scene it is with Buddhist nuns growing in number and influence, feminist theologians teaching and organizing, students being exposed to feminist work in their regular studies. It is about time we organized some sharing trips so that lots of women, in addition to scholars, can find ways to exchange information and experiences. Three of our colleagues—Audrey Lockwood, Donna Quinn, and Ikhlas Saleem—raised variants on the question of how to involve/include young people and those who are not privileged educationally.

Another topic was whether male scholars (and, I would add, activists) “get it” when it comes to feminist theology. This is a hard question, but one that remains to be discussed as efforts to be inclusive as often met with resistance or simply being ignored.

We are grateful for Rosemary’s continued stalwart leadership.


By Laura Markle Downton, M.Div

I was first introduced to the WATER network through Diann L. Neu's contribution to Dissident Daughters: Feminist Liturgies in Global Context (ed. Teresa Berger) entitled “Come, Sophia Spirit,” just before beginning my first year at Princeton Theological Seminary.

Hungry for a connection to women-church and for spiritual resources to accompany me on my feminist journey, WATER was a welcome discovery! Since that time, as a result of the information sharing on the WATER listserv, I have attended gatherings such as the “Women, Religion and Globalization” conference sponsored by the MacMillan Center at Yale University last fall, and received a scholarship to attend the “Women and Power: Connecting Across the Generations” conference hosted by the Omega Institute.

Recently I relocated to Silver Spring, MD and discovered that the WATER office is literally around the corner from my home. This has enabled me to be a part of the monthly WATER meditation and just this week, to join the WATER network in teleconference with Rosemary Radford Ruether. While discussing the future of feminist theology in theological education, Ruether swept us into the presence of the vibrant and liberating work of Buddhist and Christian feminists in Taiwan with whom she has more recently been working.

During the call, Mary Hunt pulled down a mountain of Ruether's books from the shelves of the WATER office library, creating a visual representation of Ruether's prolific contributions to the field of feminist theology. This visual reminder is one that will remain with me for its exposure of the absurdity of theological programs or discourses that treat womanist, feminist, or mujerista theologies as an intellectual afterthought rather than as a rich, complex field of scholarship.

As a result of WATER, these opportunities have expanded my imagination as I have encountered a chorus of voices of women from diverse locations, generations and traditions redefining power relationships to build a world of inclusion and wholeness. I am grateful to WATER for building these invaluable global bridges of connection that make a new world possible.

Resources for further information on the conferences can be found here and here.

Ikhlas Saleem, Elizabeth Speigle, and Nellie Beckett (Summer Interns, L-R) with stack of Rosemary's publications:

No comments:

Post a Comment