Thursday, January 17, 2013

Feminist spirituality and liturgy course: full information

Naming Mystery, Living Justice:
Spirituality and Liturgy in Feminist Perspective
Ten weeks, January 27* -April 7, 2013
Registration is open now!

Note below the discount for those who register by Sunday, January 20.
* "Soft launch" the week before the formal beginning of the course when the course blog will open to those who are registered and wish to get started a bit early with the initial reflection and a look at some resources.
Bracha Lavee, Dancing Miriam
 The course

A 10-week (Jan. 27-April 7) online course which you can take from any time zone as long as you have a reliable internet connection.

For the past four decades, feminist, womanist, and other women-defined theologies** have challenged Christian and Jewish thinking and practice in fundamental ways and worked toward reshaping them, both in academia and in communities of faith and practice. Religious feminism also exists in Pagan or Goddess-oriented communities, in Islam and Buddhism, and it is now a global movement, though not a uniform or unified one.
** We will look at terminology and have a chance to learn new words and examine old ones, especially since the course is preoccupied with how we name the sacred.
The boundaries between "theology" ("God-talk") and spirituality, between theology and ethics, and between ethics and spirituality are porous, and in especially so in feminist and other liberation theologies. One way of looking at this course is as a class in feminist theology or religious feminism viewed through the lens of spirituality and liturgy (or ritual). 

Neither of these --spirituality and liturgy-- is only an individual phenomenon; liturgy is primarily communal.

The course is called Naming Mystery, Living Justice because (among other reasons):

* spirituality involves not only our attempts to name and encounter the mystery at the heart of life but also our daily efforts to live justly and compassionately on this earth;

* liturgy (from two Greek words meaning "the people" and "work") is a privileged, separate, sacred time, yet profoundly related to "ordinary time" and to human suffering, struggle, joy, to power in and outside our religious communities, to our efforts to preserve or transform our institutions and Earth itself.

A few more details about the course
Not for academic credit.

Readings are at a university level, but no college or graduate degree is required in order to take the course, only interest and commitment.

Open to persons of all genders, though likely with a majority of women participants.

  Naming Mystery, Living Justice will address such themes and topics as:
-voice and silence
-naming and language
-spirituality and the body
-spirituality and ecology
-spirituality and justice
-spirituality and sexuality
The course will examine feminist liturgical critique and creativity in Christian, Jewish, and Pagan/Goddess communities, including:
-liturgical language and the language of prayer (with careful attention to the question of inclusive and expansive language and reflection on metaphor and symbol)
-new and renewed rituals and liturgies from the traditions mentioned above

-feminist, womanist, and other women-defined biblical interpretation
-power and the dynamics of communal religious life in the experience and leadership of worship
We will learn new words and concepts as we go along, helping each other to understand and use them.

In addition to learning this common material, which will make up most of the course, you will have a chance to work on a small project of your choice in order to tailor the course to your own interests. I will provide mentoring and resources for this. See details below.


1.  Commit to the full ten weeks.

2.  Read three essays a week (essay = an article or a chapter from a book)

3.  Check in at least once a week on the course blog with a short response to the readings for the week.  (Everyone in the course sees this.)

4.  Write one short reflection as you begin the course and one short reflection as you end the course. (Only Jane sees these.)
These reflection essays can be as short as one typed page, or longer if you prefer. I will provide guidelines for them. They offer a chance for you to reflect on what has brought you to this course and, at the end, on what you have learned.
5.  Choose and complete one small personal project.
You may skip this one, but it will make the course much more rewarding and will adapt it to your own interests, context, and circumstances, and I will provide mentoring and resources with a private consultation. (Choose the project by Feb. 17; consult with me --by phone, Skype, or e-mail, your choice-- by Feb. 24.)
Some examples of projects:

-Research inclusive and expansive language in your particular religious community (e.g. the ELCA, the Reform Jewish movement, Wicca).

-Do a little extra reading (two or three essays) in an area of the course you wish you had more time to explore.

-Visit a local community that worships in a way that incorporates feminist spirituality or feminist liturgical action and write up the visit (I will provide field trip guidelines to support you in this visit, and of course you may bring a companion even if that person is not taking the course). The community can be a regular congregation or a small base community or ad hoc group.

-Design and/or facilitate a ritual in your own context (you will have examples and models of ritual from our readings), e.g. a blessing for someone about to give birth or adopt, a house blessing, a healing ritual after a specific event or life transition.

What will we be reading?

Essays from ...
Carol Christ and Judith Plaskow's Womanspirit Rising and Weaving the Visions; Teresa Berger, ed.'s Dissident Daughters: Feminist Liturgies in Global Context; Gail Ramshaw's Liturgical Language: Keeping It Metaphoric, Making It Inclusive; Rosemary Radford Ruether's Women-Church ...
 ...and writings by Musa Dube, Starhawk, Ada María Isasi-Díaz, the Con-spirando collective, Marcia Falk, and others.

How the online dimension works

The course will be on a closed blog -- which is a blog (same format as this) but open only to those whom the blog owner-administrator (that's me, Jane, your friendly instructor) allows in. In other words, it is not open to anybody wandering around the internet. Random web surfers will not be able to view either the blog or our conversations in the comments. Once you register for the course, I will send instructions on the one-time sign-in mechanism. After that, the blog will always recognize you.

Because one cannot upload documents to a blog (though there will be web links, reading guidelines, and illustrations, and of course the comments function) I will e-mail you the readings in PDF form if they are not available through links online. I will do so in group e-mails with your e-mail address in bcc to protect your privacy.

Registration and cost

Register by

1. writing me at to tell me you wish to take the course.

2. putting your check in the mail. 

 (Once you have e-mailed me, I will send you the mailing address.)

Cost for the ten-week course: $300.

Cost is discounted to $250 for those who register by January 20.

Course tuition is non-refundable.


Write Jane Redmont at readwithredmont@earthlink.

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