I’ve been thinking for a few weeks that I would write a post on aides to feminist prayer, but keep thinking that I’ll wait until I have time to put thoughts together more coherently. But in light of the mural that Megan shared below, and commenter Crystal‘s pointing us toward the book “Prayers for an Inclusive Church” by Steven Shakespeare, and my own desire more to hear from others than to write a lot myself, I’m just going to throw this up here now:

What are inclusive prayer resources that people use?

The members of WIT who live close enough to see one another try to pray together once a week. We have been using The People’s Companion to the Breviary, which uses gender-neutral language for God and includes really lovely commemorations of holy women I had not known about. Its trinitarian formula, in my view, could be better — “Source of All Being, Eternal Word, and Holy Spirit,” it uses — but I generally really like the People’s Companion, and find it easy to use. And I am someone who gets easily confused around breviaries.

I also own the St. Helena Breviary, developed by the Order of St. Helena, an Episcopal women’s monastic community, which has been refined through use in a praying monastic community, but which I don’t tend to use as much … because I’m easily confused around breviaries.  So I would recommend it to someone who prays the divine office often and knows what she or he is doing — but if you need step by step instruction, like me, it might be less helpful. I’ll add more information later about the St. Helena Breviary’s negotiation of gendered language for God — I’m not at home at the moment and need to look at the breviary to refresh my memory.

I believe (but could be wrong) that the St Helena Breviary uses gender-neutral language; the People’s Companion definitely does.  I would love to hear of prayer resources that use gender-expansive, rather than just gender-inclusive, language (that is, which use feminine pronouns to refer to God rather than avoiding gendered pronouns.)  (Beth has written about the issue of God and gendered language, so I’m not going to go into that now…)

Women’s Uncommon Prayers has prayers and poems reflecting a wide, wide range of women’s experiences — prayers written by women before ordination, after childbirth, after coming out of the closet, healing from abuse, for an end to racial injustice. You can see a few samples.

Rosemary Radford Ruether’s Women-Church has both a theoretical section (the theology of feminist liturgy) and a collection of feminist liturgies. I find some of them very moving, but haven’t prayed with any of them — they are collected from and for “Women-Church,” with the idea that a stable women’s liturgical community would use these. So rather than prayers, they’re entire liturgies.

That’s about all I can think of at the moment. I invite others to share any resources you’re familiar with. I myself am particularly interested in prayer resources that use female pronouns for God, but I invite anything you’re familiar with.

And while I’m on the topic of soliciting recommendations — I’ve done a lot of looking for feminist religious children’s books. Anyone know of any good ones? When my goddaughter was baptized, I remember my very dear friends Rachel and Sean (her parents) remarking that one day, Junia would learn to read, and realize that none of her books really said “God made you, and She loves you!”  Anyone know of any that do?

13 thoughts

  1. I can also think of the Feminist Lectionary, giving Sunday readings about women in the Bible. Joyce Rupp’s Hymns to Sophia, Barbara J Monda’s Rejoice, Beloved Woman, The Psalms Revisited. Miriam Therese Winter’s WomanWisdom, Woman Witness… So many many books.
    But then at some point, one needs to start changing the Bible oneself and making it one’s own. Still so much is in the language and and changing the language does wonder to a woman’s soul…
    Blessings on your path. It is a joyful, liberating path!

  2. Hi Bridget,

    I am an Episcopalian, so I can really only speak to those specific resources (although, communal prayer of the hours is perhaps one area of substantial ecumenical agreement surpassing all others). In addition to the Order of St. Helena Breviary (and Psalter — the Psalter is really well done, by the way), you may be interested in the supplemental material (to the BCP), Enriching Our Worship. In many ways these two are very similar, save for that the St. Helena Breviary is a complete breviary, while EOW is meant only to supplement the existing liturgies from the BCP (and the OSH breviary does in fact stick close to the BCP in many ways). Both use a mixture of inclusive and expansive language. Many of the canticles in EOW are especially good (although I’d haggle with some of their choices of translation of biblical texts). A select group of us at my church have begun usage of EOW (which went over rather…erm, not great) and while there were many (perhaps justified) complaints, it provides an alternative that myself and many of the women who regularly participate in the office find to be deeply spiritually edifying.

    Also, as someone who works in Christian formation, and especially of children, I would also be very interested in resources for feminist religious children’s books (I’ve not come across any).

    As an aside, I’d be interested to know what folks think of the baptismal formula (which could easily be transplanted to the doxology at the hours), “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God and Mother of Us All”…I find it helpful in the way it at once uses and subverts the “traditional” naming of God, much as does a text like The Odes of Solomon for instance. Thanks for the post. Peace

  3. I also absolutely love Jann Aldredge-Clanton’s “Inclusive Hymns for Liberating Christians.” http://www.jannaldredgeclanton.com/music.php#music1
    She does an amazing job of presenting wonderful feminist hymn’s with a multiplicity of images of divinity. I love her usage of Christ-Sophia as a concept and in the hymns. She is also extremely sensitive to race, ethnicity, class, sexuality and of course gender in the hymns. Truly one of my favorite feminist liturgical resources.

    I also love her “Seeking Wisdom: Inclusive Blessings and Prayers for Public Occasions” http://www.jannaldredgeclanton.com/books.php and I find it to be incredibly helpful for all types of services. My partner just recently preached for International Holocaust Remembrance Day and used some materials from this book in the service and they were beautiful.

    Another helpful resource I have found is The Inclusive Bible http://amzn.com/1580512143
    I am always amazed at how few people know about The Inclusive Bible

      1. The wordpress code for Scribd didn’t work (rats) so here is a repost w/ a direct link to Scribd.com

        In May 2006 I ran across ecumenical.org and on this site they had inclusive language versions of the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed. I upload my saved copy of these to scribd.com in order to be able to share this important resource with others. http://goo.gl/wMbjI

  4. Prayer Books and Liturgy Resources:

    By Jann Aldredge-Clanton – Inclusive Hymns for Liberating Christians and Seeking Wisdom: Inclusive Blessings and Prayers for Public Occasions. I would recommend any of Jann’s work. She also wrote an inclusive songbook for children.

    Diann L. Neu, Women’s Rites: Feminist Liturgies for Life’s Journey

    Miriam Theresa Winter – Feminist Lectionary Resources in various volumes – Woman Wisdom, Woman Witness, Woman Word

    A Prayer Book for Remembering the Women: Four Seven Day Cycles of Prayer
    by J.Frank Henderson and Mary Louise Bringle

    Children’s Books: God’s Paintbrush by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso and Annette Compton, In God’s Name by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso. Any of Sandy’s books are good and the ones I’ve seen have been endorsed by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religious leaders.

  5. Yjanks for the mention.

    I’m all for inclusive liturgy but I have to admit, I’ve not spent any time looking for inclusive prayers – I’d come uopn Steven Shakespeare’s book because of reading his The Inclusive God: Reclaiming Theology for an Inclusive Church. I guess when I hear prayers not my own, I mentally rewrite them 🙂 but when I pray myself, I use the Ignatian style of “colloquy”, a personal conversation between me and Jesus/God.

  6. I’m delighted to find this website and this discussion on gender-expansive worship language! I appreciate Adam’s and Stephanie’s recommendations of some of my books. “Seeking Wisdom” does have gender-expansive as well as gender-inclusive language. Also, “Praying with Christ-Sophia: Services for Healing and Renewals” and “In Search of the Christ-Sophia: An Inclusive Christology for Liberating Christians” have worship resources that include female divine names and images. For children, I have written “God, A Word for Girls and Boys,” that does include pictures of female divine images, as well as references to God as “She” and “Mother.” Composer Larry E. Schultz and I collaborated on 2 expansive-language music resources for children: “Imagine God! A Children’s Musical Exploring and Expressing Images of God” and “Sing and Dance and Play with Joy! Inclusive Songs for Young Children.” Both include “Mother Eagle,” “Ruah,” “Mother,” “Wisdom–She,” and other female divine images along with male images.

    Other children’s books with expansive-language are “Heart Talks with Mother God,” by Bridget Mary Meehan, and “Old Turtle,” by Douglas Wood. Bridget Mary Meehan, a Bishop in the Roman Catholic Women Priests movement, has also written “Delighting in the Feminine Divine” and “Exploring the Feminine Face of God.”

  7. There is a wonderful children’s book by Robert Munsch “Giant or Waiting for the Thursday Boat” . It is difficult to get and you might have to contact Robert Munsch directly.

  8. Order of St. Helena’s breviary has wonderful canticles at Vespers, with great melodies. And I love their trinitarian doxology: “Glory to the holy and undivided Trinity, One God.”
    I’m looking for a compilation of longer non-scripture readings for the Office. The Church Fathers were generally pretty hideous toward women. This morning I read one from St. Maximus the Confessor that actually had the nerve to diss St. Mary Magdalene. Sickening. I like the readings in the People’s Companion to the Breviary, but I’d like some longer selections. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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