Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Problem with being a Jewish Feminist

This story I came across at The New Republic and the original post is here.

It was to be Torcuil Crichton's journalistic transfiguration...Crichton had gone there to interview the American feminist author Naomi Wolf, on tour for her new book, The Treehouse: Eccentric Wisdom from My Father on How to Live, Love, and See...Hoping to draw her out on her recent divorce, he spouted about his own breakups, a tactic that only yielded clich├ęd sympathy. As his time drew to a close, Crichton remembered Wolf's radio appearance, and he asked if any of Greer's insults had wounded her. Staring off into the distance, Wolf replied that critics' barbs no longer mattered, because now she answered to a higher authority.

"Are we talking about God?" Crichton asked.

"Yeah, God," Wolf said. She elaborated: "I actually had this vision of--of Jesus." And that, needless to say, is when the interview really began.

Wolf's story went like this: Several years ago, while in therapy for writer's block, Wolf was asked to try a classic deep relaxation technique, where she imagined walking down a flight of stairs. When she reached the bottom and opened the door, there he was: Jesus, with a holy light radiating out of him, the light of absolute perfection and powerful love. In the vision, Wolf wasn't her usual zaftig, constantly commented-upon physical self, but rather a 13-year-old boy. The vision taught Wolf several lessons: that God cares about each and every one of us; that we are born with knowledge of our own soul, which, like Plato once taught, we forget and have to re-remember in order to realize our life's mission (in her case, to spread the gospel of feminism). That we can all, if we try, be like Jesus--radiant, loving, perfect. The revelation made tears run down her face, she confessed to Crichton...

...Though Wolf apparently remains a Jew, at least by her own reckoning, Crichton predicted that her admission might even "trigger a theological battle between the American Christian right and the Jewish lobby over the ownership of her soul."...Most inscrutable is the vision itself. In her 1991 breakout book, The Beauty Myth, Wolf was a traditional, rigorously academic, angry feminist polemicist. Now she is a bar mitzvah-age boy visiting with Jesus. What the hell happened?

Gee, this is really weird.

Is it being Jewish in a non-Jewish world?

Being Jewish and feminist?

Being Jewish and not wanting to be Jewish?

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