Category Archives: News & Reviews

Exegesis of Deborah and Barak


I finished my first semester in the at Pacific School of Religion (PSR) in Berkeley in the Master of Arts in Social Transformation degree program. I am heading to Mexico soon for a two week immersion course in Spanish and Social Justice. At PSR, I am learning a great deal about social justice, spirituality, race and ethnicity, and exegesis – the critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially of scripture.  Exegesis is a new skill for me and I am enjoying it, even if I have to become expert on using the Turabian bibliographic citation style, and learning to use words like pericope (an extract from a text) and hermeneutics (theory and methodology of interpretation).  Here is my first exegetical paper from the Rhetorical Use of Texts course taught by Professors Aaron Brody and Sharon Jacob:


For my first exegetical paper on Judges, I have selected the passage about Deborah and Barak, in Judges 4:1-10. In this pericope, Deborah is presented in a way that is unique in the Hebrew Bible, and yet both the Bible and scholars seem to underrate her importance. She is introduced as a prophetess and a judge, and we soon see that she is, in addition, an insightful war leader who successfully reverses the declined fortunes of her people. In this analysis, I will primarily use a feminist hermeneutical lens because Deborah’s story is such a contrast to that of most women in the Bible, whom J. Cheryl Exum describes as being “…in a subordinate role, usually as someone’s wife or mother or daughter…”[1] Deborah is indeed the wife of Lappidoth (Judges 4:4) but he is only referenced that once in the Hebrew Bible. She is also said to be a mother (Judges 5:7) but her individual children are not mentioned. As a feminist and professional today, I admire Deborah for fulfilling her traditional female roles (wife and mother) while at the same time being successful in three capacities usually reserved for both men in the ancient world and today (prophet, judge, and general).

Before moving into a deeper review of this pericope, it is important to reflect that the men who wrote the Bible did not consider Deborah important enough to be a referenced elsewhere as a role model. This is an example of institutionalized patriarchy, as described by Exum.[2] Three men in the pericope, Israelite enemies King Jabin and his commander Sisera, and Deborah’s hesitant colleague Barak, are celebrated outside of the Book of Judges but Deborah is not. Jabin and Sisera are found again in 1 Samuel 12:9 and Psalm 83:9. Barak is included in 1 Samuel 12:11 and Hebrews 11:32. It seems that it is more notable to be an enemy or a cowardly man than a successful woman. Or, as J. Cheryl Exum writes, “…the gender code operates independently of the question of who is on which side or which side is the ‘right’ side…”[3] Even Jesus’ ancestor Ruth is only mentioned once outside of her own book, in Matthew 1:5.

Of the three non-traditional roles Deborah fulfills, being a prophet is the least common duty for a woman in the Bible. In his essay on narrative criticism, Richard Bowman presents a table called “Attributions of Divine Presence” in which he lists three options: “The Lord is with X,” “Spirit of God,” and “Acknowledgement by Character.” In the table, Bowman only accords Deborah “Acknowledgement by Character.”[4] He does not mention that Deborah and Gideon are the only two persons in Judges called prophets. Deborah is indeed only one of five women in the Hebrew Bible to be called a prophet (or prophetess). The five honored women are: Miriam (Exodus 15:20), Deborah (Judges 4:4), Huldah (2 Kings 22:14), Naodiah (Nehemiah 6:14), and an unnamed prophetess in Isaiah 8:3. Lists of female prophets in Judaism can also include Sarah, Hannah, Abigail, and Esther but those women are not explicitly called out as prophets.[5] It seems that Bowman underrates Deborah and her status of prophet. Being a prophet is important, someone worthy of speaking on behalf of God, as in Deuteronomy 18:18, “I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command.” Yet, Bowman only writes, “The narrator does not explicitly state that the spirit of God is given to either Ehud or Deborah… Yet, both successfully deliver Israel from the oppression of its enemies, and both voice their conviction that God gave them their victories.”[6] Ehud only mentions God once when he quips to King Eglon, “I have a message from God for you.” Compared to him, Deborah does a great deal more than simply express conviction; she performs as a true prophet, confidently speaking on behalf of God, saying, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you…” (Judges 4:6), and “…the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman” (Judges 4:9), plus two references in Judges 4:14.

In her second non-traditional role, Deborah is a judge. Professor Brody said that those called judges in Judges are “Charismatic leaders, ‘judges’ rise to lead in times of trouble then return to former occupation.”[7] In addition to being a charismatic leader, Deborah uniquely functions as an actual judge, “She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the Israelites came up to her for judgment” (Judges 4:5). Bowman writes, “…Gideon doubts his own ability, Jephthah doubts the ability of God, and Samson overconfidently abuses his talents.”[8] Unlike many of the other leaders in Judges, Deborah is wise, and her opinion is respected and sought. However, her wisdom is not celebrated outside of the Judges 4:5 passage, perhaps because good counsel is expected of a capable wife in a patriarchal society, as we see in Proverbs 31:26, “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”

In her third unusual role, Deborah is a war leader or general. Exum credits Deborah as “…an example of the exceptional famous woman – prophet, judge, and military leader…”[9] However, surprisingly for a feminist scholar, Exum devotes most of her detailed analysis in the section “Deborah/Jael (Judges 4-5)” to Deborah as a good mother figure. Exum criticizes Barak and Sisera for falling short of being hero-warriors but does not go on to laud Deborah for her bravery or wisdom.[10] And yet, Deborah is capable as a general and her actions are worthy of celebration. In Judges 4:6-10, Deborah, who is from the tribal area of Ephraim (in the middle of Israel), summons Barak from the far northern area of Naphtali, north of the Kishon River and Mount Tabor. That is, she wisely picked for her colleague a man who knew the area where they would fight and who could bring an army of ten thousand from the northern tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali. Deborah’s original battle plan is to split her forces, saying “’I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to meet you by the Wadi Kishon with his chariots and troops; and I will give him into your hand’” (Judges 4:7). However, when Barak refuses to go without her, she patiently changes her plan to make it succeed despite his trepidation. At this point in the story, we get a glimpse of what it must be like for Deborah to be a woman war leader when she says, “’I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman’” (Judges 4:9). I envision Deborah saying this in a patient and sardonic tone, as a strong woman who must make a partnership work despite the shortcomings of her male partner. Her words can be taken either as a foretelling (that is, Deborah sees the future of Sisera being killed by Jael, in Judges 4:21), or a simple statement that if Deborah is with Barak, he will not win glory. In either case, Barak’s accomplishments are dimmed.

At the beginning of the pericope, because of doing evil, the Israelites are oppressed like slaves by a foreign ruler based in the tribal area of Naphtali, “So the Lord sold them into the hand of King Jabin of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; the commander of his army was Sisera…” (Judges 4:2). At the end of the pericope in Judges 4:7, Deborah prophesies that the Lord will sell Sisera, that is, the tables will be turned and Israel will triumph. At the very end of Deborah’s story, it says simply “And the land had rest for forty years” (Judges 5:31). That is, she did her work and did it well. Deborah is surprising not only because of her success in both traditional and non-traditional women’s roles but also because her story was recorded in detail and survived from a time when, as Exum writes, “…the writers of history [were] men, and men have recorded only those events they considered important and have interpreted them from their point of view.”[11] I would argue that feminists and feminist critics of the Bible today should celebrate Deborah as one of the few multi-faceted and exceptional women of the ancient world.

Footnotes

[1] J. Cheryl Exum, “Feminist Criticism: Whose Interests are Being Served?,” in Judges and Method: New Approaches in Biblical Studies, ed. Gale A. Yee (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007), 66.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Exum, “Feminist Criticism,” 70.

[4] Richard G. Bowman, “Narrative Criticism: Human Purpose in Conflict with Divine Presence,” in Judges and Method: New Approaches in Biblical Studies, ed. Gale A. Yee (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007), 36.

[5] Tracey R. Rich, “Prophets and Prophecy,” Judaism 101, accessed 26 October 2018, http://www.jewfaq.org/prophet.htm.

[6] Bowman, “Narrative Criticism,” 38.

[7] Aaron Brody, “Ugarit & The Late Bronze Age – Circa 1300-1200 BCE; prior to Iron I, period of the Judges” (lecture, Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, CA, 4 October 2018).

[8] Bowman, “Narrative Criticism,” 28.

[9] Exum, “Feminist Criticism,” 66.

[10] Ibid, 70-74.

[11] Exum, “Feminist Criticism,” 65.

 


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4th Edition: “Notable Women in Computing” Playing Cards Listing

Jessica Dickinson Goodman, Susan Rodger and I have just updated the Notable Women in Computing playing cards – publishing the 4th Edition since 2014. These will be available for sale at the Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education – SIGCE 2019 event, and (as always) on Notable Technical Women. The cards have been updated to reflect some of the new honors for these remarkable leaders – and this is the first version in which each of the 54 honorees has a photo, plus a link to her Wikipedia page. In the first edition, 25% of the honorees did not have a Wikipedia page.

Notable Women in Computing playing cards are associated with the long-term “CRA-W and Anita Borg Institute Wikipedia Project – Writing Wikipedia Pages for Notable Women in Computing” project.  We encourage you to use this information to inspire students and teach computer science, and write or improve Wikipedia pages – especially creating new pages about remarkable women who have none. Please watch our 2014 Kickstarter video about why we picked these 54 women from among all of the remarkable technical women.

All 54 cards:

Suit Honoree Name Position, Honors, Awards Wikipedia Link
Joker Maria Klawe Harvey Mudd College President, ACM Fellow, Canadian Information Processing Society founding Fellow, ABIE Award – Leadership Linked Here
Joker Mitchell Baker Exec.Chair Mozilla, ABI Woman of Vision, Internet Hall of Fame, Webby Lifetime Achievement Linked Here
Hearts QueenFrances Allen IBM Fellow Emerita, Turing Award, Computer History Museum Fellow, IEEE Fellow Linked Here
KingBarbara Liskov MIT Professor, Turing Award, ACM Fellow, SWE Achievement Award, National Inventors Hall of Fame Linked Here
JackShafrira Goldwasser MIT Professor, Turing Award, ACM-W Athena Lecturer, ACM Fellow Linked Here
AceHessa Al Jaber Qatar ICT Minister, Chair CS Department – Qatar Univ. Linked Here
10- Mary Jane Irwin Pennsylvania State Univ. Professor, ACM Fellow, IEEE Fellow, NAE Member, ACM-W Athena Lecturer Linked Here
9- Irene Greif ABIE Award for Technical Leadership, IBM User Experience Group, ACM Fellow, AAAS Fellow, Formed Lotus Research 1992 Linked Here
8- Duy-Loan Le Senior Fellow-Texas Instruments, WITI Hall of Fame, ABI Women of Vision Linked Here
7- Grete Hermann Univ. of Göttingen mathematician, 1926 foundational paper for computerized algebra Linked Here
6- Manuela Veloso IEEE Fellow, AAAS Fellow, ACM Fellow, JPMorgan Chase AI Research head Linked Here
5- Lila Ibrahim COO DeepMind, CBO Coursera, Founder Team4Tech, ABI Woman of Vision, Purdue University-Outstanding Electrical and Computer Engineer Linked Here
4- Padmasree Warrior Former Cisco and Motorola CTO, WITI Hall of Fame, Distinguished Alumni Award from IIT Delhi Linked Here
3- Genevieve Bell Australian National University Director – Autonomy, Agency and Assurance Institute, ABI Woman of Vision, WITI Hall of Fame Linked Here
2- Marilyn Wescoff ENIAC computer programmer team 1946, WITI Hall of Fame Linked Here
Diamonds QueenAnita Borg Founder Anita Borg Institute, WITI Hall of Fame, Fellow ACM, EFF Pioneer Linked Here
KingDeborah Estrin MacArthur Fellow, IEEE Internet Award, ACM, AAAS and IEEE Fellow, ABI Woman of Vision, ACM-W Athena Lecturer Linked Here
JackYuqing Gao Former IBM Distinguished Engineer, ABI Woman of Vision, IEEE Fellow Linked Here
AceSusan Graham UC Berkeley Distinguished Professor, ACM, IEEE, NAE, AAAS Fellow Linked Here
10- Cristina Amon Univ. of Toronto Dean-Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, IEEE Fellow, SWE Achievement Award, Canadian Academy of Eng., Spanish Royal Academy, Royal Society of Canada, US NAE Linked Here
9- Betsy Ancker-Johnson 1st observation of microwave emission without the presence of an external field (1967), Fellow Am Physical Society, Fellow AAAS, IEEE Fellow, Member NAE Linked Here
8- Arati Prabhakar Former head US DARPA and NIST, IEEE Fellow Linked Here
7- Sophie Vandebroek COO IBM Research, former CTO Xerox, IEEE Fellow, WITI Hall of Fame, Royal Flemish Academy for Arts & Sciences Member Linked Here
6- Ruzena Bajcsy UC Berkeley Professor, NAE and NASIM Member, Fellow ACM, IEEE, AAAI, and AAAS, IEEE Robotics and Automation Award Linked Here
5- Laurie Hendren Professor McGill Univ., ACM Fellow, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada Linked Here
4- Lixia Zhang UCLA Professor, ACM and IEEE Fellow, IEEE Internet Award Linked Here
3- Betty Snyder ENIAC computer programmer team 1946, WITI Hall of Fame, Augusta Ada Lovelace Award, IEEE Computer Pioneer Award Linked Here
2- Kay McNulty ENIAC computer programmer team 1946, WITI Hall of Fame, National Inventors Hall of Fame Linked Here
Spades QueenGrace Hopper US Navy Admiral, 1st compiler for a programming, Computer History Museum Fellow, Dist Fellow-British Computer Society, Fellow AAAS, Presidential Medal of Freedom, Hopper College at Yale University Linked Here
KingChieko Asakawa IBM Fellow, ABI Woman of Vision, Japan Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon Member US NAE Linked Here
JackDenice Denton Univ. California Santa Cruz Chancellor, AAAS Fellow, IEEE Fellow Linked Here
AceRadia Perlman Intel Fellow, IEEE and ACM Fellow, 1st ABI Woman of Vision award winner, National Inventors Hall of Fame, Internet Hall of Fame Linked Here
10- Clarisse de Souza Professor PUC Rio de Janeiro, CHI Academy, Scientific Merit Award of the Brazilian Computer Society Linked Here
9- Linda Petzold Univ. California Santa Barbara Professor, ACM Fellow, AAAS Fellow, NAE Member Linked Here
8- Jennifer Widom Professor Stanford Univ., ACM Fellow, AAAS Member, NAE Member, Dean-Stanford School of Engineering, ACM-W Athena Lecturer Linked Here
7- Jean Sammet IBM Researcher, 1st woman ACM President, ACM Fellow, Computer History Museum Fellow, NCWIT Pioneer Award Linked Here
6- Helen Greiner CEO of CyPhy Works, Founder iRobot, ABI woman of vision, WITI Hall of Fame, Presidential Ambassador for Global Leadership Linked Here
5- Anuradha Annaswamy MIT Senior Research Scientist, IEEE Fellow, Hay Medal, Indian Institute of Science Linked Here
4- Qiheng Hu Founder, China Internet Network Information Center, Internet Hall of Fame, Research Professor – Chinese Academy of Sciences Linked Here
3- Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum ENIAC computer programmer team 1946, WITI Hall of Fame Linked Here
2- Fran Bilas ENIAC computer programmer team 1946, WITI Hall of Fame Linked Here
Clubs QueenKatherine Johnson NASA Mathematician, calculated the trajectory of early space launches, NCWIT Pioneer in Tech Award, Presidential Medal of Freedom, Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility, Subject of movie “Hidden Figures” Linked Here
KingAugusta Ada Lovelace King Mathematician, 1st computer programmer 1843 Linked Here
JackJennifer Chayes Microsoft Research Distinguished Scientist, ACM Fellow, ABI woman of vision, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, von Neumann Prize Linked Here
AceVicki Hanson CEO of ACM, Former RIT Distinguished Professor, Professor Univ. of Dundee, ACM Fellow, SIGCHI Social Impact Award, ABI woman of vision, Fellow Royal Society of Edinburgh Linked Here
10- Ellen Ochoa NASA Astronaut and Johnson Space Center Director, 1st Hispanic woman in space, NASA Distinguished Service Medal, Harvard Foundation Science Award, San Diego State Univ. Alumna of the Year, Astronaut Hall of Fame Linked Here
9- Tova Milo Professor Tel Aviv Univ., ACM Fellow, Academia Europaea Linked Here
8- Valerie Taylor ACM Fellow, Director of the Mathematics and Computer Science Division of Argonne National Laboratory, IEEE Fellow Linked Here
7- Kathleen McKeown Professor Columbia Univ., ACM and AAAI Fellow, Founding Fellow Association for Computational Linguistics, ABI Women of Vision Linked Here
6- Susan Landau Professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, ACM Fellow, AAAS Fellow, ABI Woman of Vision, National Cyber Security Hall of Fame Linked Here
5- Mary Lou Jepsen Founder OpenWater, former Google X Head of the Display Division, ABI Woman of Vision, WITI Hall of Fame, One Laptop Per Child Designer Linked Here
4- Kristina Johnson National Inventors Hall of Fame, Former Undersecretary US Dept. of Energy, IEEE Fellow, Member NAE, ABI Woman of Vision, SWE Achievement Award Linked Here
3- Sophie Wilson Broadcom Director IC Design, Designer Acorn Microcomputer, Computer History Museum Fellow, Fellow Royal Society-London Linked Here
2- Jean Bartik ENIAC computer programmer team 1946, WITI Hall of Fame, Fellow Computer History Museum, IEEE Computer Pioneer Award Linked Here

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Jail Classes Thriving

The two classes I mentor at Elmwood Jail are thriving. The Education for Ministry (EfM) class has been going since 2015, and the Transforming Literature of the Bible (TLB) class started this year. Both will be recruiting new inmate students this month for the next sessions.

The Rev. Canon William Barnwell created TLB in the early 1980s at the University of New Orleans, and continued its development for many years at National Cathedral. Between May and August 2018, in consultation with Canon William, I revised the 36 sessions in the Hebrew Bible and Christian Testament, kept some of the original literature, and added more diverse selections appropriate to jail ministry in California. The literary selections are included to provide a diverse context in which to understand some of the major themes in the Bible passages under consideration. In May, I started the first TLB Hebrew Bible pilot class in a minimum security men’s dorm. This TLB program is in addition to the EfM program also presented weekly, in a medium security dorm at Elmwood.

We finished the first full (two term) TLB pilot class in October – graduating our first students. The overall rating for the class is 93% Excellent, with 93% of students reporting that they would Definitely recommend the class to others.  One student who just graduated turned down an early release date so that he could finish the class. Thirteen signed up for the third TLB term that started in October.

I am grateful to my Co-Mentors Diane Lovelace and Joel Martinez, and my husband, John Plocher (with the Rev. Peggy Bryan as backup). This program is supported by the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy  (CIC), St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, and the University of the South – School of Theology, EfM Program. Thanks to Collette Lynner of CIC for supporting TLB production.

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Photos Copyright 2018 by Katy Dickinson

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TechWomen Team Morocco – Connect to Impact


I have been proud to team up with Mercedes Soria and Fatema Kothari for a third year as TechWomen impact coaches, to work with five remarkable leaders from Morocco: Safaa Boubia, Nisrine Oukacha, Fatima Zzahra Meziane, Fatima Zahra Oumenni, and Imane Nassif. We have been working together since the ladies arrived in September to create Connect to Impact – a new online platform offering resources for nonprofits in Morocco to showcase their actions plans, increase their awareness and access to donors, and in time, improve their skills through fit-for-purpose training. Connect to Impact will provide a bilateral matchmaking algorithm between donors and nonprofit organizations.

Team Morocco presented about Connect to Impact at TechWomen Pitch Day yesterday. We find out at the Community Event on Monday, 22 October 2018, which of the twenty country teams won.

What is TechWomen?
TechWomen empowers, connects and supports the next generation of women leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East by providing them the access and opportunity needed to advance their careers, pursue their dreams, and inspire women and girls in their communities.

TechWomen is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). TechWomen, launched in 2011, supports the United States’ global commitment toward advancing the rights and participation of women and girls around the world by enabling them to reach their full potential in the tech industry.

Part of the joy of TechWomen is its large and supportive community. My daughter Jessica Dickinson Goodman is also a TechWomen mentor, again coaching Team Palestine, which also gave an excellent pitch yesterday.  During the intermission, we got to see videos from TechWomen Fellows of prior years, including Solve24, created by our own 2017 Team Lebanon. Wish us luck in winning the pitch competition!







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Paul’s Elements Altar

My son Paul’s Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) senior exhibit will be 29 October – 2 November 2018 at the SJSU Herbert Sanders Art Gallery.

Please plan to see it!

Herbert Sanders, Industrial Studies #238
Department of Art & Art History
Art Building, San José State University
One Washington Square
Downtown San Jose, CA 95192
408-924-4330

For months, Paul has been creating an altar featuring the elements, out of carved ceramic, ash wood, steel, copper and bronze. His piece will demonstrate the wide range of spatial art skills he has developed.

Paul will also be selling his ceramic art again at the Peninsula School Craft Fair (920 Peninsula Way, Menlo Park, CA): 2 December 2018.

More about Paul’s work is on his portfolio website: Paul’s Element.

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Photos Copyright 2018 by Katy Dickinson

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Interfaith Panel on Religion and Environment

Today, the Islamic Networks Group (ING) presented an interfaith panel discussion on Religion and the Environment at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, in Saratoga, California (the Silicon Valley).  I was honored to be the panelist representing Christianity, joined by other certified interfaith speakers who are Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim.  Some of the questions we answered, in addition to those from the audience:

  • What texts or traditions in your religion speak to the relationship of humanity to the natural world and the importance of caring for the environment?
  • Stewardship can be interpreted as living in harmony with the earth: careful and responsible management of shared resources; or dominance and making the most out of an owned resource. How does your faith tradition interpret stewardship of the earth? Does your religion have a formal position on this?
  • What personal or community practices have you observed in your faith group with regard to these teachings?
  • How do adherents of your faith consider climate change? Do people in your religious tradition feel a responsibility to respond to climate change? What have you observed in this area in your faith community?
  • St. Andrew’s holds an annual Faith and Innovation Conference. Technology and innovation have had both positive and negative effects on the environment, for example: reducing transport emissions on the one side, and on the other side using developing countries as a dumping ground for e-waste. Does your religious tradition have a point of view on this? What have you observed in this area?
  • How can religious traditions and groups work together for the good of the planet?

Each of us researched and brought notes to the panel.  Part of what I said was about Christianity and Environmentalism in the Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox branches, and part about the ongoing tension between Stewardship and Dominion. My materials included:

  • From St. Andrew’s Prayers of the People
    • (2 Sep 2018) “Creative God, we pray for the earth. Keep watch over those who rescue endangered species and repair scorched landscapes. Make us good stewards of creation.”
    • (16 Sep 2018) “Creative God, quarks and galaxies bear witness to your imagination.  Inspire scientists, naturalists, and conservationists who work to conserve precious natural resources. Grant us the wisdom to be good keepers of the earth.”
  • From 1982 Episcopal Hymnal – 14,161 hymns include “earth” – 5,274 include “sky” – and 5,254 include “stars”
    • “For the beauty of the earth” – “For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies, for the love which from our birth over and around us lies. Christ, our Lord, to you we raise this, our hymn of grateful praise…”
    • “The Holy Trinity” Verse 4 – “Holy! holy! holy! Lord God Almighty! All thy works shall praise thy Name, in earth and sky, and sea…”
    • “Earth and all stars” – “Earth and all stars, Loud rushing planets, Sing to the Lord a new song! Hail, wind, and rain, Loud blowing snow storm, Sing to the Lord a new song! God has done marvelous things. I too sing praises with a new song!”
  • Book of Common Prayer: Prayers and Thanksgivings, Prayers for the Natural Order pp.827-828
    • 40. For Knowledge of God’s Creation
    • 41. For the Conservation of Natural Resources
    • 42. For the Harvest of Lands and Waters
    • 43. For Rain
    • 44. For the Future of the Human Race
  • “Steward” in the Bible, 20 mentions in NSRV. The steward’s job: Manager of house and lands and workers – Master of the Household (Isaiah 22:15)
    • “Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.” 1 Corinthians 4:2
    • “For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or addicted to wine or violent or greedy for gain” Titus 1:7
  • “Dominion” in the Bible, 50 mentions in NSRV – Ruler, owner, in control over
    • “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”” Genesis 1:26
    • “God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” Genesis 1:28
    • “Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul.” Psalm 103:22
    • “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.” Romans 6:9

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Photos Copyright 2018 by John Plocher

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Starting Master of Arts in Social Transformation, Finished Revising TLB

Today is my first day of orientation at Pacific School of Religion (PSR) in Berkeley for the Master of Arts in Social Transformation degree.

Yesterday, I finished editing and revising the final document for the “Transforming Literature of the Bible” (TLB) program. I have been working on TLB since May 2018 and have finished two books, 36 sessions, 604 pages total.

This has been a busy few days but I wanted to finish TLB before starting studies at PSR.  Literary selections are included in TLB to provide a diverse context in which to understand some of the major themes in the Bible passages under consideration.  In addition to readings in the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible), the students of Book One also read:

  1. “The Welcome Table” story by Alice Walker (1973)
  2. “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1955)
  3. “My Grandmother Washes Her Feet in the Sink of the Bathroom at Sears” poem by Mohja Kahf (2003)
  4. “The Son from America” story by Isaac Bashevis Singer (1973)
  5. “The Big Red Apples” story by Zitkála-Šá  aka Red Bird (1900)
  6. “My Last Duchess” poem by Robert Browning (1842)
  7. “I Have a Dream” speech by the Rev. Martin Luther King (1963)
  8. O Pioneers! excerpt by Willa Cather (1913)
  9. “The Family of Little Feet” story by Sandra Cisneros (1984)
  10. The Gangster We Are All Looking For excerpt by Lê Thị Diễm Thúy (2003)

In Book Two, in addition to New Testament readings, the literary selections are:

  1. “At the Arraignment” poem by Debra Spencer (2004)
  2. “A Private Experience” story excerpt by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2009)
  3. “Sonnet XXVII” by William Shakespeare (1609)
  4. “Under the Poplars” poem by César Vallejo (1919)
  5. “The Grand Inquisitor” excerpt from The Brothers Karamazov, by Feodor Dostoevsky (1879-1880)
  6. Farewell to Manzanar excerpt by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston & James D. Houston (1973)
  7. “XVI” poem by Emily Dickinson (circa 1890)
  8. “Limits” poem by Jorge Luis Borges (circa 1961)
  9. “A Discreet Miracle” excerpt by Isabel Allende, from The Stories of Eva Luna (1989)
  10. “The Fullness of Time” poem by James Stephens (circa 1900)

I am collaborating on the revision of TLB with the Rev. Canon William H. Barnwell who wrote the original course. In addition to revising Canon William’s 2008 course materials, I am running a pilot version of the class itself at Elmwood Jail (Milpitas, California). I am grateful to my Co-Mentors Diane Lovelace, and my husband, John Plocher (with the Rev. Peggy Bryan as backup). This program is supported by the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy  (CIC) and St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.  Thanks to Collette Lynner of CIC for supporting TLB production.

More pictures from my PSR Orientation week:

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