Links, Books, Recommendations

Here are some of the books and resources that have been most helpful along my journey of/towards becoming. I share them in hopes that they may be helpful to you along your journeys).

Posted September 19, 2011. I hope to update this page at least once a month.

The Queer God by Marcella Althaus-Reid. Very good book, she reveals the sexual side of God that is too often ignored in Christianity, and speaks of the God that is at the gate of Sodom-Gomorrah as opposed to the God who is destroying it, the kenosis of the heterosexual God on behalf of the queer.

Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women's Liberation by Mary Daly. I posted a full review of this book here. But, in short, this book is a classic in feminist theology/philosophy, showing how as long as there is a male patriarchal Father-God (and his son, the God-Man), patriarchy will continue. Daly links women's becoming with both a separation/confrontation of the Father-God and a new self-defining telos-like continual becoming by women (and men), freeing humanity to find and become their androgynous selves.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. This books is simply incredible. The first book I read of Dillard's was Holy the Firm, which I also highly recommend for anyone to read. This book, in the vein of Walden Pond, is described as a “nature narrative,” in which Dillard reflects on the beauty and horrors of the natural world around her in very ecological, poetic, and theological language. The book brought tears of sorrow and joy, and to me is more scriptural, more sacred in many ways, then any other book I've ever read. Perhaps one of the reviews from the back of the book can describe it better; here are words from Robert Macfarlane of The Guardian: “Spirited and gale-force... The best thing is her glee, a pied-piperish glee at being in the world, which she invokes better than anyone else.... Cymbal-clashing, peppery, straightforward.” This book is truly one of the best, most powerful, moving, and meaningful books I've ever read.

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman's Journey from the Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine by Sue Monk Kidd. Kidd's book was in many ways simply amazing. I mean, literally, this book, along with Carter Heyward's Saving Jesus From Those Who Are Right, changed my life. This was recommended to me by a friend, and I am so glad I read it. Kidd describes her move from being a stereotypical Southern Baptist housewife to growing discontent with her life, leading her to a feminist awakening. In many ways, this is an autobiography. However, like Walking by Thoreau, it is also a theological and philosophical reflection. As a man, though, I have to admit that I almost felt like I was trespassing on holy ground while reading it. This book would make an excellent introduction to feminist theology, as it is down-to-earth and easy to read. That said, as a post-modern thinker, I found Kidd's claim that we all share a collective unconscious (borrowing heavily from Jung) from which a woman can find old memories of the feminine divine and reconnect to Her problematic. I think in this regard Kidd's book would be helped enormously by third-generation feminists who speak of the diversified experience that other issues bring(such as race, culture, social status, sexual preference, etc.), and how they can be incorporated into a feminist journey; in other words, the idea that all women can connect to this collective unconscious memory of the feminine divine is simply a bit naïve when one takes into account the diversity of feminine experience. I have another book of hers, The Secret Life of Bees, which I know from reviews deals directly with issues of race. I wonder if some of her philosophy has shifted in light of the third-generation feminist movement, and am curious to read this novel and find out.

Models of God: Theology Ecological, Nuclear Age by Sallie McFague. Yet another excellent book. This book was written by McFague as an attempt to make models of God that are not just accessible for people in the ecological, nuclear age, but also models of God that challenge the complacency in the midst of what was then near nuclear Holocaust, and, especially for now, an ecological crisis. The book presents God as Mother, Lover, and Friend, and shows how these images can help us to take better care of the earth and each other, as we see the earth and all of creation in the incarnation sense of God's body. It really helped me to see God in new ways, and to experience God in ways other than the traditional, exclusive, and (at least) two-parts male trinity.

Super, Natural Christians: How We Should Love Nature by Sallie McFague. This is the second time this has happened to me this year: I unknowingly read two books that are direct responses to one another. In this case, McFague drew heavily from Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and in many ways also writes directly against some of the transcendentalist notions of fusion with nature. This book in many ways is a Christian ecological ethic. In it, McFague suggests that we should see nature with the loving eye as opposed to the arrogant eye, that nature and all creatures within nature should be seen as subjects, not as objects for our disposal or use. What she draws from Dillard is Dillard's keen ability to see nature as it is (the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the amazing and the horrible) and treatment of nature as a subject. She speaks against the transcendentalist ideal of fusion with nature and going back to a pristine wilderness, insisting that it is, first of all, too late for that (we have to deal and accept the fact that now nature is forever changed), and also, that fusion with nature is a white privileged fantasy in the western world, for the poor, the minority, who are unable to afford trips to national parks, where the cityscape and slums are the only place they know. Instead, an ethic of ecology, a loving eye approach, would be to create pockets of wild (as opposed to wilderness) even within the city, and to preserve the wild we have. We are to treat nature as subjects, and to love nature as it is, that it deserves our love as it is, not because of how we can use it or what its worth is to us (its infinite worth is that it is a subject and should be loved as is). All that said, I have to admit I was a little disappointed with this book: the urgency of McFague's earlier works is not as apparent here. Also, part of me still finds “fusion” and romanticism with nature meaningful, though I do see McFague's point. Also, most of the book is a general ethic, it's only at the end that she really ties everything together in her amazingly beautiful way. I have not yet read The Body of God, but I could probably see this as a companion to that earlier work, an ethic to go along with her earlier presented ecological theology. A great read, but still, I wish there was more of her earlier urgency, and I wish more of her great advances in theology, particularly metaphorical theology, were more prominent throughout the book.

Sexism and God-Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology by Rosemary Radford Reuther. Sexism and God-Talk is an attempt at a systematic approach to feminist theology. To be honest, I think it works better in some places than in others, but that does not change the fact that this book is one of the best feminist theologies I've read. Particularly amazing are Reuther's examinations on Christology and eschatology, both of which completely opened up a new understanding to me. While I think Sallie McFague's Images of God is perhaps more accessible, Sexism and God-Talk is nonetheless a must read for anyone serious in the field of feminist theology.

Links This website is a wonderful source of information about ecofeminism. The website includes a massive ongoing bibliography collecting the works of many ecofeminist writers and thinkers (though it looks as if it has not been updated for a bit of time). Also includes some interviews with authors and links to other ecofeminism sites. This website is actually my sister's blog. She currently is working on a series called "The Patriarchal Roots of Society," in which she is examining the influence/bound-ness of various aspects of society (such as family, church, military, etc.) to patriarchy, under the belief that if we talk about it, we can change it (and if we don't talk about it, we cannot change it). She is planning to expand the site to include guest bloggers. As she writes, the blog is meant to be a safe place to become. Updated bi-weekly to monthly.

Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER). WATER is a great resource for feminist thinking (and other "minority" or "fringe" theologies) on theology, ethics, and ritual. They also have a massive library that I've been meaning to visit for some time now. They are located in Silver Spring, MD, and provide excellent resources, teleconferences, and much more.