Tag Archives: women

Another testament to the “earthiness” of medieval culture

Now this is fascinating.

Medieval image for women-in-drag piece“Knighton may confirm some of our Game of Thrones-esque expectations about the European Middle Ages, one marked by God’s wrath and a conservative religiosity. But, despite his intentions, Knighton also undermines our expectations by showing us a vibrant Middle Ages filled with color, pageantry, laughter, and performance – one in which people don’t act like we think they’re “supposed to.” In other words, Knighton almost by accident shows us a slice of the real Middle Ages, populated by living, breathing human beings.”

Any thoughts on this out there in Friends-of-Grateful to the Dead-Land?

Black women made the civil rights movement happen–no surprise here!

Here’s an exciting new book examining the social influence of black Christian women in 20th (and 19th) century America.Like other recent analyses of the black church in America, the author ends her account with on a sober assessment of recent disengagement and a plea for re-engagement.

I was immediately reminded of Nancy F. Cott’s The Bonds of Womanhood: “Woman’s Sphere” in New England, 1780 1835, which shows how women similarly laid the groundwork, through prayer, finances, and organization, for the Second Great Awakening, including the success of revivalist Charles G. Finney.

Bettye Collier-Thomas’ Jesus, Jobs and Justice is a tour de force for the study of women and religion.

It navigates within and beyond the walls of institutional religion to delineate the tremendous contributions of African American women of faith to the larger American project.

Collier-Thomas, professor of history at Temple University, makes the convincing argument that it was, indeed, the amazing networks of organizations that women developed in the 1920s and ’30s that laid the foundation for the success of the civil rights movement.

Medieval women

I’ve just finished reading a fascinating book: Eileen Power, Medieval Women. Another Powells-at-Kalamazoo find. It is a dated, but wonderfully vivid, brief tour through medieval attitudes toward women, and women’s roles in court, town, schools, and nunneries. I can’t resist quoting this bit:

Bishops regarded pets as bad for discipline and for century after century tried to turn animals out of convents without the least success. Nuns just waited till the bishop went and whistled the dogs back again. Dogs were easily the favourite pets, but nuns also kept monkeys, squirrels, rabbits and birds. They sometimes took animals to church with them.

and one more:

For more than six centuries the bishops waged holy war against fashion in the cloister and waged it in vain. Occasionally a wretched bishop flounders unhandily in masculine bewilderment through something like a complete catalogue of contemporary fashions in order to specify what nuns were not to wear. Synods sat, archbishops and bishops shook their heads over golden hairpins and silver belts, jewelled rings, laced shoes, slashed tunics, low-necked dresses, long trains, gay colours, costly materials and furs.

and finally,

Bishops continually attempted to keep nuns shut up. The most strenuous attempts began in 1300 when Pope Boniface VIII published the Bull Periculoso, ordering nuns never, save in exceptional circumstances, to leave convents nor to allow secular persons to visit them without special licence. But no one ever succeeded in putting the Bull in force. At one nunnery in the diocese of Lincoln, when the bishop came to read the Bull and deposited a copy in the house, the nuns pursued him to the gate when he was riding away and threw the Bull at his head.

Three evangelical woman leaders and a female historian of women in Christianity

For a while Christian History & Biography magazine ran a column titled “People Worth Knowing.” We’d find two or three people with some thematic connection and write up brief, linked profiles. Here is one of my favorites, on several fascinating woman leaders in 19th-century evangelical Protestantism. Appended to the end of the article is a brief piece by Jim Smith, who was an advisory editor for CHB and is now my colleague at Bethel Seminary (on the San Diego campus), on a 19th-century woman who wrote about women in church history:

People Worth Knowing
No Little Women here
Chris Armstrong

It is not much of an exaggeration to say that women made revivalistic Protestantism happen in the nineteenth century. For example, as historian Mary Ryan has shown, Charles Finney’s New York revival meetings were organized, prepared, and prayed for by an extensive network of Christian women. Moreover, these women often brought the men in their lives—husbands, fathers, sons, and more distant relatives—to Finney’s meetings.

Women’s influence soon reached far beyond the prayer meeting and the revival, especially through their participation in social causes. It was in the crusades for educational reform, abolition, and temperance that three of nineteenth-century America’s most prominent Christian women made their names and changed their nation: Catharine Beecher, Sojourner Truth, and Frances Willard. Continue reading