Dissident Daughters: Feminist Liturgies in Global Context

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Dissident Daughters: Feminist Liturgies in Global Context. Edited by Teresa Berger. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002. xv + 255 pp. $24.95 (paper).

A recent New York Times story demonstrates the global nature of feminist religious rituals as well as the devastating circumstances that generate them.

According to the news story, a woman named Cemse Allak of Yaylim, Turkey, was buried in a local cemetery in July after suffering a lingering death from stoning. She was stoned by the villagers, including her family, who were bent on restoring their honor damaged by her becoming pregnant outside of marriage. Unfortunately, her story is not unusual. Honor killings are still commonplace in remote Turkish villages, in spite of new Turkish human rights laws.

What makes Cemse Allak's death unusual is not the manner of her death, or her executioners, or the fact that her family members refused to see her during her seven-month hospitalization, to pay for her medical care, or to attend her burial. What makes her death unusual is the fact that a local women's association cared for her in the hospital, and when she died, the women claimed her body and, in direct violation of Muslim law and tradition, carried her coffin to the cemetery and stepped forward to throw the first soil into the grave.

Teresa Bergers fine collection of feminist liturgies from around the globe does not include any rituals quite so heartbreaking, but many of them grew out of comparable suffering. For example, the chapter by Ute Seibert, "Springtime: September in Chile," combines the beginning of spring in the southern hemisphere with the painful memories of the 1973 military coup and its repressions and violence into a poignant ritual of remembrance and hope. …