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Priscilla Papers

Louisa Woosley was the first Presbyterian woman to be ordained. Woosley’s life coincided with a time of increasing participation by female leadership in the Cumberland Presbyterian (CP) Church, the denomination to which she belonged.1 During the late 1800s, women in CP churches were serving as teachers and officers in the Sunday schools and contributed greatly to missions efforts and to church schools and colleges. In 1877, the appointment of women serving as trustees and deacons in churches was approved by the Pennsylvania Presbytery. This decision was rather low key and noncontroversial, unlike the issue of women as elders or ministers. Read more
M. Madeline Southard (1877–1967) is known among Methodists today for her pioneering work for ecclesiastical rights for women, particularly for the pivotal role she played in the 1920s in opening up ordination to women in the Methodist Church.1 Among religious historians, she is known for founding the International Association of Women Ministers (IAWM) in 1919, an interdenominational organization that, by the 1920s, included around 10 percent of female ministers in America, and which continues to this day.2 Southard also achieved a certain notoriety in her younger years, when she accompanied the infamous Carry Nation on one of her saloon-smashing crusades, and later when she traveled the country preaching and speaking on women’s rights, suffrage, and sexuality from a biblical perspective.3   Read more
Forefoot, arch, then ball are held steamy in the moist cloth,  held with both hands by a woman in Oregon caring for a homeless man,  now shaved and fed. Read more
Instead of giving yet another argument, let us consider the matter of strategy. I am both a jazz lover and evangelical egalitarian. As I was preparing a talk to the Denver chapter of Christians for Biblical Equality, it came to me that the approach to race taken by composer, big-band leader, and pianist Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (1899–1974) has much to teach egalitarians on how to shape a rhetoric that fits our difficult and often vexing cause. The man who was arguably America’s greatest composer and unarguably its superlative band leader may also be a model for many of us weary of the effort to show that women are, after all, fully human—with all the gifts, responsibilities, and woes that involves. Duke Ellington, the musical hero, may be, in addition, a rhetorical hero worthy of emulation by emissaries of egalitarianism.3 The argument is one of analogy. Although Duke Ellington did not directly take up the case of women’s rights, his approach to race exhibited virtues, values, and strategies that are felicitous for contemporary egalitarians.    Read more
She holds His shoes in her hands. They are worn shoes, but the only clothes not stolen by Romans and priests and elders and everyone else who always wanted a piece of Him. But they cannot have Read more
I look at it every now and then. We both held Him. I and a grave share that honor. Read more
Rape is a timeless and worldwide1 epidemic that violates the divine image and personhood of a human being and renders its victims voiceless, powerless,2 and fragmented from self, others, and God. Rape causes a desolate and disordered reality psychologically, relationally, and spiritually, often resulting in theological and “existential crisis.”3 Although this crisis impacts millions each year,4 rape has a history of silence, denial, and serious misperceptions.5 These misperceptions include blaming the victim and minimizing the multidimensional impact and trauma of rape. Healing requires breaking the silence, which many voices are doing today, including one particular community more than two thousand years old. Rather than silencing, denying, or minimizing rape, this community speaks relevantly and powerfully by voicing outrage against rape. Read more
Former Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China said, “The speed of a fleet is judged not by the fastest ones in the front, but by the slowest ones trailing at the end.” This imagery, unintended though it was for the women’s movement, provides a vivid depiction of women and girls who are left behind. Though gender equality has seemingly made significant strides inside and outside the church in the past few decades, there remain many overwhelmingly horrid stories of women and girls whose lives are severely broken by extreme abuse and exploitation. In the biblical framework of creation-fall-redemption, and against the cultural backdrops of China and Cambodia, we look into God’s intention in restoring lives of these violated girls. Read more
As a boy, I lived on a small family fruit farm. When springtime came, grasses and weeds that coexisted between the rows of fruit trees were ripped and carved so that the soil could breathe and be prepared to support the trees for the coming season. As the weeds were turned over, an important cycle of life was encouraged. When the spring rains came, the enzymes did their work to break down the organic matter to support new growth. The parable of the sower is included in the three synoptic gospels of our Bible. The parable describes scattered seeds that fell on hardened paths, where the birds have a feast; or in shallow soil amid rocks, where, after a brief life, the plants shrivel for lack of moisture and nourishment; or some that fell among thorns, where life was short as the vines and dominant plants monopolized the moisture and nutrients, smothering the fragile plants. Each picture represents the life-giving word of God, which does not take root due to unwelcoming conditions. In the lives of the people I work with, as it is for all of us to some extent, God’s invitation to true wellness is unable to be fully realized due to various, often significant, hindrances. Read more
Ideas have consequences. This is particularly true in addressing domestic violence. Men who abuse hold ideas—or, as we will term them, beliefs—that support their abusive behaviors. And, like the verbal abuse and lethal neglect of Nabal in the biblical account of 1 Samuel 25 that nearly led to his own and the death of his servants and children, such behaviors have dire consequences for the men themselves and those who live with them: wives, aging parents, partners, and children. To understand the cycle of abuse and the beliefs that support it, we must first understand the details and reality of those living in abusive homes by defining terms, reviewing the types and frequency of abuse, and examining the beliefs of men who abuse as well as assessing the consequences of these beliefs—and the subsequent actions they engender—on their female partners and children who witness abuse. Finally, I will close with some basic tenets in challenging men who abuse and their belief systems. The standard in the domestic violence field is to address the issue using multidisciplinary teams or coordinated community responses. Read more

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Book Review: Scars Across Humanity: Understanding and Overcoming Violence Against Women

I have read nothing quite like Elaine Storkey’s book, Scars Across Humanity. It tells the story of violence against women in today’s world. The book is very well researched and accessible; moreover, it is spine-chilling. As I sat with the book in hand after reading it I felt both pleased that someone had so powerfully told this awful story and depressed by what I had read.

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