Chung
  Women's Letter, Nr. 45, 2008, English
  



Dear reader,

It is with regret that we witness nowadays how religions do not contribute to peace but rather call for new conflicts. And we give thanks to God for the fact that in general, women around the world act in a different manner. When I visited Tanzania recently I was overwhelmed by the women, mainly of the Moravian Church, to which mission 21 is connected institutionally, when I saw how their actions are directed towards life and peace, instead of wasting time on ideological conflicts or institutional tensions between religions. Tanzania lies in East Africa. Muslims and Christians mix in relative peace there, although there exists a certain potential for conflicts too. One concrete example is how the peace promoting tipe burials in villages and neighbourhoods are conducted. The women’s groups do not ask which religion the deceased or the bereived family adhered to. In this calamity they assist the affected in ways that help them overcome sadness and the loss of a loved person. The warm solicitousness and the loving words during the burial and the presence of the group help the affected. Yet it is by no means the aim of these women to misuse such occasions for recruiting new members for their church or for their religion. Their sole intention is evangelical: to assist those in need. Other important programmes are assistance to AIDS widows and orphans. Although material means are scarce, they do this service with loving dedication. Luppy Mwaipopo, in charge of women’s work in the Moravian Church in South West Tanzania, reports on a women’s conference on inter-religious peace work .

Rev. Septemmi Lakawa from Indonesia reports on Christian women who, after having experienced violent conflicts between Christians and Muslims, have become peace witnesses. Her concrete statements, being the result of field research, are vivid examples of women speaking individually about her own situation. Silence has manyfold meanings. Normally Asian women tend to be more reticent than women of other cultures. This, however, has nothing to do with self-esteem or intellectual competence. It would be helpful to look at the culture of communication in a more discriminative and sophisticated manner. For it is possible to express various positive and constructive points by keeping quiet. But mostly silence is ordered as an instrument of suppression or attributed to insensibility. Especially in patriarchal societies women are often compelled to keep quiet.

Therefore it is important in view of the experience of women from the South to understand feminist theology as an advocate of those without a voice or of those compelled to be quiet. In such situations breaking the silence is the first step toward liberation. To be able to speak out and to be heard are in themselves steps towards healing and liberation.

I don’t think it is accurate to say that women can cope with dolefulness better. Yet it is a special gift of women to overcome suffering and dolefulness and to live life oriented. There is a concrete example in the Bible, the story of Mary in the Gospel of John (20: 1-18). She visits Jesus’ tomb in dolefulness and through meeting the risen Christ is given a new task: to be a witness. This turning-point from dolefulness to joy, from fear to confidence was possible through the Good News. If missions means to us to be witnesses to the Good News, then it is our duty to witness in our Christian communities through healing, reconciliation and the transformation of society. The women from Indonesia are an inspirational example for us.

A Bolivian theologian, Maria Chavez, has contributed an article on eco-feminism and reconciliation with nature from an indigenous point of view. She writes critically on white-masculine domination over nature. She grapples with the problem of colonialism and neo-colonialism. However her criticism is also aimed at feminism. Feminism, she holds, is like a fashion imported from the West; it is Western imperialism that does not take into consideration indigenous cultures. Therefore her aim is to link feminism to indigenous cultural roots. And she tries to apply this in her work.

These contributions show how social factors such as poverty, the feeling of neglect, and ethnic conflicts are a latent danger of religious violence. This must be considered seriously and must be understood anew. Consequently, religious training must be remodelled holistically so that religions cannot turn again into ideologies and instruments of violence.


To us women it has the following meanings:
- to read the Bible with one’s own eyes
- to introduce our own references of life, self-awareness, our voices in the community as in the church
- to have access to education, to our own means and to the power of definition as a matter of course so that we shall be able to live in abundance in spiritual as well as in material matters.

mission 21 strives to develop further feminist theology in its continental assemblies and to have it influence partner churches, women networks and the whole community of learners of mission 21. It differs from Western feminist theology. This kind of contextual theology takes specifically into account problems of races, classes and cultures in order to stand up against suffering caused by man. Thus critical reflection and rethinking are strengthened.

And indeed mission 21 stresses reading the Bible with new eyes, especially with those of women from the South which has been almost impossible during the past 2000 years. That this now happens within this mission is due to the efforts over many years of its directress, Madeleine Strub-Jaccoud. This edition we dedicate to her on the occasion of her retirement on 30th June 2008.

I give special thanks to directress Madeleine Strub-Jaccoud for letting us publish her review on many years of service and her prospects in this issue on the occasion of her retirement. In this way her unflagging commitment for neglected women world wide finds expression in her own words.

Her mandate to us is that this commitment remains alive, and that this task can and shall be continued. We trust in the promise in Revelation 22, like it is symbolically represented as the tree of the life which stands in the logo of mission 21 - in spite of the changing of our director.


Basel, 30. May 2008

Rev. Dr. Meehyun Chung
Women and Gender Desk
mission 21
Evangelical mission Basel
[인쇄하기] 2017-10-30 14:20:43


     
  


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