Saturday, September 10, 2011

Laurisilva of Madeira, Portugal: God-language institutes, and has instituted, power relations, Quakers, Nontheistic Friends

Hi nontheist Friends,

In 1985, I wrote a feminist, undergraduate, Reed College thesis on Rosemary Ruether's "Sexism and God Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology," part of her argument being that God-language institutes, and has instituted, gender power relations. (I was also attending Multnomah Monthly Meeting {Quaker} in Portland, Oregon, at the time). In that decade, academics, (perhaps starting significantly in the 1970s - but going back to Elizabeth Cady Stanton's time, too), and the popular press, as well, were examining questions of sexism, racism and class-ism in a myriad of ways. In academia, the textual literature is vast on these topics, for example; and it probably continues to grow in niche ways, although I'm not currently reading this. In the liberal Pacific NW, at liberal Reed College, I appreciated Quakers' 'institutional' orientation to equality and consensus decision-making, and real-life, and historically-grounded examples of Quaker Meetings developing through 350 years, as an alternative to sexist/racist/classist discourses which are myriad in a lot of different societies.

I was never much concerned with theism among Friends in the 1970s, '80s or '90s. It didn't seem like much of an issue to me, for I have long been an friendly atheist, with a more recent interest in people as human primates. (As a primatological narrative, the seemingly most nonharming higher primate, and a species which is very close to humans, appears to be the Bonobo). Always evolutionary biologically-oriented (Darwin's work is so far-reaching), but with an interest, too, in social change and community issues coming out of the '60s among Friends, like the anti-war movement, and the questioning of power structures, I appreciated the tolerance of individualism, and the examples of conscientious objection, protests, and civil disobedience, among Friends, as well as the Friendly orientation to community and caring (and nonharming). With active interests already in feminism, both theistic and nontheistic sexism didn't seem that significant to me among f/Friends, and f/Friends readily questioned and challenged such sexism when it appeared. One feminist / dyke Friend in Portland's unprogrammed Meeting in the mid '80s, for example, in a related way, wouldn't stand aside when a heterosexual couple wanted to marry under the care of the Meeting, until the Meeting recognized Gay & Lesbian marriages. I felt sorry for the couple, yet respected this woman's stance, and Meeting's process.

I think there's a fair amount of precedence for, and awareness of, such issues as sexism among Friends in general, in some Meetings, - and Quaker Silent Meeting, and Meeting for Business, also continue to carry on through time, with children's programs, - whether theistic, and/or with a fair number of nontheists. (Like many men in Quaker Meetings, I've been involved, as a nontheist Friend, in the children's program, and care-giving, at SF Friends Meeting, for about a year now, as one example, of a possible development in 'traditional' roles among Friends, - I like kids' energy).

I appreciate nontheistically Friendly attention to both language, and such issues as sexism among nontheistic Friends and theist Friends, and think that a continued examination of related language is a fruitful way to continue to address such concerns.

With friendly greetings,

Postscript to nontheist Friends:

There is a Women & Gender Studies' wiki, subject page, with a number of MIT OCW courses + at ever growing World Univ & Sch, which you can find here - (and here: ) - and which is editable. WUaS is like Wikipedia with MIT OCW plus much more, with a number of nontheist and Quaker subjects.

All the best,

( - September 10, 2011)

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