This is a privilege of being a teacher: to walk along the side, to journey with another while he (she/they) navigates his (her/their) own road, to see how far he (she/they) has come.
And I am so grateful for it.
I hooded my first graduate advisee this week; and I am so happy for him. My student worked hard for over a year; and as the date for his final draft submission approached, I was privileged to witness his growing excitement and pride. I felt my own growing pride. Over that year, I had talked about my advisee many times with my family, “going to a meeting with so and so again,” “so and so sent me an updated draft that I need to get to” etc., so much so that on the day of his defense my older sister said she was crossing her fingers for him and my brother asked me if I’d told him that they were rooting for him. I hadn’t; though clearly working with this man had touched me in a way that also touched them.
This is a privilege of being a teacher: to walk along the side, to journey with another while he (she/they) navigates his (her/their) own road, to see how far he (she/they) has come. And I am so grateful for it.
Every morning I write a little meditation with attached images that in some way reflects what’s going on in my life. I do this for three reasons. To experience gratitude for something I have learned, to share my thoughts with others and to consciously align myself with LIFE while participating, albeit unwillingly, in a death destroying culture.
As a naturalist my focus is usually on some gift received resulting from my reciprocal relationship with nature. But I wrote this meditation to articulate one of the most important aspects of relating to other humans – perhaps the most important. Forgiveness. And I wrote it after experiencing the freedom and gratitude that followed a powerful act of forgiveness associated with a long-term friendship.
“In the beginning…God was a woman. Do you remember?” Feminst foremother and author of these words Merlin Stone died in Feburary last year.
I can still remember reading the hardback copy of When God Was a Womanwhile lying on the bed in my bedroom overlooking the river in New York City early in 1977. The fact that I remember this viscerally underscores the impact that When God Was a Woman had on my mind and my body. Stone’s words had the quality of revelation: “In the beginning…God was a woman. Do you remember?” As I type this phrase more than thirty-five years after first reading it, my body again reacts with chills of recognition of a knowledge that was stolen from me, a knowledge that I remembered in my body, a knowledge that re-membered my body. My copy of When God was a Woman is copiously underlined in red and blue ink, testimony to many readings.
What happened to you really was bad. This should not happen to any child. It should not have happened to you.
In our culture there is often a rush to forgiveness that precedes acknowledging the harm that has been done. When I was a child and my father yelled at me or withheld love, I was told by mother, “He really does love you. He just does not know how to show it.” She sometimes added, “Even though he will never say he is sorry, you should forgive your father, because he did not really mean what he said.”
I remember the words so clearly: “I know what it’s like to have my body broken, I know what it’s like to have my blood spilt. I won’t celebrate anyone else’s broken body or spilt blood, and I don’t want anyone doing that on my behalf.” Sitting in the pew next to me, my friend spoke her truth in a soft and tentative, but somehow still firm, voice. She then slumped in her seat and folded up her legs, hugging them against her body. While everyone else got up to take communion, I stayed in place beside her.
There was a period of time in my life when I was not willing to participate in communion. My friend’s words stayed with me, transforming the communion table from one of hospitality to one of violence. “Celebrating” communion didn’t feel celebratory anymore. I chose not to take communion for several years. I let my friend’s words guide and deepen my reflection on the practice of communion—especially in light of the trauma suffered by all too many bodies.
I wrote a piece in March 2021 regarding the British Royal Family and their horrendous treatment of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. On August 23, 2022, Meghan released her first podcast episode for her series titled “Archetypes”. The first episode had guest speaker, famed legendary tennis player Serena Williams. They talked about the misconceptions of ambition and the two-edged sword that women have to endure in society when striving to be their best in a male centric world. And for many of us within Religious and Theological spaces, the disparities that women, queer folk, and non-binary peoples have endured in society are also tied into the misconceptions and harmful archetypes found within religious spaces.
If theology is rooted in experience, how do we move from experience to theology? In my life there have been a number of key moments of “revelation” that have shaped my thealogy. One of these was the moment of my mother’s death.
In 1991 my mother was diagnosed with cancer. While she was being treated, I realized that I had never loved anyone as much as I loved her. When I wrote that to her, she responded that “this was the nicest letter” she “had ever received” in her life and she invited me to come home to be with her and my Dad.
My mother died only a few weeks after I arrived, in her own bed as she wished. She was on an oxygen machine, and I heard her call out in the dark of early morning. When my Dad got to the room, he tried to turn up the oxygen, but it didn’t help. Then he called the doctor who reminded him that my mother did not want to go to the hospital under any circumstances.
Yet another of my great feminist and spiritual teachers has died. Rosemary Radford Ruether, ecofeminist Catholic theologian, died on May 21st. Her work challenged my thinking and gave me new understandings and perspectives. She was a prolific writer, authoring hundreds of articles and 36 books, and was the quintessential scholar and historian of world religions and ecofeminist thought and theologies. A scholar of the scholastics, she examined the three strains of Western thought: the Hebraic tradition; Platonic-Gnostic; and Pauline-Augustinian in all their complexities to develop an understanding of the nature of Western thought and its implications for the domination of women, nature, and colonized others. As she described her own approach, she drew out the contradictions and complexities in these theologies, careful “to see both negative and positive aspects . . . and to be skeptical of exclusivist views on either side.”[i] Her thought and writing was ever-expanding, and always striving “to see the dominant system of patriarchy, including its racism, classism, and colonialism, in critical perspective,” and to put herself “in places where in solidarity with its victims, I can see it from its underside.”[ii]To this end, she brought together the ecofeminist theologies of women from around the globe, particularly the global south.[iii] Her thought also grew to include critiques of militarism and corporate globalization. Needless to say, I cannot begin to encompass all of her contributions here. So I will focus on the ways her thought has most deeply influenced and inspired my own, as well as my students’.
I’m on a mission to write women back into history, because, to a large extent, women have been written out of history. Their lives and deeds have become lost to us. To uncover their buried stories, we must act as detectives, studying the sparse clues that have been handed down to us. We must learn to read between the lines and fill in the blanks. My writer’s journey is about reclaiming the lost heroines of history. My quest is to give voice to the ancestral memory of that lost motherline.
My novels address spiritual themes. As a spiritual person, I’m very interested in women’s experience of the sacred. As well as being written out of history, we women, for the past five-thousand years of patriarchy, have been side-lined and marginalized by every established religion in the world. Even in alternative spiritual movements, male teachers and leaders have abused their authority over their female students and followers.
But in every age, there have been women who have heroically rebelled against this patriarchal stranglehold to claim their authentic spiritual experience. Often it has involved looking within rather than without for spiritual guidance.
One of these women was Hildegard of Bingen, the heroine of my novel Illuminations. Born in the lush green Rhineland in present day Germany, Hildegard (who lived from 1098–1179) was a Benedictine abbess and one of the most accomplished people of her time. She founded two monastic communities for women, composed an entire corpus of sacred music, and wrote nine books on subjects as diverse as theology, cosmology, botany, medicine, linguistics, and human sexuality, an intellectual outpouring that was unprecedented for a 12th-century woman. Her prophecies earned her the title Sybil of the Rhine.
An outspoken critic of Church corruption, she courted controversy. Though women were forbidden to preach, Hildegard embarked on four preaching tours in which she delivered apocalyptic sermons warning her male superiors in the Church that they must reform their evil ways or suffer divine wrath. But she had to pay the price for being so outspoken. Late in her life, she and her nuns were the subject of an interdict (a collective excommunication) that was lifted only a few months before her death. Hildegard nearly died an outcast, her fate hauntingly similar to that of many canceled women in our contemporary cancel culture.
Hildegard’s theology of the Feminine Divine has made her a pivotal figure in feminist spirituality.
A key concept in her philosophy is Viriditas, or greening power, her revelation of the animating life force manifest in the natural world that infuses all creation with moisture and vitality. To her, the divine was manifest in every leaf and blade of grass. Just as a ray of sunlight is the sun, Hildegard believed that a flower or a stone was God, though not the whole of God. Creation revealed the face of the invisible creator. Hildegard celebrated the sacred in nature, something highly relevant for us in this age of climate change and the destruction of natural habitats.
I, the fiery life of divine essence, am aflame beyond the beauty of the meadows, I gleam in the waters, and I burn in the sun, moon and stars . . . . I awaken everything to life. Hildegard von Bingen, Liber Divinorum (Book of Divine Works)
Hildegard’s philosophy of Viriditas went hand in hand with her celebration of the Feminine Divine. Although the established Church of her day could not have been more male-dominated, Hildegard called God Mother, and said that she could only bear to look upon divinity in her visions if God appeared to her in feminine form. Her visions revealed God as a cosmic egg, nurturing all of life like a womb. Masculine imagery of the creator tends to focus on God’s transcendence, but Hildegard’s revelations of the Feminine Divine celebrated immanence, of God being present in all things, in every aspect of this greening, burgeoning, blessed world.
According to Barbara Newman’s book Sister of Wisdom: St. Hildegard’s Theology of the Feminine, Hildegard’s Sapientia, or Divine Wisdom, creates the cosmos by existing within it.
O power of wisdom! You encompassed the cosmos, Encircling and embracing all in one living orbit With your three wings: One soars on high, One distills the earth’s essence, And the third hovers everywhere. Hildegard von Bingen, O virtus sapientiae
This might be read as an ecstatic hymn to Sophia, the great Cosmic Mother.
Mary Sharratt is committed to telling women’s stories. Please check out her acclaimed novel Illuminations, drawn from the dramatic life of Hildegard von Bingen, and her new novelRevelations, about the mystical pilgrim Margery Kempe and her friendship with Julian of Norwich. Visit her website.
As a graduate student, I was told in every way possible that I could not be a woman and a theologian.
When I was studying for my Ph.D. at Yale in theology in the late 1960s and early 1970s, my skirts were short as was the fashion of the day. The male faculty and students and their wives dressed in ways that would not call attention to themselves or their sexuality. I was also over 6’ tall. When I walked into a room, I was consciously and unconsciously perceived as a threat to a world which these men had simply assumed was “theirs.” Their response was to categorize me as a sexual being (I was once introduced as “our department bunny”) and to erase my mind. I was to discover that the male graduate students were making bets in the dining hall about “where she will sit today.” One of my friends frequently fell down and feigned to “worship” me when I passed him in the hallways. I had never received so much attention from men before and it was flattering.
Child abuse does not have to be physical or sexual. The most widespread forms of child abuse are psychological, and therefore harder to see, acknowledge, and eradicate. As abused children, we unconsciously pass on patterns of abuse visited on us to children, and to others we have power over including students, employees, and even friends and lovers.
The recent visit of a friend who is suffering greatly in a “battle” with her own “demons” reminded me of the important work of Alice Miller. My friend’s “demons” take the form of a persistent self-criticism laced with the feeling that “if only” she did or didn’t do certain things, her world would fall into place. My “demons” generally take a different form, telling me that I am helpless and that there is nothing I can do to ease my suffering.
Such “demons” were not implanted in my friend and me by the devil. They took root in interactions with our own parents, who were not themselves any different from most of the parents of their time and place. Recognizing that our parents were not “bad” people should not blind us to the great harm they did to us. However, when abused children speak of their abuse, the statement that their parents did not intend to harm them usually functions to deflect attention away from child abuse that really did occur. What happened to my friend and me was something like this. In many small and perhaps also a few traumatic interactions, we learned that our feelings do not count. “Don’t talk now, your father is tired.” “Stop making so much noise, your father has a headache.” “Don’t ask your mother for attention, can’t you see that she has more than enough to do with your younger brother.” Harmless in themselves, such messages, when repeated over and over, lead the child to believe that there must be something wrong with the feelings she has.
In these days when so many are afraid and aching for the people of Ukraine, and concerned about the lasting impacts of this war around the world, I cannot help thinking of the wise women of ancient Israel. These wise women, unafraid of confronting dangerous men, used their intelligence and storytelling skill to defuse violent situations between powerful adversaries and restore peace. May their wisdom be felt in the world now.
The institution of “wise woman” appears several times in the Bible. In the Book of Samuel, a wise woman (chachamah in Hebrew, from chochmah, wisdom) steps in when there is a war, or political conflict, to promote peace. In II Samuel 14, after King David’s son Amnon rapes David’s daughter, Tamar, the king does nothing. Tamar’s full brother Absalom takes matters into his own hands and kills Amnon, then flees to another country. David grieves for Absalom but won’t send for him. The wise woman of Tekoa appears before King David, pretending to be a woman whose sons fought, and one killed the other. The story she tells helps to reconcile King David with his son Absalom, at least temporarily.
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 March 12, 2012. You can read it long with its original comments here.
Why is it OK to insult women, our bodies, and our sexuality in ways that it is no longer OK to insult other groups?
The recent controversy over Rush Limbaugh’s rant about Sandra Fluke would not be so important if Limbaugh were not the “voice” allowed to say things that Republican politicians cannot say in public. Republican politicians wish to appeal to men who would say exactly what Rush said, while watching Fox News or over a beer with their buddies.
The Virgin-Whore split is alive and well in our culture. Sandra Fluke finally did get to testify in a hearing called by Nancy Pelosi. She assumed a woman’s right to choose when and with whom we have sex and whether and when we will have children, but she did not focus on sexual freedom. One of her examples was a married woman who could not afford birth control and another was a woman who needed birth control pills for reasons having nothing to do with sex or sexual activity. She did not appear in Congress in a mini-skirt (though she should have had every right to do so) but in a business suit. Yet she was called a slut and a prostitute and asked to post porno films of herself on the internet.
I started writing this post a day after news broke that beloved activist, poet, feminist, and academic, bell hooks had passed away. This news comes months after our FAR community lost Carol Christ; another academic, feminist, writer, and maker of history. This post was finished as almost three weeks into a new year has gone by. The advent of 2022 is filled with the last two years’ heavy, unbelievable, heartbreaking, and extraordinary experiences and events.
I remember my first feeling’s of disappointment when Simone Biles pulled out of so many events at the 2021 Olympics. But then I quickly realized that here I was falling for the patriarchal lines that are so much a part of our reality that they become unconscious. Simone Biles taught me. Winning isn’t about slaying your foes (although someone who watches politics here in the US would think so). When Biles withdrew, there were many angry tweets and letters that she wasn’t living up to her promises. Let’s review that. She has been called the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) of her sport. She is the most decorated gymnast in history. She is only 24. What promise has she broken? To whom? And who are we (meaning the public) to even determine what her promise is?
In a world where the words of black women writers, even our very names are often soon forgotten, it is essential and necessary that we live through writing and teaching the words of our great and good writers, whose voices must no longer be silenced, even by death.[i]
– bell hooks
On December 15, 2021, the world lost the great feminist theorist, teacher, activist, and writer bell hooks. As a white feminist theorist, I valued immensely the ways her work widened my partial perspective, challenged my blind sports, and gave me important viewpoints on everything from sexism, racism, classism, pedagogy, militarism, work, and parenting. Her piece on feminist solidarity is the best I know — examining not just the ways we are divided by classism and racism, but also by sexism, addressing the very real and destructive ways that women undermine, abuse, and disregard each other, and how important it is to unlearn this with each other. She used the term “feminist movement,” rather than the feminist movement, knowing it not to be one thing, but rather a verb, a process of moving, changing, and transforming. Championing the power of coming to voice, she spoke truth to power, engaging in honest exploration of often difficult and divisive topics. It was this honest, liberatory voice that spoke throughout her work and made her voice so compelling, and so valuable.
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 commentshere.
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.
For the last seven years, I have been conducting research for my book Undertorah: An Earth-Based Kabbalah of Dreams, which is about to appear courtesy of Ayin Press. On this writing journey, I’ve interviewed seventy dreamers, and have studied pre-modern dreams from texts of ancient Israel and ancient Sumer to dream accounts of women kabbalists and Chasidic masters. I’ve also sat with my own dreams and their odd truths. Many of the dreams I’ve encountered express powerful visions of the feminine. I find these often odd and eerie visions particularly useful in expressing “the multiplicity of experiences of [the feminine]… rather than an imposed definition of those experiences…”[i]
No one knows why Celtic Crosses have a circle. Guesses include pragmatic utilitarianism (to hold the arms up),1 the sun, Greek laurel wreath, Egyptian ankh, circle of creation,2 the Chi-Ro Greek monogram for Christ,3 the divine light that imbues all creation,4 the “Celestial Sphere” found in earlier Eastern Christianity,5 and a range of fanciful inventions based on modern imagination and pseudo-scholarship about Celtic “paganism.” [Leading scholars of pagan history agree that almost nothing is known about pre-Christian beliefs in Britain and Ireland. The few, conflicting descriptions we have, all come from highly tendentious, frequently incorrect foreigners (such as Julius Caesar, who also claimed that German forests were full of unicorns) or from Christian writers of later periods with strong agendas of their own (such as creating a native pagan history and mythology to rival their snobby Greek and Roman “Classical” neighbors).6] The circles on Celtic crosses remain a mystery.
With that in mind, I do not suggest an historical hypothesis here; rather, I offer a theological insight from a modern Feminist Christian perspective. I ask the invitational question: “What happens when modern Christians allow Celtic Crosses to symbolize the Compassing of the Divine Womb?”
The first time I called myself a feminist, I think I was twelve years old. Growing up in a traditional Sicilian Catholic household, misogyny was ever-present. There were clear expectations of me and my brother based on our gender and these ideas were grounded in our religion. I didn’t realize how problematic this was until much later; but by age twelve I was asking questions and knew that it wasn’t fair that my brother could be an altar server and I couldn’t…because I was a girl.
When I wrote about Anne Hutchinson as America’s first feminist theologian a few years ago, I mentioned that I had a Sackett ancestor living in Boston at the time, who might well have been a follower of Hutchinson. That branch of my family tree has since been shown to be false. Recently, while looking into the branch that replaced it, I discovered that in 1637 my 9x great-grandfather William Wodell was required to turn in all of his guns and other weapons because he had been “seduced” and led into “dangerous errors” by a Mr. Wheelwright and Mrs. Hutchinson.
In 1643 William Wodell was charged with “heresy and sedition” in relation to “blasphemous errors.” He was convicted and banned from Boston. He retreated to property he had purchased in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, which had been founded by the Hutchinsons and others fleeing persecution in Boston. Wodell became a respected member of the Quaker community in Portsmouth, holding a number of important public offices before his death some 50 years later.
My happiness at finding an ancestor whose convictions I could admire, was to be short-lived. The next morning, I discovered that in 1677 the respected Quaker William Wodell bought a 6 year-old Indian girl who had been captured in King Phillip’s War. Indian women and children were captured and sold as slaves during both the Pequot War (1636-1638) and King Phillip’s War (1675-1676). Some of those captured were sent to the West Indies, while others were purchased by English colonists. Continue reading “Quaker Ancestor Buys 6 Year-Old Indian Captive by Carol P. Christ”
Our mother Sophia, we are women in your image:
With the hot blood of our wombs we give form to new life.
With the courage of our convictions we pour out our life blood for justice.
let your milk and honey pour out,
showering us with your nourishment.
From my reflections on the Re-Imagining Conference presented at Hamline University on Novemeber 1, 2018:
One reason the creative re-imagining of God as female has not taken hold in churches and synagogues is fear of paganism and the Goddess. The creators of the Re-Imagining Sophia ritual took great care to guard against this charge by connecting it to Bible and tradition. Commenting on the reasons for the backlash against the Re-Imaging Conference, Sylvia Thorson-Smith stated:
One was the liturgical use of the biblical image of Sophia – but blown up as evidence of Goddess worship. Second was the milk and honey ritual – an ancient part of early Christianity, but attacked as a pagan substitute for communion.
At the 2009 meeting of the Parliament of World Religions, former US President Jimmy Carter called the worldwide abuse of girls and women the greatest unaddressed human rights crisis of our time. He stated that this problem is “largely caused by a false interpretation of carefully selected religious texts and a growing tolerance of violence and warfare.” Carter discussed these issues in A Call to Action.
In my address to the Parliament of World Religions on November 5, I will agree with Carter that religions play a major role in the abuse of women and girls, but I will question his view that religion’s contribution to the abuse of women and girls stems from the misinterpretation of a few selected texts. Rather I will argue that patriarchal ideas permeate most of the so-called great religions. Continue reading “Religions and the Abuse of Women and Girls by Carol P. Christ”
This semester I am teaching the course EcoJustice and chose Sallie McFague’s A New Climate for Theologyas our foundational text. Something I greatly appreciate about McFague is that she continually calls us to radically redefine our understanding of the Divine and of our roles as human beings — fundamental questions that could easily lead to an existential crisis as one student reminded me.
My class and I ponder these questions, discussing our own interpretations of God, why we exist, what it means to pray, and understandings of salvation. Not surprisingly, many of us have an anthropocentric theology — one that puts ourselves at the center. We are so focused on what we need from God, we forget to ask what God needs from us.Continue reading “EcoJustice and Our Relationship with God by Gina Messina”
Though represented by its detractors as an incursion of paganism into Christianity, and presented as an integrally and intrinsically Christian phenomenon by its supporters, the truth about the Re-Imagining Conference and movement is that it was a product of a wider feminist awakening. The critique of patriarchal religions that emerged in the academy and in churches and synagogues in the late 1960s and early 1970s was part of the emerging feminist uprising. The feminist movement placed a question mark over all patriarchal texts and traditions, secular and religious, and as such was beholden to none.
In the spring of 1971, Roman Catholic Christian Mary Daly published “After the Death of God the Father” in the liberal Catholic magazine Commonweal. She asserted that the God whose death was touted in the “Death of God” movement was an idol fashioned in the image of male power and authority. She called for “the becoming of new symbols” to express the new becoming of women. In the summer of 1971, a group of nuns from Alverno College convened the first Conference of Women Theologians. Besides sparking dialogue about the role of women in religions, the conference endorsed my call to form a women’s group at the fall meetings of the American Academy of Religion, up until then a gathering of several thousand male scholars of religion, with only a handful of women scholars in attendance. At winter solstice, Z Budapest launched the Susan B. Anthony Coven #1 in Los Angeles publishing a Manifesto calling on women to return to the ancient religion of the Goddess. Continue reading “Sophia, Goddess, and Feminist Spirituality: Imagining the Future by Carol P. Christ”
While trying to find a topic for today’s blog, I came across a facebook post from July 10 by former Orthodox priest Christoforos Schuff in which he announced:
After reaffirming my beliefs on gender, sexuality, faith and the Church…and sharing my declaration of faith with His Eminence Jean, Archbishop of the Rue Daru Exarchate of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, I was asked kindly and respectfully to remove my cassock and cross. It is finished…with love, peace and mutual respect. May the Divine enlighten our minds and hearts!
Our first ritual on the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete is a death ritual in which we honor the memory of those who have gone before us. Like so many things on the pilgrimage, the death ritual evolved. I did not consciously plan to begin with death. Rather, the death ritual inserted itself at the beginning of the tour. Now I understand that the timing is right.
As we begin our pilgrimage, seeking new insight about the meaning of our lives, about the meaning of life and death, we pause to remember those who have gone before us.
Before the ritual begins, I discuss the communal burials in round tombs of the ancient Cretans, sharing my belief that the purpose of their rituals was not to secure immortality or eternal life for the individual, but rather to affirm and ensure the regeneration of life in the community and in nature. I add that though I have no desire for personal life after death, I care deeply about the continued flourishing of life for human and other than human beings.
While waiting to get off a plane last week, I overheard a serious young woman explaining a recent theological insight to her half-asleep and equally young husband. “You see,” she began, “what I just learned is that though He owes us nothing and does not reward us for our good deeds, nonetheless, He takes pleasure in them.”
As the flight was from Mytilene, Lesbos to Athens, I guessed that the young couple had come from the United States to my island to assist the refugees. I imagined that the young woman wanted to do good deeds, to help others, and to please her God. At the same time, she seemed to be struggling with Lutheran, Calvinist, or Anabaptist doctrines of justification by faith alone and predestination. I suspected that she had been told she must accept the teachings of church authorities on faith as the correct interpretation of the word of God. Her new insight was attributed to someone else. Continue reading ““He Owes Us Nothing”: A Very Bad and Very Sad Theology by Carol P. Christ”
Reflecting on our different choices to “stay or leave” the religions of our upbringings while writing Goddess and God in the World with Judith Plaskow, I was prompted to think again about the social and ethnic structures of denominationalism. One of the things Judith has been saying to me since we began discussing this question years ago, is that for her being Jewish is an identity that deeply affects her choice to stay within her religion.
Here on FAR both Gina Messina and Mary Hunt have stated that for them being Catholic is so closely tied to their Italian and Irish identities that they cannot think of themselves anything other than Catholic. For Gina, this recognition led to a renewed commitment Catholicism as a religion. She considers herself “faithfully feminist” and expresses her hope that Pope Francis will transform the church. Mary, on the other hand, feels strongly disaffected from the Church hierarchy and traditional Catholic teachings and does not think Francis will change the Church in significant ways. At the same time, she does not disavow her Catholic identity.