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Women, Spirituality, and Transformative Leadership

Women, Spirituality, and Transformative Leadership: Where Grace Meets Power
edited by Kathe Schaaf, Kay Lindahl, Kathleen S. Hurty, and Guo Cheen
Woodstock, VT: SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2012
250 pages
Reviewed by Margaret Blackie

Women, Spirituality, and Transformative Leadership: Where Grace Meets Power, which gathers the varied voices and experience of women together, is vitally important. As is common in an edited volume, the quality and tone of the contributions is variable. The result gives authenticity to the voice of each contributor—there are approximately thirty—and makes for interesting reading.

The contributions can be grouped into two different tones. The first, and the more enjoyable to read, are those pieces that come from women who speak from a place of transformation. These voices are inspiring and uplifting. The second grouping I found much more difficult to stay with. These pieces seem more raw; the anger and disappointment are more tangible. Both types of essays have an important place in this volume; readers can access the material wherever they are on their journey.

The book is divided into four “Explorations,” each of which includes several essays and concludes with resources for “Living Our Leadership” and “Digging Deeper,” designed for use in circle groups. Unfortunately, the diversity of the resources was not as coherent as I would like. However, this material only comprises about 10 percent of the book, and the reader or circle leader can pick and choose what to include in a group.

Women, Spirituality and Transformative Leadership: Where Grace Meets Power will be particularly useful to spiritual directors who work with women from different faith traditions or religious denominations or with women who address the relative absence of women’s voices within their faith tradition. It will be useful to women who are seeking ways to gather small groups to share their experience of life.

The editors write a closing piece explaining that questions emerged that have yet to be answered. This book provides an invitation to examine one’s own experience and to begin to grapple with these questions centered around the role of women in the world, and authentic expression of women’s leadership. Spiritual directees bring these types of questions to spiritual direction. While there are no easy answers, these are important questions that will remain with us for some time to come.

Margaret (Mags) Blackie is on the faculty in the department of chemistry and polymer science at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. She works as a spiritual director in her spare time and participates in the training of spiritual directors in Cape Town, South Africa.

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