The dance of the dissident daughter : a woman's journey from Christian tradition to the sacred feminine

by Sue Monk Kidd

Book, 1996



Call number


Call number



[San Francisco, Calif.] : HarperSanFrancisco, c1996.

Original publication date


Physical description

xii, 238 p.; 22 cm

Local notes

Bestselling author’s classic work of feminine spiritual discovery, with a new introduction by the author.

"I was amazed to find that I had no idea how to unfold my spiritual life in a feminine way. I was surprised, and, in fact, a little terrified, when I found myself in the middle of a feminist spiritual reawakening."—Sue Monk Kidd

For years, Sue Monk Kidd was a conventionally religious woman. Then, in the late 1980s, she experienced an unexpected awakening, and began a journey toward a feminine spirituality. With the exceptional storytelling skills that have helped make her name, Kidd tells her very personal story of the fear, anger, healing, and freedom she experienced on the path toward the wholeness that many women have lost in the church.

From a jarring encounter with sexism in a suburban drugstore, to monastery retreats and to rituals in the caves of Crete, she reveals a new level of feminine spiritual consciousness for all women—one that retains a meaningful connection with the "deep song of Christianity," embraces the sacredness of ordinary women’s experience, and has the power to transform in the most positive ways every fundamental relationship in a woman's life—her marriage, her career, and her religion.

User reviews

LibraryThing member lauriebrown54
Best selling author (“The Secret Life of Bees”) Sue Monk Kidd was born into a conservative Christian family and married a conservative Christian minister. For years, she wrote inspirational Christian books. What, then, made her decide to step away from church teachings regarding the place of women and embark on a journey to find the sacred feminine?

Kidd had long been uncomfortable with how her gender was treated, both in society and in her church. Told repeatedly that woman was to serve man because Eve had tempted Adam into sin, she finally had enough when she went her young teen daughter’s work to pick her up, only to find the girl kneeling to stock the bottom shelf and hear one man say to another “That’s the way I like to see women- on their knees”. That started a journey of several years as she read, meditated, traveled and talked with other women as she tried to make sense of what was changing in her, spiritually.

Her reading took in both modern feminism and ancient texts. She found that in old Hebrew texts and the Old Testament there was a female deity as well as a male, but somewhere along the line she had disappeared. This, along with female deities from other cultures (Minoan Crete, ancient Greece, Native American), convinced her that there was a basis for a feminine spirituality. Eventually, she found that she could manage to hold both a deep feminine spirituality and to the Christian church.

Kidd writes of her journey step by step. It’s interesting and moving and her pain is palpable and there is an amazing amount of synchronicity, but after a certain point in the book the immediacy of her feelings seems to disappear. The narrative, for whatever reason, goes flat. It’s still useful and interesting, but it drags and a few parts felt like a chore to read- and read like they had been a chore to write. I’d recommend this book for any woman who is questioning the gendered aspects of modern religion as a beginning book. Even if they only read the first parts, it will head them in the right direction.
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LibraryThing member indiefishsteak
Reading this book gave me an inside view on another woman going through so many of the same things I have been going through regarding feminism, spirituality and trying to define what I think it means to be feminine and/or masculine. I recommend it to anyone who wants to think about the feminine divine and where women find themselves, especially in the spiritual end of things. She focuses mainly on the Christian experience, since that is her background as a Christian inspirational writer. Her journeys take her to many different places, goddesses and religious viewpoints. I like her takes on what exactly feminism and patriarchy are. This was a particularly encouraging book to read. It's always nice when you feel like you've found someone who is very close to your own experience. Her writing style is all-encompassing while remaining informal and personal. One of my all time favorite books.… (more)
LibraryThing member mizztcasa
I too went from being a traditional Christian who was trying to connect with God and live Right - to being a spiritual being who saw God everywhere, including myself. This book is such an inspiration. I loved the 'daughter' theme: the oppressive roles placed upon feminine beings in the world. Made me understand feminism from a spiritual point of view. Definitely a must read for all who want to improve there religious community, for those with a non-traditional spiritual path, and those who care about the world.… (more)
LibraryThing member FishHeaven
An amazing book focusing on a woman's spiritual journey going from a Christian background and finding herself again through the divine feminine. This book has a lot of depth to it and I found myself being called to it from the library shelf. I found it at a time in my life when struggling with similar issues Sue shares in her book. This book is broken up into different segments based on he different phases one goes through during their journey of discovering what they truly believe and who they are. This book took me awhile to read but that was because I wanted to take my time and gain everything I could absorb from it. I still find myself wanting to go back for more.… (more)
LibraryThing member nilchance
Good read for those coming from a Christian background who are exploring other spiritualities.
LibraryThing member Black821Library
this book changed me. I look at life differently now. What power we have within ourselves if we allow ourselves to be free.
LibraryThing member SLuce
Too much for me. Gave up half way through. Did not like at all. Would not recommend.
LibraryThing member aterpstra
I am only part of the way through this, but so far I have had to stop and think, and cry, and pray and think and pray some more while reading this.

If you are a woman wondering if you have a right to desire leadership in the church, this book seems to be a good place to start. . .but I am at the very beginning of the awakening. . .… (more)
LibraryThing member wyvernfriend
Sue Monk Kidd becomes dissatisfied with her place in Christianity and decides to look into a space for her heart to sing. A path that takes her somewhat away from Christianity to a place close by but more respectful of her self and her femaleness.

It's a path that I'm on myself so I empathised with a lot of what she's saying.… (more)
LibraryThing member etxgardener
I read this book after reading Traveling With Pomegranates because I was curious about the author's thought processes as she went from the rather conventional wife of a Southern Baptist preacher who wrote for Guideposts magazine to discovering a fairly radical feminism and journeying to find the "divine feminine." AT the beginning of this book she says that it was going into a drug store where her teenage daughter worked & and seeing her kneeling on the floor stocking the shelves, hearing two men saying ,"That's how I like to see a woman. On her knees." Kidd is truly shaken, and confronts the men saying. "You may like to see her and women on their knees, but we don't belong there." And thus begins her journey.

I have to admire her tenacity since I also live in the South and know the social pressure that can be put to bear on a woman who does not fit into societal norms. However, her deep dive into Jungian psychology and many of her pronouncements and actions just made me cringe. I felt like I was spending an inordinate time with a "converso" who just couldn't (or wouldn't) shut up about the subject.

I also think she is not going to be truly happy until she leaves traditional Christianity behind. She leaves the Southern Baptists (an oh DUH moment for anyone familiar with this strain of Christianity) for the much more liberal Episcopalian church, but I think her brand of theology will be, in the end, even too much for them. She is really more of a Deist and, I would think, be more comfortable with the Unitarians or maybe even the Ethical Culturalists.

In the end, the story I would really like to read is that of her husband who, as a result of his wife's qwest, also leaves the Southern Baptist and his theological teaching profession and becomes a psychologist.
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LibraryThing member ammurphy
This was a gentle introduction to feminist spirituality because Kidd included incidents from her life that triggered searches and insights. Hard to believe that anyone would have dreams like that however...
LibraryThing member vdunn
It takes courage to reveal your spiritual journey, and this author bravely gives you a moving account of hers. I went to see the author in person, and I expected an outgoing, outspoken feminist. Instead I met a seemingly shy, reticent, but very strong woman willing to share her struggles and help others discover the feminine side of god that our patriarchal religions have minimized or erased.… (more)
LibraryThing member lietza
Insightful, but the strong feminist feelings don't apply to my life & how it has been shaped.
LibraryThing member lisaj00
Having grown up in a uber-conservative Christian church, and all the repression and ridiculous rules for females that entailed, I've struggled wtih believing in a "male" God. So, I had high hopes for this book. Unfortunately, I couldn't make it very far. What I thought would be an empowering book for females seeking a deeper, more personal relationship with a God who made and understands the female - turned out to be more like one woman's hyper-senstivity for political correctness.
While I'll be the first in line for gender equality, I felt like this book was a little awkward.
The part that made me give up on it was her example of her father always taking her brother to ballgames instead of her. When she finally did go, she was more concerned with her daydreams of butterflies than the actual game. Perhaps her father understood this about her and that's why he opted to take her brother who apparently loved the sport as much as he did. To me, this is a more telling story of a parent allowing his kids to develop their own identities rather than any sort of male/female inequality within her homelife.
Perhaps this would be a helpful book for those who have felt the effects of such prejudice in their lives. But I can't in good conscience recommend it as a spiritual guide for a seeking female.
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