Tag Archive | human-rights

Birthing God and Christianity

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Rachel Brunns is a spirited and thoughtful young woman who was a member of the Lutheran Volunteer Corps when I interviewed her.  She is currently studying theology at Marquette University in Milwaukee.

Rachel, who is from Minnesota but spent some time in the Andes of Peru where she experienced the Divine Feminine in Pachamama [Earth Mother], told me, “Christianity, at its core, is an earthly, embodied religion. It’s something I hope we can reclaim.”

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Send me your thoughts!



Photo credit: Viva Van Assen

The Next Big Thing: My New Project

What is the title of your book?

Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine. It will be published by SkyLight Paths Publishing in March 2013.

Where did the idea come from for this book?

I’ve had a variety of experiences of Spirit, including mystical visions and nature-based revelations, and I was curious to learn about other women’s experiences of the Divine.

What genre does your book fall under?

Definitely nonfiction, although I crafted the interviews into narratives so that they read like stories.

How long did it take to write the first draft?

A year and two months. My goal was to interview 50 women by International Women’s Day. By the time I was done, I had interviewed nearly 60 women in total.

What actors would you use for a movie rendition of your book?

Hhhmmm. There’s 40 women’s stories, so I’d have to think of a lot of women actors: Viola Davis, Cicely Tyson, Michelle Yeoh, Ellen DeGeneres, Salma Hayek, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Vanessa Redgrave…

What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?

In Birthing God, 40 women relate spirit-filled moments: a grieving pastor walks a labyrinth and rediscovers the Rock of her existence; a human rights advocate re-encounters Allah in an intensely visceral moment in the sun; an educator, moved by an ancestral vision, launches a global tree-planting project to heal the wounds of slavery; a revolutionary awakens from a coma and realizes that all of life is infused with Spirit. Each woman’s story invites readers to deepen and enliven their own spiritual practices. Oops, that was two sentences!

Will it be self published or represented by an agency?

My publisher is SkyLight Paths Publishing (www.skylightpaths.com).

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My own mystical encounters and a craving to hear other women share their experiences since most spiritual accounts are authored by men.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

While spiritual memoirs abound, not many showcase 40 women’s spiritual stories in one book. The closest cousin to my book is the anthology, Women, Spirituality, and Transformative Leadership (SkyLight Paths 2011), where 30 women contribute their thoughts on women’s spirituality and the imperative for women’s transforming leadership in the world.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The stories sizzle with insight and intensity. For example, a Korean theologian and dharma teacher describes feeling the inexplicable consolation of God’s hands while she was being tortured in a South Korean prison. In another story, a Salvadoran under fire discovers within herself the God who gives her courage. (If it sounds like I’m totally jazzed by these stories, I am!)

Thanks to Lindsey Crittenden for inviting me to participate in this blog chain!


Ayesha Mattu’s first book, Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women  was featured globally by media including the New York Times, NPR, BBC, Washington Post, The Guardian, Times of India, Dawn Pakistan and The Jakarta Post. She is working on a family memoir about three generations of Pakistani Sufi women, and blogs at Love InshAllah. http://loveinshallah.com/contributors-2/

The War on Women and the Resurgence of the Divine Feminine

The debate over the power of government to regulate and control women’s reproductive abilities —just one aspect of the war on women — builds on a long history of women’s subjugation. Women’s ability to connect, conceive, and create life has always vexed those who aspire to dominate. Starting in the second millennium BC, women were blamed for the advent of sin and childbirth was condemned as divine punishment. For a period, men even claimed that their “seed” gave life, relegating women to the role of incubators for their offspring. Women were further denigrated during the Inquisition, when our sacred knowledge of plants and healing herbs was destroyed or driven underground, and our mothers’ mothers’ mothers’ bodies were raped, flogged, and burned.

Women, like the earth, have long been viewed as resources to be managed. Although this perception is expressed more subtly today than in previous centuries, it is the root of widespread domestic violence, sex trafficking, rape, and femicide.

At the same time, we are also experiencing a resurgence of the Divine Feminine. Receptivity, desire for connection, making room for another: These attributes describe women’s most fundamental ways of being in the world. We connect; we receive people with an attitude of nurture and collaboration; we work together. What happens when we begin to envision God this way, as open and connected?

Although marginalized in the Christian traditions, the Divine Feminine understanding of God exists. The Hebrew and Christian Bibles contain references to God as a nursing mother (Isaiah 49:15), a female bear (2 Samuel 17:8), a mother hen (Matthew 23:27), and Lady Wisdom (Proverbs 1:20-33). Other faith traditions place more emphasis on feminine qualities of the Divine.

You might ask if it matters. Does enlarging our understanding of the Divine have any real impact on our world and the war on women? I believe that when we are rooted in a more nurturing understanding of the Divine, we are empowered to love our deepest selves and release the destructive weapon of judgment, which we often wield first against ourselves and then against others. When we feel connected to a supportive, non-judging God, we can engage in power with, not power over or power against. By broadening our understanding of the Divine and our essential connectedness, we can forge new models of healing and collaboration. We can transform the dominant paradigm by changing it from the ground up.