Patriarchal Bias Can't Nullify the Word

Image of FutureChurch's Women and the Word electronic postcard.

"I do not believe revelatory value of scripture is nullified because it comes from a biased point of view," said biblical scholar Sr. Dianne Bergant at FutureChurch's second Women and the Word: Bridging the Gaps conference held November 6 at Call To Action in Milwaukee. Sr. Dianne pointed out that the writers of biblical literature, like all humans, were biased. The bible is written from a patriarchal and androcentric world view. Even when the main protagonist in a bible story was female, she was "pushing the male agenda" because the writers of the story were men. "Nevertheless," reminded Bergant, "there is no such thing as an unbiased point of view. We are all biased."

Bergant believes the recognition of bias can be a positive tool because it forces us to reexamine how we manage multiple points of view. We must begin to think for ourselves rather than indiscriminately take in the opinions into which we have been socialized. Therefore says Bergant, "Neither the Bible's patriarchal origins nor its androcentric perspectives nullifies the revelatory possibilities for theological reflection." The key is not so much to retell the biblical story for what it said to people then, but to resignify it for what it says to us today. She encouraged recognition of the Word of God in us, too, and, while being aware of bias, we must mine the theological message meant for today. Perhaps the most memorable of Sr. Dianne's many memorable quotes was this: "Why is God always on the side of the poor? We are not caring for the poor so God needs to do it." And who are the poor? In biblical times as today, they are primarily women and children.

The morning keynote from Sr. Dianne was good news to the nearly eighty women and men who gathered to learn and strategize ways of overcoming obstacles to gender balance in church preaching and proclamation. In the afternoon, Sr. Chris Schenk spoke about FutureChurch's work at the Synod on the Word and suggested concrete strategies people can use at home to "put women back in the biblical picture." (see strategies below)

Photograph of Ms. Barbara Guerin, Sr. Dianne Bergant, and Sr. Chris Schenk.(l to r) Ms. Barbara Guerin, Sr. Dianne Bergant and Sr. Chris Schenk speak at CTA preconference presentation on Women and the Word: Bridging the Gap. Photo by Joan Brausch

Parish Women's Ministries

Ms. Barbara Guerin shared her powerful and often amusing experiences of reactivating a women's ministry group in her Southern California parish. "When we started, the main purpose of the group was to bake 4,000 cookies for the Knights of Columbus…I knew that wasn't going to work anymore," Guerin said. Over the course of several years the group expanded its mission to include spiritual formation, and changed its image from "women's auxiliary to men's ministries" to a "ministry of women, by women, to women." Said Guerin: "We were experts at service and socializing. We weren't so good at forming our spiritual lives." To address the challenges, the women's group initiated a series of monthly speakers on scripture, theology, prayer and social justice. The women learned to identify their spiritual development and beliefs, the importance of collaborating with young adult and family ministries, and "don't forget the fun!"

Women and the Word Strategies


Send your paper or electronic postcard to Cardinal Llovera, and cc: Synod Council members. Visit for more info on the synod project, to send an electronic postcard, order paper postcards and forward an email to your friends.

Photograph of Emily Holtel Hoag.Emily Holtel Hoag energetically presides over brisk sales of FutureChurch's many education/advocacy resources. Photo by David Gawlik
Photograph of participants at FutureChurch's Women and the Word: Bridging the Gaps conference.Nearly 80 participants develop strategies to "bridge the gap" between the inclusive practice of Jesus and St. Paul and the practice in the Church today. (visit for outcomes). Photo by David Gawlik

Focus on FutureChurch

Fall 2009


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