Monday, June 4, 2007

The Ecubishop on the Trinity and contemplation; Ivone Gebara and Elizabeth Amoah (in Hartford!) on ecofeminism; and a bit of catch-up

Only partly a Summer Series post.

The Ecubishop, a.k.a. the Right Reverend Christopher Epting, who is the national ecumenical and interreligious officer for the Episcopal Church, has a post about the why and how of Trinity Sunday that is short, sweet, and well worth a read.

As for my promised post with ecofeminist reflections on the Trinity by Ivone Gebara (Brazilian Catholic ecofeminist theologian), I am going to have to delay it. I re-read part of her essay on the Trinity last night and realized it was near to impossible just to give you a couple of paragraphs.

But as I was wandering about the Web (a dangerous occupation) I found some hot theological information.

JohnieB and other Connecticut people, it looks like Ivone Gebara is about to speak this week in Hartford! Check it out and double-check locally that I've got this right. Elizabeth Amoah (Ghanaian theologian, a senior member of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians) is also on the program. Do not miss this! Gebara is one of those luminous, gentle, humorous people, not just a powerful intellect.

As it happens, some of the work I am doing this summer is about her and also Amoah (though I am looking more at Mercy Amba Oduyoye's work than Elizabeth Amoah's, but I have read much of what Amoah has written and I touch on her writings briefly) -- so if you go, take notes for me :-).

Also, all y'all, note that ecofeminism is a growing form of analysis and action in the South (as in Southern Hemiphere and region, not as in Southern U.S.) and not at all a preoccupation only in the North. There are wonderful theologians, economists, biologists, and other thinkers and activists operating from this perspective.

(Question: Are people interested in a few recommendations of what to read in the area of ecofeminism and more specifically ecofeminism and religion? I'd be happy to post some things once I get to California. I'll have my computer with me -- though less constant access to the 'net; probably a good thing...)

Some extra work has come up in the last day or so re: the Anti-Racism Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, which I chair, and I am also packing for my trip to California (where I will get more writing done, because I will be out of town away from the college, the diocese, and other local institutions and people) so things are suddenly even more busy.

I'll probably post some more music later today. Enjoy The Mamas and the Papas below (and, also below, swans, purple flowers, and reflections on love and justice and the Trinity) and do hear and meet Ivone Gebara and Elizabeth Amoah if you are anywhere near Hartford, Connecticut this week.


johnieb said...

Oh, why not walk over Wednesday and give a listen; maybe I'll get a word in with M T. Might as well sign up for borrowing privileges again too.

For the first time in over fifteen years, I am reading books with such titles as *Narrative Theology in Early Jewish Christianity*--very good so far. Perhaps it's a kairos moment, but I tend to blame hanging out with Theologians on the Internet.

I'll even make an effort to pay attention & do what I may to offer a comment.

johnieb said...

Oops; it looks as if I'm going to be doing a little more. Do you have other friends in the Hartford area?
Which of her books do you recommend for beginners?

I see she is teaching a Summer course this week; this may be a sign that I should start reading the Newsletter more carefully, eh? I just may, if you will offer guidance such as "don't bother", or "go if you want to live.": subtle comments such as these work best. I are somewhat thick-hearted.

Jane R said...

Sure, JohnieB, I would be happy to offer comments. Take them with a packet of salt, but sure, ask a theologian-preacher to talk about something and she will.

Good thing I have a contemplative vocation too or I'd never shut up :-).

Will recommend some readings also, but have to dig around for those and it may be a couple of days. Meanwhile just go...

I've lost touch with my friends in Washington, CT. Have a ton of friends in Massachusetts, a few in Rhode Island, and a ton in NYC. Not so many in CT. Old divinity school classmate of mine actually teaches and does various interreligious things at Hartford Sem, Yehezkel Landau. American/Israeli, religious peacenik, now back in the U.S. (last I heard -- I see him about once a year at a November conference) and doing Jewish/Muslim/Christian dialogue things, I think still at Hartford Seminary. Whether or not he is paying attention to ecofeminists from Brazil and Ghana I am not sure. He ought to, of course. :-)

But as I have said before, I am just a simple country theologian.

Who right now needs a nap.

Jane R said...

P.S. (post-nap and post- lots of other things) -- johnieb, as I recall pj (of pj's pointless blog fame, who visits here at Acts of Hope pretty often) lives in Connecticut. There is also another regular Connecticut reader who may or may not have a relation to Brother Causticus (or who for all I know IS Brother Causticus, or Brother Causticus's sister, or Deacon Thorndike) but who always checks from BC's blog. (SiteMeter tells us what the referring URL is, and yes periodically I look at this because I am a snoop.)

Told you I'd be good at intelligence work.

Jane, Girl Reporter

johnieb said...

Hi everybody; if you notice a Southern accent at the reception, it may be me.

That wasn't my end of the business--collection; I was an analyst. Putting the puzzles together in real time on an ongoing basis is what I'm good at. It makes paying attention to the news painful in the U S.

Jane R said...

But will you be wearing a bow tie? (It's New England where you are, at least the Southern end of it -- so you can do the bow tie and seersucker jacket thing. Very distinguished for gentlemen of a certain age and for the more certain age ones too.)

I will be arriving on the Left Coast around the time you go to that lecture. Attire to be determined. Airplane wear of course gets more and more casual these days given the discomfort of it all. Where are the Star Trek people and their transportation modes when we need them?

johnieb said...

Alas, I tried, but really never learned to tie a bow tie properly, my seersucker is, shall we say, a little snug, and my Panama hat didn't last this long--I want a real one this time.

Besides, it 60 degrees in Hartford; we have rain. (It was 90+ over the weekend)

johnieb said...

Very good indeed. As I said over yonder, I'm typing up some notes and will share in whatever ways y'all want.

Ms. Gebera was nice enough to say I was in agreement with her at some specific points as to constructing theology with a capitalist patriarchy.

johnieb said...

I trust y'all have been reading "WITHIN a capitalist Patriarchy", as I intended: Gaaah; the nasty thing seems to spread on its own. :)

johnieb said...

Some remarks on Theologian and Ghanaian Assemblywoman Elizabeth Amoah's lecture at Hartford Seminary 06/06/07 on "Justice in an EcoFeminist Perspective"

Ms. Amoah showed us the way Ghanaian women do theology in her report, centered on their question, "Who will give us justice?" Ghanaian women's theology arises from their concrete context and their need to understand it. Doing theology thus is neither impractical nor elitist, but is seen as part of the ongoing effort to act for their livelihood and survival.

Their historical circumstances confront them with injustice, which is an immediate challenge to the women's lives and that of their children. Nonetheless, the unjust powers cannot be identified easily or with complete certainty, due to internal contradictions within the Ghanaian context. (I did not get to ask her if this relates to Walter Wink's work, with which I am not familiar, though I suspect it may)
Nonetheless, the women recall the Ghanaian saying to themselves (paraphrase): "If you're sick, do not remain quiet, but speak out, and your sickness will finally be cured." The women realize they must continue to reflect, speak, and act.

Ghana, with West Africa, is tropical, with an economy based on the exploitation of natural resources through mining and plantations. Multi-National Corporations (MNC) control this process with the aid and encouragement of the Ghanaian government, which sees this as "economic development" and, importantly, as the means for personal accumulation.

The people are divided ethnically and linguistically, which gives ample opportunity for these powers to overcome popular dissent from their decisions. Many are recent arrivals from more remote areas, where living is even harsher. Those who work for the MNCs have comparatively good housing and other advantages, which is a continuing temptation for Ghanaians to drop out of school, education giving alternatives to the MNCs for development and well-being in the longer term. Those who do not live in company areas live in shantytown shacks, polluted by the toxic by-products of the MNCs. Investment in public sanitation and health , even at the most basic level, yields place to keeping costs low in the short-term, and to the rampant corruption and greed of officials, both company and Ghanaian government. Lack of sewage systems and public works leads insect-borne diseases, especially Malaria.

The MNCs create a staggering gap between the relatively prosperous employees, mostly male miners, and the very poor, here again mostly women and children.

Overall, conditions for the women in Ghana reveal the contradiction between the abundance God gives to all Creation as the means of life, and the powers who deny access to these gifts for the many, and shortsightedly damage the natural world upon which we all depend. The fruits of justice the women yearn for are the use of these gifts for all.

Conditions for this justice cannot be met without respect for the created environment; justice means the harmonious relations of humans, the land, and all that it produces to the benefit of all. Greed, corruption, exploitation of people and resources harm one part of the whole to serve the powerful part, but harm to one part harms the whole, whether we perceive this immediately, or at all.

Who must answer our cries for justice?

Government explicitly accepts its role to govern the whole, not a part; thus, the moral principle of sharing, which in embedded in the oaths of office, is violated when officials are individualistic and selfish. It is a violation of their oaths and their positions to place private gain before the common good.

Their choices to serve the MNCs are violations, for they are at best only part of the Ghanaian context. Their interest is not the livelihood of the people, but the taking of natural resources as cheaply as possible for use elsewhere. The Ghanaian government may pass legislation against de-forestation or mining, but the officials promptly ignore the laws they pass for their own gain.

The people cry for justice, and do so in hope; first, that their cry may reach others who are affected, and others who may support and join them. "Others who are affected" includes not only wider circles of solidarity in the present, but future generations.

The Ghanaian women are Christians, and read their Bibles with an eye to such understanding as will help them in their lives. They read the Parable of the Unjust Judge, for example, and remember the Judge has no reason whatsoever to do the right thing; they know unjust officials, and take their dealings with them seriously. But they cry out in hope--they meet and talk with one another. They join political groups. They petition officials at public meetings, and in private conferences. Ghana being football mad, they organize Soccer clubs for boys, who must be in school to play.

They (and we) cry out for justice, and live in hope.

All for now.