Back to: [Proteus home] [Library]
a very brief introduction to
Contemporary liberal theology is a useful intellectual framework for understanding religion -- ours or any other.
"Religion as a Cultural System" in
The Interpretation of Cultures
NY: Basic Books, 1973
Geertz gives a clear and practical starting point for understanding what religion is and how it functions in human life. His definition: "a religion is a system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive and long-lasting moods and motivations by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic." The essay explains each term in the definition in careful detail.
Christ, Carol P.
"Why Women Need the Goddess" in
Christ, Carol P. & Judith Plaskow, eds
Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in Religion
San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1979
Applies Geertz' theory to the religious needs of modern, feminist women. This essay has been reprinted several times. It's worth trying to find a copy of the original anthology, however, because it really set the tone for the emerging field of feminist theology.
Ruether, Rosemary R.
Sexism and God-Talk
Boston: Beacon, 1983
Because this is a Christian book, it may not seem particularly relevant. It is, however, if you read it to observe her method. For each major theological question, she first assesses the resources within the Christian tradition. Some of these she finds useful, others hopelessly contaminated by sexism. Then she looks further for useable material, some of which she finds in the Goddess traditions. Ruether's approach shows us how to treat inherited texts as precious resources, but not as infallible, invariant intellectual fetters.
The Goddess: Mythological Images of the Feminine
NY: Crossroad, 1984
Downing concentrates on the Greek Goddesses. There's a long, juicy chapter on each one. Even if you're not focused on the Greeks, this book is valuable for the model it provides for working with any specific Deity. In each case, Downing draws on the source material about the Deity and then connects it with her own life issues.
Brown, Karen McCarthy
Mama Lola: a Vodou priestess in Brooklyn
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991
Brown uses a similar approach to Downing's, applying it to the loa spirits of Haitian Vodou. She alternates chapters: one looks at a particular loa in great depth, and the next examines how that loa's energy shows up in the experience of the family Brown studied, and in Haitian society in general.
The Meaning of Aphrodite
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978
Demonstrates how concepts of Aphrodite evolved and changed over the centuries in consonance with changes in human culture.
Christ, Carol P.
Rebirth of the Goddess: Finding Meaning in Feminist Spirituality
Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1997
This book is a "systematic theology" of Goddess worship, looking at our religion through the lens of modern theology. That perspective offers some fascinating new insights. Again, you can also learn a great deal about theology by observing her method of analysis.
by Judy Harrow
updated: February 15, 2000; © 2000, by Judy Harrow
the address of this page is: proteuscoven.com/Libtheol.htm