Womanspirit Rising : Feminist Reader in Religion
This collection of 20th-century feminist writings attempts to re-think the ideas and traditions of male-dominated Western religion. It provides an overview of contemporary feminist thinking on religion and should appeal to anyone interested in the feminist perspective.
- Paperback | 304 pages
- 134.62 x 203.2 x 12.7mm | 226.8g
- 02 Sep 1991
- HarperCollins Publishers
- London, United Kingdom
Twenty-four essays, most of them quite good, on feminist aspects of religion - or is it religious aspects of feminism? In any case the authors all agree that on the one hand, the contemporary rediscovery of the feminine is rich in spiritual, and even theological, implications, and that on the other, traditional Jewish and Christian modes of thought are so freighted with masculine prejudice that they must be thoroughly revised, if not rejected outright. Radicals like Mary Daly find all of biblical religion hopelessly patriarchal and anti-feminine. Their problem is where to find a symbol system to replace the old discredited one. Reformers like Elisabeth Fiorenza or Phyllis Tribble want to purify traditional religion of the oppressive structures which deform their experience. Their problem is that, even putting aside irrelevant historical accumulations, the most primeval biblical thought (e.g., the Genesis account of creation) seems tainted with masculine categories. Only the witches like Zsuzsanna Budapest have a coherent ritual and symbolic framework for serf-expression. But they too have a problem: their traditions are too arcane and eccentric for most Western women. Still, the awesome difficulty of their undertaking hasn't kept the authors from doing some useful spadework. In what is probably the best essay in the collection, Valerie Salving demonstrates that the categories of sin (=self-assertion) and love (=selflessness) as developed by Anders Nygren and Reinhold Niebuhr simply do not correspond to the lived experience of modern women. Lucid, careful analysis like this is liberating in the best sense - an act of intellectual transcendence. Though there are many more to come, this looks like the best of the books on religion and feminism currently in print. (Kirkus Reviews)