Tuesday, February 22, 2005

On Certain Feminist Theologians

Well, I'm really thinking of Carol P. Christ (click here for information) specifically, because I'm re-reading one of her old books, "Laughter of Aphrodite."

And I'm seeing it with entirely new eyes, after a certain amount of time as a reconstructionist. Oh man...what a difference it has made. I read with FAR more critical eyes than I did when Dann first got me this book, almost 20 years ago.

I'll just dive into it, shall I?

One of the BIG beefs I have with Ms. Christ is her outright rejection of ALL deities, Gods AND Goddesses, who are warlike and violent. In one essay, she explicitly names Ishtar and Athene as being two Goddesses that she rejects, because of their associations with war. Ms. Christ seems to want to define Goddess spirituality as being only concerned with pacifistic Goddesses.

Now, this is coming from a woman whose personal ancestry includes Germans, Swedes, Irish, Scots and Anglo-Saxons. Obviously she has forgotton a great deal of the history of her own people, who were inclined to very bloody sacrificial rituals, headhunting, Goddesses who wore armor and carried swords and knew how to use them, women warriors like Freydis who (at 8 months pregnant) did not hesitate to snatch up a sword and fight even when the men were in hiding as the homestead was being attacked...

Her own ancestors were violent, bloody people. Yet in her theology (or as she calls it "theaology") she completely and totally ignores ALL Northern European mythology and Goddess lore, and focuses instead on the deities of Greece and Crete and the Mediterranean.

That's all well and good, but their Goddesses weren't all light and fluff either.

I say that she cannot speak of introducing women to spiritual wholeness if by doing so she's introducing them only to the Goddesses that she likes and approves of. She has no FAITH in Goddess to let Goddess be what Goddess must be, and if that means a very violent Goddess like Kali or the Morrigan or Skadi or Freyja or Oya or whatever, then so be it. She's *analyzed* it to death, and she's letting her personal ego get in the way of just letting sheer spirit speak.

She forgets that Athene, for example, could provide a girl with a very strong archetype or model or whatever to look to...because Athene is a Goddess of wisdom and insight, as well as a Goddess of the domestic/civilized arts. And Athene isn't a simple battle Goddess in the same way that Mars is a fair brute when it comes to warfare. Athene was a ** strategist ** not just a warrior. Ties in with that wisdom thing again. Athene would show a girl how to use her mind to get what she wants, to be intellectually competitive, and how to use the brain to win. Ms. Christ dismisses Athene a little too easily for my taste.

I think that in ignoring the war Goddesses, this really robs female military personnel of their dignity, and teaches that this part of a woman's soul, that may very well feel the call to defend country with life and limb, is somehow bad and wrong. I can just see an Army woman looking at this and thinking, "So there's no place for me here at this table? I am woman, but I am rejected because I serve my country?"

No thanks. I won't have that kind of exclusion going on in MY Goddess spirituality. I may not have chosen that road for myself, but damned if I'll tell another woman that she shouldn't do so if she truly feels that call.

Ms. Christ's vision is far too limiting to women, and since it is so limiting (to the soft gentle compassionate mothering sort of woman), how on earth can she write about something she calls "liberation theology?" It doesn't seem to me like her vision frees women from anything, but in fact continues the sentence that patriarchy has placed upon women, only giving it a fresh and more attractive coat of paint. "Oh, it's GODDESS spirituality teaching me that I should be a sweet gentle stay at home mother and not have any ambition beyond the kitchen and the nursery! That's OK then, as long as it's not those nasty male Gods telling me this."

Ms. Christ also writes that she has a problem with monotheism that leads to religious intolerance. Oh, don't make me laugh...because that is what she herself seems to engage in. I have a feeling she would not be very open to or respectful of the religious insights found in Asatru, because Asatruar do not hesitate to use violence when it is necessary. That, and they also worship male Gods, so I guess that renders them completely useless. Please.

Joe and I had a conversation about something similar just yesterday. He couldn't understand why so many people in the women's spirituality movement didn't include ANY Northern European Goddesses. MY response was, "Would you really want to see it commercialized and cheapened and fluffed out in this way?" The closest thing to a response to this question that I put to him was, "Well, there's something perverse in me that would enjoy seeing the fur fly."

OK Joe, you're a weirdo. But I suppose he does have a point...people tend not to mess with Skadi when She's standing at the gates of Asgard demanding weregild for the death of Her father Thiassi.

Anyway, another thing about Carol Christ that proves to be beyond irritating is the fact that she and people like her go around complaining about how "oppressed" they are as women. People like Joe come along and say to people like her, "When was the last time you had to go dumpster diving just to have something to eat? When was the last time you lived on the street? When was the last time you had a choice between instant popcorn and powdered biscuits for dinner beacuse that was the only thing in the kitchen to eat and no money to buy anything else? When was the last time you had to live on food stamps and public aid? And WHAT exactly have YOU DONE, in all your enlightened Goddess spirituality, done to HELP RELIEVE THE BURDENS OF THE POOR AND NEEDY IN YOUR OWN COUNTRY?" As far as he's concerned, her happy-ass little trips to Crete are a complete, complete luxury and are totally pointless and a total waste of time. Let Carol Christ contribute something to reliving the needs of the poor right here in the US, before going charging off to Crete for a weekend to bathe in the sun and pat herself and other women on the back and tell each other how fabulous they are then go home to their upper-middle and upperclass lives with their big houses and sparkling pools, their expensive personal trainers and their Prozac and therapists - therapists they have because they themselves are like high strung little poodles themselves who can't cope with too much reality.

It's just so much more fluffy bunny feelgood crap.

Ya know, Lexa, I'd volunteer to be Rhiannon's Goddess-mother...but I think I'm a little too "out there" to do that for ANY kid. *blush*

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