Tag Archive: community


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I will whisper to the roaring wind
and wrap my arms around you tight
tell me your darkest, fiercest fear…
I know it all will be alright.
Let me share my blanket,
light your own candle from mine.
We’ll vigil here, the long night through,
and pray tomorrow might be fine.

Talitha Fraser

 

Lectionary Reading

Romans 12:1-8

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual[b] worship. Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.[d]

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

 

I know nothing

(to the tune of Frere Jacques, Kinsler Institute)

I know nothing
I know nothing
Not a thing
Not a thing
Nothing about anything
Nothing about anything
This is good
This is good

 

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Begin, Begin

(words Talitha Fraser, melody Samara Pitt)

begin
begin
begin anywhere
set out
step out
that is where to start
one day you do it
different than yesterday
ever so slightly
and it changes the world

 

Let it go

Leunig

Let it go,
Let it out,
Let it all unravel,
Let it free
And it will be
A path on which to travel.

 

4 – 5 August 2017, the Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies curated a symposium to explore feminist theological perspectives on dialogue, disagreement and conflict, as well as the intersections of theology with ethnicity, race, and cultural “norms”. Welcoming international keynote speakers M. Shawn Copeland (Boston College, Boston), Ruth Duck and Cynthia Wilson (both Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Chicago). 

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Elizabeth Boase

Came up with the topic of this session/panel through an open process of listening… counter-cultural and subversive. How can our medium be our message?

Katherine Massam

“If you persist in your efforts to influence the official church, to become part of its decision-making, you will only break your heart and lose hope. What you must do is go around to the back and CREATE A GARDEN. Some day they will look out and see its beauty and marvel at its life.” – Anne Thurston

See the reality. Patriarchy is real. We can become socialised and complicit. Benefit ourselves from the patriarchal system. It is a personal (individual) and systemic (collective) task to change this. Need to create a new ecosystem that’s collaborative. The top-down systems are easier, faster, feel more efficient… than being collaborative, must choose not to want to replicate or reinforce existing structures.

God comes to us disguised as our lives. #mystics #incarnation.

We must reflect on our experience.  While this can be seen as “pooling our ignorance” or becoming “stuck”. Transformative education should see everyone in the room learning. Teachers and student.

Ref: Pedagogy of the Oppressed – Paulo Freire

Ref: “Aint I a Woman?” speech by Sojourner Truth

4 touchstones:

  • experience, shared
  • reflection, deepended
  • faith, expressed
  • insights, reinforced

Stand and stretch: Open posture = strength and confidence, closed posture = stress.

Tania Wittwer

As a member of committees or commissions work to have more female members.  Not merely top-down leadership but appeal and create opportunities for mediation and consensus decision-making. Create sub/small working groups as an opportunity to develop trust. Coach and support up and sideways. Whiteboard ALL the ideas, then ask: What’s worth fighting over? Headship/submission >> connection to domestic violence.

Deidre Palmer

As a young adult participated in life-giving community and unjust structures.

Ref: In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins – Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza

Ref: The Church and the Power of the Spirit – Jurgen Moltmann

Church as a liberation community. Non-hierarchal. Acknowledge. Affirm. Name power balances. Job titles reflect the role your play, NOT status.

Changes forged out of pain.Movement of the Holy Spirit, moves toward equality. Apart from and despite the church. Need to partner, be active learners and work with God to mend Creation. Justice is integral to the gospel.  The political is personal. We must raise up those whose voices have been silenced or diminished.

In the Uniting Church, the power is shaped by Councils – not individual but collective.  Rotating and reviewed leadership.  There has been a resistance to structures… making decisions as ‘synods’ and ‘assemblies’ instead of small groups, power-concentrated and speaking for others. There is a commitment to keep our foundations broad and have full participation. Individual voices and gifts are affirmed within the collective.

Look around and ask: where are the places and spaces where things are working well now? What makes them different? How do you resist? What does formation look like there?

In-table discussions: We extend the metaphor – first woman makes a garden (outside patriarchal systems), second woman dwells in the house trying to renovate it while it’s inhabited (working within patriarchal systems) third woman describes open-plan design with indoor/outdoor flow (something that combines both elements)… sometimes easier to know what your role is, to resist/advocate/speak-up when working within the patriarchal system.

 

Poem: I put my piece of truth – Talitha Fraser

 

People of Colour @ Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies – Seforosa Carroll

Yesterday there was a separate gathering for Aboriginal and those identifying as People of Colour.  Acknowledge the paradox of this: the need to have a gathering separate from this one (not participating) and being allowed to gather separately (so valued that this is resourced however is needed).

Last year was the inaugural gathering of this group and there were perhaps 3 POK here. This year that is more like 20. Want to acknowledge what has gone into that increase. While there is interest in our theologies and our feminist theologies – this is not the platform where we can discern what that is for us – we want other space.  We want to encourage and mentor POK women to do papers.  We think our creativity and cultural epistemology have something to contribute. We want to do our own work to grow, to develop our confidence and voice… down the track we hope to then be able to share that in this space. To come together and find comfort en masse.

We each have a uniqueness in God – that uniqueness celebrates and glorifies God. We don’t meet separately to ‘keep ourselves apart’ but to move from what is common to what we can say about our difference – in this way we can learn from each other and keep our identity – Adele Ventris

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Africana Womanist Theology: A Hermeneutic of Suspicion and Hope – Rev. Cynthia Wilson

The marginalised bring their hermeneutic to their marginalised space.

Born in New Orleans: black, woman, pastors kid, one of six children (only girl). Had to figure it out for myself.  This was in some ways insulated because my brothers and father were protective but I feared for the men’s lives daily in the bayou and cypress trees where black bodies swung.  I sang because I wanted to cry out for life for my brothers.  The dark cloud hanging overhead was overcome through song… Holy Ghost will not descend without a song.  African proverb: When you sing, you pray twice.

  1. Womanist Theology confronts the demons of race, womanhood, and political capital that ravage the lives and spaces of Black women. At the same time, it vigorously affirms their God-likeness.
  2. Womanist Theology acknowledges, affirms and critiques the attributes of their faith community, the church and beyond.
  3. Womanist Theology seeks to call into question forces that suppress Black women’s voices while investigating certain epistemological presuppositions.
  4. Womanist Theology interrogates the theology of Black males, replacing it with more inclusive, liberating reconstruction of knowledge and authority.
  5. Womanist Theology utilizes an anthropological and dialogical method utilizing the following sources: personal narratives, domestic violence, psychological trauma, womanist ethnography, and syncretistic religiosity, real life stories of poor/Africana women, and other women of colour throughout the world.
  6. Womanist Theology turns up the volume of voices that are illiterate, economically deprived, that hold the environment in high regard, and that are typically ignored by this 21st century capitalist world.
  7. Womanist Theology re-kindles AND validates Africana women ancestors through Ritual “Re”-membrance.

UBUNTU “I am because you are.”

SAWABONO “I see you.”

Personal pronouns don’t function he/she, me/you but are grounded in the universal “we”.

Eschatological hope, although sometimes I wish my eyes hadn’t been opened, “my heart says yes and my feet say Go!“…someday we will be the free people we were created to be.

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Veiled Resistance: The Cognitive Dissonance of Vision in Genesis 38 – Carolyn Alsen

Helpful if you read Psalm 38 for context

Wearing a veil is seen as touching on two issues gender domination/headship and ethnicity. Wearing a veil is carrying these dual layers and wearers are doubly ‘colonised’. Who is the ‘ideal reader’ that Genesis 38 is written for? …white, Israelite, male?

Tamar, through choosing her clothes, can identify as “foreign woman” or “Israelite woman” and as widowed or prostitute.  There are social and cultural norms about how she is seen and not seen according to what she is wearing. Reading through the passage: who sees and doesn’t see her? In this story Tamar employs the conforming veil as an act of resistance.

Woman using perceptions of the veil as a weapons is still happening now > suicide bombers in Nigeria.

To wear a veil meant you were upper-class and married. If you wore them when you weren’t these things > punishable offence.

The Bible mistranslates “temple officiates” as “temple prostitutes”

zonar (gendered) social position of women (or subordinated men) when they sell sex.

hatas’if, veil (non-gendered) take off, wrap up, cover, put on.

Is it to be punished for the wrong use? Or is it normative use?
Licit – accepted socially but not morally vs. deviant.

        Remove widows garments :: have meeting in veil :: put on widows garments again.
could get in trouble
(tribe)

what is seen and not seen?
‘gaze’ and ‘identity’

– what is going on between how others see Tamar and how she sees herself?

Law-keeping ?          Law-breaking?
Israelite?                    Canaanite?
Solidarity/priest       Othering “zonah” fetishcised

Unresolvable.  Ambiguity of identity contrasted with public visibility.

Hera and Judah have different opinions of Tamar – who’s right or who’s wrong? Is Tamar both?

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“Because of the Angels”: The Unveiling of Women and the Body Politic – Sally Douglas

Helpful if you read 1 Cor 11:1-10 for context

Paul gives three reasons why women should have their heads covered:

  • inferiority
  • cultural norms
  • “because of the angels”

“The angels” refers here to those evil angels fallen from the Heavenly Court who rape and wreak havoc. (Gal 1:8) Enochian angels fell from heaven for women “going to them”. The consequences of this rape ruined men, women and the earth… > gave birth to giants >responsible for evil in the world. Killed in the Flood but spirits stay on the earth. Rise up against women and children because they come from them >>climate change.

Veiling is a source of conflict.

Try saying it’s down to individual choice but that seems insufficient. Still perceived that it stops a woman’s flourishing and personhood. The “malevolent constructed male gaze” exists to the detriment of women AND men. As objects of male desire we can reduce the risk from male gaze by altering our dress/wearing veil.

Irony – genital mutilation – advocate in the east but it’s happening in the west.

Commodity either way.  A woman might well feel liberated by wearing a veil or genital mutilation, not arguing that, but dehumanising malevolent constructed male gaze needs to be named and called out. What might safe-guard women now?

If the gaze of Christ is given precedence. Not the white skin, blue eyed, blond, pretty Jesus but the One, Cosmic, Sophia… that nourishes. 2 Cor 3: Veiling and unveiling of Moses. Collective language, shared experience and ongoing.

13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Cor 3)

2 Cor 4: Mystical gaze of Jesus, we are gazed upon, encounter Divine, are changed.

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ…. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

The same lens through which we see God, each other and ourselves can give us freedom. In this gaze we can be liberated from the power of all other gazes. There is an invitation and provocation in that.
We are given a choice – not controlled or influenced by nor in resistance to. We are all beloved subjects of the Divine.

Exorcism is for victims.  Not much about evil spirits in the Old Testament but then in the New Testament – boom!

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Hillary, Shame and Psalm 71 – Michelle Eastwood

Hillary Rodham Clinton 1975 m. Bill Clinton, 1980 had daughter Chelsea, 1993 First Lady.
BA and Yale Law.  Awarded “Most Admired Woman” 20 times altogether and 14 years in a row.

Moses vs. Aaron and Miriam – cloud makes, only, Miriam leprous. Only woman is affected. Author trying to minimise her leadership.

Abortion reduces both maternal and infant mortality. Hillary grilled for her position. Evangelical Christian Right’s perception is that bible gender roles are under attack (by feminists for their own power and glory), values compromised, slippery slope to decline of the world as we know it.

Bill’s infidelity held against Hillary… didn’t handle it well, misogyny, sexism…

Helpful if you read Psalm 71 for context

Psalm 71 is a song of lament and a cry for justice.  Women are shamed a lot in the Bible.  In this passage shame is shifted to dealers. v7 I have been a portent (faithfulness) v18 grey hairs (Hillary still stands, a testament to those who have tried to shame her). The shame is not destroyed but displaced. Evangelical Christian Right their own undoing > Trump. In the gospels Jesus is shamed – a sense we become more godly through experiencing shame.

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God, I trust You are holding all these chats and more. You encompass all that is possible beyond any limitations of my mind and imagination to dream of. “Prepare ye the way”… Who prepares for who? You are not a God of poverty and scarcity but love and abundance. The answer is in the story and the story is still unfolding.
I want to know how it ends.
Amen

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Panel: Nayuka Gorrie, Areej Nur, Meelee Soorkia, Namila Benson

 

I wrote a book. It brought together other women like me.
I was not ‘other’ anymore.

Meelee Sorkia

Those pink pussy beanies at the Women’s March,
as a black, trans, feminist – what is my “in”?
White women can assume they’re your ally
but I might identify with other labels more.

Nayuka Gorrie

There is such silencing and erasure of women of colour.
Constantly thinking about ‘how do I put myself forward’ in a space?

Namila Benson

There a tenets of of feminism that are important.  Living that and being active in it is really important. We need paid opportunities, spaces that are ‘ours’ to help others out – support, build up, encourage other women of colour. Building and supporting other women in my community is my priority. I’m not interested in helping white women.

Areej Nur

Do the work.  What role do you have?
What opportunities do you have that other women don’t?
Please be self aware.

Meelee Sorkia

Just listening instead of defensive, derailing, silencing. Take up the generous labour of being in the space. Take advantage of the chance to learn something. Know your place. That’s it: Listening and give space. It’s fatiguing [to keep explaining].

Namila Benson

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Panel: Kath Duncan, Hannah Murphy-Walsh, Pauline Ventuna
and Jax Jacki Brown

 

The assumption that people with “disability” need help doesn’t allow for mutuality. Just like everyone else there are all kinds of relationships and power exchanges – ours just might be more obvious.

Jax Jacki Brown

I became a wheelchair user at 14.
Learned at the Rehabilitation Hospital about independence,
being able to direct your own care) is tied to adulthood.
Losing physical ability means becoming infantilised.
Affects our ability to be able give to society
and whether society values that.

Pauline Vetuna

It’s bullshit. Not an idea we need to address.
Need other human beings, need agency… everyone does.

Hannah Murphy-Walsh

I’m comfortable with the word ‘disability’ and identifying with it but it took time.  Acquired injury stigma was an internalised stigma.
Disabled people are marginalised externally
being disabled is not the problem but all the shit that comes with it.

Pauline Vetuna

Societal space see us as tragic or inspirational – we don’t get to be full human beings.

Jax Jacki Brown

When dependence is seen as bad then
independence is seen as good – we need interdependence.

Kath Duncan

With my cultural background I just ‘get it’.  Independence is also a myth, not just dependence. Independence is valorised e.g. paid work, not seen as contributing.

Pauline Ventuna

People assume we can’t/don’t contribute in meaningful ways.  We’re seen as less than other people.  People assume my partner must do all these things for me but we work it out… negotiate like any other relationship.

Jax Jacki Brown

Agency gives us the right t withdraw as well as the right to contribute.  I’m very dependent, rely on my friends for everything.  I have something to give, so do they.  We don’t get lost in the bottom line.  Slow down. Recognise. Make a human connection.

Hannah Murphy-Walsh

A user-based system is best for the strongest advocates, everyone else falls through the cracks… as much faith in the NDIS as any other government scheme.

Hannah Murphy-Walsh

If the choices are infiltrate or dismantle I’m a ‘dismantler’. I don’t see this as an individual problem but a human rights issue.

Jax Jacki Brown

We need to shift the way people see disability.
I still have to point out blind spots to my own community.
We need to manage ableism the same way we manage racism.

Pauline Ventuna

The standard needs to be universal access –
a change for one is a change for the group –
makes it better for everybody.

Jax Jacki Brown

The conflict across abilities is unnecessary –
adaptations can be ignored or used.
We all move through and take up space differently.

Kath Duncan

The idea of ‘needing to be fixed’ (influences of society and culture) – body or mind is a bad starting point.  Meeting their perspective of normal and being as close to normal as you can.

Jax Jacki Brown

 

There is a disconnection within me between who I am and who I feel called to be but it doesn’t feel like a change I can effect in any way on my own although I recognise all the ways I seek to control such things and be the change I want to see. Does it count if you go through the motions of being something in the hopes that you become it?

Come down from the tree Zacchaeus. It does no good to ask the experts anymore.  Get your feet dusty and your hands dirty, keep asking the same questions… The disciples were always asking questions. Being a disciple isn’t “knowing”. It’s being committed to going and picking up what you can along the Way from whomsoever you meet – your family, your friends, your neighbours, your teachers, your priests, your politicians, your encounters with random strangers… all hold a line of the story.  What story do you want to hear? You must seek those people out.

Jesus meets all these different people, perhaps only once. What story can you tell? What can you communicate in one conversation with a person that might change the course of their life? Jesus was something of an epiphany-dealer: what is right? what is clean? what is sin? You can’t yield the principle of the argument. It’s not enough to heal your body if I do not address the system that harms you.  It’s not enough to mend your madness if I do not address the systems that drive you insane. It’s not enough to touch you if I don’t address the systems that label you untouchable.  It’s not enough to include you if I do not also address the systems that have no place for you.

He touches them and they are healed, he hears their whole truth and they are healed again. It’s not only Jesus who hears, not only the healed, but disciples and crowds gathered round… what power is there in a story to effect change? Whose stories are we telling? Whose stories are we listening to?

I am telling my own story. That is the story that I know.

Who am I to try and tell anyone elses story?

Let me tell the story of the time You healed my body, let me tell the story of the time You healed my mind, let me tell the story of the time You took me in and I found belonging.

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God –
be the Creator to the void
that’s within me
light where there is dark
something where there is vacancy
sound where there is silence
sight where I am blind.

Amen

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I want to dream
I want to dream together
I want to dream together and for your vision plus my vision
to surpass anything either could imagine on our own
I want to use my gifts to serve your vision, and
for you to do the same for me
I want the dream to be organic and to change
as you and I change
I want the dream to look different in different kinds of light
– sunlight, moonlight…
and seasons
– spring, autumn…

and places… Moe, Sunshine, Wallan, …here in Footscray

I want to talk about the dream as we walk along, pick fruit, share a meal together
I want to know the intimacy of shared thoughts with you
common and sacred at the same time
I want a dream that in its dreaming makes me smile in my sleep and
hold hope for a whole world through the day
I want a dream that needs a roll of butchers paper, five colours of post it notes and
four coloured marker pens to explain and still doesn’t really capture its soul
I want to dream together with you
I want to dream together
I want to dream

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Local cafe, local community, local coffee, local story… what are the stories of your neighbourhood? Are you listening out for them?
This is a story from mine…

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So, what is the Common Galaxia? 

Around one kilometre north of where the mouth of the Maribyrnong nudges its way into the Yarra on the tip of Port Melbourne, the bends of the river flatten out into a strait of slow water.

This stretch of river is home to the Common Galaxia, an entirely unremarkable and utterly fascinating little fish. Silvery and fantailed, found in half the rivers of the world, the Common Galaxia, as singular fish, live for a year but, as a species, outlast everything built around them.

For thousands of years the Common Galaxias propped up the lifecycle of the Saltwater River, feeding the eel and bigger fish and, in turn, feeding the Wurundjeri people. In 1835, Europeans sailed into the river and cut through the scrub and, over the next century-and-a-half, the steady march of industry – from tanners to candle makers and metal works to acid factories – started crowding the banks of the Maribyrnong. In short time, the little whitebait had a lot more to worry about than Southern Black Bream or Short-finned Eel making a meal of them.

Not only did the Common Galaxias have to adapt to their river home becoming more industrial waste than water, they were forcefully relocated as the join between the Maribyrnong and the Yarra at Footscray was closed to continue the line of wharves along the river. The waterway had become something lived on rather than lived in. But the little fish refused to give up, laying low and holding on among the weeds that clung to the riverbank.

And things have a way of coming back around. The city grew. Industries changed. The river is running a little easier again as homes have replaced factories and parks dot the river bends where the docks once stood. The deep heart of the river still beats strong through a small silvery fish, hardly known but vital to this stretch of land and water. The Common Galaxia is a tiny reminder that nature will survive everything we build, and you can only ever borrow a spot on the bends of a river. A spot like this one…

 

Common Galaxia Cafe in Seddon, Melbourne
– more to it than just good coffee…