Rebecca Bratten Weiss: Silence, Feminism, and Literature (Episode 42)

This week’s episode marks the one-year anniversary of Encountering Silence! Our pilot episode was released a year ago today.

It seems appropriate, therefore, that on this first-year anniversary, we release an episode that marks a new “first” for us. Not only is it the first time we’ve interviewed Catholic author, philosopher and feminist Rebecca Bratten Weiss, but also the first time we’ve recorded an episode in front of a live audience.

This was recorded on Sunday, November 11, 2018 at Terra Incognita, a literary conference and workshop sponsored by the Convivium Journal, which Rebecca Bratten Weiss edits. Kevin and Cassidy both attended the conference and took the opportunity to interview Rebecca — and perform what we hope will the first of many, many Encountering Silence live events.

We decided, as part of our one-year observance, to release this episode with only very light editing — for two reasons. First, we felt that the first twelve minutes, where Cassidy and Kevin talk about the podcast and introduce themselves and the podcast to the audience, was worth keeping for the sake of new (newer) listeners who might enjoy hearing how we introduce ourselves.

But our other reason for leaving this episode (mostly) unedited was simply that we felt it would be a fun way to share with our listening circle, just what it feels like to be with us as we record.

We did edit out a few obvious bloopers. But for the most part, you get the feel of one of our recording sessions, from getting interrupted by a cellphone, to our moment of silence before we “officially” begin recording.

We hope you enjoy it!

If you set forth on a voyage across the ocean, silence is a little bit like that, in that you will meet many many things, as Odysseus did on his voyages: strange monsters, dragons, friends, seducers… As a writer, one has to go into that realm because so much that we have experienced in our lives is stored there in our memory and we then find that the things that we remember are still alive there, very very alive, moving around like little strange sea creatures, connecting with each other, perhaps breeding and producing new creatures that now reside in your imagination. — Rebecca Bratten Weiss

But of course, the real treat in this episode is our chance to chat with Rebecca Bratten Weiss. Novelist, poet, editor, professor of English and philosophy, co-founder of the New Pro-Life Movement, and self described “Christian rebel,” she is the manager of the Catholic Channel on Patheos, where she also maintains her blog, Suspended in Her Jar.  In her blog bio she says “I’m interested in eco-growing and sustainable economies, a theology of the real female body, social justice, and poking at the patriarchy. I write poems about insects and other things that some find disgusting, and novels that are likely to be banned in certain quarters.”

I’m a Catholic woman — I’ve been silenced my entire life. I lived in religious semi-community situations, so it was constant silencing, and it’s knowing what you can’t say, and a long list of things you can’t say, and the words you can’t use, especially as a woman; and I’ve taught in Catholic academia, and that meant knowing what you can’t say — but then I said some things anyway! — Rebecca Bratten Weiss

Her books include Catholic Philosopher Chick Makes Her Debut and Catholic Philosopher Chick Comes on Strong (both co-authored with Regina Doman), as well as a chapbook of poems, Palaces of Dust. Another chapbook, Mudwoman, co-authored by Joanna Penn Cooper, has recently been released.

Rebecca Bratten Weiss muses on how silence is a “strange land,” a place where writers access the wonders and terrors of their imagination; she reflects on how silence has been a gift for her in relation to interacting with her horse, the relationship between silence, intimacy, writing, and anxiety; and the story of how she experienced toxic silence, particularly in Catholic settings. But even after losing her job, she found new opportunities to challenge toxic silence through her work with Patheos and Catholic Women Speak.

She rounds out the conversation by sharing one of her poems, “Milliners.”

I feel sad that so many people who love the great books and who taught me the great books have, I believe, turned against everything that’s beautiful in western civilization. — Rebecca Bratten Weiss

Some of the authors and resources mentioned in this episode:

Episode 42: Silence, Feminism, and Literature: A Conversation with Rebecca Bratten Weiss
Hosted by: Kevin Johnson and Cassidy Hall
Date Recorded: November 11, 2018

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