Feminist Mysticism and Images of God
Feminist theologians often claim that “women’s experience” is their starting point. However, most feminist theology is remarkably void of analysis of particular women’s experiences of imaging God. In this book, Knight provides practical recommendations to help people transform images in the context of religious practices.
What difference does it make whether we picture God as an elderly white grandfather, a nurturing African American mother, or a stranger on the bus?
Jennie Knight says our image of God affects how we see ourselves, how we worship, how we treat one another, how (or whether) we work for justice, and a host of other life practices. But after years of knowing intellectually that God transcends a specific human type, Knight still struggles to make an emotional connection with God in different forms. She suspects that that struggle is why many seminarians who wrote papers about thea/theology abandon nontraditional God images once they hit parish ministry, perpetuating the practice of seeing God as a European male on a throne and all the accompanying problems that such imagery creates.
Knight believes that personal and critical reflection in the context of a supportive learning community, combined with experiences of diverse images for the divine in worship, can lead to profound changes in self-image, relationship with the divine, and agency in the world. This book aims to demonstrate why and how this transformation is both possible and necessary.
The popularity of The Shack, The Secret Life of Bees, Joan of Arcadia, and other works with nontraditional God-figures reveals a culture ready to embrace God in many forms. Knight examines how the church can do the same.
“Feminist Mysticism and Images of God is not just a book for a select audience of women. It allows the reader to think about the dynamics of imaginative power in constructing subjective human and God images. It provides a larger context for understanding the interplay of religion and Spirituality in the United States. Practical theologian Jennie S. Knight addresses congregations and the significance of their worship and education practices as she unpacks the complex interaction of conceptual theologies, cultural images, and personal internalized images of the divine. What is noteworthy is her deepened attention to gender and race in this conversation. Knight focuses on the relationship of concept and image, and makes clear why what pastors say (or not) matters, as she delves into the experiences of women who have left traditional worship settings for participation in retreat centers of the feminist spirituality movement in their need to explore and connect emotionally with female images of the divine. While this primary focus on women and female images of God may be a distraction to some readers, it need not be so. The book is structured in a way that invites people to think about the construction of their self-identity and images of God...”
- Karin A. Craven, Luther Seminary, Excerpted from a full review in Word & World, Spring 2013