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Book Chapter

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Paulist Press


Let us consider the issue of feminism in relation to Christian spirituality, i.e . to the area of lived experience of the faith. It must be noted, however, that the term "spirituality" is no longer an exclusively Christian, nor even an exclusively religious, term. Not surprisingly, therefore, feminist spirituality is not necessarily a Christian or even a religious phenomenon. In fact, however, as we shall see, feminist spirituality whether Christian or not tends to be deeply religious. Consequently, our first task is to define spirituality and specify the meaning of Christian spirituality so that we can then raise the question of how feminism is related to spirituality and finally how feminist spirituality is related to Christian spirituality.

Elsewhere I have traced the history of the term spirituality from its Christian biblical roots as a designation of that which is brought about by the influence of the Holy Spirit, through its development in Christian history to designate primarily the inner life of the Christian striving for more than ordinary holiness, to its contemporary usage not only for religious experience but also for non-religious and even anti-religious life-organizations such as secular feminism and atheistic Marxism.1 I defined spirituality, as the term is being used today, as "the experience of consciously striving to integrate one's life in terms not of isolation and self-absorption but of self-transcendence toward the ultimate value one perceives."2 T his definition is open enough to include both religious and non-religious life projects but specific enough to exclude aimless spontaneity, partial projects, or religious dilettantism. Its essential elements are conscious effort, the goal of life integration through self-transcendence, and the finalization of the project by ultimate value. Its marked difference from the traditional Christian definition lies in its openness concerning the nature of "ultimate value."

Chapter of

Women’s Spirituality: Resources for Christian Development, 2nd ed.


Joann Wolski Conn


Reprinted with permission.

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