Thursday, April 01, 2010

prophetic imagination conference 2

Feminist Pedagogy as Acts of Prophetic Imagination

I was unable to attend the morning sessions of the Nurturing the Prophetic Imagination Conference, but I'll write a few notes and observations about the afternoon events I chose from amongst those that sadly but necessarily ran concurrently.

"Feminist Pedagogy" featured a panel of five women faculty from Point Loma. Predictably they presented, discussed and responded to audience comments and concerns about feminist perspectives regarding power, privilege, powerlessness and (often) pain. Although in most ways the content was familiar to me as much of the conversation almost replicated many classes and a few one-on-ones from undergrad years, hearing it again assured me my perception and interpretations regarding too much of what has been happening over the past couple decades have not been mistaken in the least.

They explained ways refusing to be consoled ultimately can be part of a new creation emerging from the ruins and chaos of an old, dead one. Refusing to be consoled means willingness to spend substantial time without the glib assurances, explanations and rationalizations people in the Church and maybe especially women have gotten to be adept at bringing into any situation whatsoever. Of course the world does not revolve around me, I'm not first cause of anything, God calls all of us to live as servants in the image of the Servant God but of course, also as stewards of our lives, but don't be aggressive, do not presume to impinge on anyone else's prerogative... etc., etc.. this hardly could have been more timely for me.

Someone said to me a while ago, "I am so tired of that 'cultural' excuse," yet at every moment we're backed up and face-to-face with others' culture and with our own. Despite my oftentimes insisting there is no unique human experience, I'm getting that I've been up against walls and roadblocks in my near-countless attempts to have my own experiences understood and validated. I'm getting close to nowhere, and as both writer and talker I'm a pretty good wordsmith, too. But without any doubt whatsoever having the experience, a lively walking in the shoes of another along the exact same road is leveling and brings insight no amount of conversation with the other or reading about them can bring. Observing the prophets and Jesus (the prophet) Walter Brueggemann insists acknowledging, feeling and living with and through sorrow and loss, becoming "acquainted with grief" is an essential precondition for newness - for resurrection?!

A few Thursdays ago, the weekly Ask The Matriarch advice column in the Rev Gal Blog Pals blogring and intentional online community I belong to in many ways was about that same subject. I found the initial blog post and especially the comments about peer and not-peer, collegial relationships and those between those who hold structural and assumed power in any setting or organization highly illuminating. More than anything in the world, more than adequate employment, more than regular opportunities to serve using my gifts, skills and education, I find myself seeking, yearning for and needing a place and a community of recognition, acknowledgment and embrace.

Back to the feminist pedagogy panel: someone suggested that when someone else asks what is wrong with saying "mankind" to subsume all humanity (except these days it sounds so anachronistic) to suggest, "try womankind in its place" and see how well that goes down. Even when a person hasn't been there, done that, they've all heard folks asking but why cannot that person who is - fill in the blanks with almost any fairly common yet not quite universal experience - keep on keepin' on like the rest of us have been doing?

Regarding my own situation, yes, there is no truly one-of-a-kind experience, yet I'm realizing people readily "get" events like divorce, serious illness of self or of another, firings, not getting the longed-for situation or position or opportunities, but no one hears what I'm saying about years without basic social context, without any real "remember whens" loneliness and isolation I've been unable to break into and have found impossible to transcend. And backtracking to structural power, race and/or gender-related authority, those who have it typically to not recognize the fact and frequently do not wield it well or yield graciously to the needs of those around them.

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