Charlene Spretnak was born in Pittsburgh and raised in Columbus,Ohio. She holds a B.A. magna cum laude, with appointment to Phi Beta Kappa, from St. Louis University (Jesuit) and an M.A. in English and American literature from the University of California at 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, through her work in the second half of the 1970s and early 1980s.
In 1978 her first book, Lost Goddesses of Early Greece: A Collection of Pre-Hellenic Myths (Beacon Press) reconstructs the pre-Olympian myths for the first time inmore than 2500 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 Prof. 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 twenty years of the Women’s Spirituality 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 (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.’”
Prof. 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.). 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), Prof. Spretnak challenges the radical reduction of the status and meaning of the Virgin Mary in the “modernized” Roman Catholic Church over the past forty years, which has largely denied her symbolic, cosmological, and mystical dimensions. Illuminating several dynamics in the interface of religion and modernity, Prof. Spretnak both interprets and advances the case for the current grassroots resurgence of Marian spirituality in its fullness.
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 is a professor in the Women’s Spirituality branch of the Philosophy and Religion Department at the California Institute of Integral Studies, a graduate institute in San Francisco. She is currently working on a book about the spiritual dimension of modern and contemporary art, as well as a Green book about the ways in which eco-social solutions are moving successfully into the mainstream.
Read an interviewwith Charlene Spretnak discussing The Resurgence of the Real.
For further information about her books, visit www.CharleneSpretnak.com
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