For the past month or so, I’ve taken a necessary step back from social media and from posting on the Lydia site. This is partly due to responsibilities I have in my academic post. But also I’ve been overwhelmed and discouraged by the gravity of the issues facing women in the Christian church and more widely. And those feelings haven’t gone anywhere. A few weeks ago, I had a panic attack in my office and then, the week before last, I broke down giving a short presentation on my research to my colleagues. Last week, I attended a conference in Holland on marital captivity and learned about the global scale on which women, including Christian women, are abused, held captive, humiliated, and debased. I talked with a new friend there about the strange guilt we felt at our own deep sadness. What right had we to talk of our feelings, knowing what we do of what our sisters suffer? We who have been given so much.
I write this to say we at the Lydia Center are here, we are listening, and we are working, slowly as it may go. I delivered a more polished version of my paper on divorce sermons at the conference last week, and I am moving ahead with getting that work published. I am preparing a grant proposal to expand the work on sermons, to look more broadly at how pastors talk about divorce as well as womanhood, marriage, and the like. I have collected around 400 texts on consent which will make explicit how the Christian community talks about marital rape. Mark is continuing his research on a major volume dealing with gender and marriage from a theological perspective. The Lydia Symposium talks are now completely edited and will be available shortly. We are also slowly building up contacts which will help the Lydia Center get to grips with these complex issues. Work is slow, but it is steady. We at the Lydia Center may go quiet from time to time, but we are still here.