This article examines the spiritual leadership of Baby Suggs and the other women in the novel Beloved. Asserting that sound, embodied as cries and utterances, has significance that in many ways surpasses that of identifiable music, Reed situates the women's practices in the novel as a womanist theological tradition that considers the unique experiences of black women spiritual leaders. Through utterances such as women's preaching, narrative, cries, and moans, sound becomes the vehicle for communal restoration and the means by which the women in the novel demonstrate spiritual authority and feminine theological practice. Ultimately, the spiritual leadership of Baby Suggs provides the needed guidance in order for the community to attain its salvific goal through the restoration of the novel's protagonist, Sethe.
Neoplatonists understood philosophy to be preparation for union with ultimate reality. The resulting blend of rationality and mysticism has been seen to be otherworldly, intellectualist, and individualistic, and might seem remote from the concerns of present-day feminists. Cooper argues, however, that there are ideals in the teachings of Plotinus of divine immanence, intuition, and interconnectedness that are valuable for feminist reconstructive work in philosophy and religion.
In this article, Ohnuma examines maternal love and maternal grief in premodern South Asian Buddhist texts and discusses the manner in which patriarchal religious traditions negotiate both symbols. Inasmuch as South Asian Buddhism constitutes a dominant, patriarchal tradition, Ohnuma shows how it ambivalently accommodates the particularity of a mother's love for her own children. On the one hand, canonical Buddhist texts exalt mother-love as a paradigmatic symbol for the universal love and compassion of Buddhas and bodhisattvas. On the other hand, mother-love is also condemned as a manifestation of selfish attachment, as exemplified in the suffering of the grieving mother, who is disparaged in Buddhist texts as antithetical to the spiritual goals of dispassion, detachment, and overcoming suffering. Thus, while mother-love as a symbol is exalted, mother-love as an actual entity is ultimately devalued and undermined. Ohnuma concludes the article by focusing on the Buddhist goddess Hārītī and suggests that this tradition might represent Buddhism's attempt to incorporate lower-level folk traditions that were perhaps more compatible with mother-love.
Recent years have seen a number of writers draw upon Buddhist thought in their articulations of feminist epistemology. Koppedrayer examines four such works—Rita Gross's Buddhism after Patriarchy: A Feminist History, Analysis, and Reconstruction of Buddhism, June Campbell's Traveller in Space: In Search of Female Identity in Tibetan Buddhism, Anne Klein's Meeting the Great Bliss Queen: Buddhists, Feminists, and the Art of the Self, and Winnie Tomm's Bodied Mindfulness: Women's Spirits, Bodies, and Places—which were published within a span of three years during the mid-1990s and which draw on feminist and Buddhist sources to pursue questions related to the construction of women and women's subjectivity. The essay teases out the underlying issues that inform these studies and considers their implications for both Buddhist and women's studies.