atrotlFlinders (author of At The Root Of This Longing) sees cracks in patriarchy, informed by both her spirituality and her feminism. Indeed, notable Christian medieval mystics, such as Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich, Catherine of Sienna, Clare of Assisi, Teresa of Ávila, etc, were pioneer feminists. ‘Enclosed with one another, and unencumbered by husband or children, they found a scope for their energies and a freedom of expression…. They lived longer than their married sisters, and developed their native talents fully, becoming artists, musicians, poets, scholars, playwrights, healers, and teachers. Freed from clerical and pastoral responsibilities … many gave themselves over entirely to contemplative prayer and discovered the mysterious beauties of silence that is freely chosen…. Turning their backs on self, moreover, as patriarchy defined it, … they strove instead to see Christ in themselves and in everyone around them…. Mysticism represented for many of them, in Gerda Lerner‘s phrasing, “an alternative mode of thought to patriarchal thinking.” ‘ (124-125) image of clare of assisi from wikipedia.

Heading into the 21st century, ‘religion is stunningly misogynist … and structured spiritual disciplines can look, to women who are just breaking out of patriarchy, like “the enemy”–the enemy’s excessive needs for control, its dualistic modes of thought, and its harshness towards “the flesh”…. There had to be ways that feminism could open out to the sacred without compromising itself; there had to be forms of spirituality uncontaminated by patriarchy.’ (135-137) The search continues….  image from wikipedia.

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