The Grace and the Mess: Religion, Feminism, and Reproductive Justice
By Sally Steenland | November 26, 2012
This interview is part of a series profiling leaders of the Faith and Reproductive Justice Leadership Institute, a project of CAP’s Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative. The Institute provides faith-based leaders working on reproductive justice with training and resources in order to strengthen and raise the visibility of their work. You can learn more about this project here.
Caryn D. Riswold is a feminist theologian in the Lutheran tradition. She is associate professor of religion and chair of gender and women’s studies at Illinois College in Jacksonville, where she has worked for over a decade teaching undergraduates to think critically and creatively about religion. She’s a blogger at Patheos where she looks at religion, politics, social justice, and pop culture. Caryn earned her doctorate degree from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, holds a master’s from the Claremont School of Theology, and received her B.A. from Augustana College in her childhood hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Below is an excerpt from the interview as it appears on the Center for American Progress
Sally Steenland: I want to ask about a post you wrote two days after the election. You called it “Now what?” What did you mean by the question? And how did you answer it?
Caryn Riswold: I wrote the post primarily because I think that especially when we are happy about an election result, as I was, we have to be reminded that there’s still a lot of work to do. It’s easy to get caught up in the celebrations—and I think there is a lot for us to celebrate in this election—but there’s also a lot of work to be done.
What I did was highlight two responses I thought were helpful and represented different perspectives. The first came from Kim Moore, a public health activist who I had the privilege to meet through the Center for American Progress. She talks about how change is an ongoing process that requires action from the collective. I like the way she said that because we still have women who need health care, veterans who need jobs. Voting is only the beginning.
The other response was from Mark Hanson, the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Very different perspective, very different work. But one of the things he says that I think is important is that we have to keep talking to each other. Whether or not we are happy with the election, or how our candidates or issues came out, we need a willingness to listen to each other and even to imagine a different way to live and work together in the world.
These are two very different people doing different work, but they’re both reminding us we have work to do and that is my fundamental answer to the question, “Now what?”