« Week #14 Reading Discussion Questions | Main | Week #13 Discussion Questions »

Week #14 Reading Reflection Assignment

Due date for full credit: April 23; Due date for "grace period" (one point down): April 30.

Week #14 Reading Reflection Assignment Prompts

Use the reading discussion questions in the posting below this assignment to look at as you do your reading, to guide your critical engagement with the text. Then, use these prompts to write your reading reflection assignment:

** Why do the women religious thinkers referenced in this final section put "healing" at the center of their understanding of the purpose of religion?
** Why do these thinkers believe that women can benefit from religious involvement, rather than abandoning their involvement - and how (and in what ways) does this involvement improve their lives?
** In reading over the conclusion of this book, and in thinking back over the earlier material in the course, what are some of the most important ways that women have contributed to contemporary American religious understanding and practices?
** What are some of the ongoing challenges and difficulties that women will continue to face in contemporary American religion?
** As you wrap up this course, what are the most important "take away" understandings or insights that you will carry with you into your ongoing studies and/or personal religious practice?

Comments

There are two examples that particularly stuck out to me when I was reading about the “Revolutionary Power of the Ordinary.” First was the idea of eating, and what we choose to eat, as a sacred experience. Scoville states, “in the act of eating ‘we experience our own most intimate connection with the world.’ (p. 115).” I think that the act of nourishing ourselves is an excellent example of a ritual that could be considered sacred, because everyone participates in this act, and it is full of potential for symbolism and reflection and celebration. I liked the perspective of looking at our choices of what we eat from an ethical standpoint. “What kinds of happiness or success or gain are to be celebrated as part of what one should hope for and work for and what kinds of happiness come too much at the expense of others (p 119).” I think about all of the pleasure that we get out of eating a good meal. I am not a vegetarian, but when I eat meat, I cannot reflect too much on it or I lose my appetite. Preparing a meal that involves handling the raw carnage brings to my consciousness the reality that some poor living creature had to die to satisfy our appetite. This has to do with spirituality because it coincides with the theory that we are all inhabitants of the earth, and it is important for us to be compassionate and loving to achieve the harmony and justice that is discussed in the text. Awareness of these things is a path of spiritual awareness, of being spiritually awake. The second idea that struck me was this: “The most important thing you need is the ordinary life (p 108).” I could identify with being “grounded in ordinary tasks ( p 108).” I used to hate doing the dishes when I was a teenager, but now I embrace the task, because for me, it is a mindless task that allows me to take a moment to listen to myself think. I feel that it is really important to allow yourself time to process everything you take in everyday. If you are always talking and doing, but never taking a moment to reflect, how can your spirit or God communicate with you? A lot of people don’t have time to sit and meditate, and I like that this theory allows you to meditate while completing everyday tasks.

The portion of the article where fear is discussed caused me to analyze my feelings about changing religious patterns. Looking for a belief system that I can identify with, in itself, requires courage and faith. I have to have faith that if there is a God out there, that I will not be punished for moving beyond blind faith and looking for answers. I have to have courage to ignore the condemnation, and stand alone, ostracized from my family and faith community. I don’t think I am alone in my doubts within the community, but, I feel that fear is what inhibits others from looking for answers and rituals that satisfy their needs. “Presenting new ritual visions of what the community should look like is risky business, because it requires improvisation – a clear sign of departure from the solid foundations of the past (p 107).”

These articles build in the concept of the divine as immanent because it alters the religious practice to make it more accessible to a greater number of members of the community. Some members of the Jewish community, (as mentioned on page 105-106) are changing ritual to “de-mystify” certain aspects of what is considered sacred and intangible to women in that community. Some religious communities are taking what used to be a practice designated for males only and are changing them to include women, they are reclaiming these practices to facilitate full participation, and to claim access to what used to be elusive.

If people took these ideas seriously, I feel that there would be an increased awareness of spirituality in general. People could be more inclined to care for one another’s spiritual path and be more conscious of how their practices and actions could impact others feelings on how they relate to the divine. I am inclined to hope for this type of holistic approach.

This leads me towards the ethical impact of this way of thinking. The impact is summarized nicely by Cahill: “Social ethics proceeds on the assumption of a shared humanity and a least a fundamentally shared moral vision, whether of not the philosophical warrants for that assumption are clearly in place…responding to suffering bodies and communities, that will go a long way toward helping people of different traditions to recall what they hold in common about the meaning of a just society (p 148).” This way of thinking is more ethical and holistic. I feel that it changes the definition of sin. Rather than a sin being defined as breaking some rule defined by a religion, a sin would be an act that is harmful, that causes suffering. Initially I thought it would narrow down the acts that could be classified as sin, with no 10 commandments to go by, but after I thought about it, the list of “sins” seem to expand greatly because it includes acts that harm the earth and all living beings. When the viewpoint is holistic, it seems like everything we do is harmful to something or someone. The more I think about it, the more complicated and filled with ethical dilemma this becomes.

Two commonalities that seem to facilitate finding connections across different communities are “body” and “discourse.” The body holds an understandable uniting force, as it is common to all of us, but each of us are unique, like snowflakes. In a general way of looking at things, our living bodies are our common ground, and we all die someday; this we share as human beings. The concept of discourse was a bit more difficult for me to understand. It is described as “distinctive languages that shape and are shaped by interpretive communities, and several way that granting the legitimacy of different discourses expands the possibilities for unlikely relationships (p 141).” I think the challenge lies in finding language that diverse communities can relate with in order to find a common ground.

In past reflections, we have discussed women’s roles as nurturers and creators – of family, community, art. As nurturers, women are also feel responsible to sustain and attempt to make whole what feels fragmented or missing. Much of the creative process naturally leads to healing, by its many definitions – “wholeness,” forgiveness and reconciliation,” “naming and resisting of evil,” “shift in perspective” (151-152).

Artwork is cathartic of internal struggle, but can also convey concepts to and inspire its viewers in ways that may be empowering and therefore healing, or create actions that move towards healing. What may begin as a selfish endeavor of creative expression leads to empowerment of the artist as well, as they realize what they produce, whatever the medium, ultimately connects them to the viewer and may lead to discourse that creates societal change. Ten artists can look at the same scene and create an entirely different piece of work that will offer its viewers new perspectives and inspire different emotions.

These women religious thinkers are artists in the sense they see there is more than one way to view sacred texts, symbols and rituals and work to interpret them in a manner that is still reflective of the truth but continues to be relevant, empowering and inspiring. Viewing suffering, evil, relationships and even enlightenment through a lens with a focus on immanence, sacred ordinariness and creating wholeness allows us to better distinguish “between suffering that is unjust and suffering that is natural and inevitable” (171) and therefore find better applications of the framework of religious ideas to issues of human and ecological experience.

Many artists feel they must suffer to create great art. The suffering of women and minorities and their use of creative arts as an outlet – writing, theatre, music, religious thought –has generated a wealth of documentation of the nature of suffering, its causes and effects. History is no longer being written by the winners; it’s being written by everyone who has the ability to put paint to canvas or fingertips to keyboard. Yes there are people in the world who hasten to manipulate the media to skew left or right, but there’s a wealth of information and perspectives available for anyone who is willing to dig a little deeper. As the author points out, women are not immune to sin or evildoing (179). But in our history as a marginalized population, we can look at “suffering as worth the cost of what it teaches” (181) and continue to open our eyes wider and wider and cast a larger net across cultures gathering and sharing information, creating connections, which would enhance our ability to “acknowledge personal responsibility for the God we choose and the ways in which we permit her into our lives” (181). The danger is, of course, forgetting our journey and taking for granted how far women have come, blinding us again to suffering. The conversation needs to stay alive to stay relevant.

From this class I take away a passion to learn enough that I feel I have something to contribute to the conversation. I came into this class with a very vague understanding of what it meant to be a religious women and a distaste for organized religion. Now that I have a better understanding of the foundations of corruption in organized religion, and a better understanding of the positive actions that can come out of a love of creation and an ability to see how things are all connected, I have less fear of the church and a more open heart and mind to its teachings.


There were two reasons that I interpreted from the text covered for why these women believe that we can benefit from religious involvement. One is because by becoming engaged and actively involved in their religion, women can try to be influential and make a difference in the religion in terms of equality for women. Page 156 states about Mary Baker Eddy, a woman who created her own religion, “It was her hope to convince the churches that Christianity was essentially a healing religion”. Before Eddy departed from the church she was attending, she tried to make a difference in the lives of the people in the church by showing them how healing can help improve their lives and bring them peace. Healing is another reason that these women believe they can benefit from religious involvement. These women believe that healing “fosters the possibilities of hope, persistence, and ultimate well-being for individuals and communities”. Through healing, people may feel more peaceful about their religious practices. I like the example provided about how healing can ease the pain and confusion of feeling ambivalence and focusing on immanence of the divine instead of frustration and rejection of religion: “An emphasis on the immanence of the divine heals the alienation and self-denigration of women who describe themselves as overwhelmed by, under-identified with, or indifferent to, a far-distant male deity or religious practices removed from the concerns of daily life”(151). This example describes the concept of healing given in the text – that healing brings “greater wholeness (again) to that which has been fragmented; the restoration of balance to what has been distorted; clear sight to what has been obscured; and resistance to that which is considered destructive”(152). It’s clear through these examples why these women put “healing” at the center of their understanding of the purpose of religion – because it helps bring them wholeness and peace.

Some of the most important ways that women have contributed to contemporary American religious understanding and practices are to fight for equality for women, to put together the past of women who have been left out of religious history, to foster a sense of community across different cultures and religions, and to come up with ways to improve the lives of women in religion. It’s very refreshing to read about all of the changes that have taken place already, like how an emphasis on healing has helped women feel more at peace about their feelings of ambivalence. However, I agree that women will continue to face ongoing challenges in contemporary American religion like sexism and being left out. For example, I found it ridiculously disturbing reading about the reasons given by some sexist men for why women cannot be ordained. The most important insight that I’ve received from this course is a feeling of community – that I am not alone in my ambivalence towards spirituality and religion. I have always felt like there was a supreme being, but not like I could connect with that male figure depicted, but knowing that other women share my feelings helps. I like the idea of the immanence of the divine and will also carry that understanding with me and hopefully be able to continue to practice it.

** Why do the women religious thinkers referenced in this final section put "healing" at the center of their understanding of the purpose of religion?

The healing concept to them is what seems to be the most on their minds. On page 150 says, “women’s expansion of healing as a fruitful religious idea, as an ubiquitous, multivalent, powerful, and complex concept”. This is a statement of the concept of the thoughts around the thought of healing. They also see healing as a creative theology.

** Why do these thinkers believe that women can benefit from religious involvement, rather than abandoning their involvement - and how (and in what ways) does this involvement improve their lives?

One of the most reasons that I see that they stay within their religious involvement is that they see a need for suffering. One of the areas states that in life their must be pain or suffering. Then the other reason that I see is they seem to think that there is a reason for them to be their. With the spiritual people there is an acceptance of a de vine influence in the actions of people. This maybe a tie to a place to and action taken. These sights vary from one thing to another. One example of this is to go to other countries to teach the people there. They also find healing with the places that they are connected to. Another reason is to gain knowledge of good and evil. The things that they seek can foster action through them in the community.

** In reading over the conclusion of this book, and in thinking back over the earlier material in the course, what are some of the most important ways that women have contributed to contemporary American religious understanding and practices?

It has gotten people to do more thinking of how things are done. One of the things is the gender issues and another one is on the cultural issues. This has led to a more of a equal rights movement. The equal rights contained that of gender and culture backgrounds.

** What are some of the ongoing challenges and difficulties that women will continue to face in contemporary American religion?
Some of the things that they will have to deal with is the gender issues and that of power issues like dominance. The dominance may come from either the church leaders or the governmental body of the country. You have issues of male dominance both in some denominations and the governmental body of America.
** As you wrap up this course, what are the most important "take away" understandings or insights that you will carry with you into your ongoing studies and/or personal religious practice?

The most that I can say is that I have a lot to learn and to do that I need to keep my mind open to learn this then decide once I have the information needed. If a person has a closed mind he or she can not learn.

The main idea for healing is that it is another angle from which the women can be exploed from the intellectual and emotional viewpoints. Healing expands and transforms, creats new ways for traditional religious ideas, builds new relationship among women. It is an important tool that can help women who are overwhelmed, who are missing the self-worthness. It makes us to look different, better, appretiate more the ordinary in a daily life. Healing in this chapter doesn't concetrate just on physical healing, I would say that it more concentrates on the improvment of spititual well-being. Healing is viewed differently by different religions and groups, but most of them come to the conclusion that healing helps us to restore the wholeness, achieving the 'perfection,' which is individual for every human, that is why we can enjoy 'the perfection of imperfection.' I liked the explanation of healing proccess mentioned on page 152, that teaches us to look at the life by not consentrating on"suffering of the cross but the life it brings." I think one of the other points, why 'healing power' is the last chapter of the book, because in order to understand it, we have to know how to deal with suffering, sin, evil, anger,and all those termins were explained in the chapters before.
It was said that the woman can benefit from the religious involvment, rather than abandoning their involvment, because it can reach into the painful areas of soul and can help to heal them spiritually. Another point that was mentioned, that it is importante for building the 'women's religion,' in order to start building our religious history. In order to do so, we have to be involved in religious ritual, developing womens influence. It was a good example of the Mormon woman, who was critisised for practicing healing, because it can bring her to priesthood. This argument was protected by one of the thinkers emphasising that women are closer to the earth, closer to the healing power, that men can learn a lot from letting the women practice and to be involved in the religious practices and rituals. Otherwise, from my point of view, women would just organise their own groups to practise whatever they think is important. From previous chapters we saw a lot of those examples. We have to fight that one day the women's religion would be in the same category as Catholic, Muslim, Jewish and etc. That women's religion would be world-recognized.
I liked the discussion about the interrelationship between men and women. That man is an electric center, and woman is a magnet. And nowadays the time of magnet comes, because a magnetic power in the godhead is greater than the electric. It was interesting to find the question "how can a good omnipotent deity permit or cause suffering." I asked myself this question many times, wondering how G-d can permit what is going on today and what was happening in past. But I guess, I agree with the book, that we have to learn how to accept certain kinds of suffering. Most of them are caused because of our humans' unacceptance of other kinds.The Sabbath story was interesting, made me smile. How unbelievably different the values can be for different people. Something that is so sugnificant for some, are completly unimportant for others: veil, kosher food, Shabbath rools and etc.
I also liked the discussion about the Muslim woman and their veil, that it makes people to look different on them, even if they spent many years in the USA. I think it was a good sign for women not to give up, by caring too much what people think, because there always going to be men who will disagree, or women who would stay passive, dealing with 'abuse' in religious traditions. It is also important to make women's practise of the religion official.
I think that the most important "take away" for me was the interest in the practices of meditation, discussion about controlling our anger, examples of building relationship among women. It seems easy to deal with personal small anger, when you look at the anger of religious, racial, gender persecution. And if those people learnt how to deal with their grief and pain, I certainly can deal with mine. The consentration on harmony, completion and wholeness should be our daily rule. The discussion about the power of forgivness taught me a lot. It reminded me the teachings of Martin Luther how to be forgiving and how to love our enemies. The acceptance of a human to be sinful, to be a little evil made me to overlook my judgments about other people, changing my attitude in a significantly better way, recognising that there is no universal truth. Before, I have never looked at the women as a possible separate community. But it is. Who will understand us better than another women; who experiences the same problems, difficulties, misunderstandings of daily life?

** Why do the women religious thinkers referenced in this final section put "healing" at the center of their understanding of the purpose of religion?
Women religious thinkers referenced in this final section put “healing” at the center of their understanding of the purpose of religion because healing is a common and powerful way to talk about new ways of thinking about traditional religious ideas. Healing in all religion is a key part of the revelation in many traditions.

** Why do these thinkers believe that women can benefit from religious involvement, rather than abandoning their involvement - and how (and in what ways) does this involvement improve their lives?
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).

** In reading over the conclusion of this book, and in thinking back over the earlier material in the course, what are some of the most important ways that women have contributed to contemporary American religious understanding and practices?
The different experiences of women put them into art in the form of music, writing, poems, and so on. The writers of all the books tried to create new experiences of religion thoughts and reinterpret the written history. Many of them made women to rethink features of your own experience and guided us into new insights. 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.

** What are some of the ongoing challenges and difficulties that women will continue to face in contemporary American religion?
I think one of the ongoing challenges and difficulties that women will continue to face in contemporary American religion is lack of interest. Many women’s first priority and interest is family, friends, carrier, and so on. They just go to the church or temple or mosque as daily routine or community gathering or to just follow their parent footsteps. Another ongoing challenges and difficulties is lack of knowledge, women may have highly educated in different areas but I think in religious matter women are way behind men.

** As you wrap up this course, what are the most important "take away" understandings or insights that you will carry with you into your ongoing studies and/or personal religious practice?
For me, I took this course because I was interested in women’s well being. This course was great insight for me as to grow knowledge regarding different religions. I know that there is sexism in all religions including my own religion. I understand and look at my religion differently after I took this course. I investigate about some religious rituals in my own religion and asked questions to our religious leaders. It grew my interest in other religions as well. Of course, I learned many things through this discussion assignment and got an opportunity to know about our classmate’s different views.

WEEK 14

The religious thinkers that we have been discussing put healing at the center because the idea of healing is the purpose for all of their efforts. To be able to heal individuals and communities, to acknowledge the damage and hurt and salvage the positive aspects involved in religion/spirituality. Achieving wholeness in this way allows people to remain involved in the community that they have been a part of, and continue participating in their religious practice, acknowledging the traditions have caused “both suffering and healing (p 171).”

I feel that one of the most significant ways that women have contributed to religious understanding and practice has been from raising awareness, because increasing awareness and being heard impacts so many things. It motivates and encourages others in diverse areas to make their voices heard and to start suggesting and even demanding change. Having a great number of people working on a plethora of issues creates such an environment of possibility and change. I can see the pattern of how each life, each voice touches other people, and the momentum builds. So many of the feminist authors reference the same people and statements, which emphasizes my point about how one voice can have an impact and influence change. And change is happening, slowly; as evidenced by increasing numbers of female religious leaders, and more women stepping up, expecting opportunities for participation, and not accepting exclusion based on gender. I think women’s self esteem has improved a lot.

What I will be taking away from this class is an increased awareness of gender discrimination. All throughout this semester I have been taking notice of things that I normally would have dismissed as “just the way it is,” and now it ticks me off. Not to say that I’m walking away from this an angry person by any means, but I am more apt to stand up against it rather than passively accepting it. As far as my religious path goes…I am still not sure where I stand, but I am looking forward to exploring. There are quite a few things that really made sense to me that I am eager to try out. My husband is willing to take on this exploration with me, and I really look forward to investigating and discussing all of this with him.

** Why do the women religious thinkers referenced in this final section put "healing" at the center of their understanding of the purpose of religion?
Healing is what has to do to fix oppression or exclusion or even physical hurt. I think also the healing is told about hope and I believe that is also what a person’s faith is hope for something you can not see or touch.
** Why do these thinkers believe that women can benefit from religious involvement, rather than abandoning their involvement - and how (and in what ways) does this involvement improve their lives?
In everything we have read so far shows that when women get involved with their religion great things happen. Like the two women healers who Eddy tries to help her faith but finds it hard to change some people she starts her own church but still is “grounded in Calvinist insistence on the sovereignty of God” pg 157. I think that if people are somewhat alright with their faith they seem to return to it to make it better, but sometimes too much damage and as to left. That is way there are other faiths; I believe one thing I have learned in this class is Buddhism seems to be the most welcoming faith.
** In reading over the conclusion of this book, and in thinking back over the earlier material in the course, what are some of the most important ways that women have contributed to contemporary American religious understanding and practices?
When I went to that Reimaging program last weekend Rita Nakashima Brock stated “that she thinks through art is probably one of the best ways to change our thinking”. When we go back and look at old art and what is shows us; we really sometimes change our thinking. I believe that people would not have spent that much time to create a picture for something that they believe would deceive someone.
** What are some of the ongoing challenges and difficulties that women will continue to face in contemporary American religion?
I believe that Roman Catholics will be the final and hardest faith to change to include women. What I learned from this class also is the changes other faiths have made in their thinking of women. At least, when they are willing to look at their beliefs, that is a start of change, maybe not instant but moving forward.
** As you wrap up this course, what are the most important "take away" understandings or insights that you will carry with you into your ongoing studies and/or personal religious practice?
I think I am carrying away knowledge of women’s oppression and insight to the past inequalities. With a big emphasis on women contributions to change history, I found also that most of the women who made a change were highly educated. That shows me that we need to push our society into becoming more educated with more wide open minds and able to gather a better outcome. This should tell us how important it is how we raise our children. They will be the nest generation to conquer the world and if we want to see change we need to do it through our children.

** Why do the women religious thinkers referenced in this final section put "healing" at the center of their understanding of the purpose of religion?
Being involved with the women’s religion will help them with their self and what they want to do. Women can and will try to make a difference for what they want and believe is true. Mary Baker Eddy was a women who created her own religion and believed in certain things she believed totally in. She wanted everyone to know and be aware that Christianity is a religion that heals and heals only. She is a perfect example because she wanted to show everyone what a difference she could make and she did make a huge one to so many people. She told people how they could improve their life and their self. Healing is really important to religion and many women want to make sure that is a part of their life daily. People will feel better about what they believe in and how they believe in it. it bring more peace to believe that they are healed and they are healing. Having and being healed can change a persons life and that is a reason why it is so important for women to be healed.

** Why do these thinkers believe that women can benefit from religious involvement, rather than abandoning their involvement - and how (and in what ways) does this involvement improve their lives?
Staying involved in religion is important and many women do it all the time. I think by being involved they have something to believe in. it is important believing in God because He wants us to believe that and we need to feel it after all He has done for us. Women need to stay involved to show others what they believe in and that what they believe in is true.

** In reading over the conclusion of this book, and in thinking back over the earlier material in the course, what are some of the most important ways that women have contributed to contemporary American religious understanding and practices?
I think it shows everyone what other women have done for us and how much they care. They show us to stand up for what we believe in and that can get us a long ways. There were a lot of different experiences done to show all different women and what they have done. For many women it wasn’t that easy for them to make a difference since it is a lot of work to do, but they did come out successful.

** What are some of the ongoing challenges and difficulties that women will continue to face in contemporary American religion?
I think women will always be challenged to be heard as much as men. I don’t think that we will always get 100% of the time, the same treatment as men. We will always be treated differently because we are women and not men. We have came through a lot and will face this a lot in our life. We just have to stand up for ourselves and believe that we can all do the same.

** As you wrap up this course, what are the most important "take away" understandings or insights that you will carry with you into your ongoing studies and/or personal religious practice?
I will take a lot with me. A lot of these stories have made a difference and I cant believe all I have learned about women and what they will do for their religion. We had to do the first paper and I did it on Margret Sanger. She helped with birth control. I thought it was amazing all she did to help women and to tell women about birth control. I never knew that some women tried to almost kill themselves because they were pregnant and they never knew anything about birth control. I did learn a lot through that and thought it was great. I also learned ab lot of about Buddhist people and what their religion is like. I did the final paper on women and Hinduism since I know Hindu people. I thought that was a great part of this class and gained a ton of information on it. I am really happy I chose to take this class.

Through healing, people can develop a better sense of peace about their religion, regardless of what “injustices” have been done to them. Healing can foster a better environment for people to practice their religion in. Healing is helpful, not only from a religious sense, but also to help with relationships between people. If someone feels that someone else within their religious community has wronged them, then they are less likely to continue participating in that community. Through healing that relationship can be mended and those involved will be more likely to actively participate in their religious community.

Women gain a lot from being involved in their religion. If women were to abandon their religion then they would not be able to make changes. If they stay and participate in their religion then they will have a better voice to bring about change, but if they abandon the religion that they practice then they have given up the voice that they do have within that religion. Therefore, they also give up their right to bring about any change in that religion.

The thing that strikes me as the most important contribution that women have made to contemporary American religion is their writing. Even though religions haven’t changed much from it there are now many literary works that women can read and get information from. Thus, giving women today a resource that women in the past did not have easy access to.

Women will always face the challenge of inclusion within religion. It will take a long time to make women and men equal as far as the things that they are going to be allowed to do within their religions and I believe that this battle is going to last much longer. I don’t think that women will be granted the ability to do things that have been restricted to men only for quite some time, regardless of the advancements that women have made in recent years.

I think that I will be more aware in the future of the religious challenges facing women even though I do not practice any specific religion. Also, I am a very curious person by nature, so I will probably study more religions in depth that I am less knowledgeable about.

** Why do the women religious thinkers referenced in this final section put "healing" at the center of their understanding of the purpose of religion?
From my understanding after reading the chapter introduction on page 150, healing has many intellectual and creative aspects that have yet been expanded upon. Yet is an essential function of religions. It is also a central part of Christian belief and teachings. To move toward healing one does not remain stuck or a victim. Healing is hope. I agree with what Mary writes on the bottom of pg 150. That healing is essential for victims and whole communities.
** Why do these thinkers believe that women can benefit from religious involvement, rather than abandoning their involvement - and how (and in what ways) does this involvement improve their lives?
First and foremost women will be in a community and may get support from within this community. If you are with “like minded” believers you can strength, support, and are there for each other. Hopefully one has chosen a community where they are supported when they start to disagree, have questions, and are being challenged.
** In reading over the conclusion of this book, and in thinking back over the earlier material in the course, what are some of the most important ways that women have contributed to contemporary American religious understanding and practices?
I think all of the women we have read over the course have contributed by writing about their experiences, their challenges, and what didn’t and does work for them. That there is truly more than one way to heaven, one to understand God/dess and what works for one person doesn’t work another. And forcing someone to believe how you believe never works. Some of the writers have shown that women can be effective religious leaders, theologians (Plaskow, Pema) and religious writers to name a few areas.
They have shown by their writings the importance of women in a religious body. How the value of “women’s work” is vital to the community of worship and how whether it’s in a community of worship or in the home it is vital. How one can pray by doing something as ordinary as dishes or laundry. Also art as a form of religious expression is vital Women have contributed greatly throughout history.
** What are some of the ongoing challenges and difficulties that women will continue to face in contemporary American religion?
One of the main challenges it being overwhelmed with “causes” to get involved with. From childhood to elderly; from diseases to the environment; from animal rights to rights of those in the third world there are many issues to choose from. Add to that there many viewpoints for each one. Add working, taking care of family, one’s parents or in law’s and it’s understandable that one feels overwhelmed. I would encourage women religious writers, artists, poets, activists, to remind women and others to pick just one and stick with it.
** As you wrap up this course, what are the most important "take away" understandings or insights that you will carry with you into your ongoing studies and/or personal religious practice?
I have reaffirmed my belief that there is more than one way to “heaven to know God/dess.” That what works for one doesn’t work for another. That it is wonderful to have friends of many different religions as long as you’re trying not to convert them. I also have come to understand that many religions are sexiest and may have been oppressive, not just the Christian Church. Within these religions are wonderful works by women. Some of the women writers I’ve been exposed too this semester I plan on reading more of their works. I also plan on attending a Goddess ritual and eventually a Pow Wow. I have done more meditation this semester and that has helped me immensely. This course is helping me to stand in my own power as a woman.

Why is “healing” at the center of religious purpose?

According to Bednarowski, there are a number of reasons that women put healing at the center of their understanding as it relates to religious purpose…it has typically been an area/topic that women have been able to contribute and expand on--offering varied and extensive opportunities for growth and inclusion. Healing has also served as a catalyst for a much broader (worldly) discussion as well as contributed to the “incorporation of [such] into American religious thought.” Overall, the concept really lends itself to the exploration of that which creates “meaning” in people’s lives and brings religion to full circle.

Why can women benefit from religious involvement and how does this improve their lives?

By being involved and remaining so, women can, and are part of a universal need to not only understand the ills of society, but to put that understanding to “action” because the reasons that necessitate healing are always changing—evolving to some degree—and this requires participation and evaluation. It not only serves as the impetus for healing ourselves, but it allows us to promote or advocate for the healing of others, and really this is after all the premise of religion.

What are some of the important ways that women have contributed to religious understanding and what are some of the ongoing challenges that women will continue to face in American contemporary religion?

In my opinion, the most important contribution has been that of raising awareness of religion’s oppressive nature and subsequent tendencies. Through fostering the open dialogue of such, women have been able to create profound and measurable change thereby affording women (and men) a more meaningful and applicable belief system. However, more change it still needed to get to a place of equality or comfort, but this will surely be met with resistance by those that strive to maintain their power. It could be many more years before we see any (if at all) changes to theology as it relates to homosexuality and gay marriage, women as leaders in religions such as Catholicism and Islam, and the widespread acceptance and affirmation of women’s real and tangible role(s) within religious history.

What are the most important things/insights that I will carry with me as a result of this class?

Wow—there are so many! I guess it’s the scope and breadth of systematic oppression against women within their varying religions that has really struck a chord with me. Although I was aware of it prior to this class, I honestly didn’t fully understand to what degree nor how far reaching it has been for so many around the world. I also didn’t have a full understanding of the ways in which women have been and continue to be oppressed nor how this has permeated their everyday lives and psyche. Another insight that this class brought forward was the need for women to re-imagine the divine in feminine terms—although I don’t agree with this personally—I can appreciate another woman’s need to do so. One more take-away is the insight into the many reasons why women have chosen to leave their religions and how these have served to draw them towards alternative belief systems. Overall, very insightful and enjoyable!

From my perspective, I think “healing” is greatly emphasized is because these women feels that they have suffered enough through the ages. It’s like saying “you have to be bad to be good” kind of thing. In other word, how can you be heal if you haven’t suffered? By recognizing that they suffered or mistreated – “healing” can begin. Healing is an important tool in achieving peace and comfort – either individually or for the community at large. In this case, to achieve the “wholeness” of yourself – you have to go through the healing process. For these women, healing paves the way out of these patriarchal religious traditions. They need to be recognized and respected as an equal rather than a fraction of a man. This “healing” can change and transform the ideas and traditions that was long ago established by man. To them – it’s a spiritual awakening.

In terms of religious involvement – women have shown great strength and courage in challenging the status quo. It shows that they are as effective as men in terms of being a religious leader. Obviously, involvement is better than abandonment. Women religious leaders, scholars, theologians; Pema, Plaskow, Christ and Bednarowski are some of the selected few who are very involve in these religious endeavors. They are opening the doors for future generations that women matters and they are creating a path of spiritual awakening for many women who don’t have the courage, who accept things just the way they are. These religious involvements are important because it challenges the traditions of man and creates a new idea for women to respect and worship.

Obviously involvement is the first step in conquering these obstacles. Women will need more than involvement to overcome these obstacles and challenges in today’s religious endeavors. Religions today have been put in place or established long-long-long ago by man – it will be very difficult to change this traditions. As I have mentioned earlier – some of these scholars have already paved the way but they are not widely known. At this point – I guess they’re just preaching to the choir since it doesn’t seem to be anyone is listening. Time will tell I guess! Then again, maybe it’s the lack of interest, too many who like things just the way they are or don’t feel the need to change. I think to gain momentum in any religion today – you’ll need “strength & number”. Beyond that – I think everything is a steep hill to climb or one big mountain to conquer.

Throughout this course, I have read many interesting articles and stories. Some are very dull and dry…I tried to absorb as much as I can. I couldn’t understand some it – that’s a no brainer since I’m no scholar. I can personally relate to Pema since I was born into a Buddhist family – then converted to Christianity. I guess her story is opposite of mine – nevertheless – her materials and teachings are very spiritual and enlightening. Overall, I think some of these women have shown great strides in their quest to be recognized and respected in their religious communities. Of course – progress is slow with something of this magnitude. While I applaud and respect their courage and commitment – the days of yesterday will not go away easily. To gain legitimacy in today’s patriarchal religion – women will continue to be challenge by man and I think women should continue to do so until they have gained that respect and legitimacy.

why is healing the center of religious purpose?

i believe that healing is at the center of religious purpose because it serves to bring reconciliation and a new start to those who are affected. For women it takes both the spiritual and physical, thia is because for a long time women have been left behind or not even recognized in terms of religion and it is by the aspect of healing that they will be able to join in and be active in religious matters. In pg 152 Bednarwoski mentions that "healing" is often applied to efforts at forgiveness and reconciliation that emerge in one way or another in almost all the communities I consider". So be being healed the women will get reconciled with the men.

why can women benefit in religious involvement and how does this improve their lives?

in getting involved in religion women will be able to participate in matters that affect the society at large and they will be able to understand not only themselves but also the society at large. In getting involved they will have a part to play in making the society a better place.

how have women contributed to contemporary American religious understanding and practices?

The one wat that women have ontributed to American religion is by writing books and in this was they have been able o empower not only women but anybody who reads these books. This is true because by writing these books they are able to share the struggles of women and also their success. This way the voice of women is heard through them. They have also contributed by participating in religios practices and getting involoved in this way.

what do i carry out of this class.

i believe i have learnt learnt a lot in this course, it has given me an insight about other religions and the struggles that women have faced through the centuries. This makes me glad to be a woman and proud that i am contributing in my religious practices to make sure that women voices are heard and respected.