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In Embracing Jesus and the Goddess the author proposes a melding of what he calls the "complementary spiritual styles" of Christianity and Wicca.  In doing so, he draws upon his experience as a concurrently practicing Christian and Wiccan to create a balance that he has found lacking in his experience of them individually.

The book has much that is good to say about both Goddess worship (a more accurate term, I think, for what he is describing than Wicca) and Christianity.  He credits followers of the Goddess with respect for the earth, and a healthy celebration of the human body and sexuality, as well having the potential to transform Christian tradition, among other attributes. Christians are praised for their sense of community, compassion for the vulnerable and history of social revolution. Obviously, these traits are not exclusive to one group or the other, but examples of what McColman sees are notable in each. Both groups also receive equal amounts of criticism for what he sees as their shortcomings.

The book progresses from a summary of the positive and negative aspects of each tradition to a section on reconciling the common hostility between the two paths.  Finally, it offers practical suggestions to the individual reader on how she might incorporate both Jesus and Goddess worship into her own spiritual practice.

 From the brief biographical information included in the text, McColman does not seem to belong to or have received training from a traditional (i.e., Gardnerian, Alexandrian, etc.) coven. His criticism of some aspects of Wicca (a term which he uses interchangeably, to a great extent, with Paganism and Goddess spirituality), while true for him in his experience (such as the emphasis of the divine feminine to the near exclusion of the masculine) are not necessarily true of Wicca in general, nor for the individual reader, and sometimes tend to weaken his arguments.

Whether or not one feels the need to include Jesus in her spiritual practice, the book is worth reading to remind one that Jesus' teachings are generally positive, even if distorted by the institutional church.  Perhaps more importantly, to help one keep the open mind she might wish that some members of "established" religions would keep towards followers of the Goddess. Those who have been looking for ways for reconcile Goddess spirituality with a Christian upbringing will find this book very helpful.

~review by Jackie Gorman

Author: Carl McColman
Fair Winds Press, 2001
pp. 176, $22.95

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