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Everything Is Connected:Philosophy: Feminist Theology/Thealogy: Review: The Chalice and the Blade

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Book PicThe Chalice and the Blade
Our History, Our Future
by Riane Eisler

A Review and Comparison with Daniel Quinn.

Vision of a society based on cooperation instead of competition, developed in part from archaeological evidence of similar societies.

Our civilization is founded on domination and heirarchy. Although the women's movement has had some successes, it has mostly been by proving that women can be more like the ideal man: competitive, aggressive, manipulative, etc. These are the same qualities that have always been valued in heirarchies, where it is believed that for me to win, you have to lose.

Qualities like kindness, cooperation, and compassion are merely given lip service, or sometimes even ridiculed, especially when present in males--recently called "girlymen".

Even in the unlikely event that women were to replace men as the dominant sex, that is only the other side of the same coin.

The author presents information about societies and religious beliefs from the past, based on cooperation and partnership between men and women, with no 'war of the sexes', in order to show that this is truly possible. Examples include Minoan Crete, the ancient town of Catal Huyuk, and the Neolithic (late stone age).

Comparison (Eisler and Quinn)

Both blame our social organization instead of claiming that there is some innate flaw in humans.

Both mostly agree that there was a change from societies based on mutual support to a heirarchical civilization.

Both also mostly agree that our heirarchical civilization is largely based on attempted domination of lower ranking individuals, women(Eisler), and nature.

Conquest and/or domination of other societies also occurs. According to Quinn, this is largely due to constant expansion resulting from increasing population pressures arising from attitudes unique to civilization.

However, Quinn says little about the importance of the role of gender or what future social configuration(s) we could create, although he does briefly acknowledge (Ishmael, Chapter 12, end of section 7 or page 247 paperback) Eisler's description of earlier, agricultural societies that were different from our civilization.


We can't go back to being hunter gatherers. Our population is too large for that lifestyle to support. We can, however, go forward to different type(s) of societies. Riane Eisler's vision of a new society, based on looking at the past in a new way, and tracing a different path away from it, provides a fascinating glimpse of a new/old way to be.

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