Note: Due to the holidays, Peace & Life Connections won’t be published on the next two Fridays, and will start the new year on Friday, January 4, 2019.
If you haven’t yet made an end-of-year donation to us, we would greatly appreciate it. You can donate online or find the details on mailing a check.
Strong Women against Violence
Connected to the Holidays
In the Hebrew scriptures is a story that clearly fits the theme of strong women against violence: the civil disobedience of midwives who saved the lives of babies.
From Exodus 1:15-19:
The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah. “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”
The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”
This delightful detail of the Christmas story comes when the pregnant Mary visits her kinswoman Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist.
From Luke 1:41-44:
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed . . . “As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”
Kwanzaa started in 1966 and is celebrated world-wide for people of African descent from December 26 to January 1. Each day focuses on one of seven principles.
There are, of course, innumerable strong women of African descent we could mention, including our endorser, Civil Rights Movement activist Dorothy Cotton, activist Fannie Lou Hamer, and Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai. To go deeper in history, we’ll feature a portion of a popular version of an 1851 speech by abolitionist Sojourner Truth (d. 1883).
“That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman? . . . Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman!”
Among the many cultures who’ve celebrated the naturally-occurring Winter Solstice on or about December 21 are the ancient Greeks. In this case, we feature fictitious characters, but the anti-war message is unmistakable.
Lysistrata means "releaser of war." This ancient Greek play had the women of Athens and Sparta organizing to refuse to make love to their husbands until the war stopped.
There were actual historical cases where such a "sex strike" achieved goals. For example, the Iroquois/ Haudenosaunee women around 1600 organized one to stop warring within their confederacy. More recently, Liberian women used a sex strike to help end a war.
Illustration by Barbara Waterman-Peters
Past Holiday Editions
In 2010, we showed “It’s a Wonderful Movement” by using the theme of what would happen if the peace movement and the pro-life movement hadn’t arisen (also a blog post from a year ago). We also had quotes from Scrooge (against respect for life) and a Martin Luther King Christmas sermon.
In 2011, we covered the materialism-reducing “Advent Conspiracy” and offered two pieces of children’s literature: a 1938 anti-war cartoon called “Peace on Earth,” and the anti-war origins of “Horton Hears a Who,” whose tagline – “a person’s a person, no matter how small” - is irresistible to pro-lifers.
In 2012, we featured a couple of quotes showing the pro-life aspects of two prominent Christmas tales: A Christmas Carol with Ebenezer Scrooge, and the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. We also quoted from John Dear about Jesus as peacemaker, and quoted from Rand Paul about the 1914 spontaneous Christmas Truce; Paul then related it to the culture of life.
In 2013, we shared several quotations reflecting on Christmas.
In 2014, we offered a quotation from a lesser-known Christmas novella of Charles Dickens and cited the treatment of abortion in the Zoroastrian scriptures.
In 2015, we had a list of good holiday movies with consistent-life themes – check it out for what you might want to see this season. We also had information on Muslim nonviolent perspectives to counter the stereotypes against Muslims.
In 2016, we mentioned that “The Magi were Zoroastrians” and detailed how good the Zoroastrians were on consistent-life issues.
In 2017, we covered Interfaith Peace in the Womb.
Responses/News Tips/Questions to share are all welcome.
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