Sunday, February 10, 2008

Alice Walker's New Age 'freethought'

Alice Walker was born on February 9 and her thoughts are honored as FFRF's February 9 Freethought of the Day. Her literary accomplishments notwithstanding, I don't buy her inclusion in this category. She has rejected the traditional Christian church to embrace New Age pabulum—Paganism, "Mother Earth". . . —this is just more sickening superstitious BS.
Walker's views on religion are expressed in "The Only Reason You Want to Go to Heaven Is That You Have Been Driven Out of Your Mind (Off Your Land and Out of Your Lover's Arms): Clear Seeing Inherited Religion and Reclaiming the Pagan Self" (anthologized in Anything We Love Can Be Saved: A Writer's Activism). Raised as a Methodist by devout parents, early in life she observed church hypocrisy, especially the silencing of the women who cleaned the church and kept it alive. "Life was so hard for my parents' generation that the subject of heaven was never distant from their thoughts. . . . The truth was, we already lived in paradise but were worked too hard by the land-grabbers to enjoy it." In The Color Purple, the protagonist rebels against a God who "act just like all the other mens I know. Trifling, forgitful and lowdown. . . . I blaspheme much as I want to." Walker, rebelling against the misogyny of Christian teachings and the imposition of a white religion upon the enslaved, advises: "It is fatal to love a God who does not love you. . . . We have been beggars at the table of a religion that sanctioned our destruction." Describing paganism as "of the land, country dweller, peasant," Walker notes: "All people deserve to worship a God who also worships them. A God that made them, and likes them. That is why Nature, Mother Earth, is such a good choice. Never will Nature require that you cut off some part of your body to please It; never will Mother Earth find anything wrong with your natural way."
This is followed by a quote from Walker:
“What a burden to think one is conceived in sin rather than in pleasure; that one is born into evil rather than into joy. . . .

It is chilling to think that the same people who persecuted the wise women and men of Europe, its midwives and healers, then crossed the oceans to Africa and the Americas and tortured and enslaved, raped, impoverished, and eradicated the peaceful, Christ-like people they found. And that the blueprint from which they worked, and still work, was the Bible.”

— Alice Walker, "The Only Reason You Want to Go to Heaven Is That You Have Been Driven Out of Your Mind," Anything We Love Can Be Saved: A Writer's Activism.
As nice as it is to see Walker bad-mouth the Bible, this is airheaded BS. I liked her when I first saw her in person, long before that awful movie The Color Purple catapulted her into super-fame, but for a number of years she has gotten on my nerves, including her rationale for calling herself a womanist rather than a feminist, which is imbued with an essentially conservative redemptive conception of femininity, however feminist (womanist) it may pretend to be, which was also on parade in that kitschy film.

Growing up in the South will sure do a trip on your head.


“As my ancestors are free from slavery, I am free from the slavery of religion.”

— Butterfly McQueen, Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Oct. 8, 1989