Standing Up, Speaking Up in the Gospel of Mary—Deborah Saxon & Mark M. Mattison

Dr. Deborah Saxon & Mark M. Mattison








Mark M. Mattison & Dr. Deborah Saxon
(photo by Dr. Christy Sim)

At the Christian Feminism Today Gathering Dr. Deborah Saxon and Mark M. Mattison gave a fascinating plenary presentation titled “Standing Up, Speaking Up in the Gospel of Mary.” These two biblical scholars illuminated a text used by followers of Jesus as early as the second century. This long-ignored text portrays the courageous leadership of Mary Magdalene in the early Jesus movement. Deborah and Mark used this long-ignored Gospel of Mary to help us think together about the challenges and opportunities for us today as we stand up and speak up for what we believe.

In conversations with Deborah at the 2016 Christian Feminism Gathering, I learned of her research and writing, some of which is published in her book The Care of the Self in Early Christian Texts. A little more than seven years ago, I learned about Mark’s work on the Divine Feminine Version of the New Testament and featured him on my blog and later in She Lives! Sophia Wisdom Works in the World. I have been impressed by the depth of Deborah and Mark’s biblical knowledge and scholarship.

In their presentation at this summer’s Gathering, Deborah and Mark began by displaying art from the early Christian centuries. Some of these artworks show Mary, the mother of Jesus, and other women in positions of authority and leadership in the early church. Although women are often denied leadership in churches today, ancient art and texts reveal women as leaders in the early Jesus movement.

Moving on to the Gospel of Mary, Deborah and Mark pointed out that this Gospel is about Mary Magdalene, but not written by her. The Gospel of Mary was discovered a little over a century ago in Egypt, but more than half of it is missing. It was originally written in Greek early in the second century and later translated into Coptic.

Deborah explained a portion of the Gospel of Mary that gives a perspective on the interconnection of all things in nature. “Every nature, every form, every creature exists in and with each other, but they’ll dissolve again into their own roots, because the nature of matter dissolves into its nature alone.”

In the canonical Gospels Mary Magdalene plays a prominent role as a follower of Jesus (Luke 8:1-3) and the first witness of the resurrection (John 20:1-18), “the apostle to the apostles.” The long-overlooked Gospel of Mary adds to the story of her as a leader of the early followers of Jesus.

Mark compared the part Mary Magdalene played as a teacher of the other disciples to the role of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus mentions as teaching “all things” and reminding them of everything that Jesus had told them. These verses from the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of John illustrate this comparison:

Deborah and Mark pointed out passages in the Gospel of Mary that record the disciples’ questioning Mary’s authority as a teacher and leader (translations by Mark):

In response Andrew said to the brothers and sisters, “Say what you will about what she’s said, I myself don’t believe that the Savior said these things, because these teachings seem like different ideas.” In response Peter spoke out with the same concerns. He asked them concerning the Savior: “He didn’t speak with a woman without our knowledge and not publicly with us, did he? Will we turn around and all listen to her? Did her prefer her to us?”

Although Andrew and Peter didn’t believe Mary, the only woman in the group of disciples, she had the courage to stand up and speak up for what she knew to be true:

Then Mary wept and said to Peter, “My brother Peter, what are you thinking? Do you really think that I thought this up by myself in my heart, or that I’m lying about the Savior?”

Then Levi spoke up in Mary’s defense:

In response Levi said to Peter, “Peter, you’ve always been angry. Now I see you debating with this woman like the adversaries. But if the Savior made her  worthy, who are you then to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well. That’s why he loved her more than us.”

The Gospel of Mary doesn’t record the male disciples questioning Levi’s words, just as today men are often believed more than women, Deborah and Mark observed. Male advocates, like Levi, are then important.

You may want to explore these questions that Deborah and Mark posed to participants at the Gathering:

1. Have you ever heard of the Gospel of Mary before tonight? What parts of it do you find most interesting, compelling, or relevant to your own life and social context
2. What are the challenges Mary faces in speaking out in her Gospel? What challenges do you face in your own life? What form do they take?
3. What sustains you or helps you in speaking out? What inspiring contemporary examples can you share that parallel Mary’s courage?


Dr. Deborah Saxon

Deborah Saxon, Ph.D., teaches at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is the author of The Care of the Self in Early Christian Texts. Deb researches newly discovered Christian texts, women’s voices, the inclusive perspectives they reveal, and the intersection of gender and religion.






Mark M. Mattison

Mark M. Mattison is an independent writer and scholar. He is the author of The Gospel of Judas: The Sarcastic Gospel; The Gospel of Thomas: A New Translation for Spiritual SeekersThe Gospel of Mary: A Fresh Translation and Holistic Approach; and The Goblin Gambit. He was one of the creators of the Divine Feminine Version of the New Testament.


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Locating Your Role in the Story of Our Collective Liberation—Alicia Crosby

Alicia Crosby

At the Christian Feminism Today Gathering Alicia Crosby gave a thought-provoking, inspiring keynote presentation titled “Locating Your Role in the Story of Our Collection Liberation.”

At two events several years ago, I had the joy of connecting with Alicia and participating in her workshops on creating communities where all are welcome. On this blog I have written about my experiences in these workshops. In conversations with Alicia I have also learned about her passion for following her call, which led her to co-found and lead the Center for Inclusivity (CFI).

Alicia began her plenary presentation at this summer’s Gathering with guidelines on “Setting Up Our Space”:

  • compassionate listening
  • refraining from making judgments/assumptions
  • speaking up
  • respecting and expressing boundaries
  • confidentiality
  • reflective listening
  • respecting our different perspectives
  • respecting our different relationships with Christianity

Then Alicia illuminated the biblical story of Esther, from which the Gathering theme “Standing Up, Speaking Up in Such a Time as This,” was drawn. When I was growing up in Sunday school and Girls’ Auxiliary in my Baptist church, I loved the story of Esther. But I never heard that Esther was a concubine before she became queen, that she was one of many young women forced into the king’s harem, and that she and the other women had to go through a year of “beauty treatments” to please him.

Alicia continued to shed light on this story through the perspectives of the marginalized. While the king was throwing a long, lavish party for all the noblemen and military officers, we never hear about all the common people and we don’t see the refugees from the wars won to build his large empire.

After King Xerxes banished Queen Vashti for refusing to parade in front of him and the other drunken men at his party, he had young women brought into his harem to take turns to see which one pleased him most. But we don’t hear about the young women when they were forced to come to try out to be queen, Alicia said. “They were taken against their will. Violated. They were held captive at least a year. What happens to the human spirit when you know you’re held against your will for a whole year? And when you leave, your body has been used? What happens then?” There’s so much in the Esther story that I never heard or thought about, like trafficking and violence against women.

Mordecai was also marginalized in this story, Alicia pointed out. He was a Jew in Persian culture. He refused to bow down to Haman, the king’s top official, as the king had commanded. Alicia compares Mordecai to young black people who’ve been oppressed by police officers and don’t feel they need to show them respect.

When King Xerxes went along with Haman’s plot to destroy all the Jews, Mordecai publicly lamented. But he pushed Esther to act, instead of acting himself, Alicia said, “like black women asked to save people, to speak out. Mordecai threatened to out Esther as a Jew if she didn’t speak up to the king, like people outing others for their own benefit” (Esther 4:13-14).

“What can we take away from the story of Esther?” Alicia asked. Here are some things Alicia mentioned that she saw: “Like Mordecai, we can be marginalized and still contribute to the marginalization of others. We also see this in the eunuchs in charge of the king’s harem. Agency was taken away from Esther and the other women, but Esther still stood up and spoke up. Vashti was also a heroine in the story; she said ‘Time’s Up. No more.’”

Alicia continued her presentation by asking us to form small groups to examine our own social locations, using these questions:

  1. What are my identities?
    2. What facets of my identity allow me to experience privilege? How does that privilege function?
    3. What are the ways in which I experience marginalization?
    4. What people groups have more privilege than me?
    5. Who experiences oppression and marginalization that I do not have to face?

Alicia concluded her plenary talk by challenging us:

  1. “What resources do you have that you can contribute to our collective liberation? If you think we’re all free, I’m not sorry to tell you we’re all not.”
  2. “How will I work to share the resources I have with others so that we can all be free?”
  3. “What role(s) can I play in the story of our collective liberation? Some of us are teachers. Some of us are listeners. Some of us can build things. Think of who you are and the gifts you have and how they can be leveraged. What are you doing? What are you going to do?”

My thanks goes to Dr. Christy Sim for the photos from the Gathering.

Alicia Crosby

Alicia Crosby is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Inclusivity (CFI). Her passions for justice, spiritually engaged activism, and community engagement led her to pursue an M.A. in Social Justice and a Certificate in Non-Profit Management & Philanthropy at Loyola University Chicago. She also has a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Hollins University.

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Christian Feminism Today 2018 Gathering—Rev. Dr. Leslie Harrison

Rev. Dr. Leslie Harrison

Rev. Dr. Leslie Harrison inspired and challenged us at the Christian Feminism Today Gathering worship service and in her workshop “Don’t You Forget About Me: Black Female Issues Rarely Addressed by Society in Her Context.” The theme of the Gathering was “Standing Up, Speaking Up in Such a Time as This,” based on Esther 4:14.





In the Sunday morning worship service Rev. Dr. Harrison led this powerful responsive “Prayer for the People—For Such a Time as This” that she wrote:

Leader: We know, through our DNA, all of us come from the four corners of the earth.
We have been oppressed, depressed, segregated, and amputated.
Oppressed by a patriarchal system and each other.
Depressed by those who refuse to acknowledge our gifts, our intelligence, and our wisdom.
Segregated from our fullest expression based on gender, race, sexuality, and so many other distinctions.
Amputated from our thoughts, our spirits, our experiences, and our futures.
However, we stand tall and speak with strength because we were created . . .

All:      For such a time as this.

 Leader: We give thanks to our Creator for all the good works which prepared this world for our entrance.
We give thanks to the Creator for orchestrating our emergence into time, to
maximize our usefulness as co-laborers in the restoration of justice.
We give thanks to our ancestors for being stepping stones to wisdom and
cornerstones of strength as we embrace these many challenges . . .

All:      For such a time as this.

Leader: We will stand up and speak up to overcome oppression, depression, segregation, and amputation.
No longer will we sit mute in moments of injustice.
We will stand up and speak up because each life matters.
We will stand up and speak up because everyone should be able to live out their dreams.
We will stand up to march, we will speak up to raise consciousness, and we will
use our dollars to change the economics of political injustice . . .

All:      For such a time as this.

Leader: We will fast, just as Queen Esther called for a fast.
We will turn over our plates to actions which perpetuate selfishness, greed, discrimination, stigma, poverty, and hate.
We will stand tall filled with indignation, audacity, courage, valor, moxie, and boldness
to right that which is wrong and demeaning whenever and
wherever necessary. . .

All:      For such a time as this.

Leader: We will work to free our siblings who are bound by archaic traditions and regulations.
We will strengthen systems that are just, uplifting, and uniting.
We will assist the oppressed, depressed, segregated, and amputated.
We will move toward the enactment of justice for all . . .

All:      For such a time as this.

Leader: We will stand up, we will speak up, we will lift up, and we will turn up.
We will invite ourselves to the table when and where decisions are being made.
We will walk boldly and decide our own fate.
We will stand up to demand justice for ourselves and others.
We will speak up for those who have been silenced . . .

All:      For such a time as this.

Leader: Our ancestors, all genders, all races, all creeds, proved that we have the ability to
stand and speak up even in the face of great adversity.
It is their examples that we were created to follow, to pursue justice with dignity and courage.

All:      We remember who we are and what our ancestors accomplished.
We stomp out injustice, share hope, tolerate only that which is good and just, and teach that love conquers all.
We are the ones who ensure our neighbors feel welcome.
We do the right things for the right reasons at the right times.
We are the ones standing up and speaking up,
For such a time as this.

© 2018 Leslie Harrison. Used by permission.

Later in the worship service Rev. Dr. Leslie Harrison delivered an inspiring sermon titled “For Such a Time as This.” She highlighted three strong female voices in the book of Esther.

Queen Vashti, she says, is one of King Xerxes beautiful trophies. “King Xerxes is as drunk as a skunk, and he wants his trophy to come down” so he can show her off to all the men at his lavish banquet. “The queen says ‘there’s no way I’m marching around all those men. He’s got the wrong woman here.’ Vashti stands up and speaks up: ‘No. I’m not giving up my pride and self-esteem.’”

The second strong woman is Esther. “She’s an orphan; all her family is gone but a distant cousin, Mordecai.” Leslie continues: “When the king asks for all the beautiful women, Mordecai says, ‘go ahead and apply for the scholarship.’ Esther’s learning stuff. But Mordecai is crying and is a hot mess. She didn’t know there was stuff happening outside the walls of the castle. Esther says if I go before the king, it will be bad. So I’m going to keep living. I’m not doing anything. Her cousin says ‘don’t think you got up into royalty just for yourself. You’re there for a purpose. Do what you need to do.’ So she goes before the king, probably anticipating her death. But she does it anyway. And the king welcomed her.” Because she stands up and speaks up, Esther saves her people.

Rev. Dr. Harrison identifies the third voice in the book of Esther as Christ-Sophia. “Her name isn’t spoken, but it is Christ-Sophia moving in the hearts of people, giving Esther the wisdom to do what Godde asks. It is Christ-Sophia who gives Esther the courage, and it is the presence of Christ-Sophia that changes the heart of the king to accept Esther as she is.”

Rev. Dr. Harrison applies the Esther story to our lives, saying that some of us are living a privileged life. “And we see the people wailing outside the gate. How many of us are willing to hear what the needs of the people are? How many of us are willing to give a kind word? How many of us are willing to share the wisdom we have? Think about how we can go down to the wall. Why are the mothers crying? Because their babies were taken away. Because of inhumane immigration practices. Because there’s a wall.”

“We are tired of being tired. But we can’t be so tired we go somewhere and lie down. We have to stand up. Stand up against injustice. Let us find the courage and energy we have in Christ-Sophia to stand up and speak out. Because it’s for such a time as this.”

On Saturday morning Rev. Dr. Leslie Harrison also challenges us in her workshop titled “Don’t You Forget About Me: Black Female Issues Rarely Addressed by Society in Her Context.” Here is her workshop description:

“Black females are the foundation of America. We nursed our babies and the master’s babies at the same breast; we nurtured and trained the master’s children hoping to keep our children from being sold further into slavery. We walked away from slavery but remained slaves of our husbands, families, and a society that refused to acknowledge our presence, our power, and our debilitating issues. Over the years, we have learned to stand tall and speak up through our actions rather than our voices. During the Civil Rights movement, it was our tired and sore feet that desegregated buses and marched for equality. We did not become a major part of the early feminist movement because so many of the issues did not pertain to us. We love America; we would die for America. And now we ask America, ‘Don’t you forget about me!’”

Drawing from womanist theology and literature, Leslie begins with a famous quote from Alice Walker: “Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender.”

Leslie names some experiences in the history of African American women:

  • oppressed
  • voiceless
  • misrepresented
  • miseducation of children
  • deletion of role models
  • distortion of image
  • alienation from known history
  • dehumanization of race and culture
  • Middle Passage—slaves, bonded servants
  • separation from family and neighbors
  • stripping of identity
  • increasing of inner strength

She continues by naming and celebrating some African American women who laid the foundation of feminism and womanism and some who are continuing this work:

  1. Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, author, orator, social reformer and founding member of the National Association of Colored Women
  2. Katherine Ferguson, whose freedom was bought by a friend for $200, and who established the first Sunday School in New York
  3. Sojourner Truth, who delivered her famous “Ain’t I a Woman” speech at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in 1851
  4. Esther Cooper Jackson, civil rights activist, social worker, and founding editor of the political and literary journal Freedomways
  5. Claudia Jones, immigrant from Trinidad, journalist who wrote against gender and racial discriminatory practices, whose best known piece was “An End to the Neglect of the Problems of the Negro Woman”
  6. Mary Church Terrell, advocate for civil rights and the women’s suffrage movement, charter member of the NAACP, one of the founders of the National Association of Colored Women
  7. Angela Davis, emphasized triple oppression of racism, sexism, and classism experienced by black women, who said: “ I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept. “
  8. Anne Moody, author, civil rights activist, who wrote Coming of Age in Mississippi about her experiences growing up poor and black
  9. Amandla Stenberg, actress, created video “Don’t Cash Crop on My Cornrows,” calling out the appropriation of black culture: “What would America be like if we loved black people as much as black culture?”
  10. Solange Knowles, actress, singer, songwriter, uses music as her form of activism, number-one album titled A Seat at the Table
  11. Alice Walker, author, activist, introduced word “womanist” to emphasize exclusion of women of color in early feminist movement and to focus on the intersectionality of racism, sexism, and classism

Leslie further emphasizes that womanism focuses on the experience of black women and the well-being of all. She says, “I refuse to be an ‘angry black woman.’ I’m an energy conservationist.”

My thanks goes to Dr. Christy Sim for the photos from the Gathering.

Rev. Dr. Leslie Harrison

Rev. Dr. Leslie Harrison is a listener, a friend, and a voice for the voiceless (until they find their voice!). She recently completed her doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy at Eastern University. Her Master of Divinity is from Palmer Theological Seminary. She is an Itinerant Elder of the African American Episcopal (AME) Church. As a life coach, she is passionate about helping people live into their dreams and purpose. Leslie currently works as pastor and chaplain at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and in its hospice program. She is vice-coordinator of the CFT Council. Among Council members and in our online community, Leslie is beloved for her gift of earnest and eloquent prayer.




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Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Dorothy Kelley Patterson

Dr. Dorothy Kelley Patterson

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg








After I recently saw the film RBG, my interaction with Dorothy Kelley Patterson years ago came to mind. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Dr. Dorothy Kelley Patterson, in the same generation with Ruth a little older than Dorothy, both experienced sexism, but they responded in opposite ways. The film includes a photo of Ruth at Harvard Law School surrounded by men—she was one of only nine women in a class of about 500 men. Dorothy was among the few women theology students in her class at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and in the Doctor of Ministry program at Luther Rice Seminary at that time.

Justice Ginsburg’s experiences of discrimination led her to work tirelessly for justice and equality for women throughout her career. Dr. Patterson’s experiences led her to work tirelessly to fit traditional subordinate roles for women and to teach other women to fit into these roles. What made the difference?

Both Ruth and Dorothy drew guidance from their conservative religious traditions. Ruth grew up in Orthodox Judaism. But when she saw up close the second-class status of women in her religion, she chose to focus on the demand for justice in Jewish history and tradition. She has a large sign in her chambers inscribed with Hebrew words from Deuteronomy, translated “Justice, justice shall you pursue” (16:20). When Dorothy from her conservative Southern Baptist religion also received messages that God intended only men to be leaders in church, home, and society, she chose to focus on passages in the Bible used to place limits on women.

My religious background, like Dorothy’s, is Southern Baptist, but I resonate more with Ruth. My Baptist roots run deep. My father and grandfather were Baptist preachers. My mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, my husband, David, and I all graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. But instead of messages of restriction based on my gender, from my Baptist heritage I got messages of freedom to follow God’s call wherever that leads.

So, when I debated Dorothy in 1988 at the Southern Baptist Historical Society, I had a hard time understanding how she could defend putting limits on God’s call to women. The debate took place in a large meeting room in one of the imposing buildings of the national Southern Baptist headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee. David, who had come to cheer me on, and I arrived early to learn the order for the debate. I was scheduled first to read my paper “Why I Believe Southern Baptist Churches Should Ordain Women,” and then Dorothy would read her paper, “Why I Believe Southern Baptist Churches Should Not Ordain Women.” (These papers were later published in Baptist History and Heritage.) We had twelve minutes each. Although Dorothy and I had read each other’s papers prior to the debate, we were to make no rebuttal of each other’s points until both of us had finished. Then the audience could direct questions to us, and we could respond to them and to each other.

I sat on the platform beside Dorothy, wife of Paige Patterson, former president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and one of the architects of the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention. Dorothy wore a hat as a sign that she submitted to male authority, just as the Bible told her to do, she said. I felt weak and shaky as I listened to the moderator introduce me.

When I stood at the pulpit and looked out at the sea of male faces, my knees shook so hard I felt I might collapse. My voice began softly and tentatively but gained power as I referred to the biblical story of Gamaliel, who counseled religious leaders not to hinder the apostles’ work because “if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” (Acts 5:39). I swiftly drew the parallel, “Southern Baptists cannot overthrow the ordination of women because it is of God.” I then moved confidently into my theological arguments, heavily supported with scriptural passages including Acts 2:17, which records Peter’s announcement that “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy” (The Greek word translated “prophesy” also means “preach.”) Also, claiming Baptist history, I commented on women preachers in England as far back as 1646 and told of a leading Presbyterian minister at that time who accused Baptists of having “she-preachers.” I cited well-known Baptist women preachers in eighteenth-century America such as Martha Marshall, Eunice Marshall, Margaret Clay, and Hannah Lee. Inflamed by my passionate conviction, I delivered my concluding call to action:

As in the issue of equality of the races, Southern Baptists have failed to take a prophetic stand on the equality of men and women. Not only have we failed to be a redemptive force in society, but also we have impoverished our churches by placing restrictions on the ministry of women. The pressing spiritual, emotional, and physical needs in our world demand that Southern Baptists cease to limit the ministry of more than half our members. If we follow the steps of Christ and of our Baptists forebears, we will repent of past sins and ordain all women, along with men, whom God calls to ministry.

Dorothy clapped along with the audience as I sat back down beside her. She then rose and walked slowly to the pulpit. Instead of beginning with her paper, according to the agreed-upon procedure, she began a rebuttal of my points. She questioned the legitimacy of my biblical interpretation and the orthodoxy of the theologians I referenced. And then in the midst of her paper, she made a comment about “women whose need for power led them to seek positions in denominations other than Baptist.” It was obvious that she wanted to discredit me by implying that I was not a true and loyal Baptist because I had taken a pastoral appointment in a Methodist church. Sweat started trickling down my back, but I tried to sit there on the platform looking pleasant and professional. Dorothy proceeded to muster all the biblical passages traditionally interpreted to exclude women from ordained ministry. She spent the longest time on a few verses in 1 Timothy that state that women should “learn in silence with full submission” and should not “teach or have authority over a man.” In my paper I had commented on this passage in 1 Timothy: “Those who take the statement concerning women’s silence in church as an eternal principle must also take as a literal command for all time the preceding statement forbidding women to wear braided hair, gold, pearls, or costly attire. Those arguing against ordination of women on the basis of this passage practice selective literalism, violating contextual and historical hermeneutical principles.”

After reading our papers, the moderator invited questions and comments. An earnest young man in the audience directed the first question to Dorothy: “Dr. Patterson, if you believe, as you stated so strongly, that women are not to teach or to have authority over a man, why is it that you have come here today to teach us, an audience of mostly men?

“That’s a good question,” she said. “I’ve come here only by the permission and under the authority of my husband, Dr. Paige Patterson. By the way, he regrets very much that he could not be here today, but he gave me permission to speak to you. As you probably know, I wear this hat as a symbol of my submission to the authority of my husband.”

One man asked me why I had taken a position in a Methodist church, but I could tell by his tone that his question was not so much a challenge as an invitation to defend myself against Dorothy’s charge. I answered that although I’d like to have had an opportunity to pastor in my Baptist tradition, my call to ministry took precedence over denominations. He responded by lamenting the loss of talent Baptists suffered by excluding women from ministry.

After the program, Dorothy and I exchanged polite compliments. Then she opened her Bible to Genesis and redoubled her efforts to prove to me that, from the beginning of creation, God had ordained women’s subordinate role. I countered that hers was only one interpretation of the passage and proceeded to reiterate mine. Pointing adamantly at the verses, she insisted, “But this is what God says, right here! Can’t you see?”

Later when David asked what Dorothy and I had been talking about so long, I said, “She kept trying to persuade me that her interpretation was not an interpretation at all, but the literal, inerrant word of God, and that’s scary!

Now 30 years later, as I reflect on my interactions with Dorothy, I find it sad that a woman with so much intelligence, leadership ability, and theological education would spend her gifts and energy advocating and teaching limitations on the exercise of women’s gifts. And I find myself asking what made the difference in Dorothy Kelley Patterson’s becoming a strong defender of restrictions on women and Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s becoming a strong advocate for women’s equal rights. I find it tragic that Dorothy’s biblical interpretation still limits women’s gifts and calling in so many churches. Also, I find it scary that this theology so often leads to and condones abuse of women.

Theology and biblical interpretation have consequences, as Dr. Molly T. Marshall so powerfully articulates in her article, “The Peril of Selective Inerrancy,” in Baptist News Global.

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Singing Resistance and Healing

Another horrific school shooting occurred last Friday, this one close to home in my state of Texas. A teenage boy opened fire on Santa Fe High School, not far from Houston, killing ten people and wounding ten others. There has been an average of one school shooting every week this year. I heard an interview with parents about how they are trying to talk to their children, some as young as seven, who are asking if they’re safe at school or anywhere.

At times I feel overwhelmed and don’t know how to respond to all this violence and so many other injustices that daily come to my attention. I’ve tried to respond in a variety of ways, but often wonder if anything I do makes a difference.

Alicia Crosby

Today I read an excellent blogpost by Alicia Crosby, my friend and colleague in Christian Feminism Today, that brought encouragement and renewed focus. In this post, “Finding Your Place in the Resistance” Alicia writes:

“You have something to offer to efforts that resist the injustices faced by members of our human family. Whether it be resources, time, art, space, relationships, social media shares, physical presence, spiritual counsel, emotional support, bail money, blogging skills, lobbying experience, caretaking, conflict meditation, free/low cost professional support, voter mobilization, or something you can name that falls beyond the scope of this writer’s imagination, you have something to lend to those working towards our collective liberation. It will take all of us combining our varied gifts to creatively dismantle prejudice, inequality, and the complex social and institutional systems they lurk behind.

That said, I want to invite you to take some time to consider the following: Knowing who you are, the realities you navigate, and the resources you have access to, what is your place in the Resistance?”

My response to Alicia’s question is that I find my place in the Resistance through writing and through organizations, like Equity for Women in the Church and Christian Feminism Today, dedicated to our collective liberation.

I find my place in the Resistance through writing song lyrics. I believe songs empower social justice movements and can be a unifying force for change. We can sing our resistance. We can sing our visions of healing and liberation.

Recently I wrote this song to the tune “Pass Me Not”:

Heal Our World, O Christ-Sophia

Heal our world, O Christ-Sophia; heal us all, we pray;
fill us all with loving kindness; show Your peaceful way.

Hear the urgent cries of children, marching for their lives;
help us now to end the violence, so they all survive.

Women rise up now for justice, calling out “Me Too”;
Black Lives Matter movement joins in making all things new.

Help us join Your work of healing, that we all may thrive;
give us grace and strength for action; keep our hope alive;


Christ-Sophia, heal our world, we pray;
fill us all with loving kindness; show Your peaceful way.

Words © 2018 Jann Aldredge-Clanton      PASS ME NOT tune for this song





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