What is really real? : A Feminist Critique of the Christian Symbolic Universe.
Garman, Anthea Corinne.
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This thesis critiques from a woman’s experience and perspective the Christian Symbolic Universe’s assertion of the transcendant truth, or the “really real” behind every day experience. My contention in this thesis is that the “really real” – the guiding and shaping force behind all experience – is knowledge created in the image of the elite males who crafted the Christian Symbolic Universe, and that not only does it not fit female experience, it also prioritises male experience in such a way that it damages women. Starting with my own experience I look at how the Christian Symbolic Universe functions as a tyranny for many women. I then examine how the process of meaning making happens, how vital it is to humans to have control and make sense of their experiences, and how those excluded from this process are also those who suffer most under the oppressive structures of society. I focus on symbols which are central to the teachings of the Christian Symbolic Universe which are particularly damaging for women. I look at the chaos and sense of meaninglessness that accompanies the process of critiquing the authority of the Christian Symbolic Universe. I conclude by looking at an identity for women like myself which allows us space to move and resources to make a difference for ourselves and for other women. I assert that everyone has the right to be spiritual, to have a symbolic universe which orients life in a purposeful, healthy, affirming way, and that everyone has the right to participate in the creation of meaning. I argue for the relativising of the category of truth so that truth takes its place alongside two other important categories: what is meaningful and what is powerful. I argue for abandoning the canon, the universal truth, and eternal symbols and rituals. The creation of meaning must be open to everyone in every generation. The “really real” is not a male God who controls and directs everything. The “really real” is the struggle to make sense of life and to have the power to do that in one’s own hands.