Showing posts with label Patriarchy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Patriarchy. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Patriarchy and Invisibility: An Asian American Woman’s Silencing

Asian American woman have lived and suffered in a problematic cycle of racism from the wider community and patriarchy from within the Asian American community.

I attended my first Feminist Studies in Religion (FSR) Leadership meeting in June 2014 and learned a lot about its history and its organization. Through this meeting, I came to appreciate the long historical development, as well as the goals and achievements of the FSR.

During a casual lunch conversation, a few of us were brainstorming on what the next roundtable topic might be for the next FSR journal publication. I suggested that we focus a roundtable around Asian American Feminist Theology. I wondered if there had already been a journal edition that already covered such an issue.

While going through the archives of the journal publication, we discovered that there has never been a roundtable on Asian American Feminist Theology during the past thirty years. This reality hit me hard. It reinforced my own understanding of how Asian American women and their role have become invisible within the dominant culture and society. This is another example of how woman are pushed to the margins and left there. At the margins is not a suitable place to be as they are often unseen and unheard by patriarchal leaders of their community.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

“These Hoes Ain’t Loyal:” Biblical Harlotry and Patriarchy Then and Now

A recent Gallup poll notes that “a combined 75% [of Americans] believe the Bible is in some way connected to God”; 28% believe that the Bible should be taken literally, and about half understand and interpret the Bible as the inspired Word of God. But to what extent do preachers see the whole Bible—all thirty-thousand-plus verses—as the inerrant or inspired Word of God?

We're all familiar with the humorous argument that if we're prepared to use the Bible to condemn homosexuality we'll have to stop eating lobster too, so clearly some portions of the Bible have been abandoned. A recent event, however, highlights the fact that biblical images of harlotry and its relationship to patriarchy remain firmly in place.
Rev. Dr. Jamal-Harrison Bryant, the pastor of Empowerment Temple AME in Baltimore, Maryland has recently found himself on the homiletical hot-seat as his direct quote of the Chris Brown song made its way into a sermon he preached entitled “I’m My Enemy’s Worst Nightmare” with a scripture text of Matthew 27:19. Rev. Bryant goes through his usual homiletic approach opening with social commentary before getting to the crux of his theological argument. However, his social commentary in this sermon engaged in the worst that Christian thought from the black religious context has to offer.
Rev. Bryant broached the subject of gender and sexuality like a proverbial bull in a china shop. With quoted statistics that could have used some serious academic support, Bryant worked in heavy generalizations about gender roles that reeked of Christian patriarchy and asserted that there are more black lesbian girls now than there are black gay boys because “the Enemy had now shifted its attack toward black girls.” He referred to some black men attending church as “sanctified sissies.”
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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

“Jesus Feminist:” A Gospel of Empowerment

“Jesus Feminist: Exploring God’s Radical Notion that Women are People, Too.”
My initial reaction to that title was “Well yeah… Like we been sayin.” Because in most mainline protestant circles, we have been HELLA sayin. For like, 100 years. Don’t get me wrong, I was glad to see this book—an apologetic for empowering women leaders in the church—emerge in the evangelical circle, because, you know, ‘those people’ sure need to read it. But I didn’t really expect to find anything in it that would speak to me or ‘my people.’
Spoiler alert: I was wrong.
This book is full of good news. For women and for men; for mainliners, progressives, evangelicals, and all who defy classification; and for all who wonder how much of the church’s identity is shaped by culture more than by Jesus.
The self-proclaimed progressives should read this book, if for no other reason than to rejoice in the fact that we have another sister on this mission against patriarchy.  An especially eloquent and empassioned one at that—and one who will reach a far broader audience than we’ve managed to thus far.
Speaking of apologetics—Sarah Bessey’s are spot on. She visits the biblical ‘clobber texts’ used to keep women in narrowly focused roles, and she clobbers them right back; with a powerful mix of theology, scholarship, common sense and grace.  For those of us who long ago gave up defending women’s ‘place’ in the church, because we thought our particular tradition had moved on, Bessey’s book is like reading the class notes of your smarter, harder working friend… She explores, in depth, some of the questions we’ve long dismissed as ‘not our issue anymore.’
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Thursday, January 24, 2013

When Patriarchy Trumps Theology

by Carol Howard Merritt
R3 Contributor

I picked up the Tribune, and my mouth fell open at the headline on the bottom of the front page. It was 1993 and I was living in Chicago. The paper made an editorial decision to not only report the cold hard facts of the homicides in the city, but to tell at least one story each day exploring the details of the childish accidents, domestic violence, and premeditated revenge. Reading the heart-breaking articles, seeing the innocent faces, and feeling the deep wounds—the stories seemed to pierce the city. The narratives changed me. I had been an Evangelical Christian, a born-again believer, who supported gun laws. But after seeing the harm that they caused every day, I could no longer hold to my political stance.

It’s been twenty years and I haven’t wavered in my position, and each time I read about a new shooting, I become more resolved about gun safety. Scriptures make me long for the day when our “swords would be beaten into ploughshares and our spears into pruning hooks.” I cannot think of a more beautiful urge--our tools will be used feed one another rather than kill each other. 
Oddly, today Public Religion Research just came out with a report that says that 64% of evangelicals who say “pro-life” describes them very well oppose stricter gun laws.
How can this be? If life is the most important thing in a political and theological belief system, why would you support the death penalty, support wars and oppose gun violence prevention? For many people, the term "pro-life" ought to lead to pacifism, so this system of ideals seems completely perplexing.

One way to understand why this contradictory set of views makes sense in the minds of so many is to remember the nature of patriarchy. A very crude understanding of a patriarchal culture points to a system where a father figure will provide and protect. Others in a family system will give up some of their rights and choice for that provision and protection—or they “submit.”
Many white Evangelicals point to Scriptures that say that the husband is the head of the household, as Christ is the head of the church. In the minds of some, it follows that guns, war, and the death penalty are means of protecting their families.
When an issue like birth control comes up, you might also be confused why some Evangelicals would be against it. With the rise of birth control, women became more educated and they entered the workforce. As a result, women began to increase their agency. They did not need to be protected or provided for in the same ways as they may have in the past. Women were able to divorce a spouse without the fear of not being able to survive.
Christianity has been entangled in patriarchy so much that many believe that it can never be unraveled. Because Evangelicalism was so closely tied to patriarchy, I left the Evangelical movement. Yet, I still identify as “born-again.” Being "born again" reminds me of a Holy Spirit Mother who gives birth. It reminds me of the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit broke the bonds of patriarchy, so that women and girls began to prophesy and see visions. It reminds me of the fact that in Jesus Christ, there is no Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free. It reminds me of the movement of God, who empowers women to become educated, to provide for their families, and to leave their abusers. And the Spirit gives us the strength to imagine a world in which we pound down our weapons into tools to nourish one another.
Follow Carol on Twitter @carolhoward