Here are your beautiful words, stories, and experiences (in alphabetical order). I encourage you to comment and connect with at least one other blogger who linked up in this month’s blog carnival on faith and feminism. May you all continue to be men and women of valor!
Alyssa of All Things Beautiful is a Twitter friend I hope to one day turn into a face-to-face friend and fellow Christian feminist. She writes how she has confidently claimed the term “feminist” just as she does the label “Christian,” despite there being people within each community that she ardently disagrees with. As I’ve said before, too, Alyssa explains that she is a feminist precisely because she is a Christian.
Andrew of The Unguy’s Blog, who is a fellow Russophile and Christian feminist, shares how he gradually came to affirm feminism as he became more grounded in the belief that men and women are equal and created in the image of God. Andrew credits Half the Sky, the heart-wrenching book by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, as “planting the seeds that have grown in me and brought me to embrace feminism as a key element of expressing my faith in God.”
Ashley Lauren of Small Strokes is an educator, writer, and fellow Chicagolander who I can’t wait to meet in person at some point. She is also the creator of the Feminist Odyssey Blog Carnival, so big thanks to her for this fourth edition on Faith & Feminism. In her post, Ashley shares how she grew up in the Catholic Church but does not consider herself religious, but believes in the core tenets of feminism of affirming the dignity and equality of all people regardless of their background, what they look like, or who they are.
Avital of The Mamafesto shares a beautiful reflection how earlier this year, International Women’s Day and the Jewish festival of Purim fell on the same day. She recounts the interpretations of the story of Esther, concluding that the women in the story are brave, outspoken, heroic, and intelligent. They are agents of change, but only because they asserted their agency and voice in a time when women had neither. Those following Mark Driscoll’s / Rachel Held Evan’s studies on Esther may find Avital’s perspective enlightening.
Brenna of Chicago Mama, my Twitter friend and fellow Chicagoan, shares how feminism and faith were always pitted against one another in her past faith communities. Now she is a Christian and feminist, although she leads quietly -- not by using feminist buzzwords like "patriarchy" or "gender inequality" -- but by action in mothering her three beautiful girls and so many more children in ministry. In this post, she celebrates her eldest daughter's birthday, wishing her to become all that God made her.
Caris of Caris Adel, my Twitter friend turned in-person friend from STORY 2012, shares how three books led her to an 18-month discovery of feminism as a Christian. She shares how Rachel Held Evans’ first book, Evolving in Monkey Town, changed her fundamental worldview. Scot McKnight’s Junia is Not Alone and The Blue Parakeet also shifted something inside of her. And then she realized that she was not just a feminist in secret, but one in name proudly.
Danielle (me) of from two to one shares how the tide is turning on patriarchy by the steadfast, holy work of those who are calling out sexism and building a more equitable, just world for all people, especially women and other marginalized groups.
Jarrah Hodge of Gender Focus discusses the politics behind koinonia, the Greek word meaning “communion by intimate participation” that is often used to describe the relationships among early Christians. Growing up in a progressive Christian church in Canada, she recalls how it was a no-brainer that she was a feminist. But as debates on same-sex marriage began rocking the church, she struggled to reconcile her faith with that of a church that did not affirm marriage for the LGBTQ community, and later converted to atheism.
Jen of Jennifer Luitwieler, also my Twitter friend turned in-person friend from STORY 2012, shares how feminism and faith are perfect companions for her despite the controversy in both camps at being affiliated with one another. Her characteristic wittiness shines in recalling encounters with people who would question her ability to be both -- to be a Christian and a feminist. But also in her characteristic grace, she would respond “How can I not be? And furthermore, why aren’t you?”
Jessica at Faith Permeating Life, who seriously is my blog doppelganger, explains how feminism taught her about gifts and vocation. She shares how she and her husband try to honor their individual God-given gifts by creating opportunities to put them to use for the good of our marriage as a whole -- regardless of traditional gender roles or restrictions. Jessica is a Christian and a feminist because “both faith and feminism tell me that I am a unique and loved individual who should do exactly what I was made to do.”
Jennifer of New Mom, New City who was "born a feminist" but only realized that her faith tradition ordained women during her freshman year of college. She then became the "roaring" feminist on campus fighting against sexual and domestic violence, using a gender-inclusive Bible, and affirming the leadership of women in her denomination and others.
Laura at Fully Engaged Feminism is a compelling writer who shares how she grew up in the Catholic Church, but later transitioned to paganism. Contrary to popular belief, not all pagans are gender inclusive or feminists. She explains how there are rifts within the pagan community similar to those in the Christian church, which was fascinating to me. She writes, “It was one night through where my faith and feminism threatened to split in two, only to weave together into something much stronger.”
Leelee of Leelee Writes asks whether faith and feminism can coexist, sharing a series of memories from over the years as she struggled to claim the term “feminist.” Despite not feeling quite at peace with the term, she concludes that feminism really isn’t that new or radical of a concept, but rather a continuation of a timeless tradition of seeking justice for the oppressed that followers of Jesus are called to evermore.
Liz of These Square Pegs is such a beautiful writer and shares a story about identifying as a feminist, as one who affirms the full dignity and worth of all human beings, despite being in a church community that advocates for more traditional gender roles. She explains, “I couldn't find a way to fold that message of male domination into the picture Jesus left us,” as well as questions why the church would allow women to minister to young children but not adults.
Melissa of Redefining Female beautifully writes that feminism and men need one another: “If women are unable to use their voices, gifts and talents fully as they seek to flourish alongside men, and if men are given such a distorted, small view of the role women are to have in their lives, than the world misses out on experiencing the most incredibly designed partnership.”
Michelle of Balancing Jane shares a heart-wrenching story of searching for faith but being disappointed by the lack of gender equality in the church, even once walking out of church in protest at politics being preached from the pulpit. She shares some important lessons for us all to consider during this heated political season.
perfectnumber628 of Tell Me Why the World is Weird shares how she gradually came to feminism precisely because of her faith background. The more she studied the teachings and person of Jesus, the more she began to challenge traditions in the church that have been damaging, such as homophobia, transphobia, and sexist overemphasis on modesty for women and girls.
Ryan of Jesus & Venus shares about how he became a feminist despite growing up in a conservative Christian church that taught what he calls “semi-benevolent patriarchy.” Raised by a homeschooling, coupon-clipping, homemaking mother, Ryan explains how his mom had taught his to ask questions and stretch his mind and imagination, which eventually led him to identify as a feminist in his post-college years.
Sarah of Sarah Askins shares beautiful poetry lamenting how God gave her the wrong genitalia, made a mistake of creating her as a woman, only to be redeemed by God’s love, affirmation, and understanding of her pain.
Stephanie of Space Cadet on the Move shares how despite growing up in conservative Judaism, she always remembers being a feminist. (Stephanie explains that “conservative” in this case actually means more middle-of-the-road compared to Orthodox Judaism, which is one of the more strict denominations of Judaism). When she began attending an orthodox synagogue, she recalls the confusion of feeling very much a part of a family, not just a community, but also of inequality since men and women were segregated in services and prayer.