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Marija Gimbutas -- Legacy and Controversy

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"The Scholars and the Goddess" by Charlotte Allen, Atlantic Monthly 2001
      Starhawk's response to "The Scholars and the Goddess"

Women's Spirituality Scholars Speak Out: A Report on the 7th Annual Gender & Archeology Conference at Sonoma State -- by Marguerite Rigoglioso

The Myth of Universal Patriarchy: A Critical Response to Cynthia Eller's Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory -- by Joan Marler

Musings on the Goddess and Her Cultured Despisers, Provoked by Naomi Goldenberg -- by Carol P. Christ

Cynthia Eller responds to comments made in the above articles by Joan Marler, Marguerite Rigoglioso and Carol Christ.


Mike Writes:  
I'm writing to enquire about a statement you made in response to Ms. Allen's  article in the Atlantic Monthly "To us, Goddesses, Gods, and for that matter, archaeological theories are  not something to believe in, nor are they merely metaphors. An image of  deity, a symbol on a pot, a cave painting, a liturgy are more like portals  to particular states of consciousness and constellations of energies." 
I know a few pagans who take a much different approach to the Gods,  and  see them as real beings in every sense of the word. (cf. Mortimer J. Adler,  _Truth in Religion_ and _How to Think About God_). That is, they see the  Gods as beings to believe in, and not just sigils for entering a particular  state of consciousness. Is it your belief that these pagans are mistaken? 

Of course, as one friend of mine put it, any statement made about pagans  in general is bound to run into a few counterexamples. :)

 93 93/93
 Mike Smith
 Portland OR

Starhawk replies:
Dear Mike--Portals to states of consciousness and constellations of energy are very real.  As I said, they're not just metaphors.  And as you said,  ask two Pagans about anything and you're likely to get five opinions.  But to me, the point of being a Pagan is that you directly experience those constellations of energy, which is different from a 'belief in' a dogma or a creed based on someone else's experience.  So, getting back to Gimbutas,  I don't need her theories to confirm my 'faith'--rather, she presents us with a wealth of images that work beautifully to express and symbolize my experiences.  

Thanks for your question,

Yarrow writes:
The credits on the article state that Charlotte Allen is the senior editor of Crisis.  Crisis is a Catholic neo-conservative magazine co-founded Michael Novak, who works at the right-wing American Enterprise Institute. [I'm not absolutely sure I've got the right magazine, because the magazine's web page doesn't list her anywhere.  Still, it's more likely she's connected to this Crisis magazine than the NAACP's!] From the reviews, it looks like her book on Christ is an attack on people trying to find the historical Jesus -- basically saying that they all read themselves into the figure they saw.

She's written another article for the Atlantic, "Confucius and the Scholars", which suggests, among other things, that Confucianism was invented by Jesuit missionaries to China.  There is a very similar feel to this  attack: "If the New Confucians are  wrong  about Confucius -- if, that is, he never was the humane sage and ethicist of popular imagination, and Confucianism as commonly perceived is largely a mythical concoction -- their theories and platform would suddenly rest on a shakier base." In brief: attack those who examine the historical basis of Christianity, while borrowing their tools to attack other faiths. 


Mike replies:

Herhaps we shouldn't be so hasty to judge this woman's article as an "attack" against Confucianism. I read it just now, and strikes me as a balanced review of the current scholarship. Jensen's book _Manufacturing Confucianism_ itself is quite thick, and until I have read it and considered his evidence, I will not presume to judge his scholarship. it is certainly no sin to examine received traditions no matter where they are from. I haven't read ms Allen's book about the Jesus Seminar, but I have read other criticisms of their methods and their tendency towards self-promotion and celebrity-seeking, criticisms that seem perfectly valid to me. 

Here is another quote from the Atlantic article on Confucianism, the 2nd to the last paragraph, that clearly balances for me the quote at the top:

"If it turns out that Confucius never existed, or that the Analects was
composed over several centuries, the faith of many New Confucians is likely
to be rattled a bit but not destroyed. As they like to remind their
listeners, most of them have invested not in a long-dead historical figure
but in a tradition that is still alive, and in a haunting body of literature
that remains susceptible of holistic reading and continues to reveal,
whatever the identities and intentions of its authors, a vivid portrait of
an arresting man. "It's like Christianity -- Christianity isn't monolithic,
and it has changed over the centuries to accommodate changes in society,"
Robert Neville, the dean of Boston University's school of theology, says. As
Neville, a United Methodist minister and a Confucian who meets regularly
with Tu and other academics in a group called the Boston Confucians, puts
it, "The authority doesn't rest with the person but with the teaching."

As food for thought in a similar vein, check out this examination of possible fallacies in the received tradition of English history, which according to the investigators, reflects a pattern common to European historical traditions: 


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