A Feminist Retelling of Noah’s Ark by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir

My daughters came to me after Sunday School one day, concerned about a story they had heard in which God drowned almost everyone on Earth. So I sat down and thought about why a community might want to tell that story, and what valuable wisdom might be lifted from it for my children. Here is what I told them:
God/ess  has  many  faces,  which  help  us  understand  different  things we  need  to  know  at different  times.  Sometimes we think of God/ess  as  Crone,  an  old,  old  woman  crowned  with  silver  hair  as  an  emblem  of  her  wisdom,  who helps  us  learn  to  let  go  of  anything  that  is  holding  back  the  wellness  of  our  community  and ourselves. 
One  day,  Crone  Goddess  saw  that  her  people  were  hoarding  their  belongings  and  not  sharing  with  each  other.  They  had  become  greedy  and  selfish,  using  up  the  land  around  them  rather  than  treating  it  as  a  revered  and  sacred  friend.  They  had  cut  down  many  trees  without  thinking  about  how  to  protect  the  forests  and  the  animals who  live  in  the  forests.  They  had  set  some  members  of  the  community  up  as  more  important  and  more  powerful  than  others.  They  had  oppressed  other  members  and  treated  them  with  scorn.
Crone  Goddess  went  to  the  wisest  elder  of  the  village,  Grandmother  Noah.  She  said  to  Grandmother  Noah,
“The  people  are  selfish,  and  they  are  hurting  the  land  and  each  other.  They  are  cutting  down  trees  and  being  mean  to  anyone  who  is  weak  or  different.”
Grandmother  Noah  said,
“Yes,  Crone  Goddess,  and  I  have  tried  to  help  them,  but  they  turn  their  faces  away  from  our  wisdom.  They  no  longer  share  with  me,  either,  and  I  am  forced  to  work  to  the  point  of  pain,  all  day  and  night  growing  and  gathering  food  for  myself,  because  they  have  forgotten  the  wisdom  of  Crones.”
Crone  Goddess  said,
“Grandmother  Noah,  prepare  for  a  ceremony  when  the  moon  has  waned  to  its  thinnest  crescent.  You  must  build  an  ark  of  my  waning  moon.”
Every  day,  Grandmother  sang  the  songs  to  build  an  ark  of  the  Crone  Moon.  She  gathered  the  energy  of  water,  air,  fire,  and  earth,  and  she  built  an  altar  in  the  center  of  the  community.  She  carved  the  altar  in  the  shape  of  a  crescent  moon.  For  water  energy,  she  gathered  bowls  and  chalices  of  water.  Into  them  she  poured  water  that  had  been  blessed  under  the  full  moon,  and  she  added  tears  of  grief  for  her  community’s  sickness.  For  air  energy,  she  wove  capes  of  feathers  and  downy  blankets.  For  fire  energy,  she  lit  a  sacred  fire  and  candles.  For  earth  energy,  she  brought  the  fruits  of  the  earth,  nuts  and  vegetables  and  other  good  foods.  She  brought  all  the  food  she  had  stored  against  the  coming  winter.  These  things  she  placed  in  between the  two  points  of  the  crescent  moon  on  top  of  its  stone  base.  She  danced  around  the  altar,  beat  her  drum,  and  sang  the  songs  of  death,  mystery,  age,  and  letting  go.
The  people  laughed  at  Grandmother  Noah.
“Fool!” They  cried.  “You  should  be  storing  up  your  belongings  and  hoarding  power  as  we  do.  Those  old  ways  are  useless  and  silly.”
But  Grandmother  Noah  paid  them  no  heed.  She  continued  to  gather  energy  from  water,  air,  fire,  and  earth,  and  to  sing  strength  and  power  to  the  Crone  Moon  altar  every  day  and  night.
Finally,  the  night  of  the  last  sliver  of  Crone  Moon  arrived,  the  night  before  total darkness. Crone  Goddess  came  to  Grandmother  Noah  and  said,
“Beloved  Grandmother,  you  must  be  my  face  for  our  people.  You  must  call  them  to  our  altar  tonight.”
So  Grandmother  Noah  went  to  the  Crone  Moon  altar  and  called  out  in  her  old,  wise  voice,
“Come!  Come  to  the  Crone  Moon  ark,  where  you  may  release  your  diseases  and  find  freedom  and  wellness!”
“Why  should  we  come?” asked  the  people.  “We  do  not  need  your  medicine.  We  are  free  and  well.”
But  some  of  Grandmother  Noah’s  children  and  grandchildren  came  when  she  called.  And  these  were  the  few  who  were  scorned  most  by  their  community.  They  were  lesbian,  gay,  bisexual,  transgender,  and  queer.  They  were  fat,  differently  abled/disabled,  very  old,  and  very  young.  They  were  the  poorest,  the brokenhearted,  and  the  ones  with  darker  skin.  They  were  women  who  had  been  abused  as  possessions, their most vulnerable female places treated with violence.  They  gathered  around  her  and  said,
“Grandmother  Noah,  we  are  here.  We  will  heed  your  call.”
And  Grandmother  Noah  told  them  to  bring  all  their  animals  to  the  altar  as  well.  As  night  passed  into  day,  more  of  her  children  and  grandchildren  gathered  around  the  Crone  Moon  altar.  That  night,  as  the  sun  set,  the  sky  was  completely  dark.  There  was  no  moon  to  light  the  sky,  and  even  the  stars  were  dimmed  behind  clouds.  A  great  wind  arose,  tearing  at  the  trees  and  houses.
“Come!”called  Grandmother  Noah.  “Hold  to  the  altar!  The  Crone  Moon  Ark  will  protect  us!”
 And  all  the  people  and  animals  held  to  the  altar  and  to  each  other.  Slowly,  the  crescent  moon  of  the  altar  grew  larger  and  larger,  until  it  became  a  large  silver  crescent  boat,  resting  on  the  ground.
“Climb  into  the  ark!” called  Grandmother  Noah.
So  the  people  and  animals  helped  each  other  climb  into  the  Crone  Moon  Ark,  and  when  they  were  inside  that  silver  crescent,  the  wind  did  not  touch  them.    Then  a  great  storm  arose,  with  terrible  lashing  rain,  hail,  and  lightening.
“Hold  to  each  other!  Do  not  let  go!” called  Grandmother  Noah.
And  the  people  and  animals  held  to  each  other  inside  their  ark,  and  the  storm  did  not  touch  them.  The  people  who  had  not  come  to  the  altar  saw  the  storm  knocking  branches  from  trees  and  shaking  houses,  and  the  rivers  beginning  to  flood,  and  they  were  afraid.
“What  will  become  of  us?” they  cried.
Then  they  saw  Grandmother  Noah  and  her  family,  safe  inside  the  Crone  Moon  ark,  surrounded  by  calm  and  protected  from  the  storm.
“Let  us  come,  too!  Save  us!” cried  the  people,  and  they  rushed  to  the  altar.
They  were  afraid  that  the  people  at  the  altar,  people  they  had  scorned  and  rejected,  would  not  let  them  into  the  ark  of  safety.  But  those  at  the  altar opened  their  hearts  to  their  kindred  and  welcomed  them  to  come  into  the  ark.
But  Grandmother  Noah  would  not  let  them  in.
“You  may  not  come  in  here,” she  said.  “You  are  forgetting  something.”
“Please,  tell  us  what  we  are  forgetting!” cried  the  people,  afraid  the  storm  would  wash  them  away.
“Look  at  our  ark,  and  then  tell  me  what  you  are  forgetting,” said  Grandmother  Noah.
The  people  looked  at  the  Crone  Moon  Ark,  full  of  people  and  animals  holding  each  other.  Then  they  remembered.
“Our  animals!  We  did  not  bring  our  animals!  But  it  is  too  late to  go  back  for  them  now!” cried  the  people.
“It  is  not  too  late,”  said  Grandmother  Noah.  “You  may  not  enter  the  ark  if  you  betray  your  animal  kindred, the least and the lowest of your broken community.”
The  people  cried  out  in  anger  and  fear,  but  Grandmother  Noah  would  not  let  them  into  the  ark.  So  the  people  turned  back  out  into  the  storm  and  flood,  the  rain,  hail,  and  tearing  winds,  to  find  their  animals.  The  rains  and  floods  drenched  them  until  they  were  completely  sodden  with  water.  The  wind  and  hail  pounded  them  until  they  were  sore  and  bruised.  But  they  worked  together  and  did  not  stop  until  they  had  found  every  single  animal  in  their  community,  every  dog,  cat,  bird,  rabbit,  mouse,  squirrel,  cow,  sheep,  goat,  duck,  goose,  horse,  frog, and snake.  It  took  the  people  hours  to  gather  all  the  animals  in  the  storm  and  flood,  and  then  they  took  them  to  the  Crone  Moon  Ark.
“Now  you  may  enter,” said  Grandmother  Noah,  and  the  people  and  animals  helped  each  other  to  enter  the  silver  crescent.
As  soon  as  they  gathered  inside  the  ark  and  held  on  to  each  other  there,  the  storm  did  not  touch  them.    All  through  that  dark  night,  the  storm  raged,  and  it  raged  for  forty  days  and  nights.  The  people  grew  weak  and  exhausted  inside  the  ark.  But  they  had  the  food  and  water  and  fire  and  feather  coverings  that  Grandmother  Noah  had  gathered  there.  The  storm  and  flood  washed  away  all  the  people’s  houses,  all  their  belongings,  and  all  their  treasures.  But  the  ark  of  the  Crone  Moon  carried  all  the  people  and  their  animals  through  the  storm  in  safety.
Finally,  the  storm  waned,  the  winds  and  rain  calmed,  and  the  sun  shone  again.  Grandmother  Noah  did  not  know  whether  it  was  safe  to  leave  the  ark,  so  she  called  her  friend  Raven  and  asked  her  to  fly  out  and  see  whether  the  land  was  safe.  Raven flew  out,  but  she  did  not  know  whether  the  land  was  safe.  She  had  no  answer  for  Grandmother  Noah.
Grandmother  Noah  waited  a  few  days  and  then  called  her  friend  Dove  and  asked  her  to  fly  out  to  see  whether  the  land  was  safe.  Three  times,  Dove  flew  out  searching. Finally,  Dove  came  back  with  an  olive  branch  in  her  beak,  and  by  that  Grandmother  Noah  knew  the  land  was  at  peace.
The  people  returned  to  where  their  homes  had  been,  but  all  was  washed  away.  At  first,  the  people  wept  and  complained  at  the  loss  of  all  their  belongings  and  wealth.  But  they  gradually  realized  that  complaining  would  not  bring  back  their  belongings. They  had  to  start  over,  building  new  homes  and  forming  a  new  community.  As  they  worked the  simple  tasks  of  building  homes,  gathering  food,  and  forming  their  community,  they  remembered  the  joy  of  a  simple  life.  They  remembered  the  importance  of  sharing  and  togetherness,  of  harmony  with  the  land  and  all  creatures.  They  remembered  the  strength,  wisdom,  and  power  of  Crone  Goddess  and  Grandmother  Noah,  and  they  were  careful  to  treat  her  with  respect  and  reverence.  Most  of  all,  they  remembered  that  the  outcasts  of  their  community  had  saved  them  and  led  them  to  new  life.  They  remembered  that  they  all  needed  each  other,  and  that  they  all  were  one  kindred.
The  people  built  an  altar  together  in  the  center  of  their  community.  They  gathered  often  at  the  altar  to  tell  their  stories  and  share  each  other’s  joy  and  sorrow.  They  all brought  generous  gifts  to  share,  and  they  danced  and  sang  their  gratitude  to  the  Womb  and  Source  of  all  Creation.
And  Crone  Goddess  saw  that  her  people  had  learned  to  let  go.  They  had  stopped being  greedy  and  selfish.  They  no  longer  used  up  the  land  around  them.  Now  they  treated  it  as  a  revered  and  sacred  friend.  They  stopped  cutting  down  many  trees.  Now  they  planted  trees  and  lovingly  protected  the  forests  and  the  animals  who  live  in  the  forests.  They  no  longer  set  some  members  of  the  community  up  as  more  important  and  more  powerful  than  others.  They  did  not  oppress  anyone  or  treat  anyone  with  scorn.  Instead,  they  treated  each  person  as  equally  sacred  and  precious.
The  stormy  death-birth  waters  of Goddess, who is Crone, and Mother and Matron,  had  washed  the  people  free  of  their chains  and  diseases  of  fearful  greed.  They  were  reborn  into  her  divine  image  once  more,  as  compassionate  and  openhearted  kindred.  So  Crone  Goddess  became  reborn  also,  as  the  young  Girl  Goddess.  She  painted  a  beautiful  rainbow  in  the  clouds  and  told  them,  “This  is  the  sign  of  our  covenant.  New  life  will  always  be  available  to  you,  and  I will  always  help  you  to  let  go  of  your  prisons,  of  anything  that  divides  and  oppresses you.  I  will  always  provide  you  an  ark  of  kindred  to  help  you  weather  the  storms  of death and rebirth.  I  will  always  give  you  the  hope  of  a  new  moon  that lives within the darkness.  My  love  will  always  be  stronger  than  your  fear.  I  set  my  seal  upon  you,  my rainbow  people:  freedom  and  wellness  and  joy.
Trelawney Grenfell-Muir  teaches courses about Sex, Dating, Marriage, and Work in the Religion and Theological Studies Department at Merrimack College and about Cross Cultural Conflict in the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A Senior Discussant at the Religion and the Practices of Peace Initiative at Harvard University, she holds an M.Div. from the Boston University School of Theology with a concentration in Religion and Conflict, and a Ph.D. in Conflict Studies and Religion with the University Professors Program at Boston University. Previously a fellow at the Institute of Culture, Religion, and World Affairs and at the Earhart Foundation, Grenfell-Muir has conducted field research in situations of ongoing conflict in Syria, Lebanon, and Northern Ireland.  Her dissertation explores the methodology, constraints, and effectiveness of clergy peacebuilders in Northern Ireland. She has been an invited speaker in community settings and at MIT, Boston University, Tufts, and Boston College on topics of gender violence, economic injustice, and religious or ethnic conflicts and has also moderated panels on genetic engineering, cloning, and other bioethics issues. She currently writes articles, book chapters, and liturgical resources about feminist, nature-based Christianity.

38 thoughts on “A Feminist Retelling of Noah’s Ark by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir”

  1. I love this story, Trelawney! Thank you! I’m always wondering how we could retell some of the old stories for today. This one is perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Barbara. That’s very kind and affirming. My girls really love this one. They ask for itball the time.


  2. Love the image of the crone-moon boat. If you are remaining in the church, I hope you will teach Sunday School. There are so very many stories that could use feminist retelling.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Elizabeth. Yes… I think you are right, I should probably teach Sunday School, so my girls enjoy it more, and many stories do need retelling.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a beautiful story but what I fear this that the domineering god of the church will insert itself into your daughter’s mind and body like a poison in spite of our courageous and inventive re- imaginings and re -tellings. PLEASE do not underestimate the patriarchal underpinnings that define our culture and continue to shape the lives of our children

    And have you considered removing your child from a place that tells such frightening stories?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Sara. Yes, in fact, we have left a few churches that were just too sexist for us, and we probably will again. This happened two years ago-ish at a different church. But they are getting very good at seeing everything— media, things other adults and kids say, religion— through a feminist critique lens. I always give them the option: Do you want to go to a church that doesn’t really like Christianity and rarely if ever talks about Jesus, or a church that talks about Jesus but uses all this male language?” They pick Jesus. But most of their religious formation is from me. We call Jesus “she” pretty often, too. They take everything they hear in church with a lot of skepticism until we deconstruct it together afterward. 😏


  4. Brava! I like your story. It’s a hundred times better than the version about that nasty, punitive god in the so-called holy book. I hope you’ll write more stories like this one. And I second Sara’s question about removing your child from a place that tells frightening stories. Write more of your own stories!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Barbara! I so appreciate your affirmation. I am eager to write more stories! I have written ten, and that feels like a good start, but… I realized two years ago that I feel called to be a writer, and so your vote of confidence means a tremendous amount! I responded to Sara above about the church – yes, I may well end up teaching their Sunday school class myself! :)


      1. Trelawney, I think it would be cool if you rewrote the tale of Judith and Holofernes. Surely there’s a better way to end it!


      2. Barbara, wow…. that would be…. so fun…. my mind is spinning with possibilities. I have this other academic project I’m buried in right now, but wow…. you are so right…. I’m reeling with my desire to work on that one, now!!! thank you!!! awesome suggestion!!!!!


  5. Trelawney, I love this story! It is so delightful! Do you have others–perhaps published in book form?


    1. Thank you, Tim! Xochitl and Gina (the owners of this site) are hoping to publish them in book form, but of course that just takes a long time. Thank you for your affirming words! :)


  6. Love your image of Noah’s Ark, thanks, Trelawney, so ancient the scene somehow, and the animals seeming so young and innocent and delightful. The colors too so beautiful. And I love that name, “Grandmother Noah” — absolutely priceless, thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sarah! I confess that the picture was chosen by FAR, not by me, but I was very happy to see it also. I am glad you like “Grandmother Noah” – it was a bit surprising for me every time I read it at first, but now I have grown to love it very deeply. She turned out to be such a wonderful friend.


  7. fo an true arche to happen it would have to be bigger then any ship ever built n have enough food for long time n lots people feeding daily n getting ride of the poo left behind

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep. These mythological stories have wonderful truths in them, but I see the truths as more symbolic than historical. So it’s an archetypal ark! :)

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Karen, what a lovely invitation, I would be honored. Thank you! I will contact you! And I will find out more about your show – it sounds like something I will wish I had found long ago!


      1. Karen, I sent you a message on facebook messenger – I wasn’t sure the best way to contact you.


  8. A thought from the middle of the night: You need to rewrite more of those Bible stories. How about the one where a bunch of kids are making fun of a bald prophet (Elijah? Elisha?) and the prophet sends a wolf after them? Or maybe you could rewrite Hosea and NOT compare the Israelites to his whoring wife? Or maybe just any other story in which Jehovah smites his worshipers? Stories teach us more than most people think they do. Of course, you know this already. Write on!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Barbara!! I will write on! You are motivating me to get back to it! Have you read any of the other rewritten Bible stories I have posted here at FAR? You are right – there is so much to “fix” – in particular, the sexism and misogyny! It’s very, very satisfying to do that. For me, it feels as though I am digging through muck to find a beautiful pearl of wisdom, washing it clean, and placing it lovingly in a new, meticulously crafted setting, where its beauty and value can be appreciated and understood. That sounds pretty pretentious. But washing off the sexism to find the value of ancient stories feels important to me… it feels like holy work. <3


  9. I must admit I did not actually read your re-telling of the story of Noah’s Ark – Im sure its good in its own way and that you are a creative, imaginative writer.

    I am concerned that you seem to be doing to Christianity what they did to Pagans/the Goddess religion and long term, I don’t think that’s helpful. You have previously referred to Christ as a ‘Hag’ and your sister Tallyesin (apologies for the mis spelling) insinuates that Christ is just some ‘dead white guy’ and I believe takes old hymns and changes the wording. Im not sure I feel that strongly about word changing – the hymns are written by ordinary people, not prophets, but there does seem to be a bit of a trend here.

    I do think there are some words that are irredeemable in our Society. As someone who has had her neighbour scream at her that she is a witch and and an old Hag, I can happily attest that I am happy to reclaim the word witch, but at this present time, I am not happy to be referred to as a Hag. Maybe around people I know and know that they are coming from the same place of basic love and respect/humour. Perhaps in the same way the word n…r is absolutely not acceptable except perhaps within the black community themselves or by white people they trust.

    I would, at this point, hugely recommend the book ‘Witch’ by Lisa Lister. Brilliant book.

    I can quite happily incorporate my firm christian beliefs with more pagan/goddess practices and am appalled by our christian history and saddened and angered by many practices that occur within the christian religion, however, I personally, am not prepared to say catagorically that the bible is made up of make believe stories. No-one can know that, for sure.

    This is coming from someone who at present, is not able to worship in church. This being due to the fact that I am single handedly challenging them and have been for the last 4 years about their practice of taking 5 year old children, without their parents permission, to a church building and role playing the marriage ceremony, in front of an ordained Priest.

    I don’t think we should resort to name calling (which is verbal abuse) calling Jesus Christ a Hag is name calling, and systematically destroying what they have built up, just to replace it with our own – however angry we are.

    Wouldn’t it be better to work with respect? Yes, we have been oppressed and yes, we are being oppressed, but swapping one oppression for another? would that truly work?

    Whilst many on this forum would probably cheer that churches in my country are closing down, turning into pubs, luxury flats etc, I personally have been devastated even though, I have got to the point of thinking it’s their own fault and perhaps something that needs to happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Helen, thank you for your thoughtful reply. I appreciate the sincere wrestling you are offering here. I think that kind of authentic, honest wrestling is the most important work we all need to do. It is not easy work, and it helps to do it in a community of loving, supportive peers/friends.
      I find it so interesting that you link this story with my previous piece and with my sister Tallessyn’s work as well. You are right to do so – it does feel to us as though everything we do is connected and part of a broader, deeper effort to reform our Christian tradition so that it can be alive and healthy. To us, the process of resurrection is done in the community, in the body, and it involves both dying and rebirth, both letting go and creating new, both honoring and preserving the past and liberating it from its chains to find freedom and wellness.
      I will try to address your points one at a time.
      Regarding Christ as Hag… you might be right. It might be impossible to reclaim the word “hag” to honor its original meaning. But to me, it is worth the effort. Part of the reason is that I had a life-changing experience in Istanbul at an ancient Christian cathedral called Hagia Sophia – that name refers to the eternal Wisdom that is the divine creative force, which births and orders all creation – and it is where the author of John got his symbol of Jesus as Logos/The Word. So every time we say “the Word” we are saying “Hagia Sophia”… and the truth, the beautiful truth of that symbol strikes a powerful chord in me. I know pagans and Christopagans who are reclaiming the word “Hag” as part of their croning ceremonies, and they are finding that process healing and liberating. The words “queer” and to some extent “bitch” have been reclaimed by some people, as well as other words… I hope “hag” can be as well. Christ is Hagia Sophia, and the word “Hag” comes from that “Hagia”… it is a sign of just how sick, just how broken and diseased our culture has become, that we would take a word that originally means “wise woman elder” and think of it as irredeemably negative/insulting.


      1. Thank you for your book recommendation! I have heard of this book, I will take a look.
        Regarding the Bible as “made up stories” – perhaps you saw my comment above. As I said, my approach is not just respectful – it is deeply reverent. For me, it feels as though I am digging through muck to find a beautiful pearl of wisdom, washing it clean, and placing it lovingly in a new, meticulously crafted setting, where its beauty and value can be appreciated and understood. That sounds pretty pretentious. But washing off the sexism to find the value of ancient stories feels important to me… it feels like holy work.
        I do not believe the Bible is “nothing but made up stories” – my seminary training taught me that the Bible was written in two forms: mythological truth and the holiness code. The Hebrew people saw mythological truth as the most important, most powerful truth – the truth that defines reality and shapes our moral consciousness, our identity, our sense of the meaning and purpose of life and humanity, our relationship with the Ultimate/the Divine. The holiness code, in contrast, was meant to be taken as literally as possible, in order to observe the proper laws.
        Of course, various reformers throughout the Bible rewrote the mythological stories, so we have two versions of Kings/Chronicles, two creation narratives in Genesis, four Gospels, etc. And reformers also reinterpreted the holiness codes. So I am acting solidly within the biblical tradition, doing exactly what the writers themselves did – I am seeking to make the biblical truths as relevant and powerful as they can be for my current community and context. I do not do any of this lightly or flippantly. I hope you will actually read my stories. I think if you do, you will see just how precious these stories are to me. They are sacred and holy. They are also a product of their time.
        I do not cheer that churches are closing. I think, as you do, that it’s their own fault, and something needs to happen. The founder of my denomination, John Wesley, considered his church (Methodism) a total failure by the time he died. He called it a dead sect, empty of divine purpose. He founded Methodism as a reform movement, to help bring Anglicans back to a focus on the same things Jesus focused on – justice, economic oppression, holy living… and it did enormous good for a long time, especially in my family’s original home of Cornwall, which was very poor. But as Methodism grew more respectable and middle class, it lost its way. I take my Methodist heritage seriously, and my Celtic heritage seriously… I am staying within the Christian tradition, but I am unwilling to allow the sexism and other diseases go unnamed or unhealed. I hope you can understand (and I think you will if you read my stories) that I am a trained peacebuilder, and I approach all of my work – with hymns, with words for Christ, and with Bible stories – as a peacebuilder, a healer, and someone who loves my tradition too much NOT to try my best to give it my love in the ways it needs it most.


      2. My time to say you might be right! Maybe the word Hag can be redeemed. Interestingly, when I typed the word earlier, I ‘mistakenly’ typed Hagia…..You made a good case for it – although I still feel hugely uncomfortable and how can Christ be a “wise woman elder”? Jesus Christ was male. I agree/believe that Christ consciousness can and is male and female and the consciousness can and does live in both.

        I’m not above poking fun at christianity. I enjoyed the work of Monty Python. I adore the work of Stanley Spencer – the artist, who painted Jesus on the cross wearing red underpants and also depicted Jesus as a homeless man, bloated and looking like an alcoholic with the scripture beside it of the birds of the air have their nests, the foxes have their holes but the son of God has nowhere to lay his head.

        I am reminded of Jerry Springers opera, where Jesus was portrayed, I believe, wearing a soiled nappy and apparently depicted as a homosexual.

        For me, there are some words and some depictions that go too far.

        I am aware of the Church, Hagia Sophia, you talk about and I am absolutely certain the origins of the word is holy and admirable. I’m curious about your experience at the church – but only share if it feels appropriate.

        I suppose when I wrote my comment, I wasn’t totally aiming it at you, I had read the other comments and one is always aware that one’s comments are going to be read by a number of people.

        I was interested in the term you used – christopagans – I’ve not heard of that before – that’s probably what I am – assuming that it is the merging of christian beliefs and pagan beliefs. I’ve tried calling myself a christian witch, which I am happy with in my head, but because of negative associations with the word ‘witch’, it can make my life difficult, if spoken out loud and my life is difficult enough as it is. As a christian witch or a christopagan, you don’t fit into one bracket and on the whole, certainly in the enviroment I find myself in, it can cause intense hostility. I have even been told, by a ‘friend’ (ex friend) that I need to make a decision and decide, once and for all, what I am. I know what I am – I am peacemaker and I want world peace.

        With creative licence, I use some of Ghandi’s words – I am a christian, I am a jew and I am muslim. To add my own bit, I will be whatever you want, as long as we have world peace, and at the end of the day, does it really matter what I am, as long as we have world peace.


  10. I see that you refer to “loving, supportive/friends – the insinuation being that the FAR community is just that.

    In my comments I mentioned the sexual abuse of children on a mass scale by the church of England and yet you chose not to mention it. Is that being a loving and supportive peer/friend?

    I have commented on this before and one person thanked me for letting people know. Is that it?

    Not one person has offered to write a letter, put it on Facebook etc. Is that loving and supportive?

    Is this not indicative of the problem at large – let’s ignore it and hope it goes away.

    There have been women who have been sexually abused as children in this forum and been ignored – they know what it is like and yet they also stay silent.

    If you are not part of the solution, you are also part of the problem.


    1. This sort of prophetic challenge is a very important part of Christian community – any community – imo. I will try to answer your questions one at a time.
      About Christ as male or female – I agree that Jesus was male, if he existed, which he probably did. However, like the biblical writers, I see mythological truth and symbolic truth as the most powerful forms of truth, rather than historicity. To me, the power of Jesus, or of Christ, to bring wellness to individuals and communities rests on how we symbolize Jesus/Christ. And Christ is much bigger and broader than the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Churches have been painting black Jesus, Asian Jesus, etc, for years -a female Jesus (or Christ) is just another way of helping people see themselves in the divine and the divine in themselves. I wrote a lot about this in previous posts – I can link them if you like!

      Regarding sexual abuse – I’m sorry you felt as though I did not take it seriously. I do. I advocate for feminism constantly, and that includes a very passionate focus on violence against women and girls, especially sexual violence. Such violence is everywhere, in every community, and of course Christian communities and feminist communities are in no way exempt, despite their efforts to be safe. I guess I see these issues broadly as part of the deeper and wider societal ills that poison our culture and all its ideologies, whether religious or secular. Certain symbols and words and beliefs exacerbate the problems, and I tend to work on healing those forms of “cultural violence” that justify and perpetuate the structural violence (discrimination/exploitation) and direct violence (abuse, rape, infanticide, selective abortion, honor killings, etc) against girls and women. Most of my writing is an attempt to heal cultural violence, because cultural violence is really the base on which the other violence rests, and yet it tends to be invisible to most of us.

      I was sexually abused as a child and raped by multiple men as an adult, and in a four year relationship with a violently abusive man. I work on these issues in my own way, and I work on them all the time. I am glad you have your own ways of working on these issues. I hope that together, we can make progress and find healing – in our community and our society.


      1. So what specifically are you doing to stop the abuse of hundreds of children that are going through abuse at the hands of the Church of England, as I described in my article?


  11. We are never going to make progress and find healing if our future generation is being systematically sexually abused (and forcing them to role play the marriage ceremony is a form of sexual abuse) by the major religion in this country ie England.


    1. I’m a bit confused – is this group covenanted such that each of us is expected to commit to specific forms of activism on the specific issues that any other member brings up? That would be a bit odd… I myself do quite a bit of activism, but I do not expect other members in this group to commit to specific acts of advocacy in response to issues I raise. I appreciate your passion for this specific example you raise, of a particular practice in a particular denomination in a particular location, which is clearly sexist and abusive. I am glad you are focusing on it. Personally, my focus is more on prostitution, rape culture, pornography, and sexist language/symbols/cultural norms. I’m not going to list all the details of my advocacy, and I don’t expect anyone else to list theirs for me, either. I appreciate this group for the ways it raises our awareness and gives us each a chance to have a voice about feminism and religion. Perhaps I expect different things from it compared to what you expect. I’ve never yet been in any community – religious, family, friends, civic, etc – in which anytime one member raised an advocacy issue, all other members were required to commit to engaging it the way/degree the first member desired. What I expect is thoughtful, respectful discussion of the blog each member posts, and I do find that here. Learning and thinking together has value for me, and I see a lot of our members doing a lot of good advocating for various important issues in today’s world.


  12. You are not confused at all – merely being sarcastic.

    Saying that the expectation that I had that a feminism and religion group would react more vehemently and tangibly, when told about a religion abusing hundreds/thousands of children on a regular basis would be “a bit odd” is calling into doubt my sanity for such an expectation.

    This is not a competition as to who does the most advocacy – I don’t even use those terms when describing what I do.

    I am certainly not expecting members of the group to put in the same amount of effort/passion that I do, but to leave it all solely down to me and not even offer to put a post on Facebook?

    I am not saying that I don’t enjoy being a member of FAR but it is difficult to hear it described as a “loving and supportive” community, when, when sexual abuse of children by religion crops up, everybody goes silent, sees no need to remotely get actively involved in any way, shape or form.

    It’s no good having a voice about these things, if having a voice is where it stops. Sometimes, love needs action as well as a voice.

    I appreciate your honesty about your own abuse and I also realise you are grieving for the loss of your father.


    1. Well, I wish you could see into my heart, that I meant no sarcasm or disrespect. I was hoping to diffuse the tension and find some peaceful accord. I can understand your frustration. I have frequently felt frustrated that people in various contexts (family, friends, facebook, churches) did not join my own highest priority advocacy efforts. I eventually learned not to take it personally. For me, it is sexist language. When people I know have been taught just how violent it is for us all to be using male words such as “Father” or “Lord” or “God” for the divine, still use those words and lead worship with them, I struggle to be patient and accepting that we are all on our own path. I mean no disrespect or discord with you. I wish you every success in your campaign with your church. If there is some concrete action I can take to mend things, such as sign an existing petition, send it on over. Peace to you.


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