“Maybe God is an Angry Feminist”

Oh, I hope so.

I am absolutely in love with this new piece at Sarah Over the Moon on the Spirituality Channel here at Patheos.

Last week I shared some lyrics and a video recording of Jann Aldredge-Clanton’s hymn “God Like a Woman Long in Labor Cries,” as well as the text from Isaiah 42 on which it is based.  I referred to God there as a ferocious woman, furious and protective.

But Sarah Moon’s description of God as a bitch tops that.  Here’s some of what she said:

Maybe God is an angry feminist, furious at the way the patriarchy has raped, killed, and held back her children.

Maybe God was there, in all over the protests and rallies that took place after the George Zimmerman trial, and maybe she was furious at the racism in this country.

Maybe they would call God “humorless” because she refuses to laugh at transphobic jokes or mock homeless people. …

Maybe God’s mad as hell and she’s not going to take it anymore. Maybe God goes on swear-word-filled Twitter rants about the latest horrible thing Mark Driscoll said.

Maybe God doesn’t just love the oppressed, weep with the oppressed, and join the oppressed in their sufferings. Maybe God is angry on the behalf of the oppressed and maybe that’s important for two reasons.

One, it’s comforting. … Two, it’s challenging.

You will need to click here to read the full essay.  It is totally worth it.  I just wanted to give you some highlights because there is so much good stuff to reckon with in this fantastic manifesto.

Sarah knows, though, that lots of folks don’t really like the idea of God’s wrath, an angry God, like the one Jonathan Edwards preached about.  But ever since I became familiar with James Cone’s description of wrath as ‘God’s almighty NO!’ to the sins and oppressions we inflict upon each other, I started warming up to it, seeing it as Cone does, an essential ingredient of God’s love.  Of course, Audre Lorde wrote compelling things about “The Uses of Anger” and Beverly Harrison pointed out that anger is often a sign that there is something wrong, a sign to which we must pay attention.

Here’s how Sarah describes the necessity of God’s wrath:

I don’t believe in scaring people with hell into behaving. In fact, I don’t believe in hell. So the idea of God’s wrath doesn’t scare me into acting a certain way anymore.

But I have privilege, as a white, cisgender, able-bodied woman who is marrying a man. In many contexts, I am in the same category as the oppressors, not the oppressed.

Which means, unless I acknowledge my privilege and choose to stand in solidarity with the oppressed, God is not on my side. She might even be angry with me.

An essential theological connection.  A vital socio-political statement.  Cone said in his work that “we must become black with God,” and when I try to explain the power of that concept to my white students, I use this tiny video clip of the battered and bruised Jim Zwerg, one of the Freedom Riders, speaking from his hospital bed about continuing to protest segregation no matter the cost.  This, I tell them, is what it would mean for a blue eyed white girl from the upper Midwest to become black with God:

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There are no better words with which to conclude than those Sarah used:

Maybe God is angry, and we should listen to her.

Audre Lorde image via.


About Caryn Riswold

Caryn D. Riswold is a feminist theologian in the Lutheran tradition. She is Professor of Religion and also teaches Gender and Women’s Studies at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, where she has worked for over a decade teaching undergraduates to think critically and creatively about religion. She earned her Ph.D. and Th.M. from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, holds a master’s degree from the Claremont School of Theology, and received her B.A. from Augustana College in her childhood hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.