Heart of Flesh: A Feminist Spirituality for Women and Men

Article excerpt

Heart of Flesh: A Feminist Spirituality for Women and Men. By Joan D. Chittister. Grand Rapids, MI/Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans; Ottawa: Novalis Saint Paid University, 1998. x + 187 pp. col. illus. $20.00 (paper).

If ever there were a case of "If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen" this must be it. in other words, if the title and subtitle make you nervous the chances are that the book itself will render you hysterical. This, it has to be said, is more a reflection on you than the author, but nevertheless as one who is still twitching and writhing a week after finishing the text I think you should be warned!

if, on the other hand, you warm to the concepts Chittister explores with passion and personality you will find this a cogent, powerful and iterative exploration of a positive anti-paternalistic spirituality. To see which camp you fall into, try reading the following extracts:

Religion itself, the great value agent of culture, is being reevaluated for patriarchal distortion of its liberating roots (p. 32).

Feminism is asking men to wake up and see what's missing in the picture-in themselves-and to devote themselves for the first time in history to the wholesale countenance of brain over brawn, of love over hate-the only weapons women have ever had (p. 87).

Feminist spirituality bridges the isolation of both women and men and gives both of them a chance, finally, finally, to be whole (p. 157).

Put crudely, if sentences like this fire you tip and fill you with hope for the Body of Christ then this book will inspire, encourage and embolden you. You will read the text with eyes open to some of the pictures created by the artist-illustrator Nancy Earle, and Chittister's own images, such as, "the carnival of goodness everywhere" (p. …