“Nevertheless, She Persisted,” Song for the Movement

PersistedRecently Senator Elizabeth Warren had an experience most women can identify with. She was told to sit down and shut up. In opposition to a cabinet appointment, she was trying to read a Coretta Scott King letter. A little later, three of her male colleagues were allowed to read this letter on the Senate floor.

In silencing Elizabeth Warren, the Senate Majority leader said, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” Women all around the country related to her experience, and we took up the rallying cry, “Nevertheless, She Persisted.”

I began thinking of women who have persisted in spite of efforts to stifle them, and I wrote this song “Nevertheless, She Persisted” to the tune of “I Shall Not Be Moved.” You have my permission to print this song with my copyright at the bottom and/or to use the song in any venue.

Nevertheless, She Persisted

She persisted, she persisted still;

she persisted, she persisted still;

nevertheless, she persisted boldly;

she persisted still.

 

Miriam, the prophet, led the Israelites;

she got little praise for her part in the flight;

nevertheless, she persisted boldly;

she persisted still.

 

Mary Magdalene gave witness to the Word,

yet they tried to keep her voice from being heard;

nevertheless, she persisted boldly;

she persisted still.

 

Sojourner Truth claimed her prophetic voice,

yet they tried to squelch her, take away her choice;

nevertheless, she persisted boldly;

she persisted still.

 

Madame Curie found the cures to many ills,

yet they tried to question her scientific skills;

nevertheless, she persisted boldly;

she persisted still.

 

Congresswoman Chisholm ran for President,

yet they said she knew not what the office meant;

nevertheless, she persisted boldly;

she persisted still.

 

Katherine Johnson’s figures launched us into space,

yet they undermined her gender and her race;

nevertheless, she persisted boldly;

she persisted still.

 

Senator Liz Warren spoke truth with all her power,

yet they tried to hush her in the crucial hour;

nevertheless, she persisted boldly;

she persisted still.

 

She persisted, she persisted still;

she persisted, she persisted still;

nevertheless, she persisted boldly;

she persisted still.

 

Words © 2017 Jann Aldredge-Clanton                     I SHALL NOT BE MOVED

 

Miriam, the prophet, with brothers Moses and Aaron, leading the Exodus; image by Pam Allen

Miriam, the prophet, with brothers Moses and Aaron, leading the Exodus; image by Pam Allen

 

Mary Magdalene; image created by Melody M. Stevens, Colette Casburn Numajiri, and David Clanton

Mary Magdalene; image created by Melody M. Stevens, Colette Casburn Numajiri, and David Clanton

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth

 

Madame Marie Curie

Madame Marie Curie

 

Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm

Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm

Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Senator Elizabeth Warren

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“We Will All Resist,” Song for the Movement

photo(2) copytheaterThe movement that rose up after the Women’s March inspired me to write “We Will All Resist” to the tune of “I Shall Not Be Moved.” I offer this song for you to sing at rallies, marches, or other events. Just as singing has empowered the Civil Rights movement and the Labor movement, I believe that singing will help empower this new movement.

You see that “We Will All Resist” focuses on moral issues, and does not name people. These issues are all connected, and their order in the song does not indicate order of importance. When you sing this song, you can change the order to fit your event and/or add stanzas with other issues. I do ask that you not put names of people in the song, but keep the song focused on moral issues.

You have my permission to print this song with my copyright at the bottom and/or to use the song in any venue.

We Will All Resist

We will rise up; we will all resist;

we will rise up; we will all resist;

for we will rise up stronger all together;

we will all resist.

 

Equal rights for women will not be denied;

equal rights for women will not be denied,

for we will rise up stronger all together;

we will all resist.

 

Justice for all races will not be denied;

justice for all races will not be denied,

for we will rise up stronger all together;

we will all resist.

 

Justice for all genders will not be denied;

justice for all genders will not be denied,

for we will rise up stronger all together;

we will all resist.

 

Immigrants will not be ever turned away;

immigrants will not be ever turned away,

for we will rise up stronger all together;

we will all resist.

 

Rights of workers will not ever be denied;

rights of workers will not ever be denied,

for we will rise up stronger all together;

we will all resist.

 

Care of Earth will never ever be denied;

care of Earth will never ever be denied,

for we will rise up stronger all together;

we will all resist.

 

Public schools will not be ever undermined;

public schools will not be ever undermined,

for we will rise up stronger all together;

we will all resist.

 

Healthcare rights will never ever be denied;

Healthcare rights will never ever be denied,

for we will rise up stronger all together;

we will all resist.

 

Travel bans will never ever be the law;

travel bans will never ever be the law,

for we will rise up stronger all together;

we will all resist.

 

Women’s voices will not ever be shut down;

women’s voices will not ever be shut down,

for we will rise up stronger all together;

we will all resist.

 

Human rights will never ever be denied;

human rights will never ever be denied,

for we will rise up stronger all together;

we will all resist.

 

We will rise up; we will all resist;

we will rise up; we will all resist;

for we will rise up stronger all together;

we will all resist.

 

Words © 2017 Jann Aldredge-Clanton                     I SHALL NOT BE MOVED

resistequalityresist_together

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St. Hildegard’s Community

The Sunday following the Women’s March in Austin, Texas, I had the joy of worshiping with St. Hildegard’s Community. It was just what I needed to strengthen my resolve to work for justice and to give me the spiritual power so necessary to this work.

Rev. Judith Liro

Rev. Judith Liro

Rev. Judith Liro, pastor of this community, led the inspiring service, beginning with this Collect:

Christ-Sophia,

Empower us to step out:

To denounce evil,

To resist with courage and imagination;

To announce the good news,

To live with kindness and compassion. —Judith Liro

Judith gave a creative, prophetic interpretation of the Gospel reading, Matthew 4:12-23, connecting it to our current day. She challenged us to follow Jesus in fulfilling our mission in the world in this crucial time. Just as Jesus proclaimed good news and brought healing to people in troubled times, so can we.

Hope and encouragement also filled my spirit through a reading Judith chose from She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse, by theologian Elizabeth A. Johnson, C.S.J. These words, written in 1992, seem even more relevant today:

"Sophia" by Mirta Toledo

“Sophia” by Mirta Toledo

The radical transformation of crushing structures and murderous situations does not happen automatically but only through human effort that through active nonviolent resistance struggles for justice and against suffering. In the midst of this agony, Spirit-Sophia who loves people teaches the ways of justice and courage. Like a midwife she works deftly with those in pain and struggle to bring about the new creation. . . . Wherever she moves, there awakens modest and even bold engagement against the principalities and powers that crush and oppress. Wherever she succeeds, structures are transformed and liberation and community gain a foothold. The Spirit’s renewing power thus manifests historically in shaping the praxis of freedom, those myriad forms of people’s struggle toward more peaceful and equitable circumstances, a stunning example being women’s struggle against sexism.

For some this means the call to utter the dangerous, critical word of prophecy. . . . Inspiring the denunciation of evil, the announcement of the good news of freedom, and courageous efforts of resistance and imagination to bring it about, the Spirit’s renewing presence is always and everywhere partial to her beloved creatures suffering from socially constructed harm, working to liberate oppressed and oppressors from the distorted systems that destroy the humanity of them both. Like a bakerwoman she keeps on kneading the leaven of kindness and truth, justice and peace into the thick dough of the world until the whole loaf rises. (pp. 136-137)

Printed in the worship service program was another excerpt from Elizabeth Johnson’s book She Who Is:

"Sophia, Divine Wisdom," by Mary Plaster

“Sophia, Divine Wisdom,” by Mary Plaster

An even more explicit way of speaking about the mystery of God in female symbol is the biblical figure of Wisdom. This is the most developed personification of God’s presence and activity in the Hebrew Scriptures. . . The biblical depiction of Wisdom is itself consistently female, casting her as sister, mother, female beloved, chef and hostess, preacher, liberator, establisher of justice. . . she symbolizes transcendent power ordering and delighting in the world. She pervades the world, both nature and human beings, interacting with them all to lure them along the right path to life. (pp. 86-87)

The communion liturgy included Carolyn McDade’s hymn “O Beautiful Gaia,” imaging the Divine as “Ancient Sophia,” and J. Philip Newell’s version of the “Prayer of Jesus,” titled “Ground of All Being,” balancing the images of “Mother of life” and “Father of the universe.

 

The service closed with this blessing, which we spoke in unison:

May Holy Wisdom, kind to humanity,

steadfast, sure and free,

the breath of the power of God;

may she who makes all things new in every age,

enter our souls, and make us

friends of God and prophets. — adapted from St. Hilda’s Community

I left the St. Hildegard’s Community service feeling renewed and empowered by Wisdom Sophia for the work she has called me to do in the world.

 

On the website of St. Hildegard’s Community, beneath the name of the community, are the words “Radically Inclusive.” The mission of the community is also on the website:

St. Hildegard’s is a transformative, intentional, contemplative/active community in Austin, Texas. The whole of our life—our liturgies, music, retreats and the community itself, as well as our Servant Leadership School—is the primary justice ministry we offer to all who are seeking. The use of expansive, non-hierarchical language in our liturgies and music, and our shared creativity creates peace and comes from a deep theological commitment. With our words and our actions, we consciously seek to embody a vision of God’s dream: a culture of non-violence, using collaboration and partnership to express our talents and gifts and to exercise community discernment. We seek to empower and support each member to follow and develop his/her personal call for the healing of the world and also nurture initiatives that emerge in the community.

 

pictured before the Women's March with some in St. Hildegard's Community: Judith, Sarah, Wyatt, and Francesca

pictured before the Women’s March with some in St. Hildegard’s Community: Judith, Sarah, Wyatt, and Francesca

with Judith LIro at the Women's March, as crowds dispersed, handing out Christian Feminism Today brochures

with Judith LIro at the Women’s March, as crowds dispersed, handing out Christian Feminism Today brochures

 

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Changing History

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In 1869, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and a few other women birthed the movement that gave women the right to vote. In 1974, Letha Dawson Scanzoni and Nancy Hardesty birthed the Christian feminism movement with their book All We’re Meant to Be: A Biblical Approach to Women’s Liberation and their subsequent founding, along with a few other women, of an organization now called Evangelical & Ecumenical Women’s Caucus-Christian Feminism Today (EEWC-CFT). On November 9, 2016, Teresa Shook, a retired attorney and grandmother living in Hawaii, birthed a movement to preserve and expand women’s rights and all human rights. A small group of visionary women have changed the course of history.

The January 21, 2017, Women’s March on Washington began on November 9 with one woman’s creating a Facebook event page. Before she went to bed that night, she had 40 responses. When she woke up the next morning, she had more than 10,000. Soon sister marches sprang up in cities in all 50 US states and more than 75 countries around the world, drawing an estimated 3.2 million people.

capitolNow I must tell you that I’d rather write than march. I’d rather be alone or with a few friends or family members than in large crowds. But I felt compelled to join the sister march in Austin, Texas, and I’m so glad I did. It was an incredible, empowering, inspiring experience.

group photoFinally getting through heavy traffic into Austin, I was moved to tears as I saw crowds of people gathering in colorful hats and shirts, holding signs with messages of justice and peace. I met my friends Judith Liro ( priest of St. Hildegard’s Community, featured in She Lives! and on my blog), Francesca, Sarah, Wyatt, and others from St. Hildegard’s.

We were just in time to fall in step with the throngs to inch our way down Congress Avenue to the state Capitol. No one pushed or shoved or spoke anything but words of peace and kindness and passion for justice. Some held signs advertising “free hugs.” Many of the signs quoted Hillary Rodham Clinton’s famous statement at the 1995 Beijing World Conference on Women: “Women’s rights are human rights.”photo(2) copy

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Excitement and joy filled the air as we marched for more than an hour to chants and drumming. We spoke with many people along the way, taking pictures with their enthusiastic permission. The amazingly diverse crowd, estimated at 50,000, moved slowly along, some in wheelchairs and some in baby strollers—various ages, genders, races, gender identities, religions, abilities, political parties. Even dogs joined the march and were as polite as the people!

photo(8) copyWhen we reached the Capitol, I was awestruck by the sea of people and signs. Our spirits continued to soar as we stood crammed together for more than two hours of stirring speeches and music. Sheryl Cole, the first black woman elected to Austin City Council, told the crowd that her son attends the University of Pennsylvania where he received a mass text threatening him after the election. She told the cheering crowd she is now more “fired up” than ever to take action. Congressman Lloyd Doggett also spoke words of hope: “This is not a time for despair; it’s a time for democracy.” Sarah Wheat of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas called on us to challenge the Texas Legislature which “every session tries to find a way to cut women’s health care.” Chuck Smith of Equality Texas said his LGBTQ rights group came to stand in solidarity with Planned Parenthood to support health care access for all. Senator Wendy Davis challenged us to take the energy of the march into local organizing, contacting representatives, and running for office. Pointing to the Goddess of Liberty crowning the Texas State Capitol dome, she inspired us to protect and expand freedoms for women and for all.

Judith LIro and I, as crowds dispersed, handing out Christian Feminism Today brochures

Judith LIro and I, as crowds dispersed, handing out Christian Feminism Today brochures

The Women’s March renewed my resolve to work for women’s rights and all human rights through Equity for Women in the Church, Christian Feminism Today, Dallas Gathering of Religious Leaders, and other justice-making organizations. Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Letha Dawson Scanzoni, Nancy Hardesty, Theresa Shook, and other visionary women show us how to change history.

 

 

Published on Christian Feminism Today. Used with permission.

 

 

 

 

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Mother Eagle Award Recipient: Dr. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott

MotherEagleAward

Dr. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, author and Christian social justice activist, received the first annual Mother Eagle Award, presented jointly by Christian Feminism Today and The Gay Christian Network. This award honors women who have taken the lead in courageously advocating for LGBTQIA equality in Christianity. The purpose of the Mother Eagle Award is to express gratitude to these women and to ensure their stories are known and their sacrifices remembered. The name of the award comes from Deuteronomy 32:11: “… like an eagle that stirs up her nest and hovers over her young, that spreads her wings to catch them and carries them aloft.”

The official presentation of the Mother Eagle Award took place during the WomenConnect retreat at the Gay Christian Network Conference in Pittsburgh, PA, on January 5, 2017. Virginia was unable to travel to accept the award in person, so a videotaped acceptance speech was created and played during the WomenConnect retreat. Listen to her inspiring speech in the video below.

Dr. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott is one of the visionaries featured in my book She Lives! Sophia Wisdom Works in the World. You can also read about her on my blog.

Virginia has devoted her life to working for gender justice and equality. In 1978 she co-authored with Letha Dawson Scanzoni one of the first books by Christians that takes a positive stand on homosexuality: Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? A Positive Christian Response. She has continued to publish and lecture widely on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights. Among her 13 books are Omnigender: A Trans-Religious Approach (revised and updated version published in 2007), winner of a Lambda Literary Award, and Transgender Journeys (co-authored with trans activist Vanessa Sheridan and published in 2004), a Lambda Award finalist.

I also appreciate Virginia’s writing and speaking on the importance of inclusive language for people and for Deity. She served as a member of the National Council of Churches’ Inclusive Language Lectionary Committee. In her speech accepting the Mother Eagle Award, you hear her connect inclusive language to justice for people of diverse genders, races, sexual orientations, gender identities, abilities, ages. She emphasizes speaking publicly of God as “She” in order to call attention to the sacredness of women and to honor females as well as males. She says that including the Divine Feminine “is an absolute necessity if there’s to be justice on this earth. Because males are considered sacred and females are not, that discrepancy provides justification for a hierarchy in which men continue to rule and women continue to serve.”

Virginia refers to her book The Divine Feminine: The Biblical Imagery of God as Female (first published in 1983 and again in 2014) as “just a Bible study” on biblical female divine images, including the Mother Eagle. In her book and in her acceptance speech Virginia laments that exclusively male language for Deity still predominates in most churches. In The Divine Feminine she challenges religious leaders who long to alleviate injustices to change their language for God and for people to include females: “By recognizing the female presence in their grammatical choices, and by utilizing biblical references to God as female, they could demonstrate the sincerity of their commitment to human justice, peace, and love.”

Through her prophetic words and actions, Dr. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott contributes to justice, peace, and love in our world. She greatly deserves the Mother Eagle Award for her lifelong work.

 

 

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