Of all the creatures on the planet, only mankind seeks to establish the ideas of worship, and engages in practices which look in a direction to identify that which is holy. There are no shrines built by schools of fish. Monkeys and Dolphins, which are some of the more intelligent creatures on the planet next to mankind, do not construct temples, or raise up images of which they seek to identify as greater than themselves. Only human beings seek a greater power to give their lives meaning and purpose.
After filling the earth with creatures which walked, swam, flew on feathered wings and slithered on the ground, God says this about mankind. "God said let us create mankind in our own image, male and female we will create them."
So from our very first breath, mankind is different from the rest. We have not evolved from animals. We could not have. Because at no resting point along the evolutionary trail is there any scientific or genetic reason for the single distinction which separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. We seek to connect with that which is holy, above ourselves, and greater than our own existence, an idea of a higher power... A great spirit... God.
So one must ask if we seek to connect with that which is holy, something greater than ourselves, will the theology needed to make such a connection be Theo-centric, focused on the identify of the deity, or will the theology which brings us closer to that which is holy and will give our lives meaning be self-centric, focused on ourselves. At this point, Mary Daly's feminist theology parts ways from R. Neibuhr's radical monotheism teachings. Daly has constructed an image of that which is holy in her own image, and bowed down to her own idol, while Neibuhr has attempted to clear the entrance to the path of discovering that which is holy which lies outside our own existence, a God in the heavens, and ultimately a God who came to earth in the form of a man. First let's examine the wholly uninspiring teachings of Daly, and examine that from which she draws her definition of a Holy God. Then we will compare her self-centric ideas to the Theo-centric writings of Neibuhr. If we find God in ourselves, a self-centric approach, then God does not exist in the heavens. If God exists as a being outside of ourselves, which mankind throughout history has believed, then Daly's surmising should be filed away with those of the men on Mar's Hill, (See Acts 17) who spent their time each day disputing the latest philosophies.
Daly begins her book, "Beyond God the Father" by citing unsubstantiated ideas that the Christian church's ideas of God as a Father must be the source of it's oppression of women throughout the ages. She identifies that from Eve's sin in the garden, the church as identified women as a sub-class of the human species, a few steps lower than men, and just a few steps above fallen angels, or demons. According to Daly, the Judaic-Christian tradition has served to legitimate sexually imbalanced patriarchal society. In her view, the image of the Father God, an imagination from the human imagination and sustained as plausible by patriarchy, has in turn rendered service to this type of society by making its mechanisms for the oppression of women appear right and fitting. If God in "his" heaven is a father ruling "his" people, then it is in the "nature" of things and according to divine plan and the order of the universe that society be male-dominated. Within this context a mystification of roles takes place: the husband dominating his wife represents God himself. What is happening, of course, is the familiar mechanism by which the images and values of a given society are projected into a realm of beliefs, which in turn justify the social infrastructure. The belief system becomes hardened and objectified, seeming to have an unchangeable independent existence and validity of its own. The belief system resists social change which would rob it of its plausibility. Daly goes on to say in her book that "Accepting the role of liberated women is the greatest single challenge to the church in the modern world... At the same time this spiritual revolution the greatest single hope for survival of spiritual consciousness on the planet." (Daly, p. 14)
What Daly does not acknowledge is that her perspective of the Judeo-Christian ethic was formed by the rigid and non-flexible Roman Catholic Church. An organization which represents itself as the "only true" catholic, the roman catholic church has demonstrated many human failing over the centuries, one of which is it's subjugation of women. The history of the worldwide Christian church is one of a liberator of women. Women do not have to rebel against the image of the father god, because in the beginning, they too were part of the creation which was made in the image of God. Daly's call for mankind to "become androgynous human persons" goes against the scientifically verified differences between men and women. Men and women have different chemicals in their bodies; they have different innate skills, and respond differently to stimuli which men encounter. By identifying this "change in the fabric of social conscience" as a necessary revolt against a sexist god who seeks to dominate women is absurd. Male and female we were created in the image of god. We were not designed to be dominated by an inflexible church hierarchy, but to balance each other with our differences. By working together, like a body which makes use of hands, feet, elbows, and ears for different functions, we compliment each other, and in love learn to accept the differences. And in Love we grow closer to that which is holy, for God is a loving being.
Daly's approach to finding that which is holy is self-centric. Her needs, her ideas, and her interpretation of her experiences limit her ability to seek a loving God outside of her own experiences. It has been said that we become that which we spend the most time thinking about. That which we focus our attention on is the power that has the strongest pull in our life. Daly is still exerting a huge amount of her mental and emotional resources trying to defeat the Roman Catholic churches ideas of women's subjugative roles. Her bitterness is blinding her to the reality of a god who looks beyond sex, and sees a valuable and important person in each one of his human creations. The disturbing aspect which is also interesting about this book is that so many people take this bad philosophy seriously. Daly seems to be saying more about her own fears and feelings instead of getting closer to any type of truth. She searches, just as the supremacists she so hates did, for the answers that she wants. But in the end directs her self-centric thoughts in a direction against that which she dislikes instead of toward that which would give her life, a close encounter with a loving, infinite Father God.
Neibuhr strikes out from his first writings as a radical also. He is not content with the state of the church which makes up its own rules. He is not content with the strife and division, like that which fills Daly's writings (and soul) as a representation of that which is holy. Neibuhr's declaration is that:
This is the conviction that there is an ultimate word, a word of God; that there is a universal Sovereignty, or better, that the universal power, whence come life and death, is good; it is the conviction that man when he is right in any way…