Tuesday 10 June 2008

Throwing down stories next to each others stories at feminist theology

We have finished this year's course of feminist theology evenings with a slap up sumptuous supper preceded by an hour and a half of prompted and impromptu story telling. With gentleness and respect more than two thirds of those present told a story or parable - some from real life, some remembered tales from childhood, some feminist re-workings of biblical material.
It was a special time, inspired for me by J.K. Gayle's feminist reworking of the Wheat and tares in Matthew 13.24-30 which I had fun - and difficulties - translating into French. That and the Walter Wink quote about struggling with the text until it wounds and blesses us were our starting points as we threw down our stories next to other stories and built meaning upon meaning. (interesting that the French for wound is blesser...)
On the one hand it was an essentially post modernist exercise, on the other it seemed as old as time itself as we sat around and told tales. It seemed right that the longest, most personal and most literarily pleasing story was told last by someone who did not know she was going to tell that story when she arrived. At the end all of our stories made sense thrown down next to one another. Meaning was woven and we were in many ways satisfied even before we sat down to eat all around one long table.
I really want to write more about this but am in need of some sleep after the night train back from Rome earlier in the week and my very early morning appointment with a train to Bremen tomorrow. Not sure my train will be internet enabled - not sure I'll even be awake enough to find out.


J. K. Gayle said...

Welcome back, Jane, however briefly. bon voyage. again.

When you return, please do tell us more. And if you have it, we'd love to hear your translation! (If need be, I'll send you the Greek and my English, as my blog is down until I finish my dissertation).

Jane said...

JK thanks for your comment. I've tried to reply at least twice before but my internet connection in Germany was to say teh least flaky...

I will try and post the French here when I have a moment - we had fun with the female gardener idea which I translated as jardinière - which is a sort of posh flowerpot! anyway one of the people at the group came up with the idea of the word la paysageiste which is rather good.
Anyway even in my hamfisted French translation I think your reworking of the text worked well - it was fresh and helped to loosen peoples tongues to share things. it was a powerful evening.
Hope the writing of the thesis is going well - although I've only been the observer in the process I do know what it's like and our chaotic living accommodation still speaks more of library and archive than home! We go to the UK for Dr B's graduation next week - and then I think I may stop travelling for a little while!

Jane said...

JK here's teh French alongside your English - it's not perfect but it served us well on that evening.

MAny thanks


Il jetait une autre histoire à côté de leurs histoires personnelles

Le palais royal dans les cieux est comme quelqu’une
Qui plante de bonnes semences dans son jardin
Puis pendant que le people dort
Son ennemi vient planter des graines de mauvaises herbes parmi les semences de fleurs et s’en va
Au moment où les fleurs fleurissent les mauvaises herbes apparaissent aussi
les ouvriers du jardin allait voir la paysagiste lui dire
« Madame, n'avez-vous pas planté des semences de fleurs au jardin?
D'où viennent alors les mauvaises herbes? »
Elle répondait « C'est mon ennemi qui a fait ça. »
« Voulez-vous que l'on abattent les mauvaises herbes? » demandaient les ouvriers.
« Non, en les abattant vous abattrez en même temps les fleurs.
Qu'elles poussent ensemble jusqu'au moment où il faut couper les fleurs pour les bouquets. A ce moment là je dirai aux fleuristes – abattez les mauvaises herbes et mettez les en piles à brûler, mettez les fleurs dans mes vases. »

He threw another story beside their own personal stories:

The royal palace in the skies is like someone
who planted good seeds in her garden
and while the people were asleep
her enemy came and planted the seeds of weeds among the seeds of flowers
and went away.
When the flowers flowered
then the weeds also appeared.
The garden attendants came to the gardener,
and said to her,
"Ma'am, didn't you plant flower seeds in the garden?
Where do the weeds come from?"
The gardener told them, "My enemy did this."
"Do you want us to go and whack them down?"
said the garden attendants.

"No, in whacking down the weeds you would whack down the flowers.
Let both grow together until it's time to cut the flowers for the arrangements.
Then I'll tell the flower arrangers,
'Now whack the weeds and rake them in piles to burn,
but put the flowers in my vases.'"

J. K. Gayle said...

Votre traduction est belle, Jane!

Observez les lis sauvages! Ils poussent sans se fatiguer à tisser des vêtements. Pourtant, je vous l'assure, le roi Salomon lui-même, dans toute sa gloire, n'a jamais été aussi bien vêtu que l'un d'eux!

Jane said...

Ah oui les fleurs des champs!
(by the way on peut se tutoyer - I managed to vousvoie God the first time I was invited to lead prayers in the church I was candidating in the North of France)
Alors monsieur il faut que tu bosses un peu je pense!