Category Archives: Faith

Choosing a Cause: A Reflection on Orlando

by Jodi Koslow Martin

It takes time to fully process any tragedy. When it is the mass shooting that happened in Orlando, we read how others respond. For many of us, reading others’ responses and listening to the news reports becomes all-consuming. It is for me.

How should I, as an individual, respond? How should the Christian university where I work respond? In reading the updates on Facebook, news sites, my twitter feed, and listening to NPR, I am left to believe that I should take up a cause. Or causes. And all are noble and worthy. We should pray. We should favor stronger gun control laws because there are more places to buy a gun in the United States than there are Starbucks in the world. We should end homophobia. We should be appalled by the possibility of the Republican candidate becoming president.

Yet, I am a pragmatic dreamer, if there ever was such a thing. So, I am choosing a cause and I invite you to join me. Let’s choose the cause of higher education.

In colleges and universities, especially those committed to the liberal arts, we see the impact of education. Students become critical thinkers and, at an even more basic level than describing the kind of skills they develop, they are exposed to new ways of understanding people that make a real difference and develop their character. It is in our classrooms, in the residence halls, in the cafeteria, in the diversity office, in chapel, and on the playing field that students experience people different from themselves. Campuses committed to recruiting and retaining students of color, students on the spectrum, students who identify as LGBTQ, students who were born in another country, students of various socio-economic statuses, students who are practicing Christians, students who follow Islam…it is in the spaces where all these students come together around the common goal of pursuing a bright future where the most impactful education takes place. It is in these spaces where students see their peers not as “others” but as friends and as community members. To stop having others feel like “the other,” we have to commit to inclusion and equity not because these words are trendy in higher education or politically correct but because it is how America the Beautiful stays home of the free. And, we may be encouraging students to consider something different than what was taught by their families or past teachers. We may be exposing them to ideas that are not their understanding of truth. Our cause is to walk alongside students as they walk alongside each other in their education and in the pursuit of their dreams — dreams that should live on in thriving communities rather than in a society desensitized to the phrase “mass shooting.”

Those at Pulse in Orlando were in a safe space. In the club, these individuals were free of being judged. Those who lost their lives lose them in utter fear. To add to the devastation, their families now have a record of this fear.

Why do we embrace feminist leadership? Because if we accept the core concepts of feminist leadership — to bring together all voices, to foster collaboration — we are preparing safe spaces. As I reflect upon Orlando and think about my work as a Christian educator, I find that God’s work can be done in memory of those who lost their lives in Orlando. We commit to providing safe spaces for our students to ask questions, to figure out how to engage in inquiry, to not be fearful, and to be their best and most authentic selves.

“We rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer
And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.” – Lin-Manuel Miranda

Fill the Confidence Gap with Confident Hope

by Jodi Koslow Martin

I really like the magazine, The Atlantic. It delves deep into topics that are of interest to me and has some good writing. I’m a fan of Variety Fair, too, for the same reasons. It is The Atlantic, though, that retreats from the celebrity arena and instead has had some pretty interesting cover stories on women and gender. Ann-Marie Slaughter’s “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” Jean Twenge’s “How Long Can You Wait to Have a Baby?” And, now “The Confidence Gap” by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. If you are reading this blog, you likely have experienced the confidence gap. You may have refrained from applying for a job or pursuing a promotion because you thought you weren’t ready for said job or promotion. Then, when you got the job or promotion, you may have thought, “Wow, the candidate pool must have been pretty small.”  And, you have likely never said the following words: “Yeah, I got that job because I know I was better than everyone else.” The confidence gap is the idea that women have significantly less confidence than men. In turn, the argument that women aren’t at the upper echelons of power is due, in part, to our lack of confidence.

This idea reminds me of a meeting I was in this week. I was at the table with all the vice presidents of the university (I am one of them) and the president. The only other female vice president was not there. I noticed it instantly. Continue reading Fill the Confidence Gap with Confident Hope

Feminism of Today and Faith from Long Ago

by Jodi Koslow Martin

I’ve always, for as long as I can remember, been drawn to the story of Mary the mother of Jesus. It could have been playing her in the 3rd grade Christmas play that ended with the big finale – not the birth of Christ, as you’d expect, but rather the entire class singing Bette Midler’s The Rose. Even after I took off the pillowcase sewn into a veil for my starring role, Mary and her story have stayed with me even into adulthood.

All of my favorite biblical stories involve Mary. The angel Gabriel telling her she’s going to be a mom.  “Are you kidding me?” is essentially her first response. Mary telling Jesus to fill up the wine glasses at the wedding at Cana. “Mom, it’s not time.” “Yes, it is. I’m your mother and know best.” I’m paraphrasing, of course, but her responses are always so authentic.  It’s Mary’s visit to Elizabeth that I think about often.  Two women, both pregnant, one as the older mentor to the young girl. Continue reading Feminism of Today and Faith from Long Ago