March is Women’s History Month and to celebrate we have asked women who are members of the BST community to write a brief article that highlights a woman who has had an impact on their lives, whether personal, historical or theological. Each week throughout the month of March a different woman who is part of the BST community will honor a woman who is significant to them and tell us why and how this woman has impacted their lives and/or their thinking.

There is a chapter in Isabel Wilkerson’s book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, titled, “The Container We Have Built for You.” It is an elaboration on the ways society has expectations on who occupies certain spaces in our culture. Octavia Butler, an African American woman, author, MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, is one of those people who lived and worked inside a container that historically had not been meant for her to occupy. Butler wrote science fiction and her work explores the areas of racism, sexism, and earth’s deterioration in that context. In fact, her characters, Lilith, Lauren, and Dana, are the main protagonists of some of her stories – all black women.

Octavia Butler was born and raised in Pasadena, CA. Her father died when she was a baby, so she was raised by her grandmother and mother (also named Octavia, which is where the nickname, Junie, comes from). As a ten-year-old, Butler began writing as a way to escape boredom and at twelve acquired an interest in science fiction. It was at this age she saw a “bad science fiction movie” and decided she could do better. This is when she started writing in this genre.

Next week, we will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, the annual remembrance of St. Patrick of Ireland, the foremost saint of that land. It is believed that he was born in Roman Britain in the fourth century, into a wealthy family. At the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland. After six years working as a shepherd, he escaped, but during this time he "found God." After making his way home, Patrick became a priest. Years later, he returned to Ireland to do missionary work amongst the Irish.

As a school that is committed to training and sending Christian workers out into their communities, Berkeley School of Theology is thankful for the work and example of St. Patrick. May we all be so committed to seeing the lives around us transformed.

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REV. Dr. James Brenneman, President Rev. Dr. LeAnn Flesher, VP of Academics & Professor Rev. Sam Fielder, Executive Assistant to the President

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