Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Tree of Life

Do you remember the first time you read a feminist theologian? The first time somebody said to you that God is not a man and you actually heard it. The first time you were reading along and suddenly it smacked you in your gut that you were reading your own thoughts and all these things you've been unable to articulate about why it feels so weird to be a woman and a Christian...they suddenly all come together under the beautiful writing of some inspired female?

It's happening to me right now. Oh, God, oh God, I'm reading just the introduction, the introduction to Gail Ramshaw's Under the Tree of Life: the Religion of a Feminist Christian and I tell you I am WEEPING - my God I am weeping copiously because this woman has pulled something out from inside me that was hidden but hurting and she's naming it and the sobs are coming even as I read and I type and I realize that this is why it has all not made sense and dear God maybe it will make some sense now after all!!!

Do you know that I never got to read this yet and never got to feel this way and thank God for liturgical theology class because I am finally reading some women writing about theology and WHAT a perspective and what a new way of looking at absolutely everything.

She says it: theology is men writing about what other men have said and done and thought and I know it probably seems overstated but the fact is that it is true and here is this woman telling me finally why it's all felt unreachable to me and right now I think - I fear - I tremble...could it be that I could find the way to being both? To being utterly female and yet fully Christian?

And there are these role models these brave amazing fucking brilliant women who've written down these struggles and these thoughts so that I can read them and weep. So that I can know that I'm not the first nor nearly the last to not know what's wrong but suddenly there it is and I am overflowing with emotion over finding this tender painful bruise in my theology where God was so very male and all the teachers and theologians and pastors and leaders and prophets were so so male and as much as I admired them I could never be like them not really. Not really.

Wouldn't it have been just awesome if Jesus had been a girl?

But we have what we have and history is what it is. We can move forward and by God with Gail's help I will. Oh! my brothers - I am sorry for you that you grow up with the knowing and the understanding and the deep-down awareness that it all fits for you...because you never get this incredible eye-opening world-shattering heart-stopping moment when it all opens up and you realize that in fact this whole thing could really include you and not just include but celebrate and affirm and even cry out for what you can offer, what you can bring into the discussion.

Oh, I am grateful to God that I found feminist Christians. And my sisters, find them and read them and hear them preach! (oh, Michelle - this is what you were talking about - that Anne's sermons make you cry every Sunday - I know it now - I know why - I'm right there with you babe)

I don't know if the oppression of the ages really builds up somehow in our collective subconscious - our African-American friends would say so - but whatever it is there is a huge release valve that needs to be opened for the American Woman Christian and I'm begging you to go find what does that for you. Because it's awesome and it is of God.

She's not just a feminist or theologian, she's me too. And if someday I can write that I've "studied the brilliancies, the abominations, and the nonsense in Christianity and other world religions [and] I am no tribal member. I am not able to tread along peacefully in the footsteps of my dead relatives. I want an unwieldy marriage: I want intelligently to affirm a set of communal beliefs. I want freely to elect the rituals and ethics of a community" - well you see she is not only hitting my woman-spots she is hitting me in the gut of pluralism and of faith-ownership and of finding a way to make all this mine.

But you see that cannot be done until God is a God to whom I can relate in entirety embodied and incarnated and for that to happen our woman parts cannot be ignored. Not just the sex but the emotion and the hysteria and the baby-making and the blood and all that primal energy that drives the creation of new life on this earth and binds us together and makes us somehow ineffably one kind of being. And God is in that. And now I am going to find out how and where and why and what I can do to tell someone else.

Because a lot more girls deserve this moment.


ms. tea said...

beautifully spoken. i went right out and ordered myself a copy on

thanks for the recommendation

Kerry said...

welcome home, sister.

Christine Bakke said...

( introduce myself, I came to your blog through...I don't remember...maybe JJ?)

This is an amazing post. Thank you. You've described what it was like when I read the first part of Sue Monk Kidd's The Dance of the Dissident Daughter. I didn't end up where she did in her conclusions, but I remember reading the first part and feeling what you are describing.

Amazing, isn't it?

I think I will check out this book you're reading.

Anna said...

Oh, what a marvelous post. I'm going out to get myself that book.

For me, it was Elizabeth Johnson's She Who Is that hit me like that and hits me again every time I read it. Her emphasis on how language shapes life and belief really resonated with me, and I loved her willingness to re-examine and redeem tradition as well as casting off anything that's oppressive and false.

Stasi said...

Oh! Oh! Both the books I've read lately talk about She Who Is! Yay!! I want to read it too!

Anonymous said...

Yes! I know exactly what you mean. For me it was Judith Plaskow's Standing Again at Sinai...