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Prayers to She Who Is

November 5, 2013

Prayers to She Who Is
Prayers to She Who Is by William Cleary
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I took this out of the Interfaith Library the other day and leafed through it. It’s based on the work and words of Sr. Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, whose book She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse I read for my trinity course a few years ago. Sr. Dr. Johnson’s work is thoroughly grounded in both scripture and tradition, from which she retrieves and emphasizes the feminine imagery for God that has always been there.

The prayers tend towards the verbose and clunky to my ear, a bit reminiscent of the Blue Mountain Arts card style of poetry. But there are some beautiful images, and a broad array of themes strongly clustered around care for the poor, the oppressed, and the earth.

I did particularly like the versicle at the end of each prayer, which in line one, addressed God by a name from the prayer followed by three descriptive gerunds ending in freeing, and line two was always In you we live and move and have our being.

The line-drawing illustrations are a worthy complement to the prayers. I particularly liked the image of ruach, She-who-is blowing creation into being, and the image of God as a woman pouring out a jar of water onto the soil to sustain the growing grain.

(Crossposted from Gaudete Theology)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. james jordan permalink
    November 25, 2013 7:40 pm

    If this is really the direction you want to go in, instead of making God a woman, use the concept of the Trinity to make God a family: Father, Son, Mother. Boot the Holy Spirit and make him a woman, lady Wisdom from Proverbs. Then the Trinity will better match its Cananite origins of El, Baal, Ashera. Otherwise cut out the fruity crap. And to popularize the Father, Son, Mother concept, just accuse orthodox Trinitarians of worshipping a homosexual god for making all 3 members of the Trinity male.

  2. November 25, 2013 10:33 pm

    My own tendency, prior to studying Sr. Dr. Johnson’s work on the Trinity and that of other feminist theologians, was to go for the Holy Spirit as the Daughter of God, parallel to Christ the Son of God, breathed forth and begotten, respectively, by God the Creator who transcends gender. The critique to this or any other family-based approach is that it tends to look for gender balance rather than gender transcendence. And of course, any “family” oriented approach to the Trinity topples out of trinitarian balance into tritheism, as does any approach that attempts to mirror the Canaanite El, Baal,and Asherah.

    Feminine imagery for God, for all three persons of the Trinity, and for the pre-Christian God of the Hebrew Scriptures, has always been there, in scripture and in tradition. (The example that always leaps to my mind is the phrase used in some patristic writings, utero patri, “the womb of the Father.”) Sr. Dr. Johnson’s work retrieves, emphasizes, and systematizes elements that have always been in our tradition.

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