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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

Saturday, May 4th, 2024: If the sick are to be healed, it is our hands that will heal them

Saturday, May 4th, 2024: If the sick are to be healed, it is our hands that will heal them. If the lonely and the frightened are to be comforted, it is our embrace, not God's, that will comfort them.”

-- Dorothee Solle

Beyond Patriarchy: Teachings on Mysticism from Dorothee Soelle

Dorothee Soelle combined the mystical tradition and prophetic activist traditions wonderfully—as did her mentor, Meister Eckhart. And the Beguines of the women’s movement of the Middle Ages about whom she also wrote in depth.


Soelle teaches mysticism as an alternative to patriarchy: We must approach mysticism, which comes closest to overcoming the hierarchical masculine concept of God.


How does she understand mysticism? The mystical certainty that nothing can separate us from the love of God grows when we ourselves become one with love by placing ourselves, freely and without guarantee of success, on the side of love.


The authentic language of religion is that of mysticism, she insists. The language of religion, by which I do not mean the stolen language in which a male God ordains and imperial power radiates forth, is the language of mysticism: I am completely and utterly in God, I cannot fall out of God, I am imperishable. ‘Who shall separate us from the love of God?’ we then ask with Paul the mystic: ‘neither death nor life, height nor depth, neither present nor future’ (Romans 8:35 and 38).


She speaks of what feminism brings to the table. In feminist theology, the issue is not about exchanging pronouns but about another way of thinking of transcendence. Transcendence is no longer to be understood as being independent of everything and ruling over everything else, but rather as being bound up in the web of life….That means that we move from God-above-us to God-within-us and overcome false transcendence hierarchically conceived.


And who is Christ in all this? If Jesus of Nazareth was the poor man from Galilee who was tortured to death, then Christ is that which cannot be destroyed, which came into the world with him and lives through us in him. When I say Christ, I always think also of Francis of Assisi and Hildegard of Bingen and Martin Luther King, well as of all resistance fighters who are sitting in prison today.


For Soelle, Christ is a name which for me expresses solidarity, hence suffering with, struggling with. Christ is the mysterious power which was in Jesus and which continues on and sometimes makes us into ‘fools in Christ,’ who without hope of success and without any objective, share life with others.

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