Gimbutas -- Legacy and Controversy
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Scholars and the Goddess"
by Charlotte Allen, Atlantic Monthly 2001
Starhawk's response to "The Scholars and the
Dashu's critique of Cynthia Eller's
Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory.
The earlier edition (2000) is online at http://www.suppressedhistories.net/articles/eller.html
and a more comprehensive version is available
(check or money order to Max Dashu at P.O. Box 3511, Oakland CA
94609 USA) for
$7 plus $2 shipping.
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
Scholars Speak Out: A Report on the 7th Annual Gender & Archeology
Conference at Sonoma State -- by Marguerite Rigoglioso
responds to comments made in the above articles by Joan Marler,
Marguerite Rigoglioso and Carol Christ.
Marija Gimbutas" by James B. Harrod and Kristina Berggren,
published in the Journal of Prehistoric Religions to defend Marija's
work against an attack by the archaeologist Lyn Meskell in Antiquity
in 1995. Downloadable PDF file.
Three additional articles by Joan Marler, posted in March 2006:
Iconography and Social Structure of Old Europe: The Archaeomythological
Research of Marija Gimbutas
Beginnings of Patriarchy in Europe: Reflections on the Kurgan
Theory of Marija Gimbutas
in the European Neolithic: Truth or Fiction?
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
Of course, as one friend of
mine put it, any statement made about pagans in general
is bound to run into a few counterexamples. :)
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,
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.
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
to be rattled a bit but not destroyed. As they like to remind
listeners, most of them have invested not in a long-dead historical
but in a tradition that is still alive, and in a haunting body
that remains susceptible of holistic reading and continues to
whatever the identities and intentions of its authors, a vivid
an arresting man. "It's like Christianity -- Christianity
and it has changed over the centuries to accommodate changes
Robert Neville, the dean of Boston University's school of theology,
Neville, a United Methodist minister and a Confucian who meets
with Tu and other academics in a group called the Boston Confucians,
it, "The authority doesn't rest with the person but with
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