The women of WIT are excited to announce the addition of new regular contributors and guest posters to the blog! We received applications from women all around the world who are engaging theology from a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. We had to make some difficult choices from the applications that we received because it is just not possible to accept everyone all at once. But, we hope to expand again in the future and encourage all our readers to apply or reapply when we put out our next call for contributors.
Starting in April, we are adding the following women as regular contributors: Alexandria Barbera, Allison Murray, Alyssa Pasternak Post, Courtney Hall Lee, Hilary J. Scarsella, Jane Barter, Mandy Rodgers-Gates, Maria McGuire, and Rebecca Krier. You can read their bios below. We also added five other women as regular guest posters and will introduce them with their bios when they make their first posts.
Join us in welcoming our new WIT bloggers!
Alexandria Barbera is enrolled in the Masters of Theological Studies program at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, where she specializes in Biblical Studies. Prior to this, she completed a B.A. (Honours) in English Literature at Queen’s University. Alexandria is, by nature, intellectually curious and remains broadly interested in almost everything under the sun, as the narrator of Ecclesiastes might say. Alas, she believes she has finally found an area of research to commit herself to, though the temptation to wander remains strong. She is currently working on finishing her thesis in which she examines the theology of scriptural inspiration from a biblical and contextual perspective. Particularly, she is investigating the meaning of 2 Timothy 3:16–Christianity’s cornerstone verse on this subject–in relationship to the broader literary themes and overarching discourse of the pastoral epistles. Her contextual approach is necessarily a comparative one, and she is also studying the primary sources written during the Second Temple period that likewise speak of a divinely inspired text. Alexandria’s interest in the notion of a divinely inspired text is probably a result of a few things, like her incurable reverence for literature in general. Perhaps more significantly, this interest is a by-product of her evangelical experience, in which the Bible played an enormous role in shaping her theology, spiritual sensibility, and general epistemological outlook. That the biblical text continues to influence Christian expression and epistemology within evangelicalism so profoundly, especially with regards to sex and gender, is yet another reason she remains committed to the responsible study of scripture, and the hermeneutical issues that underpin the application of the sacred text to the life of faith. She is a hobbyist poet, and believes strongly that all malcontent can be cured by burning a fancy candle or drinking good artisanal tea. She is a proud committee member of her school’s forthcoming Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) chapter.
Allison Murray completed a Masters of Theological Studies at Conrad Grebel University College within the University of Waterloo in 2012. She is now working on a PhD in the History of Christianity at Emmanuel College within the Toronto School of Theology. Currently in the exam stage, her doctoral work focuses on how Evangelicals in North America responded to ‘the women’s movement’ through the latter half of the twentieth century. When she (eventually) gets to her dissertation she plans to write a historical account of reactionary anti-feminism amongst neo-Calvinist Evangelicals. Historical notions of gender and their relationship to prevailing theologies have been the bread and butter of her research projects throughout her academic career. She is totally fascinated by the ways that Christians have (explicitly and implicitly) articulated theology of gender, and how gendered notions of identity have shaped ideas about holy living in different communities and historical periods. Allison’s major research project during her MTS compared various understandings of women and womanhood espoused by sixteenth-century religious reformers. She has also looked at gender in American fundamentalism, the ‘Quiverfull’ movement, women’s participation in temperance advocacy, and gendered spaces in post-secondary institutions. Outside of academics, Allison’s life is shaped by the intentional community she lives in with three other women and her deep love for her honourary nieces and nephews, riding her bike, baking, beer, and British television.
Alyssa Pasternak Post graduated from the University of Dayton with a Master’s in Theological Studies. During her graduate work she loved thinking and writing about theology in the context of her native Appalachia, particularly focusing on the history and impact of the pastoral letter This Land Is Home to Me as Appalachian liberation theology. The birth of her daughters, along with a growing sense of the interconnectivity of the cosmos, influence some of her current theological interests and questions: the role of women in church and society; the use of inclusive and expansive language about God in liturgy as being a truthful way of naming God; the historic negation of women’s creativity and interpretation of beauty in the liturgy, art and architecture; the work of Ilia Delio; and creative, playful engagement with tradition, including the Fresh Expressions movement. While raised and educated in the Roman Catholic tradition, Alyssa and her family moved formally into the fellowship of the Episcopal Church on the Feast of the Visitation. At present Alyssa is filled with gratitude for a few years of stay-at-home parenting (including a one-year adventure in homeschooling) and is excited to begin a new full-time ministry among children, youth and families at an urban Episcopal church. She looks forward to ongoing reflection on theology and practice in community, to scruffy hospitality, and to urban life. Alyssa enjoys being in nature, experimenting in her messy garden, and all the hilarious and joyful daily moments that life with little ones brings.
Casey Stanton received a B.A. in the Program of Liberal Studies in 2007 from the University of Notre Dame and completed a Master of Divinity at Duke Divinity School in 2016. Reared in Medford, Massachusetts, Stanton is the daughter of Jewish-Catholic parents who were committed to faith and politics, resulting in a daughter whose religious imagination is both liturgical and liberative. Stanton’s work as a community organizer introduced her to the power of the Holy Spirit moving through varied ecclesial spaces to create justice in the land of the living. Her time in the labor movement fueled her desire for large-scale political change. And her tenure in divinity school unleashed her vocational passion for preaching the Word. She is thirsty for theological discourses that bear witness to the power of the resurrection: particularly for those whose lives are marked by violence, incarceration and abuse. In her current city of Durham, NC, she hosts weekend poetry readings and weeknight dance parties in the living room with her two small children and partner, Felipe. She prays for intercession to Our Lady Un-doer of Knots, Mary Magdalene, and the patron saints of impossible causes.
Courtney Hall Lee is a student at Hartford Seminary. She is an attorney, earning her JD from Case Western Reserve School of Law in 2005. Prior to law school, she earned her A.B. in English from Dartmouth College where she graduated in 2002. Courtney has served as an assistant law director in Cleveland Heights, OH and has owned her own law practice in Hartford, CT. She regularly contributes to Sojourners Online, a national magazine focusing on issues of faith and social justice. Courtney is working on her first monograph with the working title Black Madonna: A Womanist Look at Mary of Nazareth, which will be published by Cascade Books, an imprint of Wipf and Stock. She is also working on a future project about women and head coverings. Courtney’s writing focuses on the intersection of race, gender and Christianity in America. In 2015 she presented a paper titled “Say Her Name: An Analysis of Jesus’ Interactions with Invisible Women and the Black Lives Matter/Say Her Name Movements” at the Boston University School of Theology conference on Religious Diversity: Conflict, Cooperation, and Creolization. She is interested in womanist theology and issues of religion and law. Courtney lives in an 1890 Victorian house in Hartford with her husband, daughter and toy poodle. She loves coffee, Twitter and the Book of Common Prayer.
Hilary J. Scarsella is a PhD student in Theological Studies at Vanderbilt University with a minor in Religion, Psychology and Culture and a graduate certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies. She holds an MDiv from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Theology & Ethics with a concentration in Peace Studies. Broadly speaking, she is interested in the relationship of traumatic experience to religious faith, praxis and liberative movements for survival and well-being. Her research tends to the intersection of womanist, mujerista and feminist theologies with ritual theory, trauma theory and theo-poetics. She looks at the role of the performance of specific Christian liturgical practices in exacerbating, interrupting or working toward the transformation of systems that traumatize. She also pursues christological questions in light of trauma theory. What does it mean for the discipline of theology that it developed, historically, as a response to the perceived trauma of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection? What does it mean to render a traumatic event theologically productive? How is crucifixion, as a site of trauma that informs Christian theological discourse, raced, sexed, and gendered? Conversely, how might theology reveal the gaps and limits of trauma theory or call for a broadening of its scope? Hilary’s research is deeply informed by both her ongoing work with survivors of sexualized violence and her previous years of work in Iraqi Kurdistan with local organizers striving for just peace in communities affected by generations of multifaceted warfare. Hilary is the Public Educator for OurStoriesUntold.com, a blog that provokes conversation about sexualized violence in religious contexts and extends community to people who have experienced that violence. She is also a founding member of SNAP-Menno, the Mennonite chapter of Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests. Outside of scholarship and activism, Hilary loves all things creative: jewelry-making, painting, dance, photography. She has almost too much enthusiasm for digging in the dirt and watching plants grow that sprout food, color and ecological health.
Jane Barter is Associate Professor in the Department of Religion and Culture at The University of Winnipeg. She holds a PhD from the University of Saint Michael’s College in Toronto. Her research interests include Christian political thought, feminist theory, and continental philosophy of religion. She is particularly interested in the manner in which religions can give rise to social and political change. She has published two monographs of Christian Theology: Lord, Giver of Life (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2006) and Thinking Christ: Christology and Contemporary Critics (Fortress Press, 2011). Barter has also edited two scholarly volumes: The Future of Theological Education in Canada (Toronto Journal of Theology, 2008) and Kenneth Hamilton’s The Doctrine of Humanity in the Theology of Reinhold Niebuhr (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2013). She has published several articles in feminist theory and religion in journals such as The Journal of the Mothering Initiative, Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses, Scottish Journal of Theology, and Canadian Woman Studies/cahiers de la femme. She is fond of long walks with her Lhasa Apso/soul mate, Scruffy.
Maria McGuire graduated from Loyola University, New Orleans with a Master’s Degree in Theology/Religious Education. She holds a Spiritual Direction Certificate from Mercy Center, Burlingame. With a BS in Science and trained in the Jesuit educational approach, she values both the academic and spiritual aspects of faith issues. Her theological interests are multi-faceted. Much of her focus centers upon the power of metaphor to address common human truths regardless of culture, faith perspective or gender. In particular, she contemplates Scripture with an eye towards Midrash: the stories and metaphor therein are the stories of each human being in every generation. Additionally, metaphor speaks to us through songs, movies, literature and the culture around us. She is interested in the dialogue and intersection between masculine and feminine perspectives on spirituality, believing both contribute to a balanced faith vision. She is attentive to those who experience marginalization in society and is interested in what lies at the threshold of liminality. Her work in Spiritual Direction supports her understanding of reverence for the individual journey and giftedness of all people. It is her belief that theology ought to include a “so what” factor, with an eye towards servicing the well-being, growth and understanding of humanity. She enjoys leading retreats and workshops, offering Spiritual Direction and spiritual readings. She has a keen interest and love for writing. A particular enjoyment is creating Power Point presentations that combine images with spiritual themes. She enjoys spending time with her family at sports events, on hiking trails and at home.
Mandy Rodgers-Gates is a doctoral candidate (Th.D.) at Duke Divinity School and a research fellow with the Latino Protestant Congregations Project (LPCP). She studies theological approaches to suffering, death, and sin… and tries to prevent melancholy from taking over with an interest in resurrection and eschatology. She has a particular interest in the way that suffering is addressed “on the ground” in Christian communities, especially in historically marginalized communities. She engages a menagerie of theological dialogue partners, including Jon Sobrino, Emilie Townes, Karl Barth, and Gregory of Nyssa, but her favorites by far are Archbishop Oscar Romero and the apostle Paul. Her most fulfilling moments in academia have come in facilitating the question-asking and truth-seeking of students engaged in ministry. Her greatest privilege is regularly walking alongside ministers in Central America, as teacher and student. Growing up evangelical and attending Wheaton College as an undergraduate, she continues to be invested in seeing evangelicals become the best version of themselves. In fact, she first became globally minded, social-justice-oriented, and feminist at Wheaton College. (Truly!) She has long loved women and desired their flourishing, from seeing her aunts in emotionally abusive relationships to practicing as a birth doula to spending several years as a stay-at-home mom. She enjoys red wine, Latino rock, and time with her amazing friends and family. She and her fellow globe-trotting husband balance time overseas with childcare responsibilities. She thinks her three kids are pretty cool people to hang out with.
Rebecca Krier is a master’s student in educational research at the University of Cambridge. She also holds an MAR from Yale Divinity School where she concentrated on philosophical theology. First and foremost, though, Rebecca is a teacher of middle and high school students, and is a fierce proponent of liberal arts education for everyone. Rebecca refracts her theological interests through the lens of her students. She has a special interest in teaching Early Christian and Medieval theology as a means of having students re-approach Christian ideas that they may take for granted through their religious formation. So far, she has only taught girls and has a special affection for all-girls schooling. Her research at Cambridge focuses on the connection between academic self-concept and spiritual well-being. When she is not scanning education journals, Rebecca reads US History, having undertaken a lifelong mission to read a biography of each American president.