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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

My Perspective on Women Priests



Alice C. Linsley

Some readers and former students are aware that I was a “priest” in the Episcopal Church. I was ordained by Bishop Allen Bartlett in 1989 at Trinity Church in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. Over a span of about 18 years, I served in the Diocese of Pennsylvania, the Diocese of Southern Ohio, and the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky.

During those years I began to discern widening cracks in the theological and ecclesial foundations of that body. However, at least 20 years passed before I was able to appreciate how the ordination of women signaled that the foundations of our Anglican heritage were in rubble.

After I left the Episcopal Church, I began to investigate the question of women’s ordination from the perspective of the science of Anthropology. In fact, research on the priesthood has been central to my work in Biblical Anthropology, a field that I have been pioneering for over 30 years.

Before I set forth some of my discoveries in Biblical Anthropology, it would be helpful to explain that I was always a lover of Tradition and a student of Scripture. I was raised in a profoundly Christian home by parents who were sophisticated thinkers, world travelers, and fond of intellectual conversation. My father was an attorney and he challenged his daughters to think critically about social issues, interpretations of the Bible, and even about the boyfriends we brought home. We did this less often as we grew older, as our father had the habit of cross examining the poor fellows!

While in the Diocese of Pennsylvania, I became acquainted with 3 women who would become bishops in the Episcopal Church: Barbara Harris, Geralyn Wolf, and Mary Glasspool. Barbara was the first African American female to pose as a bishop. Geralyn was the first female convert from Judaism to be consecrated, and Mary was the first female bishop to dress like a man. Talk about diversity!

I didn’t foresee that the ordination of women was the proverbial “foot in the door” and that the door would swing open to non-celibate homosexuals and transgender persons. I didn’t realize that such dangerous innovations signaled the collapse of the foundations of our Anglican Faith.

Bishop Lyman Ogilby and Bishop Charles E. Bennison, both of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, were among the bishops of the Episcopal Church who signed the "We Too" statement for Homosexual Roman Catholics. The document had been prepared by Brian McNaught, the founder of the Detroit chapter of Dignity, the homosexual activist organization for Roman Catholics in the United States. The document was submitted to the Catholic bishops in November 1975, one year after the ordination of eleven women in Philadelphia. Several of the “Philadelphia Eleven” were known to be lesbians.

The year 1974 also marked the founding of the Episcopal homosexual activist group Integrity under Louie Crew and Ellen Marie Barrett. The 1977 General Convention of the Episcopal Church made the ordination of women canonical, and Bishop Paul Moore of New York rushed to ordain Ellen Barrett that same year.

In September 1975, several more lesbians were ordained in Washington D.C. Here is the account in Louie Crew's words: "More 'irregular' ordinations of women took place… after our convention. In Washington at the time, on a missionary journey to our new chapters in the east, Jim Wickliff and I yielded to the counsel of friends who advised that our visibility at the ordination might put in jeopardy lesbians among all early ordinands."

In retrospect, it is remarkable that I was ordained in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. I was an evangelical traditionalist who believed the Bible to be a primary authority for Christians. I had little in common with the feminists, and I did not embrace the progressive ideology that would break the back of catholic orders. My fairly easy slide into holy orders reveals the eagerness of the Diocese to put women forward for the priesthood.

Once women were ordained on the platform of equal rights, there was no further obstacle to the ordination of partnered gay and lesbian persons. In 1976 the General Convention affirmed full participation of non-celibate homosexuals when it passed the “we are children of God” resolution.

The undermining of catholic orders by activists has been persistent and steady. If only right-believing Christians were as persistent in our efforts to bring poor sinners to the Savior!

Episcopalians largely slept through the onslaught of the radicals, many of which were launched with great stealth, as Crew admits in his account, a revealing document titled “Changing the Church” that is found online. Some woke up after the consecration of Gene Robinson in November 2003 and realized it was too late to reverse the disastrous course of the Episcopal Church. The battle for the soul of that body had been won by the radicals. Though all who uphold Holy Tradition are on firm ground, we are hated for our resistance to a demonic vision.

I had begun to doubt my vocation as a priest as early as 1995, but didn't feel that there was anyone with whom I could share these doubts. After taking a position in Kentucky, I asked my bishop to meet with me because I wanted to share my doubts. He took me to lunch and we chatted, but when it came time to share my heart, something constrained me. I didn't tell ask him why only the Episcopal Church had women priests. I didn’t tell him that I felt as if I were wearing someone else's shoes.

During these years, I had many significant dreams related to spiritual authority and the priesthood. In one dream, which I titled “The Pearl of Great Price,” I was vested and standing in the procession of priests. We were preparing to enter into the church. I was following the Bishop who was in the procession ahead of me (not where a bishop would be). Suddenly, off to my right there appeared a gleaming white pearl, shaped like a teardrop. I knew that it was the “Pearl of Great Price” but the only way I could take hold of it was to leave the procession of priests and to turn my back on my bishop.

In reality, that is what happened. Bishop Stacy Sauls threatened to inhibit me unless I jumped on his pansexual bandwagon. I told him to do whatever he felt necessary because I would no longer walk with him. My last day of service as a priest was the Sunday that Gene Robinson was consecrated.

Two years later, in March 2005, I renounced orders in order to take hold of something far greater. That something is really Someone, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came into the world to save sinners like me. To Him I offer joyful praise and worship! I can do no other. This is my goodly heritage, which extends to all who are in the Kingdom of God.

It is now apparent that Episcopal Church’s departure from the faith set forth in Scripture, in the writings of the Church Fathers, and in the Book of Common Prayer has led to a total loss of spiritual authority. It is an empty vessel. This was evident to catholic-minded Anglicans even before 1975, the year that the eleven women were ordained in Philadelphia. Steeped in the unified witness of Holy Tradition and Holy Scripture, these traditionalists were clear about where the line is drawn, and they confronted corruption in the Church in the same spirit as Martin Luther who proclaimed in the words of Psalm 16:6: “The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.”

Why should the line be drawn at the Priesthood? A right understanding of the priestly office is necessary if we are to rebuild the foundations. The royal priesthood of Jesus Christ is the foundation. Understanding the antecedents of the priesthood of the Church is essential. We cannot rebuild unless we know where the walls were and how they were sited and aligned. We cannot restore a firm foundation unless we understand the work of our ancestors in the faith who lived in what is today less than “Merry England.”

The Church is divided, yet there is but one Priesthood - that of Jesus Christ, the Eternal Priest - whose priesthood is given to the Church. The priesthood is a unique gift and it speaks of Jesus Christ, so we must get it right or we send a false Christological message to the world, such as that delivered by Presiding Bishop Curry at the Royal Wedding.

For some Anglicans a woman priest reflects a pagan worldview and their use of the word “priestess” is intended to underscore the danger of this innovation. For a time, I resented being called a “priestess” by the clergy that I most admired. I thought they were being ungracious, yet they were telling the truth.

To Anglicans who ordain women, the term “priestess” seems insulting to the gifted and devoted women who serve in their churches. There was a time when I felt insulted, but after years of study I now believe that attempts to justify women priests are hollow. There is no justification for this radical shift, and I am committed to resisting it, and speaking against it.

It is time for orthodox Anglicans to rebuild the foundations. We must be unified in our efforts so that the walls of our New Jerusalem will be stronger than ever.

For Anglicans the authority of Scripture and Tradition is central to our identity. Not a single woman can be found in the Bible who was a priest. The all-male priesthood is a feature of the Tradition received from Jesus Messiah and his faithful ancestors. Further, Anglicans share a rich heritage of reasoned observation of the natural world. Therefore, we recognize that gender differences are important.To disregard our Anglican heritage in favor of a false narrative that presents women as priests is fatal to our identity. It also allows people to perpetuate the lie that gender no longer matters if we are in Christ. That is not what the Scriptures say.

The Anglican heritage is a beautiful one. True Anglicans uphold the authority of Scripture, catholic orders, the integrity of the male priesthood, apostolic doctrine and discipline, and the instruction of the Fathers. We have nothing about which to be ashamed. Were we defending something false and unholy, the devil would not expend such great energy to destroy us.

Bishop Keith Ackerman has said, “If you see a disconnect between what the deacon does at the altar and what he is doing in the world, the fault lies in the fact we are not doing in the world what God has called us to do.”

Likewise, if the priest isn’t about the sacramental life of the Church, he is not doing what God has called him to do. Yes, the priest must be a pastor. He must prepare sermons, visit the sick, and see to the proper preparation of confirmands. Yet the priest’s most sacred duty is at the Altar. This is his unique duty and his primary testimony.

The priest of Jesus Messiah must never lose sight of the reality that the priesthood speaks of His blood work on the Cross. By that work, all who put their trust in Him receive the Blood covering. Life is in the Blood!

For 10 years I taught World Religions at Midway University in Kentucky. The text we used claimed that the office of shaman was the first religious office. I doubted that and delved into the matter. I found that shamans are mainly found among people groups who are geographically distant from the point of origin of humans in Africa. When we move closer to the point of origin, we find practices that we associate with the ancient Hebrew priesthood: animal sacrifice, circumcision, concern about ritual purity, sacred moral codes, etc.

Thus, it is safe to conclude that the priesthood is older than the office of the shaman. Its point of origin is among Abraham’s Nilotic and Proto-Saharan ancestors. These peoples had already dispersed into the Arabian Peninsula, Mesopotamia, Southern Europe, and the Indus Valley between 70,000 and 50,000 years ago.




For at least 40,000 years prominent persons of these the early dispersed populations were buried in red ochre dust, a symbol of blood. Anthropologists agree on the blood symbolism and most agree that the blood symbolism expresses the hope of life after death. Some argue that red ochre burial suggests that the archaic peoples hoped that the deceased would be born again from Mother Earth, the red ochre being symbolic of birthing blood. This view is not consistent with the archaic context. It seems more a modern projection of Neo-Pagan and Shamanic beliefs. Clearly, such a view poses difficulties if the office of priest is older than the office of shaman. It might also be true that the Lord of Life directed such highly symbolic burial to heighten human awareness of the Blood covering that brings eternal life through the long-awaited Messiah. Missionaries often say that when they arrive to preach about Jesus they find that God has gone ahead of them, planting seeds of the Good News of salvation through His Blood.

15 comments:

Simple1 said...

You have my full respect Alice for speaking on a subject that causes so much dissension in the Church body. Thank you for sharing!

jayward54 said...

I was present for your talk at the general convention in Kannapolis. I was struck by your research and enjoyed your presentation. What struck me the most had the least to do with “women in the priesthood”. Your comment by Bishop Anderson: “...the fault lies in the fact we’re not doing in the world what God has called us to do.”; hit home with me and has caused many a good conversation among the clergy at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church - as well as the wives of clergy. We have directed our prayer lives to discerning what Jesus would have us do - no matter what! Thank you Father.

Alice Linsley said...

Jay, What a wonderful way to focus your prayer life!

I am struggling with this too. It seems the Lord is asking me to do something that I resist out of fear. I simply must start the project (with my teeth clenched) and trust that HE will direct, encourage, assist, provide, empower, etc.

Rahabilitation said...

Hello, Alice, I am appreciating hugely your painstaking anthropological Biblical research - incredibly enlightening, thank you. In the course of finding out more about you, I came across your piece on female ordination. I have some observations and questions for you in response to it: It seems your objection to ordination of women in the Anglican church stems at least from there having been lesbians among the original 11 and this, you say, 'opened a door' or gave a 'satanic' (my word to summarise my understanding of the spiritual destabilisation you say this began) foothold to people who would - intentionally or otherwise - undermine the 'catholicity' and doctrinal foundations of the church. But how can this be a gender issue? In 1973 - a year before the first Anglican ordination of women - Archbishop Coggan said on BBC radio that many Anglican priests were homosexual. Corrupt Popes and other clergy are figures of historical fact, whether sexually, financially or hegemonically. Nepotism and simony were rife in the Catholic church centuries before women's ordination and one only has to read Chaucer to get a hint of the range of corruption in church ranks from the lowliest monk to the prioress of a convent. Sexual sin - including paedophilia - has always undermined the Catholic and Anglican churches. I wasn't aware that one type was more serious theologically than another. Six other 'deadly sins' and many others less clearly defined by historical theologising have been evidentially rife in the Catholic and Anglican Churches since ancient and Tudor times respectively.

Joan of Arc was burnt as a heretic and countless other saints and martyrs - of both sexes -were tortured and executed by the church. Galileo died under house arrest for challenging, correctly, the astronomical views of the Catholic church, as you know. How many men of science were burnt as heretics?

How does the ordination of women - even lesbian women - become the first foundational schism of note in a structure that has been undermined by sin since its inception?

I would urge people to look beyond doctrine and canon law to a simpler and more 'innocent' theology. ''Lest we become as little children, we cannot lay claim to the Kingdom of Heaven. The machinations and power struggles of organised religion are of no interest to people called to serve Christ truly. In fact, there is a potent Spirit of Religion that is pharasaical and blasphemous - and particularly insidious. A heart that yearns for Jesus and to share His love with others, accepting of Biblical grass roots principles covering all aspects of human behaviour, should not be rejected by or afraid to seek influence in any church, regardless of the gender of the body, in which it beats. And if legalism and doctrine prevent this, then such a heart should walk Jesus' path - outside temples and without the authority of priests, for Jesus is the only High Priest to whom we'll answer eventually - surely? I refer you to the ministries of Heidi Baker and Joyce Meyer. Who will say they are not daughters of God with whom He is well pleased? They both bring countless thousands to salvation each year and miracles of healing occur wherever they teach - these are verifiable and often, recorded. Certainly, there are countless testimonies of those healed and the medics they baffle, to support this statement. When was the last documented miracle of healing in an Anglican service in the UK? USA? I'd love to know - really, I would; it would be hugely encouraging and confirming that everywhere people gather to serve God, there will be hearts that are pure and sincere. Bless you, my sister in Christ :)

Olden Ears said...

Rahabilitation - there is a difference between acknowledging sin and accepting/approving of sin.

Rahabilitation said...


I couldn't agree more, Olden Ears! I am not advocating acceptance of sin, quite the opposite. But my post was trying to posit that sin is not graduated; sexual sin not more serious than murder or deceit and one sexual sin is not 'worse' than another and the gender of the sinner is totally irrelevant. I doubt that God shares people's views on the relative merits of male and female chastity.

The nub of my response to Alice's piece is that I believe the issue of women's ordination has nothing to do with man and womankind's sinful nature - no one would be ordained if sinlessness were a qualifying criteria. In fact, there would not be a Church of England, given the sexual and marital 'credentials' of its first Head and his reasons for separating from Rome! There are relevant issues to discuss in the female ordination debate.

Rahabilitation said...

erratum: qualifying criterion

Unknown said...

If women cannot lead, I will not follow....

Alice C. Linsley said...

What is at issue is not the ordination of women. It is the priesthood, a central feature of the Messianic Faith that the Church received from the Apostles, who received it from their Hebrew forebearers. The church has no authority to change the received tradition. Pope John Paul II spoke ex cathedra on female ordination in 1994. He observed that the male priesthood had been "preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church…” and that the Church has "no authority to confer priestly ordination on women."

In fact, the Church’s duty is to preserve the received tradition intact. That is why the priesthood of the Church is for males only, and not for every male.

In his treatise On the Priesthood, St. John Chrysostom wrote, "When one is required to preside over the Church, and be entrusted with the care of so many souls, the whole female sex must retire before the magnitude of the task, and the majority of men also.”

Plenty of women are ordained. I don’t have a problem with that. My grandmother was ordained by the American Baptist in 1925. She was an eloquent preacher, but she was not a priest standing at altar in the person of the God Man, Jesus Messiah.

Note that by apostolic consensus and a very ancient tradition, there is but one office or order off limits to women in the Church, that of the priesthood. Other limitations placed on women in the Bible are out of concern about the Christian witness in a pagan world. They concern propriety and encourage modesty, humility, charity, hospitality, and obedience.

Rahabilitation said...

Your beliefs, Alice, are your prerogative and your exegetical learning is prodigious.

But what really concerns me about your views on women as priests is that you provide reasons for why priesthood is the preserve and domain for men on grounds that associate my sex per se with un-biblical, corrupt or 'immoral' practice - as if men could be immune from such sins!

"Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is our Great High Priest. The Church is His bride... He is kephalē, the master and the husband in relation to the Church. To speak of Jesus Christ... We do so when we place females at the altar."(International Catholic Congress of Anglicans
Fort Worth, Texas 16 July 2015)

In effect, you are saying that to allow women to preside at an Anglican or Catholic altar, is to render Jesus less than heterosexual.A simplistic riposte to your statement above would be to point out that 50% of Jesus' Bride is composed of men - which is odd, isn't it, in your terms? And surely:

"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28)

You also point out that Episcopalian priests may be women (you were one yourself once) and then dismiss an entire denominational theology on the following grounds:

"The only Christian denomination to have women priests is the Episcopal Church. Not surprisingly, the Episcopal Church also has a Seminary President, Katharine Ragsdale, who recently stated in a sermon:

"Let me hear you say it:

Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done." (You quoted in : Why Women Were Never Priests, blog post, May 2010)

Again, the clear implication that, where there are female priests, there is immorality or deviance from Biblical principles. But these were the stats in July 2014,relating to the number of women Episcopalian priests, around the time of your previously quoted comments:

"Roughly one-third of all Episcopal priests now are female. But males still predominate in the higher echelons of church leadership" (Episcopal church celebrates 40 years of women in the priesthood, National Catholic Reporter, Jul 28, 2014)

So WHO is responsible - and who benefits from - the Episcopalian statement of beliefs, as stated below?:

"Leadership is a gift from God, and can be expressed by all people in our church, regardless of sexual identity or orientation." (contd)

Rahabilitation said...

Contd/ I am not Episcopalian. I am not Catholic - though I once was. I am not Anglican. I certainly do not adhere to Catholic Canon Law or a doctrine of papal infallibility when no man on Earth can be good, let alone infallible (Mark 10:18: "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone.") I am simply a Bible-believing Christian woman.

I do not even have serious reservations about your dogmatic stance that the Priesthood is the one off-limits office for women. I am not terribly interested in who may access the 'power' conferred by Religious Ordination and its trappings. Neither, however,do I understand Matthew 23:8-10 to mean that there cannot be Catholic Priests - or Protestant Elders/Senior Pastors - fathers by any other name.

I understand Jesus' words:

"But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9And do not call anyone on earth your father, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Christ."

to mean that those who would follow in His footsteps and spread His Gospel should not seek their own reverence. To make Christ the centre of your life means 'going low'. As Paul did. 1 Corinthians 4:6-7 states:

“Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. 7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?"

In a way, whether women - or men, for that matter - can be priests according to the ordination criteria of a couple of Religions is moot.

What I wish is that people would stop villifying God's daughters in ways that remind me of (Protestant) Knox' damnation of all women as witches or Jezebels, who seek or assume any sort of authority - church or secular. In his 16th century tract "The First Blast Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women" Knox writes:

"If women take upon them the office which God hath assigned to men, they shall not escape the divine malediction."

I note that you are not against female 'ordination' that is not 'Priestly'. But I repeat that if you present as reasons WHY you hold the view that women can not be priests, in an 'order of Melchizedek' sense, that their sex is corrupting/unclean/, with no contextual reconsideration, then you are not that far from the sentiments expressed by Knox almost 400 years ago.

Today, we are seeing millions of people being saved by women teachers, leaders and evangelists. We are seeing the fulfilment of Joel 2:28, repeated in Acts 2:17, where daughters is defined further still as maidservants:

"Even on My menservants and maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy."

Jesus is calling His daughters to proclaim Him. God's daughters are rising out of the ashes and saving countless orphans and captives as they do so (See Iris Global Ministries)

Women are not a corrupting influence on churches! Churches have been burning, oppressing and demeaning them for centuries. I thought we'd moved on from this - as we have moved on from the notion that women cannot lead in churches based on the issues that disrupted Ephesian, Corinthian and Cretan churches in Paul's time. Today, our girls can be dentists, doctors, CEOs, astronauts, Nobel Prize Winners - and sold out, God-ordained ministers for Jesus.

Let's stop undermining them.

Rahabilitation said...


Sorry - should have quoted in full the excerpt from your Banquet Address at the International Catholic Congress of Anglicans, Fort Worth, Texas, 16 July 2015, with which I begin my comment and which gives rise to what I said regarding it:

"Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is our Great High Priest. The Church is His bride. One day there will be a great wedding feast and our Lord and King will then be enthroned forever and His Queen, the Church, will also be exalted. Christ is the head of the Church. He is kephalē, the master and the husband in relation to the Church. To speak of Jesus Christ and the Church in any other terms is to set forth an errant Christology. We do so when we place females at the altar.

If that is not explicit enough, we should remember that the Greek word ke-phalē is related to the Greek word phallōs, a reference to the male reproductive organ."

Alice C. Linsley said...

Rahabilitation, I apologize if I gave the impression that women are a corrupting influence. I do not believe that. Far from it! Christian women have contributed greatly in the Church and in society.

Historically, women have flourished within the Church and have contributed greatly to Church and society, providing leadership in many fields. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, women have been acknowledged as fountains of wisdom. Deborah served as judge over the people of Israel. Huldah of Jerusalem was consulted by the King's advisers. She is mentioned in 2 Kings 22:14–20 and 2 Chronicles 34:22–28. According to Jewish tradition, she was one of the "seven prophetesses", with Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, and Esther.

A Judean queen named Salome Alexandra ruled from 76-67 BC. She was one of two women to exercise sole rule over Judea. Archaeologists have uncovered her palace in Jericho. Salome is the only woman mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Some of the religious reforms that shaped second-Temple Judaism were implemented under her rule. Her reign is viewed as a golden age in the Talmud.

The first evangelist to declare Jesus as Messiah was the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. According to church tradition, her name was Photini, and she and her children were martyred in Carthage.

Both Gregory of Nyssa and Augustine praised female family members in their writings, remarking on their wisdom and faith. In Augustine’s case this was his mother Monica, whose influence helped bring him to Christianity. Monica appears as an interlocutor in the philosophical dialogues that are among Augustine’s earliest works.

Gregory of Nyssa wrote a remarkable portrayal of his sister Macrina. One account gives details of her works of compassion and occasional miracles, and the other depicts Macrina on her death bed in calm conversation with Gregory, confident of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Moving forward in history we have the examples of Hildegard of Bingen; Maria Gaetana Agnesi; Agnes Giberne, and Sister Mary Celine Fasenmyer. All these women of the Church made huge contributions to society, but unfortunately, they are rarely remembered in the Church. Therein is the problem!

The Abbess Hildegard (1098-1179) wrote theological, botanical, and medicinal texts, as well as hymns, and 77 poems. Three hundred years before Martin Luther, she rebuked church leaders for spiritual abuses and did several speaking tours around the Rhineland.

Maria Agnesi (1718-1799) wrote a comprehensive and systematic treatment of algebra and analysis, including such relatively new developments as integral and differential calculus. In math history, she is recognized as one of the greats. The Pope appointed her as a professor of Mathematics at the University of Bologna in 1750.

Ages Giberne (1845-1939) became one of the most popular astronomy writers of her time. Through her writings she was able to present basic astronomy to children and women in the Victorian Age. In 1890, she became a founding member of the British Astronomical Association. In addition to astronomy, she also wrote on geology, oceanography, and meteorology, often weaving expressions of the Christian faith into her works.

Mary Celine Fasenmyer (1906-1996) was a Roman Catholic nun and one of the most brilliant mathematicians of the 20th century. Her groundbreaking work on hypergeometric functions and linear algebra is the basis for computer science. The hypergeometric polynomials she studied are called “Sister Celine's polynomials.” The genius of Sister Fasenmyer’s method was recognized by Doron Zeilberger and Herbert Wilf who set about to test her method using computers. Their 1996 book A=B devotes two chapters to Sister Celine's polynomials. Zeilberger called Sister Celine's dissertation "a work of genius” and explained, "Before her method came to light, mathematicians needed to spend months, sometimes years, to `prove' something.” Now, using her method with computers proofs takes seconds.

Rahabilitation said...

Thank you so very much, Alice. I cannot tell you how much I was heartened and excited by your fantastic post. In fact, I immediately contacted my son - who is a Data Analyst - and asked him if he had heard of Sister Fasenmyer - he hadn't! But he set about discovering her and is amazed that, even though he studied Data Analytics at Masters Level, he had not encountered this amazing woman. And I had never heard of her either. The Hidden Figures effect. Again. My son is fascinated to learn of Sister Fasenmyer, as am I. (He had though learned about the work of Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper, so that's something :))

Attitudes to women, generally, but particularly in the Christian church, is an area of research interest to me and your post has provided me with many links to a rich seam of material. More importantly, it has lifted my heart. Thank you.

Alice C. Linsley said...

I am glad you shared that information with your son. We need to spread the word about these amazing women!