In-Sight: From Lament to Liberation

Looking toward events this week on Capital Hill, we will see the unfolding of more than a judicial confirmation hearing.  We will see the contest between light and darkness when it comes to the age-old subjugation of women by men.

If recent public comments by some politicians are any indication, the largely “old white guy” patriarchy is descending into even murkier depths, espousing views worse than a “clown show”–because to call them that is disrespectful to clowns. You likely have read, seen, and heard some their neanderthal remarks.

But despite the demeaning, stereotyping, and outright lying about them,  women are coming forth and rising up.  Women are rattling the cages, but men must unlock the doors.  Why? Because we are the ones who built the cells and put women in them.

I do not mean that men should do the liberating “for” women.  They are more than capable of holding their own, telling their stories, and uncovering the truth.  What I mean is that men must do it “with” women because their words are still largely being heard in a “man’s world” –as the cuckoo comments continue to come from, yes you guessed it, men!  What I mean is that men must call out men, and men must join the stride toward freedom being initiated largely by courageous women.

Moving from lament to liberation is a spiritual formation journey, and we have a window of opportunity to make that journey with respect to women.  Patriarchy has woven itself into every facet of life, and has done so for millennia. In fact, the subjugation of women is not a sign of life, but rather a sign of the fall (Genesis 3:16).  

I have written about a “fresh wind blowing” on the earth today. [1]  One place it is blowing is in the witness of women such that, if we have eyes to see and ears to hear, we can return to a view of humanity intended by God from the beginning.  Joan Chittister describes this divine moment in strong words, 

“The moment a woman comes home to herself, the moment she knows that she has become a person of influence, an artist of her life, a sculptor of her universe, a person with rights and responsibilities who is respected and recognized, the resurrection of the world begins.”  [2]

The saddest part of Chittister’s quote is that women have had to “come to themselves” too often against the grain of patriarchial society, without its support, and in the face of its opposition.  But women have once again “come to the kingdom for such a time as this.”  We will see this week by the remarks of politicians and others, whether men–the self-appointed “kings of the universe”–are listening, and listening with any intention to do anything about what they hear.

[1] I have written in broad terms about this in my book, ‘Fresh Wind Blowing: Living in God’s New Pentecost’ (Cascade Books, 2013).

[2] Chittister’s quote was the leadoff for yesterday’s ‘Sunday Paper’ by Maria Shriver.  If you are not familiar with this weekly e-letter, I urge you to do so.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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