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The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman's Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine

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Offering gifts and lessons for all women seeking more from their faith and religion, the acclaimed author of When the Heart Waits shares the personal, provocative story of her move away from the patriarchial church toward the Feminine Divine.


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Offering gifts and lessons for all women seeking more from their faith and religion, the acclaimed author of When the Heart Waits shares the personal, provocative story of her move away from the patriarchial church toward the Feminine Divine.

30 review for The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman's Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine

  1. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    This book made me start doing what I might have once referred to as "hippie shit." Recently I was at a picnic that was being held at dusk at the lake, and I wondered away from the crowd and offered up a blessing to the Goddess. I blame/thank Sue Monk Kidd for this. Got to be unafraid to seek the divine in a way that fits and feels right.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I found Sue Monk Kidd’s books The Mermaid Chair and The Secret Life of Bees mesmerizing and poetic. They were the type of books that you don’t want to put down, but you don’t want to end, especially, The Secret Life of Bees. It was for this reason; I thought I would love all of SMK’s books. However, I was saddened when I read The Dance of the Dissident Daughter. In the beginning, I enjoyed the book and could definitely relate to a lot of her experiences as a woman in this society and as a Christ I found Sue Monk Kidd’s books The Mermaid Chair and The Secret Life of Bees mesmerizing and poetic. They were the type of books that you don’t want to put down, but you don’t want to end, especially, The Secret Life of Bees. It was for this reason; I thought I would love all of SMK’s books. However, I was saddened when I read The Dance of the Dissident Daughter. In the beginning, I enjoyed the book and could definitely relate to a lot of her experiences as a woman in this society and as a Christian woman. She talks about gender bias in society and in the church. It turns out that instead of embracing how strong a woman’s role is in the church; she rejects her role as a Christian woman completely and ventures off into her own creation, her very own religion. I kept hanging in there following her on her journey, hoping her faith and obedience to Christ would return. However, it didn’t. Reading this book took me for a spiritual rollercoaster ride. Like I said, I could definitely relate to a lot of the prejudice she has experienced as a woman in the church, but I was hoping she would provide some guidance on what a woman’s role should be in the church. I was hoping she would provide a solution, a way to intertwine Christianity and Feminism. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the blind leading the blind and instead of humility (which I have found is needed to gain any understanding and wisdom) the undertone of the book was pride. Of course, looking back I can see how her journey to the “Divine Feminine” was very present in the first two novels I read and mentioned above. Perhaps, that is why I enjoyed those books so much, because they really allow you to embrace your femininity and know how powerful and nurturing a woman’s love can be. However, I feel that as a woman these are gifts from God, by His grace alone, we are able to use these gifts for good. I feel though that we should humble ourselves and thank God for these gifts rather than worshipping these gifts. I know this is a very strong opinion, but I really feel like SMK has created her own idol(s). This has been done in the past with gifts God has given us: money, power, family… I think it has come to the point where she is worshipping her femininity, which is just one of the many gifts our Creator has blessed us women with. I must mention there were some very moving and beautiful parts of this book, too, because yes, being a woman is beautiful and yes, nature is wonderful and I feel at certain parts in the book she really celebrates womanhood and nature at its best. Yet, again I stress that women and nature are gifts from God and shouldn’t be worshipped as gods themselves. I do commend her for putting herself out there and sharing her spiritual journey, that takes a lot of courage, because you know, everyone is a critic. I love all of my sisters and I share their pain and I agree that womanhood should be celebrated. I know that whether SMK knows it right now or not; she will always be His, since nothing can snatch us from our Father’s hand. I just hope she will soon rediscover the joy in that—the joy in having such a loving, merciful, and graceful Father. I still have a long way to go on my spiritual journey and what is important to me is staying true to my convictions. I feel that SMK’s book was a major stumbling block for me, as a Christian woman and therefore I would not recommend this to any other Christian woman. Anyway, I am glad that shortly after reading this book, I read The Lies Woman Believe: And the Truth that Sets Them Free, and I feel that book gave me the guidance I was looking for all along. Also, listed in The Lies Woman Believe: And the Truth that Sets Them Free are other great resources for women.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    On the day my daughter started Kindergarten, I had my first meeting with my spiritual director, which is mid-sabbatical for me. At the end of our meeting, she recommended this book and I drove directly to the Fuller bookstore and bought and sat in the cafe and read the prologue. And then I cried the whole drive home. This book will mess with you, especially if you are a woman who leads in the evangelical church. Read with care! I found this book to be the door into profound personal journey of f On the day my daughter started Kindergarten, I had my first meeting with my spiritual director, which is mid-sabbatical for me. At the end of our meeting, she recommended this book and I drove directly to the Fuller bookstore and bought and sat in the cafe and read the prologue. And then I cried the whole drive home. This book will mess with you, especially if you are a woman who leads in the evangelical church. Read with care! I found this book to be the door into profound personal journey of faith and theology, but it is not for the faint of heart (or faith!). I love Kidd's description of centeredness and found myself longing and identifying with much of her journey. She is an interesting writer and it is easy to read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I'd like to rate this higher, because I think the topic is an important one, and the author really tries to make it accessible by telling her own story, but I had a hard time with a lot of it, and not because of the subject matter itself, but because of the way it was presented. In the introduction, Kidd says that every person who undertakes a journey to seek out the feminine divine will have her or his own unique experience, and that she only aims to tell her own individual story; but throughou I'd like to rate this higher, because I think the topic is an important one, and the author really tries to make it accessible by telling her own story, but I had a hard time with a lot of it, and not because of the subject matter itself, but because of the way it was presented. In the introduction, Kidd says that every person who undertakes a journey to seek out the feminine divine will have her or his own unique experience, and that she only aims to tell her own individual story; but throughout the book, she throws around comments that include phrases like "every woman will experience....", and about things that I don't think are as universal as she implies. I grew up in New Hampshire in the 1980's in a family of five daughters, and can honestly say that, with the exception of church, I was never made to feel bad or less worthy because I was a girl. Her focus, of course, is on patriarchy in religion, but she speaks of her experience growing up in the South in the 50's and 60's as if the gender biases that she grew up with in that culture (religion aside) were universal. In my experience, they're not. I did mostly enjoy reading about her experience of coming to question the patriarchy of her own religion, and of subseqeuntly pursuing a relationship with a feminine divine power. Also, I was glad that she pointed out that a rigid patriarchical system is as damaging to men as it is to women, just in different ways. I always hate it when feminists give the impression (or say explicitly) that such systems are oppressive to women, while the men come out smelling like roses. I've seen too many men really damaged by patriarchy to be able to stomach that kind of nonsense.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Liaken

    My friend lent me this book for a day and I started to read it. I was amazed after only a few pages. The woman sounded like me. Like ME! So many of the thoughts and ideas she was presenting were familiar, even in the way she articulated them. When my friend returned to collect her book the next day, I went to Barnes and Noble and bought it. I finished reading it several days later with lots of marked up bits in the margins. It was like water on parched ground to read the true journey of a woman My friend lent me this book for a day and I started to read it. I was amazed after only a few pages. The woman sounded like me. Like ME! So many of the thoughts and ideas she was presenting were familiar, even in the way she articulated them. When my friend returned to collect her book the next day, I went to Barnes and Noble and bought it. I finished reading it several days later with lots of marked up bits in the margins. It was like water on parched ground to read the true journey of a woman who was a product of a strongly patriarchal religious culture who wanted to find the divine feminine for her own soul's sake. Now, lest you think that everything in the book resonated, there are a few things I want to point out in this review (but the book still highly deserves the five stars). First, even though she makes a strong case for the divine feminine, the Goddess, Mother in Heaven, or whatever you want to call Her, she makes this lame-brained statement partway through the book about how, of course we all know that God actually has no gender whatsoever and that speaking of a female divine is just for our own sake . . . My note in the margin at the point was fairly explosive. From what I could see, she was backing down on everything that she had built up and come to find in her own soul. She had dismissed the glory of her own self and the glory of God. And why? The only reason I could find was to be politically correct. Well, bah. Second, while the majority of the book is about her claiming the power and beauty of her own divine soul and basking in the glory of the divine feminine, there are moments in the book where she places her power outside of herself and tries to make it more mystical (dancing around a tortoise shell in the moonlight, for example). This cheapens the reality of her soul's journey. And it also puts her new found empowerment in a dangerous place: outside of herself where other influences can take it and twist it and manipulate it. These parts of the book didn't resonate with me. They didn't necessarily alarm me, but they didn't feed that place in my soul. I recommend this book in conjunction with A God Who Looks Like Me.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kati

    This book chronicles Sue Monk Kidd's journey from a Southern Baptist church to a spirituality focused on what she calls The Feminine Divine. She leaves Orthodox Christianity after coming face to face with the sexism in the church and, as she sees it, in the whole Christian religion. Kidd articulates a lot of feelings and questions I myself have had as I have explored what it means to be a woman in the Church. I do not think I come to the same conclusions she does or that I will follow in her pat This book chronicles Sue Monk Kidd's journey from a Southern Baptist church to a spirituality focused on what she calls The Feminine Divine. She leaves Orthodox Christianity after coming face to face with the sexism in the church and, as she sees it, in the whole Christian religion. Kidd articulates a lot of feelings and questions I myself have had as I have explored what it means to be a woman in the Church. I do not think I come to the same conclusions she does or that I will follow in her path, but I appreciate the research she has done regarding the feminine characteristics of a God that encompasses both genders, which have been long ignored by much of the organized church. I appreciate the questions she is helping me ask and her observations about how the Churches disregard of God's feminine characteristics have influenced the way it interacts with the environment, the state, etc.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Bringhurst Familia

    This book has been recommended to me multiple times, and I finally got around to reading it this Mother's Day. It's definitely a book that needed to be written, and I gave it five stars because I don't know of another book that addresses this important subject as well as The Dance of the Dissident Daughter (If you do, please tell me, because I would love to read it). Kidd's description of her awakening to how male-centric her religion was really struck a chord with me. As a Mormon, I found it fas This book has been recommended to me multiple times, and I finally got around to reading it this Mother's Day. It's definitely a book that needed to be written, and I gave it five stars because I don't know of another book that addresses this important subject as well as The Dance of the Dissident Daughter (If you do, please tell me, because I would love to read it). Kidd's description of her awakening to how male-centric her religion was really struck a chord with me. As a Mormon, I found it fascinating that many of the Christian doctrines she cites (such as the maligning of Eve, or the lack of a female divinity) are actually rectified in my own faith. But on a practical level, in spite of our more egalitarian doctrines, the attitudes of many church members toward women (and some of the things I hear from the pulpit) are the same as Kidd describes. I didn't connect as much to the second half of the book, where she describes all the interesting things she did to connect with the Sacred Feminine. I don't really feel a need to do Jungian psychoanalysis or make string mazes through the forest. She also seemed to shift from wanting to connect with God to connecting with the divine within herself. They're certainly related, but I thought she conflated them, perhaps excessively. Still, many of her suggestions (e.g. meditation, sacred space, making a shift from living vicariously through others) are helpful. Also included in the Notes section is a sort of informal bibliography, which I will definitely be checking out for further reading. The one bizarre thing is that Kidd appears to assume that every woman's journey will be virtually identical to hers. She is constantly extrapolating her own experience, even very specific bits of it, and prognosticating that every woman will go through a similar moment. I actually did find myself relating to her experience in many, many particulars, but I can see how someone might find her constant assumption that she is a sort of archetype for "everywoman" annoying. All in all, an enlightening book, and definitely worth a read if you have any interest at all in the Sacred Feminine.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    While I hadn't given the male slant in Christianity much thought of late, (I stopped attending a traditional protestant church in my early 20's & was now attending a liberal church), reading this book reminded me why I couldn't have been born in an earlier time. It reminded me of the stifling, oppressing man from a former relationship. Had I read this book then, I may have had the courage to end the relationship sooner. Looking to a feminine higher power isn't a negation of a male god, it just b While I hadn't given the male slant in Christianity much thought of late, (I stopped attending a traditional protestant church in my early 20's & was now attending a liberal church), reading this book reminded me why I couldn't have been born in an earlier time. It reminded me of the stifling, oppressing man from a former relationship. Had I read this book then, I may have had the courage to end the relationship sooner. Looking to a feminine higher power isn't a negation of a male god, it just brings balance to the religious equation that has been missing for a couple of thousand years. The idea the women can serve their church by providing a casserole for the covered lunch, be expected to do most of the menial day-today- work of the church & then come Sunday, worship the "God of our Fathers" is just demeaning. Women were leaders in the early Christian churches, but were pushed down to subordinate positions as soon as the Christian religion became the official religion of Rome. Sue Monk Kidd chronicled difficult journey to find the feminine divine & we are more the richer for it. I went to a lecture & book signing by Sue Monk Kidd with a few of my friends who also enjoyed this book. She was wonderful & more than happy to sign my copy even though it hadn't been sold at that event. She said something to the effect of, I love it when the Dissident Daughters show up.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Thank you Lord for helping me FINISH this book. I, of course, wanted to read this because I've been such a fan of Sue Monk Kidd's earlier nonfiction. This was the last I hadn't read and her story of religious transformation from Christianity to what she calls a worship of "the Divine Feminine." I can say that she is very expressive, well-researched author. She was extremely through, pulling in many different sources and, as her previous non-fiction books, she did a good job of weaving informative Thank you Lord for helping me FINISH this book. I, of course, wanted to read this because I've been such a fan of Sue Monk Kidd's earlier nonfiction. This was the last I hadn't read and her story of religious transformation from Christianity to what she calls a worship of "the Divine Feminine." I can say that she is very expressive, well-researched author. She was extremely through, pulling in many different sources and, as her previous non-fiction books, she did a good job of weaving informative and memoir. This book gave me a lot to think about. I enjoyed learning about some of the feminine characteristics of God- something I believe to be Biblical and often ignored by most Christian churches. There was also a good bit of fascinating history (especially about Gnostics and early Christian femininity.)This was also my first taste of any sort of feminist writing, which I enjoyed just as an overview. That's why I give it three stars. Why do I not give it more? This is basically her story of becoming a feminist. Very few things in this book I agreed with. I believe in women's empowerment, but I've never had a desire to become a feminist. Like many other oppressed groups, she seems to feel a lifelong victimization because of her gender. She constantly reacts out of a feeling of perceived societal inferiority and anger. In this book, she was so expressive and metaphorical that the symbols almost lacked power for the sheer number of them. I mean, really, does literally every object you pick up or dream about need to represent the Goddess within? Spiritually, there were also a lot of disagreements I had with her. My pastor has often said that he's glad he worships a God who is too big to fit into his image. That's exactly what the Goddess of this book is- shaped in Kidd's image to be exactly what she wants. Also, I spiritually struggled with the book because I believe that when God calls us to something in an authentic spiritual journey, (s)he (and I will acknowledge God's lack of gender) collaborates with us, moving us WITH and BY him/her in our life. There are going to be some things that we find difficult or uncomfortable. This wasn't WITH God, but about Kidd's own desire of what she wanted God to be, with no struggle other than a "rah rah" feminine empowerment.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    This is an excellent memoir. I am actually not a huge fan of Kidd's fiction, but this was a fascinating account of her transformation from Christian model daughter/wife to following Jungian principles of female gods. It's a bit out there with the rituals and ceremonies, but that is after all the point. Is it more crazy to do a drum circle than take a wafer in mass? If it is, it's only because we've normalized some crazy stories over others.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    This memoir set me on a course of searching out more books about feminism and religion. I really liked the way Kidd lets the reader into her inner world and describes her journey, but does not become too theoretical or abstract. She keeps it real by writing about concrete experiences with specific details.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Shelly

    The following is what I wrote for the book club that had me reading The Dance of the Dissident Daughter. Beneath it, also in italics is an added paragraph.. I did finish the book but it was a hard slog to do it. I'd read a paragraph and by the end of it couldn't recall exactly what the first part of the paragraph was. I couldn't stop thinking how nice it was for her to be able to take all those trips, not only the more local retreats to her circle of trees but all over the country and abroad. I The following is what I wrote for the book club that had me reading The Dance of the Dissident Daughter. Beneath it, also in italics is an added paragraph.. I did finish the book but it was a hard slog to do it. I'd read a paragraph and by the end of it couldn't recall exactly what the first part of the paragraph was. I couldn't stop thinking how nice it was for her to be able to take all those trips, not only the more local retreats to her circle of trees but all over the country and abroad. I was never clear exactly on what the husband did for a living - minister I think was mentioned at one point, associated with a college/university in some capacity at another - but whatever he did, between their two jobs, she was certainly able to travel to a lot of nice places. Some of the workshops and retreats mentioned were job related and she was probably comped in some way for them but many were not and over the course of the several years of her "journey" the woman did a heck of a lot of traveling, even if only for weekend getaways. I thought it ever so convenient that she'd mention a certain symbol as showing up in her dreams and oh, by the way, she'd read at least one other book on the sacred feminine that was all about that particular symbol... and oh yeah, read it before that symbol started showing up in the dreams. If I followed her discourse time and again on such events, she'd read a book or several books with information about a particular symbol showing up in dreams and how it relates to the sacred feminine and then she'd start having dreams with that exact symbol. As I said, seemed rather convenient for her in terms of relating how her journey evolved and progressed. I also found it convenient that just when she's searching for an example to give of patriarchal oppression she suddenly remembered something from childhood that fits perfectly into her scenario. The same is true of conversations over the years with others at workshops or from daily life or from church settings. Some of these incidents when recalled made her angry or in need of sitting down and sobbing yet at the time many of them occurred she didn't seem to find anything oppressing or anger inducing. Maybe she wasn't happy with how the conversation went but that's different from finding the situation oppressing. I hated how she wrote as if certain things are fact and apply to everyone. Just because I might dream about a labrynth doesn't mean I am having a dream symbol relating to the sacred feminine and wombs. Labrynths or mazes in dreams can be about searching for the solution to a problem, about feeling lost and confused, or like a rat running around in a maze. Sometimes, it's just a labrynth. Not every single thing in a dream is a symbol. She states as if fact some of the information about Ariadne from the Theseus and the Minotaur myth. Some of that information is theory and supposition. I really dislike it when someone states theories and suppositions as fact. Kidd really should have stated as much. Would it really have been so difficult or taken away from her narrative to have said that based on archaeological evidence or on the works of Plutarch or whatever that Ariadne is theorized to have been a goddess in her own right? Kidd does this throughout the book. Take something that's supposition or theory and state it as infallible fact. If this were a work of fiction, then fine, take something and put a particular spin on it for story purposes. Don't do that with non-fiction. The whole episode in Crete emerging from the cave with the pronouncements of, "It's a girl!" I found laughable, and not in a good way. It seemed contrived and over the top silly. That said, I don't want to demean or belittle whatever genuine experience any of those women had. If for them they found the experience of emerging from the cave as some sort of spiritual or feminine rebirth then more power to them. Kidd's description of it after going on and on and on about caves and labrynths and being reborn made the whole thing come across as trite and comical to me. I agree with others that Kidd was having some sort of mid-life crisis and based on a number of things she wrote I would say that part of the crisis was already being depressed. She mentions becoming depressed over certain things as she "awakened" and began this inner journey of hers but I think she was already in a somewhat depressed state. Her reaction to certain events, conversations, attitudes of others, etc point in that direction. Where others might have been peeved over something, Kidd was having out and out mini breakdowns, throwing objects, sobbing, getting good and truly angry. I do think part of her mid-life crisis was a crisis of faith in her church and the church leaders but I do think there was so much more going on, such as being depressed and not really being aware of it, that led her to have this sudden light bulb moment about how she was being oppressed by a patriarchal church and a patriarchal society. I think she was experience dissatisfaction in her marriage already, which added to the depression and lack of faith in the church. Kidd wrote about how women put their lifes on the back burner for their families. That's true. In many families the needs of Mom come last. Some women are fine with that. Some are not. Of those who are not, some speak up right away and establish a more balanced way of doing things. Others stay silent for years with some finally reaching a breaking point. Sounds to me like that's what happened with Kidd. She got tired of things being one way for her husband but another way for her. He could announce that he was going away on business in two weeks and that would be that. On the other hand, when she needed to go out of town it became a big production of okaying it with him first, checking schedules for conflicts, arranging meals, making sure her husband knew what was going on in the kids' lives and so on. Kidd finally got tired of that and it came as part of this mid-life crisis, awakening, whatever you want to call it. That leads me to point out that Kidd could be sometimes contraditory. Through the book she talks about a woman seeking permission, of needing permission, of looking to others to find out this or that was all right yet at other times she says a woman doesn't need permission of others, she doesn't need approval from a husband, father, best friend, or whomever. I found this contradiction annoying. Also annoying was how she presented everything as being true for all women. All women who seek the sacred feminine will do this and then they will do this and then blah blah blah. It's another example, really, of her being contraditory because at times, particularly early in the book, she states that this was the evolution of her journey and she can't really speak to how the journey for others will go. Now, all the rambling to this point aside, I could see her point and even empathize on certain things. What mature woman would want to witness two older men leering at a teenage girl working to stock shelves and hear them say that's how they like their women, on their knees? I would have found that offensive so I can well imagine how Kidd must have felt as the mother of that teen. I think most women are well aware of the male oriented world with men still making more for the same jobs as women, of the lack of women in all aspects of politics and higher ranking corporate jobs, and within church organizations. I do not think that these days it's something women are blind too even though that's sometimes the way Kidd's writing came off to me. That is, she's going along, minding her own business then one day, BAM, it hits her. Men tend to dominate and don't like letting women have control of anything. That might have been the case at one time with culture and society here in the US but nowadays any woman who isn't aware that women are still having to fight for equal rights in and out of the home has been off living in that cave like labrynth methinks. All right, I could go on even more but I'm thinking y'all have a good idea on my overall thoughts and opinions of this book now. *LOL* Okay, now for that added paragraph. I wanted to also say that I do think that Kidd underwent something. I also think that the women she talks about had an experience that helped them each grow as a person. I don't wish from the above to make it seem as though I think it's all a load of hooey. I do believe in things like symbolism in dreams and seeing something spiritual all around us that can have a profound impact on someone's life. I did not like the book because of the manner in which things were presented. I didn't care at all for how Kidd often implies and sometimes out right writes that her experience is one that applies to all women nor did I like how at times she states something as fact when it is not yet never states that it's her opinion or someone else's opinion. To say the least I did not find this book fulfulling or freeing. For those who have, it's wonderful that the book speaks to you in such a way. Even if only one person had gotten something positive from the book, then Kidd did what she set out to do by sharing her spiritual journey.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Laura Cavanaugh

    I've had this book on my shelf for quite a while and never felt ready to read it until now. Somehow the idea of a "sacred Feminine" and "Goddess" language felt really outside of my comfort zone, knocking against my traditional, conservative upbringing. I worried that it would be too theologically "out there" for me to relate to, but I bought it anyway because I have loved another book of Kidd's, When the Heart Waits, so much. Although my own journey has been different than Kidd's, I found so many I've had this book on my shelf for quite a while and never felt ready to read it until now. Somehow the idea of a "sacred Feminine" and "Goddess" language felt really outside of my comfort zone, knocking against my traditional, conservative upbringing. I worried that it would be too theologically "out there" for me to relate to, but I bought it anyway because I have loved another book of Kidd's, When the Heart Waits, so much. Although my own journey has been different than Kidd's, I found so many parallels and felt very validated in my own experience. Reading about her journey also brought to mind elements of my own that I hadn't recognized before as being significant in this light. For any women who are awakening to the problem of patriarchy and/or the experience of the Divine Feminine, this book is for you. If the idea of the Divine Feminine is a scary one, read with an open mind and a prayerful heart. Or drop me a line, and I'll read it again with you so we can discuss along the way. I promise you won't be disappointed. I can already tell I will be re-reading this one soon!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kipahni

    I remember the first time I didn't feel equal in a church. It may have been implicitly there all my life but the real in your face awakening happened when I went to a bible study in my early adult years. It was a "biblical truths" series contrasting what the bible says vs what the world says. The leader showed a clip of Carl's COSMOS series where he is saying something like " We are all made of star stuff, evolved over years...ect" The leader stops the movie and says "Now I doubt any of you belie I remember the first time I didn't feel equal in a church. It may have been implicitly there all my life but the real in your face awakening happened when I went to a bible study in my early adult years. It was a "biblical truths" series contrasting what the bible says vs what the world says. The leader showed a clip of Carl's COSMOS series where he is saying something like " We are all made of star stuff, evolved over years...ect" The leader stops the movie and says "Now I doubt any of you believe in evolution, here the world believes we are evolved but the bible tells us we are made in God's image, not apes" I raise my hand and say "I actually accept the process of evolution in our human development, doesn't genesis say man was formed from dirt as well so could it not be that we started cellular and our ancestors eventually evolved into a higher consciousness and this is our God awareness?" He laughed and said "so you don't take the bible literally" I said "No but I don't think you do either because if we were literally made in God's image, that would make God a hermaphrodite and I feel like you would think that too contrary to your beliefs" Some people gasped. Some coughed nervously, one person laughed. He looked at me sternly and said something like God has been referred to in male terms and therefor could only be male like. He began to direct the conversation back to the series. I was shaking with rage at this point that I stood up and left. Never went back. "When we see God as a male, man becomes God" Since then I have been more keen to see the disparity in genders within and without the church. Is it not ironic that women have made such head way and become leaders in all careers but deprived of the right to serve in their own church in positions of leadership as they did in the first three centuries during early Christianity? If I am equal in the eyes of God then why am I not in the eyes of man? This book has been at least a confirmation that I am not the only woman who thinks such scandalous theology. My journey is still winding like that of labyrinthine into which I hope to head into the divine center of life and there I shall find the "I am"

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I thought I would like this book better than I did. The first couple chapters were alright as I could relate to her somewhat but then I felt like she just started swallowing whole everything that she read and chucking her entire past out the window. I just couldn't track with her anymore.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sheila

    This book rocked my little world in 2004. Sue Monk Kidd had been my "spiritual mentor" for a number of years. We were both Southern Baptist, and deeply spiritual. She was a SB minister's wife; I was a SB minister's daughter. I could count on her books to "make my heart burn" with love for God. I had already entered a time of transformation--so much so that I had entered the Catholic Church two years before I read this book for the first time. But this book shattered my idealistic, still-remainin This book rocked my little world in 2004. Sue Monk Kidd had been my "spiritual mentor" for a number of years. We were both Southern Baptist, and deeply spiritual. She was a SB minister's wife; I was a SB minister's daughter. I could count on her books to "make my heart burn" with love for God. I had already entered a time of transformation--so much so that I had entered the Catholic Church two years before I read this book for the first time. But this book shattered my idealistic, still-remaining images of faith and what it meant for me as a woman. It took a number of years for me to "morph" into my new self--or as Kidd's writes, to give birth to my new self. I will forever be grateful to Kidd, for the life she's lived, and the crashing apart of that life she wrote about in this book. On page 2, she writes of the whale breaching and its symbolism of a woman sending out her own vibrations as she speaks her story...I have been riding Kidd's vibrations, as I still seek to give voice to my own story. Probably one of the most transforming books I'll ever own.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Hillary Hunt

    An emotional and thought provoking read for any woman raised in a partiarchal religious tradition. I'm not Baptist, I was raised Mormon, but could relate to everything she was saying. She nails it. And then she explains how she learned to heal, and how she found her own form of spirituality that didn't wound her femininity. Probably one of the most powerful books I've read for me personally. Admittedly, the second half of the book gets a bit woo-woo, but that to me is not the important part. The An emotional and thought provoking read for any woman raised in a partiarchal religious tradition. I'm not Baptist, I was raised Mormon, but could relate to everything she was saying. She nails it. And then she explains how she learned to heal, and how she found her own form of spirituality that didn't wound her femininity. Probably one of the most powerful books I've read for me personally. Admittedly, the second half of the book gets a bit woo-woo, but that to me is not the important part. The important part is naming the pain, calling it out; patriarchy. I grew up in a world where saying these things out loud was not cool. Or should you question, there was a ready made answer akin to a pat on the head, a gentle shushing. So for me, to acknowledge how religion has suppressed women was healing, validating, and empowering.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    My overarching takeaway from this book was a deep desire to never be as selfish as Sue Monk Kidd. Her whole "journey" seemed to be nothing more than deserting her faith, her husband (initially), and her responsibilities in order to take multiple retreats and find her "inner Divine Feminine". The tone of the book is overly introspective and sickeningly self-centered. The "Divine Feminine" that she creates (she would say "finds") is a god made in her image. She found what she wanted to find: a "god My overarching takeaway from this book was a deep desire to never be as selfish as Sue Monk Kidd. Her whole "journey" seemed to be nothing more than deserting her faith, her husband (initially), and her responsibilities in order to take multiple retreats and find her "inner Divine Feminine". The tone of the book is overly introspective and sickeningly self-centered. The "Divine Feminine" that she creates (she would say "finds") is a god made in her image. She found what she wanted to find: a "goddess" who made no demands save that she recognize herself and none other as true authority. I found myself feeling sorry for Sue as I read this book. If all I had to rely on was myself and the feminine power within me, I don't think I'd feel very secure. I pray that someday she comes back to faith in Christ.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tuck

    author writes about her transformation from good patriarchal daughter to embracing the feminine soul/spirit, kinda long winded but last section practical, explaining in her implementation of her new outlook. she was southern Baptist and mainstream Christian magazine writer, but quit all that.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Robyn

    Rarely do I not finish a book, but after reading (okay, reading may not be the exact word for what I did - "plowing through" would be more accurate) over three quarters of it, I finally put the book down for good. I really wanted to add this one to my shelf of feminist essays, memoirs and non-fiction that I love because the subject is important, but this one just didn’t speak to me and here is why: This is Monk Kidd’s telling of her feminist spiritual awakening (so far so good) and how she had to Rarely do I not finish a book, but after reading (okay, reading may not be the exact word for what I did - "plowing through" would be more accurate) over three quarters of it, I finally put the book down for good. I really wanted to add this one to my shelf of feminist essays, memoirs and non-fiction that I love because the subject is important, but this one just didn’t speak to me and here is why: This is Monk Kidd’s telling of her feminist spiritual awakening (so far so good) and how she had to reconcile that with the strict and conventional Christian childhood and adult married life she’d been living. Her dad was a minister, as is her husband, and she herself was a Christian writer. This story follows her through the years that she became aware of her feminist self while steeped in the religious culture and tradition she had always lived. Her story is valid and I respect it, I just couldn't relate to her struggles between Christianity and Feminism, which is her main conflict throughout. In the opening, she says she writes this book in an attempt to help other women on their own journeys. I think it probably is a helpful and interesting story for women from similar backgrounds as Monk Kidd’s, so I am not criticizing the book – this is HER unique story. It just didn’t speak to me because I don’t have those particular issues of religion to resolve as related to feminism …………… I’m proud to say I have my own very different issues altogether :-) (UNrelated to feminism, I might add)…….

  21. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Part memoir, part feminist semi-Christian theology, this book is author Sue Monk Kidd's narrative of her personal struggle with rampant sexism in her longtime Christian faith, sprinkled with a hefty dose of psychoanalysis. I really enjoyed the personal narrative aspect of the book, and applaud Kidd for her bravery in speaking out against patriarchal oppression of women of faith. That said, the book was disappointing to me on several fronts. It relies heavily on a handful of scholarly resources. Part memoir, part feminist semi-Christian theology, this book is author Sue Monk Kidd's narrative of her personal struggle with rampant sexism in her longtime Christian faith, sprinkled with a hefty dose of psychoanalysis. I really enjoyed the personal narrative aspect of the book, and applaud Kidd for her bravery in speaking out against patriarchal oppression of women of faith. That said, the book was disappointing to me on several fronts. It relies heavily on a handful of scholarly resources. The majority of sources cited are actually poetry and prose, including several seemingly similar personal narratives - which I really liked, and Kidd has really given me a reading list. However, I expected a greater breadth to her cited work when it came to the theological particulars. Some aspects struck me as contrived (especially the dreams) but ultimately I was disappointed that Kidd kept trying to reconcile her beliefs in the divine feminine with Christianity. I was dismayed that for Kidd the only way to validly worship the divine feminine is through the lens of Christianity. Those of us who have left the Christian tradition cannot relate to that conceit. However, since she seemed committed to maintaining a link to Christianity, let me offer one criticism specifically on that note. I was disappointed that the Scripture quotes were primarily from the Old Testament - it was as if she wanted to avoid engaging with masculine privilege in the Gospels. You can say, for example, that there should be a female essence to a neuter God, but it remains that Jesus addressed God as "Father." I felt she could have made her argument stronger by specifically addressing the Gospels. Also, in the gendered languages with which I am most familiar, words aren't assigned a feminine gender because they embody feminine characteristics. Why does Kidd (and presumably, others, although I found this section the least cited of the book - pp. 147-148) conclude that a feminine word ("ruah") in Hebrew is proof that at one point, there was a female counterpart to the Hebrew God in the form of Wisdom? I know that Caitilin Matthews has written a book on Sophia that has been on my reading list for ages, but I was hoping to find at least some research in this paragraph to indicate historical support for the argument. Instead, Kidd mentions it as if it is accepted fact, and I'm not convinced that the mere existence of a feminine nominative indicates there was Judeo-Christian precedent for the reverence, if not outright worship, of a divine feminine figure, allegory of Wisdom or not.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Gofita

    This a life-altering and mind-altering book! I absolutely loved it!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I enjoy reading about others' spiritual journeys; however similar to or different from mine they are, I always seem to come away with a deeper understanding of and respect for other spiritual paths. I don't believe that there is one single “right” journey that every single person “must” experience in order to commune with God. God created us as diverse individuals and I believe that God deals with us as individuals. In Dance of the Dissident Daughter, we are treated to Ms. Kidd's chronicling of I enjoy reading about others' spiritual journeys; however similar to or different from mine they are, I always seem to come away with a deeper understanding of and respect for other spiritual paths. I don't believe that there is one single “right” journey that every single person “must” experience in order to commune with God. God created us as diverse individuals and I believe that God deals with us as individuals. In Dance of the Dissident Daughter, we are treated to Ms. Kidd's chronicling of her six-year-long religious and spiritual transformation from orthodox Christianity to -- well, it's hard to squeeze it into a easily definable box, but I guess the simplest, though still inadequate explanation, is worship of the Divine Feminine in an effort to balance the overwhelmingly masculine God of her previous experiences. I come from a traditionally conservative religious background, but one which, perhaps startlingly, includes foundational elements of the Divine Feminine. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe that we have a Heavenly Mother as well as a Heavenly Father and that She is His equal partner in creation, power, wisdom, and love. I believe that women and men are equally loved children of our Heavenly Parents, and that neither man nor woman can achieve exaltation without each other. In contrast to many Christian belief systems, Eve holds a place of high esteem in our faith; she is honored for consciously making an important and difficult decision that allowed the rest of the human family to progress. Spouses are counseled to work together as “equal partners” and “co-presidents” of the family. Unfortunately, while LDS theology and doctrine are impressively egalitarian, the culture, language, structure and policies of the church do not always seem to convey that equality. This has led me to struggles similar to those Ms. Kidd describes at the beginning of her book when she realizes that her experiences growing up as a Southern Baptist gave her an almost unconscious understanding that “male is the norm from which her own self deviates” and “real doubt had set in about the value of being a girl.” Ms. Kidd has a beautiful writing style. I could feel her struggles, the tension between wanting the safety and security of the known and the desperate desire to explore the path she feels God – or more specifically in her case, the Divine Feminine – is calling her down. She describes a “choice between pain and paralysis,” identifies herself as “a slow unlearner” and declares “the truth may set you free, but first it will shatter the safe, sweet way you live.” Just as there are various “love languages,” I believe that there are various “spiritual languages” that speak to some people more or less than others. Ms. Kidd and I share a spiritual language of questioning. My religion has a long tradition of questions; it began with a young Joseph Smith asking God a question in faith and receiving an answer. It continues today with the emphasis on personal testimony and personal revelation – asking God directly for answers and direction and justifiably expecting a response. Ms. Kidd states: “As women we have a right to ask the hard questions. The only way I have ever understood, broken free, emerged, healed, forgiven, flourished, and grown powerful is by asking the hardest questions and then living into the answers through opening up to my own terror and transmuting it into creativity. I have gotten nowhere by retreating into hand-me-down sureties or resisting the tensions that truth ignited.” One of Ms. Kidd's spiritual languages that we do not share is that of dreams. Many times in Dance of the Dissident Daughter she finds deep meaning and direction in her nighttime dreams, which often include items she later discovers are symbols of the Divine Feminine. As she seeks for a more intimate relationship with the Feminine, she gains a deep connection to nature and the earth, ultimately recognizing the interconnectedness of all living beings. She also traces the history of goddesses worshiped anciently, which is a fascinating topic all by itself. She reiterates many times that her spiritual journey is not the only path for women. “All we can really do is be true to our own spiritual unfolding...” “This may not be true for every woman. But for me it was crucial to my spiritual maturity and growth.” “Each woman has her own timing and her own way.” “Some women say you must stay in the institution and try to change it. Others say women cannot stay in without being co-opted, that we can change things best remaining outside it. I say each woman must do what her heart tells her.” Ms. Kidd also affirms that embrace of the Divine Feminine is not to the exclusion of the Divine Masculine. “What is ultimately needed is balance--divine symbols that reflect masculine and feminine and a genuine marriage of the masculine and feminine in each of us.” And I love this thought: “Solidarity is identifying with one another without feeling like you have to agree on every issue. It's unity, not uniformity. It's listening without rushing in to fix the problem. It's going deeper than typical ways of talking and sharing—going down to the place where souls meet and love comes, where separateness drops away...” That's one of the more beautiful descriptions of a Zion community that I've ever heard. For more book reviews, come visit my blog, Build Enough Bookshelves.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

    This was a fascinating book. My pastor loaned her copy to me, but I'm going to order my own if for no other reason than having the bibliography available! I also need to order some to give away to friends. The books sub-title really says it in a nutshell. Sue Monk Kidd grew up in the Southern Baptist church, and married a SB minister. At some point, she became frustrated with the patriarchal assumptions that dominated the SBs and other mainline churches. She began exploring spirituality, with a f This was a fascinating book. My pastor loaned her copy to me, but I'm going to order my own if for no other reason than having the bibliography available! I also need to order some to give away to friends. The books sub-title really says it in a nutshell. Sue Monk Kidd grew up in the Southern Baptist church, and married a SB minister. At some point, she became frustrated with the patriarchal assumptions that dominated the SBs and other mainline churches. She began exploring spirituality, with a focus on the feminine. She discovered the power of the Goddess in her life over the course of several years. Much of this thinking was familiar to me, but there were a lot of discovery moments. Ms. Kidd is certainly better read on the subject than I am, so I really appreciate the extensive footnoting! Awesome book about an equally awesome journey.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jessie

    I'm remembering how much I love feminist literature lately, and this book was an excellent addition to my already-sagging "feminist books" shelf. Sue Monk Kidd provides a critique of the patriarchal culture of the Christian church, and delves into how she feels it's let women down. Then she writes about her quest to find the feminine divine in her world, including how the quest impacted her marriage. This is one of the few books I have that I won't be loaning out as I have notes in the margins a I'm remembering how much I love feminist literature lately, and this book was an excellent addition to my already-sagging "feminist books" shelf. Sue Monk Kidd provides a critique of the patriarchal culture of the Christian church, and delves into how she feels it's let women down. Then she writes about her quest to find the feminine divine in her world, including how the quest impacted her marriage. This is one of the few books I have that I won't be loaning out as I have notes in the margins already and have journalled on passages throughout the book. I found myself making notes like "THIS IS MY WHOLE LIFE!" Not too telling, but it was so exciting to read others had the same experience as me. As always, Kidd's prose is clear but beautifully constructed. She is a shining example of what women authors can aspire to be and this may just be my favorite book by her yet.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lara Torgesen

    My sister sent me this book, and said she was reading it as well. I've read Sue Monk Kidd's "The Secret Life of Bees" and "The Mermaid Chair," but I had no idea that she was a Christian writer in a previous life. An incident that happened to her daughter in a drugstore led to a re-examination of Kidd's life within a patriarchal marriage, religion, and culture. She describes her spiritual journey leading to her discovery of the sacred feminine. It was an interesting book, and I found that I have My sister sent me this book, and said she was reading it as well. I've read Sue Monk Kidd's "The Secret Life of Bees" and "The Mermaid Chair," but I had no idea that she was a Christian writer in a previous life. An incident that happened to her daughter in a drugstore led to a re-examination of Kidd's life within a patriarchal marriage, religion, and culture. She describes her spiritual journey leading to her discovery of the sacred feminine. It was an interesting book, and I found that I have shared many of her thoughts along the way. Perhaps it is a more common feminine experience than I thought. I've always noticed the glaring absence of women in the scriptures, in church authority, in cultural tradition and history, and in the divine. It seems we women have two purposes: 1) to provide pleasant and attractive company for men while they rule the world and 2) to reproduce. Even the one area designated for women--the home/family--is not truly ours. Men are said to preside there as well. I found a lot of what I call "lip service to equality," but structurally, most mono-theistic religions clearly favor the masculine over the feminine. (And if you have to be continually reminded that you are "equally important," that's usually a clear indication that you are not. Do men need this periodic reminder?) Women typically answer to men at every level from the worldwide church authority structure, to local congregational levels, even down to the home and family itself. God is viewed in purely masculine terms, and there are no feminine role models to be found. In fact, maybe it was just me, but I got the distinct impression from certain church rituals that God didn't even want to talk to me--preferring instead to communicate with me through my husband. I went on a similar spiritual journey in search of the feminine divine (although it mainly took place inside my head, unlike Kidd's journey). There are actually parts of Mormon doctrine that support the idea of a Heavenly Mother, although it is very vague and seldom discussed. I read books by Janice Allred, Margaret Toscano, Maxine Hanks, Carol Lynne Pearson. They were comforting and empowering but in the end it seemed the feminine divine was just as silent and distant to me as Mr. God had always been. As much as I'd like to believe in either one (or both!), there is too much that seems like human imagination or invention to me. I think that spirituality is a very real human emotion, and some people might experience and express it in different ways. To some, it may mean dancing around and singing and feeling a connection with nature and the divine. For others, like my mom, it is a long no-nonsense checklist of things that she must do to get into heaven. People have to find what works for them. I still haven't found what works for me. I have to imagine that if there is such a thing as a Supreme Being, it has to include aspects of both masculine and feminine. And wouldn't such a being love their daughters as much as they love their sons? I mean, come on, that apple incident was AGES ago!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    Best selling author (“The Secret Life of Bees”) Sue Monk Kidd was born into a conservative Christian family and married a conservative Christian minister. For years, she wrote inspirational Christian books. What, then, made her decide to step away from church teachings regarding the place of women and embark on a journey to find the sacred feminine? Kidd had long been uncomfortable with how her gender was treated, both in society and in her church. Told repeatedly that woman was to serve man bec Best selling author (“The Secret Life of Bees”) Sue Monk Kidd was born into a conservative Christian family and married a conservative Christian minister. For years, she wrote inspirational Christian books. What, then, made her decide to step away from church teachings regarding the place of women and embark on a journey to find the sacred feminine? Kidd had long been uncomfortable with how her gender was treated, both in society and in her church. Told repeatedly that woman was to serve man because Eve had tempted Adam into sin, she finally had enough when she went her young teen daughter’s work to pick her up, only to find the girl kneeling to stock the bottom shelf and hear one man say to another “That’s the way I like to see women- on their knees”. That started a journey of several years as she read, meditated, traveled and talked with other women as she tried to make sense of what was changing in her, spiritually. Her reading took in both modern feminism and ancient texts. She found that in old Hebrew texts and the Old Testament there was a female deity as well as a male, but somewhere along the line she had disappeared. This, along with female deities from other cultures (Minoan Crete, ancient Greece, Native American), convinced her that there was a basis for a feminine spirituality. Eventually, she found that she could manage to hold both a deep feminine spirituality and to the Christian church. Kidd writes of her journey step by step. It’s interesting and moving and her pain is palpable and there is an amazing amount of synchronicity, but after a certain point in the book the immediacy of her feelings seems to disappear. The narrative, for whatever reason, goes flat. It’s still useful and interesting, but it drags and a few parts felt like a chore to read- and read like they had been a chore to write. I’d recommend this book for any woman who is questioning the gendered aspects of modern religion as a beginning book. Even if they only read the first parts, it will head them in the right direction.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dnicebear

    My friend, Tina, was reading another title by this author, and I looked for that book, but found this one instead. Wow. The story of this journey from Christian Tradition to Sacred Feminism casts a lot of light on my own journey from growing up in a tradition where we said 'no' to a lot of things and in a culture that upholds patriarchy to knowing and valuing my feminine side and gifts. I'm especially nurtured by Kidd's re-telling and working with the myth of the Minotaur and the labyrinth and a My friend, Tina, was reading another title by this author, and I looked for that book, but found this one instead. Wow. The story of this journey from Christian Tradition to Sacred Feminism casts a lot of light on my own journey from growing up in a tradition where we said 'no' to a lot of things and in a culture that upholds patriarchy to knowing and valuing my feminine side and gifts. I'm especially nurtured by Kidd's re-telling and working with the myth of the Minotaur and the labyrinth and also her sharing the periodic dreams she had that involved visits with her Inner Sacred Feminine figures. Since then I've had at least one dream of a figure I dimly identify as an Inner Feminine Guide--a white-haired teacher type from Pennsylvania, much like a nun I know named Sister Barbara, who taught about compassion. I had read her written summary, and had underlined the words, "I prefer a howling approach." Powerful book!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

    I loved this book! Having very much enjoyed Sue Monk Kidd's fiction ("The Secret Life of Bees", "The Mermaid Chair", etc.) I was quite intrigued by the subtitle, "A Woman's Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine", particularly when I realized this is not fiction, but the author's own personal journey. And it is a courageous one! She shares with us each step of the way, her personal doubts, the challenges she had to overcome, the risks she took along the way - her reputation, her I loved this book! Having very much enjoyed Sue Monk Kidd's fiction ("The Secret Life of Bees", "The Mermaid Chair", etc.) I was quite intrigued by the subtitle, "A Woman's Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine", particularly when I realized this is not fiction, but the author's own personal journey. And it is a courageous one! She shares with us each step of the way, her personal doubts, the challenges she had to overcome, the risks she took along the way - her reputation, her marriage, and how she found support to stay the course. We read so many (male) versions of the "heroic journey". Here is a most refreshing and inspiring "heroine's journey". I recommend this book highly!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Melinda

    Read this book after finishing Secret Life of Bees for the second time. I love all the references to other books and articles. I read them while reading this... so it took me awhile. Fascinating! This is the story of Monk-Kidd's personal struggle with her Christianity. I'd say it was a feminist critique of Christianity, but "feminist" is too culturally loaded, and "critique" sounds so academic as to be deadly. She looks at mythology -- and I include Christianity in this genre here -- from all ov Read this book after finishing Secret Life of Bees for the second time. I love all the references to other books and articles. I read them while reading this... so it took me awhile. Fascinating! This is the story of Monk-Kidd's personal struggle with her Christianity. I'd say it was a feminist critique of Christianity, but "feminist" is too culturally loaded, and "critique" sounds so academic as to be deadly. She looks at mythology -- and I include Christianity in this genre here -- from all over the world and all across time to see how and why women and goddesses have been systematically pushed to the fringes of religion and given secondary roles, even in their spiritual lives.

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