Carol P. Christ’s Legacy: Why Don’t Feminists Express Anger At God? by Carol P. Christ

Moderator’s Note: We here at FAR have been so fortunate to work along side Carol Christ for many years. She died from cancer in July, 2021. Her work continues through her non-profit foundation, the Ariadne Institute for the Study of Myth and Ritual and the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete. To honor her legacy, as well as allow as many people as possible to read her thought-provoking and important blogs, we are pleased to offer this new column to highlight her work. We will be picking out special blogs for reposting. This blog was originally posted July 9, 2012. You can read it long with its original comments here.

My relationship to God changed when I accused “Him” of everything I thought “He” had done or let be done to women—from allowing us to be beaten and raped and sold into slavery, to not sending us female prophets and saviors, to allowing “Himself” to be portrayed as a “man of war.”

In the silence that followed my outpouring of anger, I heard a still small voice within me say: In God is a woman like yourself. She too has been silenced and had her history stolen from her. Until that moment God had been an “Other” to me. “He” sometimes appeared as a dominating and judgmental Other, and at other times as a loving and supportive Other, but “He” was always an “Other.” I as a woman in my female mind-body definitely was not in “His” image. 

After I expressed my anger to God, God transformed from an Other into what Whitehead once described as “a fellow [or should I say female] sufferer who understands.”  Although I had already been searching for a “God in my image” or “in whose image I could be,” I had yet to find Her. In the quiet after the storm, I came to believe that I would.  

I have written extensively about the importance of that moment and the need for women to express our anger at God.*  However, it is fair to say that feminists have not exactly embraced this suggestion.  I have often wondered why.  I have wondered how feminists can continue to participate in worship services with traditional God language and readings from the Bible without getting angry.

When I was still a Christian, anger rose up from my belly and caused my shoulders to tense with every “He” and “Him” and multiplied when God was portrayed as the author of violence, as for example in Exodus and the prophets, or in Christian visions of the last judgment.  Do my feminist friends simply avoid going to Church or Synagogue, do they shut down their bodies, do they close their ears—or all of the above at different times?  I have never been sure how they manage it, because so few write about their experiences of God.

Sometimes I think that the notion that “God is a liberator of the oppressed,” which Christian and some Jewish feminists repeat like a mantra, functions to close their minds to what the Bible and liturgies are actually saying about God. It takes very selective reading to extract the God who is a liberator of the oppressed from the dominant and warlike imagery through which God is understood in Exodus and the prophets and even in some of the images of the “kingdom” of God proclaimed by Jesus—not to mention in images of eternal punishment in hell or of “onward Christian soldiers marching as to war with the cross of Jesus going on before.”

Sarah Sentilles wrote about her “love affair with God” and her subsequent “breaking up” with Him. I resonated to her words, because like me she had a passionate engagement with God.  Sometimes I wonder if the failure of other feminists to get angry with God pushes “Him” out of their experience altogether. What would happen if we all got angry with God? Would the world split open?**

*In early essays in The Jewish Woman and in Anima, as well as in Laughter of Aphrodite, Rebirth of the Goddess, and She Who Changes.

**With thanks to Muriel Rukeyser for the poem in which she wrote:  “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? / The world would split open.”

BIO:

Carol P. Christ (1945-2021) was an internationally known feminist and ecofeminist writer, activist, and educator. Her work continues through her non-profit foundation, the Ariadne Institute for the Study of Myth and Ritual.

“In Goddess religion death is not feared, but is understood to be a part of life, followed by birth and renewal.”  — Carol P. Christ 



Categories: Feminism, Feminist Awakenings, General, God-talk, Thealogy, Theology

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

6 replies

  1. I love this post. What does happen when we don’t get angry with god? When my beloved brother killed himself – I hated god – gave up the church completely – but did not rage openly – No. Instead I gave up hope. At that point in my life I had not ever lived in my body so my feelings overwhelmed me – paralyzing me to the point where i addicted to food to escape.

    I think another way we avoid this confrontation is to ignore or leave our bodies and rely on out thinking (goddess help us), pr the myth that god is both male and female – an argument I thought ridiculous.

    I’d like to see this post re-printed again and again because I think women need to read these words over and over until they get it. Women are excluded from religions – period –

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I want to add how important it is to allow ourselves to express our anger – every time I do, often by saying NO or expressing an independent thought I can feel my heart pounding – something in me still fears that wrath – scary and so critical to acknowledge.

    Like

  3. Yes, I’ve been angry with “God” for many years. What I tell people is that I have zero interest in the standard-brand god. Then I often have to explain that this is the angry, jealous, vengeful, male deity of the three so-called major religions. (And sometimes I have the explain what those religions are. Sheesh.) Yes, zero interest in him, though I have read the so-called holy books about him, along with many other books also rebutting his misogyny and the patriarchalism of his priests, et al.

    My favorite of Carol’s books is She Who Changes, which, as we all know, is about process philosophy, which is largely the work of Charles Hartshorne. Carol explains process philosophy and how it “re-imagins” that god as a sort of kinder deity. When I first met Carol when she did a book signing and talk about this book, we talked about how I think process philosophy is in many ways like our Goddess faith. That was a good conversation. Bright blessings to Carol and her work and to all of us who have read her books.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Why would there be such an awful being. Makes us with an insatiable curiosity but doesn’t want us to use it. What a crock! I think the story of the garden is actually illustrating the fissure between free thought and pure instinct. To stay in the garden we must use instinct alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This god is a contruct of men. I do not believe in him or anything pertaining to him. The ones to be angry at are those men who invented him in order to push women to a place beneath them. The ones to be angry with are the ones that continue to place their make believe god in a place of authority above anyone who does not agree with their idea of who or what god is. I got angry at god a long time ago and discovered it did me no good because you can’t get angry at something that simply is not real. When I finally placed my anger squarely on the heads of the men who invented him and left all the major male oriented religions behind I was finally able to find peace.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Every time I hear or read a comment about praying to god about some disaster or hoping for a cure, I ask “where was this god that allowed the tragedy to happen? “ it works both ways.

    Liked by 1 person

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