- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Beacon Press; W/A New Afterwo edition (September 30, 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0807062073
- ISBN-13: 978-0807062074
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,510,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Diving Deep & Surfacing: Women Writers on Spiritual Quest W/A New Afterwo Edition
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This is a work of first importance to the developing women's spirituality movement, to (feminist) theologians, and to anyone interested in religious experience. —Judith Plaskow, Religious Studies Review
Top customer reviews
The book contains five essays about five specific women writers--Chopin, Atwood, Lessing, Rich, Shange-- and their spiritual journeys as evidenced through their diverse literary characters. The way that the spiritual quest can parallel the social quest is under broad examination. The five specific essays are book-ended by two more general essays concerning women's literature and women in the arts. There is a sort of over-arching theme that is developed throughout: that during a time of crisis in a woman's life she has an initial encounter with Nothingness that can lead toward a mystical awakening. From this awakening, which often involves the Natural world, new and penetrating insights develop. From these insights, women are guided toward finding a new language with which to express themselves, discovering new names for experience and self and new ways to interact with the world.
The necessity of this ever-developing language is driven home: Christ rightly insists that without hearing other women's real stories, girls and women are not prepared to articulate their own experiences, nor to value their own struggles, nor to celebrate their own strengths. Given that women are still often undervalued in our society, and still have evolving identity difficulties, Christ's exploration of the awakening process through these examples of honest literature and brave art remains relevant, even 30 years later.
Truths that arise out of the depths of a woman's life experience are not necessarily mystical or spiritual in nature, but they can activate personal changes which can lead to transformation of the complete self, including the arenas of political activism and ecological responsibility. Christ says that we need not isolate a spiritual awakening from a social one as these are two aspects of a progression toward wholeness. The spiritual/mystical experience is seen as being interior, ineffable and transient, but it can generate profound insight and lead to a more concerned interaction with the exterior world.
The aim of sharing women's hard-won knowledge and experience via stories is to widen the realm of transformative activity, and this book would be a good catalyst for encouraging women--in the college classroom, in reading groups, or individually--to challenge themselves to look beneath the surface, to set about on their own quest for greater awareness, deeper meaning, and a more expansive connection to others and the planet.
This 1980 book is a series of reflections on the spiritual quest invoked by various women writers, such as Kate Chopin, Margaret Atwood, Doris Lessing, Adrienne Rich, Ntozake Shange, etc.
She begins with the observation that "Women's stories have not been told. And without stories there is no articulation of experience... the depth of women's souls will not be known." (Pg. 1) She argues that this quest takes a distinctive form in the fiction and poetry of women writers, and begins in an "experience of nothingness"---in self-hatred, self-negation, and in being a victim. (Pg. 13)
She suggests that women must "positively name the power that resides in their bodies and their sense of closeness to nature," and use this new naming to transform the pervasive cultural and religious devaluation of nature and the body. (Pg. 53)
In her chapter on Lessing, Christ states that "Because women have not created philosophies, have rarely had access to spiritual authority, and rarely have had the opportunity to pursue exclusively intellectual or spiritual paths, it makes sense that they might be attracted to the practical, antiauthoritarian elements of the Sufi path." (Pg. 72)
This early book of Christ's provides a very interesting side to her thought (particularly for those who associate her almost exclusively with "goddess" spirituality).