I have spent the morning immersed in a newly-succinct question for myself: how does one learn to bear wisdom long demonized by tradition? I find myself curious for a bit of a “core sample” of what I feel in my “body of the moment.” [From Google: Combined with other paleoclimate records such as tree rings and fossils, ice cores enable scientists to reconstruct past worlds].
The first thing I notice is how fully I can both feel the significance of, yet distinguish, arguments that no longer compel me. For example, I spent some time in an argument made by Barbara G. Walker for sexism in the Christian tradition, published in full on the Freedom from Religion Foundation page. Talk about shooting fish in a barrel. It’s not hard, but wow did I find it satisfying. With each paragraph, I “amen’d!” this atheist-knitting-scholar, naming the world as my body experiences it today, challenging the atonement theology(ies) so sickening to me in my own tradition. She gives a plausible storyline for how Christian doctrinal traditions have come into being, in alignment with ancient mythologies of its origins. Same story, new key. A visceral YES.
And then I felt utterly suspicious and a little sad. It didn’t work for me. It didn’t resonate.
So many of my foremothers–for whom I am exquisitely indebted and grateful–were yet crafting singular cause-effect storying for how women came to be participants in multiple, cultural worlds that subordinate them. These storylines of the Goddess et al simply don’t model a plausible sense of history for me anymore. It’s from my experience as a woman too: so long silenced that I know any singular-storyline I might get charged by will never be story enough. If I honor what I have learned within an “endarkened feminist method” this morning, the cells in my own body tell me “that storyline is not the whole story.”
Cynthia Dillard’s work was what touched me most deeply this morning: Learning to (Re)member the Things We’ve Learned to Forget (Peter Lang, 2012). Her method is not for me as a white woman: she is writing for ascendant Africans, Black women (and others) living their own lives engaged in the world, rooted in their own cultural memories recalled through trust of their own bodies, spirit, African community, spiritualities. But she is modeling an answer to my (above) question.
In my own words, her wisdom borne: You bear wisdom long demonized by tradition in your own body by learning to confront the “seductions of forgetfulness,” learning to trust your own body’s messaging, learning new ways to recall cultural memories in ritual and poetry, all grounded in a spirituality “of the moment” inaccessible to prevailing historical record(s).
[Theologian's aside: One could even argue this is the only way tradition will ever actually live and breathe today. Not in the intellectual habits we’ve prioritized, at all.]
Perhaps my body is newly learning to recall a herstory that will always overwhelm in its complexities, seeking the multiple voices not yet heard.
May this, my “body of the moment,” enlighten-honoring-endarken in sacred proportion.