- Two Views of Divinity in the WorldConversations in Embodied Theology
embodied theology, feminist theology, Goddess and God in the World, Goddess feminism, Jewish feminism
We have been discussing feminist theology and working together on feminist issues since we met as graduate students at Yale University in the late 1960s. Over the years, we have agreed on many things, but two major issues have divided us. Is it better to stay within a patriarchal religion and work to transform it as Judith has done? Or is it preferable to refuse to participate in religious traditions that have caused and continue to cause great harm in the world and to seek to create or to discover alternative spiritual visions as Carol chooses to do? Though we have accepted each other's decisions, we continue to have questions about each other's choices. Moreover, while Carol was writing She Who Changes—in which she argued that process philosophy provides a coherent worldview that holds together feminist concerns about the body, nature, experience, and relationships—we discovered that we had incompatible views of the nature of divinity and divine power.1
My own beliefs about God can be stated very simply: "I see God as the creative energy that underlies, animates, and sustains all existence; God is the Ground of Being, the source of all that is, the power of life, death, and regeneration in the universe. God's presence fills all creation, and creation simultaneously dwells in God. In technical theological language, I am a panentheist: I believe in a God who is present in everything and yet at the same time is not identical with all that is. The idea of unity or oneness is particularly central to my understanding of God. To me, believing in God means affirming [End Page 97] that, despite the fractured, scattered, and conflicted nature of our experience of both the world and ourselves, there is a unity that embraces and contains our diversity and that connects all things to each other."
"In this concept of God, wholeness or inclusiveness is more important and carries more theological weight than goodness. The world as we know it has little use for human plans and aspirations. We can be stunned by the beauty of the raging waters of the sea and an instant later, find ourselves and the things we love annihilated by them. We can be astounded by the care, altruism, and intricate interdependence found everywhere in nature and also by its predation and violence. When we look at ourselves, we find the same, often ambiguous, mixture of motives and effects. Most people are capable of great kindness and also cruelty. Human beings have imagined remarkable ways to care for the most vulnerable among us and have also used our inventiveness to torture and kill. … To deny God's presence in all this, to see God only in the good, seems to me to leave huge aspects of reality outside of God. Where then do they come from? How are they able to continue in existence? How can we not see that the same amazing inventiveness that allows us to establish systems of justice, feed the hungry, and find cures for many diseases is present when we develop new weapons or build crematoria?"2
For me, "Goddess is the intelligent, embodied love that is in all being." "Goddess is a personal presence who loves and understands every individual—human and other than human—on this earth and throughout the universe. As we experience the love and understanding of Goddess, we are inspired to love and understand ourselves, the world, and all individuals in it more deeply and more fully. Goddess is not the earth, nor did She alone create the universe. Still, it is appropriate to think of the universe as a whole and of our earth in particular as the body of Goddess. She is as intimately connected to all of the individuals who live or have lived on this planet or any other as we are to the cells of our own bodies."3 She cannot be all-powerful because other individuals have power...