Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Did Naomi traffic Ruth? an evening at feminist theology with Fulata Mbano Moyo

I'm still reeling from the shock of a contextual Bible study at our feminist theology group. My brilliant colleague Fulata Mbano Moyo led us in reading chapter 3 of the book of Ruth. But before that she spoke movingly of her own background as a child of the third wife in a polygamous marriage, her experience as a widow and mother of three. "Why is it that when a husband dies that women are often consoled by pastors and congregation that now God will be their husband. Yet when a wife dies the same pastors and congregation will console the husband that he will be able to find a younger wife?"
Fulata encouraged us to think of the trafficked women in Geneva and not to forget that contextual Bible study is about transformation. We thought about how few choices trafficked women and men have.
Then we read chapter 3 of the book of Ruth. For the first time I read it with the idea that Ruth could be seen as a trafficked woman - that Naomi could be seen as a formerly trafficked woman who encourages another woman to follow the same path, because of course there is no other path. In some ways Ruth is even a surrogate mother, bearing Naomi a child - at the end of the book everyone says "Naomi has a son".
An extraordinary and very though-provoking evening, rich in exchanges.


janetlees said...

The power of centextual bible study - sounds great! I meet Fulata in Kenya a few years ago. Certainly a thought provoking person.

J. K. Gayle said...

Powerful post and study for change in thinking and in behaviors! Thank you and thank Fulata Mbano Moyo!!

"Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that oft-times hath
Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn."
--from "Ode to A Nightingale," by John Keats