Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted as saying, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” So it should come as no surprise that there are people in this world who are doing just that, discussing ideas, but sometimes it is a surprise who they are and the amazing influence they may be having.
So for example, the young British actor Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame, and now even more movies and fashion, who this past week started a Good Reads Group to discuss feminism, suggesting that her followers read twelve books on feminism in the next year, beginning with Gloria Steinem’s My Life on the Road. As of January 11, some 80,000 readers have joined her group.
Admittedly, Ms. Watson already had a lot of fans, and even more admirers, especially after her speech at the United Nations Headquarters to launch the “HeForShe” campaign. But what seems most remarkable is that this 25-year-old has created a space where folks are talking about ideas!
There are lots of ways to think about all this: how good it is that someone desires and is empowered to do this, what unique opportunities celebrities sometimes have, and how remarkable it is that in one post 80,000 people can join in a conversation around the globe; but the one that strikes me most deeply is the possibility that ideas can still move us!
Certainly this conversation, about how the world perceives and treats women is essential. We Presbyterians have been struggling with this for a long time and are nowhere close to where we need and want to be. But to see in this same week on Facebook a picture of the Reverend Margaret “Peggy” Howland, who was ordained as a minister of Word and Sacrament in the PC(USA) in 1958, smiling following an Easter sunrise service outside Woodside Presbyterian in Troy, NY in 1973 where she was the first woman pastor for that congregation of more than 200 members, gives us hope that while we are still on the way, the future is possible.
So, this week we give thanks for the likes of Eleanor, Emma, and Peggy, and so many other women who have blazed a way for us to talk about ideas, especially the idea that in our world and certainly in our churches, true equality for women in all aspects of life matters!
Jeff Farley is the pastor at the Otisville-Mt. Hope Presbyterian Church in Otisville, NY.