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SMC hosts lecture on feminist Scripture views

Jillian Barwick | Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sr. Barbara Reid said Tuesday reading the Scriptures from a feminist perspective can help illuminate realities of women in the modern world.

The Center for Spirituality at Saint Mary’s College invited Reid, a Dominican Sister of Grand Rapids, Mich., and vice president and academic dean of the Catholic Theological Union, to lecture to the community Tuesday about reading the Scriptures from a feminist perspective.

Reid began the lecture, “Reading the Scriptures with the Mind, Eyes and Heart of a Woman,” by describing how she became involved in reading the Scriptures from a feminist perspective. She said while she was teaching a course on the Gospel of Mark, one of her students had a very intriguing opinion on the middle of the text.

“All of a sudden, one of my students told me to stop for a minute, claiming she hated the passage and would rip it out of the Bible if she could,” Reid said. “I was totally clueless on where her feelings were coming from, so she explained that she had worked in the shelter for abused women and how so many of these women would not come for help because they believed they must take up the cross just as Jesus had and suffer through their pain.”

Reid said that when these women finally did seek help, they turned to their priests, who then just told them to return to their husbands.

While on sabbatical in November of 2003, Reid had the opportunity to travel in parts of Latin America, where she asked her hosts to connect her with groups of women in the area so that they could converse about their approaches to reading the Scriptures as women.

“Many of my experiences with women in Latin America took this interpretation literally as well, which made me think that there has to be a different way,” she said.

Reid said she takes a seven-step approach to reading the Scriptures from a feminist perspective.

Seeing and analyzing women’s realities is the first step. This includes the number of women living in poverty, the number that are illiterate, women’s wages and violence against women.

“If we were to look at the realities of the women in our world, in general, these are realities that describe the way that it is for most women in the world,” she said.  “These are just a few of the struggles and difficulties that many women in our world face on a daily basis.”

Reid said the next steps include critical inquiry, critical evaluation, remembering and reconstruction, creative imagination and transformative action.

The final step is seeing female images of God in the Scriptures.

Reid said she believes there are many signs of hope and joy for women, and said she is very enthusiastic about reading the Scriptures through a feminist perspective.

“The whole world is turning its eyes toward the reality of women,” she said.