I just finished reading "The Dance of the Dissident Daughter" today. It was written by Sue Monk Kidd, the author of "The Secret Life of Bees" and "The Mermaid Chair." I read "The Secret Life of Bees" last April, and it was through reading and enjoying that book that I found "The Dance." But I wasn't ready to read it until now.
It was love as first read with me when I discovered the book. I would hang out at Barnes and Noble and read it for days. I couldn't believe how so much of what she said was what I felt and had asked myself for so long. But, I was not yet bold enough to consider the questions raised. They frightened me and my "religious" views. I got up to page 100 and something and then discarded it. I always told myself, though, that one day I would buy it and read it.
I bought it in August and started from the beginning, but my interest waned again.
I have finally finished. It was remarkable. There were some parts that dragged for me, but overall it was quite an experience. I cannot even quote lines that I loved because this was a book situation in which I had to stop myself from underlining every line in the whole damn book (because that defeats the purpose of underlining!).
She wrote about having been a Christian writer and "a good daughter of patriarchy," but then over the course of several events, realizing how harmful it is to only represent God in a male fashion. Not only how harmful it is for women, but for society at large. How harmful it is to live and die by a book that commands women to be silent. She goes on a journey that includes many different experiences that bring her closer to the Divine Feminine, or Goddess.
See? This is what I mean. I got so freaked reading the word "Goddess" when I first picked up the book. But, if God has no sex, or encompasses both, as many Christians claim, then "Goddess" is just a way to refer to the feminine side.
Anyway, this is one of the parts that really, really struck me:
"Early that autumn, my husband and I traveled to New York, where we visited an exhibition of Magritte's paintings. In one painting an ordinary-looking man in a suit was holding a brush and painting an actual woman into existence in his living room. It was as if he were God and she were Eve at the moment of creation. Almost completed, she stood there waiting for the next stroke of creation.
"Wait a minute, I thought. Just how is Everywoman's life created? How much of my life did I allow to be painted into existence by church, culture, and male attitudes? Down deep, was my life as a woman self-conceived and self-created as an original and unfolding work from my own hands, or was it contrived according to hidden blueprints?" (43).