Today is International Women’s Day. Yay for my favorite half of the human race! Sadly, though, today is tainted with hype for much of modern feminism’s worst features. In that sense, International Women’s Day celebrations tend to be stunted by worship of antifeminity and other such disasters. But in the spirit of celebrating women as women, at their best and their most mundane (for that is everyone’s best), I’m here rounding up some of my favorite blog posts about women with links and brief excerpts. Three are my own, and two are from elsewhere. So without further ado, my tribute to the feminine.
- Feminism Wishlist – The Nicene Nerd
I’ve never really identified with feminism for various reasons….But, hypothetically, I could identify with, or at least offer my affirmation to, a feminist subgroup if it abstained from certain key errors which affect the majority forms…I will call this kind of feminism which I could hypothetically affirm a “natural feminism,” because I believe the problem at the heart of most forms of feminism is a denial of the natural order of creation…
A natural feminism would detest pornography and all kinds of sex work as degrading. It would understand that the commodification of women’s bodies desacralizes them, objectivizes them, and even consensually exploits them. No room would be made for the hypocrisy of a society that wars against rape and sexual harassment while simultaneously selling to men a lifestyle of viewing women as impersonal sex objects.
- Joan of Arc: Her Story and Challenge – The Nicene Nerd
[St. Joan] was only an ignorant, illiterate, and humble peasant girl, yet she felt called by God to accomplish great things, and following faithfully all the way through. Through dangers, political opposition, and severe injuries (she was once actually shot in the neck by a crossbow!), she persevered. She never yielded to the pressures of fear and intimidation. Her faith in God always remained strong, so much so that the only leverage her enemies could use against her was her desire to continue taking Communion. She was committed to her personal purity, and the purity of her entire army. She made her soldiers pray and worship on a regular basis. All reports show she was selfless as could be. Even when the king offered to give her anything in repayment for her help in his coronation, she asked for nothing but that the poor people of her hometown, which she never saw again, be free of taxes…
Basically, Joan of Arc was more noble, brave, persistent, and faithful than I am, and than many of us could ever hope to be. Even if she was crazy, or a heretic, or what have you (a question I think C. S. Lewis would have something to say about), the standard she sets is amazing and deserves emulation. We could all use to be a little more like Joan of Arc.
- The female form is a fountain – In Whom Christ Plays
The female form is the fountain of life, then. This is its, and thus her, nature. Woman are life-givers in a way that men aren’t. The man helps create life in a one-off action, and the woman nurtures and grows it in an ongoing manner. This is like the relationship between God and man, in which God is, as Father, the one who creates us ex nihilo and the Church, as mother, nourishes and teaches us that we might grow up into the image of our elder Brother, who was Himself grown in the womb of the Church when she was known as Israel. This is why the Spirit is also the only member of the Trinity who is sometimes referred to with a feminine pronoun in the Scriptures, for God as the Spirit uniquely continues in the ongoing action of sustaining and forming human life towards its fullness.
- The Revolutionary Work of Motherhood – Alastair’s Adversaria
The labour of the mother in making her home is a labour of love, a type of labour driven by, bound to, and creative of something particular and unique, apart from and distinct from all other things in the world. You can’t mass produce or replicate homes. The mother is the spring of life at the heart of the home. Her very body is the site of union and our very first home. The life that she produces through her maternal labour and love is the life by which her entire household grows. It is also a life that spreads out beyond her household into her wider community and society bringing communion and fruitfulness, as she expresses her distinctively womanly power to make the world into a home.
- Liturgical Man, Liturgical Woman (Part 1 and Part 2) – Biblical Horizons
My thesis is that the differences between men and women are, by creation design, fundamentally liturgical and only secondarily biological and psychological. To put it another way, my thesis is that the physical and psychological differences between men and women are grounded in their differing liturgical roles…
Word initiates; glory completes. Adam was made first, then Eve. Humanity began with a man; humanity ends as a Bride, the New Jerusalem. Jesus, who had no form or comeliness, initiates the Church; but at the end the Bride is all glorious within and without. At the end, human males will all be part of a glorious Bride who interacts with the Supreme Male, Jesus Christ.
These differences between initiation and glorification play out in history the differences between Son and Spirit. And they are integral to liturgy, which is the human reflection of the worship of the Father by the Son and the Spirit. Men alone may teach and lead in the dialogue of worship because they are created for this initiating purpose. But women must participate and thereby lend glory to worship. “It is not good for the man to be alone,” and it is not good for worship to be done exclusively by men. The glorifying voices of women must be heard responsively in prayer and song.
It is the liturgical differences between men and women that account for their other differences, not the other way around. Men’s voices are generally an octave lower than women’s. A musician can tell you that lower notes are more foundational and higher notes are more decorative. The harmonic or “totality” movement in homophonic and polyphonic music is directed from the bass line, while the glory and decorative aspects of the music, including the melody, are in higher notes. Men’s voices (low notes) control the direction of the music, but women’s voices (high notes) glorify it.
Also, two nifty theological books by female authors:
- Re-Imaging Election: Divine Election as Representing God to Others & Others to God – Suzanne McDonald
- From Amazon:
In Re-Imaging Election Suzanne McDonald offers a fresh approach to the doctrine of election from a Reformed perspective, first by seeking greater acknowledgment that election is not only “in Christ” but also “by the Spirit,” and second by building on the scriptural and theological links between the doctrines of election and the image of God. McDonald here combines an analysis of John Owen and Karl Barth with those links to develop a constructive proposal that posits representation (representing God to others and others to God) as a fruitful category for understanding the nature and purpose of election. In doing so, she seeks to restore the robust pneumatology characteristic of the earlier Reformed tradition without losing some of the central insights from Barth’s christological re-orientation of the doctrine.
While Re-Imaging Election is firmly rooted in the Reformed tradition, the re-expression of the doctrine presented here opens up new possibilities for dialogue across the theological spectrum and offers suggestive directions for reclaiming an often-divisive doctrine in the life of the church.
- The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ – Fleming Rutledge
- From Amazon:
Though the apostle Paul boldly proclaimed “Christ crucified” as the heart of the gospel, Fleming Rutledge notes that preaching about the cross of Christ is remarkably neglected in most churches today. In this book Rutledge addresses the issues and controversies that have caused pastors to speak of the cross only in the most general, bland terms, precluding a full understanding and embrace of the gospel by their congregations.
Countering our contemporary tendency to bypass Jesus’ crucifixion, Rutledge in these pages examines in depth all the various themes and motifs used by the New Testament evangelists and apostolic writers to explain the meaning of the cross of Christ. She mines the classical writings of the Church Fathers, the medieval scholastics, and the Reformers as well as more recent scholarship, while bringing them all into contemporary context.
Widely known for her preaching, Rutledge seeks to encourage preachers, teachers, and anyone else interested in what Christians believe to be the central event of world history.