Monday, January 4, 2010

Feminist theologian Mary Daly dies

The death of Mary Daly
This just in from

"With a heavy heart, yet grateful beyond words for her life and work, I report that Mary Daly died this morning, January 3, 2010 in Massachusetts. She had been in poor health for the last two years.

Her contributions to feminist theology, philosophy, and theory were many, unique, and if I may say so, world-changing. She created intellectual space; she set the bar high. Even those who disagreed with her are in her debt for the challenges she offered.

May her spirit soar and her ideas endure.
Mary E. Hunt
Hoechenschwand, Germany"

In 1973 she wrote “Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation."  Her work and this important book were quite an influence on the new field of feminist theology, and therefore a big boost to emerging feminist Neo-Paganism. She was a teacher at the Catholic Boston College for 33 years, and she once wrote this concerning women and Catholicism - "a woman's asking for equality in the church would be comparable to a black person's demanding equality in the Ku Klux Klan." She died at the age of 81

Here is a great summery of her life and work titled "Where no man has gone before: the be-dazzling voyage of Mary Daly" in the Blog - African Alchemy

"Mary Daly was born in Schenectady, New York, on October 16, 1928. Educated in Catholic schools, she went into the lion’s den in a time when young Catholic women all around the world were taking the vow, taking the veil, entering convents as nuns, women religious taking vows of chastity, obedience and poverty. Mary Daly wanted to study theology. To teach theology. To do theology right in the heart of a patriarchal church." ...(Cont.)

Here is some of what T.Thorn Coyle has to say about Mary's views in her blog Peacock Dreams:

Imagine 1950s America. Imagine wanting more than anything to study philosophy and theology. Imagine being told you could not because of your gender (or any other "other-ing" that may arise). Imagine wanting it so much, you found a way regardless. Mary did. She went to Europe to study, living on not much, dedicated to the mind. Imagine exiting school at the beginning of a new social movement in which white women were throwing off the shackles of the delimited social system. Imagine having studied some of the very systems that gave rise to this. Imagine having the power to write, to think, to make change.

Mary did. The Goddess Movement would not be the same without her. Contemporary Paganism would not be the same without the Goddess Movement. The radical essentialism of thinkers like Daly was a challenge to the pole that said "only men can communicate with the divine". That pillar that she went up against? Mostly it has changed, leaving behind laughable relics, some of whom unfortunately still hold a measure of power. Yes, inequality still exists and yes, I am still a feminist, but things have gotten better. Much, much better. I don't know if Mary Daly was able to see the battles she actually won.  ...(Cont.)...

Here is an Excerpt from Daily's SIN BIG in the The New Yorker, February 26, 1996

"EVER since childhood, I have been honing my skills for living the life of a Radical Feminist Pirate and cultivating the Courage to Sin. The word "sin" is derived from the Indo-European root "es-," meaning "to be." When I discovered this etymology, I intuitively understood that for a woman trapped in patriarchy, which is the religion of the entire planet, "to be" in the fullest sense is "to sin." Women who are Pirates in a phallocratic society are involved in a complex operation. First, it is necessary to Plunder--that is, righteously rip off--gems of knowledge that the patriarchs have stolen from us. Second, we must Smuggle back to other women our Plundered treasures. In order to invent strategies that will be big and bold enough for the next millennium, it is crucial that women share our experiences: the chances we have taken and the choices that have kept us alive. They are my Pirate's battle cry and wake-up call for women who want to hear."

Here is a link to an April 2006 audio interview with Mary Daly
Here is an obituary from Bryan Marquard at the Boston Globe
Here is Barbara Bradley Hagerty's report on NPR Radio

I am sure Mary will now have clear sailing to the Summerland to be counted among the Mighty Dead.