Thursday, April 9, 2009

38th Annual Meeting in Eugene, Oregon

The 2009 meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies convened in Eugene, Oregon on March 26, 2009. The theme of the 3 day meeting was "Pentecostal/Charismatic Intersections: What Does the Spirit Have to Say through the Academy?". Estrelda Alexander, Pentecostal historian served as program chair. The society met jointly with the Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches of North America (PCCNA). Several plenaries involved members of both societies.

The History Group's parallel sessions included presentations on eschatology at Azusa Street (Larry McQueen); an re-examination of Seymour's understanding of tongues as "Bible Evidence" (Renea Brathwaite); higher education and ministerial training in early Pentecostalism (Joel Halldorf and Doug Chapman); early Pentecostalism and German Expressionist art (Jen Miskov) and issues of gender and marriage as seen in the ministries of Phoebe Palmer and Aimee Semple McPherson (Leah Payne).

Daniel Ramirez, New History Group Leader!

Congratulations to Daniel Ramirez, the new leader of the History Interest Group for SPS. Daniel was elected to a 3 year term at the SPS 2009 meeting in Eugene, Oregon.

DANIEL RAMIREZ (PhD Duke University/Department of Religion) is an Assistant Professor in religions of the Southwest borderlands at Arizona State University. Dr. Ramirez' areas of research and teaching include religions of the Southwest borderlands and migration, with a special interest in the history of religious contact, conflict, and conversion in the Americas and in the transnational and cultural dimensions of religious practice. Of particular interest are the role of music as a religious or symbolic remittance and catalyst for religious change and the question of indigenous conversion.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What If All Churches Treated Women as Jesus Did?

by Mimi Haddad
Reprinted from God's Politics Blog Net 11-25-2008

Do you wonder why the words and deeds of Christ are not given more attention in the current gender debate? If all of scripture points to Jesus, and if Jesus’ treatment of women was radically different from his culture, even his religious culture, how do the life and words of Christ inform us today? For clearly Christ not only opposed abuse and patriarchy—the devaluation of women—he also found opportunities to promote women’s ultimate destiny as bearers of God’s image and joint-heirs of God’s eternal kingdom. Perhaps that is one reason women were so drawn to Jesus. Here is one example, though there are many more.

The religious taboos of Christ’s culture viewed female bodies as impure and inferior. This worked to exclude women from spiritual service and support—a practice Jesus opposed. By allowing an “unclean” hemorrhaging woman to touch him—which according to Jewish tradition made Jesus unclean as well—Christ brought physical as well as spiritual healing! By announcing that this hemorrhaging woman was ill, not unclean, Christ welcomed regular contact with women and made it possible for them to share in his work along with his disciples (Mark 5:25-34). As John Dehousaye observed in the Spring 2006 issue of Mutuality, Jesus made it clear that it is not what the body touches or what comes out of the body that makes us unclean (Mark 7:8). Rather it is what abides in our hearts: “evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit…” (Mark 7: 10-21). Religious taboos may have an appearance of righteousness, but, as Christ suggested, these taboos comprise vain worship because it overlooks the commands of God by holding to human traditions (Mark 7:7-8).

Human tradition, in nearly every culture, taught that women were, by virtue of their gender, less rational, less morally pure, less intelligent, and therefore ill-equipped not only for leadership, but also for equal partnership with men. Jesus breaks company not only with the patriarchy of Plato and Aristotle, but also with his own Jewish religious traditions which often excluded women from most service in the synagogues. Jesus engaged women theologically and expected women to respond not as a separate class, but as people, as disciples. Jesus ignored holiness taboos, and Paul did the same. Like Jesus, women were among Paul’s closest coworkers—those who labored beside him in the gospel. Jesus treated women as he did the male disciples; he encouraged them to learn at his feet rather than insisting they return to their gendered spheres of work.

What would happen if all churches treated women as Jesus did—as disciples and as authentic heirs of all God’s kingdom?

If you resonate with Haddad's thoughts and are a member of Facebook, please consider joining the "Free Our Church of God Women to Serve" Group. This group is open to all, COG members and non-COG members. If you would like to add your voice to the cause but do not have a Facebook account, please consider setting up an account (it's free!) and joining the Group.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Back to the Margins

My friend, Mike McMullen has written a very helpful post on the recent uproar over the very offensive Washington Post cartoon lampooning Pentecostals and especially speaking in tongues. He wrote a brilliant letter to the Editor of the Post. Thank you, Mike.

When I first saw the cartoon, in emails sent by several friends, I was offended but also immediately reminded of the cartoon, above, which appeared in the LA papers during the Azusa Street Revival. The Revival was extensively "covered" (and ridiculed) by the press. This cartoon, by the way, is excellent proof of the kinds of manifestations which were going on at 312 Azusa St.

In the latter part of the last century, and early part of this one, in the US, Pentecostals have seemed to "come of age" and moved from the wrong side of the tracks to the places of power and affluence: Pentecostal ministers are often consulted in the way Billy Graham once was, there have been some Pentecostal layperson who have made it to high level government positions, etc., etc. This rise to prominence (or "rush to respectability" as Steve Land has called it) has often, but not always, been accompanied by a compromise of doctrinal distinctives and holiness standards. In fact, in the mind of the Press, some scholars, the American public and even some Pentecostals, there is little difference between Evangelicals, Fundamentalists and Pentecostals. This may be lauded by some, but is grieved by me.

The good news in this political season (and there has been little of it, IMO) is that we may not be as mainstream as we have believed. We have been marginalized by the Post. Maybe they see a Movement that we are unable to see in our too-comfortable offices, houses and churches on the right side of the tracks. I pray they are right.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008