Friday, October 28, 2005

In the Heart of the Temple

Joan Chittister

Sexism, therefore, is heresy, is pathological pride, is hubris raised to high art. The truth is that science has rediscovered theology for us – and calls it ecology. Science knows now that everything is interrelated; that humanity is only one aspect of the fabric of life; that our connectedness is infinitely complex , and that, having poisoned the earth and polluted the air, we are now on the verge of extreme natural degradation and irreversible natural changes. If we do not see our sin and call it that, the anthropocentric – human-centred – worldview has failed us, has left us spiritual orphans. The androcentric – male-centred – worldview has destroyed us, has left us spiritual amnesiacs, has put us in contention with ourselves, with the universe, and with God the creator.

The world does not exist for us alone. On the contrary. Diversity is necessary. It is diversity we degrade and it is diversity we destroy. But it is specialization that is entropic. It is specialization that kills. If we farm only one product, the land dies; if we insist on only one social system, creativity dies; if we honour only one culture, peoples die; if we elevate only one sex, the fullness of humanity dies.

That is why feminism confronts androcentrism, this simplification of life to a one-gendered viewpoint only. Because simplification isn’t good for anyone. It’s not good for women. It’s not good for the planet. It’s not even good for men – it isolates them emotionally, it distorts them socially, it overdrives them physically and makes impossible demands on them psychologically.

Androcentrism is unspiritual because it ignores the spiritual value of the other half of the human race; it is immoral because it exploits the rest of creation. And it is un-Christian because it fails to find God incarnate in everything. That is why feminism denies the universalization of the experience of male experience. Women know that they see differently too, and they want that vision honoured for the sake of the human race. Women know that they think and feel differently about many things, and they want those thoughts and feelings factored into decisions – for the sake of the human race. Women know that they are different physically and they want their bodies valued, honoured, and listened to in all the questions that affect life (not simply the biological ones) for the sake of the human race.

Feminism rejects hierarchy and domination, not for itself alone, but for the sake of the rest of the human race. In fact, ecofeminism – a feminism that integrates Genesis 2, science and ecology and the fullness of humanity – reconceives feminism itself. An equal rights feminism that simply wants what men have already is not enough. A radical feminism that seeks separatism and divides the human race on the pretext of bettering it is not enough. A socialist feminism that concentrates on what is good for humans but takes no account of nature is not enough.

Feminism – real feminism – is a new worldview that transcends male chauvinism, rejects female chauvinism, is not just anthropocentric, but embraces creation and rejoices in nature and sees the ‘image of God’ in equal grandeur in both female and male, in the cosmos and the totality of creation.

From Chapter 9 of In the Heart of the Temple – my spiritual vision for today’s world, published by Bluebridge/Benetvision 2004

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