I will never forget reading “Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation,” by the famed, or better said, infamous feminist theologian and thinker Mary Daly back when I was in graduate school. It was one of the first texts I ever read in the field of feminist anything. I can’t say that it was the book that tipped me toward a focus in feminist spirituality, but a feminist education in religion and theology would be incomplete without at least a few Mary Daly texts, read and reread lovingly, albeit with a critical eyes.
Daly was one of the most radical feminists to emerge in the 20th century, and certainly the most radical of the first wave of feminist theologians. Perhaps you could say she’s even beyond radical.
Not to be missed before the clock strikes midnight to end 2010 is the beautiful, playful devotion to Mary Daly’s life that was in this week’s New York Times Magazine, “The Lives They Lived” annual feature. Entitled “Gyno-Theologian: She never stopped raging at the patriarchy,” Sara Corbett remembers this pathbreaking feminist scholar and writer:
“Having been raised with God, she hung onto God — battling, even, to understand him. In 1959, having already finished bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at Catholic institutions, Daly decided to study medieval theology and philosophy. But she found that few opportunities existed for women in theology in the United States. She ended up at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, a more open-minded place, blasting around campus on a motorbike, working to decode the arcane myths and symbols of religion. “I was like a chicken trying to crack my way out of an egg,” she would recall.”
All of us who are women in the west and writing/working in the realm of religion, theology, spirituality, and related areas owe Dr. Daly a great debt.