Shirin Neshat, Iranian Film Director
Islamic women are powerful ladies drawing on powerful mythological sources. My favorite is Shirin Neshat (1957-), from Iran. I just watched a film directed by her, Women without Men, which is available through Netflix. The surrealistic film is based on a surrealistic novella by Shahrnush Parsipur (translation available from Syracuse University Press, 1998)
Neshat’s story is about four women living in 1953 when a coup ousted the President Mohammed Mosaddeq in favor of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. (In case you haven’t heard of Mosaddeq, and I had to look him up, he was an elected leader in Iran, who the CIA and the British intelligence deposed, putting in the Shah of Iran with his repressive reign. And that is only one of the reasons the people in the Middle East are angry at the U.S. and Britain.)
One woman is a communist; one is a prostitute; one an older women who had been a singer, but her husband didn’t allow her to sing; and the last is a woman who is concerned about the importance of virginity.
No Silent Witness
No Silent Witness: The Eliot Parsonage Women and Their Unitarian World (Oxford University Press, 2010)Dr. Cynthia Grant-Tucker's 2010 biography, "No Silent Witness," follows three generations of ministers’ daughters, mothers, and wives in one of America’s most influential Unitarian dynasties: the family of Abby Adams Cranch and William Greenleaf Eliot. Shifting the center of gravity from pulpits to parsonages, and from confident sermons to whispered doubts, it humanizes the Eliot saints, demystifies their liberal religion, and lifts up a largely unsung female vocation.
Spanning 150 years from the early 19th century forward, the narrative probes the women’s defining experiences: the deaths of numerous children, the anguish of infertility, persistent financial worries, and the juggling of the often competing demands that parishes make on first ladies.
Here, too, we see the matriarch’s granddaughters scripting larger lives as they skirt traditional marriage and women’s usual roles in the church. They follow their hearts into same-sex unions and blaze new trails as they carve out careers in public health service and preschool education.
These stories are linked by the women’s continuing battles to speak and make themselves heard over the thundering clerical wisdom that contradicts their reality.
I found the book to be a fascinating read, mostly because Dr. Tucker's narrative of these women's lives quickly pulled me in to "see" for myself what they had gone through. Especially in a world where our foremothers' stories remain largely untold, the female perspective on history really brings new light to the past. Unitarian-Univeraliststs have our revered historical figures of the 19th century, but No Silent Witness gives a rounded-out view of their lives and times.
Her research into each woman is thorough. Genealogical charts and a family roster are provided to give the reader more solid information to bring all the stories into a whole. She makes every effort to show the struggles of each woman in attempting to keep in her life some kind of balance between her own needs and those of others. Their varying level of success speaks to us in a very personal way, as Tucker delves into their personal qualities, hopes, dreams and emotions.Author of the acclaimed Prophetic Sisterhood, Tucker also offers an online Discussion Kit for groups, www.nosilentwitness.org.
Florida NE Cluster Women's Retreat
“Great planning and presentation! Wonderful inclusion of participants! Collage activity was a delightful journey along the path of individual creativity and self-expression.” What a wonderful experience.” “Great weekend.” “This has been an enriching experience.” “Time to reflect,time to share, time to be joyous and time to be creative. I loved the ritual, the meditation and the creative activity.” Thank you, this has been a wonderful way to connect with other women.” “By the time the date arrived for this retreat, I really had not wanted to come. I must say I am leaving with energy and sorrow that it is over. Thank you.” “Loved the music, loved the collage, and unfortunately loved the food!” “Perfect weekend.” “What a marvelous way to join with otherUU women in spirit, song and feast.”
Pacific Central District Women's Retreat
Geri Kennedy reports, "We did have a wonderful retreat with 53 women. Workshops ranging from Immigration issues to Tarot reading. We had a lovely croning ceremony for 10 women too!"
SW UU Women's Conference
SouthWest UU Women held their 25th annual Conference, "Generation NEXXT" in Dallas Texas on March 3-5. Despite their keynote speaker having to cancel at the last minute due to family illness, the SWUUW women were up to the challenge. Participants commented:
"Big Bad Gina ROCKED! It was so fun to dance to their music, and just be entertained by them!"
"I thought Intern Rev. Megan [Dalby-Jones] did a very good job of delivering the message that Rev. Tambra Lebak was to have given."