Indeed, Daly's work is an icon to women. She was a groundbreaking thinker, a threat to any patriarchal institution, a creator of an entire new way of seeing life, of being alive, of celebrating life. She touched a culture deeply. Indeed, we owe her thanks.
Never mind that Daly vehemently renounced the Catholic Church, hated Christianity, mocked the traditional Judeo-Christian understanding of God (and all forms of theism), and despised men. All men. Even the Jesuits she bullied at Boston College. In short, she was angry, bitter, nasty, lesbian, pantheist, and unhinged. Yeah, thanks, Mary. Bravo. Who knows how many dissident nuns and National "Catholic" Reporter columns your loathsome rants have inspired? At least one.
From where I stand a person's influence is measured, not so much by virtue of their effect on the institutions that bred them, but by their influence on those who never knew them at all. It is the women who never knew Daly but now know the things she knew that are the real evidence of her legacy, her impact, her meaning not only to this generation but to generations to come. As in "all generations shall call her blessed."I cannot even begin to express how disgusting it is for Chittister to take words from Scripture describing the Blessed Mother (Lk. 1:48) and to apply them to a woman who wrote this about the Mother of God:
The catholic Mary is not the Goddess creating parthenogenetically on her own, but rather she is portrayed /betrayed as Total Rape Victim—a pale derivative symbol disguising the conquered Goddess. ... The rape of the rarefied remains of the Goddess in the christian myth is mind/spirit rape. In the charming story of "the Annunciation" the angel Gabriel appears to the terrified young girl, announcing that she has been chosen to become the mother of god. Her response to this sudden proposal from the godfather is totaled nonresistance: "Let it be done unto me according to thy word." Physical rape is not necessary when the mind/will/spirit has already been invaded. In refined religious rapism, the victim is impregnated with the Supreme Seminal Idea, who becomes "the Word made flesh." Within the rapist christian myth of the Virgin Birth the role of Mary is "utterly minimal; yet she is "there." She gives her unqualified "consent." (Gyn/Ecology, 84, 84)But here's the thing: at least Daly had enough integrity to leave the Church. At least she didn't attack, mock, and undermine Catholic doctrine while living off of the Church. However disgusting her writings are, I don't think Daly was a hypocrite. And I think its fair to guess she would have hated—truly hated—being eulogized with words meant for the Blessed Virgin. Meanwhile, what does it say about Sister Joan Chittister that she has more respect and admiration for Mary Daly than for Mary, the Mother of our Lord?
• Mary Daly, radical elemental feminist, God-hater, man-basher, self-described... (January 6, 2010)