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Sunday, January 14, 2007
Book Discussion: Dance of the Dissident Daughter
Dance of the the Dissident Daughter is Sue Monk Kidd's story of emerging from a life of people-pleasing and spiritual submission to implicit and explicit assumptions of patriarchy/male superiority into a life embracing her authentic female self in relation to all aspects of Being, including the Sacred Feminine, God-as-Goddess. We may or may not travel to Sue's theological place, but there are vital lessons for each of us to learn from her journey that can be applied to our own genuine walk.

I'd like to start the discussion with a few excerpts and open the conversation up for any and all responses from those who read or are reading to book, as well as any lurkers who want to share from their well of female experience, pain, joy wisdom and healing. Over the next days and weeks I invite each of you to post a quotes) you found moving, provocative, confusing, disturbing or healing so that all of us can join in a substantive process of dialogue and digestion of our experience with the book.

1. As you read and post about Dance of the Dissident Daughter, pay attention to your body. If you feel fear, tension, resistance, anger, hope, dreaming, release or longing, where in your body/spirit do you most feel it?

2.How do you feel, on the most fundamental level, about being female?

3. What experiences (postive and negative) have most shaped your sefl-identity as a woman?

4. How do you feel about naming your own identity as a woman and your experience of Sacred Reality-God-ess?

"In the beginning of Christianity, church fathers debated whether women had souls at all. Later the issue became whether or not a woman's soul could be saved. Today the issue is one of women reconnecting with their souls." (p 21)

"Mostly, I didn't want to believe I could have been wounded by my own faith. I didn't want to acknowledge how it had relegated half the human population to secondary status and invisible places. I didn't want any of this to be true." (p 33)

"How odd, I kept thinking, that the same man who wrote, 'Our hearts were made for Thee, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in Thee,' also wrote, 'Man but not woman is made in the image and likeness of God.' In 1140, this actually became an official decree of the church." (p 71)

"To my surprise I'd learned that in ancient times the snake was not maligned or seen as evil but rather symbolized female wisdom, power, and regeneration." (p 71)

"I desperately needed to give myself full permission to get angry...Yet anger needs not only to be recognized and allowed; like the grief, it eventually needs to be tranformed into energy that serves compassion...anger can fuel our ability to challenge, to defy injustice. It can lead to creative projects, constructive behavior, acts that work toward inclusion. In such ways anger becomes a dynamism of love." (p 74)

"Often, like Ariadne, a woman cannot recognize or contact the heroic, freeing energy in herself. Instead she projects it outward, usually onto a man." (110)

"When we truly grasp for the first time that the symbol of woman can be a vessel of the sared, that it too can be an image of the Divine, our lives will begin to pivot." (p 99)

"'But the word God does not register in us as neuter,' I said. 'Technically it may not imply any particular gender, but what registers and functions in the mind is male.'
As Mcfague says, androgenous terms only 'conceal androcentric and male assumptions behind the abstraction.' How many times have I heard someone say, "God is not male. He is spirit?" (p 141)

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posted by Jemila Kwon at 10:13 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 1/14/2007 11:54:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    I've been eagerly anticipating "discussing" this book with all of you.

    I'll start by addressing Jemila's quesitons:

    1. I ran the whole gamut of emotions in the process of reading and synthesizing the information in this book. At one point I actually yelled at the author, my frustration and heartbreak were so severe. The tension has manifested itself physically in tightness in my shoulders and almost a knawing feeling across my chest. Rather odd...

    2. I really don't know right now how I feel about being a woman. It's not that I don't like being a woman. I do. I also know that I have lived and defined myself within a patriachal system and I have caught myself giving value to and fitting within a system that gives value to the qualities usually found among men. In the process, there is a natural devaluing of the particular giftedness of women. I have been and continue to look at the way I act and think within this system. But, I don't want to take the path chose by the author. Fundamentally, I want to be Amy. I want to be accepted for the person I am and encouraged to operate in the gifts I posses without the question of whether I am a woman being of issue. I felt a sense of hopelessness at times as I read the book as I tried to grapple with the fact that my femininity cannot help but be part of who I am, and thus an issue. My hopelessness comes from a fear that I cannot embrace being female and continue within my faith community. Quite frankly, feminine imagery of God and the expression of an authentic female self is very far out there for 99.5% of the people. But, I love my church and the friendships, the mentoring and the desire among the leadership to really trying to incorporate an emerging-style faith. I don't want to be rejected. I know that's not a good reason to stay and certainly a horrible motivation, but at this point, the knowledge does not make the fear dissipate.

    3. The experiences that most effected my self-identity as a woman are actually contradictory in many ways. I am from a family of strong oppinionated, debating, people. My mom was the only girl amongst 5 boys. She is strong. Both my mom and my dad encouraged me that I could do and be anything. And yet, when I went to college (a Christian, liberal-arts college), I told my counselor that I wanted to go into counseling because I thought it would be a good career for a pastor's wife. It wasn't intil this past year, 12 years later, that I accepted that the call to ministry is for me. My assumption that to be in ministry, I would need to be married to a minister was nothing verbally communicated to me. It was comminicated in a lack of women at any level of leadership within the church outside of children's and women's ministries. There was no example, no one to look up to.

    4. Again, I don't know how I feel about naming my identity as a woman. I'm a bit on the practical side and the experiences Sue Monk Kidd describes in her journey seem a bit out there for me. I wanted to turn away from the book, but it has captured me. I'm realizing that finding my identity will look different and will be my unique journey.

    The quote that most expresses where I'm at right now is "When you can't go forward and you can't go backward and you can't stay where you are without killing off what is deep and vital in yourself, you are on the edge of creation."

    I know that I will not be the same after reading this book. I do not agree with all her conclusions, but have found a profound respect for her journey and know that I have begun one of my own.

  • At 1/15/2007 01:38:00 AM, Blogger Michele L

    Seeing as I checked this right before going to bed, and should have been there already, I will start with answering the questions as best as I can....but, I will be back with MUCH more. I dog eared half of the book. LOL.

    1. In the beginning of her story, I found I connected so much with her emotions and fears. I had moments of tears, and moments of anger. Through her journey, I definitely had moments where I thought..."well that is a little beyond my comfort, and well, I am not sure", but I was very glad I stayed through to the end.

    2. I think as a female I have always had a deep sense of strength, but unfortunately, I have allowed that to be conquered by outside forces and myself. I try to be comfortable with the equality I believe in, and to remember I am made in God's image TOO. Until this book, I didn't realize how much my brain thought, that my body had a hard time feeling. I hope to be on a path to embracing myself as a strong, loved, and cherished woman.

    3. My faith tradition HAS had a lot to do with my self identity. When I was an adolescent and teen, I was not comfortable with the concepts of submissiveness, or even the traditional "obey" marriage vow. I was determined to be strong, smart, and my own person. Somewhere in that process, I began to lose that. I got married, had kids, and especially this last year realized something happened...."where did I go". My husband and I had gone to marriage counseling in the early years, and one counselor repeatedly pushed the man as the head of the house, guiding our spiritual life etc. I thought that my feistiness was a detriment to the marriage, and God wasn't blessing our marriage because I was not living up to "my role". I was also confused as to what I was supposed to do with that. I was and always have been the "spiritual" one in our house. My husband believes in God and goes to church, but honestly I don't know if he would if I didn't. Many times I felt, if I just was a more submissive loving wife, we would grow together. Needless to say, the more I submitted, the more depressed and disrespected I felt. If I go even further back, the "boys" in my family were always treated different. Encouraged, spoiled; held at a different level. Education was encouraged, but when I really started focusing on what "I would do" my mother and other family members would remind me, God chose us to be with our children, stay home, "Hold the house together". I didn't want to do that, but over time grew to believe, that is what God wanted for women. "Women who 'chose' to work outside of the home were 'liberal' and going against 'God's plan'."
    I also realized that I have been taught the "God is Man" concepts. When I think of God's voice, I still hear a booming male voice. Feminine aspects we're not talked about other than as metaphor. If I were to pray to Mother God, that would be blasphemous.

    4. I have just hit the tip of the iceberg to naming my identity and the sacred God-ess. I know from reading this book, I have a journey ahead of healing, and finding myself. I don't know if my journey will look like Sue Monk Kidd's, but I have learned enough to respect her connection and journey. I also respect her strength, and hope that God/Mother God will mold me to be a strong woman, and an "instrument" in this world.

    I could go on, but will leave it here for now. I will post some of the meaningful passages that effected me, and a connection with the "labyrinth" soon.

  • At 1/15/2007 10:32:00 AM, Blogger Michele L

    Here I am again, and so soon.

    The following are some of the key feelings/quotes that evoked deep feelings. Either because I have felt exactly the same way, or realized something I have never thought of.

    Pg. 44- "Feminist?" he asked...."Well I guess that will be okay," he said sounding a little like he was talking to a teenager who'd just asked to take the car out for the first time.....I felt like I'd been given some kind of permission I hadn't asked for and then been dismissed.

    This is a very normal thing in my world and it drew very strong emotion.

    Pg. 52- A man assumes certain entitlements simply because he's male. For instance, Sandy was entitled to go and come in the world as he pleased. If he had a business trip, he simply went, no questions asked....But if I should have a writer's conference or a speaking engagement, it was a big deal, something that needed to be discussed.

    This has been a tremendous issue in my own marriage. My husband has a very time consuming, money consuming hobby-drag racing. I never got consulted about the time or the money. I have lived on a very tight budget for years...finally a couple of years ago (when I had a 3 year old and a 1 yr old) I decided to take a trip with my sister. This was something we had never done, and I was needing a break. For once, I didn't ASK, I stated that I would be taking some tax return money for this trip and he would have to take a vacation day to watch the kids part of the time I was gone. He didn't say much, but each day I called home to talk to the kids, he was determined to make me KNOW how he felt. He didn't ask how the trip was going, wasn't nice or encouraging, then when I returned home, barely acknowledged I was back.

    Pg. 88- When a woman starts to disentangle herself from patriarchy, ultimately she is abandoned to her own self. She comes to an unknown place where she must let the old way of being woman die and the new way come forth. During initiation the new feminine potential--that rambunctious girl-child who was conceived and birthed inside during her awakening and who really had been there all along--starts to grow and develop into the woman she will be.

    I hope that I have started this process, and that woman will emerge.

    Pg. 199- The kind of power women need is not ruthless, controlling, self-serving, dominion-seeking power---power without the benefit of love. It is not staying up by keeping others down. What we need is a potent, forceful power yes, but one that is also compassionate, that enables others as well.....Rather, Heilbrun says, power is "the ability to take one's place in whatever discourse is essential to action and the right to have one's part matter."

    I have experienced the opinion that "feminist/feminism" means women who just want to conquer and dominate. I think that many times in our culture and churches, women who are strong and seeking empowerment, are dismissed, called Bitches, just have "issues" etc. I have even found that in trying to convey to my husband a need for equality and partnership, the reaction is automatically that I am just trying to "take over". It is very hard to express the empowerment I need for me, that is not "controlling...dominion-seeking power."

    The part of the book that had the biggest impact was the learning about the Labyrinth; the symbolic nature of death and rebirth. When reading about the Minoan Crete, the myths, the name labyrinth deriving from that culture, I was amazed. I don't really know what I think just yet, but it is symbolic for me at this point.
    A few months in to my "emerging journey" our pastor took us to visit a labyrinth at a near by church. He explained that it was used in ancient cultures, and we would use it as a prayer/meditation time with God. I wasn't sure what I thought, but proceeded to walk the labyrinth and pray. At that time, I was very "scared". I felt I was on a path that I was supposed to be on, but I knew that my new thoughts and feelings went against a lot of what I had been taught. I knew if "my family found out" I would become an outcast and treated as if the "devil had led me down the wrong path". I prayed and prayed that "God would just show me the Right way." If I was being deceived, please just show me. I just wanted to follow God in the Right way no matter what that way was...."Just please God show me". When I reached the center of the labyrinth, I prayed some more. I started feeling repetitive and silly. When I began to walk back out of the labyrinth, I caught myself for a minute. All of a sudden I felt subconscious about "not leaving the labyrinth in the Right way". I looked around at the ground, trying to make sure I hadn't missed the direction I needed to take. I didn't want to look stupid to the others that were there walking around. Almost instantly, I felt God speak-not in words, but deep in my head. I felt God say "there is no RIGHT way, your doing fine. If you 'get off the path' (just like on a labyrinth), it can be corrected, and I will show you the way". The power behind that moment, felt like a hit upside the head...I almost burst out laughing, but others were still quietly walking. Now understand, I have heard others speak of "God speaking to them" and I had never had an experience like this. I felt a little crazy, but for the first time in my life, I felt I heard God plainly.
    I shared right away with my husband and some other family members. A few looked at me as if I had performed a "devil worship" ritual. That was disheartening because it had felt so powerful. Regardless though, that had been a turning point. It taught me that God can meet us, mold us, teach us, and it doesn't have to fit in the box. The way God meets me, may not be how he meets another. I grew more comfortable in my seeking. I have to admit, that I acknowledged that maybe it was my psyche, but continued this journey. Since then, my life and growth has been tremendous.
    When I reached this part of the book it spoke to me. I felt my labyrinth experience was meaningful, and now I was learning more about it. That sense of shedding/dying and rebirth, is exactly what I experienced with my "labyrinth" experience. At the time, I knew none of this, now almost a year later, I am asking "God, are you trying to reassure me again? Would I not have been ready for something then, that maybe I am more ready for now?" I really don't know, but I felt a symbolic connection, especially with this section of the book.

  • At 1/15/2007 11:15:00 AM, Blogger lydia

    I haven't read the book, but this really stood out to me:

    I felt God say "there is no RIGHT way, your doing fine. If you 'get off the path' (just like on a labyrinth), it can be corrected, and I will show you the way".

    Intellectually I know that there isn't one right path for everyone, but for years there was (and to a degree still is) a part of me that worries that I've missed something, that I'm not doing things the way they're "suppose" to be done.

    God has been giving me the same message he gave you, and I'm slowly beginning to believe. :)

  • At 1/15/2007 11:31:00 AM, Blogger Doxallo

    Hello Ladies!! I have not picked up the book as of yet, but I wanted to say THANK YOU! for posting your thoughts as you read. I am excited to purchase the book,I just don't know when that might be, until then I will continue reading along, I feel its probably almost as beneficial as reading the book! You all share so wonderfully from the heart and head, its a blessing to me

  • At 1/15/2007 12:14:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Thank you, Thank, women, for sharing your hearts. I could cry, it is so beautiful to me to be part of all your journeys and to sense that we don't have to pretend anymore.

    I do not really know what to write yet...so many contradictions to hold, so much dying to do and rebirthing, and I admit I don't know how to "do it," though I am sure it is something you cannot "do" as much as open to with a trusting heart. I am better at striving and trying to "make things happen."

    I painted today for the first time in a while, and my painting was very angsty, messy and frustrating...almost despairing. But here and there signs of genuine life poked through. And then I'd just have this angry urge to just recover everything -- good and bad, because it all looked so dissonant, and I wanted to cohesian. I felt a great deal of anxiety, and tried to recognize that this too is energy that can and will be used by God-ess to fertilize the new life that is beginning to grow.

  • At 1/15/2007 05:33:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    I've enjoyed reading the responses so far. To answer a few of the opening questions -

    1. I first read this book about 4 years ago. Some friends had "read" it and they thought I might like it. But they advised me to not read past about the halfway point in the book because it just got too weird (neither of them had finished it). So of course I read the whole thing. A lot of it made me uncomfortable at the time - it was all so new and different. But it really intrigued me as well. I think it just took time to process it all (mostly subconsciously) because as I read it again this time it all made so much more sense and seemed to be a more natural response.

    2. I like being female. But I find myself falling into the traps of devaluing women or seeking validation from men. I know at those times that I am still in process of fully accepting being a women.

    3. The attitude of the church has been the real shaping force. I grew up in churchs where women were the second sex - made to submit and serve. To even discuss the possibility of women in ministry was unheard of - they were still trying to keep women from working outside the home at all. But it just didn't seem right, I had to question it, and that starting a journey of discovery. Discovering my true potential free of confines and discovering a much more vibrant faith.

    4. I would love to claim a fuller identity as a women, but it is so odd in my cultural settings that I'm really not for sure where to begin. As for claiming the Divine Feminine, I am slowly making progress. Over the last few years, I've intellectually assented to God as being bigger than the male idol we have created, but its been a slow process for me to claim that emotionally. God as Goddess/Mother isn't my default language and it still meets with fear from many in the church. It still feels strange for me to refer to God as "her" - but I know that to worship God wholy I need to. And I need to use inclusive language in church and as I raise my daughter. I caught myself the other night singing "He's got the Whole World in His hands" with only male imagry. So I made myself alternate between he and she. It's a journey for me, but I hope it will be natural for Emma.

  • At 1/15/2007 05:53:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    Michelle, you mentioned this quote and it was one of the ones that really stood out to me as well.

    Pg. 52- A man assumes certain entitlements simply because he's male. For instance, Sandy was entitled to go and come in the world as he pleased. If he had a business trip, he simply went, no questions asked....But if I should have a writer's conference or a speaking engagement, it was a big deal, something that needed to be discussed.

    It struck me because it is such a stark reminder of the imbalance that exists even in so-called equal households. Women can have careers, but they still have to take care of the family and the home. When men get sick, they get babied but women just have to deal with it. Men can leave whenever, women have to jump through a lot of hoops just to have an evening off.

    As we plan the Emerging Women gatherings, this is am issue we deal with. Men can fly all over the country for conferences - take the time off, leave the family behind no big deal. That is near impossible for women. They aren't "allowed" to spend the money on airfare. The men won't take a day of to watch the kids so the woman can feed her own soul or learn about her faith. The wife must stress out before she leaves making sure the fridge/pantry is stocked, some meals are prepared, the kids schedule is written up. Its then an issue if the wife can't be back to take care of the kids by Sunday morning so they are out of the ministry husbands way... the list goes on. Its just weird.

    I remember one of the most frustrating things about being a new mom was how much I envied my husband for getting to take showers and how angry I was at feeling I needed his permission to take one myself. He never asked, just took a shower when he felt like it. I had to make sure he was okay to watch Emma (wasn't too busy, didn't have to leave...) before I took one. I drove me crazy. It took a long time for me to stop asking and just inform him that I was doing things. I had to stop treating him like a babysitter and expect him to be a father. (and we're not fully there, but I'm no longer quite as angry about getting to shower or not...)

    Okay - some random thoughts there. I need to go through the book to find the other sections I liked. I can't wait to hear more from others.

  • At 1/15/2007 07:37:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    I feel so much of the emotion that others are having (or have had). I have struggled in the last couple of months with that feeling that I NEED change and yet the fear that I am causing total disruption in my marriage. My husband and I are not in the same place. It has been a struggle. There are moments where I wish some how he could put himself in my shoes, and see it from my perspective. He is trying some, but I have to admit, many times I still feel the kindness comes from an agenda on his part. I know I need to work on that.
    One of the hard reality checks I got happened a couple of years ago. Julie you helped bring it forward. It was a time I was really sick. My son was approx. 2 months old. I went out to the races with my husband, dragged my son and my 3 year old daughter and all their crap with me. Half way through the day, I got really sick. I was nursing my son, and almost couldn't stand it. My stomach hurt so much! I finally walked up and vomited in the disgustingly dirty track bathrooms. When I went back, my husband said his dad would take me home if I wanted him to. One I didn't want him to because of the horror of possibly throwing up in his car, and second, what difference would it make, I would still be sick with 2 kids at home. I was sooo pissed off. Hours later, we made it home, I asked him to bathe the kids and wake me up when my son needed to eat. I went to bed with a 102 degree fever. Later, I heard my son crying, I asked my husband to go get him and bring him to me. I was feeling very weak. He got irritated that I had woken him up and asked, and when I got my son, I realized he was still in the same clothes from the races. Not only was I pissed, but extremely hurt. I couldn't understand the selfishness. I was horribly sick, and all he cared about was his hobby and his sleep.
    It took me awhile to get over that one, but it did some damage.

    I also, get frustrated with the pressure I have learned to put on myself and the pressure we as women put on each other; to be super-mom, happy, out-going, helpful, organized, etc. I personally would love to enjoy a day "off" and not have the family or kids stuff in my head. Just this weekend, I got a break. My husband took my kids out, and I was going out with some family. Right before I left, I got a call that my son fell and needed stitches. My husband was going to take him to the emergency room. Everything in me said cancel lunch and meet him there...but then it hit me...no, I won't be a bad mom if I leave my husband to take care of it. I am the one that always deals with the doctor visits, shots, illnesses etc. He would be fine. I convinced myself, but I still had a voice criticizing my "selfishness" in not going. Even when I got to lunch, my family sort of laughed, that they couldn't believe I wasn't going to meet them. I know they were playing, but I still had a sense of feeling criticized. I knew in that moment, my husband wouldn't have felt that way or been questioned.

    It just gets frustrating when you feel a sense of not being able to control or decide on your own existence.

    I long for empowerment. I long to have a different existence; to be a better role model for my daughter. I long to be a respected partner and woman. I long to KNOW I am loved.

  • At 1/15/2007 08:24:00 PM, Blogger medium guy

    Hi folks, I had a really long post that blogger wiped out, but I just wanted to weigh in as a man and say that a real man steps up and compromises and sacrifices for his wife's vocational calling. A real man does not require his spouse to take care of him the way his mother did when he was 5. I challenge any 50-hour weeker to take a week off from work and take primary care of small kids and spouse, and I bet he thinks going back to "work" is a dream vacation. Come on, fellow XYs, let's get a clue and follow the scriptural command to "love your wife."

  • At 1/15/2007 09:17:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    Med. guy - you are very right. real men are the ones who do try to be giving and truly love their wives. My husband is great - he really tries to support and empower me. Sometimes through years of programming (on both of our parts) gets in the way. We slip into expectations and assumptions and end up frustrated.

    But even as we are aware of those issues, most people around us aren't. There are couple we know who have serious marriage issues basically because the wife doesn't treat the husband in the same self-denying personality erasing way his mommy did. This is an issues that a lot of couple (especially those in the church) have to work through. And the typical message that the wife just needs to submit to her husband by following his spiritual lead does nothing to affirm her a a person or deal with the cultural baggage that has warped our perceptions of each other. There are hurts that need to be dealt with - to be identified and named in order to bring healing. Realizing that there is a problem is the first step in working to make things better.

  • At 1/15/2007 09:28:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    My husband grew up as a pastor's kid, but it was his mom who was a pastor. I've been so blessed by his openness and support, in large part fostered by his mother.

    And yet, what Julie said is so true. I'd still have to ask for help changing a diaper or for the time to take a shower when the children were smaller. There's this thing in mothers, and I'm sure in most women, to keep track of amazing amounts of information and then feel responsible for managing both the information and the actual tasks associated with it. For me, it's really a question of how can I let go of some of that ownership?

  • At 1/15/2007 09:31:00 PM, Blogger aBhantiarna Solas

    I have yet to read the book and this is my first comment on this blog. From the review and questions, I think this is one of the primary issues that we face in the church and in our culture.

    Something that has been niggling around on the edges of my mind is this ... in the earlier parts of the 1900s women were encouraged to engage in equality with men. It was celebrated and desired. I'm thinking of artists such Georgia O'Keefe and the poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay. I had a great aunt who was the first woman to graduate from the law school at Fordham University. If you read the biographies of these women, they felt a remarkable sense of freedom from the restrictions that I'm reading about in the comments here.

    I so understand and empathize with those restrictions. If I hear one more father describe the care and feeding of his own children as babysitting, I think I'll just scream. Parents do not babysit their own children.

    One of the things I've been exploring is how patriarchy harms women, but it is also harmful to men. That by continuing an attitude of dominance men are hurting themselves as well in the grand scheme of things. It's counter-intuitive, but I think that the harm to women is ultimately fairly obvious and something that we all experience. However, men are also experiencing damage and harm from this broken system. I've been thinking about this hurts them as well. But I need to let it percolate more before I verbalize it.

    I struggle constantly with my identity as a woman and how to celebrate it without feeling either the victim or the hero. I want neither to be beneath nor elevated above my brothers. I want to stand next to them, toe to toe and shoulder to shoulder.

    I am so fortunate with my husband and friends. Some of the old molds are being cracked and broken slowly. I think things will be different for my daughter. And different still for my granddaughters (if I should have them).

    I'm heading to Barnes & Noble tomorrow to begin reading ;-)

    Thanks for this wonderful forum and discussion. I'm looking forward to reading more of the comments.


  • At 1/15/2007 09:48:00 PM, Blogger Nancy

    Wow! Thanks everyone for sharing from the heart. I'm awed.

    Reading "Dance" a few months ago, I felt compelled to spend a weekend during which my husband was away on business and contemplate on the issue of wounds potentially acquired via my religion and faith community. In fact, my husband had asked me more than once how I could even attend a church that would not allow women in "leadership" positions. I had not allowed myself to consider any potential wounds from it until that weekend.

    I did two things. First of all, I determined to think and talk to God in only feminine terms for the entire weekend. Secondly, I asked God to help me identify any potential wounds and perhaps help me discover paths of healing. I was astonished and devastated to almost immediately discover some fear about referring to God in the feminine. My first thought was whether God might be "insulted"! I spent a good deal of time processing that one! But how grateful I was to have my eyes opened.

    Over the weekend, through drawing, journaling, dream interpretation, meditating and prayer, it was revealed to me that I had three wounds to my feminine soul. The wounds were given to me in highly metaphorical terms and I am still in process over them and the means by which I can bring healing and balance into my masculine and feminine energies.

    I have been a "feminist" since my early 20's (I'm 48). Only recently did I discover that my faith community saw feminism as a dirty word. I only saw it as a term for someone who thought women were of equal worth (in every way)as men. Yes, we are different but equally valuable. Anyway, I had never gone beyond applying feminism in a social and psychological context for myself and so to consider it within the context of the spiritual was highly liberating. It really, really changed me. I don't see the need to throw the baby out with the bathwater like SMK did in her own journey. (meaning toss my Christian faith) But I also saw that each of us has our own specific and unique journey to make. We will discover that each of us have different sorts of wounds based on a variety of circumstances and experiences and when we tell each other our stories, we are blessed and enriched and all the more enlightened.

  • At 1/15/2007 10:10:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    Sonja, I had the same question come to mind as I was reading the book. What are the wounds men suffer from patriarchy?

    Nancy, I really appreciate your thoughts. I love the idea of a weekend in solitude. I know I would struggle using feminine terms for God. I want to, but it feels very uncomfortable right now. I'm also feeling very uncomfortable with masculine language, though. SMK's thought that traditional masculine language places distance between us and God rings very true. I was once a secretary at a large church and when I was "promoted" to supporting the senior pastor, a friend gave me a book on how to be a pastor's secretary and not cause an affair. Since I knew people who were effected by affairs, I took it pretty seriously. But then a few months ago, I started realizing that I related to God like I did to a male pastor; always at arms length. Including feminine terminology in my language for God helps me imagine a different type of relationship.

  • At 1/15/2007 10:43:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe


    It's okay to be angry with your husband; you are a beautiful woman and please give yourself permission to be whole and not perfect, in our cookie-cutter make-believe versions of perfect. It's naturaly to feel afraid about what being really true to yourself (which, done in love and humility is actually being true to God-ess, in whose image you are made!) may cost you in your marriage. My mom used to say, "If you love someone, let them go, and if they come back, you know they belong to you." You will only know the truth about your marriage if you risk being yourself and let go and see what transpires; ultimately the truth will set you free...but not without alot of pain first. Like labor :)

    Julie, in addition to reticent husbands, I think more mothers than fathers feel conflicted about leaving young children for extended periods. More supportive husbands would help if the kids are a little older, but it would also be helpful if on-site childcare were available at conferences, allowing both women who don't (yet) have gung-ho supportive husbands to go for their callings anyway, as well as enabling mothers with infants and young children to participate more fully in the non-local body of Christ where so many of us find our truest sense of "home."

    Nancy, thanks for sharing about your retreat -- you inspire me.

    My current marriage situation is a strange mixture of external cultural patriarchy exerting influence from the outside and feminism-egalitarianism inside my husband's heart, and my still feeling conflicted about how to be true to myself and honor his calling, all muddled by an instinctual inclination to position myself as the "secondary partner." My husband was raised by a feminist, strong single mother and has always respected women as equal to men, and believes the world would be better off if more women were in positions of power. So what's the catch?

    My husband's a medical student. He actually took a year to do research between the first two years and rotations in order to spend time with the family and be around to help out more. But rotations are on the horizon, and the residency, and it's like a freakin cult -- they are fully expected to be married to their career, and for their families to bear the burden and make the adjustments. The hours are irregular and some of them ungodly. Literally, ungodly, in my opinion. Not merciful toward families at all. Like the surgery rotation expects them to be there at 6a and not to leave until after 9p.

    Now I can face many challenges creatively, but what I cannot bear is the degredation of having no say, no bottom line that I can expect to be honored, respected. Is being home 1 night a week for dinner too much to ask? But that's not the point. With medical school as it stands now, I don't get to ask anything. And that thought makes me feeling like dying inside.

    And I don't know what to do. I suggested being an exemplary student doctor, but insisting on some bottom lines (like being home 1 night a week for dinner) and sticking to them regardless of the "rules" but being a grassroots revoluationary isn't my husband's natural personality, and he didn't think it would be an effective witness because each rotation is only four to twelve weeks long -- so staff and students would likely just shake their heads and say, "why doesn't he just suck it up like the rest of us" rather than feeling a sense of long-term common destiny and empathy to take up the cause. My husband even offered to drop out of school for five years til our kids are older, but I have difficulty seeing that as a viable option. So I'm wondering how I can be true to myself without asking him not to be true to his calling. And it is his calling. He is going to be such an amazing doctor -- I wouldn't want to see anybody else, even though he doesn't want me to be his patient due to "lack of objectivity" :) So I'm wondering what creative forms of resistance I could take to feel some measure of self-determination and empowerment without needlessly jeapardizing my husband's calling. Any ideas welcome.

  • At 1/15/2007 10:45:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Amy, cool that you've discovered the call is for you!

  • At 1/15/2007 10:53:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    When I first started imagining feminine language for God, I felt awkward and almost irritated, like, "why is this necessary? We already know that God doesn't have a penis or a vagina." But recently I've begun to embrace it more and I've experienced God as a feminine presence more intimately in my life. I've also noticed it grate on me more that at my church the worship leader is a male and the pastor is a male and the lay pastor is a male, and the songs default to God as He, and I just miss Her! So I invite Her in my own way. In the last two weeks since I"ve been reading the book, I've gotten a little more rambunctious and it's been rejuvenating in my worship. Like last night there was a great song about 'love, God's love, Peter put away your sword because love has come, love is all a man needs.' Well men certainly need love, and as has been poigantly noted, men are wounded just as deeply by patriarchy as women, however, as a woman singing that song, "love is all a MAN needs," just wasn't working. So I sang out, "Love is all a woman needs." Maybe no one noticed, maybe no one cared, or maybe a few were secretly surprised. I have no idea. But it felt great!

  • At 1/15/2007 11:10:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Thanks Jemila for the encouragement. I wish I could be more helpful in your "dilemma". I honestly don't know what I would do with all of that.

    Sonja, I agree with you. I could scream also, about the attitudes of "babysitting" one's own children.

    I loved hearing about your weekend. I too, have wanted to create a special place to think. I may not get a weekend, but I have been thinking about creating a special spot, time, and place that is meaningful for me. I may not do everything that SMK did, but I did like some of the symbols she used to bring that "feminine connection" forward.

    I felt and to some extent still feel uncomfortable with the feminine language. And, as Nancy said, I felt I would somehow be insulting God. So I tried to get rid of pronouns. An interesting thing happened last weekend. We set aside time in our service for meditation and communion. I sat at one of the stations in our sanctuary, and proceeded to pray to mother God. For the first time, it seemed to roll fairly easily off of my tongue. (Now I can't say I could do that comfortably out loud in front of people...but, it is not bothering me as before). What I found is similar to what you said, I have tended to put God at an arms reach. A distant Father image. When I used Mother God I immediately felt comfort and closeness. I hope at some point to be able to merge a balance into my consciousness God.

  • At 1/16/2007 07:25:00 AM, Blogger Nancy

    It would be interesting to hear from the men who visit this site about what they see as wounds to their hearts and souls that have resulted from patriarchy.

    I do believe that we are all, men and women alike, in a struggle to find the proper appreciation of and balance in the masculine and feminine energies inside us. Seems to me that men have been taught to devalue the feminine...the relational and intuitive in favor of the product-oriented and logical. Neither is "bad"...but all of us need to know when one energy might be more adaptive than the other.

    I also think that the wave of femininism in the '60's and '70's may have added further injury to both men and women in its reactivity. I understand that the pendulum has to make its wild swing before it centers but we need to find ways to define and value the core elements of BOTH energies to better experience God in all the wonder of the masculine and feminine that God encompasses.

  • At 1/16/2007 07:39:00 AM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    BTW, welcome aBhanti :)

    To really push the envelope, what did you fellow women think about SMK's interpretation of the snake symbol in genesis 3 as originally representing feminine wisdom and power and then being twisted to disempower/blame women?

  • At 1/16/2007 07:58:00 AM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Nancy, I agree with you about the damage done by the reactivity (as opposed to healthy radical response) of feminism -- I think the result has been many opportunities opened for women, but also a further disconnecting of women from their own souls. Instead of calling both sexes to sexually honor and respect one another, now everyone can have cheap one night stands (although we still try to protect our daughters from it,) and instead of recreating society to bless families and community life, allowing both women and men to walk in their giftings and passions, we've enabled male-centric capitalism to force men and women to BOTH operate according to the patriarchal agenda of getting sucked into too much work, bottom-line competition etc.

    We need a revolution that blesses both women and men with the right and ability to be authentic, balanced and human (e)

    What if it was concerend womanly to be strong, yet compassionate, and manly to be compassionate yet strong?

  • At 1/16/2007 08:23:00 AM, Blogger Li Li

    I so understand with what many of you have said about connecting to "God" in the form of the "Goddess"...Oh but I so want to. I'm in a place where I can't communicate with God because it seems like I'm going against my soul but I've never in my whole life prayed to anything but Him...so praying to a Goddess is disturbing...but my prayer is that I can connect with her. Nancy, I love how you spent a whole weekend using the feminine form of God when your husband was away...I think I will do the same. -Em

  • At 1/16/2007 10:14:00 AM, Blogger medium guy

    Nancy, to answer your invitation about how patriarchy has hurt me, as a man, I am living it every day. I constantly encounter people who are shocked, surprised, or make comments like "Boy, you got the raw end of the deal," when I take both kids grocery shopping. But if I were my wife, it would be completely acceptable and expected. I have a good friend whose wife pretty much puts up with whatever administrative yanking around gets put on him at work [ie he had to abandon her over their anniversary weekend at a beach cottage because his superior wanted him in a week earlier!] and she just says stuff like, "Well, it's his dream!" Makes me %$^&&$& sick!
    This is the kind of thing that tears families apart in our culture, the pressure to be everything to everyone, the cultural oddity in that we worship the nuclear family unit which has proven to not be a good arrangement for most people - duh!
    And I have a lack of male friends because men my age are still really little boys psychologically trapped inside young adults' bodies with adult responsibilities that are not handled well. It's a lonely journey that breaks my heart. If it weren't for my wife and family, I'd probably be institutionalized by now. It's like spending time with one's family either is an obligation and the wife is this ghastly specter who is really a reincarnation of their nagging mothers to be avoided, escaped, lied to, and equivocated to. And kids are only good for showing how to do fix-it jobs, playing sports with, and yelling at. Our daughter, 4, joined an outdoor sports camp this past summer and even at that age, parents were yelling at their kids and one father, between yapping on his cell phone and reminiscing about his glory days getting drunk and driving, was yelling at his son to "Slide tackle" the other kids as they were learning soccer. Really, it drives me to drink, and/or emigrate to Europe or Asia, where people still have a clue.

    Nancy, I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. This manly man thing is, I dare to say, the #1 threat to our cultural prosperity and longevity. Think about it - who makes up 99% of the prison population? Who commits 99% of violent crimes? Men who made poor choices because they were told to suck it up and abused when they were boys, without having a proper community to love them and encourage their development into responsible, societally-oriented young men.

  • At 1/16/2007 10:19:00 AM, Blogger medium guy

    ...but ask me how I REALLY feel...

  • At 1/16/2007 10:31:00 AM, Blogger medium guy

    On a more personal note, the realtionship I have with my Dad is very frustrating - I love him but he just cannot communicate with me or be vulnerable to anybody. I pray so hard that we will be able to really connect before he dies, but I know there's only so much I can do. I struggle constantly against the passive aggressiveness and non-communicative personality he modeled for me growing up. He also has a very stereotypical arrangement in that he's the workaholic who lets his career define him and my stepmom is a total homemaker and, there's nothing wrong with that because they're happy, but then he projects that onto me and gets in my business by telling me that he thinks my wife doesn't help me around the house enough and he can't accept that we're different people, first of all, and second of all it's none of his business, and he is blinded to my real happiness because it's not the way he thinks it should be. In our most recent exchange on the topic, I told him that I feel loved and supported knowing that I have found my soulmate, mother of our kids, and I'd take that any day over having a hot meal on the table and my shirts ironed when I walk in the door. I told him that having a partner who supports me and trusts me, and with whom I can share life, is most important, and if I cook most of the meals and do most of the laundry, what the hell is the big deal about that? Well, I think he tried to understand, but I'm just not feeling it, you know? I think it truly is a miracle that my parents stayed married for 10 years, given my dad's attitudes about this and my mom's intelligence [he was always threatened by my Mom because she's smarter] I mean, really when I think about it, I don't even know why I'm here. My parents should have avoided each other like the plague, and I should never have been conceived. There, I said it, and I'm sticking by it. Oh wait, I'm still here - I guess I just have to follow God and move forward one step at a time.

  • At 1/16/2007 10:48:00 AM, Blogger Michele L

    Medium Guy,
    I really appreciate the frankness and emotion you share. The reality that men are affected also, is one of the reasons my situation is hard. I get frustrated with my husband and what he does, but realize the examples he had were not great, either. He has deep wounds also, but in his family men didn't talk about their emotions, and were "the men" period.
    I just pray that God would get a hold on his heart also, so that the healing could happen for us both. I certainly don't push the agenda that it is a one sided thing...women are the only affected ones, but I feel in my situation, my husband has my support. He has a lot of control of his life, and mine. His decisions affect me (and the kids), and many times I am not in the making of those decisions. I don't want to conquer or take over, I just want to feel like a partner in our life.
    I understand your emotion with your father, my dad is not a really emotional guy, and we had rough years. It is getting better. As for my mom, she is like you dad in that "things are to be done in a certain way" (her's is projected as the "Godly" way). It is tough to deal with our parents some time. I think it's wonderful that you feel so connected to your wife. It also sounds like you have worked hard to break familial cycles, and find what works best for your family.

  • At 1/16/2007 10:49:00 AM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Poor Medium guy. I'm so sorry you have to deal with so much crap being a guy who just wants to be faithful and real and more like how we wish ALL men would evolve to be. Praying for you.

  • At 1/16/2007 04:05:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    Jemilla, regarding pushing the envelope, I'm not sure how I feel about the symbolism of the snake as feminine wisdom. Especially as she addresses Genesis 3 and hypothesizes that the use of snake as deceiver in that chapter is meant to blame and strip power from women.

    Here's my very evangelical issue: If we accept this understanding of the snake in the genesis account, what do we then do with the rest of the text? It seems to me that accepting her idea of this would show the text to be blatently patriarchal, man-influenced and therefore reflect quite negatively on the inerrancy of scripture. Now, I have a much broader definition of biblical inerrancy and/or inspiration than even a year or two ago. For me, though, this thought pushes me much farther than I'm ready to go or even really want to go.

    I think this type of thought is what makes me very uncomfortable with where SMK goes in the book. Like Nancy said earlier, I'm don't want to through the baby out with the bathwater.

  • At 1/16/2007 04:40:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    I see and respect where you are coming from Amy.

    So I guess the real challenge is discerning what is the "baby" and what is the "bathwater." While I feel SMK's definition of the "Deep song of Christianity" is not as full as where I would like to find myself, neither am I able to any longer reject an idea or interpretation on the sole basis that it is threatening to other ideas that I have built my thoughts and faith around. Because God-ess MUST be bigger that any structure for understanding Her; bigger than liberalism, bigger than inerrancy, bigger than any systematic theology.

    What if Gensis 3 describes something true about the human condition AND it is contaminated and twisted by patriarchy?

    On a sort of related note, isn't it interesting that Jesus often exemplified and taught very "feminine" qualities as virtues, yet was strong and authoritative, able to set boundaries, care for his own soul AND able to sacrifice himself for the sake of love? This helps me see the incarnation as not about "the son," but about God coming among us and emobdying a true balance of masculine and feminine energy.

  • At 1/16/2007 04:59:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    I like what you said here Jemila -
    What if Gensis 3 describes something true about the human condition AND it is contaminated and twisted by patriarchy?

    I'm all for the bible being true, but I fully think that all truth doesn't have to be literally historically true in order to be truth (which is what is often meant by inerrancy). There are truths to be had even if a section of the bible wasn't a recounting of actual events but a parable to teach a point.

    And once I admit that there are cultural elements in the bible (we don't all go around with our head covered or greet each other with a holy kiss), I am forced to admit that the culture influenced scripture in other ways as well. (as does our cultural biases that come out in our english translations).

  • At 1/16/2007 05:06:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    Good catch, Jemila. I was going to define "baby" and "bathwater", but quite frankly, am not sure where to draw the line and I'm not willing to throw everything out. For now I'm letting it stew.

    I don't want to reject an idea on the sole basis that it threatens part of my currently held beliefs. In this case it's not that I've entirely rejected it. But I do have significant questions and concerns and am not nearly close to the point where I would embrace her understanding of the snake. The imagery is compelling, but I would need to do a lot of sorting out and research on my own, as well as a lot of prayer and whatever else it might entail.

    It is a pretty massive challenge to me and my assumptions of faith, the bible and ultimately my understanding of the Divine and my relationship with her. It's not an easy jump. Especially when I'm not convinced I want to jump.

    I'm not sure if I'm making sense at all, but thanks for hearing me out.

  • At 1/16/2007 05:46:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Amy, you're making sense :)

    Julie, it helps me to think God God speaking and us being filters...some finer than others, perhaps, but we all filter and distort the message to one degree or another. And perhaps the idea that we have to wrestle, discern and sift to get to a purer understanding of God, rather being spoon-fed a pure understanding from a perfect bible can actually draw us more intimately into relationship with Her.

    One of my bible teachers in college made the point that Jesus is the incarnate word of God -- the bible is a translation. And no translation is perfect, esp. when trying to capture in words the one who is both the Word and beyond All words through the minds and hearts and imperfect human beings.

  • At 1/16/2007 07:56:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Hello all,
    I understand and can respect your thoughts and feelings. Something that helped me last year (and by no means do I know enough to go through it in detail) was a discussion we had at church. Our pastor went through a little history behind the concepts of Biblical inerrancy, infallibility, inspiration, etc. If I remember this correctly, his point was that those discriptions were not used until fairly recently. AND, if we hold to what the Bible says about itself, many of those are not actually in the Bible as discriptors of itself. The Bible says it is inspired/God breathed, but many of the others are not actually stated. These descriptive words were put together to "defend" the Bible not so long ago. I hope that makes sense. Again, I don't know the whole history, but the way he presented the information, really changed how I "viewed" the Bible, and where "humans" may have impacted the views we have now about the Bible.

  • At 1/16/2007 09:56:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    As I process this, one thing I'm trying to figure out is what it looks like in practice. So, for those of you who have connected more in some way with SMK's take on the serpent and the genesis 3 passage, what does it look like to you and how does it influence you?

    I really appreciate the discussion on this. This isn't something I'm comfortable at all talking about with most of my friends here at the moment and I appreciate everyone's input.

  • At 1/16/2007 10:06:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Well a simplistic take might be that the serpent is just one more expression of blaming it all on Eve by picking a symbol associated with feminine wisdom and that depicting it as evil and leading to deception. After all, think of how frequently temptation is personified by a woman -- the temptress, the harlot, the witch...all twisted renditions of a wise, sexually empowered woman. It strikes me that the symbolism of the snake and the fruit are pretty arbitrary if the purpose of the story is to talk about the issue of human disobedience and it's relational consequences with God -- like, I can totally imagine some contextual translator-missionaries subbing in random other animals, food or objects of desire to get across the gist of the underlying theme.

    But if you assume that the God-character in genesis 3 is more or less male, (perhaps representing the god-image of the author,) then one could imagine that he was threatened by women's wisdom, and therefore forbade it, and felt the need to expel any woman or man who "ate of it" from his kingdom. That's a more heretical option:)

  • At 1/16/2007 10:42:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Without too much knowledge. This is my thought at this point. I think the story in Genesis 3 was passed down in Oral tradition...many, many years before being written down. I believe in the "inspiration" of the Bible, but personally don't view it as if God held each authors hand and dictated it word for word. Their are many books in the Bible that reflect human thought and emotion. Psalms for instance is filled with emotion and cries to God. Why would God dictate to Him/Herself? Therefore, I personally believe that culture and environment of the time, and human influence can impact the passages. I do look at the Bible as a narrative in many places, learning "experiences" in others, and history in others.
    In my mind it makes the ideas Jemila speaks of probable. From what I have found the books of the Old Testament were written many years after, say, the existence of the Minoan Crete culture (about which the book sites Scholar Riane Eisler's suggestion that it was the last surviving example of prepatriarchal society). Knowing that, the writer's of the Bible could have certainly been aware of symbols like the serpent-female wisdom.
    However, this comes from my very unscholarly mind. I find it fascinating, regardless.
    It just makes me wonder why the cultures like the Minoan Crete cultures disappeared. Even if, someone decided that "God Spoke" through the Bible and "societies" were corrected with the desire of God, I still wouldn't buy it. In Jesus we see high regard for women, and many passages of the Bible that have us equal in the eyes of God, there no female nor male through Christ, and both sexes made in God's image. So, just dumping some thoughts that run through my head.

  • At 1/17/2007 07:30:00 AM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    I just got a book from Amazon called "In the wake of the Goddesses: women, culture and the Biblical Transformation of Pagan Myth," which I think argues that the culture surrounding the Goddess cults etc was not very pro-woman after all and that in fact Judeo-Christian religion did much (clearly not enough ;)!) to elevate the value of women. It will be interesting to read an alternate perspective.

  • At 1/17/2007 07:41:00 AM, Blogger Nancy

    Thanks for sharing from the male experience, Medium Guy. I guess I hear you saying that the wounds to you have been from the pressure put on men to perform and "succeed" and I also hear a loneliness for male and fatherly connection. I've recently been reading John Eldredge's new book on men and he resonates with what has been previously discussed on this blog about the need for initiation or rites of passage to mark the transition from boyhood to manhood. While he is far from "scientific" in his approach and understanding, I really enjoy his work. He speaks a lot about "father wounds" and what you had to say reminds me so much of what I have read in his book.

    As women, I hear from each of you...and share in this...a sense of abandonment by your faith communities. Instead of fighting for the feminine spirit, we have been negated and even "deominized". The feminine has been denied a voice. I doubt this was God-made and agree with those of you who intuit the hand of man/culture in this regard. As many of you have pointed out, this is so very limiting. To assign ministry limitations based on gender seems just plain ridiculous to me. And the Body suffers from it...it deprives us all from the fullness of everyone working from their God-given gifts and callings.

    To reference John Eldredge again, in the book he and his wife, Stasi wrote about women, they offered up the hypothesis that Satan has a special hatred of women and the oppression and discrimination against women is a direct result of the lies that Satan has perpetrated against us. I was taken by this idea. I don't know how much "Biblical basis" there is for it but I found it far more intriguing than what patriarchal religion was saying...that GOD seemed to have a special hatred of women and that we desreved to be punished! Something about what the Eldredges said rang true from deep within me. Wishful thinking?

  • At 1/17/2007 07:55:00 AM, Blogger Li Li

    Dear Amy, Julie,and Jemilia

    I absolutely love this! Conversations like this are so thought provoking and inspiring. Thank you Amy for be honest about what you are feeling in response to SMK ideas about the snake and feminine power.

    A thought: I find that most times in my life the areas that are uncomfortable for me are actually...where I'm supposed to go with God-Godess. So maybe for you, Amy, search out the serpent, the snake, find out the true meanings in ancient history and see what you come up with. I see this as the tip of the iceberg for you on an amazing journey! In the beginning, I was very uncomfortable with the whole idea of this book let alone "the serpent". However, after letting it sit with me for 5-6 mo. I came to a closer conclusion that Jemilia proposed. What if a lot of what I have believed is twisted by patriarchy. I love how SMK always encourages to search out the truth for ourselves...and that is now what I am doing.
    However Amy, I love how you are not willing to just give up and stick with only what you've believed for years. 3 Cheers to letting it "stew"- Li Li

  • At 1/17/2007 02:31:00 PM, Blogger Linea

    Jemila - I want to encourage you as the wife of a medical student, which I was too long ago. It is hard. But it is only for a time and you can get through it. He may need to support you in similar ways sometime. Funny, but the medical profession and even the residency has changed over the past thirty years, partly due to the increased numbers of women in medicine. Women choose to practice and have families. They have insisted on fewer hours, fewer days on call so that they have time for other things. Still residency days are long and hard, partly shaping these students to work under pressure, partly because you have to be present in order to see things happen and they don’t seem to happen on any sort of schedule. I would say that you are both in this residency. It will grow you together or tear you apart. It will take as much effort from you to make it work as it will from him.

    I don't know about the serpent symbolism. It sounds a bit "out there" sort of like the Da Vinci code.

    I guess I have come to see the development of a patriarchal culture as perhaps arising out of our broken relationship with God. If women are considered as secondary to men, it is a result of sin, not the way God intended things to operate. But we messed up and so all of our female/male interactions are blemished. I think equality may have been part of the wholeness that God intended for us.

  • At 1/17/2007 03:52:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    Li Li, Thanks for the encouragement and for sharing a bit of your path.

    Jemila & Michele, thanks also.

    I will continue to let these thoughts and images steep in my mind. I appreciate the conversation so much!

    Jemila, I also wanted to encourage you as your husband moves in to his residency. A few years ago, my husband's job required horrendous hours and a lot of on-call time. Because my husband was one of the most experienced guys on the team, he generally got stuck on calls even when it wasn't really his responsiblity. I came to a breaking point when he missed our daughters 1st birthday to take a call. All that to say, I found that I had to find a way to come up with time for me. I started swapping childcare with friends or, when I could afford it, paying for childcare so that I could do something for me. Being an introvert, I found I just needed space away from the noise of a busy household and time to regroup. Unfortunately, no magic fixes to the situation, but we did make it through and he has a better situation with his current position.

  • At 1/17/2007 09:53:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Amy & Linea,

    Thanks for the encouraging words. Linea, what do you think helped you and your husband to grow closer rather than be torn apart?

  • At 1/17/2007 09:59:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    So... on a different topic related to the book. I noticed that on the book's Amazon listing that it has the "statistically improbable phrases" found in this book. Two of those are "feminine wisdom" and "feminine soul". I found that telling that in a machine run analysis those phrases are outside what is normal. What are your reactions to those phrases? What do they mean to you?

  • At 1/17/2007 10:11:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    That is interesting that those combinations were improbable. I guess having read Clarissa Pinkola Estes book, "women who run with the wolves," such concepts and terminology don't seem unlikely or alien to me at this point.

    However, I do feel conflicted about the word feminine, including in the phrase, "feminine wisdom." I can't decide if I associate the word feminine with "feminine napkins" or pastel pink frilly dresses or the profound feminine to which SMK is pointing. Female is just as problematic for me -- in some sense it is profound and validating, but then it seems inadequate, like I can't help thinking of it in reference to "female anatomy," or those survey check boxes where you indicate your sex/gender. I personally like the word "woman," and "women's wisdom." And I like the concept of the sacred feminine, but I don't like the idea of my soul being defined exlusively as a "feminine soul" because as SMK and Jung both point out, we thrive best with a balance of masculine and feminine energy, and I also don't want to be pidgeon-holed into someone else's definition (or my own) of what a feminine soul should be like.

  • At 1/17/2007 11:13:00 PM, Blogger Nancy

    What she (Jemila) said...

    I truly can't add much to that. Yes, maybe women have a way of knowing things, a wisdom that is distinctly from the feminine energies. But I agree, the soul has unique balances of anima and animus in each of us. That's a beautiful thing.

  • At 1/18/2007 09:09:00 AM, Blogger Julie

    I'm with you on "feminine" having weird connotations.

    I think I most didn't know what to think about "feminine wisdom". In my mind it related to "old wives tales" which implies untrue and suspect because their source is female. It struck me then how historically wisdom is not something that generally comes from women. There are the wise crones in past societies, but they were often suspected as being witches. So if a woman was capable and intellegent and wise there must be something wrong with her.

  • At 1/18/2007 11:45:00 AM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Well then there's the old crones' wisdom that research later claims and is then attributed to men...

  • At 1/18/2007 12:37:00 PM, Blogger medium guy

    Maybe this is a good time to reiterate a point I had made long ago, that the world would be much better off if the balance of realized authority were 60/40 with the 60 representing women's input. THe only addendum I would add would be to nominate the women of Emerging Women to occupy the visionary executive council.

  • At 1/18/2007 12:44:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Aww, you're sweet, Medium Guy. You'll be my top pick for the 40% male representatives :)

  • At 1/18/2007 02:27:00 PM, Blogger Linea

    Jemila, I think there were several things that drew my husband and I closer during the difficult days of residency and other tough times too:
    1. a deep commitment to marriage and to each other.
    2. a deep respect for each other as equals. He believed in my abilities more than I did sometimes. He was totally supportive of my career and did what he could to enable me to meet my goals.
    3. a sense that we were doing something together. He wasn’t just becoming a medical doctor for himself. We had common goals and we worked together to achieve them. We were both idealistic enough to put up with some inconveniences.
    4. if there were times when I had to cope with being alone (and our first son was born during the residency on a day when he had to work) I knew that he was not ignoring my needs because he did not care. He also had to ignore some of his own needs to accomplish his goals.
    5. Roses helped sometimes.

    I think I like the sound of "womanly" wisdom better than the feminine adjective as well. Maybe that is simply because feminine can have all sorts of connotations - soft, pastel, etc. that have little to do with what women are really like. I like being a woman. I am a nurturer, I love children and grandchildren, I have a soft spot for the needy and creatures that hurt. But I am not soft. I do not break down in an emergency and I can be incredibly stubborn.

    Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of SMK's experience, for me to read and relate to, was the fact that she was continually looking into herself for answers to her experiences and feelings. I think that can be good but I personally find that when I am trying to discern my way, I must look deep into the mystery that is God and wait for wisdom. To me God is a bit beyond being either feminine or masculine. I guess that God would have both traits and sometimes I need to see in God more of one than the other depending on my needs. It is more likely my own identification of God's attributes as being male or female that would name it as such - part of the limitations of my being human and having knowledge that is limited and influenced by my own gender.

    Did any of the other readers experience similar thoughts?

  • At 1/18/2007 06:26:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Linea, thanks for sharing a bit of your journey with a traveler on a similar road.

    As for "looking inside yourself," I think it can be done in a God-centered way or a narcissistic way. I've experienced both -- one just leads to rumination and isolation, the other leads to discovering where God's spirit meets my spirit in a place of wholeness and truth -- possibly what Jesus meant by, "the kingdom of God is within you," and what you mean by "looking to the mystery of God."

  • At 1/19/2007 03:34:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    Linea, I felt the same discomfort in SMK's looking inside herself. I was very uncomfortable with the constant feminine focus.

    I started to dwell on that and some of the other imagery she uses, though, primarily because her thought process and experience looks so different from mine.

    I may not come to the same conclusions she does in the book, but I have taken some opportunity to look into myself. I have throughout my life found my identity in the "daughter" role SMK describes. Although I know this is, at least in part, influenced by patriarchy, it's also part of my personality. I want people to like me, so have been overaggressive in trying to figure out how I can fit in, please people and basically make everyone like me (crazy, I know)!

    In looking into myself, there are some conclusions I'm coming to. 1) I am created in God's image and am profoundly loved and esteemed by this Divine Creator. There is strength that comes from looking into myself with this knowledge of God. I can comprehend my strengths, my insights and bring validity to my feelings because they are no longer "just girl stuff", but placed in me, cultivated through time and experience. 2) As I reimagine myself through this lense, I am also reimagining God and his/her relationship to me.

    It's this amazing, transforming, challenging conversation back and forth. What's most exciting to me is that it doesn't stop here. As I continue to engage in understand and God continues to speak into me, I'm challenged to "be" different, to "see" different and to love wholely.

  • At 9/29/2009 05:35:00 AM, Anonymous mamakat

    From the first few chapters I have felt an intense shifting in my belly (1st through 3rd chakras). Movement and discomfort but an additional feeling of release of tension. AMAZING. Discovering that what I percieved as my deeply spiritual side has been dominated by masculine energy. Sacred feminine here I come!!!


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