She Changes Everything
She Changes Everything
by Lucy Reid
New York: T & T Clark International, 2005
Reviewed by Karen L. Erlichman
I discovered She Changes Everything after a conversation with a colleague who felt that the word feminism was too harsh for conversations about faith. This book is magnificent proof that seeking the Divine on a feminist path is not only possible; it is exhilarating.She Changes Everything is a bold, courageous expression of faith and feminism from Anglican priest, Lucy Reid.
Reid’s chapters include such topics as “Discovering the Feminine Face of God,” “Searching for the Goddess,” “Ecofeminism,” and an exploration of interfaith inclusivity. The concluding section offers Reid’s fourteen “Prayers for the Pilgrimage.” The book’s introduction opens with the following question: “What happens to traditional mainline Christian theology and spirituality when we take seriously the insights of feminism?” (p. xi).
Because of her gender, Lucy Reid was denied ordination by the Church of England: “Finding myself there, I explored the terrain and found questions, injustices, doubts, and alternative paths. When ordination became possible, I was not the same” (p. xiii). She subsequently found her freedom in campus ministry in a multifaith setting: “Now on the margins of church life, I felt freer to explore alternative ways of expressing my faith and offering my ministry. The self censoring could stop” (p. xiii).
Reid unapologetically encourages seekers (as well as the church) to question the traditional dogma, theology and practices that have been imposed from the church hierarchy, to explore and see with fresh feminist eyes and hearts. “It has been the gifts of feminist theological thought that have enabled me to strip away the destructive aspects of the faith in which I was raised. My roots are traditionally Christian, but my growth has branched out into fresh air” (p. xiii). She weaves anecdotes and insights from her own journey as well as the teachings and writings of her respected mentors and colleagues.
Reid’s writing style is wonderfully poetic and passionate, without any strident dogma that might detract from her message of healing and liberation. The scrupulous research she did in writing this manuscript is apparent in her thorough and scholarly analysis of traditional as well as feminist texts. Drawing from the Hebrew and Jewish sources as well as Christian texts, Reid cites Rosemary Radford Ruether, Pema Chodron, Starhawk, and other radical women who have offered innovative and provocative new approaches to the sacred. Reid tracks the history and ultimate repression of Goddess worship as well as its nemesis and successor, Christian misogyny.
Women who seek spiritual guidance as well as those whose ministry is to offer spiritual direction will find great wisdom and sustenance from She Changes Everything.
I resonated with her belief: “Our quest or challenge is not to create a new religion based on a patchwork quilt of beliefs from this and that faith. Nor are we after a monolithic uniformity of belief according to more enlightened principles of tolerance and understanding. Rather we are engaged in an open-ended process that is dynamic, creative, variegated and profound. It will never be finished. No exhaustive, systematic theological book will ever be able to contain it, for the Divine cannot be contained.” (p. 133).
Reid’s love of God and passion for social justice flow through her, into this book and into the heart of the reader.
Karen Lee Erlichman, MSS, is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW ) in private practice in San Francisco, California, USA, where she provides psychotherapy and spiritual direction. Her writing has appeared in Tikkun, online at www.interfaithfamily.com, and her article entitled “Cultivating Compassion” was recently chosen as one of the winners of the 2005 International House Vision of Hope Essay Contest, addressing prejudice and stereotyping in the wake of 9/11/01.