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Week #12 Reading Reflection Assignment

Due for full points April 9; "grace period" for one point down April 16.

When you do this week's reading, you really MUST use the discussion questions (posted below in Week #12 Assignments) to guide your reading, or you will find responding to these prompts difficult.

Benarowski organizes her chapters by themes. For this reading reflection assignment, please respond to each of the following three concerns addressed in the first three chapters.
-- Responding to the first chapter, and also reflecting over the articles you have read in the first two books of the course (anthologies by Christ and Plaskow), what have been some important reasons for women's distinctive contributions to American religious writing? What needs to happen for women's work to be seen as not "dissent" but as recognized as contributing in a vital way to the core of American religious thought?
-- In chapter two, Bednarowski states that the characteristic of "ambivalence" in American women's religious writing is a strength, not a weakness. Give some examples of what she means by "ambivalence." Why is this characteristic a virtue, not a weakness?
-- In chapter three, Bednarowski describes women's understanding of the divine as more immanent than transcendent in focus. (You will be familiar with this point of view from earlier reading as well.) In her view, why is this the case? What do you think about this understanding of the divine?

Comments

Overall, I feel that the purpose for these women’s literary contributions is for equality. They wish to put a voice to women’s experience, to make people in the community aware of their perspective, with the general goal of incorporating women into the fabric of their particular religion; making symbolism and language that women can identify with, and creating opportunity for women to act as leaders in their religious community. Bednarowski states that “their work is directed not exclusively but wholeheartedly to transformation of religious traditions in order to make possible the full participation of women (p 9).” For these women’s work to be viewed as a positive thing rather than dissent, mainstream perspective needs to change. This perspective that “wishes to keep things as they are” which is satisfied with “status quo” (p 13) needs to be shaken up. But, the only way to change this outlook is to eradicate ignorance of the issues of oppression and injustice, and to involve members of religious communities in making changes, beginning with awareness of the need for change. As Judith Plaskow pointed out in one of her articles, women make up half of the religious community. I believe there is strength in numbers, and if there is an outcry from half of a church’s congregation, the leaders of the church will have to take notice and at least become cognizant of the issues expressed, and perhaps will be willing to make some changes.

Benarowski describes ambivalence as a “volatile and creative combination of women’s feelings toward their communities (p 19)” with a “vitalizing quality to its manifestations (p 20).” Gross describes it as a “complete and well rounded approach (p 32).” Ambivalence is present in the discussions abut the feelings of “otherness” that many women discovered within their communities. They describe feelings of attachment and exclusion from their religion, as Ramshaw stated “paradoxically richly nurtured by a church that constrained me (p 18)” and Brock describes similar feelings of being “both nurtured and wounded by her tradition (p 18-19).” These women use these feelings as a vehicle for change. Daly and Cooey discuss “women of many traditions embrace ‘otherness’ as a strategy for the transvaluation of values, a means of developing and defining a self, as a catalyst to individual and communal transformation, as a gift of multiple interpretations and critical distance to a tradition (p 28).” This interesting position of being inside a community, but simultaneously left out of it, gives women a different perspective. As Ulrich describes, this “gives her the distance to better perceive ‘a net of assumptions and prejudices’ (p 27).” Dresser shares the same opinion that the “view from the edge…panoramic, clear, less obstructed by received knowledge or codified notions (p. 32).” These women clearly embrace this as an opportunity to improve their situation rather than succumbing to defeat and oppression. They “convey that there is freedom and perspective that derives from marginalization (p.42).” Benarowski feels that harnessing the energy and power fostered from these feelings of ambivalence will improve religious communities because it will “prevent reification of symbols, rigidity of teachings and rituals, and the failure to be aware of the needs of all their members (p. 43).”

Benarowski states that the two main ways women use and incorporate immanence in religion are to “bring religious enterprise out of the heavens and down to earth, and to reinterpret ‘God’ (p. 46).” This theme is common to prior readings. There is a need to make God more accessible to us as humans. The view that God is present, in and around us, allows the feeling that God is with us in our daily struggles and joys, not aloof and condemning. Immanence also allows a greater variety of people something that they can relate with. It sort of allows for changes in symbolism. If I feel God out in nature, then I can use nature scenes to reflect on God’s majesty rather than an image of some guy in the clouds. The greater the diversity in the population, the bigger need for a plethora of images that mean something to each individual. Immanence permits flexibility and individuality, though I understand each religion would have varying degrees on what they would allow to represent the Sacred. I feel that I can relate with the idea of immanence, as my feelings on religion and spirituality are rather vague, this concept resonates with my viewpoint. I can see from the text how this could become a slippery slope, especially for established religions. There is a possibility for things to become too superficial and therefore meaningless, but I still like the freedom that it permits.

First of all beware, this response is about as long as a paper, so here goes.

This first question is answered plainly on page 1 of the book where Bednarowski explains the five themes that she is going to explore in the book. The first being “an ongoing, creative, and, increasingly, cultivated ambivalence toward their religious communities”. Women, in general, have become ambivalent of their churches and/or religions for many reasons and are looking for a change. They are looking for something that they can connect with, so the religious writing by women has really taken hold because it offers women options. They don’t have to continue with their current religion, but they don’t have to take part in goddess worship either. The writing offers many alternatives that can work for women of all cultures and religions.

The second theme is “an emphasis on immanence – that is, the in-dwelling – of the sacred”. This is an important contribution as well because making women more aware that God is in everyone and everything, not just sitting up in the sky watching us like an afternoon soap opera really makes Him/Her more real. Women need something tangible. At times one’s faith can get week and believing in a God that just sits around Heaven all day can get hard to do, but believing that God is in you and around you constantly can make things a bit easier and is easier to believe.

The third theme, “a regard for the ordinary as revelatory of the sacred,” is an awesome point. It makes me think of people in New York City rushing down the street trying to get to work. No one stops to see the flower growing through the concrete. Ordinary, everyday things that people generally take for granted can make someone realize that there is a God out there somewhere. This point, to me, says SLOW DOWN! Look around you and see all the amazing things that reveal that there is a God. This theme has had a dramatic impact because as our world gets busier and busier women need that reminder that in all of the hustle and bustle there are very simple things that can help to remind us that God is out there too.

The fourth theme is “a view of ultimate reality as relational.” This to me just explains that there is no one true reality. Every person has their own reality and the focus of this in women’s religious writing is something that kind of gives people an “aha” moment. Reality is subjective. A perfect example of this is a police officer interviewing witnesses. Everyone at the scene of the crime witnessed the same event, but no 2 witnesses will have the same experience / story of what happened. To realize that each person’s experience of religion is something that no church has really ever focused on like the women’s religious movement has. When a woman is looking for a different option because she has gotten ambivalent with her religious community, an option that recognizes that she and her experience is not the same as all the other women is going to be a very tantalizing option for her.

And lastly, the fifth theme is “an interpretation of healing, both physical and spiritual, as a primary rather than a secondary function of religion.” This theme alone for me is a HUGE reason that women’s religious writing has had such a distinctive contribution. I know so many people that have a hard time with their everyday lives and consider church and their religion to be just another commitment and I believe that this point is a big part of that. When someone goes to church that church should solely be there to help make their life better. One should not feel emotionally drained from going to church and I believe that this has become the case with a lot of people. The church needs to turn their focus onto healing their people. An excellent example is the quote from p. 13 when Bednarowski was referring to the conference in Minneapolis that caused such a stir and the church delegates “voted 98 percent in favor of a resolution calling on all sides to ‘cease and desist and to allow healing to happen and trust to be rebuilt.’” This is really important, especially when the hurt has been caused by the church. The trust in the people in your church needs to be rebuilt and people really do need time to heal from those emotional wounds. I think that too often our society’s mentality of “just shake it off” tends to creep in and the people involved just expect the other to get over what ever happened. This tends to be hard for women to do, so particularly for them this point needs to be stressed in their religious communities.

I don’t know that women’s work in this regard will ever be seen as anything other than “dissent.” I say in this regard because women that are working within their religious communities and not pushing the envelope are generally not seen as dissenters as far as I have seen. However, I also believe that education can help to “enlighten” others that these women are not dissenting, but trying to find a better alternative that would include them in the process. Ultimately though, if the women are not included they will most likely end up leaving their particular religious community and be deemed a “dissenter” even if they worked within their structures. I believe that women may want to just start embracing the title. Why participate in something that doesn’t want your participation? It reminds me of being little. Growing up there were 4 of us girls and my one brother and we had a tendency to start clubs. We also had a tendency to not allow my brother to join because he was a boy and he would always go to mom and get her to make us let him join our club. This seems to be the same premise. If the organization doesn’t want your input why force them into it? Instead, embrace the term dissenter and form your own way.

Simply put, if a woman becomes ambivalent with her current religious community she typically will start to look into the portions of her religion that she does like and focus on them. Also, a lot of women that become ambivalent towards the current religious model will push for something new, looking for equality or a whole new option. Ambivalence isn’t necessarily getting fed up and leaving the church, but it could be a woman that decides she’s fed up, but stays while learning more about her religions history. Or, a woman that is fed up and starts her own women’s group in order to have a support structure within the religious setting. Ambivalence is not a weakness because in so many situations it prompts a woman to move forward in another way. Women’s “ambivalence” has fostered so many changes in religious settings already that it is a virtue that the women aren’t just willing to settle with the way that things are currently being done.

There were many reasons that were referenced to in Chapter three. However, the one that stuck with me was on pages 50 and 51 when Bednarowski was talking about women feeling like “other” within their religious communities and how this comes from too much transcendence in the teachings. This one made the most sense to me because when one is told constantly that A. God is a man and B. God is in Heaven it becomes hard to relate to “Him.” Having something tangible that doesn’t make women feel like an outsider in their own religion is a wonderful alternative. I’m not saying that it necessarily is that way, but transcendence may work for one person and their experience of religion, but for a lot of people I can see the immanent focus of being more appealing because it is more relatable. I’m having a hard time explaining what I mean, so I’m going to use my work as an example. I work in a call center by the way. When someone goes into a store they are generally nice to the person assisting them with their issue, unless it becomes really bad. However, that exact same person calling into a call center may be extremely rude about the same situation because they can’t relate to the person over the phone. The call center rep is not tangible and real for them because the rep is just a voice where the rep in the store is tangible. They can relate to the rep in store much easier because they can actually see them and talk to them where on the phone there is no physical connection making that person real for the customer. This is how I see the difference between transcendence and immanence. For me, I need something tangible that I can relate to so the immanence makes the most sense.

The important reason for women’s distinctive contributions to American religious writing is that the consciousness of gender toward religion is different as Bednarowski claimed that women have experienced religion differently from men, on pg 4. “Women’s experience” whatever women learned from society and religious communities and women’s full participation is important to expose for more religious ideas and history. I personally agree with her point of women’s full participation is necessary to know what is happening. Long time ago, women did not get chance to participate in politics, religion and so on. Since 1970s, these feminist writers have been actively participating in theology, transformation of religion, their experiences, and so on. Previous feminist writer Plaskow, “Plaskow’s way of insisting that women’s exclusion from full participation in their communities is not cause merely by social arrangement” (pg 5). People should appreciate these women’s work and recognize then as a vital contribution to the core of American religious thought. If there is anything that disagrees with these women, they should go more depth on research and find out the ancient truth.

It is very interesting that same topics come in my religion “Buddhism” ambivalence toward western science and vice-versa. I don’t think that these scientists who are doing research on Buddhism are anti-Buddhism. I think it is a good value that will be more beneficial for both Buddhism and scientists to reveal more truth about Buddhism. Bednarowski described “ambivalence as virtue” and mentioned that the ambivalence that women should always to be vigilant and always to be critical of our community toward exclusion and open the new possibilities (pg 20). I agreed that everyone should have feeling of ambivalence towards the church or temple that can cultivate our true faith and beliefs toward our religion and community.

Bednarowski describes women’s understanding of the divine as more immanent than transcendent in focus which many other feminist agreed in previous reading especially in Christianity where the predominantly male-imaged God of the biblical religion. I think interpretation of the divine as immanence by former writers like Plaskow “ not only is monotheism safe in light of multiple images of the divine, including those emphasizing immanence, it can be enhanced by them-feminist images, nature images, that in their multiplicity are nonetheless unified by the foundational Jewish assumption that God is One” ( pg 71). Images of God are more accessible and more down to earth. Another theory by Latina women that divine immanence emerges in terms of the intimacy of their relationship with God (pg 79) in order to develop self-worth and a sense of moral agency and autonomy among the Latino women.

-- Responding to the first chapter, and also reflecting over the articles you have read in the first two books of the course (anthologies by Christ and Plaskow), what have been some important reasons for women's distinctive contributions to American religious writing? What needs to happen for women's work to be seen as not "dissent" but as recognized as contributing in a vital way to the core of American religious thought?

As for to answer the question of important is found on page one. Mary mentions enhancement of communities in distinction of expression and that they were not speaking up for themselves but for the whole community and society. There have been many things mentioned not only in this book but other books and in the book we call the Bible. One is that there needs to be a breakdown of gender rulings and more of a listening hears that closed ones. Mary also puts to note that the things you call writings she calls women’s thoughts.

-- In chapter two, Bednarowski states that the characteristic of "ambivalence" in American women's religious writing is a strength, not a weakness. Give some examples of what she means by "ambivalence." Why is this characteristic a virtue, not a weakness?
There is a few reasons that she states one is a set of four and the other is a sentence. These I will quote. “For a variety of reasons and to varying extents women experience religion differently from men; to ask what has seldom been asked in the past- what is it like to be women in a particular religion- opens up an immense territory of inquiry with implications for history, theology, ritual, and polity; women’‘s narratives and interpretations of their experiences have been publicly incorporated into theologies and institutional structures of religious communities; and when they are major symbols, rituals, stories, teachings, and manifestations of authority begin to take different shape.” (Page 16) “probed the nature of women’s experience as different from man”s for theology to reflect upon the experience of women”(page 17) These two quotes say the most than that I could say. The reason that virtue is not a weakness is that they are things a person lives by. These virtues are different from person to person.


-- In chapter three, Bednarowski describes women's understanding of the divine as more immanent than transcendent in focus. (You will be familiar with this point of view from earlier reading as well.) In her view, why is this the case? What do you think about this understanding of the divine?
They tend to have more of a theological out look on the spiritual than they would if they were transcendent. Transcendent does not allow Theology and immanent allows theology. As for myself I think that the one has to do with the idea of religion than it does with spirituality. The one that would deal with religion is transcendent and the one that is to spirituality is immanent. The two do not mix. With this thought it give another way of looking at the spiritual. This here gives me some reasons to think and look at things a little bit different than I did.

Chapter one brings up some of the same reasons as the first two books we’ve read for women’s distinctive contributions to American religious writing. Broadly, women started to explore religious studies more in depth because of the inequalities between the sexes. Page 10 states, “The early years of contemporary feminism in the area of religion were mostly taken up with effort to discover, understand, and critique the reasons for male dominance in most religions. This included research aimed at recovering women’s theological work from the past and the beginnings of new visions for religion and society based on the insights and experiences of women”. More recent religious studies by women have been more efforts at exploring further the earlier findings. Other more specific reasons Bednarowski included for women’s contributions to American religious writing include the fact that women have felt less than human because of the inequality and that women have been a hidden part of religious history. Then there are women who are from different communities and races. One of the other reasons mentioned is that “theology and religious thought are arenas of human creativity”(5). For women’s work to be seen as not “dissent” but as recognized as contributing in a vital way to the core of American religious thought, Bednarowski states that there needs to be an attitude change. “It requires extensive knowledge of a tradition, a desire to take it seriously, and a willingness to endure conflict with the hope that it will ultimately be more productive than destructive for religious communities”(14).
Bednarowski describes ambivalence as being a negative and a positive to women at the same time. Throughout her studies, she heard from a lot of women who described their feelings of ambivalence as knowing that their religions are conveying sexist, contradictory messages that are unfair and feeling left out and like less of a human being than men, but at the same time like they are necessary components of the community. One common example that Bednarowski gives of ambivalence is women who wish to be ordained by their churches being turned away and basically told that although they may have plenty to offer the church, but cannot be ordained because they are women. It blew me away to read about what the Roman Catholics on page 22 had to say about women being ordained; “Their women-bodies cannot, according to the hierarchy, represent Christ at the alter during the celebration of Mass. There is something in their very nature as women that makes impossible sacramental efficacy, according to church tradition, even though they are considered to have other essential gifts to contribute that are complementary”. I think this is absolutely ridiculous! No wonder women have such strong feelings of ambivalence. Women are welcome, but only to the extent that the men see fit. On the other hand, a positive example of ambivalence that I found interesting was that claiming “other” can lead to creativity and changes. “Daly urges women to claim their Otherness as a creative means to the shaping of an independent self. She ties Otherness to “leaps of transformation””(25). This example shows that ambivalence is a virtuous characteristic – not a weakness. Women have felt left out of religions as the “other” person. However, “as Daly sees it, faithfulness to their intuitions of Otherness gives women a kind of double vision”(25). It helps women learn how to be different and shows us that we do not have to completely fit in to any one religion. Ambivalence also leads women to think creatively and outside of the box, analyze religions in different ways and come up with ways to make a difference.
Bednarowski views women’s understanding of the divine as more immanent than transcendent in focus because of women’s “lack of institutional access to the divine”(45). I think it makes perfect sense that women feel more immanent that transcendent in their understanding of the divine because of the lack of equality in religion. Since women have been historically seen as not as connected to their god as men, we look for comfort and peace from within. A good point that Bednarowski made was how women feel more immanent because of the tradition of women being more connected to nature than men. On page 50 she explains how women have been traditionally seen as “earthly beings” and “therefore more alienated from God”. Given the history of women being left out of religion and made to feel like less of a person, I think women feeling more immanent than transcendent makes perfect sense.

What have some important reasons for women’s distinctive contributions to American religious writing? What needs to happen for women’s work to be seen as not “dissent” but as recognized as contributing in a vital way to the core of American religious thought?
The most important reason of course that woman stayed on the side in the religious life for many years, before the first wave of feminism started their activity. Since then things have changed, but they have a long way to go in order for woman to achieve equal rights. It was an interesting thought in our reading that it might never happen, if to base on the historical experience, but we have to try to “turn the world around.”Why? Because it is a big possibility that the “women do have to say” their opinion and ideas on the topics not just when men have nothing to say. Women have been excluded from the religion, from their traditions; have been left with no voice for a long time. It is important for women to fight for the right to practice the religion with no gender discrimination, because we can contribute to public practice. We have to be stopped seen as “less fully human” or ” different species,” we are women who can teach the society something else, by practicing and sharing “women experience.” The voice of womanists that can tell us about their survival has to be heard by people; Jewish feminist theologians can improve the experience of “passive” woman involvement in the praying process, giving “a powerful example of theological creativity.” One more reason for the women to speak up is to fight against the policy in many institutions towards women to “be silent or get out, give up or get out…” Women do have a lot to say! And there are so many different communities of women who have to start speaking in order to fight with the “silence oppression” that keep them as outsiders, not insiders of the community. Many women because of their disability to speak and share the views moved to new religions or joined new movements; those women are not satisfied with the things how they go nowadays. Moreover many qualities of the women’s religious experience have been ignored for long time, so the whole new religious world has been ignored. I loved the expression of the women turning the world around, and that the “men better let’em,” was impressed how correct and vivid the words “well-behaved women seldom make history” are.

In chapter three Bednarowski describes women’s understanding of the divine as more immanent than transcendent in focus. Why is this the case? What do you think about this understanding of divine?
Bednarowski talks that women have lack of access to divine. She sees that our duty is to bring G-d from Heaven to the earth and to see G-d in the woman’s image. Two main terms in the chapter “”transcendence” and “immanence” came from Easter religion. It means the recognition of the divine’s uniqueness from the very creation, and her presence on the earth. Also the more immanent the divine is in a religious system, the more available she is for a woman. The author also emphasizes the interrelationship of immanence with Evangelism, with Protestantism, plus its impact in the theory of the interrelationship of things. Bednarowski states that “transcendence and immanence” are among the most abstract and non-dramatic tensions in the religious thoughts. Seeing these terms as a religion will give a woman an open access to the divine, will promote the stronger humanity, self-esteem and self confidence of women, developing trust their own, women’s experience. It will keep the women fully involved in religion traditions and rituals, will show the power of the symbols, customs, intellectual and emotional teachings. I personally see a divine as a fairytale creation. However, I find it very useful believe for many women, who suffer from the lack of understanding in their current religions; if they suffer from women’s passivism in the religious life of their community. I believe in G-d; I believe that he is the only one. I can assume that there are some unknown powers in the world, some spirits, but it kind of goes for me with the definition of the G-d. Whatever unusual exists nowadays in the world I assume it has some connection with the G-d.
In chapter 2, Bednarowski states that the characteristic of “ambivalence” in American women’s religious writing is strength, not a weakness. Give some examples of what she means by “ambivalence.”Why is this characteristic a virtue, not a weakness?
It is a virtue because it helps women to realize who they really are, helps them to find their place in the community. This way woman can stay active and visible or can find a different place without being scared to leave for a better change. It is a popular opinion in the society that if you are a woman you don’t have a future in some fields, which isn’t fair. The sad part is that many women do not even notice such discrimination, sometimes they do but do nothing to change it. So they prefer to practice the religion, without actually practicing it. In many religions prominent names of women who contributed a lot into religion, traditions and teachings stayed unrecognized; they have been given an attitude of “others.” But the changes will come, not overnight, that’s why women have to overcome the gender oppression, “terrain of silence” in order not to stay weak. Gender is not supposed to be involved when people are talking about being “fully human,” there is no question that women are different, but it doesn’t mean that we are below men. Our “otherness” has its own wisdom, traditions, creates a world that is easy to fit. On contrary, a lot of women feel uncomfortable in their praying-home, but they treat it as a family, that even if it is not the best family you are given just one, there is nowhere to go, which is not truth. I was strike by the affection and loyalty of Judith Plaskow when she said that “if Judaism is patriarchal, I don’t believe there is any nonpatriarchal space to which I can go to create a new religion.” Impressive! It wasn’t new to me the discussion about the menstruation as an impurity in Judaism. I had to disagree with the writer that it is the only kind of impurity: not kosher food, person who has touched dead body, woman after giving the birth and many others are also considered impure. I liked the comparison of Torah completeness with the human incompleteness.

The feminist movement responds to religions “oppression” of women, we have read in the class readings of different women experiences in their faith and how they have either worked at reforming their traditions or work at creating new traditions. The reason for women’s religious writing seems to be in responses for a sense of community among women who see a problem with their past religious experiences. In order for women not be looked at as dissenting there needs to be effort on their behalf to conserve the religious symbols of their faith groups.
If I understood what she was saying by ambivalence it is not to be undecided or wishy-washy but to be critical when ones community was not being inclusive or open to new possibilities. She talks about how otherness, as I take it this a form of ambivalence, and helps to strength and at the same time causes harm within women’s religious experience. I’m thinking Of Ulrich’s experience as a Mormon feminist, because of being a “other” in the feminist community and the Mormon community she was able to see “a net of assumptions and prejudices we cannot see”
The case for immanence is made because when there is too much focus on the transcendent there is a disconnect with the divine. “Immanental theologies are also more likely to find meaning, even revelatory meaning, in aspects of culture rather than to see cultural form as mostly adversarial to religion.” (pg 48)
What do I think? I think there is a balance between immanence and transcendence in the divine. If the Divine was totally transcendent then how would we ever experience it, it would be completely beyond our understanding, which I don’t think is entirely the case. But if the divine was completely immanent what would separate it from being nature. I think the divine is in the middle, sometimes more one then the other.

I think it is really important for women to contribute towards American religious writing of gender because there are many different experiences from all types of people. Men and women both have experienced different things since they are different genders. I agree that women’s full participation is needed all the time. Women weren’t always able to do things that men were able to, and now is the time for women to do what they need to do for themselves. I think that all women should participate in everything that is possible and also understand that it takes women time and effort to deal with everything they have to deal with. I think there was a lot in the book to understand this is true and that people need to get involved and its great to see all the women now these days doing what they want to and voting and etc. doing what they couldn’t before.
There are a few reasons in the book about why ambivalence is a virtue and not a weakness. A virtue isn’t a weakness because it is a thing that someone lives by and goes by their life. They would carry this because it is a part of their life and they want to live by it. They can always be different and they can differ from person to person and male to female. There are some quotes in the book that showed this as well and made it more interesting to me to read. I think a virtue helps one realize who they really are and how much they can do. I also agree with Elena that some women practice a religion without even really practicing it. There is no way that women are lower than men or that men are lower than women. All people are the same no matter what gender is. It took a long time for American to get women to where they are today. There is still discrimination going on today, but at least women and men have the same rights. I know there are some places where men and women are treated differently but at least they can both do or have the same right as each other. Bednarowski gives of ambivalence is women who wish to be ordained by their churches being turned away and basically told that although they may have plenty to offer the church, which is commonly known from reading this book.
There is more of a theological look to the spiritual like than if the person was transcendent. I don’t think this would allow immanent. I think a lot of this should be dealing with religion instead of spirit.

According to Benarowski, women’s realization of their exclusion from the history of their traditions gave rise to a distinctive theological creativity and the recognition of a need to keep the discussion alive in order to keep traditional rituals, symbols and traditions vital and relevant to all believers regardless of gender. “Dissent that is thorough and authentic is its own kind of participation and does not necessarily exclude conservation,” (14) she asserts. At least part of seeking equal access to all levels of religious hierarchy may be about having equal authority to interpret the word of God and have their voice be viewed as authentic rather than laywomen’s Bible study.

Bednarowski refers to women’s experience of being both simultaneously outsiders and insiders of their religious communities as contributing to a feeling of ambivalence, a “deep sense of belonging, familiarity and commitment and an equally strong sense of alienation and distrust” (19). It is the capacity to feel “paradoxically richly nurtured by a church that constrained” (18) that creates a passion to “dig up…their traditions’ most liberating and healing insights” (20) and foster “creative religious thought” (20). If it is generally agreed upon that history is written by the winners, why is there any doubt there may be more to the story that we are meant to seek out? By simultaneously claiming and rejecting their otherness, women are saying their experience “has its own purpose, its own wisdom to contribute to the tradition” (26) and can be a “source of strength” that “gives her the distance to better perceive ‘a net of assumptions and prejudices’” that would otherwise go unacknowledged (27).

In women’s religious thought, emphasis on immanence is found across traditions, possibly born of “women’s history of lack of institutional access to the divine” (45). Bednarowski explains this work as “a manifestation of not just protest against distorted concepts of transcendence, but more prominently the creative uses of the concept of immanence” (52). This may be a more adaptable, available and accessible viewpoint in a world with ever-increasing knowledge about and challenges of, for example, science and technology. Suchocki redefines transcendence as the sacred dwelling within creation and through our relation to all others (60).

I find truth in the possibility that “sin is ‘participation through intent or act in unnecessary violence that contributes to the ill-being of any aspect of earth or its inhabitants’” and judgment is doled out not by a being in the sky but through the impact of our actions as they resonate and ripple throughout the rest of creation. It makes more sense to me that an all-powerful presence would work from within and all around rather than observe from without. It also makes sense that women's experience of otherness and its resulting ambivalence has allowed them to intuit this sense of the divine, an intuition which I may in previous essays have attributed too strongly to women's biological drives rather than their social experiences.

What have been some important reasons for women's distinctive contributions to American religious writing? On pg 3 in ‘The Religious Imagination of American Women’ Mary gives some reasons for women’s contributions to religious writings. She reminds us that the ideas are limited and can be used by women from all walks of life. They are ideas that all women can embrace as “these meanings are already present to one extent or another in most religious worldviews.” Further in the paragraph Mary states that these ideas are open for more dialogue, sophistication, criticism and bridge gaps between educated / uneducated and religious / non religious women.
What needs to happen for women's work to be seen as not "dissent" but as recognized as contributing in a vital way to the core of American religious thought? Mary answered this question on the top of pg 14. “Dissent that is thorough and authentic is its own kind of participation and does not necessarily exclude conservation. It requires extensive knowledge of a tradition, a desire to take it seriously and a willingness to endure conflict with the hope that it will ultimately be more productive than destructive for religious communities.” I agree with this up to a point. For lack of better term having a formal religious education to back up why you disagree with the tradition helps. What comes to mind immediately is Roman Catholicism and Judaism, What comes to mind are female authors who didn’t have the formal education to back up their dissent. Yet they went ahead and dissented anyway. I think it depends upon the audience you want to write for. I also agree with her, though I’m not there yet, is that we have to move beyond gender equality. I don’t want to miss out on the further discussions.
Give some examples of what she means by "ambivalence." First example is on pg 17 of chapter 2. She clearly states what women in religion have always known and experienced. We as women are both outsiders and insiders at the same time. An image of a field with a fence down the middle comes to mind. Also on pgs 16 and 17 Valerie Saiving’s quote “I am a student of theology. I am also a woman.” Third example on the bottom of pg 18 she gives a quote by Gail Ramshaw a Lutheran liturgical theologian “paradoxically richly nurtured by a church by a church that constrained me.” Last example is how when women participate in whatever religious expression they choose; they are also critiquing it at the same time. I have to disagree with her here. I don’t think all women do this. Why is this characteristic a virtue, not a weakness? Ambivalence is strength because creativity comes out of it in a variety of unique, expressive ways.
In chapter three, Bednarowski describes women's understanding of the divine as more immanent than transcendent in focus. (You will be familiar with this point of view from earlier reading as well.) In her view, why is this the case? Women religious writers and authors have a consistent message that the scared is present and accessible to all. There is no one right way or wrong way to access the scared. This message is more than a message. It’s a belief that is so vital so important it bears repeating over and over again. The scared is present and accessible to all. Women theologians and writers by doing this bring the divine down to earth in a very real, personable, tangible and accessible way. What do you think about this understanding of the divine? To me it means that there is no right way or wrong way to encounter the divine. What works for one may not work for another.

-- Responding to the first chapter, and also reflecting over the articles you have read in the first two books of the course (anthologies by Christ and Plaskow), what have been some important reasons for women's distinctive contributions to American religious writing? What needs to happen for women's work to be seen as not "dissent" but as recognized as contributing in a vital way to the core of American religious thought?
-- In chapter two, Bednarowski states that the characteristic of "ambivalence" in American women's religious writing is a strength, not a weakness. Give some examples of what she means by "ambivalence." Why is this characteristic a virtue, not a weakness?
-- In chapter three, Bednarowski describes women's understanding of the divine as more immanent than transcendent in focus. (You will be familiar with this point of view from earlier reading as well.) In her view, why is this the case? What do you think about this understanding of the divine?
In chapter one Bednarowski writes on about dissent and women when I read this chapter I read it with much sadness because first women are really not known to stand up and take charge people unless it comes our families. Second is how the value of money plays in this dissent situation because our society cares more about money than women. I read somewhere the question is who sins more the sinners who pays or the sinner who is receiving the money. If money is allowed to give ransom to anything; our society is set to fail. For instance the wife of that Captain would probably have paid anything to have her husband friend and father of her kids back. The amount they were asking was way over her head so she knew she could not save him. The government seems not to want to pay anything out either; I am surprises how history has shown US being more ready to take charge to take our citizens back. But the wife was correct in my eyes it was her religion that brought her through it, not the government, or the army.
In chapter two about the people who say good bye to leave their church but still speak well of their association with this church. Or the people who sent money to churches on a regular bases but don’t attend the church. I think these are weak characteristics because they care more about what people think of them. I get confused why women now call themselves others is it because when we called ourselves women that we were walking into brick walls. I think a positive characteristic would be the women who stay strong in their church because they know they are growing in their faith and becoming the best women they can be.
Chapter three she seems to play on the definitions of the words, why would you need something immanent to be able to bring it down to earth. I think when we try as people to interrupt the divine is when we start our problems because we are selfish, bias, egotistic and racist.My thoughts on the divine are more transcend than immanent, if the divine was like us immanent then why would they be at a higher level then us. I believe the definition of divine is a highly quality of something.

some of the important reasons for women's distincitive contributions to American religious writing is for one in pg 9 it states that ".... and their work is directed not exclusively but whole heartedly to transformation of religious traditions in order to make possible the full participation of women. Secondly these women are not satisfied with the things the full participation of women". This to me means that these women are about equality, they want to make sure that all women are on the same page. To be able to reach more women and get their support they have to make sure that the women have the message ans are aware of what is going on. Also because they are not satisfied with the way things are, they obviously have to make the changes and these changes will happen when women are informed. To women's work to be seen as not dissent but as recognized is to break down on the status quo and making sure that the barriers or the things that isolate women are removed. This way it will make a change.

with ambivalence it is a fact that with some religions or rather most of them there is some mixed messages sent, some that imply some sexism. As a result women have mixed feelings., this is considered a virture and not a weakness because it helps the women to be awre of their surrounding and on what to do. With feelings like this they can struggle towards change because these feelings are voiced.

women's understanding of God is more immanent than transcendent in focus, this means that they make God present and within their reach. pg 46 "bring religious enterprise out of heavens and down to earth, and to reinterpret "God'. This allows women to be able to relate. Transcendent does not allow them to see the theology but immanent does that. They are able to in a way personify God and be able to place the theology as relates to God. I think that in reinterpreting God in this way women are able to have a different perspective of God, this makes religion more relevant and applicable to their life.