Feminism and Christian Tradition: An Annotated Bibliography and Critical Introduction to the Literature

By Mary-Paula Walsh | Go to book overview

5
Early Feminist Theological
Literature (1968-1977)

A. Grounding Sources: 1960, 1968-1973

"154" Bentley-Doely, Sarah, ed. Women's Liberation and the Church: The New Demand for Freedom in the Life of the Christian Church. New York: Association Press, 1970.

This early collection of seven essays depicts the status and concerns of Christian women working professionally in American churches during the late 1960s. The entries include: (1) Davida Crabtree's "Women's Liberation in the Church," a contrast of women's status in Christianity with the then salient goals of American feminism; (2) an historical-theological description of feminism by Rosemary Radford Ruether; (3) "A Christian Perspective on Feminism" by Sidney Callahan, a lay Catholic educator and professional journalist; (4-5) two essays (by Susan Barrabee and Norma Ramsey Jones, respectively) on the conflicts and roadblocks experienced by women in seminary and ordained ministry; (6) literature supporting the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (a Los Angeles community of nuns) in their 1967 move to non-canonical community status vis a vis the Vatican; and last, Peggy Ann Way's powerful and frequently quoted essay, "Towards an Authority of Possibility." An appendix of materials from the December, 1969 Detroit meeting of the Women's Caucus of the Assembly of the National Council of Churches in Christ and a "Selected Bibliography" developed by Nelle Morton close the volume.

"155" Collins, Sheila. "Toward a Feminist Theology." The Christian Century 94 (1972): 796-799.

This essay describes four early feminist theological themes that in subsequent literature become characteristic emphases of feminist theological thought. These are the feminist rejection of theologically defined misogyny in the Bible, Christian theology and history; a subsequent acceptance of an "egalitarian and pluralistic schema;" the related call for a "re-thinking of the traditional doctrines of sin, incarnation and salvation… in terms consonant with the existential experience of all persons, not just "those" of White Western males;" and last, an "ethic based on the responsible self actualization of every person… "to"… achieve deeper awareness of the ties that bind all of creation together" (p. 799).

"156" Daly, Mary. "The Forgotten Sex: A Built-in Bias." Commonweal 81 (1965): 508511.

This is Daly's first published critique of Catholicism's antifeminist bias against women, and it hints of all that will eventually be detailed in The Church and the Second Sex: (1) a perspective grounded in de Beauvoir's analysis of the marginality of women; (2) the many ways Christianity--and particularly Catholicism--has supported that marginality--and with it--the misogyny of the "Fathers"; and (3) a statement of hope, drawn from the recognition that not all of Catholicism's priestly caste is as androcentric as that of the magisterium and its authority. The article appears as one of two addressing the question: "Should women be priests?" with the second, by Gertrud Heinzelmann, (not abstracted here) presenting an early argument for women's ordination.

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