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Christ as a Woman by Kelley A. Raab. From 'When Women Become Priests'

Christ as a Woman

by Kelley A. Raab.
From When Women Become Priests, Ch.5, pp. 141-180.

Copyright C 2000 Columbia University Press. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

In that celebration of women, of women asking for physical healing, for health, for wholeness, presided over by a woman, the body of Christ was suddenly a woman's body. Women's suffering and denigration was Christ's suffering and death. In a way not available to me before, I knew that God knows what it is like to have a woman's body, what it is that women suffer. Jesus died for women.

From Alison Peberdy, Women Priests

The priest in the Eucharist is traditionally seen as standing in the place of Christ—as alter Christus. If you change the symbol, you're going to change the theological reflections on that symbol.

Male Episcopal priest

My reading of sacrifice raises the issue of female imagery for Christ. Could Christ have been a woman? When I ask undergraduate students in my theology courses this question, often I receive a reply along the following lines: certainly, Christ could have been female, but she would not have been able to accomplish as much as the male Jesus did. When I point out that most people did not listen to Jesus as a man, they are temporarily quieted. But, someone answers after a pause, she would not have been able to study Torah, function as a ritual leader, and so on in the Jewish climate of the first century. And this is true. But this response has yet to get at the heart of the question, which has to do with whether a woman can symbolize Christ—and in consequence act in persona Christi in the mass. Asking whether Christ could have been a woman is tantamount to questioning whether God can be imaged as female. It is also to query the role of gender in salvation. As such, the question addresses core issues in feminist theology.

We now turn to the issue of women acting in persona Christi at the altar. Women priests would evoke a female Christ image and in so doing would give form to much recent feminist Christology. Such imagery would affect parishioners' experience in various ways. A female Christ image would be welcomed by certain individuals but be strongly rejected by others. Hostility toward female Christ symbols, and by extension continued opposition to women at the altar, can be explained in psychological terms of internalization and "psychic boundaries."

First, the category "woman" needs to be examined. Is there a common "women's experience" that can be drawn upon to explore female images of Christ? I suggest that there is, albeit contextualized. Next, the question of symbolization is raised. How do women's experiences translate into symbol? A basic understanding of the psychological significance of religious symbols is fundamental to developing a theory of how women act in persona Christi. Such an understanding can be gained through analyzing the psychological formation of God representations. Third, I explore the relationship of symbol to metaphor. Feminist, womanist, mujerista, and Asian American women's Christologies provide metaphors that describe the richness and diversity of female Christ symbols. Finally, the benefits of imaging Christ and God as female are considered, as well as how the presence of women priests causes these benefits to be either realized or resisted psychologically.

Sexual Difference and Feminist Theology

Vatican officials would have us believe that "woman" and "man" are biologically determined categories, the existence of which will forever prevent women from becoming priests. As we have seen, the 1976 Vatican "Declaration on the Question of the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood" put forth the position that women cannot represent Christ in the Eucharist because of their gender. The continued prohibition of women clergy on the grounds of nuptial symbolism, or bridegroom imagery, continues to be based in biological concepts of "maleness" and "femaleness." Because of the weight given by Vatican supporters to biological determinism, it is necessary to provide another perspective on sexual difference.

Feminist theorists and theologians offer a much-needed alternative viewpoint to Catholic doctrine on this topic. It is also important to discuss sexual difference before addressing the significance of female symbols for Christ. This is because the power of female Christ symbols cannot be talked about until we acknowledge that these symbols are distinct from male Christ symbols in some discernible way. Acknowledging the latter implies that women's experience can be talked about as a category. As feminist theologian Sheila Greeve Davaney points out, if there is no common women's experience, the appeal to such commonality loses its authoritative force. If feminist notions of the divine are not grounded in a universal experience or a uniquely authoritative consciousness or tradition, then there is no source of validation for these notions.1

In proposing that women priests will make a positive difference to the church, I am suggesting that gender matters—I believe there are differences between men and women. I believe one can talk about "women's experience," although it must be historically and culturally contextualized. This claim opens the door to questions such as the following: Will women priests make a difference because of biology or socialization? In other words, is there something inherent about being female that results in a different experience for parishioners when the priest is a woman, or is the difference the product of women's historical role as more nurturing and relational? An understanding of the debates surrounding sexual difference is therefore called for at this juncture.

First, it should be noted that many Catholic feminists shy away from notions of gender difference. This is not surprising, especially since the Vatican has used this idea to defend complementarity— the notion that men and women have different but equal ecclesial roles originating from innate, predetermined functions. Anne Carr, for example, points out that while arguments against the ordination of women imply a two-nature or dual anthropology, arguments in favor of the ordination of women generally presuppose a one-nature or single anthropology, in which there are no "preordained" roles or functions.2 Women within the larger feminist movement have had mixed reactions to women's perceived differences from men. Some have feared that acknowledgment of sexual difference would contribute to women's subordination, by stereotyping women into certain roles and not others. Other feminist thinkers applaud gender differences, finding them a source of empowerment. It is my contention that gender differences are to be viewed as a resource but that care should be taken to avoid either "burdening" women— making them responsible for world salvation—or "essentializing" them—claiming that women's difference resides in biology. The range of views held by prominent feminist theorists helps to situate my position.

In the early 1970s, feminist thinkers such as Kate Millett and Shulamith Firestone were opposed to the idea of emphasizing differences between the sexes, asserting that historically, sexual oppression has been based on socially constructed differences between men and women. They argued for the delineation between biological "sex" and sociological "gender": while anatomy determines sex, gender is a learned or acquired feature of social life, subject to early conditioning and reinforcement. These theorists observed the pressure throughout life to exhibit gender-appropriate behavior. The time and energy devoted to teaching boys and girls to act like a "man" or a "lady" contradicted the notion that these qualities were innate.3 Feminist focus during this period was on the idea that women were no different from men and could do anything men could do. Where differences did exist, there was an attempt to minimize them as much as possible. Firestone, for example, called for the "abolition of pregnancy," advocating that reproductive technologies be developed enabling the genesis of test tube babies.4 Sexual difference was labeled politically dangerous, and feminists instead advocated some form of androgyny.

By the mid-1970s, this trend in feminist thinking had gradually changed. A shift occurred: from trying to reduce or deny sexual difference, feminists began to explore the resources of female difference for women's own struggle for liberation. Theorists began to find positive value in qualities that women historically carried. To illustrate, Adrienne Rich focused on the nurturing aspects of motherhood and on its potential to heal ancient Western dualisms.During this period, psychology, and especially psychoanalysis, became important tools for the study of sexual difference. 5 Jean Baker Miller, for example, argued that the very psychological qualities that allowed women to be oppressed could be a means of increasing women's strength. Because women have been taught to be nurturing, affiliative, and cooperative, Miller maintained, they possessed more truly human qualities than men as currently socialized.6 Other psychological treatments of gender placed the blame for women's oppression on the social institution of motherhood. Both Dinnerstem and Chodorow argued that male domination of women is perpetuated by women's serving as sole caretakers of children. Rather than women giving up mothering, as Firestone would have it, Chodorow and Dinnerstein pushed for dual parenting—for men to act "maternally." Their analyses implied that men could learn maternal traits, and women, similarly, could learn paternal traits

Feminist discussion of sexual difference in the 1980s continued the trend of acknowledging that differences between women and men exist and that some historically female qualities have societal value. This trend persisted into the 1990s, although in recent years greater emphasis has been placed on diversity among women—particularly on differences originating from age, class, race and ethnicity, and geography and culture.7 Exploration of historically "female" qualities, and whether they are innate or culturally derived, continues to offer a context for contemporary dialogue. Feminist social theorists generally concur, for example, that women raised in Western cultures value personal relationships more than men do, and that women put more emphasis on personal nurturance. Men raised in Western cultures, on the other hand, tend to stress individuality and securing a separate identity—usually based on a career or some other external source. As Martha Long Ice explains, faced from birth with distinct entitlements and social expectations, men and women develop different "perceptual grids." Females are disposed to develop skills of personal nurturance, integrative thinking, peer negotiation, and intuitive judgment. They tend to focus on complex systems and to see the parts in terms of the whole. Males, according to Ice, are more likely to develop skills of abstract analysis, logic, and visual/spatial judgment, "aggressively imposing rational control on dynamic processes toward some desired goal or accomplishment."8 They are likely to concentrate with high intensity on limited aspects of phenomena.

Interestingly, an emerging arena for the nature-versus-nurture controversy is the field of morality. Carol Gilligan's famous study of women's moral development provides an illustration of the flavor of the contemporary debate. Arguing that different dynamics of early childhood result in girls' focusing more on connection and boys on experiences of inequality, Gilligan asserts that social context determines the basis for the two moral visions of care and justice, respectively.9 Gilligan holds that there is a uniquely "feminine" mode of reasoning about self and morality, which constitutes a "different voice." As Lesley Stevens puts it: "It values personal relationships over abstract principles, responsibility and care for others over universal rights, and is centered on women's knowledge of' 'the importance of intimacy, relationships, and care."10 Gilligan contrasts her ethic of care with an ethic of justice, associated with male morality and described by moral development theorists such as Lawrence Kohlberg. Motivated by a logic of fairness rather than the "psychological love of relationships," an ethic of justice applies universal principles of rights and justice equally to all persons.11 While Gilligan does not claim that the "different voice" or the ethic of care is exclusive to women, she indicates that its association with women is an empirical observation.

A number of critiques of her work have emerged, among them that her study infers at times that gendered behavior is biologically determined—thus leading to separate spheres for women and men, that she attacks a straw man (it is education or social class, not gender, that accounts for women's seemingly lesser moral maturity), and that her sample is inadequate. In a rejoinder, Gilligan answers that the care perspective is neither biologically determined nor unique to women. It is, she claims, a moral perspective different from those embedded in current psychological theories and measures, and one confirmed by other studies (although her study, she states, was meant to be interpretive rather than statistical). It thus seems that Gilligan adequately answers her critics.12

The flourishing of "care literature" illustrates one way in which certain traditionally feminine qualities have been heralded as resources for a feminist morality. An ethic of care is generally thought to include qualities of nurturance, compassion, and networks of communication—gender traits that have traditionally been assigned to women. Various theories exist about the ultimate source of those traits: in women's reproductive role and responsibilities, women's psychosocial development, or women's cultural and economic experience. 13

Caroline Whitbeck, for example, uses the mother-child duo as the paradigm for her "relational ontology," claiming that this relationship is so symbiotic that nothing belongs to the mother that does not belong to the child, especially during pregnancy and infancy. Whitbeck holds that women's "maternal instinct" enables them to understand the infant's experience, hence reducing difference to biology. As others have pointed out, a mother-child model of morality encounters additional dangers. For example, it suppresses and/or condemns ambivalences also found in mother-child relationships. 14 To assume that the mother is "naturally" caring of her children, as Whitbeck does, falls into the category of biological determinism. Moreover, taken to its logical conclusion, the model implies that the infant does not feel responsible for the mother, only the mother for the infant. On the other hand, the early infant-mother relationship as described by Mahler illuminates a pattern in which the well-being of two individuals is intertwined, underscoring self-other inter subjectivity.

Several examples of biological determinism in the field of theology provide additional illustrations. Mary Daly, for example, has been indicted for claiming that women have innate powers of discernment, enabling them to understand such concepts as "Be-ing" and "Eternal Essences" in a superior way to men. This criticism was made primarily of her later work.15 Davaney pays close attention to this tendency in Daly's thought and suggests that Daly proposes that women possess a "distinctive nature and form of consciousness" that has the capacity to know "Be-ing" or "Reality." Daly, Davaney argues, believes that there is a natural correspondence, lacking in men, between the "minds of musing women" and the structures of "Reality": women's consciousness is value-laden and biophilic, which in turn responds to the biophilic dimensions of "Be-ing."16 Daveney also finds traces in the work of Schüssler Fiorenza and Rosemary Radford Ruether of the notion that women's experience and consciousness are more adequate than men's for discerning divine purposes. The difference, in her view, is that Schüssler Fiorenza and Ruether credit female privilege with women's location in historical struggles for liberation rather than in a unique female nature per se.17 I do not believe that women's location in struggles for liberation needs to be viewed as "inappropriately privileging" women's experience, as Davaney argues. Instead, it can be said that Ruether and Schüssler Fiorenza use sexual difference as a valuable resource for understanding Jesus' message of liberation. Specifically, by lifting up women's common experiences of oppression, Schüssler Fiorenza and Ruether highlight the centrality of the theme of liberation in Jesus' teachings.

Recent research in feminist theology suggests that biological determinism remains a concern for scholars but that its focus has shifted. As a field, feminist theology has changed immensely since its inception in the 1970s and early 1980s under the auspices of such scholars as Carol Christ,18 Mary Daly,19 Naomi Goldenberg,20 Judith Plaskow21' and Rosemary Radford Ruether.22 During these formative years, feminist scholars in religion were united by the common effort both to uproot sexism in the Jewish and Christian traditions and to discover avenues for transformative expressions of women's spirituality. Some of the issues explored were the importance of female symbols, women's religious experiences, and women's political and psychological empowerment.23

In its nascence, the fundamental claim of feminist theology was that women's experience is a primary context for doing theology. Feminist theologians asserted that because of the different experiences of males and females, men and women theologize in different ways. Models traditionally used to describe an individual's relationship with God, self, and nature were found in many cases to be inappropriate when the individual is a woman, hence requiring women to find their own models to describe spirituality. Before the mid-1980s—when concerns of biological determinism were first voiced—feminist theology largely spoke to the concerns of white, Western, middle-class women. As correctives to this monolithic approach, African American women, Hispanic women, and Asian American women have in turn developed theologies from their own historical and cultural contexts.

Davaney explains that while feminist theology in its early years shared basic central assumptions, themes, and commitments, today it is less a "singular identifiable site" on the theological spectrum and more appropriately characterized by varying methodological and substantive theological agendas.24 This shift, according to Davaney, can be attributed to recent developments within feminist theology, in particular, questioning of notions of subjectivity and the normativity of feminist positions. It is worth noting that a number of methodological frameworks have emerged in recent years. Serene Jones maps the trajectories of the various types of methodologies utilized in the 1990s in her article "Women's Experience Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Feminist, Womanist, and Mujerista Theologies in North America."25 These theologians now share an affirmation of the "nonessential nature of woman," yet, as Jones points out, the notion of "experience" remains essentialized by some (such as process/psychoanalytic) and radically historicized by others (such as poststructuralist).26

While Jones is wary of any kind of biological determinism, she admits that methodologies that tend to universalize experience are able to put forth bolder and more substantive theological visions. Davaney in turn suggests that feminist theologians need to return to women's experience, although in historicist terms. Just as there is no one, universal female nature, Davaney articulates that neither is there a singular feminist vision. From their varied positions, however, women must renew their commitment to redressing inequalities of power and to seeking coalitions across lines of difference.27

To this end, a psychoanalytic methodology permits development of an alternative theological vision based on a majority of women in North America. As Chodorow states, it is possible to make a universal claim about human subjectivity and its constituent psychodynamic processes, and it is possible to generalize usefully about aspects of many women's and men's subjective senses of gender.28 It remains the case that most women become mothers and are the primary caretakers and nurturers in North American society.29 The necessity of developing an alternative theology to Catholic systematics cannot be overemphasized: it is critical that the women's ordination debate utilize the "rock" that psychoanalysis provides. A psychoanalytic approach enables development of a theology that furthers Davaney's agenda—expunging inequalities within Catholicism and building community among women from different backgrounds. Through its focus on the relationship between gender, symbol, and power, a psychoanalytic methodology can function to unite feminists, womanists, mujeristas, and Asian American women in their joint struggle to overcome sexism in the Catholic Church.

To reiterate, it is my conviction that gender differences should be viewed as a resource rather than a liability in the quest to achieve feminist goals. I do not believe that women priests will make a difference because of something inherent in "femininity." Gender differences exist because women have been socialized and are perceived differently than men are, particularly in the realm of symbolic analysis. In time, some of the changes to be brought by women priests will be reflected in the pastoral style of male priests. Men may come to symbolize nurturing and even birthgiving. These changes cannot occur in the Catholic Church, however, until the advent of women clergy.

To return to my earlier question, what symbolic difference would it make if Christ were symbolized as female? I have suggested that women priests, when they act in persona Christi, "flesh out" much of feminist Christology. We now consider how this would happen. First, a psychology of symbol is offered, using object relations theory. Then the relationship between symbol and metaphor is examined. Analyzing the relationship between psychological symbols and theological metaphors offers a basis for responding to the above question in a deeper way.

Psychology of Symbol

Symbols are an integral part of Christian liturgical worship. Catholicism in particular is replete with images of the faith: icons of Mary and Christ adorn the altar, and in many parishes iconography depicting apostles and saints heralds the adjoining walls and ceiling. This iconography highlights persons and events that the Catholic Church considers important to its religious life and heritage.

Historian of religions Mircea Eliade argues that symbols reveal the deepest aspects of reality - those that defy any other means of knowledge.30 Paul Tillich in turn maintains that symbols open up dimensions of reality that are otherwise closed and unlock similar dimensions of the soul. 31 Anthropologist Clifford Geertz interprets religion in terms of its utilization of symbols. "Religion" for Geertz is:

(1) a system of symbols which acts to (2) establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men [sic] by (3) formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and (4) clothing these conceptions with such a aura of factuality that (5) the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic. 32

Geertz defines symbol in turn as "any object, act, event, quality, or relation which serves as a vehicle for a conception."33 Religious symbols define the deepest values of society and the persons in it, and hence shape a cultural ethos. Like genes, symbols provide a template, or blueprint, from which external processes are given definite form. Unlike genes, however, which are only models for, symbols are models of - they give meaning to social and psychological reality by shaping themsleves to it and shaping it to themselves.34 Symbols shape reality; according to Geertz, by inducing in worshipers a certain set of "dispositions" - tendencies, capacities, propensities, skills, and so on - that in turn lead to formulation of general ides of societal order.

Feminist study on the significance of symbols suggests that male religious symbols closely correlate with men's having positions of political and economic authority over women. Carol Christ, for example, in her article "Why Women Need the Goddess: Phenomenological, Psychological, and Political Reflections," points out that religions that are centred on the worship of a male god create "moods" and "motivations" that both legitimate male political authority and keep women in a state of psychological dependence on men.35 Similarly, Daly writes, "if God is male, then the male is God."36 It would seem that we can predict from patriarchal social structures certain patterns in thinking about God. Ross Kraemer explains, for example, that "high grid" and "high group" cosmologies exhibit little interest in women and in the feminine divine."High grid" socities are marked by concern for hierarchial structure and for discrimination according to race, class, and gender. "High Group," in turn, indicates a strong sense of social incorporation. 37 Both characteristics are found in androcentric-patriarchal cultures.

Interestingly, the two most prevalent female images in Christian heritage - Mary and Eve - dichotomize femaleness into purity or whoredom. It is inferred from both symbols that women should be subordinate to men and should deny their sexuality. Although in certain Catholic cultures Mary has even been described to function as a "goddess,"38 her humble submission to God is mirrored in societal pressure for women to submit to men in those cultures.

A psychological interpretation of symbol offers an understanding of the way in which the internal psychologial world give form to external events. Psychologically, symbols mediate between internal psychic perception and external reality. As Meissner states, in a loose sense symbols can be regarded as the unio oppositorum, where an extrinsic object or form is adopted as a vehicle for expressing something from a subjective realm.39 Symbolic functions are exercised by encounters between interior desires and their actualization in external expressions. Symbolic acts thus unite several levels of human reality - conscious and unconscious, individual and social 40.

The classic Freudian interpration of "God as Father" provides a starting point for a psychological exploration of religious symbols. Ultimately, however, it proves inadequate. For Freud, the "Father God" symbol is a result of a primordial longing in the human psyche for the protection of the father. As an atheist, Freud believed that God was no more than a projection of desirable human qualities that persons longed for in fathers. Ernest Wallwork puts it aptly: "Like the infant who reacts to helplessness by picturing an omnipotent father whose love and protection can be obtained by obeying his commandments, the anxious adult projects the image of a heavenly being who possesses the attributes the father once seemed to possess—omniscience, omnipotence, the power to love, protect, and punish"41 While Freud provides an explanation for the prominence of male symbols in a patriarchal society, he does not offer a general theory of symbol formation. For example, Freudian theory does not explain symbols like a flag, a crucifix, or the bread and wine in the Eucharist. Nor does he account sufficiently for the existence of female symbols. Goddesses are passé for Freud—a product of an earlier, less "civilized" stage of societal development.42

I believe that an object relations perspective better encompasses the depth and complexity of symbols, and of religious symbols in particular. According to Winnicott, for example, symbol formation occurs in the "intermediate" area of experiencing, or in transitional space—that is, in that gray area between self and other. As explained, transitional objects gradually come to replace infants' illusions and lay the groundwork for the emerging capacity for symbolism. For adults, real external objects and experiences can become vehicles for the expression of similar subjective dimensions of life, and thereby take on a symbolic dimension. As Meissner observes, their symbolic quality participates in the intermediate realm of illusion and is constituted by elements from external reality intermingled with subjective components.43 For example, a teddy bear is often used as a mother substitute by children, and it represents comfort and security. As adults, we continue to seek comfort and security (the subjective components referred to by Meissner), but we utilize other objects and experiences—such as certain foods, pieces of clothing, and activities—to elicit similar feelings. We saw that in the case of the Eucharist, the body and blood of Christ function transitionally, permitting a union/separation dialectic between Christ and believer.

According to object relations theorists, the first representation of God emerges from the child's experience of the early mother. For psychiatrist Ana-Maria Rizzuto, God is a special type of transitional object. She states: "In the first period of narcissistic relation to the object, the child needs the object to see him as an appealing, wonderful, and powerful child reflected in the maternal eye" In Rizzuto's view, this is the first direct experience used by the child in the formation of the "God representation." The face and eyes of the mother are the child's first mirror, which in turn reflect the first "image" of God.44 Later the God representation evolves due to paternal and other influences. It is important to note, however, that the first symbol of God is based on internalized sensations of the mother. Rizzuto's stages can be summarized as follows:

  1. The child internalizes interactions with the world in terms of a variety of "object representations." The phenomena internalized may include somatic sensations, affects, concepts.
  2. These memories are consolidated into increasingly complex sets of representations. For example, an internalized representation of the mother may include sensations, sounds, and feelings, in conjunction with the child's needs.
  3. All children have questions about the origin of the world. The idea of God is developmentally necessary in order to ground the earliest awareness of existence.
  4. The representation of God is put together from portions of object representations the child has at her or his disposal. It is the end product of a process of consolidating object representations into a coherent inner object world. The representation of God is put together from portions of object representations the child has at her or his disposal. It is the end product of a process of consolidating object representations into a coherent inner object world. The representation of God is put together from portions of object representations the child has at her or his disposal. It is the end product of a process of consolidating object representations into a coherent inner object world.45

Rizzuto maintains that the difference between God and other transitional objects is that the others are eventually outgrown and discarded, while God becomes more important in the psyches of most individuals. Yet belief in God, for Rizzuto, will be discarded by those unable to find coherence between their God representation and their self-representation. At the same time, Rizzuto posits that the God representation remains a part of the psyche, even for unbelievers, and that it is available for potential later integration.46

A good illustration of emergence of a latent God representation is the phenomenon of religious conversion. In this case, before conversion the individual generally rejects God. If we assume that the preconverted individual is of an agnostic or atheistic persuasion, then at that time the God representation is not active in the psyche. God beliefs, however, do not suddenly "materialize." They emerge from internalized God representations previously disavowed because of their failure to coincide with the individual's self-perspective. During religious conversion a shift in self-perspective occurs, which is usually provoked by an external event. The individual may come to view himself or herself, for example, as a helpless sinner. If the latent God representation is characterized as omnipotent Lord and savior, God now becomes accessible at a conscious level.

Meissner is careful to qualify that the God representation, while determined in large measure by transferential derivatives from parental figures, is articulated within a community of believers in an existential framework. Because the subject is "God-talk," questions of meaning arise, e.g., how does belief in God shape my views about my purpose in life? Meissner states that theology informs and elaborates upon psychically derived representations.47 In other words, the God representation cannot be said to be solely the product of parental transferences. Each religious tradition passes down its own theology concerning the meaning of God's existence for human life. This theology in turn influences believers' understandings of God. Thus, one's view of God is shaped by parental figures, but also by one's understanding of life's purpose and meaning, which theology addresses.

The female priest would represent Christ as female—a new symbol for the Catholic faith. Psychologically, the representation of Christ as a woman, evoked by the woman priest acting inpersona Christi, is based on maternal transferences. As discussed, maternal transferences are likely to be stronger when women are celebrants. While male priests reinforce paternal transferences and a "Father God" image, women clergy call forth a pre-Oedipal God representation, and hence a female depiction of deity. Existentially, the image is grounded in women's experiences of what a female Christ image means—that is, how it provides a sense of meaning for them. A female Christ symbol, unlike images of Mary and Eve, would not require women to dichotomize femaleness into purity or whoredom. Nor would the representation of a female Christ function to keep women in a state of psychological dependence on men. Advances made by feminist, womanist, mujerista, and Asian American women theologians in the field of Christology demonstrate ways in which the relationship between symbol and metaphor contributes to understanding the significance of women priests.

A Female Christ

Hans Urs von Balthasar articulates that the figure of Christ both reveals and expresses the nature of God. Because Christ is God, he is the source and content of our knowledge of God. In Christ we see "who and what" God is.Hans Urs von Balthasar articulates that the figure of Christ both reveals and expresses the nature of God. Because Christ is God, he is the source and content of our knowledge of God. In Christ we see"who and what" God is.48 Critical questions arising from earlier discussion are, What difference would it make tohave Christ symbolized as female? How would it affect one's God representation? How would it affect one's understanding of meaning in life? Recent work in feminist Christology offers a beginning point for answering these questions. Critical questions arising from earlier discussion are, What difference would it make tohave Christ symbolized as female? How would it affect one's God representation? How would it affect one's understanding of meaning in life? Recent work in feminist Christology offers a beginning point for answering these questions.

At this point the metaphorical character of all God language must be stressed. A metaphor is a way of speaking about one thing in terms suggestive of another. Metaphors provide tools with which to talk about divine reality, which can be expressed only symbolically. Like symbols, they open up dimensions of reality that are otherwise closed. Theologian Alister McGrath lists three common features of metaphors: (1) they imply both similarity and dissimilarity between the things compared, (2) they have an open-ended character and cannot be reduced to definitive statements, and (3) they may have powerful emotional overtones.49 For example, "God is a lion" infers that God is a wise protector, but surely not that God is a cat. It is a suggestive comparison; God as lion takes on diverse meanings for different people. Finally, "God is a lion" has emotional overtones associated with strength, honor, and power. James Earl Jones in the film The Lion King gives voice to some of these emotional overtones associated with the lion metaphor.

Metaphors break down when concretized, as do symbols when they are viewed as mere "signs." As we have seen, taking the metaphor in persona Christi too literally leads to exclusion of women from priestly representation. Historical Jesus scholar Marcus Borg points out that the multiplicity of images for speaking of Jesus' relationship to God (e.g., as logos, Sophia, Son) make it clear that none of them is to be taken literally. They are all metaphorical. The metaphor "Son of God," for example, in his view points to the deep and intimate relationship that Jesus had with God. If taken literally, it narrows the scope of Christology to only one image. Borg explains that a multiplicity of Christological representations carries a richness of meaning not possible with only one image.50 An overview of female Christ symbols as offered by feminist,womanist, mujerista, and Asian American women theologians furnishes additional metaphors for use in discussions of Christology. These metaphors provide existential meanings that extend our view of the significance of religious symbols.

Ruether was among the first feminist theologians to advocate that Christology be saved from its patriarchal underpinnings. She begins her task by exploring the dualistic anthropology that has prevented women from attaining equal status with men in the Catholic Church. In particular, she looks at the view articulated by the early church fathers—and perpetuated through much of Christian heritage—that women are not "human" in the same way that men are. The Aristotelian biological notion that the male alone provides the seed or "form" of the offspring, while the female provides the substance, led to the belief that females were a result of a defect in gestation and were consequently defective humans. Thomas Aquinas applied Aristotle's notion to theology, arguing that for Jesus as Christ to represent humanity as a whole he must be male, "because only the male possesses the fullness of human nature.51 The contemporary Catholic Church, as we have seen, clings to a patriarchal anthropology by elevating Jesus' human maleness to an ontologically necessary significance. Ruether argues that patriarchal anthropology must be rejected in favor of egalitarian anthropology and asserts that gender symbols must be used to affirm that God both transcends and includes the fullness of humanity of both men and women. Women must be affirmed as equally "theomorphic" with men, and God must be imaged as both female and male. One must be able to encounter Christ as black, Asian, Aboriginal, female, for, according to Ruether, only in this way is Jesus' paradigmatic message of liberation truly conveyed. 52 Ruether proposes that the Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels be the foundation for a feminist Christology. Mythology that portrays him as Messiah or divine Logos, along with the accompanying masculine imagery, must be rejected. As pointed out by Mary Hembrow Snyder, if this is done Jesus is recognized as the "iconoclastic prophet" who castigated existing social and religious hierarchies for their authoritarian practices. Jesus sought, according to Ruether, to reverse the social order, "making empowerment and the liberation of the oppressed the meaning of servanthood."53 As a result, he broke down the justification for religious and social domination based on leadership and service roles.

Ruether asserts that Jesus is a liberator of all the oppressed, but especially of poor and lower-class women.54 Her argument for an egalitarian anthropology establishes the groundwork for moving away from solely male metaphors of Christ. While Ruether advocates that Christ be represented as female, she does not explore in any depth female symbols for Christ. To find these we must look elsewhere.

Significantly, female images of Christ can be found in certain strands of Asian American women's theology. Hwain Chang Lee, for example, points out that "Asian women very often portray Jesus as a mother figure, because 'mother' is the one who cares for the family, who is able to communicate every aspect of family life, and who bears the burdens and suffering of their families."55 As observed by Chung Hyun Kyung, while the most prevailing image of Jesus for Asian women is that of the suffering servant, new images of Jesus are emerging. These include Jesus as liberator, revolutionary, political martyr, mother, woman, and shaman. Chung asserts that many Asian women portray Jesus in the image of mother because they see him as a compassionate individual who feels deeply the suffering of humanity and who suffers and weeps with them. As Chung puts it: "Since Jesus' compassion is so deep, the mother image is the most appropriate one for Asian women to express their experience of Jesus' compassion"56 The metaphor of Jesus as mother shows Asian women that human redemption comes through the one who shared the suffering of all humankind.

The emotional overtones associated with a female Christ metaphor can elicit powerful bonds of identification. Chung comments, for example, that some Asian women see Jesus Christ as a female figure in their specific historical situation. Park Soon Kyung notes that even though Jesus had a male physical form, he is a symbol of "females and the oppressed" because he identifies with those who suffer. On a symbolic level, therefore, Jesus is the "woman Messiah," who is in thesuffering and struggle of Asian women.57 For some Korean women, Jesus is identified with a Korean female shaman, because he is easily accepted as the exorcist and healer of the sick. Since women play a central role in Korean shamanism, when Korean women see Jesus as the priest who exorcises han (sin), they connect with a female image of Jesus more than with the male image of Jesus.58

Asian American women theologians are just one source for illuminating the theme of a female Christ in contemporary theology. In Western cultures, Sophia, or feminine wisdom imagery, is being used to understand the Christ symbol in ways that are more inclusive of women. Elizabeth Johnson, for example, argues that wisdom is portrayed in the Jewish tradition as sister, mother, bride, prophet, teacher, friend. Sophia is also creator and fashioner of all things. Johnson argues that Jesus was closely associated with Sophia and is even presented in certain New Testament writings as an incarnation of her.59

Wisdom personified offers an augmented field of female metaphors with which to speak about God symbolized as female. Johnson notes that scholarly debate illuminates at least five perspectives on the interpretation of personified wisdom: (1) Sophia is the personification of the cosmic order, (2) she is the personification of wisdom sought and learned in Israel's schools, (3) the symbol stands for a divine attribute, (4) Sophia is a "quasi-independent divine hypostasis" who mediates between the world and a transcendent God, and (5) Sophia is a female personification of God's own being in creative and saving involvement with the world.60 Johnson favors the last option because of the "functional equivalence," in her view, between the deeds of Sophia and those of the biblical God. Johnson argues that what Judaism said of Sophia, Christian hymn-makers and epistle writers came to say of Jesus. By the end of the first century, Jesus is presented ultimately as an embodiment of Sophia herself.61 It is thus not too big a leap, for Johnson, to confess Jesus Christ as the "incarnation of God imaged in female symbol."62

Schussler Fiorenza, alternatively, presents Jesus as sage and prophet of Sophia. According to the Gospel of John, in her view, it is debated whether Jesus is wisdom incarnate or whether he replaces her. For Schussler Fiorenza, Christ can be understood as the mediator of the first creation and as the power of a new, qualitatively different creation.63

Borg also finds the Sophia metaphor useful to support the notion of God personified as female. He observes that in the wisdom tradition of Israel Sophia is closely associated with God— there is a functional equivalency between Sophia and God as argued by Johnson, Thus, language about Sophia, for Borg, is personification of God in female form—"a lens through which divine reality is imaged as a woman."64 Borg argues that Jesus speaks of himself as both emissary and child of Sophia. In John, for example, Jesus is presented as the incarnation of divine Sophia.65 Again, the metaphorical character of God language must be emphasized, lest Christian feminists fall prey to the same rigid literalism as those who insist on the maleness of Christ because only men can be "sons." Borg explains that Jesus is both "Sophia of God" and "Son of God."66

Feminine wisdom imagery provides an expanded set of metaphors with which to depict Christ as universal savior. In recent years this metaphor has found greater popularity outside the seminary environment. Several Episcopal women I interviewed, for example, mentioned use of wisdom imagery. A laywoman I spoke with indicated that she was hesitant to make wisdom into a "goddess" but acknowledged that the metaphor was important as a poetic figure. She believed that Mary was a possible avenue for Anglican women to explore further, especially the Mary of the Passion. In turn, a woman priest suggested that Wisdom incarnate in the person of Jesus the man allows an interaction, a balancing of male and female. Numerous interviewees stressed the importance of having a balance of male and female imagery at the altar. As one female priest explained, if Christ was fully human, the full range of humanity should be engaged in the ministry of the church.

A male priest suggested that women celebrants tend to make the same kind of difference as black celebrants or Asian celebrants. Significantly, the metaphor of Christ as a black woman has been advanced by womanist theologians. Jacqueline Grant, for example, posits that in the experience of black women, Christ is a black woman.67 Kelly Brown Douglas expands upon this notion: "Although Christ can certainly be embodied by a black woman, it is more in keeping with black women's testimonies to Jesus and Jesus' own self-understanding if womanist theology describes Christ as being embodied wherever there is a movement to sustain and liberate the entire black community, male and female."68 Douglas explains that womanist portrayals of the "Black Christ" endeavor to lift up those persons, especially black women, who have worked toward bringing greater wholeness to the black community. That is, Christ can be seen in the faces of Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and Fannie Lou Hamer, as well as in the faces of the poorest black women.69

Again, the metaphorical nature of God language must be underscored. These theologians are not suggesting that the historical Jesus was a black woman. From a sociopolitical standpoint, there are compelling reasons for not limiting ourselves to one depiction of Christ—even if we could ascertain Jesus' phenotype withhistorical accuracy. If the only image of the incarnation is white and male, white men become viewed as closer to God, and consequently this image contributes to the oppression of women and minorities in North America. If Christ is truly to be understood as a "representative human," as many images of Christ are needed as there are types of people in the world. In addition, as stated by Borg, a multiplicity of metaphors attests to the richness and diversity of beliefs about Christ. Christ cannot be reduced to one image, nor can a definitive statement be made about any one image. Through their physical presence, the advent of women priests would enhance and deepen Christological metaphors, bringing powerful emotional overtones to abstract concept.

Finally, the subject of female Christ symbols has also been addressed in mujerista theology. Maria Pilar Aquino, for example, observes that for Latin American women, a fruitful line of reflection is the rediscovery of Jesus' relation with women and women's activities. Ana María Tepedino in turn points out that since an inherent part of Jesus' project is the humanization of the person, women's bodies are restored as the primary place of divine activity.70 Latin American women's Christology stresses that both men and women constitute the new humanity and the body of Christ—they too are alter Christus.71 This is shown clearly in Ada María Isasi-Diaz's description of a mujerista liturgy celebrated by a Hispanic women's group called Las Hermanas in 1989. As part of the liturgy, a woman spoke the following eucharistic blessing after lifting the cup at the altar: "This is the milk which comes from our bodies and nourishes life. It is mixed with honey, for milk and honey was the symbol for our ancestors of the promised land, of a better future, of liberation. We bless it by drinking of it for it will sustain us in the struggle."72 Isasi-Diaz observes that this was the first time that some of the women who participated had experienced a woman breaking the bread. She explains that in relocating the sacred in the midst of the marginalized, poor, and oppressed, mujeristas saw themselves made in the image of God.73 Isasi-Diaz explains: "We wanted to enable Hispanic women to understand that if we believe God became human in the person of Jesus, all of us, not only priests and pastors, participate in the divine. We believe we accomplished this, particularly for the Hispanic women who had a leadership role in the liturgy."74

In sum, some of the ways in which the notion of women as alter Christus is informed by Asian American women, mujerista, womanist, and feminist theologians are in relation to women's suffering, women's liberation, and wisdom personified. Woman-Christ is healer, fellow sufferer, compassionate mother, mediator of creation, imago dei. Such metaphors support the claim that actual, historical women are created in the image of God and are bearers of the image of Christ—that it is precisely in their female bodily existence that baptized women are imago Christi.75 Women at the altar, acting in persona Christi, would evoke one or more of these metaphors in the psyches of parishioners, depending on their internalized images of Christ, on their prior experiences with women (particularly women who were influential early in their lives), and on which images are the most meaningful for them. Like Ruether and Schüssler Fiorenza, I view the effects of women's historicized sexual difference as a valuable resource for Christology. The metaphors for Christ described above allow women to identify with Christ in a way not possible with a male Christ image. Women can view themselves as equally "theomorphic" with men—they, too, are formed in the divine image. As such, the images open up levels of reality that were previously closed to them.

In addition, because female Christ symbols have an open-ended character, they will be viewed differently as women encounter changes in their own lives. In twenty years perhaps the metaphor of a woman-Christ will not be so closely identified with themes of suffering and liberation from oppression as she is now. Because metaphors convey multiple meanings, they remain useful far longer than do literal images. Moreover, the rich emotional overtone carried by female Christ symbols further fuel women's efforts to achieve personal goals. Female Christ images, symbolized by women priests at the altar, would inspire female parishioners to make advances in their own lives.

This raises the question of the emotional effects for men of a female Christ image—do they as a result feel "less" theomorphic, less like God? Next, the psychological benefits of female Christ symbols for women and men are addressed more fully. Psychoanalytic notions of transference and internalization can be used to explore the variety of reactions that parishioners would have to a woman acting in persona Christi. While the priest at the altar in some ways functions like the analyst in a psychoanalytic consultation, the situation becomes more complex when the priest also acts in persona Christi, for parishioners are faced not only with a female authority figure but with a female image of deity. When outward images of deity change, internalized God representations are also forced to shift. An analysis of how this happens in terms of "psychic boundaries" will prove helpful.

Psychological Analysis of Female Christ Symbols

Earlier it was emphasized that male religious symbols correspond with men having positions of political and economic authority over women. Naomi Goldenberg observes that until recently public officials were conceived of only as adult males and that as long as this image of the male authority was held, God was pictured solely as an old man.76 The implication of solely male imagery is that men's domination is divinely ordered and sustained by God.77 Do female religious symbols subvert this patriarchal ideology? Anthropologist Mary Douglas has argued that while we can predict cosmology from social structure, the reverse is fraught with difficulties.78 In other words, we cannot look at cosmologies that display a reciprocity of gods and goddesses and prognosticate the existence of an egalitarian social structure in those societies. It is true that not all cultures that worship female deities evince egalitarian religious systems— India, for example, does not. Evidence suggests, however, that many women in North American societies find female religious symbols to be psychologically empowering. This section further outlines the benefits to women of envisioning deity in terms of female symbolism. I then explore how these benefits are realized psychologically, drawing upon the mechanism of internalization. In some cases, the fruits of female symbolism are not realized in the psyche. Resistance to and ambivalence toward female Christ symbols must therefore also be addressed.

In the article by Carol Christ discussed earlier, she argues that goddess symbolism affirms four dimensions of women's being: female power, the female body, the female will, and women's bonds and heritage. First, women can acknowledge that the divine principle is in themselves and that they need no longer look to men or male figures as saviors. Second, goddess symbolism assists the process of naming and reclaiming the female body and its cycles and processes. This reclaiming results, according to Christ, in joyful positive affirmation of the female body, as well as acceptance of aging and death. Third, women who participate in goddess rituals refuse to be subordinate to others, and they believe that they can achieve their wills in the world. And fourth, asserts Christ, goddess symbolism encourages celebrations of women's bonds to each other, particularly the mother-daughter relationship.79

Referring to divinity as "God the Mother" affects women in ways that calling God "Father" cannot. Most important of these is that the metaphor God as Mother allows women to identify with the divine directly, rather than through the "glasses" of male experience. Nelle Morton writes:

Now, call on "God the Mother" or the "Goddess." What happens? For women she appears. She says your life is the sacred gift. Pick it up. Receive it. Create it. Be responsible for it. I ask nothing in return. It is enough that you stand on your own two feet and speak your own word. Celebrate the new Creation that is you. Move in the new space—free. The response from women who have become aware is an overwhelming sense of acceptance and belonging and identity.80

Morton implies that envisioning God as female increases women's sense of self-esteem and independence. Jann Clanton, in In Whose Image? God and Gender, reaches a similar conclusion. If a woman accepts that she is not "quite as fully created in the image of God as is the male," Clanton states, "then she will have difficulty accepting her full potential to reason and to create."81 In her research sample, Clanton found a statistically significant relationship between masculine concepts of God and feelings of shame and deference in women, which suggested to her that masculine God imagery negatively affects women's self-esteem. Alternatively, the women in the sample who spoke of God as "more than masculine" scored higher in self-confidence than those who held a solely masculine view of deity. From this material, Clanton concludes that women who can conceive of God as androgynous or "beyond gender" experience greater internal freedom to develop their own creative and intellectual potential.82

Clanton observes that persons who can imagine and verbalize an inclusive God are more likely to be inclusive in their views of priesthood and ministry: according to her study, approximately 83 percent of Roman Catholics with an androgynous or gender-transcendent view of God also believe that women should be ordained as priests (as compared with only 25 percent of those with a masculine view of God)83 My own research suggests that the advent (and acceptance) of women priests will in turn facilitate more openness to inclusive God imagery. To illustrate, I relate some responses from my interviews to a question concerning use of inclusive-language liturgies.

An Episcopal laywoman attested that there is a connection between acceptance of women ministers and support for inclusive language: "It's a chicken-and-egg kind of thing. I don't know how you would argue cause and effect . . . but there is very definitely a connection." Children, she said, make the connection very quickly—the minister represents God and therefore God cannot be just a boy. She observed that in seminaries now there is more interest in balancing male and female imagery and less resistance by women toward using occasional male imagery.

A male priest who was very ambivalent toward women clergy told me that a lot of negative work is being done in inclusive-language liturgies—in which masculine titles for God are being reduced in order to build up feminine images. A second male priest informed me that substituting God, Redeemer, and Sanctifier for Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is blasphemous. He explained that he would not personally refer to God as Mother, but that Isaiah's maternal imagery for deity demonstrates that the metaphor is not sacrilegious.

Most of the women priests I interviewed were much more supportive of inclusive language for God, or at least not adamantly opposed to it. One woman priest told me that women priests are necessary for women to be seen in the image of God. Another female priest indicated that questions regarding the appropriateness of certain inclusive metaphors arise out of parishioners' experience of having both male and female priests. She suggested that women priests are altering images of God, but at a deep level that is difficult to put into words. A third priest indicated that women priests are helping people envision the image of God as masculine and feminine. In her church, for example, the norm is to have both a man and a woman at the altar. Another clergywoman explained that in her experience, women who were abused by their fathers have difficulty praying to God the Father. Inclusive language for God, in her view, allows these women to envision God as both masculine and feminine.

An active laywoman I spoke with explained that the root of exclusive liturgical language is that "men do not want women to have the things they have, and they base that on a God who is a man. If they accept that God could be anything else, it would mean losing the privileges that they've had for centuries." She believes that as more and more women are ordained, feminist theology will become more acceptable and necessary. To illustrate, one woman priest I spoke with experienced great difficulty using exclusive language in eucharistic liturgies. She told me that it is very frustrating not to be able to delete or change words when they are exclusive: there are times when she wants so badly to say, "God of Abraham and Sarah, God of Jacob and Rachel." But adding to the printed rites, she explained, is not permitted in the Episcopal Church.

In sum, some of the benefits made possible by female God imagery are women's increased sense of self-esteem, independence, and freedom to develop their creative and intellectual potential; greater valuation of their capabilities and bodily cycles; and affirmation of connections with other women. It is now appropriate to ask how these benefits are realized psychologically. In other words, what are the means by which women come to reap these benefits? Given the nature of the benefits discussed, why are some women and men resistant to female Christ symbols?


The above questions concern the relationship between one's self-identity and one's internalized God representation. It is important, therefore, to gain some understanding of this inner psychological relationship. In order to do so, first we must explore how religion shapes who people are. How do religious beliefs affect self-concept?

A starting point is provided by James Fowler, in his research regarding the relationship between individual psychological development and the formation of religious identity.

In his book Stages of Faith, Fowler utilizes Erikson's eight stages of psychosocial development as a base from which to explore religious identity, or faith development. According to Fowler, during the first stage (Intuitive-Protective Faith) children generally construct an image or images of God, pieced together from story fragments and images provided by their culture.84 Fowler explains that during the second stage (Mythic-Literal Faith) the following occurs:

The person begins to take on for him- or herself the stories, beliefs, and observances that symbolize belonging to his or her community. Beliefs are appropriated with literal interpretations, as are moral rules and attitudes. Symbols are taken as one-dimensional and literal in meaning. (p. 149)

Ten-year-old Millie, for example, describes God as "an old man with a white beard and white hair wearing a long robe.... he has a nice face, nice blue eyes. He can't be all white ... he has blue eyes and he's forgiving" (p. 138). Chronologically, Mythic-Literal Faith corresponds to a child's school years. Stage three (Synthetic-Conventional Faith) corresponds with adolescence. In this stage, symbols and ritual representations expressive of the faith are not separable from what they symbolize. As Fowler explains, "Any strategy of demythologization . . . threatens the participation of the symbol and symbolized and is taken, consequently, as an assault on the sacred itself (p. 163). While stage three typically emerges during adolescence, Fowler points out that for many adults it becomes a permanent place of balance. If persons are to move to the fourth stage (Individuative-Reflective Faith), they generally must encounter a clash between valued authority sources, or have experiences that lead to critical reflection, such as "leaving home" (pp. 172—173). It is only during the fourth stage that symbols can be "separated from their meanings" and translated into propositions, definitions, or conceptual foundations (p. 180).

Thus, if most children conceptualize Jesus as a white male—as given to them in cultural stories—this God representation will be understood literally until, as adults, their faith becomes mature enough to allow them to separate the depiction from its underlying meaning. It is interesting that African American children are often presented with images of a black Jesus rather than a white one.85 Do those African Americans, in consequence, view Jesus as black when they become adults? In a survey of African American Catholics, sociologist Julia Rath found that the majority indicated that Jesus was black, or at least not white.86 Rath observes that a typical response to her survey was the following: " 'We found out even in the King James version that if His skin is like that of bronze and his hair is like that of wool, then that sounds like that Man was a black Man.'"87 In contrast, there is no evidence that churches led by women have attempted in any systematic way to portray Jesus as female to young girls. At this point in time, it is fairly safe to say that most male and female children in Western culture grow up with the image of Jesus as male.

"Christlike" behavior is also associated with a male image of Christ. In Christian theology, Christ is the central figure for development of ethical standards: one's behavior should be modeled after Christ's. Believers are admonished to be Christlike, which involves incorporating qualities believed to be part of Christ's character as identified in the Gospels. Included among these are compassion, love, and altruism. How exactly does one become more Christlike? Theologians might answer with the notion of "sanctification," a process that takes place through God's grace and the Holy Spirit's guidance. A broader query is, How does anyone become more "like" another individual? Psychoanalysts address this question through the concept of internalization.

As already noted, internalization involves the way in which external persons and objects become integrated into the internal psychic structure of an individual. The crux of internalization is encapsulated in the yen to imitate the behavior of a lost loved one. Loewald's assessment of Christ as an "ego ideal"—exemplifying the internalization and sublimation of all earthly relationships—hails the figure of Christ as a model for imitation within the psyche. As explained by Robert Nye, "ego-ideal" refers to the part of the superego that serves as the idealistic internal measure or standard of what the person should be.88 In this case, the internalized Christ serves as a template by which to measure how "Christlike" one is and can be.

Like the son who becomes more like his father after his father's passing, the internalization of Christ is, for the most part, not a conscious process. In this regard, internalization is related to the psychological notion of "identification." Nye defines identification as "a psychological process which originates in the wish to be like another individual in some way, and eventuates in the assimilation of attributes of the other into stable and permanent elements of the personality."89 Roy Schafer notes that the major identifications— those that contribute significantly to early systemic development and later systemic change—typically are based on models provided by parents, siblings, and others with whom the individual is in early and dependent association. The individual later may identify with other persons, fictional characters, ancestors, and significant figures in history or myth.90 For those raised within the Christian tradition, Christ is one such likely figure for identification.

While Loewald and Schafer help to address the way in which the psychological Christ becomes internalized as a replacement for the crucified Jesus, what can be said about the particular image of Christ? Does that become internalized as well? I believe that it does. As Schafer notes, identification with abstract concepts is apprehended unconsciously in terms of concrete persons or things91—in other words, with certain images of those concepts. The precise nature of identification with and internalization of Christ depends upon a number of factors: the individual's own experiences with other Christians and with Christian teachings about Christ, God representations derived from parental derivatives, and pictorial depictions. In sum, Christlike qualities, such as goodness, altruism, and so on, are internalized in the context of a particular image or symbol of Christ.

It is important to reiterate that in terms of Fowler's faith stages, symbols are not seen as separate from their meanings until the fourth stage, a stage that is not generally reached until young adulthood, if at all. When Christ is internalized as an ego ideal, therefore, a specific image of Christ is internalized as well. This image provides a measure of one's own self-concept. For most individuals, unless they are presented with nonwhite or female images of Christ in childhood (or confronted by them in adulthood), that image is of a Caucasian man. It follows that when whites see the white male Christ pictorially depicted, their self-concept as potentially Christlike is affirmed. Women and nonwhites, I suggest, also internalize a white male Christ if that was the predominant image presented to them in childhood. This remains particularly true for women in highly patriarchal settings such as fundamentalist churches.

What happens psychologically if one is confronted with a non-white or nonmale image of Christ? In an article titled "Christology Crossing Boundaries: The Threat of Imaging Christ as Other Than a White Male,"92 I use the concept of internalization to explore psychological origins of resistance to multiple representations of Christ—particularly those that cross gender and racial boundaries. Because acceptance of women priests requires psychological integration of a nonmale image of Christ, these insights are also applicable to women priests acting in persona Christi.


Psychologically, a variety of responses would be generated by Catholic women priests at the altar—from "that was great" to "that wasn't any different" to "that made me extremely uncomfortable." I believe that one cause of discomfort and hostility to nonwhite, non-male images of Christ—and, by extension, to women priests—lies in how the Christ image coheres with or disrupts self-concept as internalized from childhood. The remainder of the section demonstrates the following points. First, boundaries of gender and race are formed early in childhood and are significant factors in the development of self-concept. Second, the extent to which an individual identifies with a female Christ image reflects the degree of fluidity of her or his "psychic boundaries." And third, psychic boundary transgression is unconsciously expressed in such emotions as anxiety, hostility, discomfort, or offense.

While it is true, as Clanton argues, that women's self-esteem is often enhanced when they able to envision God as female—i.e., like themselves—I suggest that the process of shifting God representations is complex and often difficult. Does one's God image become more nurturing as that individual is more capable of being nurtured, or does one become more capable of nurture when presented with a more caring God? I think it can work both ways, but I lean toward Rizzuto's notion that the God representation must find coherence with the self-representation in order to be accepted within the psyche. In an undergraduate psychology of religion course, a student shared with the class that she was only able to shift her God representation from an authoritarian tyrant to a more caring image with increased self-esteem through therapy. Rizzuto implies that embracing a more caring God is unlikely unless one's self-concept has also shifted, which usually means reworking one's relationships with internalized parental imagos.

Several important questions arise. First, what is the psychological significance of growing up with an image of Christ that is like or different from one's self-concept? Those individuals, for example, with a phenotype similar to that of the traditional Christ as depicted by primarily male European painters (in some cases blond and blue-eyed) will be more deeply affirmed in experiencing their self-concept as potentially "Christlike" than those who do not share this phenotype. On the other hand, if one is raised with depictions of Christ unlike one's own image, then at some level the self is negated as Christlike, although Christ could still function as an ego ideal. Social norms no doubt play a role in which images are internalized as ego ideals. For the most part, to be white and male is normative, "good," and powerful in Western society.

Second, what are the implications of trying to "switch" Christ images? In particular, what is the response of those individuals who already embody the "norm" when they are presented with Christ images divergent from their self-concept? I suggest that for men, internalizing a female Christ involves crossing a gender boundary, while for white women and men, internalizing a black Christ involves crossing a racial boundary. Imaging Christ as other than a white male forces crossing of the racial and gender boundaries that maintain self-concept as either identified with or different from one's internalized image of Christ.

Crossing a gender boundary is generally more threatening for men than it is for women. I believe that imaging Christ as female can be troubling for women as well—not primarily because of gender boundary transgression, but because of their unconscious internalization of a white male Christ as privileged and powerful. Chodorow's work is useful in exploring boundary transgression in the context of gender.

As we have seen, Chodorow observes that girls grow up with a sense of continuity and similarity to their mother, which results in more flexible ego boundaries in girls than in boys.93 On the other hand, boys grow up with a sense of separateness from the mother, a process that is further promoted in the course of forging a masculine identity by boys' repudiation of the mother and of their own feminine identification. Gender difference thus becomes central for males—"core gender identity and the sense of masculinity are defined more negatively, in terms of that which is not female or not-mother, than positively."94 Chodorow explains that while the maternal identification represents what is "generically human" for children of both genders, because men have power in our society, they have come to define maleness as that which is generically human, and women as "not men." Men institutionalize their unconscious defenses against repressed feminine identification and attachment in the form of sexist attitudes and behaviors.95

Using Chodorow, we can see how the neat package of "white maleness is next to godliness" is undone when Christ is symbolized as other than a white male. Internalizing a female Christ causes repressed feminine identifications to surface in men, threatening core masculine identity. Since men unconsciously define maleness as both a human and a divine norm, in order to internalize a female Christ men's self-concept can no longer be defined as "not female," and female can no longer be defined as "not God." In identifying with a female Christ, men are forced to acknowledge their own repressed feminine attachment and identification, which is tantamount to being engulfed by what might be called the "nebulously overwhelming archaic mother." In other words, they must cross a psychological boundary that is unconsciously defended against. Women, on the other hand, have less difficulty in identifying with a male Christ, because gender difference is less threatening to women—that is, the boundary is more fluid. Some women, as I have mentioned, may find a female Christ problematic because it severs their internalized connection with patriarchal power.

Similarly, while many white individuals experience dissonance in identifying with a black Jesus, a minority of nonwhites in Western culture may be uncomfortable with a black or Asian Jesus, for the same reasons that some women may be uncomfortable with a female Christ. Because whiteness is considered normative in Western culture, crossing a racial boundary causes uneasiness as well. Racial identity is more difficult to discuss than gender identity, because there is less agreement around precisely how race is determined. It would seem that racial identity is both an external and an internal category: children perceive themselves as African American when others view them as such, and adults can choose to self-identify as African American. In this vein, it is significant that children as young as three years old seem to be aware of racial differences and their associated meanings or values.96 The Clarks' famous doll test, for example, was designed to demonstrate race consciousness and preferences in preschool children. Race consciousness here refers to "consciousness of self as belonging to a specific group which is differentiated from other groups by obvious physical characteristics."97 The Clarks' doll test demonstrated that a majority of African American children between ages three and seven rejected a brown doll in favor of a white doll. While the study is dated, there seems to have been little change in the racial attitudes of African American preschool children over the past forty years. Even today, the African American child will want to identify with what represents good and will form a way of thinking that essentially favors white.98

"White" racial identity, I believe, is defended against on a basis similar to that of masculine gender identity. In order to internalize a black or Asian Christ, a white individual such as myself must cross a racial boundary in terms of self-concept. In identifying with a dark Jesus when my self-concept is formed around whiteness, I am forced to question my own racial identification. I am also forced to confront the notion that race, like gender, is a social construct. In doing so I must acknowledge that I too am "raced," just as men are "gendered," and must encounter the complexities of this issue. This is more difficult for whites than for nonwhites, because of the Western cultural construction of whiteness as normative and "good" and because of its very real association with political power. Just as African American children want to identify with what represents good, adult Western Christians desire that their image of Jesus reflect Western values. Whites seldom are able to see themselves in a black Christ, nor does the image of a black Christ reflect the accepted values of their culture. Some African Americans have no difficulty internalizing a black Christ—those children, for example, who are raised with images of a black rather than a white Jesus. Others, like whites, may find a black Jesus problematic because this symbol, like the male Christ for some women, breaks their internalized connection with cultural privilege and power.

In my view, the root cause of discomfort and hostility to non-white, nonmale images of Christ lies in how the Christ image coheres with or disrupts self-concept as internalized from childhood. Identifying with an image that is different from one's self-concept is a primary source of psychic boundary transgression, which is one origin of discomfort toward plural images of Christ and, by extension, toward women priests. I will now illustrate all of these themes, drawing from the image of a black female Christ and other ethnographic material

Christa: An Example of Boundary Transgression

Perhaps the most graphicWestern symbolic depiction of a black female Christ was Edwina Sandys's sculpture of the naked body of a woman hanging on a cross, titled Christa,99 Christa provoked a great deal of outrage and was described by opponents as "reprehensible and desecrating . . . totally changing the symbol."100 Bishop Walter Dennis, for example, charged that the display was "theologically and historically indefensible."101 When the Center for Women and Religion at the Graduate Theological Union attempted to do publicity in the Bay Area for an event featuring the sculpture, a mock newsletter was planted with a picture of Christa with a tail, titled Animalia102 These examples of resistance illustrate negative types of reactions when gender and racial boundaries are transgressed. Yet many women and men expressed equally strong positive reactions to Christa. Some women made a strong association between this sculpture and women's suffering at the hands of patriarchy. Edwina Hunter, for example, argues that this statue of a crucified woman "makes real" the symbol of the cross: "It puts us back in touch with the reality that the Cross is a scandal and the one who hangs on it is cursed."103 As Hunter points out, the true scandal is not Christa, but that she is a clear representation of what has happened historically to women. The Right Reverend Paul Moore, then bishop of New York, asserted: "The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us. ... This means that the Incarnation of the second person of the Trinity involved the taking on of humanity, of all 'flesh,' male and female."104 After seeing Christa in the context of a seminar called "Issues of Sexuality in Ministry," a feminist minister from Korea wrote: "Christa, she is a symbol of suffering woman. Christa, she is a symbol of new humanity of woman. From the suffering, life comes out again."105 Psychologically, one might say that because the Korean minister's self-concept was consistent with a God representation of suffering deity, the metaphor "suffering woman" took on redemptive value for her.

Viewing Christa had a liberating effect on another feminist minister, Rev. Dr. Smallwood, suggesting to her that there is more to God and Christ than maleness. She relates her experience as follows:

I had heard that Christa was a crucified woman, but the first time I saw her, it was impossible to ignore that she was a Black woman. I had had no idea that this woman would come out to grab me and make me feel as though we were old friends. . . . But I knew also that Christa was all women, all people of color. She was the reminder of injustice and oppression. As I looked on her I could feel the suffering that comes when one is poor or different : 106

This quotation indicates the ability of metaphors—made concrete through symbols—to evoke powerful emotional overtones. Dr. Smallwood's response also supports the point made earlier by Carol Christ regarding the power of female symbols to affirm women's bonds and heritage. Significantly, while the depiction of a male black Jesus, who redeems the particularity of black suffering, has provoked little outrage, the image of a female Christ in the form of Christa—who speaks to women in their suffering—has been labeled scandalous. Eleanor McLaughlin suggests that this response is a reminder of the power of body, and of Jesus' historically particular male body.107 It also is a recognition of the power of visual symbols versus spoken or written metaphors.

The range of responses to Christa illustrates the varied degrees of fluidity of racial and gender boundaries. Of the viewers discussed, those whose self-concept is dependent upon an internalized white male Christ (i.e., the "opponents") had trouble crossing the racial and gender boundaries necessary to accept this image. Reverend Moore, however, was able to find coherence between this female God representation and his self-concept, even though it involved "switching" God symbols. Thus, it seems that his self-concept was "fluid" enough to permit crossing to occur without enormous psychic resistance. The feminist minister's internalized God representation allowed her to identify with the metaphor of God as a suffering woman. We do not know whether she had to "switch" God representations in order to do so or whether a suffering female deity was a component of her religious background.

Diverse responses to Episcopal women clergy at the altar also demonstrate different degrees of psychic boundary fluidity. A male priest told me, for example, that sometimes people walk out when a woman is presiding. Sometimes they don't show. Another male priest offered this reasoning for choosing to be absent when women are celebrating: "Is it better to be absent from the Eucharist or to be present and angry? I think Matthew tells us it is better to be absent." A woman priest related that a few parishioners have crossed their arms at the communion rail as a message of defiance. Another woman priest told me that pockets of hostility toward female clergy still exist. At meetings, for example, some male priests treat her as if she were invisible: "There are priests that will do just about anything to not be in conversation with you."

A third clergywoman told me about an event that took place in January 1974, before Episcopal women's ordination to the priesthood had been approved. At a major conference, a woman deacon was assisting at the Eucharist by passing the chalice. While she was doing so, a priest grabbed her hands and tried to make her drop it. She explained:

Now in the Episcopal Church, we believe the same thing Catholics do—it is the real thing. It is the blood of Christ. You cannot spill it. So he's trying to get her to drop the chalice. And she wouldn't. She held on—she wouldn't drop it. At which point he let go, told her to go to hell, and scratched the back of her hand.

Another priest told me that a woman had scratched her palm when she was holding the chalice, in "absolute fury" that a woman could be behind the altar rail. This same priest has also had people tell her, "I've never felt so close to God as I have when you're celebrating the Eucharist. When you are delivering the chalice, when you're delivering the bread, I've never felt so close to God." She served in a church where she co-celebrated with a man, and she found that inevitably some people crossed the aisle to get to his side and, less frequently, parishioners crossed to get to her side.

Sometimes opponents to women clergy change their minds when they experience a woman at the altar. In these cases it is likely that on a psychological level, "switching," or perhaps expanding, one's internalized God representations is occurring. To illustrate, a woman priest related that a man approached her after a service and said, "You know, I knew it was going to be different having a woman priest at the altar, and it was—you sang an octave higher!" She explained that most people who have experienced her ministry for the first time tell her that "it's different," but "it's not bad," and they actually like it.

I have suggested here that a white male Christ is "internalized," or identified with, in the psyche of individual Christian believers from an early age. For men or Caucasians, imaging Christ as other than male or white, respectively, forces crossing of gender or racial boundaries that serve to maintain important dimensions of self-structure. This phenomenon in turn threatens self-identity, causing discomfort and hostility. For women or nonwhites in Western culture, the situation is more complex. For some, the internalized image of a white male Jesus affirms their self-concept in terms of existing structures of power. Others, however, can more easily imagine Christ as Asian, black, female, and so on (i.e., like themselves).

The principles used to account for resistance to plural images of Christ also apply to the controversy around women priests. In the above examples, Episcopal women priests evoke a variety of reactions from parishioners because, psychologically, people have different levels of tolerance for plural images of Christ. Those with little tolerance for gender boundary transgression may choose not to be present when a woman is celebrating. Alternatively, they may react with defiance, for their internalized God representation is being challenged. They may react with a counterchallenge, as did the priest who tried to force the Episcopal woman deacon to drop the chalice. Other parishioners experience in female Christ symbols an affirmation of their self-identity in a way they have never felt before. Psychologically, they are able to cross the boundary from God as male to God as female; or perhaps they have internalized a latent image of God as female. Theologically, they find a female Christ symbol empowering on emotional, bodily, and intellectual levels.

It should be said that while not all Episcopalians view the priest as a representative of Christ, many do, and it is the official Catholic view. I find it interesting that most of the women priests I interviewed did not consider their presence to be affecting images of Christ, even though a number of them acknowledged that they are altering images of God. I think that shifting Christ symbols is even more threatening than changing God representations, because doing so challenges people to think symbolically rather than literally. Jesus was indeed a man, but Christ represents liberation and universal salvation—qualities that are symbolized in different ways for different people. Again, one of the benefits of multiple metaphors is otheir ability to express the richness and diversity of meanings attached to a single symbol.

Because women at the altar are acting in persona Christi, they function as visual representations of Christ and, as such, evoke similar psychological identifications and resistances as would a picture or statue of a female Jesus in the church sanctuary. It is worth noting that not long ago, African Americans were refused priesthood/ministerial ordination in some denominations on the grounds that they did not adequately resemble Christ. In addition to enfleshing a female image of deity, women priests would alter the nature of christological debates in other ways, by raising issues of body, maternal functions, and sexuality. If God is female as well as male, is God immanent as well as transcendent, as argued by many feminist theologians? What is the place of sexuality in the schema of creation, sin, and salvation? What role does sexual difference play in this context? Drawing upon a psychoanalytic approach known as French feminist theory, it is to these questions that we shall now turn .


1. Sheila Greeve Davaney, "Continuing the Story, but Departing the Text: A Historicist Interpretation of Feminist Norms in Theology," in Rebecca S. Chopp and Sheila Greeve Davaney, eds., Horizons in Feminist Theology: Identity, Tradition, and Norms, p. 207 (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1997).

2. Anne E. Carr, Transforming Grace: Christian Tradition and Women's Experience (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1988), pp. 124-126.

3. Hester Eisenstein, introduction to Hester Eisenstein and Alice Jardine, eds., The Future of Difference (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1985), p. xvi.

4. Shulamith Firestone, The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution (New York: Bantam, 1970).

5. Adrienne Rich, Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution (New York: Norton, 1976).

6. Eisenstein, "Introduction," p. xviii.

7. Virginia Sapiro, Women in American Society: An Introduction to Women's Studies, 3d ed. (Mountain View, Calif.: Mayfield Publishing, 1994), pp. 89-117.

8. Martha Long Ice, Clergy Women and Their Worldviews: Calling for a New Age (New York: Praeger, 1987), p. 4

9. Carol Gilligan and Grant Wiggins, "The Origins of Morality in Early Childhood," in Carol Gilligan, Janie Victoria Ward, Jill McLean Taylor, with Betty Bardige, eds., Mapping the Moral Domain: A Contribution of Women's Thinking to Psychological Theory and Education, pp. 111-117 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988).

10. Lesley Stevens, "Different Voice/Different Voices: Anglican Women in Ministry," Review of Religious Research 30, no. 3 (March 1989): 262.

11. Ibid., p. 262. See Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982).

12. For elaboration of these critiques and Gilligan's response, see Linda K. Kerber et al., "On In a Different Voice: An Interdisciplinary Forum," Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 11, no. 2 (Winter 1986): 305-333.

13. Rosemarie Tong, Feminine and Feminist Ethics (Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth, 1993), pp. 5-6. Tong finds problems with each of these schools of thought.

14. See ibid., p. 56.

15. For example, Mary Daly, Gyn/ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism (Boston: Beacon, 1978), and Daly, Pure Lust (Boston: Beacon, 1984).

16. Sheila Greeve Davaney, "The Limits of the Appeal to Women's Experience," in Clarissa W. Atkinson, Constance H. Buchanan, and kMargaret R. Miles, eds., Shaping New Vision: Gender and Values in American Culture, p. 41 (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1987).

17. In contrast, Daly, states Davaney, "grounds her claims of epistemological privilege primarily in the assumption that women possess a distinctive nature, with innate female faculties that are capable of non-distorted, adequate, and true knowledge of Being." Ibid., p. 42.

18. Carol Christ, Diving Deep and Surfacing: Women Writers on Spiritual Quest (Boston: Beacon, 1980).

19. Mary Daly, Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women's Liberation (Boston: Beacon, 1973): Daly, Gyn/ecology

20. Naomi R. Goldenberg, Changing of the Gods: Feminism and the End of Traditional Religion (Boston: Beacon, 1979).

21. Judith Plaskow, Sex, Sin, and Grace: Women's Experience and the Theologies of Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich (Washington, D.C.: Unversity Press of America, 1980).

22. Rosemary Radford Ruether, New Woman/New Earth: Sexist Ideologies and Human Liberation (New York; Seabury, 1975).

23. See, for example, Carol P. Christ and Judith Plaskow, eds., Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in Religion (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1979).

24. Davaney, "Continuing the Story," p. 199.

25. Serene Jones, "Women's Experience Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Feminist, Womanist, and Mujerista Theologies in North America," in Chopp and Devaney, Horizons in Feminist Theology, pp. 33-53.

26. Jones examines three types of approaches used by women scholars that she claims essentialize experience: phenomenological, process/psychoanalytic, and literary/textual. She also analyzes two frameworks that consciously use experience as historically localized and culturally specific: cultural anthropology and poststructuralism. I will give some attention to her analysis of the process/psychoanalytic and poststructuralist approaches.

Jones explains that the methodology associated with the process/psychoanalytic approach emphasizes universalizing structures that organize a "relational self—in other words, relationality becomes the locus of a new "essence" or structural coherence of the subject. Using as representative texts Rita Nakashima Brock's Journeys by Heart: A Christology of Erotic Power (New York: Crossroad, 1988) and Catherine Keller's From a Broken Web: Separation, Sexism and Self (Boston: Beacon, 1986), Jones critiques their uncritical deployment of such categories as feeling, memory, and creativity without reference to the constructed character of such terminology (p.40). She also faults both texts for "Systematizing experience." In addition, she argues that there is a tendency within psycho-analysis to posit the triadic family, with its distributed social roles, as a universal given.

Concerning poststructuralist accounts of women's experience, Jones observes that their methodology relies upon conceptual tools rather than an analytic scheme. This approach, illustrated in Rebecca Chopp's The Power to Speak: Feminism, Language, God (New York: Crossroad, 1989) attempts to honor unique discursive practices of historically marginalized voices by celebrating differences while simultaneously discerning unifying themes (p. 51). Jones asks: "Is a rhetoric which celebrates the fragmentation of the subject strategically well suited for persons who are struggling to claim a sense of wholeness and stability, having been oppressively fractured by their time on the margin?" (p. 52). I share Jones's criticisms of a poststructuralist approach, yet I find this methodology useful in deconstructing androcentric Catholic dogma. Sometimes, fragmentation of the subject is actually advantageous to women's status (see chapter 6).

27. Davaney, "Continuing the Story," pp. 209, 212, 214.

28. Nancy Chodorow, "Gender as a Personal and Cultural Construction," Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 20, no. 3 (1995): 518, 522.

29. See Sapiro, Women in American Society, pp. 358-393.

30. Mircea Eliade, Myths, Rites, Symbols: A Mircea Eliade Reader, vol. l, ed. Wendell Beane and William G. Doty (New York: Harper and Row, 1975), p. 88.

31. Paul Tillich, "Symbols of Faith," in Ronald E. Santoni, ed., Religious Language and the Problem of Religious Knowledge, pp. 136-137 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1968).

32. Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures (New York: Basic Books, 1973), p. 90.

33. Ibid., p. 91.

34. Ibid., p. 93.

35. Carol P. Christ, "Why Women Need the Goddess: Phenomenological, Psychological, and Political Reflections," in Charlene Spretnak, ed., The Politics of Women's Spirituality, p. 73 (Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Books, 1982).

36. Daly, Beyond God the Father, p. 19.

37. Ross Shepard Kraemer, Her Share of the Blessings: Women 's Religions Among Pagans, Jews, and Christians in the Greco-Roman World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), pp. 14, 16, 201. Kraemer utilizes a classification strategy proposed by anthropologist Mary Douglas. "Grid" also measures the degree to which people hold common beliefs about the way things are. Where grid is strong, people utilize language and symbols to communicate those beliefs in condensed forms (p. 14).

38. David Kinsley, The Goddesses' Mirror: Visions of the Divine from East and West (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1989), p. 215.

39. W. W. Meissner, Psychoanalysis and Religious Experience (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984), p. 171.

40. W, W. Meissner, "The Role of Transitional Conceptualization in Religious Thought," in Joseph H. Smith, ed., Psychoanalysis and Religion, p. 105 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990).

41. Ernest Wallwork, "Sigmund Freud: The Psychoanalytic Diagnosis—Infantile Illusion," in Roger A. Johnson et al., eds., Critical Issues in Modern Religion, 2d ed., p. 132 (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1990).

42. Sigmund Freud, Totem and Taboo (1913), in The Pelican Freud Library, vol. 13, The Origins of Religion, ed. Albert Dickson, pp. 211, 215 (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1985).

43. Meissner, "Role of Transitional Conceptualization," p. 105.

44. Ana-Maria Rizzuto, The Birth of the Living God: A Psychoanalytic Study (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), pp. 185-186.

45. In James Jones, Contemporary Psychoanalysis and Religion: Transference and Transcendence (New Haven; Yale University Press, 1991), pp. 42-43.

46. Rizzuto, Birth of the Living God, pp. 48, 179.

47. Meissner. "Role of Transitional Conceptualization," pp. 109-112.

48. Gerald F. O'Hanlon, S.J., The Immutability of God in the Theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), pp. 9-10.

49. Alister E. McGrath, Christian Theology: An Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994), pp. 137-139.

50. Marcus J. Borg, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith (San Francisco: Harper, 1994), pp. 109-111.

51. Rosemary Radford Ruether, "Can Christology Be Liberated from Patriarchy?" in Maryanne Stevens, ed., Reconstructing the Christ Symbol: Essays in Feminist Christology, p. 12 (New York: Paulist Press, 1993).

52. Ibid., pp. 23-24.

53. Mary Hembrow Snyder, The Christology of Rosemary Radford Ruether: A Critical Introduction (Mystic, Conn.: Twenty-third Publications, 1988), p. 68.

54. Ibid., p. 69.

55. Hwain Chang Lee, Confucius, Christ, and Co-Partnership: Competing Liturgies for the Soul of Korean American Women (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1994), p. 80.

56. Chung Hyun Kyung, Struggle to Be the Sun Again: Introducing Asian Women's Theology (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1990), p. 64.

57. Ibid., pp. 65-66.

58. Ibid., p. 66. Asian American ethicist Young Mi Angela Pak informed me that this is not the typical view of Korean Christians.

59. Elizabeth A. Johnson, "Wisdom Was Made Flesh and Pitched Her Tent Among Us," in Maryanne Stevens, Reconstructing the Christ Symbol, p. 103.

60. Elizabeth A. Johnson, She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse (New York: Crossroad, 1992), pp. 90-91.

61. Ibid., p. 95.

62. Ibid., p. 99.

63. Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Jesus: Miriam's Child, Sophia's Prophet (New York: Continuum, 1994), pp. 148, 152, 157.

64. Borg, Meeting Jesus, p. 102.

65. Ibid., p. 108.

66. Ibid., p. 111.

67. Jacqueline Grant, "Womanist Theology: Black Women's Experience as a Source for Doing Theology, with Special Reference to Christology," Journal of the Interdenominational Theological Center 13, no. 2 (Spring 1986), p. 210. Cited in Kelly Brown Douglas, The Black Christ (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1994), p. 109.

68. Kelly Delaine Brown, "God Is as Christ Does: Toward a Womanist Theology,"Journal of Religious Thought 46, no. l (Summer-Fall 1989): 16.

69. Douglas, The Black Christ, p. 108.

70. From Maria Pilar Aquino, Our Cry for Life: Feminist Theology from Latin America, trans. Dinah Livingstone (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1993), p. 145.

71. Ibid., p. 149.

72. Quoted in Ada María Isasi-Díaz, Mujerista Theology: A Theology for the Twenty-first Century (Maryknoll, N.Y: Orbis, 1996), p. 183.

73. Ibid., p. 198.

74. Ibid., p. 189.

75. Johnson, She Who Is, pp. 70, 73.

76. Goldenberg, Changing of the Gods, p. 9.

77. Susan Cady, Marian Ronan, and Hall Taussig, Sophia: The Future of Feminist Spirituality (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1986), p. 83.

78. Mary Douglas, Cultural Bias (occasional paper no. 35 of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, London, 1978). Cited in Kraemer, Her Share of the Blessings, p. 20.

79. Christ, "Why Women Need the Goddess," pp. 74-84.

80. Nelle Morton, The Journey is Home (Boston: Beacon, 1985), p. 143.

81. Jann Aldredge Clanton, In Whose Image? God and Gender (New York: Crossroad, 1991), p. 68.

82. Ibid., pp. 72, 76.

83. Ibid., p. 96.

84. James Fowler, Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaming (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1981), pp. 128-129. Subsequent citations to this source are indicated by parenthetical page numbers within the text.

85. Robert Coles, The Spiritual Life of Children (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990), pp. 57-59.

86. Julia Wally Rath, "Faith, Hope, and Education: African-American Parents of Children in Catholic Schools and their Social and Religious Accommodation to Catholicism" (Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1995), p. 244.

87. Ibid., pp. 244-245.

88. Robert D. Nye, Three Psychologies: Perspectives from Freud, Skinner, and Rogers, 4th ed. (Pacific Grove, Calif.: Brooks/Cole, 1992), p. 20.

89. I. Hendrick, "Early Development of the Ego: Identification in Infancy," in George H. Pollock, ed., Pivotal Papers on Identification, p. 127 (Madison, Conn.: International Universities Press, 1993), p. 127.

90. R. Schafer, "Identification: A Comprehensive and Flexible Definition," in Pollock, Pivotal Papers, pp. 307, 325.

91. Ibid., p. 307

92. Kelley Ann Raab, "Christology Crossing Boundaries: The Threat of Imaging Christ as Other Than a White Male," Pastorat Psychology 45, no. 5 (1997): 389-399.

93. Nancy Chodorow, The Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoanalysis and the Sodology of Gender (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978), pp. 205-209.

94. Nancy Chodorow, Feminism and Psychoanalytic Theory (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), p. 111.

95. Ibid., p. 111.

96. Kenneth B. Clark and Mamie K. Clark, "The Development of Consciousness of Self and the Emergence of Racial Identification in Negro Preschool Children," Journal of Psychology, SPSSI Bulletin 10 (1939): 591-599.

97. Ibid., p. 594.

98. Sharon-Ann Gopaul-McNicol, "Racial Identification and Racial Preference of Black Preschool Children in New York and Trinidad," in A. Kathleen Hoard Burlew, W. Curtis Banks, Harriette Pipe McAdoo, and Daudi Ajani ya Azibo, eds., African American Psychology: Theory, Research, and Practice, pp. 190-193 (Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage, 1992).

99. Among the places Christa opened were Stanford University and the Bade Museum. Mary Cross, "Introduction from the Publisher," Journal of Women and Religion 4, no. 2 (Winter 1985): 3-4.

100. Eleanor McLaughlin, "Feminist Christologies: Re-Dressing the Tradition," in Maryanne Stevens, Reconstructing the Christ Symbol, p. 127.

101. Edwina Hunter, "Reflections on the Christa from a Christian Theologian,"Journal of Women and Religion, 4, no. 2 (Winter 1985): 26.

102. Cross, "Introduction," pp. 3-4.

103. Hunter, "Reflections," pp. 25-26.

104. In ibid., p. 26.

105. In Sandra Winter Park, "Reflections on the Christa from a Theological Educator," Journal of Women and Religion 4, no. 2 (Winter 1985): 49.

106. Rev. Dr. Gloria Smallwood, "Reflections on the Christa from a Pastor," Journal of Women and Religion 4. no. 2 (Winter 1985): 41—42.

107. McLaughlin, "Feminist Christologies," p. 127

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