The feminist Re-Imagining movement is experiencing tensions over whether to confine its work within Christian boundaries as well as how to reach out beyond its middle-class, white constituency, reports Faith & Freedom (Winter), the newsletter of the conservative Institute on Religion and Democracy.
The Re-Imagining movement gained headlines and notoriety in mainline denominations eight years ago for its invocation of the feminine nature of God. In a report on a Re-Imagining Conference held in late 2000, Abigail Noll writes that a plethora of special interest groups and caucuses marked the event. There were caucuses for Re-Imaginers in all the mainline denominations, as well as those for non-theists, African-Americans, Benedictine nuns, younger women, and bi-sexuals.
Noll adds that “Some Re-Imaginers began to ask whether `interfaith’ is now a more accurate adjective than `ecumenical’ to describe their movement. Many of the speakers did not profess any Christian faith — much less an orthodox one. [Such speakers as] Rebecca Walker is a practicing Buddhist. Mary Daly is a “post-Christian” who left the church 30 years ago . . . Perhaps Re-Imagining no longer sees itself as a reform movement within the Christian churches; it may be evolving as a separate religious community.”
Noll also found tensions between veteran feminists such as Daly and a new generation who claim that standard feminism is not relevant to young women today. The 500 older middle class white women who gathered at the conference contrasts with the broad coalition of different classes and races envisioned by the organizers. Noll concludes that “It remains to be seen whether the promised new efforts to start Re-Imagining chapters at the local level will remedy this deficiency.”
(Faith & Freedom, IRD, 1110 Vermont Ave., NW, Suite 1180, Washington, DC 20005)