In the late 1980s, Barbara Brown Zikmund lamented the failure of churches prior to the 1960s to understand and help working women, women who had first moved into the workplace during World War II. The indices of the Century during the ’40s and ’50s demonstrate how little attention mainline religion gave to women’s issues during those years.
Feminism and mysticism have always held a wary view of each other: feminists borrowed from Marx the belief that spirituality functions as a narcotic that anesthetizes the pain of oppression rather than harnessing it to fuel the engine of social change; religious leaders feared that committed social activists would lose their souls
Sarah Coakley came to Harvard in 1993, hired as part of then-dean Ronald Thiemann’s plan to bring more religiously committed faculty to Harvard Divinity School. (Jon Levenson, an Orthodox Jew, was hired at about the same time.) If Thiemann wanted someone who embodied the soul of Anglicanism—both its theological commitments and its style—he could hardly have chosen better.