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Week #9 Reading Reflection Assignment

After reading the assigned articles and reflecting on the reading discussion questions (to guide your critical reading), write the Reading Reflection responding to the following prompts. Due date for full credit: March 19. Final "grace period" due date for one point down: March 26.

• Referring to specific articles, how do these writers see religion/spirituality connecting with personal and social transformation?
• What social/political issues are these writers concerned with?
• What are the spiritual tools or approaches these writers suggest using in addressing personal and social transformation?
• From your experience, what are some of the reasons that women (and men) don’t connect spirituality in their efforts to improve or transform society, or remain in the status quo, even if they have problems with it?
• Are there points that these writers raise that you really resonate with? If so, why?
• Are there problems that you see with mixing religion or spirituality with political or social change activism (especially in view of the tradition in the United States of separating church and state)?

Comments

Referring to specific articles, how do these writers see religion/spirituality connecting with personal and social transformation?

These authors really believed that religion has a profound effect on the social transformations of people. The essay that really stressed this for me was Every Two Minutes by Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite. She really showed in her essay how the battered women that she works with on a regular basis are trapped by their religion, but also how their religion also helps to set them free when reflected in a positive light. She wrote that “frequently, women with strong religious backgrounds have the most difficulty in accepting that the violence against them is wrong.” Then in the very next paragraph Thistlethwaite commented that “many strongly religious women cease attending shelters and groups for abused women when these beliefs are attacked.” (p. 305) These two statements show exactly how important religion is for battered women to undergo social transformation. They feel trapped by it because of the implications of doing something wrong by leaving their abusive husband, but then they also hold so strongly to their beliefs that if they are attacked outright the women most likely will not stay in the shelter that they have found either. However, Thistlethwaite also explains that battered women can be set free with other examples from the Bible. “But women who have suffered physical violence hear that whatever human law or customer may legitimate violence against women, it cannot stand face to face with the revelation of God’s affirmation of all humanity. Many abused women would echo the joy of the woman who exclaimed, “That’s right! He [Jesus] broke the law for her”” (p.307)

What social/political issues are these writers concerned with?

Like this section is titled, the authors are interested in “Transforming the World.” These articles touched on quite a few issues ranging from gay rights, racism and abuse (in many forms). The details in these articles, for me, really came down to empowerment, not only for women, but for humanity in general. All of the articles at some point seemed to touch on empowering others to impart change into their own lives that would reinforce the larger movement towards social and political changes.

What are the spiritual tools or approaches these writers suggest using in addressing personal and social transformation?

There were a lot of different tools and approaches discussed in the different essays, but the one that really stuck out to me was from the first essay Renewing the Sacred Hoop by Dhyani Ywahoo. On page 277 she stated that “to know that anger, pain, shame, blame are only thought forms. We can end the formation of those thought forms by letting go of attachment to the idea of conflict. … It is an awareness of the power of mind, an understanding of the process of unfolding and ultimately a freedom from the suffering of doubt.” This really stuck out to me because I have a tendency to let people walk all over me for this exact reason. I don’t want anyone to be mad at me, so I continuously do for others, but this really made me think that it’s my own thoughts that are putting me into that cycle. People aren’t always going to be mad that I decline something, but until I can learn to realize that they are my own “thought forms” and not the reality of the situation I am going to continue “suffering of doubt.” I really liked this article because it brought up everyday things like this for me.

From your experience, what are some of the reasons that women (and men) don’t connect spirituality in their efforts to improve or transform society, or remain in the status quo, even if they have problems with it?

I think this comes down to a basic understanding of separation of church and state. We are taught from a very young age in school that our country was founded on keeping religion and politics separate. From then on we learn that religion governs our spirituality and politics governs the laws. Transforming society just generally seems to fall under that political umbrella and so we automatically ignore the spiritual aspect involved in something that profound.

I think that it also comes down to a lack of faith. Because of the separation of church and state, people have generally come to the understanding that their government will take care of them, not God. Once people understand that they go to their government for help when they can’t pay their bills, for unemployment when they lose their job, for WIC to feed their children, what can God provide that they don’t already have readily available? We as a nation don’t believe and trust that God will take care of the little things in our day to day lives, how can we trust that God will take care of something as big as social reform?

Are there points that these writers raise that you really resonate with? If so, why?

I think I kind of already answered that, but yes the one that really stuck with me was Dhyani Ywahoo’s article. Like I said above, it really sunk in form me because it made me think of a personal example in which I could use her ideas and methods.

Are there problems that you see with mixing religion or spirituality with political or social change activism (especially in view of the tradition in the United States of separating church and state)?

Definitely! Although I have problems with how churches are run and I have HUGE problems with how our government is run I cannot say that I think there should not be a separation. If we mixed religion and politics then I could have someone knocking at my door and forcing me to go to church, or forcing me to change religions or any number of things. Mixing religion and politics would lead to a whole new arena of problems for society, so much so that we’d probably forget all about the issues that we have now.

The writers see religion/spirituality connecting with personal and social transformation in many ways. For Ywahoo it’s active and living what you believe not just saying/telling it. Pg 270. Also on pg 270 Ms. Cannon reminds middle and upper class feminists that by only focusing on their struggles it’s racism in action. I want to also add, that while Ms. Cannon is correct that we can not ignore the struggles of African American women, we can not exclude other minorities. Ms. Heyword is very radical in her belief, even now, that by solely focusing on a heterosexual view we’re excluding people based on sexual orientation and continuing to oppress. While Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite reminds us that abuse against women is still the “norm” within the church and not the other way around.
All of them are concerned with many issues and to me they’re all interconnected. They range from environmental, social and political issues to battered women, racism, sexism specifically GBLT, oppression of women by women (especially within the feminist movement).
The spiritual tools the authors use vary. Some are very similar. Starhawk in her essay Ritual as Bonding believes that action is ritual pg 326 and that we already participate in them .From breathing to meditating when done in a group it creates a strong bond. We all can identify with this. Similarly Ms. Ywahoo talks about using rituals to claim the healing power of affirmation and action (pg 274). This makes sense to me. Assuming we all go or have gone to a religious ceremony we’ve done this.

One of the short and easy answers as to why men and women don’t connect spiritually to make social changes is it’s pretty overwhelming. Especially when you find out that the church (think corporately here ie Catholic Church, Lutheran, Baptist, Protestant, etc) you’ve been contributing too has been involved in world events, taken sides, and contributed to things such as the Rwandan genocide it would give one pause. Also some may choose to get involved in a non spiritual way because they don’t want their religion to have an impact negatively or positively. They want the culture/society/country they’re involved with to maintain their own religious/spiritual beliefs no matter what it is.
Rituals, I keep coming back to this because rituals have been used for good. They’ve also been used for bad. Specifically, circumcision. Knowing what I know now about male circumcision I would not have had my son circumcised. That said I’ve very against female circumcision and despite a prominent belief that the west should not be involved, that the change has to take place within in Kenya, we now have to. I say this for many reasons. Assuming we all have knowledge about the horrors of this barbaric practice, there is more. Women whose husbands abandoned them and widows are labeled witches. Mainly men will come and get them in the middle of the night, beat them or kill them there or will burn them. IF anyone tries to defend them and come to their aid they’re murdered too. I for one believe the Christian Church (all factions of it.), the West and women have been silent to this for far too long.
I have problems with mixing religion and politics. I don’t think Reverands, Priest, Ministers, Rabbis, etc should tell their congregation who to vote for or what political party to belong too. I have no problem with them encouraging their congregations to vote, educating about world events and how to make changes. What I have problems with is one form of religious expression is given more power, more say than the other.

Referring to the article “Battered Women and Feminist Interpretation” (pg. 303), Susan described regarding how Biblical materials shaped by patriarchal authority and culture. In 1980s, battered women frequently bring their religious belief to the process of working through a battering relationship. Feminist interpretation was that Bible is a part of the foundation of the oppression of decrepit women. Therefore, a personal view from male society is that there is nothing wrong to beat the women. As a woman, she might think that there may have written scripture in the bible that it says that it is acceptable for man to beat the woman under patriarchal authority. These essays reflected and believed that religion is a part of a source on the social transformations of people.

Most of the articles concerned with social issues/political for example Cannon talked about racism, sexism, and classism. Carter Heyward focuses on heterosexism and believed that lesbian relationship was condemned by Christianity other ethical system. (pg. 271). Of course, Susan focuses on violence against the women in patriarchal world. Carol Christ described the conceptions of God and humanity. Women are trying to make changes toward social and political status of women.

They are many spiritual tools or approaches these writers suggest using in addressing personal and social transformation. One of the most interesting approaches that Katie Geneva Cannon talked about how black women eliminate themselves of self-hate and confront oppressive rules or standard “law and order” that dishonored blacks by the moral wisdom of the black community(pg 282)


Some reasons that I think from my experience that man do not connect spiritually in their efforts to improve or transform society are power, stubborn (may be), and stability, man considers to be the strong, powerful and remain stable no matter what happens. For example, male doctors are more stick to the rules and regulation. They do not like to try different things regarding patient’s cares holistically and hospital policies. However, female doctors are more open to new ideas and easier connecting spiritually towards the changes.

I really don’t have so much idea about the church in the United States. However, it seems that there are problems with mixing religion with politics or social change. In Tibet, the Chinese government leaders are creating many stories about how Buddhism religion is creating inequality and socioeconomic disadvantage for Tibetans which is not true. There is unbreakable relationship between religion and country. It is very difficult to separate church and state. Especially, in the U.S. where there is religious freedom and people can express their religious beliefs in different views. For example, during the election period, some churches voted for a particular candidate because of his or her supports toward the church or they are from some ethnicity or race or any reasons

How do these writers see religion/spiritually connecting with personal/social transformation and what are the tools or approaches they suggest for addressing such?
Ywahoo, as a Native American, understands and believes that everything and everyone is interconnected—as she writes, a “Sacred Hoop” (274). So from this standpoint, she writes that if we could recognize the circular relationship between ourselves and the earth and reawaken our caretaker mind we could restore “that which is good” (276). Her idea of ‘caretaker mind’ seems to be in essence—love. Martin Luther King spoke of the interconnection of all people and ‘love’ was certainly the foundation that he built his ministry upon. She also writes that we must change our thought processes to allow for internal (spiritual) transformation to take place and in doing so the ability for external (social) change can be achieved. So by internalizing the belief that all life is connected in a ‘sacred hoop’ our hearts will be changed and this manifestation of goodwill (love) will result in greater social responsibility and action.

Cannon argues that in spite of Christian ethics sanctioning the oppression of black women they indeed “created and cultivated” a set of ethical values that were born out of their “participation in this society” (285). In other words, in spite of severe and inhumane treatment by white (Christians/Protestants) men and women, they were able (forced) to create their own understanding of morality that was shaped out of their instinct to survive. This profound adaptation led to the personal (spiritual) transformation of many black women and the communities they lived in. I would venture to guess that even when the slaves were granted freedom and subsequent generations came to be, that this early interpretation continued to inform and shape the lives of the black community. However, I wonder if it has seen or will see yet another adaptation given the events of the last 50 years and the recent election of our new president.

Heyward’s compelling argument was simply that love and justice are one in the same—the two are not exclusive—and this love which is justice as well is as she writes, “Our human experience of God” (293). Also, because love is justice, it’s not the ‘feeling’ that inspires the act, but the act that inspires the feeling. This is so profound and when I first heard this line of reasoning (@ Saddleback Church) I was deeply affected for I had been taught/modeled that when you care about someone or something then you must act/respond. This is really a radical paradigm shift in thinking—which has the potential, I believe, for enormous personal and social change. This article may have been written some 30+ years ago, but its central message continues to be powerfully relevant.

From my experience, what are some of the reasons that women (and men) don’t connect spirituality in their efforts to improve/transform society or remain in the status quo?
Well, I definitely have people in my life that act on a daily basis out of their faith in an effort to help others and ultimately improve society, but for those that don’t act consciously, the reasons are surely different for each. For some it may be because they feel as though they really couldn’t make a measurable impact so why bother or may be they are consumed with life’s distractions (work, family, friends, etc.), while for others it may be shear laziness and/or self absorbtion. I would also say that some just weren’t raised to connect the two and so the concept is foreign and/or frightening.

Are there points that these writers raise that I really resonate with—why?
As I mentioned above, Carter Heyward’s article was compelling, profound, and still quite relevant. As for the others, Ywahoo, Starhawk, and Christ all speak to the concept of an interrelatedness of the earth and everything in/on it, but what gave me pause, was Christ’s argument and questioning of Kaufman’s writings. She indicates his argument as asserting that “humans are rooted in and sustained by the web of life…that intention and action, self-reflection, and choice, or finite freedom and self-consciousness, remain the marks of the distinctively human” and “God…has produced human beings who are essentially different from nature” (318). In essence, he believes that humans are elevated above all other creatures and her response or question is “If self-consciousness and finite freedom could be sustained apart from continuing dependence on the web of life…then the death of the biosphere would not itself be a significant tragedy” (318). Again, this is at the essence of what the other authors are discussing, but her particular language and line of thinking brought me to stop and consider the real significance in this theological understanding of man over nature.

Are there problems with mixing religion/spirituality with politics/social change?
ABSOLUTELY!!! More often than not, religion is used as a form of manipulation or control when mixed with politics—it’s this idea that “our” faith is THE faith, and therefore, the tenets of such must be “yours” as well and I unequivocally disagree with this. We are supposed to be a nation who has achieved a separation of the two, but nothing could be further from the truth. Government officials, lawmakers, judges, lobbyists, etc. have built careers by taking a strong position on issues that speak to their religious/political beliefs without little regard for those of our society that have differing beliefs. We see it with stem-cell research, abortion rights, gay rights, gay marriage, support of Israel, war with Iraq (Muslims), sex education in public schools, and the list goes on. There are just too many belief systems with varying degrees of adherence for the majority (Christians) to speak for all.

Referring to specific articles, how do these writers see religion/spirituality connecting with personal and social transformation?
They see the religious and spirituality of a connection to part of this life. If a person was able to conform to that type of life they could see how the things around them are connected together. The things that they are talking about the animals, plants, people, and other things of the earth are all part of a circle. This circle is the circle of life.

• What social/political issues are these writers concerned with?
One of the things I see the writers concerned with is how the people and their lifestyle are being looked at. They look at the person in who they are dating or loving, who they are hanging out with and that the governing bodies are being influenced with these viewpoints. The things of this type they see the governments involved in is not an issue that they would like to see them into what they would like to see is issues of environmental issues that affect the lives of not only of today but those to come to this world in the future.

• What are the spiritual tools or approaches these writers suggest using in addressing personal and social transformation?
One of the things that they are using is the area of the need of each other. The building of community to support each other. They talk of how those of us that are apart of the American nation are so apart from each other that we do not help each other.

• From your experience, what are some of the reasons that women (and men) don’t connect spirituality in their efforts to improve or transform society, or remain in the status quo, even if they have problems with it?
From what I see is there are several reasons for the women not connecting. Some of these reasons are of raising aspects which lead to things like racial issues and issues of class and of background issues of like criminal and popularity issues. There are other issues of pride and selfishness that leads to mistrust of others.

• Are there points that these writers raise that you really resonate with? If so, why?
There is some viewpoints that the writers raise that I am concerned with and that is with the environment. I grew up in the farming land. From what I have seen is the pollution that takes place from our actions. These actions are from farming to construction and our own desires. Things that I have seen is creatures being affected and landscapes damaged. From what I can see is that we are being affected as well. In a few places in the book they talk of a circle. With in this circle what affects one area will affect the rest.

• Are there problems that you see with mixing religion or spirituality with political or social change activism (especially in view of the tradition in the United States of separating church and state)?
First I will speak on the subject of the separating church and state. President Jefferson did not mean to separate church and state as we see it. The intention was that church should not be run by the state and visversa the state should not run the church. What he meant is that the two should be in support of each other. In ways I see that the two can benefit from each other in that aspect. The fact of problems I do not see any as for the problem issue I only see problems from the people side. If state and the church were able to support each other I see a benefit on all sides of the mix. Not to control each other but to support each other.

Most of the writers spoke of a spirituality that would transform not only one’s self-identity but also one’s view of the world and the collective consciousness. Ywahoo spoke of a process of self and planetary enlightenment and considering “how our present actions will affect the world unto seven generations” (276) and offers an 3 step process for manifesting our vision (277). Thistlethwaiate explains how a feminist interpretation of the Bible frees abused women from “the structures that support the legitimization of wife as victim” (303) and transforms them into someone who has self-esteem, control and ownership of her feelings (312). Christ rethinks the relationship between humanity and divinity to nature (314) and proposes its not the decree of a higher power that can stop us from destroying our Earth but “the sight of a field of flowers in the color purple” (324).

Cannon describes how the literary writings of Black women, who hold themselves accountable to collective cultural values, offer a true examination of “the aesthetic, emotional, and intellectual values of the Black community” (289) through which an “ancient continuum of Black wisdom” can continue to thrive. Starhawk, Christ, Sanchez and Ywahoo emphasize the importance of forging a spiritual connection with all living things, especially the planet Earth itself, as a means of saving it from irreversible destruction. Heyward examines her identity as a “lesbian feminist Christian priest and teacher” (294) and how her redefinition of the words love and sexuality allows the manifestation of a passion to cast off oppressions and create justice.


Even in brief essays, these writers offer methods for creating personal and social transformation. Thistlethwaite conducts Bible study groups for battered women so they may find comfort and healing within reinterpreted text (309). Starhawk led rituals invoking powers to defy the opening of a nuclear power plant. Sanchez writes of how she evolved “a teaching strategy that provided an avenue for non-Indian students to understand the worldview of American Indian Tribal peoples” as a means of sharing her vision of planetary harmony and coexistence (352). She describes a journal keeping exercise that works to transform our attitudes about everyday life (353).

When I envision religious people working to transform society, I usually picture Mormon men on bicycles, missionaries in Africa, or people like Mary Jo Copeland. Images, I guess, of people doing work that is beyond my personal scope of interest or personality. Images of people who are “called” to do this type of work, not people who transform the world by doing simple everyday things. I picture people like Al Gore when I think of environmental change, and apologize for this since there are much better examples of environmental activists. When I worked in mental health, we were cautioned to stay far away from the issue of religion when counseling our clients, lest we inadvertently imprint our own religious values on a vulnerable population. But how do you help someone heal a broken spirit when you can’t really even acknowledge they have one?

Sanchez’s vision of earth-aware communities was certainly my idea of utopia. I may try her journaling activity. It resonates with my own belief that the universe responds directly to your actions and thoughts, and that people walk around entirely too detached from the effects of their actions and attitudes, whether its how the food they put in their mouth affects their overall health and wellness, or how driving aggressively can set off a chain of events, tragic or otherwise. I also enjoyed Christ’s assertion that all things have intrinsic beauty and value and no one thing is more important than the other, just different, that the Earth was not created for humans but that we are part of a greater creation.

I believe a separation of church and state is necessary for a government that appropriately serves a diverse population of people. But there also has to be a population of driven people willing to take on the task of social change without looking to its government for solutions to every social problem. Environmental change will not happen only through governmental regulation, it will happen when your neighbors do their part and see the value in the little things, like buying local, seasonal produce instead of whatever’s on sale at Cub.

I'm glad to see that I'm not the only night owl. :)

Introduction illustrates the idea that will be developed later about the connection of our deeds on future generations. A big part of articles is talking about Native American traditions, most of the meditation and spiritual ceremonies take roots from native culture. Writers emphasize that notion of human and divine superiority to nature is deeply rooted in biblical and theological traditions. The discussions about the protection of environment, conversation against nuclear power make their point. Dhuani Ywahoo reminds readers to “live in harmony and dignity” (page 275). She gives an example of generosity and right behavior on the example of “give-away” celebration. She points out that all humans are related, that ”rather than pointing to the defects, point to the strengths” of each other. I also found an interesting connection- “God/Goddess/Earth/Life/It” in article of Carol Christ (p321). Starhawk concentrates mostly on the importance of meditations, rituals, and spiritual inspiration, which can be stimulated by individual rituals, or by a large group. Examples that are given are very emotional, and give you vivid images of the atmosphere during the rituals.
It was sad and guilty to read the part about the black women and treatment that they were given in past. Katie Geneva Cannon demonstrates that even nowadays woman is often shown as a stereotypical victim; millions of women are abused by men nowadays all over the world. Black women not long ago where experiencing”oppression that knows no ethical or physical bounds.” Big part of those women was religious, which was one of the reasons that they took such a treatment for granted. They lived for men, not for themselves. Susan brooks tells us that as soon as abused women are assisted in finding themselves they get self-esteem and affirmation of a gift of being a woman. The writer also put the parallel between humiliation and abuse.
A new voice in these articles was talking about the sexuality, about the heterosexual and lesbian love. Carter Heyward tries to illustrate that if lesbians are minority it doesn’t mean that they are non human. They still can be lesbian, and feminist, and Christian, and priest, and teacher, and much more. They are fighters though, who try to prove the society that they are not dangerous for nuclear family, or motherhood, or for the domination of patriarchy relationship. Feminist lesbians fight for a very strong point, at least I found it interesting, “do not operate on the assumption that men will lead and women follow.” She illustrate that being a lesbian is like living in a constant strike with society, trying to bring justice for all women.

I think the writers are concerned about the life styles of people. They are looking at who they are influenced by and who they are with to get a better perspective on them. I can see where they are also coming from when they want to see who they are with and what they are doing but they is a reason for it.
I think some spiritual tools that the writes are using is the need for one another. Because they always say two heads is better than one. That means more support and guidance from each other, which they do need and will always help each other out. They were saying that people that are Americans are less likely to help each other out. From my experience, this can be true. I have watched a show called “What Would You Do?” It is on Tuesday nights. It is a good show, showing Americans and how much they would help each other out if a certain situation were to occur. Like one situation was, a guy and a lady who were actors. They went into a bar and they were having conversation with everyone. The girl had to go to the bathroom. The guy slipped something in her drink. They acted it out to see how many people would say anything. It was really interesting to watch this and see how many Americans would do anything.
I think men and women may not be able to connect spiritually because they may have different beliefs. They could disagree with certain situations and may not want to agree with each other. I think if people try to talk to each other and find a way to agree with each other or at least compromise, they can get somewhere. I mean, if a couple loves each other they should be able to sacrifice a little and try to do this.

With mixed religion I do believe there are some issues. I know people who only want to be with the significant other whose religion is the same. They want to make sure that both people agree with the same beliefs. I do think there would be issues if there was two people who didn’t have the same spiritual beliefs. I don’t think I would be able to be with someone who I didn’t think the same way about God as they did.

In Every Two Minutes by Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite it showed how the women she was talking about was effected by their religion. I really found this article interesting. It shows how women believe in their religion and how strong they are. It also shows us how much they do believe and it is amazing to read about it. There are some women who think getting beaten is ok, when it is totally not. They have a hard time recognizing that they should not be treated like this under any circumstance. This article shows us how important religion is to them and have used it to overcome all the drastic changes they had to make in their life.

Referring to specific articles, how do these writers see religion/spirituality connecting with personal and social transformation?


Dhyani Ywahoo talks about the “sacred hoop” which is essentially the idea that if we live our lives with a consciousness of the land and people around us, we will have a “community of human beings sharing the environment…and know that we can shape the world around us with our thoughts and feelings (p 274).” Through “visualization, affirmation, and manifestation (p 277) we can change things for the better. Cannon discusses the “moral wisdom” of Black women. This wisdom is based on survival and ethical values that have taken shape. Through their literary traditions we can have a better understanding of the Black community’s central values (p. 285-6). Heyward expounds on the idea of acting something into reality, acting out love and justice until it is a reality. The act comes first and the feeling may come later (p 295). Thistlethwaite uses a unique way of incorporating the bible into lessons that empower abused women to improve their lives, strength to leave the abusive situation. Starhawk uses ritual to unite people for a common cause to bring awareness in an attempt to make social change, and to improve the environment. Sanchez suggests that “technology has caused an ever-widening gulf between ‘daily life’ and ‘spirituality’ among discerning educated people (p 344).” Like Ywahoo, she feels that a holistic view of our connection to everything that surrounds us will facilitate spiritual renewal.

What social/political issues are these writers concerned with?

Sanchez, Starhawk, and Ywahoo are focused on the environment and the impact that the power that is in the earth has on our spirit. They are also aware that keeping our earth intact and renewable is essential for keeping us, and future generations, alive and well. Cannon’s focus is on racism and Heyward’s focus is on gay rights. Thistlethwaite advocates for battered women.

What are the spiritual tools or approaches these writers suggest using in addressing personal and social transformation?

I addressed this in my answers to previous questions. Starhawk and Ywahoo believe in taking action in one way or another, in bringing social awareness and doing what is right for the environment. Cannon sees change through an understanding of Black culture and history. Heyward uses coming out, and being true to who you really are, is the key; embracing the “rage and compassion” that they feel (p. 296) and address the issues of injustice. Sanchez sees the vehicle for transformation is acknowledgement of our connection to the land, which can change social attitudes.

From your experience, what are some of the reasons that women (and men) don’t connect spirituality in their efforts to improve or transform society, or remain in the status quo, even if they have problems with it?

I think that it may have to do with feeling overwhelmed with the everyday little things. My opinion is, that so many people are struggling to get by in daily life that trying to cope with those stressors is almost more than they can handle. Looking at the big picture can be a bit overwhelming, and it is easy to feel powerless if the face of such a task as transforming society. Most of us are just trying to make it through next week, it is hard to shift the focus to future generations. Daily personal problems often trump problems with society/politics. It is a tall order to expect people to invest themselves spiritually into problems that can often feel too big to fix.

Are there points that these writers raise that you really resonate with? If so, why?

I really liked the point made in Heyward’s essay. “We act our way into feelings (p 295).” It reminds me of something I learned in psychology class about positive feedback…if you feel depressed, smile and eventually you may begin to really feel happy.


• Are there problems that you see with mixing religion or spirituality with political or social change activism (especially in view of the tradition in the United States of separating church and state)?

Religion and politics do not mix, I can’t believe that in this day and age of “equality” that they still don’t allow same sex marriage in a legal sense. If that is not a prime example of the church being involved in politics, I don’t know what is. No one should be using their religious agenda in politics where their religious ideals are being forced on to any one else.

Thewriters blieve that there is a big connections between religion/spirituality and personal and social transformation. In diffrent ways they talk about either involving all women not just focussing on middle and upper class feminist in pg270 will be another form of racism, if this has to be fought then the focus should be broad to involve everyone. The other interesting article by Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite is very interesting. It is ture that we have lived with violence too long. It is ironic though that while Jesus the founder of chrstianity "included women in his ministry and ministered to their distress both spiritual and socioeconomical", women will feel that is okay tobe abused because they are being "submissive". I think there is a difference between being submissive and being abused, women should be able to separate the two. In the bible it says that we need to love others as we love ourselves so if someone loves you they should not abuse you.

The writers are concerned about both racism, sexism and classism (Cannon), heterosexism and lesbiansim which carter believes is condemned by christianity. Susan talks about violence against women.

in my experience the reasons that women or men do not connect spiritualy is because of the separation that exists between the state and the church, so it makes it hard to connect the two in different situations.

the abuse of women and how they take it especially the ones in the church, while believing that it is okay and that they are being submissive just is not right. And the fact that most women feel they deserve the abuse, i had a friend learned and all who was abused for a long time and she never seeked help until the abuser locked her out of the home, it is just unbelievabe. Women should be able to place more worth to themselves.

the problem with mixing politics and the church comes when politicians lie or mix some truth and lies and then go to church it does not go well. if one can be 100% politician and 100%church person i do not see anything wrong with it. Most of the great kings in the bible were alo God fearing so go figure.

Ywahoo sees spirituality as the beginning of personal and social change. Understandings ones role or place in the world helps to define ones role as a care giver. Women have an easier time fulfilling or realizing this role due to their caregiver roles as mothers and their connection to the earth. Cannon points to harm done to Black Women by the church and points to the value of spiritual fulfillment through black women’s literature.
The authors are concerned with the spiritual, economic, and general liberation of women straight or gay, black or white. The thing I find the most interesting is their ideas and feeling about the importance of our connection to the environment and how it is both a spiritual and temporal dimension of life.
Yawhoo says meditation is the way to see life as a process unfold. Through meditation she has found ways to make a difference in the world. The most powerful tool for change mentioned is the power of forgiveness, without forgiveness we as individuals or a society can never heal and transform.
It has been my experience that those who are seeking to transform society have a deep spiritual base to support or provide inspiration to their efforts. Some of them seem to be more vocal or more involved in the details of change.
I think it’s hard for people to separate their political views from their spiritual views, and I think if you’re sincere about your spiritual beliefs they will influence every aspect of your life from your political views to your diet to even what kind of car you will drive, or won’t drive. The problem I see with the whole separation of church and state issue is when politicians use churches as tools for their political gain. The government should serve the people not the people serving the state. Should a religious organization tell its members who to vote for? A religious organization should encourage its members to be informed on issues, not inform them, and then encourage them to vote their conscious. We live in a complicated society with conflicting views on just about every issue of live. We need separation of church and state in the sense that the founders intended to protect the health of the religious environment of our society.

Dhyani Ywahoo talks about the fact that people have forgotten that they are part of the “Sacred Hoop”, that is they don’t realize that their impact on the earth in turn impacts them and generations that follow. Being part of the “Sacred Hoop also means everyone one is it in together. People have to move away from the individualized idea and adopt the “spirit of generosity.” Ywahoo suggest that the way to change ones attitude to a move positive one is through meditation.

Cannon suggest that a key to changing the ethics in Christianity is listening to black women because the focus must be on the struggle those who are most oppressed in society-black women. Victims of sexism, racism and classism, they still manage to be maintaining life, self, family and the community, which is of the highest ethical value.

Heyward talks about heterosexism and its part in the oppression of women. She writes that the absence of male domination in a homosexual relationship allows God’s love to be expressed to the fullest.

Thistlethwaite writes that Christianity has taught women that love means submitting to injustice. The Bible must be reinterpreted and must focus on God liberating the oppressed. Reading the Bible in a feminist point of view allows women who are victims of abuse to heal over time.

Christ is on the same page as Ywahoo in that there is a separation between humanity and divinity from nature. Ancient and traditional views need to be brought back that respect the connection of all things, all beings in the web of life. The idea that humanity and divinity are superior to nature is rooted in biblical and theological traditions.

Starhawk believes that ritual id part of all cultures, they create community and power by allowing people to realize their shared values.

I believe that the reason that men and women do not connect spiritually in their efforts to transform society is because many do not know how.

Christ and Ywahoo really stood out to me. I believe myself to be very sensitive to all things nature. People seem to forget that they are connected to nature; they are a part of it. Somehow they mindlessly destroy it. Everyone at one point or another is guilty of it. Until that connection is reestablished it will continue.

I think the biggest problem in mixing religion and politics/social change is the difference is beliefs. They are already enough conflicting views in politics and social change that cause enormous problems, adding another highly debated issue would add more problems.

Heyward stated on pg 295, “we act our way into new feelings, new emotions, and new ideas”. I can understand this very easily, we move though life without any thought of our religion or spirituality before we do something. We are a society where we do what we want and then worry about the consequences of our actions. Our society is so blind to find fault in ourselves. It doesn’t seem like law is changing people ,so I hold out that if we had our religious or spiritual caps on all the time we would have a better world. Most people do very well when they think before they act.

Heyward speaks of the choking of the lesbians and gay people of the church. She believes if lesbian and gay do not speak up there will be no difference in our world of faith. But I like how she doesn’t tell you what to do but how to act or feel.

I believe when Thistlethwaite speaks about how our religion has allowed women to be abused and not even a minister or priest would step up for the battered wife. I believe this is where society needs to step up and work with churches that continue to handle battered women this way. Because these women are handled this way, these women have to relearn their religion to find themselves again and change their lives. Anyone who believes their God would want them to be battered; oppressed or raped must be a God from another world. I found when Mary Ellen sent that email about attending that workshop on safety and they listed the high number of women who attended Metro State that have been abused. Thiselethwaite writes about this on pg 302 the numbers are eye popping to the abuse that is in our world and right in our own homes.

Christ writes about how man has changed completing around in thinking that man speaking generally is better that anything else in this world. Have you ever seen someone open their car window and just throw their garbage out on the ground? Those are the times when I really wonder who taught this person about life. I find that people don’t even go out their front door and pickup garbage that has blown in their yard or in front of their house in the street. What signs does that give people that they should take care of the earth we are just it’s guest not it’s owner, to do as we please. We really need to connect back to earth and fellow men and women and animals; we could go down a dark road and not realize this until it is too late.

I think that religion and politics should be slightly inter- tangled together because this seems to be the only way we look at fixing things for the good of man and not just certain people.

Ywahoo believes that people should look out for each other. We all share the Earth and are therefore related to each other and to nature. For that reason we should not be wasteful of the Earth and should take care of it. She states on page 275, “We each have a duty to the Earth and to each other. I think Ywahoo has a good point. Although we live in a time when people are actively making efforts to make changes to promote the renewal of the Earth, we have wastefully used Earth’s resources for so long and have polluted it with our unnatural products. The social/political issues that Ywahoo is concerned with are “respect for the Earth and for one another…”(275). The spiritual tools that she suggests using are looking within ourselves to change the world, accepting the power within ourselves, and thinking about the affects our actions have on the world around us.
Cannon believes that religion and politics should go hand in hand. She is concerned with the issue of blacks being treated unequally although the religion she practices, Christianity, has taught her that all people should be treated equally. Cannon asks on page 281, “How could Christians who were white flatly and openly refuse to treat as fellow human beings Christians who had African ancestry?” This reminds me how in the slave narratives that I’ve read, the issue is always brought up of the white people twisting the scripture to use it in ways it is beneficial to them. Cannon believes that we should approach social and personal transformation by learning. On page 283 she states, “The moral wisdom of the Black community is extremely useful in defying oppressive rules or standards of ‘law and order’ that degrade Blacks”. I agree with Cannon’s beliefs about education helping to better lives. For example, some black slaves who knew how to read and write were able to forge themselves passes to say that they were free.
The writers in this section are generally concerned with the equal treatment of people in all categories whether they be gay, black, or a woman. They believe that people can make a difference in the world as individuals and as a group and should take action.
From my experience, people don’t connect spirituality in their efforts to improve or transform society, or remain in the status quo, even if they have problems with it because there are so many different religious beliefs in the world. In my opinion, the problem with people trying to connect religion and politics is that I might be trying to use religion to back a point that I’m trying to make when the person I’m talking to does not agree with my religious beliefs.
I agree with a some points by these writers. I agree with Ywahoo that we should take care of Earth, with Cannon that education empowers, and with Thistlethwaite, who’s article ties in with those in Woman Spirit Rising that women who believe strongly in their religion are more likely to accept the oppressive practices it teaches.