Once a month or so, a handful of girls gathers in an office to read 5000 words and eat cake and drink coffee. We usually find that a couple of the men from along the corridor manage to time their appearances at the door just right. Ostensibly, they come to make fun of us for the volume of laughter emanating from the room – but we all know that really they come for cake. It’s always homemade and it’s always very, very good. So we don’t blame them. In fact, I think we always make sure to make extra for them. 😉
The cake and the female exclusivism is why we call ourselves the W.I. most of the time – albeit that we do sometimes bandy around the term ‘the PhD-wannabes’ when we are feeling more overwhelmed than normal! It’s all tongue-in-cheek. I don’t know if any of us can knit or make jam. (Though I did get a breadmaker this Christmas and it apparently makes jam. If that counts?!) What we can do – most of the time anyway! – is to write. Screeds and screeds of the stuff. Then we read it and get a little competitive about finding typos. Well, I do anyway. Mostly to cover the fact that I don’t always have much intelligent to say about the content.
One of the things that I enjoy most about this group is that we are all writing within different disciplines. We have someone doing Old Testament, someone focusing on New, another who is an ethicist, me with my interest in leadership and a couple of others whose theological interests are equally wide-ranging. We bring a diversity of perspective when we meet; we pick up on different things and we see divergent angles.
It’s that same diversity which I love about a book that I nabbed earlier this year. From the college library, of course. I didn’t negotiate staff access two years ago without planning to make maximum use of the related ridiculously large borrowing limits. Someone had to feed my book habit, after all! Called Becoming Whole and Holy, it’s ‘an integrative conversation about Christian formation’ by three women (Brown, Dahl and Corbin Reuschling). One is an ethicist, one a social scientist and the third focuses on New Testament and hermeneutics. Each woman writes two chapters on wholeness and holiness from the perspective of her discipline and then, for each section, there is a third chapter in which the other two women join the conversation.
Maybe I’ll blog the detail of the book another time, maybe not. Perhaps it doesn’t much matter. But it has inspired me. Could the W.I. have another incarnation one day in the future – in book form? Maybe when the PhDs are written, and if the process hasn’t killed us first, maybe then two or three of us could find a topic and have another integrative conversation.
But only if it still involves homemade cake and plenty of laughter so loud that the men start to wonder if we’re having more fun than they are!