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The Heart of Flesh: A Feminist Spirituality for Women and Men

It is necessary for all of us, at all times, to understand that female and feminist are not the same things. Feminists are people who believe that the notion of gendering, of defining the sexes by traits and limiting them in life on physical grounds to separate roles, should be replaced by the notion of universal personhood. Surely God did not make one sex simply for the sake of waiting on the other.

It is necessary to realize that feminists come in two genders—female sometimes, but not always, and male, often, though too rarely recognized either by women or the men themselves.

In fact, it is only my feminist brothers who are any proof to me whatsoever that humanity and creation as God made it is really possible. To those brothers, I owe my love. Each of them, male and female, reflects a different experience, yes, but each is searching for the same thing— a heart of flesh and a soul that’s soft.

Feminism is a new worldview. Feminism is a spirituality that the world and the church ignore to the peril of us all. Feminism is about another way of looking at life, about another set of values designed to nurture a dying globe and rescue any people too long ground under foot, too long ignored, unseen, invisible.

Feminism is about a new way of thinking for both women and men who are tired of the carnage, sickened by the exploitation of the globe, disillusioned by the power struggles and searching—as Ezekiel promises—for a heart of flesh in a world of stone. Feminism is, in other words, not a women’s question: It is the human question of the century. It is the spiritual question of all time. It’s not about getting what men already have. Not on your life. What men have is not nearly enough. Feminism is about getting a better world, for everybody.

Feminism, a different cluster of values, a distinct worldview, comes to correct patriarchy’s skewed concepts of who should be rulers and who are ruled, of who are weak and who are strong, of what is right and what is wrong, of what is a man and what is a woman. Feminism does not come to destroy men. If anything, it comes to save men from imprisonment by a system that cramps the human development of men all the while it purports to give them power. Feminists are not asking men to be less than manly. Feminists are asking women and men not to buy into patriarchal systems that destroy them both. Feminism comes to bring both men and women to the fullness of life, and wholeness of soul for which we feminists—both women and men—call us to the Christianity of a Jesus who preceded the patriarchal church, the corporate world, and the nuclearized government. They call us to listen to the Canaanites in our midst, to include women in our groups, to do away with rigid roles, to open synods and seminaries and chanceries everywhere, to see ourselves as part of the whole rather than its potentates, to go through life as partners rather than as power mongers, to devote ourselves to more than ourselves.

             —from Heart of Flesh: A Feminist Spirituality for Women and Men, by Joan Chittister