Friday, April 18, 2008

"A Wandering Aramean Was My Mother"

Presently, I am reading But She Said: Feminist Practices of Biblical Interpretation by Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza. For those unfamiliar with feminist theology, Schussler Fiorenza is a brilliant and prolific New Testament scholar and Christian theologian. Although I do not (and cannot) agree with everything she has to say, I find her writing both challenging and refreshing.

What follows is a poem she uses to introduce a chapter on "Feminist Historical Reconstruction." It is originally titled "A Wandering Aramean Was My Mother," from a book called Women's Prayer Services, edited by Iben Gjerding and Katherine Kinnanon (Twenty-Third Publications, 1987). I found it thoughtful, beautiful, and quite provocative (some of my favorite things). I would appreciate any thoughts my readers have to offer.

A wandering tribeswoman was my mother.
In Egypt, she bore slaves.
Then she called to the God of our mothers
Sarah, Hagar, Rebecca, Rachel, Leah.
Praise God Who Hears, Forever.

A warrior, judge, and harlot was my mother
God called her from time to time
to save and liberate [God's] people
Miriam, Jael, Deborah, Judith, Tamar
Praise God Who Saves, Forever.

A Galilean Jew was my mother.
She bore a wonderful child
to be persecuted, hated, and executed.
Mary, mother of sorrows, mother of us all.
Praise God Who Gives Strength, Forever.

A witness to Christ's resurrection was my mother.
The apostle to the apostles
Rejected, forgotten, proclaimed a whore.
Mary of Magdala, vanguard of women-church
Praise God Who Lives, Forever.

An apostle, prophet, founder, and teacher was my mother
called to the discipleship of equals.
Empowered by the Sophia-God of Jesus
Martha, Phoebe, Junia, Priscilla, Myrta, Nympha, Thecla
Praise God Who Calls, Forever.

A faithful Christian woman was my mother.
A mystic, witch, martyr, heretic, saint, uppity woman
A native American, a black slave, a poor immigrant,
an old hag, a wise woman
May we, with her, in every generation
Praise God Who Images Us All.


Steve said...

Considering what you read, and yet you are in the same SBC as these fans of patriarchy and power-thirsty closemindedness as evidenced by extra-Biblical rules at the IMB and those that promulgate them, how does your head not explode?

Emily Hunter McGowin said...

Steve, I ask myself the same question about once a week. Seriously, the only answer I can think of is: the grace of God.

CharlieMac said...

There is a remnant left within the SBC of today who still believe in God's grace.
Grace revealed by reading the scriptures with mind open.
Open to the message not only of what is written, but what is revealed between the lines. Revealed by God through the priesthood of the believer.
Revelations such as God's use of women to not only nurture, but also teach, from the very beginning of history.
The poem about women provokes such an open mind to search for even greater depths of understanding.
Mac McFatter
Semmes, AL

UnderMidnight said...

*response to em's response to steve*

This is one of the things about you that I admire and that inspires me to not just give everything the finger. It's amazing. You're amazing.

Now I do still need to work on the giving-everything-the-finger bit.

Mel said...

Response to undermindight...


Tim Dahl said...

Praise God for my mother.
A teacher, communicator, disciplinarian, bearer of children was my mother.
A Christian was my mother, one who taught and lived the Way.
Praise God, who works through Mothers!