In Our Own Voices: Four Centuries of American Women's Religious Writing

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Rosemary Skinner Keller, Rosemary Radford Ruether
HarperSanFrancisco, 1995 - Literary Criticism - 542 pages
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Until a quarter century ago little was known or acknowledged about the role American women played in the shaping of America's religious history. In Our Own Voices reclaims and affirms the previously ignored historical contributions of women by recovering many long-silenced voices. Here, woven together into a multicultural, multiethnic, and multifaith tapestry, are many of their remarkable contributions to American religion written in their own words. Restored for contemporary women and men are the lyric voices of women representing various locales, time periods, and religious viewpoints: indigenous women, early colonists, religious council leaders and reformers, slaves and free women, commune leaders, Christian lesbians, witches, and Islamic and Buddhist feminists. Controversial issues are examined, including the clash of Catholic nuns and lay women with the hierarchy of priests, bishops, and the Pope; black women's experience with slavery and more recently with the womanist liberation movement; and the rights of women to lead and hold official office within their own religious faith. Illuminating firsthand accounts - selections from diaries, letters, civil and religious documents, and formal histories - re-create in vivid and compelling detail the intricate fabric of women's religious aspirations, struggles, and accomplishments over the last four centuries, including: a pioneer nun's account of her meeting with Billy the Kid; Mother Jones urging miners to strike to "get a little bit of heaven before you die"; and a letter written by the founder of Hadassah stating her decision to say Kaddish for her mother. Included among these works are the writings of such notable matriarchs asMother Jones, Zora Neale Hurston, Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, Lucretia Mott, Toni Morrison, Las Hermanas, Kathryn Kuhlman, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The body of their work and the spirit of their words continue to speak to both the minds and the hearts of women and men everywhere.

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In our own voices: four centuries of American women's religious writing

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The conglomeration of faiths and practices that are the American religious experience have traditionally given female perspectives short shrift. Says contributor Judith Plaskow, "Women have a long ... Read full review

Contents

Catholic Women Rosemary Radford Ruether
17
Protestant Laywomen in Institutional Churches
61
Jewish Women Ann Braude
109
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About the author (1995)

American feminist theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. Ruether graduated from Scripps College in 1958 and received her doctorate in classics and patristics from Claremont Graduate School in 1956. In 1976 she became Georgia Harkness Professor of Theology at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, a position she continues to hold. An activist in the civil rights and peace movements of the 1960s, Ruether turned her energies to the emerging women's movement. During the 1970s and successive decades, feminist concerns impelled her to rethink historical theology, analyzing the patriarchal biases in both Christianity and Judaism that elevated male gender at the expense of women. Her rigorous scholarship has challenged many of the assumptions of traditionally male-dominated Christian theology. Recognized as one of the most prolific and readable Catholic writers, Ruether's work represents a significant contribution to contemporary theology, and her views have influenced a generation of scholars and theologians. Her imprint on feminist theology has been reinforced by her lectureships at a number of universities in the United States and abroad.

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