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Women’s Voices of Duty and Destiny

Religious Speeches Transcending Gender

Series:

Elizabeth W. McLaughlin

This book collection is a celebration of women who speak truth to power in the public square. A perfect fit for undergraduate students of rhetoric, gender, religion and history, Women’s Voices of Duty and Destiny showcases the speech texts of 14 women addressing societal issues from the values of their religious beliefs and discourse communities. Between the tensions of the duty of gender roles and human destiny, these global voices representing different time periods and religions address the thematic issues of faith, society, education, reform, freedom and peacemaking. Written in clear, straightforward language, students will directly encounter the words and voices of leaders who strive to make the world better for all in the quest for human dignity. Each speaker seeks to forward the transcendent value of human freedom as reinforced by her explicit references to the divine. This collection is appropriate for 200-400 level undergraduate classes and offers a broad sampling of women who speak in the public square.

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Introduction

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“So, God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God, he created them; male and female he created them.”

— Genesis 1:27, New Living Translation

“God is not feminine, but masculine. And man is made in the image of God. On the other hand, a woman is not made so much in the image of God, but in the image and as a mate to man.”

— Rev. John R. Rice, “Bobbed Hair,” Sword of the Lord Ministries

Before many faces, a woman approaches the front of a gathering intending to speak. Within their gaze, they consider who she is, why she is here, if she is worthy of attention, or if she even has the right to talk. Further, if she dares to connect her topic with any religiously inspired values, what gives her this authority? Is she forsaking her duty to conform to divine sanction, to community values, or is she fulfilling her possible calling to speak truth to power? Is it possible for a woman to connect to the divine, to speak from this perspective, and to claim authority with men to address the issues of her day?

These questions and dialectical tensions resonate through the words and witness of the women who speak throughout this book. As these ← 1 | 2 → opening quotations illustrate, women often experience the tension between the limits of gendered-duty and the promise of divine-human identity and dignity...

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