Dismantling Male Domination

Women, Blacks, & Violence, April 9, 2019

Time magazine has a great article by Henry Louis Gates, America's Second Sin, and starting this evening, PBS presents the series, Reconstruction: America after The Civil War. In article and television broadcast, Gates informs us with amazing facts about Reconstruction that were unknown to me until recently. Also, I'm convinced after 16 years of supervising student teachers, unknown to high school teachers of American history. I don't blame the teachers; I blame our still-racist society.

Reconstruction raised African Americans from slavery to dignified positions in society. They became voters, educators, and legislators. Then, the federal government gave in to Southern states and they rolled back the gains of people freed by the 14th and 15th Amendments. One tiny fact. In 1898, 130,000 black men were registered to vote in Louisiana. By 1904, only 6 years later, the number had dwindled to 1,342.

Whenever I hear or read stories of Blacks acting with courage to counter white supremacy, I am inspired to keep working for women's equality in religion. All stories of overcoming injustice are related. In the Catholic Church, most voices demanding equality for women support women's ordination. A German Benedictine prioress raised a stir by doing this.

But supporting women's ordination is not enough.  In a letter printed in National Catholic Reporter, I wrote that cleaning up clergy sex abuse needs to include cleaning up sexist God-talk.

Maybe we're taking a turn to justice, because the highest levels of Church authority can no longer deny the Church's misogyny and violence against women. Pope Francis acknowledged the dirty secret that priests have been sexually assaulting nuns. 

Thanks to the #MeToo movement gone worldwide for making it impossible to keep these secrets any longer. But unveiling clergy sex abuse is only the beginning. To overturn inequality for women, the whole system of patriarchy needs to be overturned.

Patriarchy keeps all systems of injustice in place by endorsing unequal power. We need to topple the exclusively-male God-images perpetuating the injustices. Praying to Her needs to become as normal and right as praying to Him.

Don't forget to watch Reconstruction: America after The Civil WarIn my area it's on Channel 2 at 8:00 Central Time.

Women's peacemaking ignored, March 28, 2019

I’m profoundly moved by women’s struggles for justice around the world.

Editors and writers of a women’s magazine at the Vatican quit the magazine in protest. Its founder, Lucetta Scaraffia, sent an open letter to Pope Francis explaining their action. Woman Church World, the Vatican’s only publication run by women, has been published monthly by L’Osservatore Romano since 2012.

The new editor, explained Scaraffia, tried to control the magazine’s content by selecting women for the staff who would follow the line dictated by men. Pressure on the current staff increased when they reported that nuns had been sexually abused and were being economically exploited by priests.

PBS just concluded an outstanding series—Women, War, & Peace. The unbelievable courage and persistence of women struggling for peace against men determined to make war and ignore women brought tears to my eyes. The 4-part series documents neglected stories of heroic struggles by women in Northern Ireland, Palestine, Egypt, and Bangladesh.

In each fight, women recognized the need for collaboration with perceived enemies and acted on it. From opposite camps women reached out to each other and formed organizations to bond with their counterparts. Men followed, but not enough to sway official deals.

In Northern Ireland, former senator George Mitchell and Hillary Clinton praised the women of Northern Ireland for their peace work, but in the end the peace deal brokered by Mitchell, the famed Good Friday Agreement, demoted the work of women.

Palestinians have been living under Israeli occupation since 1967. As the years pass, the plight of Palestinians grows no better. It could be said that it grows steadily worse and the injustice reaches its lowest point with the alliance of Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump.

But the Women, War, & Peace segment on Palestine informs us of events leading up to the Oslo Peace Accords. During the first intifada in 1987, imprisoned Palestinian women formed bonds that strengthened them to lay the groundwork for peace. But the famed photo showing Bill Clinton presiding over Mahmoud Abbas shaking hands with Yitzhak Rabin includes only men. No credit is given to women, who were working on a deal that would have been far better for Palestinians.

The heartbreaking story of Hend Nafea in Egypt almost prompted me to turn off the TV because it was so painful. I know I could not have endured the torture. Repeatedly she endured assaults but continued working for the human rights of others.

I encourage readers to go online and learn more. Again and again women’s contributions are bypassed or made invisible. Fights continue and women continue to work for peace. The planet depends on their efforts.

A must-see for central Minnesotans on April 4: Esteemed theologian Elizabeth Johnson is coming to St. John’s.  Her book, She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse, strikes me as a principal study in all theological discourse.

Dismantling Male Domination, December 3, 2018

My book, Beyond Parochial Faith: A Catholic Confesses, will come out in spring, but another book with an essay of mine just came out at Thanksgiving. Karen Tate is the editor of this anthology.

Awakening the Feminine...
Dismantling Domination to Restore Balance on Mother Earth

Third in the "Manifesting a New Normal" Series

$15.00 through December 31 (Including S&H in the US only)
Using Paypal - PayPal.Me/karentate
Manifesting a New Normal Series...

Cardinals & #MeToo,  October 3, 2018

When I saw the idea in National Catholic Reporter, I thought, "Impossible." But making women cardinals seemed much more plausible when I read the facts given there.

The rule that cardinals must be ordained is only 100 years old. It was part of a new Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1917 to curb abuses in naming cardinals.
Some men had little knowledge of theology, and others were, well, very young. 
One was only 8 years old.

John Paul II wanted to appoint a woman cardinal. I can't think of a less likely pope to do that. Timothy Dolan reported on EWTN that John Paul offered it to Mother Teresa, but she didn't want it. This story was corroborated by Cardinal Ratzinger, who became Benedict XVI.

The list of eminent women theologians suggested as candidates makes another good argument in favor of making women cardinals. I mention only those whose names are familiar to me: Elizabeth Johnson, Margaret Farley, M.Shawn Copelend, Phyllis Zagano.

I still think it can't happen until hell freezes over, but I like putting out ideas to subvert the common mindset that automatically places men as authorities over women.


I aimed to subvert the common mindset in a letter to the StarTribune of Minneapolis last Sunday, September 30. Adding to the discussion, "How to fill the churches: reconciling reason and faith," I said that God was imagined a woman in prehistoric cultures. Myths portrayed the supreme authority in heaven as a great lady.
Before Hera became the jealous wife of Zeus, . . .  She sat on the throne with Zeus at her side. God was known as "Queen of Heaven," "Her Holiness," . . .
Everything changes when God is imagined to be a woman rather than a man.
Greek historian Herodotus wrote that in Egypt, "women go in the marketplace, transact affairs and occupy themselves with business, while the husbands stay home and weave." 
Imagine that.
It's actually not so hard to imagine today because roles in some marriages are already reversed. An American living in Stockholm, Sweden, wrote in Time magazine that he was startled by the number of dads there parenting kids full-time. I have seen the same here and applaud men brave enough to do it.

Thank Goodness, we have made some strides toward equality but what a distance to go! The most pernicious sexist habits happen in church--always, without exception, referring to God as He, Him, or His, and never as She or Her.

Sexist God-talk has got to go if Christians seriously want to address #MeToo.

Awaken the Feminine,  December 17, 2018

Today promises to be a sunny day, unlike the gloomy past month. I sorely missed the sun hiding behind clouds day after day. While preparing a Christmas card for my nephew and his family in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, I realized they have an even longer darkness surrounding winter solstice. I wondered how difficult it is for him, born and bred in Minnesota. 

Years ago I overcame the blues of sun-deprivation at this time of year by placing it in the context of spirituality and religion. While I was trying to be an atheist, I learned about non-Christian religions. My discoveries appear in my essay for Awaken the Feminine!: Dismantling Domination to Restore Balance on Mother Earth.

       Wanting distance from Christian stuff but drawn to spiritual content, I read about the pagan religions I had been trained to despise and got surprising revelations about the Goddess. I learned that human beings had prayed to a Great Mother before the Father/Son myth started.
       Accounts of Mater Magna, the Great Mother, creator of the universe, taught me that She manifests the feminine face of the Divine. She is simply an alternative way to think of what is called “God.” That She reigned under many names in pre-historic times obliterated the Judaeo-Christian claim to being the first monotheistic religion. 

Goddess myths center divinity more in the earth than in the sky. The Goddess envelopes the sun in her body every evening and sends it forth in the morning.

Christmas copies birthday feasts honoring pagan gods. Before gospels were written about the life of the Nazarene Jesus, pagan gods had twelve disciples, died and rose in three days, were commemorated in rituals involving wine and bread, and so on. Promoting their own feast, Christians declared that Jesus Christ is the real sun-god—“the real light which gives light to everyone." John 8:12 has Jesus saying, "I am the light of the world. 

Having learned alternatives to the Christian myth enriches rather than spoils my celebration of Christmas. It also makes me more tolerant of the way our secular, commercial world treats it. 

When displays of Christmas lights appeared before Christmas, I used to strongly resist. I wanted the world to begin Christmas celebrations on the Day, as we did it in St. Martin in the 1950s. But it’s during these dark days before the solstice that the world needs more light. I’m sure that this, and not only the commercial motive of making money, accounts for Christmas lights going up a month before Christmas Day and coming down soon after Christmas Day. 

I leave my lights up much longer just because I was trained that way. But I see that after the solstice on December 21, people are relieved and happy that the sun stays with us longer and longer. So the artificial lights come down. 

Whatever connects us with Transcendence seems good to me. 


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