Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Daly’s 1973 work (and 1985 republication) has had an enormous influence on every part of the women’s movement, not least in Christian circles. Even though Daly has since become a “post-Christian,” her work was the catalyst for many feminist theologians working to reform the Church from within. Such movements as the ordination of women priests and pastors (in Episcopal and other Protestant denominations), the textual work on noncanonical parts of the New Testament (the so-called Gnostic Gospels), and the movements for acceptance of same-sex couples, divorce, and birth control all were strengthened by Daly’s work.

Daly’s view of God as verb which has no object is both transcendent and immanent. Her conclusion for women (“The Final Cause”) is that they must find freedom within: That the Ultimate not only transcendent but also immanent. In her later work, she makes clear that the plural, “Power-s of Be-ing” (in Beyond God the Father, she used the singular, “Power of Be-ing”), is the proper way to understand the principle of unity as metaphor: “[W]omen can and do speak of different Powers and manifestations of Be-ing, which are sometimes imaged as Goddesses.”

Daly’s ethics are powerful. Although she writes before the development of a feminist ethics, she presciently analyzes many of the areas that have since become contested: the connection of rape, genocide, and war; the ecological significance of the misuse of the earth, water, and nature and its connection to oppressive attitudes toward women; the affluent consumerist society’s complicity in the destruction of nature; and the oppressive sexual revolution that has brought about a more violent society toward women.