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Week #14 Reading Discussion Questions

Religious Imagination of American Women, p. 150-188 for April 23

This is the last reading for the course. Use these questions to dig deep into the final section of Religious Imagination of American Women in preparing for your final Reading Reflection assignment (above). You can also use the material in this book and the earlier books for the course as sources to use in your final paper project. The analytical categories that Bednarowski has presented in this final course book may be useful for you in presenting your arguments or analysis in your final paper project.

HINT: be sure to read the introductory pages and conclusion pages of each chapter, and read selectively through the material presented as examples and explication of the ideas.

Healing and Women’s Theological Creativity: Strategies for Resistance, Acceptance and Hope
** Why is healing essential to women’s theological creativity and contribution?
** What is healing about ambivalence, immanence of the divide, sacredness of the ordinary /ordinariness of the sacred, and relationality?
** Do you have other definitions to offer besides the ones Bednarowski came up with? (Pat’s list from last year: wholeness, reconciliation, awakening, restoration of balance, affirmation of life, having sufficient hope to proceed.)
** Did Achterberg’s ‘Women have always been healers’ ring true for you?

Women Healers -- Mary Baker Eddy and Char Madigan
** What was MBE’s fundamental insight that became the foundation of her new church, new theology and new method of healing?
** How did MBE’s work create outlets and opportunities for American women?
** Who are some of her lesser known heirs? What did you think of Marianne Williamson’s theology that ‘lovelessness manufactures disease’? (157)
** How does Char Madigan’s theology contain both ‘women are to believe the truth about themselves no matter how beautiful’ with social justice work of confronting evil in this world? What is her theological position on evil? (And does this match the teachings of her Catholic faith?)
** What are the issues around Mormon women’s healing authority? Does this struggle remind you of anything? How have women dealt with the limiting ordinances?
** What does Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb emphasize in her teachings on healing? Does this make sense to you, given the Jewish experience in the 20th Century? How do her core ideas relate to Judith Plaskow’s ‘repair of the world’? (163)
** Does it make sense that African American women need to heal ‘from surrogacy,’ to heal from physical and spiritual pain, and to cultivate self-love?
How does singing and affirmation help black women heal ancient wounds?
** What abut the ambivalence in the Muslim admonition for women to cover themselves for modesty while maintaining ideas that women’s bodies are the loci of sin? How does this match some Christian and Jewish ideas about women’s bodies?
** What do white women of privilege need to heal from?
** Why do we all need healing from apocalyptic, end of the world thinking? (Is life on earth a time line, or is it a cycle?)
** How is New Age healing different from the other healings Bednarowski summarizes? What are your thoughts on whether women are more psychic, more tactile, more holistic?
** Would you go so far to agree that ‘women are the healers of the universe and earth?’
** What about electric power versus magnetism?
** The underworld of the unconscious as the place of transformation and healing?
** Does the world need ‘yin activism’ -- the awakening of minds, atonement for errors, and arousal of our spirits -- to bring about metaphysical healing?
** How doe we tell the difference between suffering that is unjust and suffering that is natural and inevitable? What happens to evil when suffering is part of life and that we come here to ‘damage and be damaged by others?’ (Rita Nakashima Brock, 171) ** What was the recommendation for determining the kind of suffering? How does it help to get to know and name the evils (theodicy)?
** What was meant by ‘taking the cure’ and ‘resisting authority’? (172)
Have you ever broken your faith’s basic rules for living?
** What are some of the new creative images of God? Would any of these terms work for you? Do we need new definitions of sin?
Healing as resistance?
Healing as acceptance?
Accepting tragedy?
Accepting gender polarization?
Accepting suffering, disease, illness, old age, death?

What is Bednarowski’s conclusion about studying Women’s Religion? How does she balance her ambivalence of ‘separatism’ with knowing that women’s history and perspective has not always been told? What about the future of women’s theology?