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Panelists Discuss Women And Their Search For Religion

For The Heights

Published: Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

faith 3/1

Graham Beck / Heights Editor

On Feb. 27, Salt & Light hosted a panel discussion co-sponsored by The Women's Resource Center, the St. Thomas More Society, Orthodox Christian Fellowship, and Cura. The second of a series of talks, the panel discussed the meaning of being a woman of faith, furthering the recent discussions regarding sexist attitudes, particularly around sexuality, on BC's campus.

Marina McCoy and Jennie Purnell, Boston College professors in philosophy and political science, respectively, and Chelsea Echenique, a graduate student in the School of Theology and Ministry, were the three panelists profiled.

Echenique, who attended Duke University, previously worked for a therapeutic community for recovering addicts. She started off the discussion by emphasizing the importance of looking to God and not to others for validation.

"Too often you are trying to pour yourself out to others," she said, "but your cup is empty," referring to the modern student's efforts to conform to a certain societal image and cater to the vast majority of the people within their communities. She impressed upon the attendees that, before you give yourself to others, you must first "let God fill your cup" so that you may "see yourself as God sees you."

McCoy first addressed the need for students and adults alike to set aside a sacred place and a set time each day for prayer. This, she said, does more to bring us back to what is important in life than anything else. McCoy then stressed the notion of what she called the "call of the everyday"—that is, to be better at being in a loving relationship with people and to see the holiness in them. Every person we come into contact with on a daily basis is holy and deserves attention, because in her eyes God indeed is "crazily creative" with each and every individual.

Finally, Purnell discussed the role of gender in the way we talk about God. Growing up, she did not identify herself as a person of faith. However, her late 30s proved a defining period. Understanding that truly loving each other is a profoundly difficult thing to do, her view of the Trinity evolved from "two guys and a ghost" into a tri-partite relationship of love. She now attends a silent retreat once a year, saying that this period of time is crucial to her becoming closer to God and to those closest in her life.

Following the three speeches, the floor was opened up to a question and answer session. Students probed an assortment of topics, ranging from gay marriage and abortion to more pointed questions concerning the panelists' individual experiences and difficulties. The overall discourse even allowed men to voice their questions and concerns about gender and what it means to be male and in a relationship with God. Ultimately, this session built on the groundwork set forth in the first of the series' conversations and set the stage for those to come

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