Well, this afternoon I finished the book, and I find that I'm seeing it a little differently than yesterday. It's hard, because this is so outside of my very limited knowledge of the finer points of Christian tradition and orthodoxy. First off, I think the implied disdain of women who search for feminine expression inside the church is mostly a figment of my overactive imagination. And I think some of the reasons her story doesn't totally strike a chord for me is that I didn't grow up in the church (and more specifically, a Baptist church in the south during the 50's). Some of her struggle I just can't relate to, because I was born around 30 years later. I've never been a pastor's wife either, and I can certainly imagine the oppresion and narrowness of that for someone who feels dissatisfied within her religious tradition. The fact is, I might feel much the same if I was still going to the evangelical church I first "met" God in as a teenager. Maybe the drastic path she took felt like the only one available. Being outside of the evangelical church for so long has fostered forgetfulness about how confining it sometimes felt (I had stopped attending church pretty much completely for 3 or 4 years before starting to go to SP in 2002). The fact that she was willing to sacrifice her marriage to her spiritual quest still bothers me a bit, but I nearly trashed mine for a lesser reason, so.
I still can't decide whether my reaction to her speaking about Goddess is a leftover evangelical reflex or a true line being crossed. When she is talking about the Goddess (or Feminine Divine, etc), from my POV, it really seems consistent with things I would attribute to the God I know, not a separate deity. And her journey seems to have been "ordained" or "blessed" in some sense that I find hard to explain. Maybe it's just a semantic difference, and if she used a different word, I wouldn't have the hangup I do. I don't get the sense that she has returned to the church (or ever will), but she does explicitly forgive the wrongs that were done to her within the church, which is a point a lot of people who leave the church never get to. It still seems like she harps a little too much on the sins of patriarchy to me, but as I mentioned above, that could just be a difference between her context and mine.
I don't know what to think, really. It's an interesting book- not one I'd give to my mother-in-law (who goes to Open Door), but still interesting, and parts of it I really liked. Maybe I'll get ambitious one day when I don't have anything to write about and quote it for y'all.
Edited to add: I'm not suggesting that using God rather than Goddess is always a semantic difference. I'm just pondering that as a possibility in this specific case.