Holy Woman: Louise Omer’s quest for answers

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by Louise Omer holy woman began as a search for answers to whether women can be holy in patriarchal religion. That’s what she found.

Louise Omer was a Pentecostal preacher and faithful wife. But when her marriage crumbled, her beliefs crumbled too. Haunted by questions about what it means to be a woman in a religion that worships a male God, she left behind a church and a home to ask women everywhere: how can we exist in a patriarchal religion? And can a woman be holy?

Here, Louise shares with us some thoughts on creed, travel, and faith-based writing, as well as some great reading recommendations.

holy woman began as a search for answers to whether women can be holy in the patriarchal religion did you always hope it would become a book or was it mostly a personal journey?

I left home (Kaurna Country) to ask women all over the world what it means to worship a male god. I left determined to write about my investigation, but imagined a very different book – I was still a Christian and wanted to find answers within that paradigm.

What happened was very different.

I went to Ireland to meet a goddess and a saint, to Mexico to go on a pilgrimage to Mother Mary, and to Sweden to experience a non-binary god; while I was in Bulgaria researching the historical origins of Christianity, I discovered that the Bible was not the direct word of God, but was created by men at the Council of Nicaea of ​​the 4th century. This means that it was born out of the social context of patriarchy.

Feminist scholarship says that thousands of years ago humans in various parts of the world worshiped goddesses, but over time the mother was dethroned so that the father god could rule. In response, I killed the father god in my mind, refused to pray to him any longer, and began the long and difficult task of unraveling the psychological consequences of worshiping a patriarchal god.

My writing is therefore intimately linked to my search for personal truth. If you start a journey like this, you have to ask yourself: Am I ready to be transformed?

You questioned your faith when your husband questioned your marriage, but how much did your own feminism disagree while you were still a devout believer?

My feminism has always been at odds with Christianity.

I came to church as a teenager and always felt rejected by models of femininity – the women on stage were often thin, pretty and unlikely to hold official leadership positions unless they were children’s minister. Although this culture has slowly evolved, it has always felt limiting and sexist, and often clouded by the verse 1 Corinthians 14 where Paul tells women to be quiet in church.

In my early twenties, I followed a pastor to help build a new church centered on progressive values ​​and social justice – we campaigned for the rights of refugees and the LGBTQI+ community. This community strongly encouraged female leadership. However, I still felt unhappy with the basic philosophy – why was God a man? Why couldn’t I see myself in the image of perfection and power?

I have read feminist theologians – Rosemary Radford Ruether, Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza – who have pointed out Christianity’s inherent hostility towards women. I clung to liberation theology: Jesus Christ was a radical socialist who transcended patriarchal norms and sided with the oppressed. But that was not enough to temper the religion’s androcentric mythology and symbolism.

So what does it mean for women to worship a male god?

Worshiping a male god has vast political implications: it is male supremacy, which naturalizes male authority and creates the image of perfection as white and male. Christianity, in its symbols and myths, creates an ideology of hierarchy and domination. This way of thinking is responsible worldwide not only for gender inequality, but also for racism and environmental destruction.

Did you make any decisions about the scope of content you were happy to share with your readers?

The book link is when I go to Morocco to interview the feminist Islamic scholar, Dr Asma Lamrabet. In Tangier, I find myself in a relationship with a man and choose to write explicitly about our sexual encounters – in which consent is murky.

During the writing process, I was reading Queer Theory – Marcella Althaus-Reid (the queer god), Paul B Preciado (Apartment in Uranus) and McKenzie Wark (reverse cowgirl) – writers who found knowledge embodied through the flesh. Through this line of thinking, I learned to interrogate my longing for the doctrinal landmarks I was trying so hard to get rid of.

The casual sex I encountered, and its closeness to violence, is the logical conclusion to the internalization of patriarchy, which demands and eroticizes male dominance and female submission. Carol Christ wrote that worshiping a male god places women in a state of psychological dependence on male authority. The “confessional” passage in Morocco shows how deep this goes.

What has been the strangest part of religious history that you have discovered on your travels?

Legend has it that there was a Popess in the 9th century: Pope Joan. She disguises herself as a man and climbs the papal ranks before reigning in the Vatican. She took a lover and her identity was revealed when she became pregnant and gave birth during a procession between the Colosseum and the Basilica of Saint Clement. Different stories give different punishments for her transgression – she was exiled, imprisoned, or tied to the back of a horse until her body was a bloody mess.

Most historians say this legend is false, that it was a story meant to undermine papal legitimacy. But some sources claim the episode sparked a medieval tradition – when a new pope was crowned, they were forced to sit in a holey chair. Someone has been given the honorable task of reaching through the hole and checking the papal testicles.

Where do you feel most free while traveling?

By the ocean or swimming in a body of water. It is transcendence, an embodied encounter with both endless mystery and deep inner knowing. Karen Armstrong wrote that all sacred traditions attempt to describe the indescribable; the divine is impossible to contain in image or word. Perhaps the enormity of the ocean is the closest expression of the great spirit.

What is the continuation of your own path of spirituality?

I explore the traditions of the goddesses and what it means to be a witch; I am a student of contemplative traditions, Buddhism and yoga philosophy – all within the realms of non-dualism, knowing that the divine exists in all things. I seek liberation. I try to be of service. I devote myself to exploring the inner world.

For all who loved holy womanwhat other books/podcasts/blogs can you recommend?

Feminist theology

  • Carol Christ – the 1978 essay “Why Women Need the Goddess”
  • Mary Daly – Bbeyond God the Father
  • Gerda Lerner– The creation of patriarchy
  • feminismandreligion.com
  • Susan Carland- The war against Islam

Feminist and queer theory

  • Audre Lorde – Your silence won’t protect you
  • Mona Eltahawy– The Seven Deadly Sins for Women and Girls
  • Virginie Despentes – King Kong theory

Women leaving/reversing religion

  • Tara Westover– educated
  • Carol Christ – Aphrodite’s laugh
  • Monique Dux – Expired
  • Miriam Therese Winter and. Al- Fail on the spot
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