Monday, August 09, 2004

feminine divine?

For a few days now I've been reading The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd. Now, I'm not recommending it, because to be honest, I'm having trouble getting into it. I should have read the subtitle more carefully, I guess (A Woman's Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine). I guess I'll cover the problems I'm having with the book, and then try to explain why I was interested in it in the first place.

So, she's this Baptist pastor's wife, and grew up in the Baptist church. Over time, she experiences what she terms a "feminist awakening" that leads her first away from the Baptists, but everntually away from Christianity entirely. She starts investigating feminine deities of other traditions, and also mythology. I can't really relate to that- although I do like myth and symbol. She and a friend who shares the journey with her sort of invent rites and rituals to mark significant points in their search for Goddess (which I totally dig- except for the Goddess part). More than once she talks about how we have to shed all the trappings of our patriarchal programming (which honestly made me roll my eyes a little), and if we don't allow our search to take us outside of Christianity (which is a "male" religion), the implication is that we're clinging to the forces that oppress us or it's a knee-jerk reaction of our programming (more eyerolling here). I don't think that every woman needs to do that to find completeness- and therein lies the danger of generalizing our own path into THE path.

Now, I admire her courage to follow her heart, but I can't relate to her faith journey a whole lot. I was initially interested in the book for the title (which one of us girls hasn't been a dissident daughter at one point, if only inside?), and the fact that she had been a writer of Christian inspirational nonfiction. I figured she was someone who might be searching for some of the same things I'm searching for. A balance between male and female, not only within church authority, but also terminology. A way to express faith that is feminine and Christian. I don't want a new God, thanks, I like my current one just fine. I think it's kind of cruel to blame God for the lack of balance within the church, actually. To be fair, she doesn't demonize men (maybe that's why I felt like her blame was on God, by default). And there have been passages here and there that I have loved. Like when she's talking about exploring the feminine dimensions of the sacraments (communion in terms of breastfeeding, baptism in terms of amniotic fluid). Or exploring the role of Wisdom in Jewish tradition, and Sophia/Logos in the NT. But then she just veers off toward the Goddess again, and loses me. It's funny, after I got baptized, I was thinking of rebirth and Jesus' words that we must be born again- and how birth is an exclusively female domain. God as Mother! It helped me feel a little less nervous about the psalm I wrote.

Anyway, I got started on posting about this based on a post of Rachelle's (it's from July 26th, for some reason her whole sidebar of links/archives seems to be gone). Actually, it was a quote she posted from the book that made me want it in the first place, weeks ago. So. It's a lot to chew on, but not as helpful as I hoped. Since I'm being forced to consider a calling to the pastorate (the guy with the gun to my head? that would be my husband), I am kind of mulling over what we as women have to offer as leaders of the church, besides being female (which, in fairness, I think is a lot to begin with). What ways do we hear/see/talk to/imagine God that are uniquely ours? I love Christ's church, and I'd rather contribute to it than leave for any "Goddess".

So, am I just making a big deal out of nothing when it comes to the Goddess? Maybe it comes from having a lot of Wiccan friends. I just don't see Goddess-worship in that sort of form as compatable with the way of Jesus (although I admit to wishing more Christians had that kind of respect for the Earth!). Lay some feedback on me, peeps!

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