I am currently rereading Woman Spirit Rising, as edited by Carol Christ and Judith Plaskow. It’s subtitle is “A Feminist Reader in Religion”, an anthology on spirituality by women.
Part One: The Essential Challenge; Does Theology Speak to Women’s Experience?
Part Two: The Past; Does it Hold a Future for Women?
Part Three: Reconstructing Tradition.
Part Four: Creating New Traditions.
The contributors are a Who’s Who of feminist scholars and theologians:
...to name a few. As a child, I was immersed in the Catholicism of my Mother’s side of the family. For the most part we, my siblings and I, did not begrudge it; I am grateful for the experience, though I no longer consider myself a practicing Catholic as such. It provided a sound spiritual foundation, for all of us. It opened the door that my soul has continued to walk thru on it’s journey. I will always have a fondness for some aspects of it, as much as I have distaste for some of the dogma and politics. I feel like my early spiritual education made my spiritual “continuing ed” possible. I am able to appreciate these women and the contents of their essays because I first came to appreciate and want to know more about women and the Divine Feminine (for I thought they were) because of Mary, and Mary Magdalene. When I discovered Mary as a child I thought “There she is! There is a woman, finally!” in that big book. I never bought the bullshit about the virgin birth (puhleeese)or that Mary Mag was some kinda ‘ho….I knew, instinctively, that their rightful place alongside Jesus had been supplanted, co-opted, denied them in their own time politically and then historically by virtue of their gender. As a teacher he didn’t preach or espouse an exclusionary, segregated kind of religious/spiritual experience; he traveled with, lived with, and preached with men and women (that’s one thing that made what he was doing and saying “dangerous” to the Romans at the time) though misinterpretations of the Bible (and what documents were deliberately left out) make it appear that he was more patriarchal. But don’t get me going off on that tangent, I don’t like to get enmeshed in those dialogues here….the ones where I rant on about how his teachings espoused equality, egalitarianism and the recognition of the Divine in us all….not just the Divine in men, or just in Christians. Or the tangent about the Council Of Nicea…OY!!!! I won’t go there. Poor Jesus. Wouldn’t he be pissed off to see how his words have been misinterpreted, bastardized…..but I bet he’d love feminist theologians! WWJD? He’d be cheering them on, that’s what. Givin’ ‘em a dorky high five and a “You go gurl!” Because they GET it…....they’re bringing it back home to us, full circle, where it belongs: with all of us.
From AMAZON, reviews:
“I was introduced to this book in a feminist spirituality class, taught by a methodist (woman) minister. This and its sequel, Weaving the Visions, helped change my spiritual life. It affirmed the feminine face of God for me, and it did help me to know there are others out there seeking the Femininity of God. That we all have our own, bizarre path to the Divine One; be it one sex or another. This book opens up to a world of feminist thought and ritual; how different feminists, scholars and religious leaders experience divinity and come to terms with it. There are Christians, Jews and Pagans here. An excerpt from “The Color Purple” which Christ seems to favor in other publications. Truly a wonderful work of art for women. A feminist must have.”
“Womanspirit Rising is an important book for anyone looking to explore religion outside of the traditional patriarchal understanding. It provides a new perspective and new options for the experience of religion, spirituality, and the divine, particularly for women who have experienced isolation or oppression in their religious tradition. The volume brings to attention the realities of not so long ago when women were absent or ignored in the study of religion, within the context of academia and in the larger realm of society. The essays contained in this volume are written by many of the most important female religious scholars including Mary Daly, Rosemary Radford Reuther, Phyllis Trible, Judith Plaskow, and Carol P. Christ. These women, along with many other contributors, wish to challenge the traditions of Jewish and Christian religious traditions and the burden of inferiority of women that has emerged from and been sustained by them.
The contributing authors vary on their approach to the equality of women (whether they should be equal to men or be elevated above them), the anthropomorphic language of god/ess, whether or not religious understanding can be restored to a place where women can find liberation and value, and the relationship between women and nature. Thankfully, the editors allow these differences to be held in tension within the volume. This provides a plethora of language to surround and begin to define the importance of women’s experiences within the realm of religious understanding. I found healing in the openness for religious expression in new terms: those according to women and their experiences.
This collection readily addresses the reality that the idea of a male god has oppressive consequences for women in other realms of life outside religion; male conceptualization of god has given male humans control and power in all of society. One of the most meaningful chapters for me, “Why Women Need the Goddess” by Carol Christ, was about the social and political implications of the image of a goddess. Instead of being oppressed by men and a male god, a new vision of the divine is offered, one where women have power and control over their own lives in a way that is affirmed by their understanding of the divine. This provides hope for women not only in religious contexts, but in the world of work, home, and public society.” 21 months ago