Mary Daly, foremother of modern feminist theology dies at 81

One of the most influential and creative writers of theology, Mary Daly will be missed for her strong challenging voice within and out of the Church. She was a person who could raise you up with joy and simultaneously provoke you. Daly always made people think more deeply about systems of power whether they agreed with her or not. She asked "Why indeed must 'God' be a noun? Why not a verb - the most active and dynamic of all."

National Catholic Reporter carries the announcement by Mary Hunt of the death of Mary Daly:

Mary E. Hunt, co-founder and co-director of the Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER), announced the death Jan. 3 online in "The Feminist Studies in Religion" bulletin:

"With a heavy heart, yet grateful beyond words for her life and work, I report that Mary Daly died this morning, January 3, 2010 in Massachusetts. She had been in poor health for the last two years.

Her contributions to feminist theology, philosophy, and theory were many, unique, and if I may say so, world-changing. She created intellectual space; she set the bar high. Even those who disagreed with her are in her debt for the challenges she offered. ... She always advised women to throw our lives as far as they would go. I can say without fear of exaggeration that she lived that way herself."

According to NCR:

Mary Daly, radical feminist theologian and a mother of modern feminist theology, died Jan. 3 at the age of 81. She was one of the most influential voices of the radical feminist movement through the later 20th century.

Daly taught courses in theology, feminist ethics and patriarchy at Boston College for 33 years. Her first book, "The Church and the Second Sex," published in 1968, got her fired, briefly, from her teaching position there, but as a result of support from the (then all-male) student body and the general public, she was ultimately granted tenure.

More on Mary Daly from her website here.

There are and will be those who think I have gone overboard. Let them rest assured that this assessment is correct, probably beyond their wildest imagination, and that I will continue to do so.

Other comments on her death here and here.

Below is the letter from Mary Hunt:

With a heavy heart, yet grateful beyond words for her life and work, I report that Mary Daly died this morning, January 3, 2010 in Massachusetts. She had been in poor health for the last two years.

Her contributions to feminist theology, philosophy, and theory were many, unique, and if I may say so, world-changing. She created intellectual space; she set the bar high. Even those who disagreed with her are in her debt for the challenges she offered.

When I return from vacation at week's end I will post more. But I want WATER colleagues, of which she was a stalwart one, to know this now. She always advised women to throw our lives as far as they would go. I can say without fear of exaggeration that she lived that way herself.

May her spirit soar and her ideas endure.

Mary E. Hunt
Hoechenschwand, Germany

Comments (3)

Whenever I see a man in vestments I think of Mary Daly and her book - Beyond God the Father.

When wooing my lovely wife, at her behest I read Daly's Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism. For me, a painful read; but one I can still recommend for men who really want to bounce consciousness off the ceiling. May Divinity embrace her.

Marshall Scott

Although I think her historical and sociological knowledge was fanciful, I enjoyed her fundamental playfulness in language. And the idea that God is a verb still resonates as true. I wonder what she would have thought of Girard.

Gawain de Leeuw

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