Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Why doesn't 'Interfaith' include Goddess?

Though I’m going to point the finger at one organization in particular in this post, let me be clear that this is not the only organization to claim it’s holding an interfaith, inter-religious, or ecumenical gathering while failing to include Goddess speakers. This situation has occurred before, and, unless we speak up clearly and continually, is likely to keep on happening. Often these situations occur with groups that project the image of being progressive and open-minded by including people from a variety of religions.

When the topic of the meeting or conference doesn’t specifically have something to do with women, it may be easier to let this slight slide by. But in this case, the conference topic is "Women in Religion in the 21st Century." This conference is being held Oct. 17-19 at the Interchurch Center in New York City and as unbelievable as it may seem, as far as I can tell from the list of speakers and list of events this conference doesn’t have any speakers who are known for teaching, writing on, or participating in modern Goddess religions, nor any presentations or discussions specifically on the large role played by Goddess thought in empowering women. Just about every other religious path seems to be included in the program, which has more than 50 speakers representing not only the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) but also Zoroastrian, Sihk, Shinto, Baha’i, Native American and probably other faiths. And this is great! But where, in an extensive 3-day program on women and religion, is the Goddess?

A statement of the "conference focus" says:
This is meant to be a positive voice to deepen understanding and respect, to promote collaboration and connectivity among religious organizations of all kinds and to provide a unique opportunity for networking among all women in all religions.
Why, we must ask, are Goddess feminists apparently excluded, or at the very least ignored, in this deepening of understanding and respect? Where is our opportunity?

I can think of two reasons for omitting Goddessians. One is that you tried to get Goddess speakers and none were available. It’s hard to envision this, though: How hard can it be to find a Goddess feminist to speak in New York City? Plus, in this particular case, at least two speakers on the list, while they are not themselves Goddess feminists, are known to have strong contacts in the Goddess community. So if the program planners didn’t have a clue about who would make a good Goddess representative, they could have asked them. Nevertheless, I suppose trying but not being able to find a speaker is within the realm of possibility.

It’s too late to do anything about this particular event. But I’ll make this offer for the future: If this happens to other groups planning "interfaith" events–especially those focusing on women and religion–if you want a Goddess author or scholar to speak at your conference, you are welcome to use this blog as a contact point. Leave a comment, or click on our profiles to figure out how to get in touch with one of us. Lest you think I’m trying to drum up personal business: neither I nor any of the other current team members are on the lecture circuit; we are not personally available for speaking engagements. But if you can’t find Goddess speakers on your own, we may be able to put you in touch with one.

The second possible reason for the "Conference on Women and Religion in the 21st Century" not including Goddess speakers is the less palatable but I’m afraid more likely one: Your organization doesn’t want any Goddessians on the program. Why? Are they too radical? Too dangerous? How can this be at a time when an increasing number of people are identifying themselves as Goddess Christians, Christo-Pagans, Goddess Jews , and Jewitches . Or could it be that’s what scares you?

Let me put it this way:

There is room at my table for those who want to remain Christian but who wish to honor Sophia, Mary Magdalene, Christa. Why isn’t there room at your table for people who honor Goddess(es) as a separate religious path?

There is room at my table for Jews who want to go no further than placing an orange on the sedar plate and Miriam’s Cup next to Elijah’s, or no further than re-empowering Shekhinah. Why isn’t there room at your table for Goddessians?

There is room at my table for all those in every spiritual path who seek to empower women and include women in the divine. Why isn’t there room at your table for us?


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At Monday, October 09, 2006 7:59:00 PM, Blogger Mohamed Taher said...

I have cited your excellent words on the state-of-the-mind as-is and where-is basis.
Best, Mohamed Taher
Multifaith Information Gateway

At Monday, October 09, 2006 10:25:00 PM, Blogger Medusa said...

Thanks for letting us know, Mohamed.


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Judith Laura

More blogs about /goddess/feminist theology/spiritual feminism/pagan/feminist spirituality/.