Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Book and Art Highlights

"It looks like they are eating sushi at the last supper!"
I was meeting in the home of my pastor and he corrected me, "They
are eating sushi." We went on to discuss the Japanese artist who
worked with predominantly Christian themes in a traditional folk
art medium. The imagery, the Asian symbols, and MY FOOD
on the table before the Lord and the disciples. Suddenly, I felt connected
to the last supper in a way that my views of "The Last Supper" in
the Art Institute in Chicago never did. The European
masters made the last supper their own by giving the disciples anglo faces,
and putting loaves of bread (instead of matzoh). Here was an Asian artist doing
the same thing...and I was struck again by the power of image and art.

This morning, I opened a book to the silkscreened image:
"Junia mistaken as Junius.' And then I started to cry.

It hit me, so suddenly, the personal nature of the academic debates.
The image showed a woman, with flowing hair, fully feminine, in the fetal
position, locked up in the hollow sculpture of the head of a man.
The image captured the person behind the academic debate for me.
And for the first time, I heard the debate of "Is Junia a man/woman?"
from Junia's perspective. What would it feel like to have someone question
my gender b/c of the things that I accomplished?

Some book recommendations.
"She Has Done a Beautiful Thing for Me"
by Anne C. Kwantes
A collection of bios of Asian Christian women and women working in the Asian context.
Strengthens the historical record of the spiritual legacy of Asian women.

"Remembering the Women"
Women's stories from Scripture for Sundays and Festivals
This is a collection of the scriptures in which a woman plays a role.
It's a very nice, and handy reference as well as being a helpful devotional
guide. There's a very interesting article on gender and the omission of
women's stories in the liturgical readings.


Anonymous said...

Wow, that sounds really neat! My pastor used Emmaus by Emanuel Garibayin his recent sermon about the Emmaus travelers. It speaks about both culture and gender - it's even more notable because my church is mostly Caucasian.

Thanks for keeping up this blog - I may not comment much, but I'm definitely reading. I'm looking forward to checking out the books you recommended...

Emerson said...

Hi! My name is Emerson Cheng. I'm a volunteer of ISM at McGill University in Montreal. I was actually in Nikki's "small group" for Urbana 06. I still remember her comment/question about the "degree of radiance" (Eph. 5:27)and the challenge about helping my girlfriend to be more "radiant" because our relationship.

I've been having a debate with my roommate (who is also a Christian) whether it is is Biblical for Women to be in leadership in the church. It has always been a topic of debate between us. I know your book (More than Serving) has talked about we should make a careful study of the Scripture before making a "decision" of whether women should be leaders in ministry or not. So I would really value your input on this.

Last night I was talking with him about a Christian organization that we know (it will remain nameless) that has an all-men board of directors. This particular organization is a large organization with diff. types of ministries (men, women, youth, children, etc), yet it has an all-men board. I was wondering whether the organization's constitution has a rule that only permit men to be on board, or it just happened to have an all-male board. He said he wasn't sure. Later on the conservation drifted into a heated debate about whether the Bible allows women to be in position of power in ministry.

My argument is that women should have the same opportunity in leadership as men, and that in Christ there is neither male or female (Gal. 3:28). I also cited a number of examples where women are teachers or prophetess in OT and NT.

However, my roommate argued that men have a special place in terms of leadership. While men and women are equal in the sight of God, they have diff. role. Which means that unless it is women's ministry, choir, or the Sunday school, women should not be in a position of power over men. He cited Paul's passages on women should not have authority over men or teach men (1 Tim. 2:12-14), that women should be silent and learn from the men (1 Tim. 2:12-14 and 1 Cor. 14:34-35). He also cited that all of the Apostles were men (even though the Junia/Junias mentioned in Rom. 16:7 is somewhat questionable), and that the passage describing overseers/bishops are talking about men/husband of 1 wife (Titus). He also said that since 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus are considered the "Pastoral Epistle", so it would "trump" Gal. 3:28 since we are talking about criteria for a pastor/position of power within the church.

Now I'm not talking about there should be some sort of "affirmative action" regarding women in leadership positions. But I'm talking about women should have equal opportunity to leadership position as men, ie, if a woman is called by God and is gifted in leadership, there shouldn't be any theological hindrance to her getting the position. (Personally, I'm frustrated that there seems to be a glass ceiling for my sister Charlene and my fellow sisters in Christ.)

I'm aware that there are books being written about this topic, and perhaps it is too much of a question that could be answered by e-mail. However if you can either give me your personal answer (backed up by the Bible), or refer me to a book that you've read. It would be tremendous. Of course, if you would like to e-mail me back very detail information and background about this topic, don't let me stop you. :)


Nikki said...

Thanks for your comments! And your additions to the topics! Much appreciated.

Emerson, I had the same conversation two weeks ago with a group of friends. I'd be happy to email more at length.

One recommendation is: Two Views of Women in Ministry. It's an interesting book that looks at 2 sides of this issue. In total there are 4 writers and one editor. They took a man and a woman write on their view. It lays out the state of the discussion.

One comment about scripture trumping other's really important to understand the context the letters. It's also helpful to check people's words with their actions. Further study on Paul's treatment of women and his teachings on women might help clarify the different passages.

Theolibri said...

I was captivated this morning by the image of Junia you described. Do please let us know where you found the image? I'd like to see it too.

Nikki said...

Litury Training provides a series, of which "Junia mistaken as Junio" is one. These illustrations are also found in the book "Remembering the Women". I believe the artist is Luba Lubova.

I'm not sure, but I think the book "Women of the Bible" by Luba Lubova is the same collection of prints. Hope this helps!