Womanpriest: A Personal Odyssey
By Alla Renée Bozarth
Morality in the Christian community flows spontaneously out of a shared perception of Christ’s love. It is a shared attitude of desire for the common good, an attitude of well-wishing toward life so forceful that it shapes the good it intends. Genuine morality is the actualized overflow of the love of Christ into the world; it is an acted yearning for the wholeness and well-being of others. It is, finally, a mutual empowerment toward wholeness in creation.
Womanpriest: A Personal Odyssey — [First Edition]
Alla Bozarth-Campbell (Alla Renée Bozarth) Alla was one of the first women to be ordained priests in the Episcopal Church. She was one of Philadelphia Eleven: eleven ordained women deacons who were irregularly ordained to be priests as well, in an “underground” service by two retired and one locally resigned diocesan bishops of the church, the canons of which declare
“a priest is a priest forever.”
The Church national conference, known as the General Convention consisting of laity [and priests, but at that time, not deacons had several times voted to accept women as priests, but either the House of Bishops or the House of Deputies continually blocked the ordinations by very slim minorities. Some of the young male candidates for ordination were “striking,” refusing ordination, until the Church at large allowed women priests.
These eleven women pushed the matter from hypothesis into reality, and forced the Church to deal with it.To be one of these eleven required courage, and faith, but also a sureness of vocation. How Bozarth-Campbell came to have these qualities makes a remarkable biography.
Bozarth-Campbell is a gentle writer: she is neither a braggart, nor cloyingly modest. Her writing suggests that she is soft-spoken, but nonetheless certain of herself. She is also never at a loss for just the right word; altogether, this story is gripping. Even though we know how things turn out, there is suspense; we don't know the details, and I, myself was on the edge of my chair waiting for them.
Anyone interested in women’s spirituality or church history must read this book; people who enjoy biography in general will not be disappointed either. And those who just enjoy good writing should like this book.
Rivcah Maccaby Bloomington, Indiana
Womanpriest: A Personal Odyssey— [revised edition]
I have been spending time with you as I read Wisdom and Wonderment and Accidental Wisdom. A few days ago I read a news article about the plight of the Catholic nuns who live in the real world as they minister to people who also live and function in today’s world. Yet they are being censured by Bishops who live in their own little make believe world/ivory tower of their own construct and are berating the nuns for their lack of obedience and acquiesce to their male domination which they present as “God’s will”. That evening I read your poem The Annunciation which in two pages addresses this issue with precision. “And Christ will live again in every woman’s resurrection.” I marvel at your wisdom. Your books are aptly titled. I can’t begin to imagine what you endured as one of the Philadelphia Eleven . . .
I marvel as I read your books that you reveal yourself in such a bare-bones fashion. There are your feelings, your desires, your wishes and your actions, your joys and your disappointments and your struggles – right there on the page, in printed words that can’t be taken back or obliterated or recanted if you have second thoughts about making such revelations about your deepest self. I am most deeply touched when I read about your marriage. Your love for Phil, your struggle to remain true to yourself within the marriage, your courage to move to Oregon, your ability to withstand the wonderings of others about the choices you made. And finally, as the two of you connect in love and joy within each of your own comfort zones – poof – he is gone and grief is the new path to travel. Powerful stuff!
Marlys Collom San Diego, California
Two Responses specifically to the poem, "Passover Remembered" in Womanpriest: A Personal Odyssey, revised edition 1988.
Dearest Alla, I met you almost twenty years ago to date. I was a junior in college at Mount St. Mary's in Los Angeles. Never in my life had I seen a woman who was ordained within the church. Since then, my feminist consciousness has evolved, so much so that I am in a doctoral program now at Claremont Graduate University in the Women Studies in Religion program. I am writing this note because, along the way, I have kept your poem, "Passover Remembered," close to my heart. When I am distressed or need to be comforted that the days are long and the work to be done is too much, I can look at your poem and find comfort. Along the way as well I have shared it with women, who like myself, are engaging in the feminist task of hearing ourselves into speech. For twenty-years, indirectly, you have been a conversation-prayer partner for me, through this poem. For that, I wish to thank you today.
Fantastic! This is what we need. Like a pen to write the fireworks, vivid and outstanding.
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