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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

905: If not now -- when? Joan Chittister

Day 905: Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Which, from where I stand, leads directly to the question women find continually more wearying: If not now -- 15 years later -- when?

Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister is a powerful advocate for women across the globe. Beth Jordan was profoundly influenced and inspired by Joan - even working for her for a time a couple of years ago. I think Beth would love it if we shared a few words from Sister Joan.

She writes:

We are at a crossroads for women in the church

(Sisters in Palestine instruct the young)

Without the input of women, humanity sees with only one eye, hears with one ear and thinks with only one half of the human. My concern today is how to construct a new future for women around the world through the global outreach of the church.

This is a crossover moment in history. This is the moment when history discovered women.

Feminism is about allowing every member of the human race to become a fully functioning human adult, to make choices at every level of society, to participate in the decision-making that affects their lives, to be financially independent, to be safe on the streets, secure in their homes, to have a voice in the courts and constitutional bodies of the world -- to enjoy, in other words, full and equal civil rights.

(Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister)

It is about bringing to public visibility and public agency the agendas, insights, and wisdom of the other half of the human race.

It is about taking the theology of creation seriously. It is, in other words, about this century's "emancipation proclamation" of women.

And since it is 2,000 years after Jesus himself modeled it, it can hardly be argued that we're rushing things.

And yet, the church never treats women as fully independent adults, let alone as fully baptized disciples of Jesus. And this despite centuries of deaconesses, a chorus of women saints and hundreds of years of women religious administrators who built the larger part of the social service systems of the church.

Most important of all, on what anthropology and theology and science from what century will they ground their ideas about women this time? What feminist writers, feminist researchers, feminist philosophers, what scientists, theologians and canonists, both women and men, will shape this theology in this era?

Will it simply be another round of "men do this" and "women do that," a dual anthropology that sees women as caregivers alone and men as world builders exclusively, an anthropology that denies our common humanity, our joint human nature basically and entirely? Despite the work of our own Dorothy Days and Raissa Maritains, our Mother Joneses and Rosemary Haughtons as national leaders and bona fide theologians?

The fact is that religion -- all religions -- has been used to justify the oppression, the servitude, the invisibility of women for century after century. Indeed, religion after Jesus has a historic lot to repent where women are concerned, Catholicism and Christianity among them.

everywhere on the planet women are still, today, at this hour, as the United Nations Development Fund for Women reports, two-thirds of the illiterate of the world. Women are still two-thirds of the hungry of the world. Women are yet two-thirds of the poorest of the poor everywhere in the world. Even here; even now.

That can't be an accident. That is a policy. Someone somewhere has decided that women need less, deserve less, and are worthy of less than men.

And all in the name of God.

Pope Francis has won the heart of the world by being humble, simple and pastoral -- the warm and caring face of the church, a man like Jesus who is a man of the poor.

But clearly, no one can say they are for the poor as Jesus was and do nothing, nothing, nothing for the equality of women. To address classism does not begin to resolve the problems that come with sexism.

The full humanity of women, human anthropology, and our efforts to eradicate poverty are indeed among the issues that will measure both this papacy and this church as it moves again from an age that is dying to a new age that is coming to life.

In 1998, Pope John Paul II instructed the bishops of Michigan and Ohio in their ad limina visits to Rome:

"The genius of women must be evermore a vital strength of the church of the next millennium -- just as it was in the first communities of Christ's disciples."

Which, from where I stand, leads directly to the question women find continually more wearying: If not now -- 15 years later -- when?

Written by Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister, a true friend of Beth Jordan and all of us.


Upcoming Events from St. Patrick's Episcopal Church

I wanted to share this information with you and the Emmaus Community!

Our Adult Education ministry has planned a couple of events and we would like to extend the invitation to everyone!

A 6 week long course with The Rev. Bruce Bramlett, he will be teaching Uncovering and Challenging a History We Thought We Knew: The Development of Rabbinic Judaism and Classical Christianity, 586 B.C.E. to 325 C.E.

This six-week class will explore the long developmental trajectory of Rabbinic Judaism and Classical Christianity through the critical period of western history from 586 B.C.E. to 325 C.E. Beginning with the traumatic, decisive events of exile in Babylon where what we call “Judaism” began, we will trace the development of Jewish tradition and self-consciousness through its encounter, accommodation, and resistance to the Hellenistic world. Then, with the spread and growing power of the Roman empire, we’ll follow Judea’s struggle for identity and survival leading through the tumultuous period of unrest and revolution in the first century C.E.

One development from that struggle was the growth of a renewal movement that followed a Galilean peasant, Jesus of Nazareth, whose life and death would ultimately spawn a different trajectory from within the heart of the Jewish tradition. While history would come to declare this movement a separate religion called Christianity, our work together will show the overwhelming ways in which there was not a “parting of the ways” until after the rise of Constantine in the fourth century of the Common era. This is a history filled with surprises that will challenge everything you thought you know, even those who believe they know it well.

This course will be held on Tuesdays from 11:30-1:00 on the following dates: September 13, 20,27 and October 4,11,18. Class will be held in Stevenson Hall at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, 9000 Sonoma Highway in Kenwood, California. We will have light refreshments at 11:15. A recommended donation of $30 for the course will help off-set expenses. Please. R.S.V. P. to Bobbiejo at or call 707-833-4228 ext. 1.

Link for Rabbinic Judaism class:

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