Workshops and Retreats

What I have to offer as a Retreat leader:

Using my own writing and that of writers who have influenced my thinking I lead women and men into rethinking their assumptions about the Bible. I am a great believer in the importance of context in the Biblical stories and any stories that reveal who we are as people. I am convinced that many of the tragedies and violence throughout our history have been justified, and excused through the ignorant or deliberate misreading of the Scriptures of the various faiths. This includes Christianity, the faith I practice.

My themes are these:

1. How do we read the Bible?
How can we read the Bible not as blueprint but as a vehicle to God’s revelation about God’s character? How can we avoid the pitfalls of a literal interpretation which, instead of revealing truth, hides it under words? What does the Biblical story say about us and to us, today?

2. The Context of the First Century.
Another topic I have chosen to teach in a retreat or one-day-setting is this: What caused a sect within Judaism to overcome the cruelty and power of the Roman Empire eventually? What gave courage to the dispirited disciples after the crucifixion? The First Century has much to teach us, and the similarities to our age are scary.
3. Lent
Because of my book, Walking the Way of Sorrows: Stations of the Cross, I have been leading a guided walk through Lent for people eager for a more meaningful Lent. What did it mean to be a bystander on the Via Dolorosa? What did it mean to be a participant? What is the difference with us today—as bystanders and participants?

4. Women
Most of my writing is a result of my thinking on the role of women in the Christian faith and the intriguing references to women in both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. Speaking for Ourselves and Seeing for Ourselves are the books dealing exclusively with women. I found that the best way to know them and understand them is to use the masterful vehicle of Robert Browning, the dramatic monologue. To date I have written in the voices of 83 different women and quite a few men. These monologues have been well received by contemporary women. I started writing about women with the hope that the misconceptions of the ages would be forgotten, that we would look at these stories with new eyes and hear them with new ears so that the characters would come alive for us and become living, throbbing, hurting, laughing and loving human beings.

5. What did St. Paul really say about women?
New scholarship and writings on St. Paul have been correcting the misconceptions in the traditional interpretation of the great epistle writer. We now know that some of the doubtful ones, like the pastoral epistles, were not written by him. We also know that misunderstanding specific passages has caused untold harm to those who were enslaved by unjust people and societies and to countless women through the centuries. We need to pay attention. Women and men respond to this retreat theme.

6. The tragedy of the Palestinians
Who are the Palestinians? And who are the Israelis? Are they really the descendants of the Hebrew people whose prophets taught us about justice and about the character of God? It is impossible to learn the truth about the Palestinians from the regular press. And it is a tragedy that Christian fundamentalists forget all about love and justice when speaking of Palestinians. I base these themes on my own visits to the Middle East and on many interviews with Palestinian people.

Writing workshops

My most successful workshop/retreats have been with women who are writers but need some encouragement and training in their craft. These workshops take place in a beautiful conference center in Valle Crucis, North Carolina, near Boone.