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WHY READ WHITE FIRE?

LIBRARY JOURNAL REVIEW

SageWoman REVIEW

A CONVERSATION WITH THE AUTHOR

INTERVIEW WITH RABBI DRUCKER

EDITORIAL BY MALKA DRUCKER IN THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

"BURN, SISTER, BURN"

"GUIDING SPIRITS"


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WOULD TODAY'S RELIGIOUS GROUPS BE IN CRISIS IF WOMEN WERE IN CHARGE?
Survey of Women Spiritual Leaders Reveals How Their Unique Experiences Create Strong, Healthy Communities

"Women aping men in power will just lead us to be wicked and coarse. That will just double the world's trouble!"
-Dr. Beatrice Bruteau, in White Fire: A Portrait of Women Spiritual Leaders in America

The crisis in the male-dominated Catholic Church has made headlines for the past year, but it is not the first controversy involving men in religious leadership. The all-male head of the Southern Baptist Convention made news in the 1990s when it restated that wives should remain subordinate to their husbands. Other faiths also remain divided over roles of women in leadership. As a result of this discord, more Americans than ever consider themselves unaffiliated from all religious groups. Many notable women have chosen to mend these schisms. How might the religious landscape in America be different if women held more spiritual leadership roles? What can be learned from those women who have created places for themselves as spiritual leaders? White Fire: A Portrait of Women Spiritual Leaders in America (SkyLight Paths / January 2003 / Hardcover / $24.95), by Malka Drucker, with photograph portraits by Gay Block, brings together the inspiring stories of thirty-one women-trailblazers, celebrities, intellectuals, leaders of all faiths-demonstrating the new spiritual landscape in America.

Profiles include:
Dr. Beatrice Bruteau
Sylvia Boorstein
Debbie Friedman
Rabbi Laura Geller
The Right Rev. Leontine Kelly
Dr. Elaine Pagels
Joan Halifax Roshi
Ma Jaya
Starhawk
Luisah Teish
Marianne Williamson

"I imagine this book as a dinner party where women have gathered for a conversation about being a woman, a person of faith, and a leader," comments Drucker. "Listening to them in ensemble reveals that all their differences are less important than how much they share as women of faith." White Fire: A Portrait of Women Spiritual Leaders in America takes its name from a description of the Torah: it is "written with black fire upon white fire." According to tradition, only the black fire, or writing, of the Torah has been read; someday the white fire will be revealed as well. Today, women spiritual leaders in America are like white fire: they embody the previously untapped power of female leadership. "Being a woman pastor was an amazing way for me to pull women together and say that we are here and we have a right to the same appointments as men," proclaims the Right Reverend Leontine Kelly. "Women have more room for failure than men; little is expected of us," states Zen Buddhist priest Joan Halifax Roshi. "The social expectation is to marry and have children, but if you don't conform to that expectation, you can have a hell of a lot of fun as an outsider. That's why women are agents of change."

"My hope is not just for women," notes musician and cantor Debbie Friedman. "It's across the board. I want men to develop the feminine in themselves and to move out of imprisonment." White Fire is breathtaking in its inclusiveness. Ministers and rabbis, writers, psychologists, and teachers-some of the women serve in denominations that have accepted women ministers for a hundred years; others are part of groups that still don't allow women full rights to spiritual leadership. What they share, besides their gender, is a passion and a calling to make a positive difference in the world, whether leading from the pulpit, classroom, or stage. "The women profiled in this book inspire people of all faiths, all backgrounds, and all genders," says Jon M. Sweeney, editor in chief of SkyLight Paths. "Collectively, they create a chorus of powerful voices that reflect the American spiritual experience." Rabbi Malka Drucker is an award-winning author of nearly twenty books, including Jacob's Rescue' The Family Treasury of Jewish Holidays, and Rescuers: Portraits of Moral Courage in the Holocaust, another joint project with photographer Gay Block. The "Rescuers" photo exhibition has traveled to more then seventy venues and was the basis for a Showtime television series. Block's photographs are shown widely in the United States and are held in numerous collections.

White Fire: A Portrait of Women Spiritual Leaders in America, by Malka Drucker, with photograph portraits by Gay Block is available at bookstores or directly from SkyLight Paths Publishing, Sunset Farm Offices, Route 4, P.O. Box 237, Woodstock, Vermont 05091; $24.95; Hardcover; add $3.75 for shipping and handling for the first book, $2.00 for each additional book. For credit card orders, call 800-962-4544.