Charlene Spretnak, MA
Core Faculty, Women's Spirituality Program
Charlene Spretnak was born in Pittsburgh and raised in Columbus, Ohio. She holds a BA magna cum laude, with appointment to Phi Beta Kappa, from St. Louis University (Jesuit) and an MA in English and American literature from the University of California, Berkeley. Her work is internationally recognized in the areas of spirituality, cultural history, feminist and other social criticism, and ecological thought (green politics, ecofeminism, ecophilosophy). She is one of the founding mothers of the women's spirituality movement, through her work in the second half of the 1970s and the early 1980s.
In 1978 her first book, Lost Goddesses of Early Greece: A Collection of Pre-Hellenic Myths" (Beacon Press), Spretnak reconstructs the pre-Olympian myths for the first time in more than 2.500 years. Walter Burkert, the distinguished Swiss scholar of early religion in Europe, called it "most impressive," and the Los Angeles Times called it "a poetic revelation."
In 1982 Spretnak proposed a framework with which to understand the emergent women's spirituality movement: an anthology she edited titled "The Politics of Women's Spirituality" (Anchor Books / Doubleday). It is arranged in three sections -- the first on recovering the history of women's spirituality, the second on personal spiritual growth, and the third on political activism informed by spiritual practice. For the 1994 edition, she added an essay on the first 20 years of the women's spiruality movement.
In 1991 she wrote "States of Grace: The Recovery of Meaning in the Postmodern Age" (HarperSanFrancisco), which is an interpretation of four of the great spiritual traditions and their relevance to solving the crises of modernity. The traditions explored are Buddhism, Native American spiritualities, the contemporary rebirth of Goddess spirituality, and the Abrahamic cluster of religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). The Boston Globe praised the book for Spretnak's "rare gift for making a bridge from scholarship to 'the real world.'"
Spretnak has also written three books on ecological politics and ecophilosophy. She is co-author of "Green Politics: The Global Promise" (Dutton, 1984), which was a catalyst for the forming of the Green Party movement in this country, of which she was a co-founder. In 1986 her lecture to the annual meeting of the E. F. Schumacher Society of America was published as "The Spiritual Dimension of Green Politics" (Bear & Co., 1986). Her book, "The Resurgence of the Real: Body, Nature, and Place in a Hypermodern World" (Addison-Wesley, 1997; Routledge, 1999), was named one of the best books of the year by the Los Angeles Times. Of that book Publishers Weekly wrote, "In her far-ranging, in-depth study of the structure of contemporary alienation, Spretnak joins the ranks of gifted writers qua intellectual social analysts like Lewis Mumford."
In her most recent book, "Missing Mary: The Queen of Heaven and Her Re-Emergence in the Modern Church" (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2004), Spretnak challenges the radical reduction of the status and meaning of the Virgin Mary in the "modernized" Roman Catholic Church over the past 40 years, which has largely denied her symbolic, cosmological, and mystical dimensions. The book is a study of the interface of religion and modernity, with a focus on the fate of the Virgin Mary as the case study. It received a favorable, featured review by Andrew Greeley in National Catholic Reporter. Catholic New Times reviewed Missing Mary as follows: "In her well-researched original work, Spretnak has composed one of the most profound theological reflections on the post-Vatican II church. With clear and lyrical prose, she names the challenges and points us well beyond."
In 1989 Charlene Spretnak was inducted into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame in recognition of her writings on spirituality and social justice. She has been a scholar-in-residence at Schumacher College in England in 1992, 1997, and 2003. In 2006 she was named one of 100 eco-heroes of all time by the publication of the British government's Environmental Department. She is currently working on a book about recent discoveries in several fields about the relational nature of reality and also a book on the spiritual dimension of modern and contemporary art.
Books by Charlene Spretnak:
Missing Mary: The Queen of Heaven and Her Re-Emergence in the Modern Church (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004; paperback, 2005)
The Resurgence of the Real: Body, Nature, and Place in a Hypermodern World (Addison-Wesley, 1997; paperback published by Routledge in 1999)
-- chosen by the Los Angeles Times as one of the Best Books of 1997
-- foreign editions: Mandarin (in Beijing), 2001
States of Grace: The Recovery of Meaning in the Postmodern Age (HarperCollins, 1991)
-- foreign editions: British, Spanish
The Spiritual Dimension of Green Politics (Bear & Company, 1986; the text of the annual lecture of the E. F. Schumacher Society of America, 1984)
-- foreign editions: Spanish
Green Politics: The Global Promise, with Fritjof Capra (E. P. Dutton, 1984; Bear & Company, 1986)
-- chosen Best Political Book of 1984 by the readers of New Options
-- foreign editions: British, German, Italian, Japanese
The Politics of Women's Spirituality: Essays on theRise of Spiritual Power within the Feminist Movement, editor (Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1982)
-- Reissued in Fall 1994 with a new preface ("The First Twenty Years"),updated bibliography, and new subtitle ("Essays by Founding Mothers of the Movement")
Lost Goddesses of Early Greece: A Collection of Pre-Hellenic Myths (Beacon Press, 1981 ; new ed., 1992)
-- foreign editions: Italian
-- Relational Reality, a book on the relational nature of physical reality
-- a book on the spiritual dimension of modern art