Natality and Motherism: Embodiment within Praxis of Spiritual Leadership
AbstractAli Green (2009: 51) has observed that “[w]omen’s experiences of giving birth have historically been under-explored as a resource for theology, but this essentially female function, now bodily represented by the woman priest, clearly symbolizes aspects of the divine”. In this article we explore — through Grace Jantzen’s (1998) notion of natality, and the contested framing of “motherism” — the significance of giving birth and mothering to spiritual and religious leadership. We suggest that the experience of giving birth and the praxis of mothering provide not only a conceptual framework to harness new thinking about spiritual leadership and traditional theological doctrines, but also a practical means to transform patriarchal religious spaces. Drawing on feminist theology (which begins with personal experience — our own and shared) we show that there is a reciprocal relationship between mothering and priesthood, which transcends essentialist notions of mothering by embracing embodiment in a holistic praxis of spiritual leadership.
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