Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Between the past and the present, live in the present

Jacqueline Berenstein Wavre is pictured here speaking to us at our first evening of feminist theology for the new year. She chose words from Judges 6.14 - the vocation of Gideon - as her leitmotif for the evening - somehow I find this works and resonates much better in French than in English "Va avec la force que tu as". "Go in the strength you have" really doesn't have quite the same élan at all!

She used this phrase to talk about her life and political campaigns - about which more in a later post - but also more particularly to speak abotu what she had discovered really quite late on in life through attending our feminist theology group. "I'm not a theologian but I do have a Bible at home" she said.

Surprisingly it was an evening with Armenian Orthodox theologian Teny Pirri Simonian which gave her most pause for thought. Until then Jacqeuline admits to never having thought much about the Holy Spirit. Thinking about the spirit helped Jacqueline to look at her own life through a rather different lens and consider the energy that drove her forwards and sustained her. None of the campaigns she was involved in were won quickly. Still today she is living proof of extraordinary tenacity.

I was deeply moved to hear Jacqueline speak about her husband, whom she married when she was 40 and who was a secular Jew. He was a lawyer and Jacqueline spoke about how important law is in Judaism and how important faith is in Christianity - in French of course this has the lovely assonance of "loi et foi". In our wide ranging discussion following her presentation I mentioned that the festival of the law in Judaism was taken over in Christianity as the festival of the Spirit - Pentecost.