The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman's Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine

Overview

"I was amazed to find that I had no idea how to unfold my spiritual life in a feminine way. I was surprised, and, in fact, a little terrified, when I found myself in the middle of a feminist spiritual reawakening." ––Sue Monk Kidd

For years, Sue Monk Kidd was a conventionally religious woman. Then, in the late 1980s, Kidd experienced an unexpected awakening, and began a journey toward a feminine spirituality. With the exceptional storytelling skills that have helped make her name, author of When the Heart Waits ...

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The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman's Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine

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Overview

"I was amazed to find that I had no idea how to unfold my spiritual life in a feminine way. I was surprised, and, in fact, a little terrified, when I found myself in the middle of a feminist spiritual reawakening." ––Sue Monk Kidd

For years, Sue Monk Kidd was a conventionally religious woman. Then, in the late 1980s, Kidd experienced an unexpected awakening, and began a journey toward a feminine spirituality. With the exceptional storytelling skills that have helped make her name, author of When the Heart Waits tells her very personal story of the fear, anger, healing, and freedom she experienced on the path toward the wholeness that many women have lost in the church. From a jarring encounter with sexism in a suburban drugstore, to monastery retreats and to rituals in the caves of Crete, she reveals a new level of feminine spiritual consciousness for all women– one that retains a meaningful connection with the "deep song of Christianity," embraces the sacredness of ordinary women's experience, and has the power to transform in the most positive ways every fundamental relationship in a woman's life– her marriage, her career, and her religion.

This Plus edition paperback includes a recent interview with the author conducted by the book's editor Michael Maudlin.

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Editorial Reviews

Christiane Northrup
A masterpiece of womens wisdom.
Lauren Artress
The psycho-spiritual redefinition that takes place when we expand our understanding of the Christian tradition to embrace the gracious challenge of the Sacred Feminine is an invisible process. Sue Monk Kidd courageously articulates this unseen path so all who read this book will understand this painful and rewarding journey.
Murray Stein
Out of reflections and words like these in The Dance of the Dissident Daughter the new forms of Christianity will be born. This work is packed with experience and insight, and it is bound to add to the gigantic shift in consciousness taking place as the millennium turns and a transformation of spiritual consciousness takes hold of the human population on a global level.
Christiane Northrup
A masterpiece of womens wisdom.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The author's journey to capture her feminine soul and to live authentically from that soul makes a fascinating, well-researched and well-written story. Kidd's successful pilgrimage from her Southern Baptist roots and away from the patriarchal and fundamentalist Christian religious systems surrounding her is an account of anger turned to courage, creativity and love. A mid-career realization that she had lived without "real inner authority" and with "a fear of dissension, confrontation, backlash, a fear of not pleasing, not living up to sanctioned models of femininity" produced in Kidd the new mindset that made her journey possible. Additionally, her extensive knowledge of many subjects, including theology, mythology and the arts, made possible the copious references and cross-references that will prove invaluable for readers who wish to follow her in this same search. While Kidd cautions that each woman's path will be unique, there is no question but that many women will find in her book a mirror of their own present conditions and a hopeful call to self-discovery. (June)
Library Journal
What happens when the wife of a Southern Baptist minister, a loyal adherent to his religious tradition, suddenly discovers an alternative religious tradition that speaks more strongly to her spiritual longings? Kidd (When the Heart Waits, HarperSanFrancisco, 1991) recounts her own journey of anger, fear, and joy from her traditional Baptist upbringing to her new discovery of the power of nontraditional feminine religious experiences. Along her journey, Kidd encounters some of the most powerful feminist religious voices of her times, from Phyllis Trible to Carol Christ, and records these voices as guideposts on her journey. A graceful account of awakening and transformation. Recommend for most libraries.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061144905
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/26/2006
  • Series: Plus Series
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 104,837
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Sue Monk Kidd

Sue Monk Kidd is the author of the bestselling novels The Secret Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair, as well as the award-winning The Dance of the Dissident Daughter and God's Joyful Surprise.

Biography

Sue Monk Kidd first made her mark on the literary circuit with a pair of highly acclaimed, well-loved memoirs detailing her personal spiritual development. However, it was a work of fiction, The Secret Life of Bees, that truly solidified her place among contemporary writers. Although Kidd is no longer writing memoirs, her fiction is still playing an important role in her on-going journey of spiritual self-discovery.

Despite the fact that Kidd's first published books were nonfiction works, her infatuation with writing grew out of old-fashioned, Southern-yarn spinning. As a little girl in the little town of Sylvester, Georgia, Kidd thrilled to listen to her father tell stories about "mules who went through cafeteria lines and a petulant boy named Chewing Gum Bum," as she says on her web site. Inspired by her dad's tall tales, Kidd began keeping a journal that chronicled her everyday experiences.

Such self-scrutiny surely gave her the tools she needed to pen such keenly insightful memoirs as When the Hearts Waits and The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, both tracking her development as both a Christian and a woman. "I think when you have an impulse to write memoir you are having an opportunity to create meaning of your life," she told Barnes & Noble.com, "to articulate your experience; to understand it in deeper ways... and after a while, it does free you from yourself, of having to write about yourself, which it eventually did for me."

Once Kidd had worked the need to write about herself out of her system, she decided to get back to the kind of storytelling that inspired her to become a writer in the first place. Her debut novel The Secret Life of Bees showed just how powerfully the gift of storytelling charges through Kidd's veins. The novel has sold more than 4.5 million copies, been published in over twenty languages, and spent over two years on The New York Times bestseller list.

Even as Kidd has shifted her focus from autobiography to fiction, she still uses her writing as a means of self-discovery. This is especially evident in her latest novel The Mermaid Chair, which tells the story of a woman named Jessie who lives a rather ordinary life with her husband Hugh until she meets a man about to take his final vows at a Benedictine monastery. Her budding infatuation with Brother Thomas leads Jessie to take stock of her life and resolve an increasingly intense personal tug-of-war between marital fidelity and desire.

Kidd feels that through telling Jessie's story, she is also continuing her own journey of self-discovery, which she began when writing her first books. "I think there is some part of that journey towards one's self that I did experience. I told that particular story in my book The Dance of the Dissident Daughter and it is the story of a woman's very-fierce longing for herself. The character in The Mermaid Chair Jessie has this need to come home to herself in a much deeper way," Kidd said, "to define herself, and I certainly know that longing."

Good To Know

Kidd lives beside a salt marsh near Charleston, South Carolina, with her husband, Sandy, a marriage and individual counselor in private practice, and a black lab named Lily.

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Read an Excerpt

Part One

Awakening



"That's How I Like to See a Woman"

It was autumn, and everything was turning loose. I was running errands that afternoon. Rain had fallen earlier, but now the sun was out, shining on the tiny beads of water that clung to trees and sidewalks. The whole world seemed red and yellow and rinsed with light. I parked in front of the drugstore where my daughter, Ann, fourteen, had an after-school job. Leaping a puddle, I went inside.

I spotted her right away kneeling on the floor in the toothpaste section, stocking a bottom shelf I was about to walk over and say hello when I noticed two middle-aged men walking along the aisle toward her. They looked like everybody's father. They had moussed hair, and they wore knit sportshirts the color of Easter eggs, the kind of shirts with tiny alligators sewn at the chest. It was a detail I would remember later as having ironic symbolism.

My daughter did not see them coming. Kneeling on the floor, she was intent on getting the boxes of Crest lined up evenly. The men stopped, peering down at her. One man nudged the other. He said, "Now that's how I like to see a woman--on her knees."

The other man laughed.

Standing in the next aisle, I froze. I watched the expression that crept into my daughter's eyes as she looked up. I watched her chin drop and her hair fall across her face.

Seeing her kneel at these men's feet while they laughed at her subordinate posture pierced me through.

For the previous couple of years I had been in the midst of a tumultuous awakening. I had been struggling to come to terms with my life as a woman--in my culture, my marriage, myfaith, my church, and deep inside myself. It was a process not unlike the experience of conception and labor. There had been a moment, many moments really, when truth seized me and I "conceived" myself as woman. Or maybe I reconceived myself. At any rate, it had been extraordinary and surprising to find myself--a conventionally religious woman in my late thirties--suddenly struck pregnant with a new consciousness, with an unfolding new awareness of what it means to be a woman and what it means to be spiritual as a woman.

Hard labor had followed. For months I'd inched along, but lately I'd been stuck. I'd awakened enough to know that I couldn't go back to my old way of being a woman, but the fear of going forward was paralyzing. So I'd plodded along, trying to make room for the new consciousness that was unfolding in my life but without really risking change.

I have a friend, a nurse on the obstetrical floor at a hospital, who says that sometimes a woman's labor simply stalls. The contractions grow weak, and the new life, now quite distressed, hangs precariously. The day I walked into the drugstore, I was experiencing something like that. A stalled awakening.

Who knows, I may have stalled interminably if I had not seen my daughter on her knees before those laughing men. I cannot to this day explain why the sight of it hit me so forcibly. But to borrow Kafka's image, it came like an ice ax upon a frozen sea, and suddenly all my hesitancy was shattered. Just like that.

The men's laughter seemed to go on and on. I felt like a small animal in the road, blinded by the light of a truck, knowing some terrible collision is coming but unable to move. I stared at my daughter on her knees before these men and could not look away. Somehow she seemed more than my daughter; she was my mother, my grandmother, and myself. She was every woman ever born, bent and contained in a small, ageless cameo that bore the truth about "a woman's place."

In the profile of my daughter I saw the suffering of women, the confining of the feminine to places of inferiority, and I experienced a collision of love and pain so great I had to reach for the counter to brace myself.

This posture will not perpetuate itself in her life, I thought.

Still I didn't know what to do. When I was growing up, if my mother had told me once, she'd told me a thousand times, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." I'd heard this from nearly everybody. It was the kind of thing that got cross-stitched and hung in kitchens all over my native South.

I'd grown up to be a soft-voiced, sweet-mouthed woman who, no matter how assailing the behavior before me or how much I disagreed with it, responded nicely or else zip-locked my mouth shut. I had swallowed enough defiant, disputatious words in my life to fill a shelf of books.

But it occurred to me that if I abandoned my daughter at that moment, if I simply walked away and was silent, the feminine spirit unfolding inside her might also become crouched and silent. Perhaps she would learn the internal posture of being on her knees.

The men with their blithe joke had no idea they had tapped a reservoir of pain and defiance in me. It was rising now, unstoppable by any earthly force.

I walked toward them. "I have something to say to you, and I want you to hear it," I said.

They stopped laughing. Ann looked up.

"This is my daughter," I said, pointing to her, my finger shaking with anger. "You may like to see her and other women on their knees, but we don't belong there. We don't belong there!"

Ann rose to her feet. She glanced sideways at me, sheer amazement spread over her face, then turned and faced the men. I could hear her breath rise and fall with her chest as we stood there shoulder to shoulder, staring at their faces . . .

Dance of the Dissident Daughter, The. Copyright © by Sue Monk Kidd. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
Pt. 1 Awakening 5
"That's How I Like to See a Woman" 7
Conceiving the Feminine Self 10
The Deep Sleep 13
The Nest of Yellow Leaves 24
The Feminine Wound 28
Faces of Daughterhood 41
Forming a Feminist Critique 59
Trusting Your Own Feminine Source 75
Pt. 2 Initiation 85
The Unexplored Gorge 89
Opening to the Feminine Divine 98
Crossing the Threshold 103
A Guiding Feminine Myth 107
Pt. 3 Grounding 131
Encountering Goddess 133
Why a Feminine Form for the Formless? 136
The Coming of Herself 140
The Symbol Functions 152
The Dawn of Feminine Spiritual Consciousness 153
Healing the Feminine Wound 168
Transfiguring Anger 186
Forgiveness 189
The Dance of Dissidence 190
Pt. 4 Empowerment 195
Cohesion of the Female Soul 197
Authentic Power 199
Buffalo Medicine 199
Voicing the Soul 202
Finding Inner Authority 210
Embodying Sacred Feminine Experience 217
Daughters, the Women Are Speaking 223
The Story 225
Notes 229
Permissions 237
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Has Its Place

    This book is one that I return to often. It is, however, a hard pill for those who come across it who are not ready or willing to hear about a person's experience with searching for a Heavenly Mother. Many feel she puts down men, but I see no such thing, in fact the opposite; she points out that Patriarchy is as hurtful to men as it is to women. She also acknowledges that Matriarchy isn't the right way either. If you chose to read the book please keep an open mind and read the whole thing. It's a journey with stages that take years.

    I found this book with it's spiritual feminism to be a breath of fresh air from text that speak only about feminism in regards to the "horrid past" and only dealing with sex or filled with anger without catharsis.

    This is a wonderful book for women who come from orthodox religious backgrounds (Catholic, LDS/mormon, Judaism, S. Baptist) You are not alone in your quest.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2007

    A reviewer

    Thank you for your wonderful book, I understand and have experiencced and still experiencing the author's fear, solitude and upheaval of casting aside all preconceived notions of our patriarcal society. It has been about 12 years that I have been waking up, I have felt that I was alone in my beliefs and the guilt of unlearning all that was taught to me by the Christian faith. I listen now to what is inside of me, to follow my instincts and to accept that it is right for me. It is a comfort to realize that you are not alone in your beliefs.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 17, 2009

    One of the richest books I've ever read.

    I was not even aware how diminished I and all women are in our current society and especially in our churches and temples until this book deeply pierced through the conditioning and numbness that had settled over my truth as a Divine Feminine Being.I felt as if all I was meant to be has been released to expand,grow,nurture,teach and recieive. I want women everywhere to read this book and have their own personal experience of the majesty of Goddess/God within them. The world needs Feminine Spirituality more than ever before. There is a universal hunger for the values,traits,qualities and characteristics that women possess.
    I am so grateful to Sue Monk Kidd for having the courage to share her thoughts and experiences in a way that encourages women to reach for their own path and to know that the world will be a better place because of her courage.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2000

    A Provocative Revolutionary Book

    This brilliant, provocative book is revolutionary. In sharing her firestorm about feminine spirituality Sue Monk Kidd gently guides us through our own awakening. The Dance of the Dissident Daughter not only reveals the sacred feminine in the Christian tradition but shows how patriarchal spirituality is ultimately a flight from the earth. Sue Monk Kidd¿s awakening to the knowledge that we are connected with everything lead her to a dawning awareness that the earth is alive and divine. Her question: ¿How big is your `we¿?¿ challenges us to move from the little ¿we¿ of humankind to the larger ¿we¿ of all creation. She rightly points out the future of the planet depends on how we answer that question.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 12, 2010

    The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd

    Sue Monk Kidd had a dilemma at one point in her life when she felt that there was a Patriarcal image in religious life. Women were not leaders in most churches and the word "He" was used most frequently in the Bible. It was at this time that she felt women were hidden behind a curtain as was the Wizard in OZ. She questioned and found that there were many references to men as leaders in churches while women were in the background. I had to continue reading because I felt that way myself in many instances. Sue Monk Kidd began to deal with her feelings of Patriarchy by attending retreats and being a part of nature to understand her feelings and come alive again. As a spiritual writer, Kidd, often spoke to groups with varies reactions by her audiences regarding her position on the topic of Patriarchy. It was interesting how Sue Monk Kidd became empowered thru this journey in her life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Interesting, but better for beginners

    I found Dance of the Dissident Daughter to be interesting, but better for women and men who have only just begun to consider their spirituality and the place of the Feminine within that spirituality. Kidd has clearly done a lot of research, and has opened herself up to readers in a very personal way.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2009

    Inspirational Reading

    My sister and I love Sue Monk Kidd. I read this book and gave it to my sister as a birthday gift. We both love it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 5, 2009

    Enlightening

    I was looking for something that would help me understand more about the Goddess after years of serving only God in my religion. This book took me through her journey as she did the same thing. I was able to see myself in certain parts of her journey, and know what I had to look forward to still. I'm grateful for the book, I was concerned it would be about how the view of the Goddess interferes with the view of one true God and how the Goddess isn't something to be believed or followed, but I was pleasantly surprised.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2009

    Fantastic!

    I liked this non-fiction memoior even more than her best-selling fictional novel, The Secret Lives of Bees. The author's spiritual journey provided wonderful insight into my own. I appreciate her honesty, thoughtfulness, and courage! Fantastic!

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