There is so much good happening in the world of theology and the arts. At the end of each week, we'd like to share with you a few of the great things we've discovered this past week from around the internet.
A new issue of Fuller Magazine published this week. This issue's Theology section focuses specifically on the roles women have played in the church's history and present and on the "why" behind Fuller's committment to training women for all forms of Christian ministry. You can read the entire issue here, but a good place to start would be with Harvard Professor of the History of Religion in America Catherine A. Brekus' article, "Remembering Evangelical Women."
Few Christians today know their names, and most are surprised to learn that there is a long history of evangelical women’s religious leadership that stretches back to early America.
Nor do most modern-day evangelicals know the stories of the ordinary women who historically have sustained their churches with their money, their time, and their prayers. Countless numbers of women have sat in the pews every Sunday and raised their children in the faith, keeping the Christian tradition alive across the centuries. Yet even though there would be no churches today if not for these women, they are virtually invisible in our histories of Christianity.
Why do both historians and the general public know so little about the history of Christian women, including famous leaders like Harriet Livermore? And why is it important to remember their stories?
Speaking of Evangelical women contrinuting to the faith of us all, many of our alumnae are out there in the wider world doing just that right now. Many of them write, paint, dance, film-make, and otherwise share their journies with the world. One of those alumnae is Joy Netanya Thompson. In a blog post this week, she reflected on the difficulties inherent in trusting God while waiting for whatever comes next in life.
We hurtle through our lives for the first two decades plus, and then we end up married to that spouse we found, working in that job we found, and that high-speed vehicle called growing up stops, yet we keep moving. We want to keep walking to another destination, and then we hit the wall we built of our lives.
Then it’s hard not to slow down in our day to day, to slow down our efficiency, our charity, our learning, because we think, What’s the point? But Rumi says, keep walking. Keep walking, even when there’s no place to get to. Get out of bed, get to work, do your thing, meet your friend for coffee, make a plan for a weekend trip, volunteer your time. Keep walking, even when you can’t see through the foggy distance of the future, even when you’re not sure if you’re about to walk into paradise or straight off a cliff.
Speaking of writers, The Paris Review of Books featured a series of videos in which authors talk about the difficulties they faced in writing, much less publishing, their first books. Watch the trailer for the series, called "My First Time," above, and go here for the rest of the series.
Sticking with writing for a little longer like there's a theme to this week's round-up, Curator's Layne Hilyer reviewed César Aira's collected short stories The Musical Brain. Aira is a Spanish writer, and this collection has been translated to English. Read Hilyer's review of the collection, and if you're still interested, you can read the title chapter at The New Yorker. From Hilyer's review:
This paralysis is the result of the narrator’s attempt at living in two realities by acting out two roles: character and writer. In the end, he no longer knows himself from the other. This in-story César sees the abysmal constellation around him and responds “Who am I?” In contrast, the real César, like a true detective, peers into the infinite and asks “Who are you?”
Moving from modern authors to ancient ones, NPR recently interviewed Joseph Luzzi about how Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy helped him process his grief after his wife died in a car accident. Listen to the full interview here.
On November 29, 2007, Joseph Luzzi's life changed irreversibly. His wife, Catherine, eight-and-a-half months pregnant, was killed in a car crash. Before she died, doctors delivered their daughter, Isabel. In the space of a morning, Luzzi became a widower and a father. In grief, Luzzi turned to a pastor, a counselor, his family. But Luzzi, who teaches Italian literature, also took refuge in the words of Dante Alighieri.
Dante was no stranger to sadness himself. It's one of the reasons his poem has transcended the ages. But does great creativity always have to come from suffering? It's a question people have been asking for as long as they've been reading Dante and longer. The Dalai Lama, Alice Walker, and Richard Gere recently took up the question at Emory. The organizers filmed the event, and On Being's Sharon Salzberg commented on the discussion for the radio program's website.
“In the West many people believe that creativity comes from torment, while in the East there is more of a tradition of great art coming from balance and realization.”
It was compelling because I have been asked that question countless times, for many years and in many places. I’ve seen well-known painters sit in intensive meditation retreats, all the while being quite torn about being there because they feared the end result would be losing their edge. I’ve seen writers equate balance with dullness, and peace with torpor. I’ve known actors and musicians who feared contentment because that seemed to them the last step before being asleep.