In two months, on Saturday, May 12, a group will gather at Unity in Tustin CA for an all day Wise Woman Celebration. My good friend, Rev. Rachel Lampert organized one of these all day conferences a few years ago and it was such a success that she is doing it again. I am happy to be delivering the keynote talk and as far as I am concerned, this is a great time to remember we have the power to change. We are the majority!
When I wrote the book, Wise Women don’t worry, Wise Women don’t sing the blues, sixteen years ago, several people told me the topic was too late – that women’s issues were all over. I was amazed at how certain they were that women had marched in a few parades, burned a few bras and then lived happily ever after. Many of the women I was met in my ministry were struggling with balancing time, family, and work and needed to learn how to set successful boundaries. Many needed clarity and courage.
It seemed to me that Women in New Thought had some real strengths because their belief system allowed them full power by right of Divine Inheritance. Since we define God as the Creative Energy of the Universe (non-gender), women could easily accept that God wanted them to expand and grow and have wonderful lives. On the other hand, we all came from somewhere and we all carried a lot of that “somewhere thinking” with us into our days.
It also seemed to me that Women in New Thought had an especially confusing task of being loving and not letting people trample on them. They also had a higher vision of what their lives could be like and were ready and willing to change anything that needed to change. The book’s most important message was that we are not victims. We can use simple metaphysical principles to take charge of our lives. We model a balance of love and power that is unique in many ways.
Wise Women don’t worry, Wise Women don’t sing the blues, is still in print and the book still sells pretty well. It is the genesis of this May 12 th conference (although there will be many independent women presenting their specialties). It has been the genesis of many Wise Woman weekends in the past. I trained over a hundred women to lead Wise Women groups and there are several Wise Women groups still operating. I get messages fairly often from readers who tell me how the book helped them. At this point – I count the project a total success. But not finished!
The conference in Tustin is another new beginning. It will be my privilege to be keynote speaker and there will be talks and workshops by others on sexuality, music, storytelling and many other subjects. If you want more information go to email@example.com. If you register before March 15 the price will be $36.00. After that, I think it goes to $50 but you need to check that out for yourself.
As far as I am concerned, this conference could not come at a better time. Ideas and cultural beliefs change slowly and only if we are persistent. When we elected Obama, we had a choice of a black man or a white woman. They were both exceptional and well qualified. The very fact that they were our candidates was thrilling. But that wasn’t the end of the story. I think some people thought that we could put the whole civil rights issue in a big sack and store it way up on the top shelf. That’s clearly not happening.
Sometimes resistance to change gets stronger in reaction to apparent gains. I think that is apparent right now. Civil rights issues are in the limelight. And there is a lot to heal. Unemployment is greatest among minorities. We hear quite a bit about same-sex marriage and don’t-ask-don’t tell policies in the military. Civil rights for same-sex couples in a long way from achieved.
Nor is the issue of women’s rights healed. If you watch the news, women seem to be losing ground. Now basic choice and health rights are threatened. You notice that there are very few boards of corporations or educational institutions or governments or any other seats of power even if the women members are in the majority. Nor is the representation of blacks and Hispanics anywhere near their statistical numbers in the United States.
This Wise Woman Celebration on May 12th will be about personal issues. It is not political. Every one of us will have a chance to take a look at our lives, our choices, our boundaries and limits and our hopes and dreams. The whole day will be devoted to personal empowerment and it is open to women of all political persuasions.
However, I am already planning my few choice words. I believe there is nothing more political than the issue of personal freedom. Women must not submit to becoming victims in any way. We must find the courage and clarity to take charge of our lives. It is time to wake up and speak up. There’s nothing like a good book or good conference to wake us up.
My plan for May 12th is to take a look at the future as well as be happy about the past. How about you? What are your plans for that day?
Do I want more information about the conference?
Do I want to read Wise Women don’t worry, Wise Women don’t sing the blues? ( Note – order it by going to the New Thought Works bookstore on this blog).
How am I feeling about my personal freedom?
Is this an issue for me to speak up about?
How shall I begin?
My ministerial class reads emails from some Religious Science ministers that I copied from our chatter group. The discussion is on New Vistas or what we believe about church and state issues. My class concludes that there are an amazing variety of opinions and they all make valid points. Next week my students will bring in their own position statement to class.
Certainly, issues of church and state are relevant and ministers in training need to be thinking about how they will guide themselves and their churches through the complexity of attitudes about social action.
Should they speak out about same sex marriage laws? Or should they stay quiet and do their prayer work? Is it a New Thought minister’s place to talk about supporting the Occupy Wall Street groups? How about anti-war marches? What about contraception? Abortion? Migrant workers? Privacy and anti-terrorist measures? The list of issues is long.
While most of us in New Thought would agree about most of these issues, I know for a fact that we wouldn’t agree about all of them. But we do agree that we want our New Thought churches and centers to be open to people of varying opinions – don’t we?
Whether we are ministers or not, if we are citizens of the US, we are up to our necks in church and social action issues right now. We are aware of this, I’m certain. Last Monday, I posted a blog about women’s rights and how I didn’t think the “old boys” should push us backward. I got more favorable responses to that blog than any I’ve written so far.
I obviously hit a nerve. Since women have always been a big part of New Thought leaders and followers, I wasn’t surprised. It turns out that my blog was part of a bigger picture that is hitting a nerve all over the nation.
This week, the news is full of the question, “Where are the women?” Most women are against the proposed laws designed to whittle away women’s access to abortion and possibly contraception. These laws are in play for many reasons but at least partly because of religious convictions. We are, once again, dancing between our right to religious freedom of expression and our belief that religion has no place in government policy.
The United States was founded on the idea of separation of church and state, yet, our history is riddled with change based on religious meddling. I don’t like that fact when my side loses. I liked it just fine when my side won so it really comes back to consciousness of the individual and how it is formed.
Here’s something I know about consciousness. I believe in things that I know – mostly through personal experience. For example, I’m a woman so I really get women’s issues. I’ve had black and gay friends since I was very young and so I get most of their issues. I’ve never been a hunter so I don’t understand why anyone would want a nation with enough guns to start a revolution. And so it goes.
Church and State are obviously separate and obviously intertwined. Our country will continue to have opposing sides to any question and the majority will win in the long run. One thing that means tome is that we need to elect more minorities to the government at local, state and federa level. One thing that the election Pres. Obama is teaching us is that one guy isn’t enough.
Meanwhile, our country is based on the idea of individual liberty and I will continue to believe that everyone has a right to his or her voice. Though I am pro-choice and I believe small families are a good idea, I would honestly hate to see anyone forced to use birth control or forced to abort at any stage in the pregnancy. I truly do believe in choice.
At the same time, I believe in social activism. We need more women, more ethnic minorities and more openly gay people in our government. Since most people find it easier to identify with issues they have personal experience with, it would make votes more representative and equal.
My state is blessed with three large cities. One has a Hispanic Mayor, one has a gay Mayor and one has a City Manager who is a straight white male. Our two Senators are women and right now, we are fortunate. I’d like us just to be normal. I look forward to the day when no one will even think to ask, “Where are the women?”
By the way, here’s my position paper. If Mitt Romney can say, “Corporations are people” then I can say, “Clergy are people”. Which puts me behind the eight ball because I don’t agree with most of the more traditional ministers who are actually speaking out. I do agree that they have the right but I would love to hear more opinions from New Thought clergy. I don’t want to fight but I do want a voice.
We need to grow for many reasons and one of them is that we would have a stronger public voice. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if New Thought were so large and powerful on a day to day level that we were routinely called to testify in State and National capital hearings? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could show people how to respect both sides and continue to love each other while we listened and then decided?
I understand that our primary way of getting things done is to pray for it. On the other hand, I have heard from the beginning, “Treat and move your feet.” I’d love to see us move our feet in the direction of social action. Wasn’t it the Dali Lama who, speaking of the environment, said something like, “We should take care of the earth because it is where we live.”
Let’s not space out and ignore our activities here on Planet Earth. It’s where we live and we need to be part of the conversation about what happens.
Is the issue of church and state important to me?
Do I have anything to say about current events?
Back in the early 1960’s when I was a respectable widow and school teacher pretending to be celibate, a Catholic colleague of mine called and whispered, “May I come talk to you?” Turned out, she wanted to borrow birth control pills because she didn’t want her husband to know…
I woke this morning thinking about what it was like before abortion was legal and contraception was easy to obtain. Unwanted pregnancies were a nightmare.
Women of my age have seen many changes and we tend to differ about which are good or bad – that’s fine because we are a diverse nation. But I believe women are pretty clear on the issue of who’s in charge of our bodies. I don’t hear women saying things were better back in the days when we had fewer choices.
I think the nation is in for a great awakening as women react to the current crop of conservative candidates for President and the many laws that are being proposed at the state and national level. I think that birth control should be covered by insurance just as Viagra is. I think that women should not be for forced to endure vaginal probing and humiliation when they seek an abortion. I think the Taliban has no place in the USA.
This is a major issue and we should wake up and speak out. Remember the testimony of Anita Hill? This country was rocked back on it’s heels when women came out of their silence and told about what they endured at work. Judge Thomas was confirmed but things definitely changed in the workplace.
Wait till women wake up and start talking about the “good old days” when they were told it all depended on them to say no. In my day, we were told to be good girls and keep our knees closed, at the same time we were trained to believe our total worth came from the men who loved us.
Girls were supposed to be great teasers, advertising the product but not delivering until paid up front with a marriage license. Once obtained, they were supposed to have a few kids, be good cooks, be happy, and be pretty when their husbands came home. If he didn’t come home, they were supposed to cry a little, put on some lipstick and smile as he arrived later and later.
If you lost in the marriage game, you were trash. If you had a brain – you learned to use it by helping your husband behind the scenes. Remember Nancy Reagan?
Women of my day didn’t hate men, they loved them. That’s what caused most of the trouble. Not the loving, but the tight space of the gender role.
In my day, spinsters were a joke. Being an old maid was the true “fate worse than death”. I had a brain but I dropped out of college at 18 and got married. After my husband died, I went back to college under great hardship and neatly avoided marriage for 10 years. But I did love men.
At 78, I don’t remember it all. But I obviously remember enough not to want to go back sixty years.
I realize there is a taboo about New Thought ministers speaking out about political issues but I’m retired from active service. Besides, I consider this a mental health issue for every one of us – male and female.
I am very proud to belong to a denomination that started with as many women leaders as men. We have always had great equality in our leadership because it is the basis of our teaching. If God lives everywhere, including in women, then I have a right to say what I think. And I think we should speak out about women’s rights.
We can help. We can recognize that it is difficult for people to change and that there is always a group of powerful old guys with billions who think they know what other people should do. We can speak up.Let’s not be asleep at the wheel.
Let’s tell the truth about the good old days. Let’s say that sexual activity between consenting adults, married or single, straight or gay, is normal and natural. Let’s say that times have changed and if a few people can’t keep up, we can love them but not let them slow us down. Let’s say that all human beings are Divine and each of us gets to make his or her own choices.
Do I resist change? How?
Is there anything I need to speak up about?