Launch of the online book “If not now, when?” Disturbing Feminist Issues’

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Although the essays cover a wide range of issues, they have been broadly categorized into three sections:

1]Voices from the margins 2]The personal is political 3]Patriarchy, power and the Catholic Church. They are linked by the hope of a better world.

The book will be presented by Professor Neena Joseph, researcher and trainer gender and peace issues. At the book launch, a panel of Teesta Setalvad, activist and journalist, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), Lara Jesani, Lawyer, Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and Sr. Peggy O’Neill, SC, Founder, Arts Center for Peace, El Salvador. The event will be hosted by Cedric Prakash SJ, writer, human rights and peace activist.

Below is the YouTube link that you can share with your contacts to learn more about this volume and its vision:

We look forward to you joining us.

Questions, Discomfort and Requirements Breakthrough Book Review

by Fr Cedric Prakash SJThere are books and books: some are meant to decorate the shelves, others are read and forgotten; then there are still others, when internalized they are inspiring, motivating the reader to action. ‘If not now when? Disturbing feminist issues clearly fall into the latter category. Edited by Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, Kochurani Abraham and Prashant Olalekar SJ the anthology asks serious questions, it annoys, it asks. The title says it all: disturbing feminist questions! If taken seriously, it challenges the reader to step out of their complacency and comfort zone! This is a must-read and ‘must-act-on-now’ book!

The book is divided into three sections, all interrelated:1. Voices from the margins 2. The personal is political and 3. Patriarchy, power and the Catholic Church. Twenty-five insightful essays, interviews and articles fill the nearly three hundred page tome. Contributors come from across the spectrum of society: different voices but one in heart, soul and spirit! In fact, all articles deserve independent reviews. The style throughout is racy without being superficial, raising relevant questions and simultaneously providing possible answers, the content is provocative yet dynamically positive. For the discerning reader, this doesn’t make reading comfortable – it’s not made for that – it’s to ‘worry’ and it does so with blunt questions wrapped in sensitivity and finesse! Given how entrenched clericalism and patriarchy are in church and country, there are sure to be some (or many?) who won’t like the book. It may be on the expected lines! This will only prove the arguments put forward by the authors!

In her ‘Editorial’, Astrid Lobo Gajiwala gives the DNA of the book, “this collection of essays is a chorus of feminist voices that speak truth to power, reclaim repressed spiritualities and dare to dream and oppose. It brings to the center voices from the margins, in the form of conversations (some translated from other languages) and stories of illiterate and unknown women who have paid a heavy price for refusing to be ‘silent spectators’. It celebrates grassroots movements rising up against targeted attacks on the constitutional rights of the Indian people; global campaigns fighting for women’s rights in the Church; and advocacy for earthly democracy that goes beyond human concerns towards justice for nature, the protection of livelihoods and the free sharing of the earth’s resources.

February 2022 has been a special month dedicated to nuns and other consecrated women of the Catholic Church. Pope Francis, in a style that has come to characterize him, told nuns in a video message to fight back when they are treated unfairly or “reduced to servitude” by clergymen. “I encourage all consecrated women to discern and choose what best suits their mission in the face of the challenges of the world we live in…I invite them to fight back when, in some cases, they are treated unfairly, even within from the church ; when they serve so much that they are reduced to servitude — sometimes, by men of the Church”. In many ways, this book responds to the Pope’s challenge!

In October 2021, when Prime Minister Modi visited Pope Francis, the Holy Father presented the Prime Minister with a bronze plaque with the incisive words of the Prophet Isaiah (32:15) inscribed on it and a powerful symbol engraved. However, no phrase of the prophet Isaiah stands alone; the book focuses on injustices, corruption, and wicked rulers. Quite symbolically in 32:9ff, the Prophet says: “Arise, you complacent women, listen to my voice. The anthology of women’s voices ‘If Not Now, when?’ is actually prophetic like Isaiah – an indictment of patriarchy in both church and country; an instruction for women to no longer succumb to the “symbolism” that men so condescendingly pass on; but that women take their rightful and non-negotiable place in the Church and in society. Given the UAPS of the Jesuits and the synodal process begun in the Church, the anthology is must read and immediate action.

The book was first published on April 26, 2022, during a program held at ‘Bagaicha’ in Ranchi where Jesuit Father Stan Swamy lived. The program was organized to celebrate Stan’s 85th birthday. Rightly, “This book is dedicated to Stan Swamy SJ and all advocates for justice, freedom, equality, inclusion and diversity, especially Bhima Koregaon activists who have taken stand for justice without counting.”. It also contains excellent images and a series of powerful quotes from Romila Thapar (“We must recognize the inevitability of dissent in the events that have shaped our history and are now shaping the present”) to Arundhati Roy (“The only thing worth globalizing is dissent.”)

Prof. Jerome Stanislaus D’Souza SJ, the President of the Jesuit Conference of South Asia (JCSA) in the “preface” of the book writes: “I am confident that this book will reach many hands and touch many hearts for a radical and redemptive conversion. action in all, especially among people of good will, who are committed to a life of equality, solidarity and justice.

Given the grim reality both in the country and in the Church today – ‘If not now, when? Worrying Feminist Issues” is timely and indispensable! A direct call to listen to those voices that have the courage to ask uncomfortable questions and do something about them! Will this ensure a radical change? This may be a tall order for now! The book however is full of hope, it opens the way; a step forward since it encourages people to say “it’s not ‘when?’ it is now!” It is a requirement to live and celebrate the feminine face of God in our world today! The only question that ultimately must be answered is whether one has the prophetic courage to say an unequivocal “yes” to the questions asked!

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If not now when? Disturbing feminist issues

Editors: Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, Kochurani Abraham and Prashant Olalekar S.J.

ISBN: 978-81-89762-86-5

Price: 300/- pp 300 (approx)

Published by Indian Social Institute 10 Institutional Area, Lodhi Road, New Delhi-110003 Telephone: (011) 49534000 Fax: 0091 (11) 24690660 Email: [email protected]

Author: Father Cedric Prakash SJ is a human rights, reconciliation and peace activist/writer.

Below is the YouTube link that you can share with your contacts to learn more about this volume and its vision:

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