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Religion, Theology and Self-Improvement Sundays: Women, Religion, Theology and Society Part 13

As we head into the homestretch of this series we look at the image and concept of the female held by the various feminists and women's liberation movements juxtaposed to the concept of original woman that was in the mind of the Creator. This is a critical subject as it points to the last remaining challenge(s) in the resurrection and upliftment of women - worldwide.

To this end we turn to the opinion of Mary Daly and her book Beyond God The Father. Her opinion challenges both females and the world of religion in very important areas. She takes a very antagonistic position toward the world of religion yet does not deny the role of theology and religion in women's liberation.

In her book she writes:

"It might seem that the women's revolution should just go about his business of generating a new consciousness, without worrying about God. I suggest that the fallacy involved in this would be an overlooking of a basic question that is implied in human existence and that the pitfall in such an oversight is cutting off the radical potential of the movement itself.

It is reasonable to take the position that sustained effort toward self- transcendence requires keeping alive in one's consciousness the question of ultimate transcendence, that is, of God. It implies recognition of the fact that we have no power over the ultimately reality, and that whatever authentic power we have is derived from participation in ultimate reality. This awareness, always hard to sustain, makes it possible to be free of idolatry even in regard to one's own cause, since it tells us that all presently envisaged goals, lifestyles, symbols, and societal structures are transitory. This is the meaning that the question of God should have for liberation, sustaining a concern that is really open to the future, in other words, that is really ultimate. Such a concern will not become fixated upon limited objectives as the right to vote. Indeed, this right is due to women in justice and it is entirely understandable that feminists' energies were drained by the efforts needed to achieve even a modicum of justice. But from the experience of such struggles we are in a position now to distrust token victories within a societal and structural framework that renders them almost meaningless. The new wave of feminism desperately needs to be not only many-faceted but cosmic and ultimately religious in its vision. This means reaching outward and inward toward the God beyond and beneath the gods who have stolen our identity.

The idea that human beings are " to the image of God" is an intuition whose implications could hardly be worked through under patriarchal conditions. If it is true that human beings have projected "God" in their own image, it is also true that we can evolve beyond the projections of earlier stages of consciousness. It is the creative potential itself in human beings that is also true that we can evolve beyond the projections of earlier stages of consciousness. It is the creative potential itself in human beings that is the image of God. As the essential victims of the archaic God-projections, women, can bring this process of creativity into a new phase. This involves iconoclasm - the breaking of idols. Even - and perhaps especially - through the activity of its most militantly atheistic and a-religious members, the movement is smashing images that obstruct the becoming of the image of God. The basic idol-breaking will be done on the level of internalized images of male superiority, on the plan of exorcising them from consciousness and from the cultural institutions that breed them."

Next week we will go deeper into woman's suffrage and the concept of "female" and God held by feminists and its direct relation to women's liberation.

Cedric Muhammad

Sunday, January 28, 2001

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