Remembering “The Burning Times,” Part 1 by Beth Bartlett

I first saw it when looking at their faces while showing The Burning Times in class — the blank stares, the pained expressions, the tears, the looking away. The scenes and sounds of women tortured and burned alive touched something deep and ancient in them.  Here it was — the historical trauma of women.[i]  The lasting impact of historical trauma is experienced by subsequent generations for hundreds of years, manifesting in such things as depression, PTSD, self-destructive behaviors, anger, violence, suicide, and more. As Native LGBTQ activist and writer Chris Stark so eloquently put it: “The experiences of our grandparents and great-grandparents are written into the library of our bodies . . . . My ancestors’ loss and screams are written in me – their pain and murder and rape merged with my own as a child. . . We carry them through time. We remember.”

Continue reading “Remembering “The Burning Times,” Part 1 by Beth Bartlett”

From the Archives: Uppity Women Unite by Barbara Ardinger

This was originally posted on August 2, 2014

I have a poster on my wall: UPPITY WOMEN UNITE. In big, red, capital letters. I don’t remember where I got this poster, but I know I’ve had it since the late 70s or early 80s. I’m sure it comes from the raggedy late 60s, when second-wave feminism got up a head of steam and uppity women began getting our attention. That’s when Betty Friedan said being a proper 50s housewife was like having a mental illness. It’s when Gloria Steinem founded Ms. Magazine, which (oh, horrors!) did not give us recipes or home-making tips and did not tell us how to dress to lure our men into bed. It’s when Mary Daly started giving us a whole new, original take on the English language. Ahhh, yes, those were the good ol’ days. And the bad ol’ days, too, when the Equal Rights Amendment was not ratified.

“Uppity” can be a troublesome word. In the olden days, if someone called you uppity, it means you were inferior to them and weren’t staying in what they thought was your proper place. If you were a black person, for example, and if you didn’t step off the sidewalk when white men were coming, you were uppity. If you were a woman who wanted equal pay for doing the same work a man did, you were uppity. Those women in the 1980 movie, 9 to 5, were majorly uppity. And they won the battle.

Continue reading “From the Archives: Uppity Women Unite by Barbara Ardinger”

Dignity of Women Across the World’s Wisdom: Parliament of World Religions Webinar by Carol P. Christ

I have been asked to post my contribution to the Parliament of World Religions Webinar: Dignity of Women Across World’s Wisdom. 

I am participating in this discussion as a representative of women who are on a Goddess path. I do not represent any established or newly formed religious or spiritual tradition. Rather I speak for an increasingly large number of women who are seeking alternatives to established traditions that celebrate and legitimate male power as power over or domination. We do not follow leaders or gurus and we place no trust in any sacred texts.

Most of us have grown up in cultures where the most prominent religious traditions feature male Gods, male teachers, and male religious leaders. We agree with Mary Daly who said that when God is male the male is God. In traditions where God is male, male teachers and religious leaders are viewed as reflecting or being in the image of the male divinity. We do not assume that images of God as male are never valid, but we do assert the need for images of God as female.

As I said in my often re-published essay, “Why Women Need the Goddess,” the most important meaning conveyed by the symbol of Goddess as the ultimate creative power in the universe is that female power is legitimate and good. This does not mean that female power is always good, but it clearly undermines the widely held view that female power exercised apart from male control is always evil or bad. This view is reinforced by images of women as evil in religious traditions, for example, Eve seduced by the snake. Continue reading “Dignity of Women Across the World’s Wisdom: Parliament of World Religions Webinar by Carol P. Christ”

Grounding My Love by Xochitl Alvizo

I love living in a second-story apartment. Having a view of Los Angeles, of the palm trees, the expansive sky, the distant mountains, and the city lights of downtown, makes life feel bigger, more full of possibilities. In the struggle of transitioning my life back to L.A., the view from my second floor apartment helps make me feel ok in the world. I’m in love with Los Angeles – the land, its topography, its sky, its desertness – and even its traffic. Beside the fact of sometimes being made to arrive late somewhere, I don’t mind being in our famed L.A. gridlocks – I don’t mind being in the slow moving flow of cars. I kind of enjoy being among the thousands of other folks sharing the collective experience of trying to get someplace. Traffic becomes for me a leisurely time when I get to do nothing else but enjoy the city.

Plus, the freeways – I love them! Have you ever driven on one of L.A.’s sky high on-ramps or carpool lanes? It’s like you get to fly. You get to be up in the sky among the top of the palm trees, with all the other cars and buildings off in the distant view. I would drive somewhere just to get onto one of our sky-high carpool lanes, I swear. Just recently I merged onto the carpool lane of the 110 North from an on-ramp I had not taken before, a magnificently long single-lane on-ramp that took me high up into the air, and I immediately thought, I need to remember this way so that I can drive it again sometime. Continue reading “Grounding My Love by Xochitl Alvizo”

Mary Daly and Simone de Beauvoir: Sister Diagnosticians by Xochitl Alvizo

Xochitl Alvizo; Photo by

Mary Daly still causes me awe. I think about the way she was so keenly able to diagnose the Catholic Church’s collusion in creating, sustaining, the oppressive structures that directly impact women (and men, as she always affirmed). Mary Daly knew that the situation of women’s second-class status, outlined at the time most powerfully by Simone de Beauvoir in her book The Second Sex,[1] was in great part made possible by the Catholic Church. The church used Christianity to justify the creation of gender hierarchies (for it can be used otherwise), and regarded a category of humans as having greater value and worth than others by default. So much so that it comes to be understood as “god ordained” or “natural” – the right order of things.

At the time of her early writing, Mary Daly still identified as part of the Catholic Church – but she did not hesitate to call out her church. Building on the work of existentialist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir, Daly made a powerful case against the church. She described the antagonism between the Catholic Church and women as based on the fact that the Church’s teachings perpetuated a “traditional view of woman” that both “pretends to put woman on a pedestal but which in reality prevents her from genuine self-fulfillment and from active, adult-size participation in society.”[2] She drew on insights from de Beauvoir to make her case and wrote her book The Church and the Second Sex with the conviction that there were “harmful distortions of doctrine and practice” in the Catholic Church. Continue reading “Mary Daly and Simone de Beauvoir: Sister Diagnosticians by Xochitl Alvizo”

Mary Daly: Can I Love the Luddite and Deplore the Transphobe? by Dirk von der Horst

David’s Loves, Jonathan’s Laments by Dirk von der Horst

Mary Daly was one of the most prescient voices of her time with regard to environmental disaster.

Daly was also an explicitly transphobic thinker.

These two facts are deeply related.

What links these two directions in her thought is a radically anti-interventionist ethic.  Daly repeatedly shows how the patriarchal impulse to control everything in the world not only destroys womens’ lives but is destroying the living, natural world.  She describes boundary violation as one of the key elements of control, and her concern for the ability of nature to be on its own terms extends to such unconscious phenomena as comets.  In Quintessence: Realizing the Archaic Future, she laments scientists “harpooning a comet, just to see what’s inside,” revealing the extent of her respect for the integrity of natural processes. (3)

In contrast to the technological use of science to bend nature to human purposes, Daly advocates participation in Be-ing.  Be-ing is a natural process of unconstrained movement, in which various Selves and Elemental forces unfold.  In an unalienated state of participation in Be-ing, connection is genuine and unforced, and the relations that emerge in this process further spur the development and creativity of a natural unfolding process.  Among the many words Daly reclaims and plays with, her use of “Wild” describes women’s participation in Be-ing, and it especially brings out a sense of uncontrolled creativity.

Continue reading “Mary Daly: Can I Love the Luddite and Deplore the Transphobe? by Dirk von der Horst”

Re-creating a Gynocentric Cosmology: Situating Myself by Glenys Livingstone


I am an inventor, a mythmaker, who has received/taken remnants of her indigenous religious heritage, and newly available parts, and spun and woven new threads, fabrics and stories.[i]

 My method of approach has been informed by my deep personal involvement … my need to “place” myself here – as feminist philosopher Luce Irigaray suggests that woman needs to do.[ii]

 Irigaray said that woman is not situated, “does not situate herself in her place,” that she serves as a thing and is thus nude.[iii] I have intuitively felt the need to “clothe” myself, to find the Place within me, to move from object to sentient subject.[iv]

The way the Cosmos was for a white girl child of Western European descent growing up in country Australia, with Protestant religious teachings, was a place surveyed scrupulously by a vengeful Father God, who was at the same time spoken of as the epitome of Love. What did that do to one’s understanding of Love? How does a woman – or any person – become functional within such a cosmology? Continue reading “Re-creating a Gynocentric Cosmology: Situating Myself by Glenys Livingstone”

Settling into God during the Demise of Gender Neutral Language by Dirk von der Horst

DirkAs my life ambles along, some things change, some things are surprisingly persistent.  As a young person, the last thing I would have predicted about my future would have been developing even a mild interest in sports, but now I have a mild interest in sports.  Mild, but there.  So, that’s a surprise element in my life story.  But while developments arise, I’ve found that in the growth of my faith, the word “God” has settled into all the movements of my being, taken root in my bones, provides many well-worn neural pathways that make the day go on.  It sometimes seems like it would be easier to let the word go for the sake of communicating with a culture that turns more and more to science for cultural coherence, but the word “God” is as there in my psyche the laptop is there beneath my fingers.

While the word God has settled and made itself at home, I’m less and less sure – and it becomes less and less important – what the word means.  I look across history and the word becomes muddled.  Is what the author of Judges meant by “God” what Aquinas meant by “God?”  I’m hard-pressed to find a common referent behind the word when I encounter it in those very different perspectives.  I’ve come on a minimal definition – “the appropriate object of worship” – that lets the theological critique of idolatry work its relativizing acid on various God images and God concepts. Continue reading “Settling into God during the Demise of Gender Neutral Language by Dirk von der Horst”

From Mary Daly to the Emerging Church – An Unlikely Dissertation Trajectory by Xochitl Alvizo

Alvizo headshot smallIt was 2004 during the first semester in one of my classes for the master’s program when my TA presented a lecture on feminist critiques of atonement and introduced me to the writings of Mary Daly. It was my first introduction to feminism as theory and theology, and my first introduction to Mary Daly the writer.

Mary Daly was the first woman to preach at the Harvard Memorial Chapel in its three-hundred and thirty-six year history, back in 1974. On that occasion and in cahoots with some of her graduate students of the time, Mary Daly took the opportunity to invite people to give physical expression to their exodus from sexist religion by walking out of the church with her that day. Thinking that she would be leading the way out the door, she was surprised to find that people were very much ahead of her. She walked out of that church, out of sexist religion, as one among many who were ready to take their “own place in the sun.” This exodus, the act of leaving behind the silence and alienation from one’s own voice and from one’s own be-ing that is perpetuated by the prevailing patriarchal structures of church, is a choice I commit to make every day as I stay on the boundary of Christianity and church. Continue reading “From Mary Daly to the Emerging Church – An Unlikely Dissertation Trajectory by Xochitl Alvizo”

University of Oklahoma and Female Complicity in Patriarchy by Cynthia Garrity-Bond

IMG_5296 - cat By now most, if not all, readers of FAR have read or watched the disturbing YouTube video of University of Oklahoma Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) Fraternity sing their racist chant. The two male SAE members who led the “song” were swiftly expelled by President David Boren, with the National Chapter of SAE shutting down the OU chapter of SAE. Student outcry denouncing the racist behavior ranged from hurt and anger from white students to how are you surprised by black students. At the very minimum the incident was and is occasion for important race dialogue on all college campuses.

The level of comfort and familiarity with the lyrics sung by those on the bus horrified me. The students, both male and female, were dressed in formal attire on their way to an unspecified date function.  I flipped between MSNBC and CNN commentaries as the video replayed and the subsequent fallouts unfolded. Yet what I missed was commentary on the complicit nature of acceptance by the other students on that bus; and for the purpose of this post, the young women who gleefully followed along.

I immediately reflected on the writings of Mary Daly and her seminal work, Gyn-Ecology: The MetaEthics of Radical Feminism in which Daly challenges the multiple manifestations of patriarchy’s far-reach on the lives of women as well as female complicity in patriarchy.  Daly identifies the practice of Indian Suttee or female foot-binding as one of many examples of Sado-Ritual Syndrome in which she argues, “The history of the footbound women of China provides us with a vivid and accurate image of the way in which women have been coerced into ‘participating’ in the phallocratic processions.  The footbound daughter was bound to repeat the same procedure of mutilation upon her own daughter, and the daughter upon her daughter” (41-42).  While the literal practice of food-binding has been erased, Daly reminds us patriarchy continues with “insidious forms of mindbinding and spiritbinding in every nation of this colonized planet”(42).

The culpability of the young women (and men) and their Sin of Silence brought swift judgment from me.  How I thought, could they so easily participate in something so wrong? Then the related YouTube surfaced of University of Oklahoma SAE House Mom rapping the N-word in the same unconscionable manner as the SAE fraternity’s use of the N-word.  I basked in my indignation until I recalled a not-so-distant time when I remained silent in the face of what Daly might call the phallocratic mutilation of women.

The occasion was the appearance of comedian Bill Maher on the campus of Loyola Marymount University during the presidential campaign of the 2008 election. As a political pundit I expected Maher’s material to cover the upcoming election as well as the candidates, one of which was Hilary Clinton.  From the start Maher used abusive verbiage associated with female genitalia as a means of contesting her politics.  When speaking of the male candidates, his insults/jokes were framed around the substance of their platform and not their bodies.  The distinction was not lost on me, or the roar of laughter from the predominately student body.

I recall turning to my female co-workers repeating, “This is wrong, this is not funny! We need to walk-out right now!” “What?” they responded, “Walk out on Maher, you know he’ll make a mockery of us and our bodies if we do such a thing.”  They were right.  I sat in complete fear trying to find the courage to match my moral outrage with the action of walking out.  I recall imagining what horrible names related to the female anatomy he would hurl at me, affirming my deepest body-image sensitivities.  So like so many other women when confronted with the repercussions of ugly misogyny I remained silent and in my seat, seething with shame and disappointment by my in-action.

At the time I did not have Daly’s language of female complicity in patriarchy, although this is exactly what occurred.  While I self-identified as a feminist, I did not understand the repercussions and reach of a patriarchal system that so easily silences women to their own demise.  The seductive nature of this complicity takes form whenever I/we remain silent to its deceptive and phallocratic ways.  But speaking up is risky and dare I say, exhausting when you are the lone voice who objects to the tentacles of misogyny, especially when the pushback comes from other women.  I have discovered once you leave the safety of your feminist tribe and speak out against misogyny or speak in favor of women from a feminist stance, you are open game for all kinds of insults–with many coming from other women. During these encounters I find my voice softening to a safe whisper. I know my silence can be complicity in and with patriarchy, but the alternative engagement outside of academia leaves me with battle fatigue.

While I continue to hold those on the University of Oklahoma SAE bus accountable for participating in the racist rant, I wonder how the binding of the daughters by the bound mothers facilitated the participation in the phallocratic processions.

Cynthia Garrity-Bond is a feminist theologian and social ethicist, is completing her doctorate at Claremont Graduate University in women studies in religion with a secondary focus in theology, ethics and culture. For the past six years Cynthia has been teaching in the department of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University where she completed both her BA and MA in Theology. Her research interests includes feminist sexual theology, historical theology with particular emphasis on religious movements of women, agency and resistance to ecclesial authority, embodiment, Mariology and transnational feminisms. Having recently returned from Southern Africa, Cynthia is researching the decriminalization of prostitution from a theological perspective.

Give Me That “New” Time Religion! by Susan Gifford

Susan GiffordI want a new religion. I have changed to the point that I cannot be a part of a patriarchal religion and I feel that all of the major organized religions fall into that category. It has taken me a long time, but I can now see that these organized religions were created largely to support the patriarchal culture that most humans have lived in for at least the past 5,000 years.

I started reading Mary Daly, Riane Eisler, Merlin Stone, Carol Christ, Marija Gimbutus and other similar authors in recent years. I was amazed at how much I did not know about life before patriarchy. I was never taught in school that there were cultures – civilized cultures – for tens of thousands of years prior to patriarchy. These pre-historical civilizations were largely matrilineal although not matriarchal.

Women had power in such cultures, but not “power over” others. These cultures were organized as partnership societies, not hierarchical societies. The Divine Presence worshiped was feminine which, of course, makes perfect sense since the female sex is the one that gives birth. As far as I can tell, there is little known about the specific religious beliefs and rituals of these civilizations. However, from the art work that has been discovered, there appears to be a theme of a Great Mother Goddess who gave birth to the world and all that is in it. Although we can’t go backwards to this ancient goddess religion, knowing more about it may open our eyes to other ways of conceiving a Divine Presence. Continue reading “Give Me That “New” Time Religion! by Susan Gifford”

Marion Woodman and Mary Daly – Soul Sisters? by Susan Gifford

Susan Gifford Conscious Femininity was the first book by Marion Woodman that I read August 2010; it is a collection of interviews with Woodman from 1985 to 1992. Marion Woodman was eye-opening to me – I started seeing a connection between the feminine side of “God,” mostly missing in our world today, and the ecological disasters that are looming.

Additionally, I recently read Mary Daly’s book, Beyond God the Father (I was enticed to read it because Sarah Sentilles wrote so movingly about Mary Daly on this forum).  Daly’s writing convinced me, at a deep “gut” level, that any possible “solving” of Earth’s current ecological crisis is directly related to an evolution in human spiritual consciousness – from a patriarchal, hierarchical view of all life to an equalitarian view.  And, this change in consciousness must be preceded by women’s liberation.  These three vital issues (ecological crisis, spiritual consciousness and women’s liberation) are inextricably linked.   Although Woodman connects these issues in a manner very similar to the way Daly links them, evidently I wasn’t ready to “get it” until I read Beyond God the Father. Continue reading “Marion Woodman and Mary Daly – Soul Sisters? by Susan Gifford”

Writing: Changing the World and Ourselves. By Ivy Helman

I still remember the first tim20140903_180423e I read Mary Daly’s Gyn/Ecology. It awoke something within me. Her use of language, the power of her writing and the ease with which she created new words taught me so much about the world around me and about the way the language, and subsequently its use in writing, shapes lives, choices, abilities and destinies. She also taught me about myself.

I was hooked, but not just on Mary Daly. Shortly after I finished her book, I moved onto other feminists writing about religion like Katie Cannon, Judith Plaskow, Alice Walker, Carol Christ, Rita Gross, Gloria Anzaldua, Audre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, Margaret Farley and Starhawk to name just a few. All of them, in fact every feminist I’ve ever read, has shown me the way in which words have power and how words speak truth to power. Ever since, I’ve wanted to be the kind of writer whose words carry a power that not only affects people but also inspires a more just, more equal, more compassionate and more humane world. In other words, I wanted to be a writer activist.

Yet, I’ve always carried around with me a sneaky suspicion that people don’t consider writers true activists. If you aren’t holding a sign, screaming or participating in some sort of public demonstration or civil disobedience, then you have no right to call yourself an activist. Is that really true? Continue reading “Writing: Changing the World and Ourselves. By Ivy Helman”

Anger is Not a Panacea: The “Next Stage” after Rage by Carol P. Christ

carol mitzi sarahIn a recent post Xochitl Alvizo cited Beverly Harrison’s much-loved essay “Anger as a Work of Love.” Harrison captured feelings that were in the air at the time of its writing several decades ago. Women were laying claim to the right to be angry at the silencing of our voices, the double standard, the media portrayal of women, income inequality, lack of access to good jobs, failure to prosecute rape and domestic violence, and a host of other injustices.

Most of all we were protesting the cultural stereotype that the “good woman” (understood to be white, Christian, and married or hoping to be) would not protest loudly or at all, would turn the other cheek, and would think about others rather than herself. (Jewish women and black women had to strive doubly hard to “live up” to this standard, as it was assumed that Jewish women were “overly assertive” and that black women were “too strong” and often “angry.”)

In this context Harrison’s essay and Mary Daly’s epithet “rage is not a stage” gave women—especially white women–permission to get in touch with our feelings of anger and to express them. We understood that “good women” had been hiding and repressing their feelings for centuries if not millennia with the result that the structures of injustice remained intact. Continue reading “Anger is Not a Panacea: The “Next Stage” after Rage by Carol P. Christ”

Uppity Women Unite by Barbara Ardinger

Barbara ArdingerI have a poster on my wall: UPPITY WOMEN UNITE. In big, red, capital letters. I don’t remember where I got this poster, but I know I’ve had it since the late 70s or early 80s. I’m sure it comes from the raggedy late 60s, when second-wave feminism got up a head of steam and uppity women began getting our attention. That’s when Betty Friedan said being a proper 50s housewife was like having a mental illness. It’s when Gloria Steinem founded Ms. Magazine, which (oh, horrors!) did not give us recipes or home-making tips and did not tell us how to dress to lure our men into bed. It’s when Mary Daly started giving us a whole new, original take on the English language. Ahhh, yes, those were the good ol’ days. And the bad ol’ days, too, when the Equal Rights Amendment was not ratified.

“Uppity” can be a troublesome word. In the olden days, if someone called you uppity, it means you were inferior to them and weren’t staying in what they thought was your proper place. If you were a black person, for example, and if you didn’t step off the sidewalk when white men were coming, you were uppity. If you were a woman who wanted equal pay for doing the same work a man did, you were uppity. Those women in the 1980 movie, 9 to 5, were majorly uppity. And they won the battle.

Uppity women didn’t stay in the kitchen or the bedroom. They used—oh, horrors—the Pill. They marched to Take Back the Night. They got up on stage and played their own drums and guitars and didn’t sing like proper ladies should. They shouted. And they got into politics. Bella Abzug said that a woman’s place is in the House. Shirley Chisolm became the first black female member of congress in 1968 and in 1972 ran for president. (And I voted for her.)


The English teacher in me wants to get in a word or two here. Look at the phrase “uppity women unite.” It might be a front page headline that says strong women who won’t stay on the bottom are getting together. Or maybe it’s a simple declarative sentence. But add punctuation and we get more punch. “Uppity women, unite.” Now the verb is imperative. We must unite. Let’s make it stronger: “Uppity women—unite!” Now it’s a command.

So, uppity sisters, and uppity brothers, too, you know how to multitask. Push the on button in your corpus callosum and let your imagination run while you read this. Let’s consider what the planet might look like if we had equal rights (and rites) in all things. Please understand that I’m not saying women should be the ones on top. I’m not talking about “power over,” but about what Starhawk calls “power with.” That’s shared power, which leads to shared magic.

Points of lightImagine yourself as one of a huge crowd of flying people joined as points of light above the earth. Float peacefully up there for a few minutes. Think about the power of people joined together, the energy of people working together. Now let’s get down to earth. Floaty energy is fun, but it doesn’t get much done. Imagine yourself as a member of a group with a goal. Touch down. Stand on the earth and consider the fact that everything on the planet is alive—not just people and animals and plants, but rocks, too. Even things we constructed have some life force. Embrace panentheism for a little while. Now here’s something to do: Find a church that doesn’t accept uppity women or uppity brothers. You’re united. As united, uppity people, go to that church and stand in a circle around it. Send friendly but firm energy into that church so that, even if a whole denomination or religion won’t change right now, that individual church might change. The next time you go to that church, radiate the same energy when you go inside.

You can also find a church that appreciates uppity folks. Send grateful energy to the church and all the people in it.

UPPITY WOMEN UNITE. If enough of us uppity women and our uppity brothers get together, we will eventually build up to a critical mass. A critical mass can lead to an explosion. I’d prefer to see a spiritual, peaceful explosion. What do you want to see?


Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. (, is a published author and freelance editor. Her newest book is Secret Lives, a novel about grandmothers who do magic.  Her earlier nonfiction books include the daybook Pagan Every Day, Finding New Goddesses (a pun-filled parody of goddess encyclopedias), and Goddess Meditations.  When she can get away from the computer, she goes to the theater as often as possible—she loves musical theater and movies in which people sing and dance. She is also an active CERT (Community Emergency Rescue Team) volunteer and a member (and occasional secretary pro-tem) of a neighborhood organization that focuses on code enforcement and safety for citizens. She has been an AIDS emotional support volunteer and a literacy volunteer. She is an active member of the neopagan community and is well known for the rituals she creates and leads.

The Mosaic Language of God by Andreea Nica

Andreea Nica, pentecostalismThroughout my “bible-thumping, smitten with God” years, I scribbled countless thoughts and prayers in four devotional journals. Recently I came across these journals, wiping away the years of dust accumulated. As I have been detaching from the Pentecostal god, it was a painful, downright mortifying experience to read through my past communication with god. This god seemed so foreign now given my liberated, enlightened, evolved self. I remember writing to and about Him, but I couldn’t help thinking how dysfunctional and convoluted the language I used really was.

I love you Father. Take me…surrender me to your will…your ways. Let me not lean on my own understanding and foolishness.

Mary Daly in Beyond God the Father advocates, “Time to go beyond God the Father. Don’t you see? If God is male, then the male is God. Reclaim the right to name your self, your world, your God. The liberation of language is rooted in the liberation of ourselves. Be a wild woman…God is not A Being. God is Be-ing.”

Many social scientists contend that language is the foundation of our socially constructed realities. We use language as a creative tool and guide to frame our perceptions of the world around us. We also use language to create our own unique creative expressions. That even though we share and appropriate from the accessible pool of creative expressions, each individual designs and discovers their own true form. Continue reading “The Mosaic Language of God by Andreea Nica”


carol christWhile I was in Crete on the Goddess Pilgrimage teaching about and experiencing a Society of Peace where violence and domination were neither celebrated nor encouraged, another war broke out in Iraq, breaking my heart, breaking all of our hearts—yet again. When will we ever learn, oh when will we ever learn?

Barbara Lee was the only member of Congress to vote against the US war powers authorized after 9/11 which were used to launch war in Afghanistan; she also voted against authorization for the Iraq war in 2002. Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq war, despite clear indications that the US administration was lying about weapons of mass destruction—which were never found in Iraq. I voted for Barack Obama because he opposed this war. Then he listened to General Petraeus and expanded the war in Iraq. Barbara Lee speaks for me. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama do not.

The Iraqi people are once again living in fear of their lives as reports surface that armies and militias are engaging in mass executions of their so-called “rivals.” Is there any cause that could justify this? Continue reading “BARBARA LEE SPEAKS FOR ME by Carol P. Christ”

On Reading, Not Reading, and Disagreeing by Linn Marie Tonstad

Linn Marie TonstadThe theology blogosphere in all its glory has been alive in recent days with furor sparked by a blog post from Janice Rees at Women In Theology, where she discusses not reading Karl Barth, the heavyweight German 20th-century Protestant theologian, as an act of resistance against his dominance in the theological academy and his status as a litmus test for serious scholarship. Reminding myself repeatedly of the great xkcd comic, I’ve resisted my urge to comment on this and a number of other recent debates. (See here for a list of links if you wish to catch up on the discussion, however.) So this is not a post on whether to read Karl Barth.* Rather, the debate made me take a look at some of my own reading practices, and the visions of theological discussion that they encode. It also brought me back to the question of feminist disagreement, which continues to lurk in the back of my mind as I pursue disagreements with some prominent feminist theologians in my current book project.

I’ve written here before about reading authors that I disagree with, and indeed working on theologians I think are wrong about certain issues. On the simplest level, as a feminist and queer theologian, many of the theologians I work on would have questioned or outright resisted my participation in the discipline to begin with – although we cannot always know whether and how they would have done so today (since many of them are dead – yes, the dreaded dead white European males). But I often – not always – find projects that I sincerely disagree with utterly fascinating. From what perspective does the system being developed in such a project make sense? Where would one have to stand to see what that author sees? What do I come to understand about my current context, or the author’s context, from the perspective of the debates and decisions that the author finds pressing? One fairly trivial example: any interest I might once have had in historical Jesus debates was settled forever by reading Albert Schweitzer as an undergraduate. I simply do not find such debates compelling in themselves. (That does not mean I think they are valueless, of course!) But reading theologians who were engaged in such debates teaches me a great deal about how the commonsense assumptions many of us today operate with came to be. And seeing how such debates accompany disagreement over right social relations, over the nature of transmission of Christian traditions, and over what counts as scholarship in theology and religious studies is simply fascinating. Continue reading “On Reading, Not Reading, and Disagreeing by Linn Marie Tonstad”

Feminism and My Existentialist Leanings by Xochitl Alvizo

In light of so much destruction in our world – from the violence inside individual homes to beyond and between national borders – how is it still possible to hope for and to live toward a vision of beauty and peace for the world?

It was at a community college in LA in my Psychology 4 class that I first formally encountered existentialism. When it came to the time of the semester to teach on that topic, our professor, Eric Fiazi, came alive in a new way, energetically teaching us about existentialism and Jean-Paul Sartre. Professor Fiazi dramatically gestured and sketched on the board as he explained the concept of ‘nothingness’ and Sartre’s well-known proposition that “existence precedes essence.”  Teaching psychology was for him a means of teaching what he truly loved, art and existentialism. He believed these subjects helped expand students’ horizons and helped make them happy and productive members of society. And so these class sessions were his favorite to teach – and mine to experience. Immediately, I was hooked.

I remember the moment he hit the chalk to the board – leaving a speck of a mark – telling us that the tiny little mark left on the great wide chalkboard was like our galaxy, tiny  against the great vastness of the universe; the earth, a particle of chalk-dust in comparison, and our individual lives, imperceptible in its midst (it now reminds me of Carl Sagan’s pale blue dot monologue). Engaging the students, he countered each one of their assertions that humans indeed have an essence, a meaning. “Humans are good by nature” – “Humans are inherently selfish beings” – “Humans are created in the image of god” – “We are each created for a purpose”; for each of these he gave a clear and logical retort. I was fascinated! What would it mean to live a life with no inherent meaning – with no essence to determine or guide our existence? How might it be different to live my life stripped of any assumed or inherited sense of meaning or purpose – to instead give these up and start from a presupposition of nothingness? Continue reading “Feminism and My Existentialist Leanings by Xochitl Alvizo”

When Feminists Disagree by Linn Marie Tonstad

Linn Marie TonstadA while back I gave a talk on feminist trinitarian theology to an audience of mostly progressive academics, including feminist and womanist scholars of religion. In the course of analyzing what I called the ‘trinitarian imaginary’ in Christianity and its often-patriarchal and masculinist forms, I suggested that transforming that imaginary might require recognizing the hypothetical character of theological statements until the eschaton, a theme that has been developed in depth by a German theologian named Wolfhart Pannenberg. Now, Pannenberg is decidedly neither a feminist nor a progressive theologian. To name just one example: in his three-volume Systematic Theology, his few explicit references to feminist or female theologians include a brief mention of Mary Daly (volume 1, p. 262) in connection with a critique of feminist theologians for projecting (!) masculinity into God in their readings of divine fatherhood, and a critique of Valerie Saiving and Susan Nelson Dunfee’s positions on the traditional Christian doctrine of sin as pride (volume 2, p. 243). So when I mentioned Pannenberg as a resource in my talk, one of the feminist scholars in the audience audibly gasped and flinched – it became clear in the Q&A that she had significant concerns about whether I could count as a feminist at all. After all, to mine someone like Pannenberg for constructive feminist theological work might imply an endorsement of his other positions, or might entail taking over aspects of his system that would taint my own project in anti-feminist directions – all legitimate concerns.  Continue reading “When Feminists Disagree by Linn Marie Tonstad”

On Pronouns and Liberation in the Classroom by Ivy Helman

photoIn my introduction to Christianity class, almost every one of my students (who come from diverse religious backgrounds – primarily Roman Catholic, Protestant and Muslim), continues to believe that the best image if not the only appropriate image for G-d is male.  When probed they may speak generically about G-d as genderless, an entity or spiritual presence of some kind, yet conclude by affirming their belief that G-d is male often by adding something along the lines that G-d is best described as Father.  Some go so far in these affirmations that they articulate G-d’s maleness as fact.  It never fails that every semester I struggle with how to address this basic feminist issue within the classroom.

At least as early as 1973, Mary Daly, in Beyond G-d the Father: Towards a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation, articulated the problematic basis of the relationship between gender and divine imagery.  She argues that “If G-d in ‘his’ heaven is a father ruling ‘his’ people, then it is in the ‘nature’ of things and according to divine plan and the order of the universe that society be male-dominated.”  In other words, if maleness is associated with divinity, then the power, domination and running of society by men seems to be divinely ordained. Continue reading “On Pronouns and Liberation in the Classroom by Ivy Helman”

The Wit of the Labrys by Xochitl Alvizo

Always wearing my Labrys
Always wearing my Labrys

Sometimes I wish I were wittier. Or more precisely, there are moments when I become acutely aware of my underdeveloped wit – and I long to know how to sharpen it!

I have some pretty witty people in my life – my dad, my feminist mentors, my best friends.  They generally fall into two categories, radical lesbian feminists and women-identified men.  The interesting thing about these friends and family members of mine is that they have something very important in common – they all live their lives going against the grain. They are not people content or resigned to the status quo. They are not satisfied with the default ways of the world – the violence, exploitation, hierarchies of valuing various people differently. They understand that all of this is brokenness, and at the same time, they know that all of this is very much part of our reality. I think this is where their wit comes in. For how does one live with a vision for a more beautiful and just world while also daily facing and struggling through the reality of the world as it is? I think their wit is a key factor in sustaining their Wild unstilted spirits. Continue reading “The Wit of the Labrys by Xochitl Alvizo”

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”

Conversation on Leadership Continues…By Xochitl Alvizo

In a recent post on leadership I proposed that facilitating open dialogue is a central aspect of leadership. That if we are to move into new horizons – that is, feminist horizons of mutual communal empowerment and liberation – we must be willing to both risk and dialogue, and a leader is one who helps facilitate those practices.

Dialogue and the practice of making room for one another’s voices and contributions do not come easily to us however. Humans have a tendency to stifle and squelch one another especially if we sense that our privileges and comforts, our truths and our convictions, are being challenged or threatened. And so the breakdown in dialogue can result in the literal prevention of change and possibility – the possibility and actuality of entering into a more divine reality and way of relating. A leader then must be someone who can recognize and be aware of change-stifling powers, be willing to name and resist them, and help facilitate the creation of a literal time/place space for open participation and dialogue. This new open space has the potential and literally becomes the womb from which something new may be birthed…it is a fluid, messy, mysterious place, and not one necessarily easy to exists within, but absolutely necessary if seek to contribute toward a more just and beautiful existence. Open dialogue is a necessary part of helping create this new womb space where differences (of perspective, voices, people) can come together to interact and spark with one another in order to morph and change and thus birth something new together. Continue reading “Conversation on Leadership Continues…By Xochitl Alvizo”

Reformer, Revolutionary, or Rationalist? Three Types of Feminism By Kile Jones

What do Martin Luther and Mary Daly have in common? They both realized that they could not reform the Roman Catholic Church from “the inside-out.”  They came to believe that some institutions, even those dear to the heart, are not worth saving.  One of the most significant differences between Luther and Daly—aside from the obvious differences in time, culture, race, class, and sex—is that Luther’s faith in God remained intact whereas Daly’s did not.  Mary Daly, due to her positions on Catholic thought, came to represent what is now referred to as Post-Christian Feminism (or Post-Religious Feminism).  Post-Christian feminism, as seen in the writings of Mary Daly, Daphne Hampson, and Sarah Sentilles (each with differing takes), argues that there are certain incompatible values between Christianity and feminism, and as a result of this, Christian feminists ought to consider how to respond to this incompatibility.  As Rita M. Gross states in Feminism and Religion, “The most difficult question facing a feminist who discovers her traditional religion to be patriarchal and sexist is what to do next” (107).

So the question remains: should feminists reform Christianity from the Inside-out or abandon the Church altogether?  Continue reading “Reformer, Revolutionary, or Rationalist? Three Types of Feminism By Kile Jones”

Sister Wives, The Terrible Taboo, and Agency by Xochitl Alvizo

A couple of weeks ago I watched a handful of Sister Wives episodes; it was the start of the new season and the network was having a marathon. I was absolutely fascinated. It was my first time watching the show, and interestingly,  I had actually seen the family in person in Boston before I ever saw them on TV. They had been in town in September for a panel discussion that one of my friends was hosting and all I knew about the Sister Wives show was that it was about a polygamist family with three wives and one husband. I never imagined myself intrigued. But seeing the women sitting there, hearing them talk about their lifestyle and how much they love their sister wives, getting to witness their family dynamics and their different personalities, I found that my first reaction to them was not  judgment. Instead I found myself increasingly curious, particularly about the sister wives’ relationship with one another.  Continue reading “Sister Wives, The Terrible Taboo, and Agency by Xochitl Alvizo”

Room at the Table: The “Problem” of Men By Lara Helfer

This post is written in conjunction with the Feminist Ethics Course Dialogue project sponsored by Claremont School of Theology in the Claremont Lincoln University Consortium,  Claremont Graduate University, and directed by Grace Yia-Hei Kao.

Lara Helfer is a 3rd year MDiv Student at Claremont School of Theology. She is humbled and excited by the intelligence, passion, and commitment of her classmates and professors, and looks forward their feedback and challenges to her very first blog post. 

As an out lesbian for more than 25 years, I have always struggled with the separatist movements associated with radical feminism. For me, affiliating as a ‘woman loving woman’ means just that, I love women. But wait – I love men too!  Whom I partner with – and yes, as a lesbian my partner is a woman – is but one aspect of me. Being a lesbian is not all of who I am, by far. I can’t, and do not wish to, imagine my life without men as an integral part of it. Continue reading “Room at the Table: The “Problem” of Men By Lara Helfer”

What Does It Mean to Say that All White Feminists Are Racist? (Questions Posed to White Women/Myself about Our Part in the Dialogue with Women of Color) By Carol P. Christ

Carol P. Christ, a founding mother in the study of Women and Religion and Feminist Theo/a/logy, has been active in anti-racist, anti-poverty, anti-war, feminist, pro-gay and lesbian, anti-nuclear, and environmental causes (in that order) for many years.  All of these issues have informed her teaching, her scholarship, and her politics.

The recent posting of Mary Daly’s letter to Audre Lorde on the Feminism and Religion blog is a correction of a piece of feminist history that is important in its own right and because of the way Lorde’s letter has shaped feminist discourse and politics up to the present day.  Knowledge of the existence of Daly’s letter and the facts surrounding Lorde’s distortion of history has been in the public domain since the 2004 publication of Alexis DeVeaux’s Warrior Poet, but when I searched the internet for a copy of “Mary Daly’s letter to Audre Lorde” a few days ago, what came up was Lorde’s letter to Daly — not Daly’s letter to Lorde.

I often hear younger feminists say that “all white feminists” of the older generations “were racist.”  Sometimes Mary Daly is mentioned.  Setting the record straight about Mary Daly is one step in retelling the history of feminism in a more complex way.  Continue reading “What Does It Mean to Say that All White Feminists Are Racist? (Questions Posed to White Women/Myself about Our Part in the Dialogue with Women of Color) By Carol P. Christ”

The Misbegotten Male: Male Sex-Selection & Female Abortion By Cynthia Garrity Bond

I turned away and, despite myself, the tears came, tears
Of weakness and disappointment; for what woman
wants a girl for her first-born?  They took the child from
me.  Kali said: “Never mind.  There will be many later
On.  You have plenty of time”
To our modern sensibility, the ancient Greeks understanding of procreation is as far reaching as say Nordstrom’s may be to any dollar store.  To the Greeks, men’s testicles had a particular function or job to fulfill: the left one produced girls with the right one producing boys.  For Aristotle, if you were willing to “man-up” and take the pain, tie off your left testicle during intercourse in order to insure the birth of a son.  In this formula, if something were to go wrong, even though you followed the correct game plan and a girl was born instead of the hope for son, something obviously went wrong at conception, thus the term “The Misbegotten Male,”i.e. a daughter, as the misbegotten.   Continue reading “The Misbegotten Male: Male Sex-Selection & Female Abortion By Cynthia Garrity Bond”

Hands Off By John Erickson

This post is written in conjunction with the Feminist Ethics Course Dialogue project sponsored by Claremont School of Theology in the Claremont Lincoln University Consortium,  Claremont Graduate University, and directed by Grace Yia-Hei Kao.

John Erickson is a doctoral student in Women’s Studies in Religion at Claremont Graduate University.  His research interests involve an interdisciplinary approach and are influenced by his time as the director of a women’s center and active member in the GLBTQ and women’s rights movements.  His work is inspired by the intersectionality of the feminism, queer identity, and religious political and cultural rhetoric.  He is the author of the blog, From Wisconsin, with Love and can be followed on Twitter at@jerickson85.

I find it little ironic that I am writing about Mary Daly’s formidable “anti-male” book Gyn/Ecology.  I remember reading the book when I was a sophomore in college and I owe much to Daly and her opus because they helped me to identify as a radical.

I know my position in feminism is sometimes misunderstood.  I have often found myself on the defensive end when someone asks me the question: “Why are you a feminist?”  However, although my identification as a feminist is always changing and growing, the label “RADICAL” is one I proudly wear on my chest everyday.   Continue reading “Hands Off By John Erickson”

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