My Thanksgiving read was The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd. I'd heard about this book over the years and even read a book proposal not long ago that blasted the book to smithereens. Published in 1996, it's kinda been the under-the-radar-book for Kidd, overshadowed by The Mermaid's Chair and The Secret Life of Bees.
The subtitle for the book is "A Woman's Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine." That's enough for some folks right there - "the Sacred Feminine." The book proposal I read not long ago was hopped up on fear of that phrase and also the word "goddess" - a word Kidd uses throughout her book. It's fair. Language has immense power and those words and phrases should not be approached casually. Kidd writes about her awakening to the prevalent patriarchy in our time, seen in such areas as her church, her marriage, and even herself. That's enough for some folks right there - "patriarchy." Then she continues her journey into Christian Feminism, complete with phases of the moon, Sophia, resacralizing the earth and the body, and C.G. Jung. And that pretty much nails the coffin shut for some folks. That's fair; fair, but unfortunate.
It's unfortunate because I found the book a very refreshing read. It is the story about a woman taking the courageous steps toward living an authentic life. It was told with patience; her journey did not occur overnight and neither can the telling of her story. It is very much a story about women. I'm glad I read it for the ways it has caused me to "see" my wife and daughters. I'm also glad I read it for the ways in which I hope to be able to relate those truths to my son. But I'm most glad, a.k.a., gladdest, that I read it for myself, for below the female surface of this book lies truth applicable to anyone seeking to live an authentic life.
Here's a couple of keepers:
**"If you write to please others or write for success or stardom or money, you're writing out of your ego. When are you going to write out of your Self?"
**"The transformation of anger is a movement from rage to outrage. Rage implies an internalized emotion, a tempest within. Rage, or what might be called untransfigured anger, can become a calcified bitterness. What rage wants and needs is to move outward toward positive social purpose, to become a creative force or energy that changes the conditions that created it. It needs to become out-rage. Outrage is love's wild and unacknowledged sister."
I didn't swallow everything Kidd wrote. It's a story about her journey. But I do believe it's also a story about our journey and that's why the book works. I believe the strutures she speaks of as keeping women in a prison are actually structures that keep human beings in prison, male or female. Dissident daughters must dance and sons must press into their difficult splendor. But the words "dissident" and "difficult"? That's enough for some folks right there.