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She Who Changes: Re-imagining the Divine in the World Paperback – August 12, 2004
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'...a very thoughtful and poetic treatment...Christ adds something rather unique and quite creative to the growing corpus of spiritual feminism.' - Choice
'Carol Christ, who is one of the brilliant foremothers of the Goddess movement, has an important new book out. She's one of the people who always most inspire me and stimulate my thinking, and who I find myself quoting and turning to for inspiration and clarity.' - Starhawk
'She Who Changes is a gift to the world. The style is clear, passionate, and utterly compassionate, building a sturdy bridge between process theology and feminist thought that is valuable beyond calculation. After reading the book, I too will call myself a feminist process theologian.' - Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, author of The Divine Feminine and Omnigender and Founding Member of the Evangelical & Ecumenical Women's Caucus
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Writing about the perspective of process theologian Charles Hartshorne, Christ recounts the six mistakes of classical theism (including belief in scriptural infallibility and belief in the afterlife) and possible alternatives to them. There is an emphasis on social justice and ecology, and on enjoying life.
Although this book is rooted in process theology, there is still considerable overlap with other theologies. How does this stack up, and differ, from other alternatives to classical theism? Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong has written about similar issues in "Why Christianity Must Change or Die." There are less theistically based denominations, such as Unitarian Universalism. Some forms of Christianity and Judaism focus on environmental issues, and use gender inclusive language and symbology. I would put Christ in complement to these, not in contrast. Her focus may be outside Christianity but that doesn't put her in opposition to it.
Christ goes deep. She looks at many of the questions raised in theology or in philosophy of religion, and how those questions would be answered in process philosophy. I would imagine that the book would be a hard read if you had no background in such questions. I just finished the book, and haven't had time to decide to what extent I agree with the philosophy, but I find myself inspired by having the questions raised and discussed, with thoughtful citing of other writers on the subject as well as her own experience. If you have trouble with the answers classic religions offer, I think you'd find this book a great read.
Here are some of the things it made me think about:
From a personal point of view, I never had any argument with or anger towards God, perhaps only because personally I never bought it. I cannot remember not knowing that I was part of God and God was part of me, and knowing/experiencing/believing this so certainly that I also knew everyone, that would be most people and society in general, was wrong -- god was not (only) male. S/he/It clearly could not be, because I was part of it and it was part of me, and I was female. So my anger was with society generally and patriarchal religions specifically. From the time I was a child, I argued with everyone (except my parents who allowed me to think about it on my own and draw my own conclusions). I gave up trying to find a place to fit into the religions available to me and having these conversations, debates, however, when I entered college. I decided that it was simply not worth the time and effort any more to discuss it.
I couldn't win the debates. Why not?
Them: No, we really don't believe that God is male, but we just use "He" because you have to use some pronoun. It's no big deal. It really doesn't matter.
Me: Well, if it's no big deal and doesn't really matter, let's just use "She."
Them: Oh, heavens, no. We could never do THAT!
Me: Well, then, it does matter, doesn't it? So what's with that?
Them: Basically, we just don't want to think about it.
This book would allow me to have/legitimize those conversations again and make people really think about it. Wow! How cool that would be. And I can only hope that people who are still in religion/theology and/or women's studies take advantage of this book's publication and have those conversations.
Other topics/thoughts to consider/discuss in the process might include the concept of praying. What is it? How do people do it? It's generally thought to be about talking to/asking God for something. Maybe new conceptions of God/dess require new conceptions of things like prayer. For myself, I consider everything I do a prayer and so I don't specifically (stop to) pray, like people think about it ordinarily. What I do is listen, all the time, carefully....(and always do what I'm told,
even if/when it's hard.) Might this be appropriate for new conceptions of God/dess?
Just one other thought at the moment, in terms of the book raising other questions: It seems to me that peace is not simply the absence of war(fare). And that sometimes war has been/may be necessary. And that there are huge human rights violations occurring around the world, especially against women. Traditionally, it seems like many wars have been fought for freedom and independence. I'm not sure where I'm going
with this, but as I said, this book raises important questions and suggests new way of thinking about them. Few books do this so well, which is why I recommend it so highly.
Contrary to the popular "stern father figure in the sky with a whipping belt" type of belief system, Carol imagines a loving, compassionate and most importantly co-creative deity. This more "feminine" goddess/god that she refers to seems much more in line to me with the teachings of great religious minds like the Buddha or Jesus than with any of todays contemporary religious beliefs. It may not be what belief is today, but it is what it should be.
If you have ever thought that religion or faith should be about love, understanding, helping, or compassion, then this book is a must read, regardless of your own faith or religion or gender or upbringing.