Women

RNS photo by Michele Chabin

Women praying at the Western Wall. RNS photo by Michele Chabin

JERUSALEM — In a stunning reversal, a feminist Jewish prayer group said it will consider a government proposal to allow a mixed-gender prayer space at the Western Wall — but only after the government agrees to their conditions.

For 25 years, Women of the Wall has demanded access to pray at the sacred site that is home to the remnants of the Jewish Temple and is overseen by the Orthodox religious establishment. The group objects to the restrictions placed on them when they pray in the women’s section. They want to continue to pray in that section but will consider a compromise.

After a “comprehensive and emotionally trying decision-making process,” the group’s executive board on Monday overwhelmingly decided “to create a future in which, under the right conditions,” its members will pray “in an equal and fully integrated third section of the Kotel,” the Hebrew word for the Western Wall.

Women of the Wall has demanded the right to pray directly from a Torah scroll, wearing prayer shawls and phylacteries — practices and rituals that strict Orthodox Judaism reserves for men.

Rose Marie Berger 10-02-2013

I watched the police toss Steve, age 70, into the crowd behind me.

Sara Wenger Shenk 9-30-2013

John Howard Yoder

John Howard Yoder's history as an abuser clouds his legacy.

Paul Lutter 8-19-2013
Woman praising, irima / Shutterstock.com

Woman praising, irima / Shutterstock.com

We know neither her name nor the location from which she comes. All we know is that she was “a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years,” and that, “[s]he was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight.” (Lk. 13:11) We don’t know from the text exactly what causes this spirit to lash out at this woman. We do know, though, the power of this spirit is to slowly and deliberately destroy this woman’s life. Whether this spirit manifesting its wicked power in this way is a result of the woman’s sinfulness or was it simply the way she was born we do not know. So weighted down by its power is she that she can’t “stand up straight.”

All we know is that bent over, exhausted, worn, and arid from the despair that comes from the power of this spirit, pushed to the margins of society, and dead inside, this woman comes in from the heat of the day to seek shelter in the synagogue.

They are nameless when they arrive at Magdalene. Seeking shelter – relief – from the power of the spirit whose work it had been to destroy them through drugs and prostitution, they come completely exhausted and desperate. Like the woman in the text, these women of Magdalene live on the edge between death and life. Living in the shadows, under the oppressive weight of the spirit whose power it had been to press the life right out of them, these women, like the woman in this text from Luke, “can’t stand up straight.”

Carol Keehan 8-02-2013

Pope Francis is clearly on a mission to alter the status quo, but will that extend to greater freedom for women's leadership in the church?

Stephen Schneck 8-02-2013

Francis—refreshingly candid and seemingly repelled by the perks of the papacy—offers new hope for the Catholic Church and beyond.

Aimee Kang 8-02-2013

Photo by Stacey McDermott

Korean sex slaves—so-called "comfort women"—stand up for respect and justice.

Elaina Ramsey 7-25-2013

Thokozile Beatrex Phiri

The Global Fund has a plan to win the fight against the three major diseases of poverty—and it's working.

RNS photo courtesy Durham Cathedral

The Right Rev. Justin Welby, bishop of Durham, was named the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. RNS photo courtesy Durham Cathedral

CANTERBURY, England — The Church of England’s governing body reaffirmed its commitment to consecrate women bishops with the aim of reaching final approval on an issue that has for so long split the church’s ranks no later than November 2015.

Meeting in York July 5-9, the General Synod agreed to consider new draft legislation by November this year.

This is the first time synod members have met since November 2012, when to the surprise of most of the British public, draft legislation to create women bishops narrowly failed to secure the requisite majority.

Betsy Shirley 7-01-2013

The Evangelicals You Don't Know: Introducing the Next Generation of Christians. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

Adam Ericksen 6-19-2013
Screenshot from Q&A portion of Miss USA pageant

Screenshot from Q&A portion of Miss USA pageant

The Internet is abuzz with Miss Utah. Marissa Powell was asked at Sunday night’s Miss USA Pageant:

“A recent report shows that in 40 percent of American families with children, women are the primary earners, yet they continue to earn less than men. What does that say about society?”

Powell responded: “I think we can relate this back to education, and how we are continuing to try to strive … to … figure out how to create jobs right now. That is the biggest problem right now. I think, especially the men are … um … seen as the leaders of this, and so we need to see how to … create education better. So that we can solve this problem. Thank you.”

Her answer was painfully incoherent, and as you can tell in the video, the poor girl knew it. There’s a bit of irony in the question that has been missed. Maybe we should be asking, “What does it say about our society that we still have these kinds of beauty pageants?”

Dawn Cherie Araujo 6-05-2013

Susan Burton, photo by Kathleen Toner

Susan Burton, founder of A New Way of Life Reentry Project

Brittany Shoot 6-05-2013

As the Lean In debate shows, striving for gender equality is still personal and political—and vital.

Eric Barreto 6-05-2013
Graph courtesy Pew Forum

Graph courtesy Pew Forum

A recent Pew poll revealed a significant shift in American families. Four in 10 of this country’s households now rely primarily on the income of women.

This is both good news and bad. For many women, new opportunities are allowing them to be the primary breadwinners in their families. In some careers, women are chipping away at the very real glass ceiling so many have and continue to face. Our efforts towards equality have made some strides. Some strides.

At the same time, a significant majority of households who rely primarily on women’s incomes are single-mother households living in poverty or near-poverty. Structural barriers lead almost inexorably to more complicated and difficult lives for these families. From health care and food costs to child-care and educational expenses, they face greater challenges because of structural obstacles we so often unwittingly endorse and from which we even benefit.

Some things never change.

Jim Wallis 6-05-2013

Religious extremism will not be defeated by a primarily military response.

Cathleen Falsani 5-24-2013
 RNS photo by Andrea Sabbadini

Pope Francis waves from the pope-mobile during his inauguration Mass. RNS photo by Andrea Sabbadini

In his two months as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, Pope Francis has captured the imagination not only of his own flock, but that of the world at large.

Many of us, Catholic or not, seem to hang on his every word both for spiritual guidance and clues to the personality of the man we collectively are getting to know as perhaps the most recognizable Christian on the planet.

Two new books offer further insights into the heart and mind of the former Jorge Bergoglio through his own words. Both are fascinating reads for papal watchers and news junkies alike, painting a vivid portrait of the man, the leader, and the humble follower of Christ.

Adam Ericksen 5-16-2013
 Photo by SimonQ錫濛譙 / Flickr.com

Photo by SimonQ錫濛譙 / Flickr.com

I hate Abercrombie & Fitch.

It all started a few years ago. A member of my youth group worked at one of their stores in a Chicago suburb. I was minorly troubled that she was employed at the store. But what really flamed my loathing for Abercrombie was when they asked her to model their clothes for their catalogue. She told me about their offer and I responded in the only way an over-protective youth pastor could:

“NO! Absolutely not! No way in Hell are you doing that!!!”

I don’t think that Abercrombie is evil per se. I only hate them because they stand for everything that I’m against!

Over the weekend, BusinessInsider.com published an article titled “Abercrombie & Fitch Refuses to Make Clothes for Large Women.” The article included a comment made by Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries in 2006. He described his business strategy by stating:

In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny.

As Sojourners editorial assistant Dawn Araujo recounts in “No Room at the Inn,” from the June 2013 issue, Christians in Cincinnati have stood up to a corporate giant trying to bully the Anna Louise Inn—a small, local nonprofit that provides affordable housing to single women. 

But Christians aren’t the only ones fired up.

Dawn Cherie Araujo 5-15-2013

The Anna Louise Inn first opened in 1909. Built on the Taft family’s front yard, the Inn provided safe and affordable housing for women in Cincinnati. Since then, the Inn has become a revered Cincinnati institution. Click on the gallery below to view some images of the Inn’s history.

Dawn Cherie Araujo 5-11-2013

Cincinnati's faith leaders cross denominational lines to standup to a corporate bully.

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