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What good ole days?

While conservatives insist that the Bible would have women remain silent, (except for Sunday School and serving men), we suggest that the origins of that notion may be a little less clear.

At the same time as the following two newspapers clips (1950s) two Australian synods were negotiating very slowly towards union.   Is it surprising that the two synods did not include in their discussion the possibility of women’s ordination?  The clips demonstrate how women were treated as children at best.

The New York Mirror from the 1950s

The New York Mirror from the 1950s

The politics of the oppression of the female gender are vast and insidious.  In the first centuries after Christ women had a seat at the table of church leadership.  Christians remembered the relationships that Jesus had with women and they knew that it was not for them to keep women from pastoral leadership. 

Ah, but with the passage of time, time-worn traditions kicked in and women were once again relegated to lower status, and in some cases a status even lower than animals.

Thankfully in recent decades there is a new awareness about bullying in schools and workplace.  There is a new awareness of domestic violence, but it would be naive to say that women are given equal respect and access to power in our society.  Julia Gillard can vouch for that. 

Some time ago, at a domestic violence workshop an older man related the advice that was given to him on the day of his first marriage.  He was told by a respected elder that early in the marriage he was to give his wife a good thrashing.  When she asked what it was for he was to say, “Just so you know”.   Blood runs deep. It’s the stuff of tradition, power and even culture.  It’s the stuff of gender oppression. It is passed on easily from generation to generation.

That was just how it happened in those days.  Don’t believe it?  Talk to your elders and hear how people knew who were the wife beaters in their churches and social groups, how they didn’t talk about such things, how they couldn’t report it to the police because nothing would happen, how they thought it was somehow the woman’s fault and how “That was how it was in those days”.

Of course, misogyny is much more than wife beating – libraries have been written about the politics of gender oppression.The physical violence that was meted out towards women is for some only a few decades ago and for others it has never stopped. 

Violence against women persists today in many forms.  In our church, the Lutheran Church of Australia, misogyny is still observed in how men meet together in groups called Pastors’ Conferences, with many not even stopping to think that something is awry.  It persists in how Pastors’ Conferences will discuss women’s ordination in this current Synodical term without women even being present to provide some sort of accountability. It persists in those clergy and laity who can only read the Bible through the eyes of Law rather than Grace. It persists in how women don’t qualify for the same education at our Australian Lutheran College. It persists in how women cannot be pastors in an ailing church. It persists despite women being the backbone of our Lutheran Education system. 

It is shameful that our institutional Church, so proudly proclaiming grace as central to its creed and doctrines, manages to shield God’s grace from women when it comes to pastoral leadership.  

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Posted by on September 4, 2013 in history, sociology, women's ordination

 

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The elephant in the room

Queen Elizabeth II with Bangladesh’s Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Trinidad and Tobago’s Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Picture: Patrick Hamilton Source: Herald Sun

This photo from CHOGM is another significant demonstration of women’s leadership today. Check an earlier post on the Qld floods.

Apart from significant women’s leadership, the Queen’s message to delegates was pertinent. Here’s how the Herald Sun reported it.

Opening the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, the Queen surprised many delegates by directly reminding them they represented people and not just governments, and calling for “positive and enduring” results.

It could have been directed at leadership and delegates at General Synod in the LCA.

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2011 in sociology

 

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Women leaders

Major General Mick Slater, Qld Premier Anna Bligh, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Mayor of St Goerge Donna Stewart on the bank of the Balonne River on Saturday. Picture: Luke Marsden. Source: Adelaide Now

The tragedy of the floods in Queensland is underscored by the unknown number of deaths, and the grim search of homes and swamped vehicles for bodies.  The indiscriminate manner in which nature destroys life and property is stunning and sobering.  We want to ask, “Can this really be Australia?”  Our prayers go out to all those affected by the floods and those involved in the cleanup.

We have, however, reason to be proud of neighbour helping neighbour, those who make donations, volunteers selflessly doing what is possible, the management systems of the SES, other emergency services, the Australian Armed Forces and of the leadership at many levels within our democratic nation.

The photo above highlights the servanthood of leadership.  We have the PM, Premier, Mayor and Major General in conversation.  Their task is to survey the damage and needs, to be advised by their hierarchies and to facilitate the restoration of services and provision of welfare in the coming months and years.  They are our figureheads, but it’s about service. It’s about democratically elected leaders serving their constituencies.  It’s about assisting people in their hour of need.  It’s about standing alongside people and providing moral and administrative support.

Notice that the civilian leaders in this photo are women.  This is not insignificant. It could not have occurred in Australia a generation ago.  Times have changed. The photo represents our society today, where women, in the main, are not minimised or discounted.  It represents the authority and respect that women have been given by their communities to be their representatives.

In ages past perhaps some people would have seen it to be demeaning for a Major General to be subordinate to women.  Today however, such an attitude would be seen to be quaint, at best.  It is not about gender, it is about the position within which they serve.  It is about democracy, the system they represent, the people they speak for, and the trust and authority that has been given to them.  Women are given respect (in the main) across all of Australian society.  Politics today, along with industry, academia, intelligencia, police, armed forces and religion all have women at the highest levels.

We thank God for women’s leadership in this time of crisis in Queensland.

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2011 in sociology

 

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