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Chattering Mind

The Web is alive with talk about how Jewish author and feminist Naomi Wolf (the advisor who rightly told Al Gore he needed to access his “alpha” male) has seen Jesus!

Yes, the fabulous author of “The Beauty Myth” (a 1991 critique of the beauty industry for making women feel insecure about their attractiveness) told Scotland’s Glasgow Sunday Herald that while in therapy for a troubling writer’s block, she had a waking dream in which she sat next to Jesus. Only she wasn’t herself in the vision, she was a 13-year-old boy.

“I actually had this vision of Jesus, and I’m sure it was Jesus,” said Wolf. “But it wasn’t this crazy theological thing; it was just this figure who was the most perfected human being that there could be – full of light and full of love.”

“There are a lot of people out there just waiting for some little Jewish feminist to cross over,” she goes on to say. “I don’t claim to get where this being fits into the scheme of things, but I absolutely believe in divine providence now, absolutely believe God totally cares about every single one of us intimately.”

This revelation has thrown everyone in America back, it seems, to the days when Joan of Arc heard voices. Wait a second…that was in France. Closer to home, how about the time Hillary Clinton, through the guidance of Jean Houston, talked to Eleanor Roosevelt?

Like Clinton, Wolf is being castigated right and left. Rosa Brooks of the Los Angeles Times writes:

“…we Americans have always been enthusiastic about religion. Speaking in tongues? We can do that. Visions and fainting fits? We can produce entire revival camps full of synchronized fainters. Don’t like your old religion? We got a new one. Found Jesus while you were temporarily inhabiting the body of a 13-year-old boy? Not a problem, Naomi. We’ve got a church for you somewhere.”

I find this snide tone so unfortunate. My first questions for Wolf would be: “Was Jesus all energy and light, or did he actually assume a human form? Did he have long hair and dark skin? Would you mind writing this up for Beliefnet? For God’s sake, why didn’t you come to us with this in the first place?”

“Wolf emphasised that her spiritual renewal strengthened her commitment to feminism as her life mission,” says the Herald. “‘I believe that each of us is here to help repair the world,’ she said. ‘My particular mission seems to be about helping women remember what’s sacred about them or what’s sacred about femininity.'”

Hallejulah! I’ve seen her speak. She is gutsy. She was the first major feminist, after all, who said after her first pregnancy that she was rethinking her stand on abortion because as she’d held a life within her, she realized that it was a life, and it would have been murder to abort it. I loved her for that.

Feminists today are still refusing to cut a deal on partial birth, taking John Kerry down with them by insisting he hew hard to a 100 percent pure abortion stand. I learned from Wolf that I can lament all that, and still be pro-choice. Perhaps she will now have a role in brokering some nuanced views between the religious right and left, but sadly, I feel that she’s going to have to fight for her credibility with the mainstream press.

Here’s the bottom line: We shouldn’t ridicule anyone’s religious transitions or spiritual experiences. Salvador Dali had it right in his paintings: the world of the spirit sometimes look like it’s on LSD. In fact, that’s why some seekers of the ’60s took mind-altering drugs, so they could access the spirit world more readily. The poet William Blake–and many, many other religious people over the course of human history have had uncanny visions and visitations. Everybody’s experience is different, with its own twists and bits of absurdity.

Personally, I haven’t had my Jesus experience yet. An angelic Barbara Bush once appeared to me in a dream to tell me that she’d changed every light bulb in my dreary apartment-building hallway. She thought “the way” had been too long and dark for me. And once, while listening to a marvelous preacher named Gordon Cosby
in Washington, D.C., the lights in the sanctuary began to bend and warp. I took this as a realization that I was listening to a very holy man.

And you don’t think I’m nuts, right?

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