Interview with Carol P. Christ
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Interview with Carol P. Christ
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Carol P. Christ

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Elizabeth Ursic

Carol Christ is a trailblazer. She coedited the groundbreaking Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in Religion with Judith Plaskow in 1979, as well as the 1989 follow-up volume, Weaving the Visions: New Patterns in Feminist Spirituality. In 2004, Christ was named “Leader of the Goddess Movement” in Anne Braude’s Transforming the Faiths of our Fathers: Women Who Changed American Religion. Christ has written six books in the areas of feminist study of religion and literature, feminist theology, and feminist philosophy of religion: Diving Deep and Surfacing: Women Writers on Spiritual Quest (1980), Laughter of Aphrodite: Reflections on a Journey to the Goddess (1987), Odyssey with the Goddess: A Spiritual Quest in Crete (1995), Rebirth of the Goddess: Finding Meaning in Feminist Spirituality (1998), She Who Changes: Re-Imagining the [End Page 137] Divine in the World (2003), Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology (2016, with Judith Plaskow). She is a pioneer in the search for an “embodied theological method” that combines rigorous analysis with embodied personal standpoint; in this pursuit, she often interweaves personal reflections with scholarly analysis.

I became aware of the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion’s Across Generations project through Mary Hunt, who mentioned Carol Christ as one of the scholars to be interviewed. I was interested because I had met Carol once in 2008 while conducting research for my PhD dissertation on Christian communities that pray with female imagery of God. Carol had been invited to keynote a conference on Faith and Feminism at Ebenezer Lutheran herchuch, one of the congregations I was studying. One of her two talks, “Why Women, Men, and Other Living Things Still Need the Goddess,” reconnected traditional male God language with male domination and violence.1 I was grateful to have an opportunity to discuss the field of women and religion with one of its early leaders.

For thirty years, Carol has made her home in Greece. She directs the Ariadne Institute, through which she has led Goddess pilgrimages to Crete in the spring and the fall for over twenty years.2 Carol has taught online courses in ecofeminism, feminist and Goddess theologies, and spiritualties as an adjunct professor at the California Institute for Integral Studies. She is a weekly contributor to the blog, Feminism and Religion (www.feminismandreligion.com). She is also a political activist who has run for regional and national office with the Green Party Greece. To prepare for this article, Carol and I conducted four and a half hours of interviews in three sessions over two days in February 2015. We conducted the interviews over the phone. The recordings will be added to Carol’s archives at Smith University.

Carol Christ grew up in southern California in the 1950s. She had a lower-end-of-the-middle class upbringing in a politically conservative family. Though her immediate family went to local Presbyterian churches, her grandparents and much of her extended family were Roman Catholic and Christian Science. She was valedictorian of her high school class, but her parents expected her to live at home while attending college and to teach high school art only until she got married. Carol credits three mentors, her female guidance counselor in high school and two male teachers, her undergraduate Old Testament professor and her Humanities Honors advisor, for insisting that she could go further in her [End Page 138] studies. Carol attended Stanford University on partial scholarships (where she also served meals in the dorms), followed by graduate work at Yale on Danforth and Woodrow Wilson fellowships where she became one of the first women to earn a PhD in Religious Studies in 1974.

The feminist movement was burgeoning on college campuses during Carol’s time as a Yale graduate student. Carol joined the Yale Women’s Alliance, a consciousness-raising and activist feminist group in 1969, and in 1971 helped to found the Academic and Professional Women’s Ad-Hoc Affirmative Action Committee that brought a Title IX lawsuit for discrimination against Yale on behalf of...