If you have yet to be introduced to Trista Hendren’s world of The Girl God, this anthology is the perfect opportunity to make her acquaintance. If you have, welcome to a whole new level of powerful creations exploring feminism and religion. Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak, is the latest in The Girl God series, released just last month. While previous works from The Girl God collection focused on connecting children to the Sacred Feminine, this work is aimed at a significantly older audience. Edited by Trista Hendren & Pat Daly, this is a collection of beautifully eclectic voices from across spiritual traditions. With a quick glance at the Table of Contents, regular readers of FAR will recognize some familiar names right away including the Preface, which was written by Dr. Amina Wadud, and an essay by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente about Imman & the “A Women’s Mosque” project. In fact, the anthology has much in common with FAR in its approach to inviting a variety of voices, and introducing a variety of topics into feminist religious dialogue.
The collection is only broadly thematic. All contributors are Feminists of Faith, but the voices within speak to a wide assortment of varied topics they present at each of their personal crossroads of lived feminism and practiced faith. By engaging with this one project, you can explore the concept of Triple Goddess in Hinduism as a pathway to female empowerment and a few pages later, you can explore a portion of Hebrew Scripture through the lens of feminist epistemology. You can experience how one woman used motherhood to express her spiritual and political resistance to patriarchy and how another channeled the voice of the Sacred Feminine to comfort a dying friend. Some essays are quite academic, while others are extremely personal. Some will make you think, question, or argue. Some will elicit laughter. Some tears.
This is not a be all to end all collection. From what I can gather, it was never intended to be such. So a reader should not approach this volume as a tidy, complete work of cogent theme or argument. It is a beginning; a starting point. It asks you to consider another voice, another perspective. It soothes you with one piece, triggers you with another, and leaves you wanting more. Whatever Works is written by Feminists of Faith for feminists of faith who are always learning, always growing, always looking to discover what else they can say, do, or consider to contribute further to the evolving conversation about how we might use our feminism and our faith to heal ourselves and the world around us.
For my part, I found several topics I now wish to push deeper into exploring in my own life and work—feminism within indigenous traditions and spiritually based, non-indigenous ally-ship, the exploration of our relationship with money as feminists of faith, & the re-illumination of the herstory of female spiritual leaders across traditions.
Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak is a good investment in continued engagement at the crossroads of feminism and religion. I believe our FAR readership would have much to gain in exploring this anthology of strong, diverse voices.
Kate Brunner is a writer, healer, ritualist, & member of The Sisterhood of Avalon, studying at the Avalonian Thealogical Seminary. She is a somewhat nomadic American, homeschooling her children with the world as their classroom. Before motherhood, Kate earned a Bachelor of Arts from Tulane University, while studying Economics, International Relations, & Religion. She served four years as a logistics officer in the US Army, after which, Kate became a doula and holistic birth educator. She is a regular contributor to The Sisterhood of Avalon’s online journal, The Tor Stone and is active in the Red Tent Movement. Kate volunteered in Houston as a presenter for monthly Red Tents and semi-annual women’s retreats before relocating overseas. In Australia, she hosted seasonal women’s gatherings, facilitates labyrinth rituals, and established a Sisterhood of Avalon Learning Circle. She recently returned to the US and is breathing into the potential of a new chapter of life for her and her family.