Whatever Works: A Book Review

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People of faith are often taught that there are certain building blocks of religion that you don’t mess with—to even entertain picking them up and turning them over in your mind approaches heresy.  In many faiths, including my own, one of these building blocks is the idea that God is always and only male.  Entering into a feminist dialogue as a person of faith asks you to confront this idea, to dust it off and wonder why it has been deemed unacceptable.  And when you do, all heaven breaks loose—you encounter the Divine Feminine.  Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak, edited by Trista Hendren and Pat Daly, brings together women who have encountered the Divine Feminine in a variety of faiths, creating a deeply necessary and deeply moving dialogue.  It is a book that will feed you, challenge you, comfort you, and teach you.

Here, you will encounter the Divine Feminine as experienced by Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Goddessians, and others—for the experience of the Divine Feminine is as varied as faith itself.  You will find tirades against the restrictive practices of patriarchy within a variety of religions, and you will find lullabies and stories and myths, spoken in Her voice.  You will hear the stories of women who have been abused in the name of God, and you will hear stories of transcendence, the work of the Divine Feminine in the world.  You might find things that make you uncomfortable:  there is anger here, and there is deep questioning, and there is pain.  This is a human book, a female book—a book that weaves together the voices of women from all over the globe, of all faiths and no faith.  This is a book whose time has come.

Too often, faith is left out of feminist conversation.  It is as though the taboo around the Divine Feminine is so strong that we cede this ground, unconsciously—and those who speak politically of God speak only of the patriarchal God, and only of why He requires submission from women.  Whatever Works reveals the feminine aspect of God and asks us to bring Her into our hearts and to do the work right in front of us, in our own communities, so that Her healing force can begin its transformative work.

I am honored to be included among the voices of this book—sharing my words, and reading the words of other feminists of faith, was both deeply personal and deeply political.  Whatever Works invites you to join the conversation—and to tell your own story, for yourself and for the world.

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