Challenging the image of God
Somewhere along the feminist path, the push for inclusive language and imagery lost its momentum — particularly in the area of religion — says Sandra Smith. And on Thursday, Oct. 13, she and a number of other women (and maybe a few men) are going to try to find out why — with the help of author Sara Evans, a distinguished professor of history at the University of Minnesota.
“We used to be asking questions about why exclusive language, and really trying to incorporate more inclusive language,” says Smith, the director of the Asheville-based nonprofit Holy Ground. “And somehow, that’s not happening anymore. And why is that? Why is that happening now?”
A key facet of the 11-year-old organization’s work is coordinating retreats. “As a feminist organization, we like to bring people together to look at how the world impacts women’s lives,” Smith explains. In this case, the focus will be on images in religious language, with guidance from one of the premier scholars on the subject.
“The most fundamental religious/patriarchal image is that God — clearly male — created man in his own image, and that woman was a bit of an afterthought and clearly subordinate and secondary within creation,” says Evans. “In many ways, she notes, “Our culture’s built-in assumptions that men should be in control rest … on that foundational story.”
Evans has written five books on women’s history, her latest being Tidal Wave: How Women Changed America at Century’s End (Free Press, 2003). Her presentation is co-sponsored by UNCA’s women’s studies and interdisciplinary studies programs.
Following Evans’ talk, small-group discussions will focus on personal experiences and the struggle for inclusive language and images of the holy.
“In the Image of God: Exploring Religious and Patriarchal Images and Language” happens Oct. 13 from 7-8:30 p.m. in UNCA’s Owen Conference Center. To reserve a space, call Holy Ground at 236-0222 (e-mail: email@example.com). A $10 donation is suggested.
— Nelda Holder
• Oct. 5 candidate forum: The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2005 Candidates’ Forum for Asheville mayoral and Council candidates takes place from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Resort. Reservations are required (including lunch, $10/members, $20/nonmembers) and can be made by calling 258-6118.
• Oct. 6 catfish dinner: Meet and greet Asheville City Council candidate Keith Thomson at a catfish dinner at Recreation Park picnic shelter (adjacent to the WNC Nature Center), 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.
• Oct. 9 political pizza party: The Bryan Freeborn campaign will host a Political Pizza Party in the Montford neighborhood on Sunday from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Pearson Community Gardens (northern end of Pearson Drive). The event includes pizzas from the wood-fired brick oven, local music, progressive politics and a chance to meet the candidate. Call 251-2176 for more information.
• Oct. 10 town hall meeting: Asheville Citizens for Quality Government will hold a town hall session to assess candidates for City Council at 7 p.m. on Monday in the ballroom of the Haywood Park Hotel. Asheville citizens, along with the ACQG steering committee, will be seeking consensus on candidate “grades.”
• Oct. 17 council forum: Finalists for the Asheville City Council election will participate in a public forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters at the Renaissance Asheville Hotel at 7 p.m. Mayoral finalists will also be on hand for a meet-the-candidates session.
• Primary voter deadlines: One-stop absentee voting is available through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and for one last morning this Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Board of Elections office, 189 College Street. Absentee ballots being returned by mail must be received by the BOE no later than Monday, Oct. 10. The primary election date is Tuesday, Oct. 11, with voting at all county precincts from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. For further information, contact the Buncombe County Board of Elections at 250-4200 or visit www.buncombecounty.org/governing/depts/Election.
[Candidates, organizations and citizens: Send your campaign-event news — as far in advance as possible — to (fax) 251-1311, or “Campaign Calendar,” Mountain Xpress, P.O. Box 144, Asheville, NC 28802.]
The race against bad reality TV
Tell Ironwood Media Group owner/director Kurt Mann that reality television is on the way out and he doesn’t even blink. Mann is busy wrapping up the pilot for his new reality show, The Human Race, but even the news that a recent Associated Press/TV Guide poll found more than half of TV viewers disenchanted with the increasingly unreal format doesn’t seem to faze him.
“What we’ve created is an answer to what’s wrong with a lot of reality programming,” says Mann, pointing to a computer monitor displaying footage from the show. “There’s nothing wrong with the format; the problem is that the stories that are being told have become so ridiculous and so meaningless to watch that it’s turning a lot of people off.
“I’m hoping I can appeal to people that are part of that 44 percent of people that don’t like reality television,” he adds.
On the surface, The Human Race may not look all that different from any other competition-themed reality show. Contestants in two teams vie against each other in a variety of contests, each hoping to edge out the other for prizes. But unlike some such fare, The Human Race has a socially conscious message: The show is all about the trials and tribulations of trying to create a sustainable and environmentally friendly culture.
It may sound like something of a tough sell, but with help from the likes of green-friendly country-music icon Willie Nelson (who pops up in the show’s pilot), Mann believes the series could find itself on any one of a half-dozen cable networks within the next year. And before that happens, he hopes to give the show a local screening, to give Asheville residents a heads-up on what homegrown TV reality may be headed their way.
— Steve Shanafelt