Feminist theologian Letty M. Russell was also active in interfaith and ecumenical work. She was an ordained Presbyterian minister and a professor at Yale Divinity School.
Selected Letty M. Russell Quotations
• Women not only seek identity in history but begin to seek out their sisters so that, in community, they can build a strong feminist culture which supports the ideas and actions of those who do not think persons are inferior because of their sex. Here the emphasis is on vertical support from the past and from women of the past, as well as horizontal support from sisters close by, and in every part of the globe.
• I've written a lot about being alienated from the church. If I can't find room to breathe here, what kind of community can I create? I do that not by leaving the traditional congregation but by recognizing that I'm part of many different congregations. By being part of a Woman Church one is strengthened to stay in the traditional church and work for change.
• I myself do not think the Bible is sexist to the core, because the core is a message of radical freedom and human transformation.
• Women in patriarchal culture are surrounded by messages that negate or trivialize their existence. Their bodily sexual presence is regarded as a dangerous threat to male purity and, at the same time, as a justification for constant verbal and physical abuse. They experience their bodies as constantly vulnerable to assault and are told, at the same time, that they deserve such assault because they "cause" it by their sexual presence. Similarly, women find their own viewpoints and judgments of events trivialized, and this trivialization is justified on the grounds that women are inherently stupid, uninformed, lacking in authority, and incapable of forming significant understandings. Thus they are alienated from their own minds, from being able to trust their own perceptions. These judgments upon the woman's body and mind are, in turn, used to justify women's exclusion from cultural opportunities and leadership. Women are asked to accept this, too, as normal, natural, divinely sanctioned.
• Patriarchy cannot be toppled except when the women who form the bottom of the patriarchal pyramid, triply oppressed women, become liberated. All women's oppression and liberation is bound up with that of the colonized and economically most exploited women.
• The critique of sexism implies a fundamental principle of judgment. This critical principle of feminist theology is the affirmation of and promotion of the full humanity of women. Whatever denies, diminishes, or distorts the full humanity of women is, therefore, to be appraised as not redemptive. Theologically speaking, this means that whatever diminishes or denies the full humanity of women must be presumed not to reflect the divine or authentic relation to the divine, or to reflect the authentic nature of things, or to be the message or work of an authentic redeemer or a community of redemption.
• Frequently, women with strong religious backgrounds have the most difficulty in accepting that the violence against them is wrong. They believe what they have been taught, that resistance to this injustice is unbiblical and unchristian. Christian women are supposed to be meek, and claiming rights for oneself is committing the sin of pride. But as soon as battered women who hold rigidly traditional religious beliefs begin to develop an ideological suspicion that this violence against them is wrong, they react against it.
• In workshops for persons who work with abused women, I have found that most social workers, therapists, and shelter personnel view religious beliefs as uniformly reinforcing passivity and tend to view religion, both traditional Christianity and Judaism, as an obstacle to a woman's successful handling of abuse.
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About These Quotes
Quote collection assembled by Jone Johnson Lewis. Each quotation page in this collection and the entire collection © Jone Johnson Lewis 1997-2012. This is an informal collection assembled over many years. I regret that I am not be able to provide the original source if it is not listed with the quote.
Jone Johnson Lewis. "Letty M. Russell Quotes." About Women's History. URL: http://womenshistory.about.com/od/quotes/a/Letty-M-Russell.htm . Date accessed: (today). (More on how to cite online sources including this page)