Friday, February 4, 2011

Book Review: Dance of the Dissident Daughter

I'm not sure who recommended this gem to me, but I'm glad they did. Sue Monk Kidd, known for The Secret Life of Bees, had a life centered around traditional Christian thought: she wrote Christian books, was married to a Baptist preacher, and was an active participant in church activities. Over time, though, she had experiences that led her to start looking for the Feminine Divine. The Dance of the Dissident Daughter follows that awakening and journey.

She calls the lack of the Feminine Divine in her life the "feminine wound." Christianity does not recognize a female god, and from that, Kidd felt that this lack resulted in the inferiority of women: that women could not be priests, that family was set up as God-man-woman-children, etc. While Mormon doctrine gives us a Heavenly Mother, we don't have much besides "she exists," which I don't think is very much better than not having one at all. As I read, I found that the feminine wound she talked of, to be something I could relate to as a Mormon woman.

In her journey to relate to the Feminine Divine, Kidd studies motifs from dreams, history, and myths. These include trees, the serpent, the labyrinth, circles, and more. As a very graphic dreamer myself, I found her dreams and subsequent Jungian analysis to be interesting. While many of my dreams are just silliness, I have a few I have written down because they felt very poignant and after this book, I went and re-looked at the symbols to see if there was something new there.

I was also caught up in the story because I feel like I'm on my own search of the Feminine Divine and I wanted to know how hers turned out. What is there at the end of this journey for me to look forward to?

I'm trying to be vague here to avoid spoilers. I really liked reading this; I think the fact that I'm pretty much the target audience helped. On the "how much did I read out loud to my husband" scale, this was only slightly lower than Mother Wove the Morning. I thought it would be a good one to have on my shelf for my kids to read it in the future, so I got my own copy of it (the first was the library's). I would recommend it to all of you for sure.

I look forward to reading this again while being able to make notes in the margins as well as knitting a finger labyrinth, inspired by this book. Maybe when I finish that, I'll post pictures here.


Jenni said...

i wanna see pics of the finger labyrinth. :)
And apparently I now need to read this book. Ah the reading list grows and grows...

Katrina said...

oh, i need to get this for sure! thanks for the review!

Jenni said...

I just found this book at my library. I was a little surprised, but very excited! I've just started reading it and I am SO sucked in. I am just midway through the 'awakening' section which is the first part, but already I feel like she's putting words to my current experiences and journey. AWESOME!! I will find it hard to get anything else done until I finish this book.