The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling by Mary Sharratt

The new podcast series The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling is a deep dive into some of the most contentious ideological conflicts of our age through the experience of the world’s most successful author, a woman who has been vilified and physically threatened and whose books have been burned by both right-wing Christians and, more recently, by her detractors on the liberal and progressive left.

Continue reading “The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling by Mary Sharratt”

White Monkey Chronicles: Myth-busting in Eden BOOK REVIEW by BJ Austin

I binge-read White Monkey Chronicles The Complete Trilogy. The first time. It’s like Douglas Adams, Kurt Vonnegut, J.K. Rowling and Gloria Steinem got drunk one night and decided to write a book.  A second, slower read was even sweeter.

The first paragraph of the Prologue tipped me headfirst and wide-eyed into this mind-bending, myth-busting, topsy-turvy tale. Its innocuous, traditional “Once Upon” opening was immediately blown up by the explosive words “infant deity abandoned,”, “famous bachelor Jew,”, and “A-list Hindu”.  Wait. Whaaat? The stage was set for a rebellious, revolutionary saga destined to be voted “Most Popular” at a fundamentalist book burning!

A white monkey (part-time Plush toy, full-time guardian of an off-the-record baby boy deity) sets the book’s roller coaster ride in motion on a snowy night in Humbolt County, USA. There, at the withered and weathered Sisters of Immaculate Conceptions convent, we meet the three remaining Sister-resisters of The Great Church’s preening patriarchy. (Lets just say the clergy is strictly for the birds — in dress and demeanor.) Getting a whiff of the unauthorized deity’s arrival, a conclave of Cardinals swoop in to confirm (and possibly kidnap) the threatening newborn from the kind, caring, and radical hands of the rogue nuns. Not so fast. Continue reading “White Monkey Chronicles: Myth-busting in Eden BOOK REVIEW by BJ Austin”

The Book of Earth & Other Mysteries: a book review by Elizabeth Cunningham

book-of-earth-photojpgWhen a poem shows me something in a strange and wonderful light and at the same time awakens some bone-deep knowing of my own, I feel more alive, I feel less alone. My soul is stirred and satisfied. The Book of Earth & Other Mysteries by Rabbi Jill Hammer, author, teacher, midrashist, mystic, poet, essayist, and priestess, is a whole collection of such poems.

Collection is not a vivid enough word. The structure of this book is more like a fairy palace, a sandcastle blazoned with shells, a dragon’s lair, a bold work of art in itself.  The book begins with a five part prose piece called “Intentions,” the first four invoking an element and the last one holding open the door for us to enter the world of the poems.  Here are a couple of sentences excerpted from each. Continue reading “The Book of Earth & Other Mysteries: a book review by Elizabeth Cunningham”

The Heart of the Labyrinth: BOOK REVIEW by Mary Petiet

the-heart-of-the-labyrinth_cover_front_72What if it really is as simple as changing our minds?

This is the central question of Nicole Schwab’s book, The Heart of the Labyrinth (Womancraft Publishing, 2014). This question paves the way for her eco-feminist approach to balancing the self and the environment. Schwab’s book is a parable as multilayered and complex as human nature, and it moves through the ages to probe the pure core of the self and the sustaining energy that connects all. Continue reading “The Heart of the Labyrinth: BOOK REVIEW by Mary Petiet”

Foremothers: A Book Review & So Much More by Kate Brunner

foremothers-of-the-women-s-spirituality-movementI sometimes feel as though I live caught between feminism’s assorted waves. I am too young to have experienced the rise & crest of the Second Wave. I only just began to learn there was an actual -ism type name for this collection of thoughts, desires, feelings, & beliefs shaping themselves within me during my adolescent years as the Second Wave was decidedly ebbing.

Coming into my own as a very young adult, I found the rising Third Wave frustrating, though. Arguments over even using the word “feminist” to begin with exhausted me and it seemed like there was more debate raging about what was or was not feminism than there was meaningful change-agent action in the world around me. While I now recognize that was probably a necessary step in feminism’s evolution, at the time I was more concerned with confronting the immediate challenges of my work in a massively male-dominated career field under extremely stressful conditions than endlessly defending my conceptual feminist identity. This was the socio-political setting in which I came to Women’s Spirituality.

I came with little knowledge of the herstory behind the re-emergence of Goddess spirituality. I was too young to know the names of the Second Wave women who created the vessel anew. And too put off by my contact with the early Third Wave to study it formally. What I did know was that there was a thing called Women’s Spirituality and it spoke to me body, mind, heart, & soul. So, I eschewed study for direct experience, fumbling my way through creating a personal spiritual practice between myself & Goddess as a very private solitary. Years later, my penchant for autodidacticism & a huge, ugly feminist-on-feminist argument on a blog post I wrote led me on a quest to discover more about both my feminist and spiritual roots. Who had come before me? How did feminism & Women’s Spirituality get to where it was now- in theory & in practice? What was my herstory?

That was when I finally met the work of the women whose stories make up Foremothers of the Women’s Spirituality Movement: Elders and Visionaries. This volume, edited by Miriam Robbins Dexter and Vicki Noble, is precious to me and it is honestly an honor to write a review for it on FAR today. Continue reading “Foremothers: A Book Review & So Much More by Kate Brunner”

She Rises: A Book Review by Kate Brunner

cover-final-front-rdcdShe Rises: Why Goddess Feminism, Activism and Spirituality? edited by Helen Hye-Sook Hwang and Kaalii Cargill is the product of a collective writing project that began in March 2014 with an open call for submissions that answered the questions now found on the book’s brilliantly beautiful cover. As the project took shape, a total of 92 voices contributed their thoughts, feelings, images, poetics, prose, challenges, & calls to prayer in answer to why– Why Goddess feminism? Why Goddess activism? Why Goddess spirituality? In the end, the project published the work of familiar names in Goddess circles like FAR’s own Carol Christ, Jassy Watson, & Judith Shaw side by side with names of Goddess practitioners around the world who just felt inspired to share their voices in Goddess community. Continue reading “She Rises: A Book Review by Kate Brunner”

“We Knocked” :: A Review of Mormon Feminism by Caryn D. Riswold

caryn2Mormon feminists experience what most feminists of faith have heard at some point. Utter dismissal of the possibility of their existence.

We know several variations:

You can’t be Christian and feminist.

There’s no such thing as a Catholic feminist.

You can’t seriously be Jewish and feminist.

You can’t possibly be Muslim and feminist.

To be Mormon and feminist? Preposterous.

In response, scholars, activists, and writers within each tradition have had to document their history, make their theological case, and engage their scriptures as robustly as any conservative traditionalist would. In order to achieve meaningful institutional change, unimpeachable work and confident testimony is required. Continue reading ““We Knocked” :: A Review of Mormon Feminism by Caryn D. Riswold”

Book review: Merlin Stone Remembered: Her Life and Works by Barbara Ardinger

Barbara ArdingerWhen Merlin Stone’s book, When God Was a Woman, was published in 1976, it was a lightning bolt of feminist scholarship that told the world that before there was a Judeo-Christian god there were goddesses, and before there were goddesses, there was the Goddess. If you’re reading this review and you have not read When God Was a Woman, buy the book. Right now. As you sink into Stone’s book, try to imagine what it was like before we knew about Isis or Inanna or Astarte, before we knew that the tree in the Garden of Eden was probably a sacred fig and that the serpent was a symbol or aspect of the Goddess and that people (mostly women) who ate figs or worked with serpents were honored priestesses and prophets. Just imagine! The work of the second wave feminists added to the work of scholars like Merlin Stone and Marija Gimbutas, but it didn’t begin until the second half of the 20th century. Before that? All there was, was God the Father, maker of heaven and earth. Yes, Merlin Stone hurled lightning bolts into our hearts and minds and bookshelves.

Merline StoneMerlin Stone Remembered is a new book edited by Dr. Carol F. Thomas, Dr. David B. Axelrod, and Stone’s life partner Leonard Schneir, with an introduction by Gloria Orenstein, professor emerita, USC. Orenstein opens the book by putting Stone’s work in context. Before the 60s and 70s, she writes, no one was ever taught anything about the matristic cultures. Yes, a few books had been written. She cites G. Rachel Levy’s The Gate of Horn (published in England in 1948, republished in the U.S. in 1963), Helen Diner’s Mothers and Amazons (1973), and Elizabeth Gould Davis’ The First Sex (1971). These books gave us some of our foundational myths, but, Orenstein writes, “we can see that although there was some writing that had already attempted to reconstruct a history of women …, much more expertise and authority were needed” (p. 8). “Once Merlin Stone provided us with her careful scholarship and a truly feminist (not biased, patriarchal) accounting of ancient Goddess cultures, I and all who found Merlin’s work were finally able to understand our herstory…” (p. 9).

Continue reading “Book review: Merlin Stone Remembered: Her Life and Works by Barbara Ardinger”

Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak, A Girl God Anthology– Book Review by Kate Brunner

Kate Brunner profile picIf 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. Continue reading “Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak, A Girl God Anthology– Book Review by Kate Brunner”

BOOK REVIEW: Amy Wright Glenn’s Birth, Breath, & Death by Natalie Weaver

Natalie WeaverAmy Wright Glenn’s Birth, Breath, & Death: Meditations on Motherhood, Chaplaincy, and Life as a Doula is a mid-life memoir of the author’s personal encounters and professional insights drawn from her work in the spaces of birth and death.  Glenn gleans from her formative experiences as a daughter and sister, her trained experiences as a teacher and doula, and her wisdom experiences as a mother, chaplain, and friend.  In an accessible voice, Glenn reflects compassionately on her early life in a Mormon family.  She considers critically the nature of religious worldviews that are doctrinally dualistic and apocalyptic.  Glenn further describes the therapeutic and illuminating value she found in the scholarly study of religions as an anthropological phenomenon.  Glenn explores how religious discourse both expresses human joy and grief and also aids us in our encounters with life and death.  Glenn intertwines her academic study with personal narrative and achieves a professionally-informed and experientially-based “thinking out loud” about the bookends of human life.   Her writing is tender, and her vision is thought-provoking.
Continue reading “BOOK REVIEW: Amy Wright Glenn’s Birth, Breath, & Death by Natalie Weaver”

Rosemary Radford Ruether’s Quests for Hope and Meaning by Gina Messina-Dysert

Gina Messina-Dysert profileRosemary Radford Ruether is one of the most brilliant theologians of our time and her newly released autobiography, My Quest for Hope and Meaning, is a gift to those of us who have been so touched by her work.  In this intimate and beautiful piece, Ruether shares her personal journey in feminist scholarship and activism.  The autobiography opens with a profound forward by Renny Golden (that is also shared here on Feminism and Religion) and continues with an introduction and six chapters where Ruether guides us through an exploration of the influence of the matriarchs in her life, her interactions with Catholicism, her continued exploration of interfaith relations, her family’s struggle with mental illness, and her commitment to ecofeminist responses to the ecological crisis.

Ruether states that “Humans are hope and meaning creators” (xii), and her autobiography details her own quests for hope and meaning.  She reflects on the incredible impact made by the female-centered patterns in family and community in her life.  According to Ruether, these “matricentric enclaves” grounded and shaped her interest in feminist theory and women’s history.  She also describes the spiritually and intellectually serious Catholicism that she received from her mother and articulates her continued frustration with Vatican leadership that has undermined the efforts of Vatican II.   For Ruether, her ongoing affiliation with feminist theological circles is crucial as she continues to work toward shaping an ecumenical and interfaith Catholicism.

Continue reading “Rosemary Radford Ruether’s Quests for Hope and Meaning by Gina Messina-Dysert”

Review of “The Book of Mormon” by Ivy Helman

IMG_5998My friend and I won two tickets to “The Book of Mormon” showing as part of Broadway in Boston.  Having known nothing about the musical, we were curious and excited to be going.  Nearly two weeks later, we are still discussing how we feel about the production.  We agree that overall we like it and there are some very funny parts, but we are also troubled and disgusted by it on a number of levels.  Moreover, the fact that we like it makes us quite uncomfortable.

As a Broadway production, the cast was amazing!  The songs were creative.  Characters were dynamic and showed marked growth.  “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” was outright brilliant with its use of humor, satire and fear to explain the Mormon preoccupation with hell as punishment for immorality and/or disbelief. Continue reading “Review of “The Book of Mormon” by Ivy Helman”

Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen By Barbara Ardinger

The Great Goddess and Divine Mother of Us All manifests where and to whom She chooses, no matter what faith we hold. In the 12th century, She manifested to a German nun named Hildegard. Hildegard’s story has been told in many places, including a highly detailed entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia, which is a wonderful resource for stories about saints. I’ve just finished reading Illuminations (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012), a splendid new novel about Hildegard by Mary Sharratt, who is the author of other excellent novels, including Daughters of the Witching Hill.

illuminationsHildegard, who lived from 1092 to 1179, was the tenth child of a family of minor nobility in the Holy Roman Empire. She’s a sturdy child who loves the outdoors and enjoys running through the forest with her brother. But early in the novel, she learns that she is to be her family’s tithe to the church. Her mother has already arranged for this bright and curious eight-year-old child to be the companion to Jutta von Sponheim, a “holy virgin” who yearns to be bricked up as an anchorite in the Abby of Disibodenberg. Being an anchorite means that, like Julian of Norwich (about 250 years later), this girl and her magistra are bricked in. There is a screened opening in the wall through which their meager meals are passed and through which they can witness mass and speak to Abbott Cuno, the other monks, and visiting pilgrims, but they can never go out. Never. In the Afterword, Sharratt writes that “Disibodenberg Abbey is now in ruins and it’s impossible to precisely pinpoint where the anchorage was, but the suggested location is two suffocatingly narrow rooms and a narrow courtyard built on to the back of the church” (p. 272). As Sharratt vividly shows us, Hildegard survived in that awful place for thirty years. Continue reading “Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen By Barbara Ardinger”

A Tale of Power and Beauty, Part II: Snow White by Amanda Kieffer

This is a moment we all face—the moment when we slay the enemy, only to realize we have slain ourselves and the enemy is still at large.   

In Part I of this blog, I analyzed the themes of power and beauty in the film Snow White and the Huntsman in relation to the character of the Queen.  In Part II, I would like to continue exploring these themes in light of Snow White’s character and her relationship with the Queen. That Snow White’s power is her beauty is clear.  True, it is stated right up front that Snow White is admired throughout her father’s kingdom “as much for defiant spirit as for her beauty.” However, it is her beauty that grants her agency and power, not her free and defiant spirit. The battle scene in the climax of the film illustrates this connection between power and beauty well—as Snow White drives her dagger into Ravenna’s heart she repeats the mantra: “By fairest blood it is done; by fairest blood it is undone.”  After Ravenna breathes her last, we see Snow White looking into the mirror on the wall, the victor, the fairest. Her beauty has allowed her to ascend to power. Her beauty has allowed her to defeat Ravenna. We are left wondering—who has won exactly?
Continue reading “A Tale of Power and Beauty, Part II: Snow White by Amanda Kieffer”

Why Feminists Should See Snow White and the Huntsman by Erin Lane

When all the taco meat was refrigerated, the grease-stained plates loaded into the dishwasher, and the church volunteers departed, my husband peeked into our bedroom where I had been hiding out (er, I mean reading my Bible) for the duration of his adviser meeting. “Put some pants on, Erin. We’re going to the movies.
It was a magic Monday night at the theater seeing Snow White and the Huntsman, a sort-of Braveheart-like retelling of the Brothers Grimm fable.  I was hesitant to go, afraid it would be too dark. The Walt Disney version, after all, had me running off to a child psychologist who assured me the wicked queen wasn’t all that bad. I spent more than a few nights sleeping in the bathtub with my Micky Mouse comforter, safe from her clutches. Continue reading “Why Feminists Should See Snow White and the Huntsman by Erin Lane”

A Tale of Power and Beauty, Part I: The Queen by Amanda Kieffer

A closer look at Snow White and the queen reveals that these women have a common enemy that neither is either willing or able to perceive—the patriarchal lie that a woman’s power is synonymous with youth and beauty. 

A couple of weeks ago, to bide some time, I went to see Snow White and the Huntsman, the latest expression of the classic Grimm Brothers tale, “Little Snow White.” Expecting a mediocre experience, I was unprepared for the complex emotions that followed me out of the theater. Don’t misunderstand me: the film was mediocre.  But it also provided some poignant opportunities for me to reflect on my own feminist journey and to ponder some essential feminist themes.  While, Snow White and the Huntsman does offer some acute depictions of the reality of women’s lives, the film as a whole misunderstands these interpersonal dynamics, fails to acknowledge the true source of oppression and, in the end, offers up two lead female characters neither of which is liberating.  One is real but vanquished, the other unreal but victorious.

There are a number of elements in this film, which, in the barest terms, might hint at a genuinely appealing picture of female empowerment.  There is a powerful queen, who even above the male characters is the most complex and sympathetic.  She enjoys vast amounts of power and independence.  In this film we also encounter a Snow White who traipses around in pants and a torn up dress, which is delightfully ambiguous.  Continue reading “A Tale of Power and Beauty, Part I: The Queen by Amanda Kieffer”

BOOK REVIEW: Jonathan Merritt’s A Faith of Our Own by Gina Messina-Dysert

Have you been a victim of the “Culture Wars”?  Jonathan Merritt was, and it inspired him to write his latest book A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars.  According to Merritt, the culture wars have led each of us (who identify as Christian) to define Christ in terms of our political party.  The Religious Right have claimed a political and pietistic Christ who must be protected from liberals who have sought to chase Jesus out of our “God-Blessed” nation.  And Christians on the left have fought against the oppressive theocracy they believe the right wing seeks to implement.  Neither side’s Jesus likes the other, and according to Merritt, neither represents the Jesus of the Bible.

Merritt argues that participating in politics foolishly gets churches into trouble and results in a divide within community.  Christians must answer Jesus’ question, “Who do you say I am?” for themselves.  By transcending the culture wars, we can return to the Bible, see Jesus with “fresh eyes,” and find a “faith of our own.”  Merritt explains Christians who are reclaiming their faith are doing so in search of life transformation and unity among those once divided by politics. Continue reading “BOOK REVIEW: Jonathan Merritt’s A Faith of Our Own by Gina Messina-Dysert”

Pink Smoke Over the Vatican: A Review by Kate Conmy

Review: Pink Smoke Over the Vatican (2010)

Award-Winning Independent Documentary Film

Directed by Jules Hart

By Kate Conmy, MA.

Membership Coordinator of the Women’s Ordination Conference.

Last weekend I had the honor of joining over eighty Women’s Ordination Conference members and supporters in Claremont, California for a screening of “Pink Smoke Over the Vatican” followed by a distinguished panel discussion.  WOC board member Miriam Todoroff of Pilgrim Place hosted the event, along with Rev. Kathleen Jess, ECC, with local support from Theresa Yugar. “Pink Smoke Over the Vatican” has recently been made available for purchase, but for the past couple of years the film has starred in women’s ordination movement circles, drawing hundreds to cinemas, churches, universities, and homes for a peek at the controversial and moving film.

Fr. Roy Bourgeois has taken the show on the road, touring and speaking throughout the world (from Rhode Island to Rome) on women’s ordination and the important stories in the film. Fr. Roy’s involvement with women’s ordination is well documented, however, notably, “Pink Smoke Over the Vatican” is specifically mentioned in his First Canonical Warning from his Order, the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, insisting that his public support and promotion of the movie was a Holy Offense. More than just good press, this is a testament to the power contained within this film. Continue reading “Pink Smoke Over the Vatican: A Review by Kate Conmy”

The Harlot Shall Be Burned with Fire: Biblical Literalism in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Sarah Sentilles

(spoiler alert)

Against my better judgment, this past weekend I went to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, directed by David Fincher who’s best known for Fight Club and The Social Network. I didn’t like the book; it unsettled me that a novel filled with sexual violence against women—a novel that seems to take pleasure in the violence, to offer it up for readers to consume—became such a sensation. But I’m a sucker for a trailer and a good soundtrack, and I was curious, so I bought a ticket.

The plot revolves around a missing girl and the serial killer believed to have murdered her who uses the Bible like a handbook. He takes passages from Leviticus—21:9 for example: The daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by playing the harlot, she profanes her father. She shall be burned with fire—and enacts them on women’s bodies. On Jewish women’s bodies.

Please click here to continue reading this article at Religion Dispatches.

Sarah Sentilles is a scholar of religion, an award-winning speaker, and the author of three books including A Church of Her Own: What Happens When a Woman Takes the Pulpit (Harcourt, 2008) and Breaking Up with God (HarperOne, 2011). She earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale and a master’s of divinity and a doctorate in theology from Harvard, where she was awarded the Billings Preaching Prize and was the managing editor of the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. At the core of her scholarship, writing, and activism is a commitment to investigating the roles religious language, images, and practices play in oppression, violence, social transformation, and justice movements. She is currently at work on a novel and an edited volume that investigates the intersections of torture and Christianity.


Son of Man: An Updated Gospel Story of Jesus Set in South Africa by Michele Stopera Freyhauf

January 12, 2012

Son of Man is an updated story of the life of Jesus set in the fictional State of Judea that is modern day South Africa – complete with warlords and child soldiers.    It could easily be mistaken for modern day Rwanda or Darfur with its modern issues and political overtonesRoger Ebert stated, “The secret of the movie is that it doesn’t strain to draw parallels with current world events – because it doesn’t have to.”  The director draws parallels between the gospels and 21st century Africa.  According to Dartford-May, “we wanted to look at the Gospels as if they were written by spin doctors and to strip that away and look at the truth.”  The director “captures the rhythms of African life in both rural settings and sprawling townships.”  “Feather-clad young angels offer an eerie echo and reminder of Africa’s lost generations.”

The movie also sticks with what Eric Snider calls “Traditional African trial music, dance, and costumes” as a type of worship or or allusion to Jesus’ godhood.  Judea is in flux; warlords and corruption take center stage.  Poverty, violence, and oppression affect the all of the people.  The key idea is that Jesus is a freedom fighter – one that fights injustice and oppression.  The director does not emphasize “Jesus’ divinity so much as his leadership, good sense and compassion.”  Jesus is not violent and his followers, most of whom were former child soldiers, are encouraged to respond non-violently, which goes against their upbringing and training. Continue reading “Son of Man: An Updated Gospel Story of Jesus Set in South Africa by Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

Rosemary Radford Ruether’s Women and Redemption: A Theological History By Gina Messina-Dysert


Women and Redemption : A Theological History. 2nd ed. By Rosemary Radford Ruether.Minneapolis: Fortress Press. 2011.

Women and Redemption: A Theological History

Having been critically impacted by the work of Rosemary Radford Ruether, I was anxious for the release of the second edition of her crucial book, Women and Redemption: A Theological HistoryRedesigned with illustrative material, research questions, and suggested reading for further research, as well as the addition of a new chapter exploring recent developments in feminist theology, this text does not disappoint.

With this newest edition, Ruether acknowledges the ongoing journey in the field of feminist theology and emerging issues faced by women in religion and society. Examining the Christian claim of an inclusive and universal redemption in Christ, she traces paradigm shifts in understandings of gender over the last two millennia.  Ruether offers an historical exploration of women and redemption in the first five chapters followed by a global survey of contemporary feminist theologies in the final four chapters, which includes a concluding section that gives attention to “Fourth World” feminisms and post-colonialism in an effort to “bring this volume up to date” (xvii). Continue reading “Rosemary Radford Ruether’s Women and Redemption: A Theological History By Gina Messina-Dysert”

Why I Hated “Jumping the Broom”: Disappointing Depictions of African-American Women’s Agency By Elise Edwards

Elise M. Edwards is a Ph.D. candidate in Theology, Ethics, and Culture at Claremont Graduate University and registered architect in the State of Florida.  She does interdisciplinary work in the fields of theology, ethics, and aesthetics, examining how they inform and shape each other and express the commitments of their communities.

This past spring, I thought it would be fun to spend a leisurely afternoon with a good friend, seeing the movie Jumping the Broom (now available for home viewing).  The film features some of my favorite actresses, Angela Bassett and Loretta Devine, and I like going to movies that show African-American romances, families and friendships if they aren’t too stereotypical or offensive.  My trusted  Entertainment Weekly assured me that this would meet my criteria: “Yes, there really is a way to make a boisterous, dramatic comedy about African-American life better than Tyler Perry does….You’ll laugh — a lot — but you’ll also shed tears of recognition at this funny, salty, strife-torn look at the agony and ecstasy of family,” said critic Owen Gleiberman.

But after the opening scene, I knew it was not going to be a pleasant afternoon. Continue reading “Why I Hated “Jumping the Broom”: Disappointing Depictions of African-American Women’s Agency By Elise Edwards”

Charlene Spretnak’s “Relational Reality”: An Illuminating Read By Gina Messina-Dysert

I have long been interested in the work of women’s spirituality movement’s founding mother Charlene Spretnak; thus when her newest book, Relational Reality: New Discoveries of Interrelatedness that are Transforming the Modern World, was released I was anxious to read it.  To no surprise, I found it a brilliant, stimulating, and vital work.

In Relational Reality, Spretnak explains that we have “missed the way the world works” as a result of our cultural tendencies.  “The failure to notice that reality is inherently dynamic and interrelated at all levels – including substance and functioning – has caused a vast range of suffering” (1). Spretnak offers “snapshots” of the various crises we face within education and parenting, health and healthcare, community design and architecture, and the economy with purpose;  to name the suffering and hardship endured within the world and demonstrate that these crises are the result of anti-relational thinking.  She states these problems cannot be corrected until they are acknowledged; “Only then can we grasp the significance of the relational breakthroughs and solutions that are emerging” (20). Continue reading “Charlene Spretnak’s “Relational Reality”: An Illuminating Read By Gina Messina-Dysert”

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