News, views, notes, and quotes

Signs of the Times  •  3 October 2018 •  No. 173

Processional. Thousands of students and faculty from the Catholic-run St. Scholastica’s College dance en masse to protest violence against women and children on 14 February 2018, in Manila, Philippines. The annual dance, dubbed One Billion Rising, is held every Valentine’s Day. This year’s performance came shortly after the brutal Philippine President Duterte gave orders for his troops to shoot female dissidents to his regime in the vagina to render them “useless.” (1:15 video.)

Above: Happy 50th anniversary to the Redwood National Park in California, home of the some of the world’s largest trees.

Invocation. “I am an older woman now / And I will heed my own cries / And I will a fierce warrior be / 'til not another woman dies.” —Ventus Women’s Choir, “Warrior

Call to worship. “Worthy, worthy the One who conceived the earth and gave birth to bears and basil and beatitudes alike. At the sound of your Name the trees rejoice, for you are clothed with honor and clad in beauty. So now, every hill and habitation, every honey bee and human heart, rejoice and give thanks. For the One who set the ocean’s tide, Who rides the wind with wings astride, shall never abide the tumult of pride. The earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work!” —continue reading “The earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 104

Hymn of praise.Tebe pojem” (“I Sing to You”), performed by Vila, a Serbian Orthodox Singing Society.

Act of bravery. “Because an Afghan was being deported on her flight to Istanbul, activist Elin Ersson refused to sit down. What happens in the next minutes shakes everyone on board.” (3:00 video. Thanks Michael.)

Right: Illustration of Christian Blasey Ford, by many_bothans

Confession.Men: Our hearts sag with sorrow when the history of such misery is unveiled. / Women: Such truthfulness comes at a cost. But worthy is the truth. / M: What good can come from such vile remembrance? Can we not safely and silently dispose of such memory? / W: No, not safely. Heaven still hears. The roots are deep. The seeds are dormant. The brutal harvest continues.” —continue reading “Limb by limb: Repenting and repairing a legacy of violence against women,” a litany for worship

¶ “It is too soon to measure the consequences of your testimony, Dr. Ford, though there have been endless media assertions that this confrontation between you and Judge Kavanaugh was a test of #MeToo (even the headlines put on one of my essays framed it that way). There are so many problems with that framework.

        “One is that #MeToo is only one fruitful year in a project for the rights and equality of women that goes back more than 50 years by one measure, almost 180 by others. Another is that what all this has sought to change is patriarchy, an institution that is thousands of years old. The test of our success is in the remarkable legal and cultural shifts we have achieved over the past 50 years, not whether or not we have changed everyone and everything in the past year. That we have not changed everything does not diminish that we have changed a lot.” —Rebecca Solnit, “,” Common Dreams

Hymn of supplication.Hold On,” Isaac Cates & Ordained.

Revelatory exercise. Men ask why women are so pissed off. Jackson Katz, a prominent social researcher, illustrates why by reference to a simple exercise he’s done with hundreds of audiences.

        “I draw a line down the middle of a chalkboard, sketching a male symbol on one side and a female symbol on the other.

        “Then I ask just the men: What steps do you guys take, on a daily basis, to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? At first there is a kind of awkward silence as the men try to figure out if they've been asked a trick question. The silence gives way to a smattering of nervous laughter. Occasionally, a young a guy will raise his hand and say, 'I stay out of prison.' This is typically followed by another moment of laughter, before someone finally raises his hand and soberly states, 'Nothing. I don't think about it.'

        “Then I ask the women the same question. What steps do you take on a daily basis to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? Women throughout the audience immediately start raising their hands. As the men sit in stunned silence, the women recount safety precautions they take as part of their daily routine.” — Jackson Katz, “The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help

Break the silence. Listen to Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s reading of Amanda Palmer’s poem, Protest,” musical background by composer Jherek Bischoff. (2:48 audio) —Poetiosity

Words of assurance. “All the weary mothers of the earth will finally rest; / We will take their babies in our arms, and do our best. / When the sun is low upon the field, / To love and music they will yield, / And the weary mothers of the earth will rest.” —Joan Baez, “All the Weary Mothers of the Earth

Professing our faith. “In the divine economy it is not the feminine person who remains hidden and at home. She is God in the world, moving, stirring up, revealing, interceding. It is she who calls out, sanctifies, and animates the church. Hers is the water of the one baptism. The debt of sin is wiped away by her. She is the life-giver who raises men [sic] from the dead with the life of the coming age. Jesus himself left the earth so that she, the intercessor, might come.” — Jay G. Williams, “Yahweh, Women and the Trinity,” Theology Today 32 (1975) 240.

Right: Photo by Finnigan Baker at the Seattle women’s march.

When imagination is hitched to workable solutions. “Thistle Farms residential program [in Nashville, Tennessee] is called Magdalene. It provides a two-year home where women can stay for free. . . . It’s a simple model, but it’s critical for survivors of trafficking, addiction, and prostitution to have the space and time to heal.” —watch this brief (4:35 video) narrated by Rev. Becca Stevens

Hymn of resolution. “As we come marching, marching, we battle, too, for men— / For they are women's children and we mother them again. / Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes— / Hearts starve as well as bodies: Give us Bread, but give us Roses!” —Bread and Roses,” Bronwen Lewis

Short story. “Something extraordinary at LAX today. I was at the gate, waiting to get on my plane. A toddler who looked to be eighteen or so months old was having a total meltdown. His young mom, who was clearly pregnant and traveling alone with her son, became completely overwhelmed.” —continue reading Beth Bornstein Dunnington, “Women Surround Crying Mom Whose Toddler Was Having A Meltdown At The Airport” (Thanks Sally.)

Hymn of intercession. “Song from a Secret Garden,” violin instrumental by Tolga Sünter.

Word. “The enemy of feminism isn’t men. It’s patriarchy. And patriarchy is not men. It is a system. And women can support the system of patriarchy just as men can support the fight for gender equality.” —Justine Musk (Thanks Keith.)

Vocabulary update: mantrum: when a grown man throws a tantrum; when he can’t have his way. —Urban Dictionary

In its recent General Convention in Austin, Texas, the Episcopal Church took steps toward considering revision of the Book of Common Prayer to include more gender-neutral wording and more “inclusive and expansive language” for God and humanity. (The 1979 version is the current edition. The original was first published in 1549.) For a good, brief overview on “What the early church thought about gender” see David Wheeler-Reed’s article in Religion News.

Preach it. “Whatever else the true preaching of the word would need to include, it at least would have to be a word that speaks from the perspective of those who have been crushed and marginalized in our society. It would need to be a word of solidarity, healing, and love in situations of brokenness and despair and a disturbing and troubling word of justice to those who wish to protect their privilege by exclusion.” —Letty Russell, in Preaching As Resistance (Thanks Rose.)

Why many women haven’t reported sexual harassment. “I think the answer is, it's a little bit like asking the slaves why they didn't complain about the masters. The power was on the other side, and it went all the way up through to the top of these companies, and you really had very little power as a young female working almost exclusively for men. There was kind of nobody to complain to, including HR departments.” —New Yorker journalist Jane Mayer, author of “Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas,” interviewed by Terry Gross on “Fresh Air”

Want some historical background? See “Herstory of Domestic Violence: A Timeline of the Battered Women’s Movement.”

Can’t makes this sh*t up. "The anti-patriarchy movement is going to undo ten thousand years of recorded history. You watch. The time has come. Women are gonna take charge of society." —former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon (who is alarmed, not comforted, by this assessment), quoted in Eliza Relman, Business Insider

Happy birthday, Mohandas Gandhi (b. 2 October 1869). “Noncooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with good.”

Call to the table. “We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. If we love things, we become a thing. If we love nothing, we become nothing. Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ, rather it means becoming the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation. This means we are to become vessels of God’s compassionate love for others.” —Clare of Assisi

The state of our disunion. “What boy hasn’t done this [attempted rape] in high school?” mockingly asked Gina Sosa, failed congressional candidate from Miami, one of a group of Republican women speaking to CNN last week about an allegation of attempted rape against a then-17-year-old Brett Kavanaugh, now a nominee for the Supreme Court. —quoted in columnist Leonard Pitts

Best one-liner. “There is rape because there are rapists, not because there are pretty girls.” —Leni Robredo, Vice President of the Philippines, denouncing President Rodrigo Duterte’s remark that rape will exist “as long as there are many beautiful women”

For the beauty of the earth. Watch this brief (3:48) video displaying the beauty of California’s Redwood National Park.

Left: Cartoon by Jeff Koterba, Omaha World Herald

Resource. 57% of women have been harassed on Facebook. To counter that, the folk at vpnMentor (“Empowering Internet Safety”) have created “The Empowering Internet Safety Guide for Women” with practical solutions to reduce vulnerability.

Altar call (the potential fallout). “I was . . . wondering whether I would just be jumping in front of a train that was headed to where it was headed anyway, and that I would just be personally annihilated.” —Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, in her opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Judge Brett Kavanaugh nomination to the Supreme Court, Thursday 27 September

Benediction. "When it comes to saving what needs saving, being merely nice and pliant won’t win the day, or the life. Sometimes we need to dig in our heels and do some hollering." —Jan Richardson

Recessional. “I can see a world where we all live / Safe and free from all oppression / No more rape or incest, or abuse / Women are not a possession / You’ve never owned me, don’t even know me / I’m not invisible, I’m simply wonderful / I feel my heart for the first time racing / I feel alive, I feel so amazing.” —Tena Clark and Tim Heintz, “Break the Chain

Lectionary for this Sunday.

        “Bold confession amid bitter complaint,” a sermon anchored in Job 23:1-17, Psalm 22:1-15, Hebrews 4:12-16 & Mark 10:17-31

        “Prosper the work of every generous hand,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 90

Lectionary for Sunday next.

        “The earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 104

        “Allahu Akbar,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 104

Just for fun. Kids meet an opera singer.” (6:36 video. Thanks Laurie.)

#  #  #

Featured this week on prayer&politiks

• “The earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 104

• “Allahu Akbar,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 104
Other features

• “Limb by Limb: Repenting and repairing a legacy of violence against women," a litany for worship

• “She was not: The Bible’s most vividly brutal story, and why we must read and remember it,” a sermon

• “Remembering Jephthah’s Daughter,” a litany for worship inspired by Judges 11:29-40

Below: Painting by Cuban artist Lázaro Caballos. This art was created as the logo for a training of women prison chaplains in Cuba. The text from Proverbs (at top) translates: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” The text resonates with the Gospel of Luke’s account (2:19) where it is said that Mary “treasured all these words in her heart” following the shepherds’ pilgrimage (angels never appear to lowly shepherds in the world as we know it), Zechariah’s hymn (“to guide our feet into the way of peace,” 1:79), and Mary’s own credo, including the seditious lines about the hungry being filled with good things and the rich sent away empty” (1:53).

©Ken Sehested @ Language not otherwise indicated above is that of the editor, as are those portions cited as “kls.” Don’t let the “copyright” notice keep you from circulating material you find here (and elsewhere in this site). Reprint permission is hereby granted in advance for noncommercial purposes.

Feel free to copy and post any original art on this site. (The ones with “prayer&” at the bottom.) As well as other information you find helpful.

Your comments are always welcomed. If you have news, views, notes or quotes to add to the list above, please do. If you like what you read, pass this along to your friends. You can reach me directly at