Walk in love and beauty.
Trust the knowledge that comes through the body.
Speak the truth about conflict, pain, and suffering.
Take only what you need.
Think about the consequences of your actions for seven generations.
Approach the taking of life with great restraint.
Practice great generosity.
Repair the web
In Rebirth of the Goddess, I offered Nine Touchstones of Goddess Spirituality as an alternative to the Ten Commandments. The Nine Touchstones are intended to inform all our relationships, whether personal, communal, social, or political.
Ours is a broken world. We must speak the truth. Spirituality is not only about “love and light.” Goddess Spirituality, which I often call Goddess feminism, grew out of the feminist movement, which was born in the recognition that all is not well in the world. A central insight of Goddess feminism is that women need the Goddess because when we picture God as exclusively male, we create a world in which boys and men believe they are like God, while girls and women believe they are less than men and God.
In this world in which rape is an ordinary part of war, women are paid less than men for the same work, sexual harassment and sexual aggression are tolerated in workplaces, one in three women will suffer physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner and many of them will be murdered by an intimate partner. Feminism was born when women began to speak up about these injustices and many others.
The Goddess may be love. I believe that She is. But love is not blind. This is why I have written that the Goddess is the “intelligent embodied love that is in all being.” Goddess not only loves the world, She also understands it. She is always there in our joy and in our suffering. She is the “still small voice” within us that urges us to speak out about everything we know to be wrong.
Some of us have been taught that it is not “Christian” to rock the boat. Others have learned from New Age teachers that we must always project “love and light.” But as Beverly Harrison wrote, anger can be a work of love. When the world is not a loving place for all of us and for all beings, it is our duty to speak out about the harm that is being done—in our homes, in our communities, in politics, in the world.
In the 1960s I was fortunate to have been part of a widespread movement that said “no” to racism, war, and poverty. In the late 1960s I was part of a movement of women who said “no” to patriarchy. In the late 1970s and 1980s I was there when scores of women spoke for the first time about incest and other forms of sexual violence in my classes and in my office hours. In the 1980s I was part of the anti-nuclear movement. In the 2000s I wrote many letters and then an official complaint to the European Union about illegal degradation of wetland systems in Lesbos. Today I join with many others in protesting rule by the one per cent. I say #metoo. I express my outrage about families separated at the US border. I urge the US Senate not to confirm Supreme Court nominee who believes the US President should be above the law, while supporting laws that would deprive women of the right to make choices about our own bodies.
There are so many things wrong in our countries and in our world that we may have a hard time deciding where to begin.
When we speak the truth about conflict, pain, and suffering in our world, we can become overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problems we face. Will war ever end? Will environmental destruction continue? Can we stop violence against women? Will we ever end racism? Are millions of people doomed to live in urban slums around the world? What can any one of us do?
I am not optimistic about the future of the world. When I faced my own despair, I made a decision. I decided that even if I am pessimistic about the future of the world, it is worthwhile to do what I can to try to save it. Accepting my despair about the big picture means that it no longer has power over me. I am free to act and to do what I can do to save the world I love. Whatever we do will have some effect. We can help some children, some adults, some birds, and maybe even stop one war along the way, even if we cannot save the world as a whole. And the truth is, no one knows the future.
I have also learned that it is important not to let the problems of the world destroy our capacity for joy. We need to take time to enjoy the beauty of the world and to love ourselves and one another in our daily lives. Simone de Beauvior said it well, “if we do not love life on our own account and through others, it is futile to seek to justify it in any way.” There is more to the world than conflict, pain, and suffering. It is our experience of the joy of life that motivates us to speak the truth about conflict, pain, and suffering.
Also see: Ethics of Goddess Religion: Healing the World , Nurture Life: Ethics of Goddess Spirituality, Walk in Love and Beauty: A Touchstone for Healing, and Trust the Knowledge that Comes through the Body: Heal Yourself, Heal the World
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
One thought on “Legacy of Carol P. Christ: Speak the Truth about Conflict, Pain, and Suffering: It Is Not All Love and Light”
Oh i remember this one so well – we need to read it over and over – all is not well in the world – I too am not optimistic about the future but that dues not stop me from advocating for the Earth and by extension oppression of all kinds – women especially (but also most men to some degree)… for me nature is Source of joy… the rest? I endure
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