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.   Continue reading “WHY DON’T FEMINISTS EXPRESS ANGER AT GOD? by Carol P. Christ”

Rien n’est parfait  by Barbara Ardinger

What le renard teaches le petit prince is that when people tame each other, they spend time together and get to know each other. It’s not power-over, but power-with. We become important to each other…. The world is made more sacred. That’s what we pagans and good, honorable people in the other religions who talk to each other without preaching are doing.

In Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) by the French writer and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the little prince takes advantage of the migration of wild birds to leave his home, the tiny Asteroid B 612, because he running away from a vain and fickle rose. After he arrives on earth, he sees a whole garden of roses, and it breaks his heart because he thought his rose was unique in all the world. When he returns to the desert where he originally landed, he meets le renard, a very wise fox. The fox tells the prince that they should “tame” each other. “Apprivoise-moi,” he says, “tame me. Let us create ties so that we know each other.”[i]  Continue readingRien n’est parfait  by Barbara Ardinger”

Remembering My Grandmother: Not as a Suffering Servant but as a Devoted and Loving Mother By Michele Stopera Freyhauf

The last week-and-a-half has been probably the most heart wrenching time I remember having in my life.  You see, my grandmother passed from this life June 19th and the void in my heart is huge.  I have to admit that I am lucky that my grandmother was a huge part of my life and the last family funeral I attended was in 1983.  Certainly one expects grandparents to pass away, even when they live a healthy long life.  Nothing prepares you for the time that you must say good-bye.  You yearn for one more conversation, one more hug, one more kiss – the thoughts churn and churn robbing you of sleep or peace.  At some point, a level of acceptance or at least the ability to cope will occur – when is a mystery, but for now I just try to be strong – for my mom, my sister, and my children.

Driving home from vacation, I received the news from my sister, Lisa:

Lisa:    Nanny has lymphoma, which they found in her stomach and invaded her spine, paralyzing her from the hips down.  It is fast moving.

Me:     How long?

Lisa:    2-4 weeks. Hospice was called and is making her comfortable.

The news was jolting, but I did not realize that the initial expectation 3 days earlier was 6-8 weeks.  She had tests for a bleeding ulcer, so this diagnosis was jolting.  Over the last year, we dealt with dementia and health issues.  These either were false alarms or cured thanks to the love of her family, care from the people at the nursing home, and her nurse practitioner and physician.  I wished that this was also a false alarm – but it was not, this time it was real and the end was eminent.

Seeing my mother at Father’s Day celebration, the news was even more grim – Nanny is no longer alert, can no longer open her eyes – they are making her comfortable.  The last time her eyes opened was after her priest gave her last rites.  He turned to leave, she opened her eyes, said “Hi Father,” and went back to sleep.  This was the last time her eyes would open.  My mother tells me that she is not expected to live through the week.

I took my children over to say good-bye.  I know I should be grateful that my girls have a close relationship with their great-grandmother, one that spanned 19 years.  I know I should be grateful that I had her in every facet of my life.  It is no secret that family was important to my grandmother, and she adored all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  This is a trait handed to my mother, my sister, and me.  Something I strive to instill in my children.

The good-byes were difficult as she was essentially unconscious and her breathing was noisy.

My sister called, how is she?

Me:     Breathing is labored and gaps between breaths are getting longer.

Lisa:    Will she be o.k. tomorrow?

Me:     I have no idea.  You may want to visit tonight just in case.

My sister and her husband appeared about 10 minutes later.  Wanting to give her time, I left with my family.  Going home was hard.  I was afraid she may not make it through the night.  I hoped with all my heart that this was not the end.

The next morning I returned to work.  She made it through the night.  I was in my office for a few hours before when I received a call from my dad.

Dad:    I am just calling to tell you Nanny is declining pretty fast.  They are saying minutes to hours – we are all here.  No need for you to come, I just wanted to let you know.

Me:     I am on my way.

Depending on traffic, I had a 40 – 60 minute drive.  I had to be with the woman that helped care for me and loved me.  The person that I took trips with, would talk hours on the phone with, cook with.  My grandmother was at every event, every family function, every holiday, and every birthday.  She was a huge part of my life and very important to me.  I needed to get there before she took her last breath – thankfully, I did.

The goodbyes continued.  Staff and residents alike came down to say goodbye. She was loved my so many.  Tears flowed for this petite woman with beautiful blue eyes, a contagious smile, and a heart of gold.  Her three children, my father, my sister, a few friends, and I kept vigil by her bedside.  I held her hand, sponged her neck and forehead to help with the fever, and kissed her forehead.  This went on all day and all night.

It was now midnight.  Everyone left the room to have a snack.  It was a long day and we forgot to eat dinner.  The staff was nice enough to provide us with muffins, water, pop, and coffee but this was no longer enough.  Every time someone would leave to use the restroom, you did not know if she would still be there when you came back.  Even running to a fast-food restaurant to grab a few sandwiches was done with angst and concern. Continue reading “Remembering My Grandmother: Not as a Suffering Servant but as a Devoted and Loving Mother By Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

A Cross-Cultural Feminist Alchemy: Studying Mago, Pan-East Asian Great Goddess, Using Mary Daly’s Radical Feminism as Springboard by Helen Hye-Sook Hwang

Feminist theology was self-transcending to me. I was unafraid of going beyond the boundary of Christianity and its God. 

Mago is the Great Goddess of East Asia and in particular Korea. Reconstructing Magoism, the cultural and historical context of East Asia that venerated Mago as the supreme divine, is both the means and the end. Magoism demonstrates the derivative nature of East Asian religions such as Daoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism while redefining East Asian Shamanism to be the religious expression of Magoism.

I encountered the topic of Mago during my doctoral studies. The topic of Mago fell out of nowhere at the time I was preparing for qualifying examinations. I had never heard the name, Mago. Only when I was able to collect a large amount of primary sources from Korea, China, and Japan, was I awakened to the cultural memory of Mago. I grew up craving the stories of Halmi (Grandmother/Great Mother), a common referral to Mago among Koreans. I had a childhood experience of being in the fairy land unfolded by my grandmother’s old stories. While “Mago” was unfamiliar to most Koreans, she was taken for granted in her many other names such as Samsin (the Triad Deity) and Nogo (Old Goddess) and place-names such as Nogo-san (Old Goddess Mountain) and Nogo-dang (Old Goddess Shrine). Continue reading “A Cross-Cultural Feminist Alchemy: Studying Mago, Pan-East Asian Great Goddess, Using Mary Daly’s Radical Feminism as Springboard by Helen Hye-Sook Hwang”

SHE WHO CHANGES* by Carol P. Christ

She changes everything She touches and everything She touches changes. The world is Her body. The world is in Her and She is in the world. She surrounds us like the air we breathe. She is as close to us as our own breath. She is energy, movement, life, and change. She is the ground of freedom, creativity, sympathy, understanding, and love. In Her we live, and move, and co-create our being. She is always there for each and every one of us, particles of atoms, cells, animals, and human animals. We are precious in Her sight. She understands and remembers us with unending sympathy. She inspires us to live creatively, joyfully, and in harmony with others in the web of life. Yet choice is ours. The world that is Her body is co-created. The choices of every individual particle of an atom, every individual cell, every individual animal, every individual human animal play a part. The adventure of life on planet earth and in the universe as a whole will be enhanced or diminished by the choices we make. She hears the cries of the world, sharing our sorrows with infinite compassion. In a still, small voice, She whispers the desire of Her heart: Life is meant to be enjoyed. She sets before us life and death. We can choose life. Change is. Touch is. Everything we touch can change. Continue reading “SHE WHO CHANGES* by Carol P. Christ”

Do Man-Made Laws Trump the Authority of Jesus? Reflecting on the Meaning of Humility, Priestly Service, and the Issue of Women’s Ordination by Michele Stopera Freyhauf

Maundy Thursday – the imitation of Jesus’ act of service and submission is re-created.  Controversy surrounds the “disciples” – must they be all men?  Are women allowed?  Who steps into Jesus’ role?  Men, women, or both?  Why, when it comes to imitating the act of  humility and priestly service (rooted in our baptismal call), does a distinction of gender need to made at all?

As I progressed towards the intersection, I looked up to witness a grand procession of men dressed in white albs with stoles that often contained subtle hints of gold, worn in a manner to distinguish their role as priests and deacons.  They moved slowly down the sidewalk entering the Cathedral to begin their celebration of the Chrism Mass – a celebration of priesthood and priestly service within the Diocese where all priests and deacons gather to celebrate and re-affirm their commitment to ministry and service to the Church.  It is also during this Mass that the oils used in sacramental celebrations, used by each church, are blessed by the Bishop.

As I continued to watch, I could not help but search the processional line for those with a hair color other than gray.  I wanted to see  how many young priests were in that processional line.  What I found was no surprise –  an aging group of men with the sporadic appearance of younger priests.   The numbers stood as a staunch reminder that we, as a Church, may be faced with a severe shortage of priests in the future.  Something already known and planned for by the Diocese in its campaign to consolidate and close parishes.

Another sad observation was put on public display  –  the absolute absence of women. Continue reading “Do Man-Made Laws Trump the Authority of Jesus? Reflecting on the Meaning of Humility, Priestly Service, and the Issue of Women’s Ordination by Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

My Feminist Perspective of Authority – Part 1 by Elise M. Edwards

I make a distinction between power and authority.  Authority is a personal characteristic based on a relationship of trust between me and a text, a person, or their work.  Power, on the other hand, is operative with or without trust.

This past weekend, I had the honor of participating in a workshop on Living Texts: Celebrating Feminist Perspective and Theo/alogy, Authority, and the Sacred in the Academy.  The workshop was organized for the Women’s Caucus of WECSOR, a regional association of national organizations who study religion.  I was delighted to connect with new friends, mentors and sisters interested in feminism and religion, including some of my co-contributors on this site –Theresa Yugar, Sara Frykenberg, and Corinna Guerrero .  There were two panels that shared our reflections about authority from either student perspectives or diverse professional perspectives.  I shared my experiences as a student.  This workshop was a gathering where women scholars in religion could discuss the challenges and promises of our voices in the academy.  Because our dialogue was so inspiring to me, I thought I’d continue the discussion here. Continue reading “My Feminist Perspective of Authority – Part 1 by Elise M. Edwards”

Get Your Laws off my Body! by Elise Edwards

After considering Virginia’s Transvaginal Utrasound Bill in light of the womanist critique, I wonder if religiously-motivated lawmakers considered that they alone do not have access to God’s intentions, but that the divine spirit is operative in a pregnant woman as well, would they be so willing to negate her moral agency?

On Tuesday, the senate in Virginia approved a law that would require women to get an external ultrasound before an abortion.  This is a scaled-back version of an original bill that mandated transvaginal ultrasounds prior to abortions. According to this Washington Post article, opponents like Sen. Janet D. Howell describe the measure as “state rape,” since it is the state, not the woman and her doctor who decides that she must undergo this procedure  requiring the insertion of a probe into the vagina.  Although proponents of the bill say that it is designed to give women more information about a fetus’ gestational age and development, most would agree that it is ultimately intended to discourage the women from having an abortion.  This is why bloggers like Kendra Hamilton believe that religion is the moti­va­tion behind this and the other 5 abortion-related bills introduced in the Virginia General Assembly connected to issues of women’s sovereignty over their bodies.  Yet, as I heard about these bills, another religious response came to mind – one that expresses horror and condemnation of coercive practices regarding women’s childbearing. Continue reading “Get Your Laws off my Body! by Elise Edwards”

Where do Cats Go?: Reflections on Death Post Patriarchal Christianity by Sara Frykenberg

The reason I am speaking about death today is two-fold.  First, I have been somewhat preoccupied with the concept of death since entering a new decade of my life.  I no longer believe in the evangelical vision of heaven I learned about in my youth; but as an uncomfortable “un”-Christian, I also have no satisfactory vision to replace it.  Or rather, there are many visions I find appealing, but none that I “believe in,” as I had believed in heaven.  My family is getting older, my parents have been sick in the last few years, and I often feel that I have more to lose now than I used to.

My second reason for considering death today is that last Wednesday, Mimi, our family cat of 24 years—yes, 24—passed away.  After spending all nine of her lives living, Mimi could no longer eat and was suffering.  My mother had her put down after we all said goodbye; we held a funeral for her and buried her among the lilies in our yard, her home.

My sisters and myself were very, very saddened by Mimi’s passing; but my mother took it hardest of all.  Mimi had been her companion, her friend, her lap warmer, her snuggle buddy, her alarm clock and, we often joked, her favorite child for over two decades.  I wanted to comfort my mother; but my protest that it didn’t matter what the (her) Church said, Mimi was with the God/dess, was maybe, not very helpful.  It perhaps, only reminded her that in her view, I too am not going to heaven.

I remember sitting in church, as a child being told that animals did not have souls and that there was no “kitty heaven.”  That was perhaps, one of the first times in my life that I thought, “that’s just ridiculous,” in a church.  Not just ridiculous, but mean and cruel even.  “What,” I thought, “is the point in saying such a thing?”  Continue reading “Where do Cats Go?: Reflections on Death Post Patriarchal Christianity by Sara Frykenberg”

Residing in a Liminal Space: Finding a scholarly home at the Institute for Thealogy and Deasophy by Patricia ‘Iolana

For years I was outside of traditional academia.  I can no longer count the times I have heard that my research and my theories were highly radical and would never find a home or a place of acceptance.  Early in my career, while still in the States, a number of my colleagues tried to convince me to take a traditional theological stance, and join the world of orthodox faith tradition.  What my well-meaning colleagues never considered was that in asking me to alter my way of being, they were asking me to deny myself, my understanding of the Numinous, and negating that there were other people in the world who think and feel as I do.  I would rather cut off my nose to spite my face. Needless to say, I continued on, even though it often meant blazing my own trail off the safe and ‘beaten path.’ I trusted that I was on the right path and that the Divine would lead my way.  In other words, I had faith—loads of it, and in the end it paid off.

For a while, I had been part of the academia.edu community (if you aren’t familiar with it, it is like a Facebook for scholars where academics can share and follow research).  I joined in the hopes that I would reach like-minded people and find an academic home.  One day in the summer of 2010, I received a message asking me if I wanted to contribute a chapter on a new book about Thealogy.  The message from Angela Hope said she wanted to claim and expand the field, and I was eager to speak with her.  Our conversations lasted for hours, days, and weeks.  We found a kindred sisterhood, and she shared with me her idea to create an institute for other like-minded scholars and practitioners – a place that was supportive of liminal theories and research – a place that dared to push boundaries.  And as we wished, so we gathered.   Continue reading “Residing in a Liminal Space: Finding a scholarly home at the Institute for Thealogy and Deasophy by Patricia ‘Iolana”

Songs We Sing By Barbara Ardinger

Even though I’m a spiritual feminist—and a pretty cranky one—I like the old familiar Christmas carols. I’m listening to a CD of Christmas songs in my car. One of the songs on the CD has the line, “God is watching us from a distance.”

There’s a reason Plato banned music from the Republic. Music gets into our heads and it stays there. Not only the tune and the rhythm, but the lyrics, too. So what idea does this song plant in our heads? God is out there. Watching us like we’re being baby-sat From a distance. So if we should happen to fall down, maybe he’s only watching and he doesn’t have long-enough arms to reach down and pick us up.

Passive watching is a key difference, of course, between the standard-brand religions (also called the religions of the book) and the Goddess religion. They’ve got a transcendent god somewhere up in heaven, up in outer space, up on the mountain, sitting up in the judge’s throne. Keeping an eye on us so if we misbehave, he can slam some thunderbolts down at us. Continue reading “Songs We Sing By Barbara Ardinger”

Love Divine, All Loves Excelling By Carol P. Christ

A founding mother of the study of women and religion and feminist thealogy, Carol has been active in social justice, anti-war, feminist, anti-nuclear, and environmental causes for many years.  Her books include  She Who Changes and Rebirth of the Goddess and the widely used anthologiesWomanspirit Rising and Weaving the Visions.

In my last blog I wrote that the image of God as a dominating other who enforces his will through violence–found in the Bible and in the Christian tradition up to the present day–is one of the reasons I do not choose to work within the Christian tradition.  To be fair, there is another image of God in Christian tradition that I continue to embrace.  “Love divine, all loves excelling” is the opening line of a well-known hymn by Charles WesleyCharles Hartshorne invoked these words and by implication the melody with which they are sung as expressing the feelings at the heart of the understanding of God that he wrote about in The Divine Relativity.

Love divine, all loves excelling also expresses my understanding of Goddess or as I sometimes write Goddess/God.  Though I am no longer a Christian, but rather an earth-based Goddess feminist, I freely admit that I learned about the love of God while singing in Christian churches.  Hartshorne wrote that he knew the love of God best through the love of his own mother, and I can say that this is true for me as well.  My mother was not perfect, and she did not understand why I wanted to go to graduate school, my feminism, or my adult political views, but I never doubted her love or my grandmothers’ love for me.  (I count myself lucky.  I know others did not have this experience.)  Like Hartshorne, I also learned about the love of God through the world that I always understood to be God’s body.  Running in fields and hills, swimming in the sea, standing under redwood trees, and encountering peacocks in my grandmother’s garden, I felt connected to a power greater than myself.   Continue reading “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling By Carol P. Christ”

Exciting New Research on Matriarchal Societies By Carol P. Christ

The following is a guest post written by Carol Christ, Ph.D., a pioneer and founding mother of the Goddess, women’s spirituality, and feminist theology movements, and director of the Ariadne Institute.  She is also the author of multiple books including Rebirth of the Goddess.

Although there are some of us who disagree, the “party line” in the fields of Religious Studies and Archaeology—even among feminists– is that there never were any matriarchies and that claims about peaceful, matrifocal, sedentary, agricultural, Goddess-worshipping societies in Old Europe or elsewhere have been manufactured out of utopian longing.

I myself and most other English-speaking scholars defending Marija Gimbutas’s theories about Old Europe have studiously avoided the word “matriarchy” (speaking rather of “matrifocal, matrilineal, and matrilocal” societies) because the very word “matriarchy” conjures up the image of female-dominated societies where women ruled, waged wars, held men as slaves, and raped and abused men and boys. In fact, this fantasy tells us far more about patriarchy than about it does about matriarchy. Continue reading “Exciting New Research on Matriarchal Societies By Carol P. Christ”

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