Think Free


Princess Leia – A Star Wars icon lives on

Carrie Fisher who plays Leia – Wikipedia

There’s a new Star Wars film out which some say is the best since The Empire Strikes Back, and Princess Leia is up next for revision.

A nice coincidence, especially since actor Carrie Fisher, who plays the original Leia, also plays Leia in later years as Senator and General Leia Organa.

In the Star Wars Trilogy, Princess Leia is Luke Skywalker‘s twin sister and Darth Vader‘s daughter.

Reflecting attitudes of the late 1970s, Leia is cast as a feminist and still serves today as a feminist role model.

A few people say she’s not a great feminist icon, but on the whole Leia is seen that way.

Perhaps the critics don’t like the male chauvinism that pervades the early Star Wars scripts.

Han Solo, for instance, condescendingly says he knows, despite Leia’s apparent disgust toward his sexual advances, that she “really wants it.” And Leia’s role in the film sometimes evokes a more traditional female sex role stereotype.

As noted in a sidebar at Wikipedia:

Leia wearing her iconic golden “metal bikini” slave outfit at Jabba’s palace. Leia’s appearance has been voted one of the most memorable swimsuit moments of cinema history.¹

English: Christy Marie as Slave Leia Organa.

Christy Marie as Slave Leia Organa – Wikipedia

Is this a showcase for the feminist sentiments of the time? I suppose it depends on the person interpreting. Like most social movements, feminism moves within a total context so has been evolving… slowly.

Before her untimely death in 2016 Fisher occasionally introduced vintage films with Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne.

She also struggled with mood swings that she managed with drug use. Embracing the diagnosis of “bipolar disorder” given to her by the medical establishment, she evidently had no other way to decode her feelings and the medical model arguably didn’t help too much.

This is unfortunate. I often feel that if some took a broader view of their unconventional psychological experiences they might get a better grip on them—without the use of heavy drugs or, as Fisher underwent, ECT.²

General Leia is in theaters as I write this. The posthumous release of Fisher’s performance in The Last Jedi is helping to make box office records.

Like all Hollywood greats, Fisher lives.

¹ This quote is from several years ago. The link and caption has changed to 

² Recently I was surprised to learn that the medical establishment still practices ECT. When I took psych in the 1980s ECT was frowned upon as a part of psychiatry’s dark history. That this practice continues today, with such spurious scientific backing, imo is horrific.

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 “The Last Jedi” Felt Like a Dream. I’m Not Sure I Even Really Saw It. (



Barbara G. Walker

Diana the huntress

Diana the huntress (Photo credit: katmary)

Barbara G. Walker (1930- ) is an American expert on knitting and a feminist writer on mythology, religion and spirituality.

Her Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, although of questionable accuracy at times, offers a compensatory perspective to not only chauvinist religious teachings but also to thinkers who ignore or gloss over Christianity’s ugly past.

From the standpoint of psycho-history, past atrocities tend to reemerge in novel, equally frightening forms if their underlying psychological dynamics remain unexamined and therefore unconscious.

By way of contrast, some researchers emphasize visible – instead of unconscious – motivational factors in their study of mankind. But to this, Thomas A Kohut says:

Because it is not possible to comprehend people without dealing with the psychological, historians, including those critical of psychohistory, have always written about it, even if they have rarely acknowledged the fact.¹

In the 1970’s Walker worked on a telephone hotline for battered women and pregnant teenagers. This sparked her interest in feminism and possibly contributed to her unique perspective on myth, religion and spirituality.

To this Rose White adds:

[Walker made] enormous contributions to female intellectual empowerment through her many collections of knitted stitch patterns. Of course her work benefited all knitters, not just women, but at the time she was writing, nearly all knitters were women.

The point of view which guided her to collect and produce her anthologies of stitch patterns was this: Crafters should not be beholden to crappy commercial garment designs, but should have the means to create their own original works. She has been an inspiration to multiple generations of knitters, and these books are still in print 40 years later. » See in context

And Mary Treherne comments about sex-role stereotypes and religion in general:

A change in the psycho-sexual paradigm of human nature, and the whole ‘chemistry’ of human relationship is taking place with a wholly new interpretation of the moral teachings of Christ, one that threatens to bring down the whole of ‘christian’ history and tradition and a lot more besides. To be truly free is to be free for an ignorance within human nature itself.

Anyone able to free themselves of their prejudices, who is interested in real progress that history has thus far denied us, should check out: » See in context

¹ Thomas A. Kohut, “Psychohistory as History,” The American Historical Review, Vol. 91, No. 2 (Apr., 1986: 336-354), p. 352.

Related Posts » Diana, Goddess vs. goddess, Neo-Paganism, Persephone, Torture, Witch, Witches Hammer, Inquisitions

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Annie Besant

Henry Steel Olcott (1832-1907, links), Annie B...

Henry Steel Olcott (1832-1907, links), Annie Besant (1847-1933, mitte), Charles Webster Leadbeater (1847-1934, rechts) in Adyar (Chennai) im Dezember 1905 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Annie Besant (née Wood, 1847-1933) was born in London. In her early adult life she was a critic of Capitalism and a colleague of Charles Bradlaugh, advocating birth control.

At age 26 she married the Anglican evangelical Reverend Frank Besant. In 1873 they were separated, and she became Vice-President for the National Secular Society in 1874. After meeting Madame Blavatsky in 1889 Besant, became fascinated with and an expert on the teachings of Theosophy. Following Colonel Henry Steel Olcott, Besant became the head of the International Theosophy Movement.

Later, she supported Indian nationalism and a grass roots educational movement in the sub-continent. And from 1917-23 she sat as President of the Indian National Congress. She was also active in promoting women’s rights, birth control, a non-revolutionary type of socialism (Fabianism) and worker’s rights.

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Mary Daly

Colleges and churches were often copied from E...

Colleges and churches were often copied from European architecture; Boston College was originally dubbed Oxford in America (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mary Daly (1928-2010) was a prominent American academic at the Jesuit-run Boston College, and a self-described “radical lesbian feminist” thinker. She deconstructed patriarchal religious traditions and presented alternatives in related areas such as ecology, gender relations and human rights.

Notorious for her outrageously sexist attitudes, she believed women should govern men and refused to teach men in her advanced women’s studies courses. While some may say her actions were a justified response to years of men subjugating women, it seems that the old, tribal “eye for an eye” attitude is one which should be left to rest, having been replaced by Jesus Christ’s superior teaching of forgiveness.

Related Posts » Father

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Encounter Magazine

Encounter Magazine uploaded by World of Good via Flickr

History is the study of past (and arguably present) ideas, objects, people and events. Scholars usually credit the Greek Heroditus (c. 484 BCE – c. 425 BCE) as the founder of historical writing.

History often involves a particular narrative style that categorizes and describes according to certain time periods and geographical limits. For instance, Lord Kenneth Clark‘s groundbreaking Civilization series for BBC TV pretty much ignored the achievements of ancient China and several other cultures. This is because history must be selective.

Clark was well aware of these shortcomings and, in his view, overcame them by insisting that the series be entitled: Civilization: A Personal View.

More recently, the presentation of history has been popularized by time-charts, point form outlines, multimedia and other innovative techniques which have expanded our definition of the “narrative.”

Feminists often say that history is biased by patriarchy. It’s written mostly by men about men or by men interpreting women’s experiences from a male perspective. Feminists also suggest that female writers of history often adopt a stereotypical male attitude (i.e. sexist).

One strategy that feminists have used to further their agenda is to call history “herstory.” This is an effective contemporary word play, but has been criticized for ignoring the etymology of the word history. The Greek word historia translates to “inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation.”¹

Michel Foucault

Michel Foucault via Wikipedia (follow link for fair use rationale)

The French postodern thinker Michel Foucault argues that history is about the interpretation of not only discovered but often selected forms of knowledge. For Foucault, past events and items are often selected and interpreted to make them seem significant for the benefit of those with social power, while other events and items that would challenge their power are routinely ignored.

According to this view, history is a kind of collective myth. Or more correctly, it’s an ongoing struggle for legitimacy among several competing discourses (a popular term among postmoderns) of power. So in a nutshell, the cleverest myth-makers benefit most.

On the other hand, the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung says that myth is history because it depicts mankind’s collective psychological past.

Two important points to consider with regard to the postmodern view are:

  1. Are the best mythmakers conscious of being such, or do they, perhaps, simply create and perpetuate relative “truths” out of ignorance.
  2. Not entirely unlike Karl Marx‘s  notion of false consciousness, postmoderns believe that prevailing social myths spread throughout a culture so that even those who don’t benefit will believe in and espouse those social “fictions,” as Foucault once put it. And some may believe in a culturally relative discourse which is actually harmful to them.

A good example for #2 would be gays and lesbians before the American Psychiatric Association voted in 1974 that homosexuality wasn’t a mental disorder.² Prior to that time, many gays and lesbians would no doubt have questioned why they were apparently “wrong,” blindly believing in the psychiatric biases of the day.

Related Posts » Archaeology, Counter-discourse, Dialectical Materialism, Forces of Production, Hegel (Georg Wilhelm Friedrich), Intercession, Jewish Mysticism, Joachim of Fiore, Language, Lévi-Strauss (Claude),  Moses and Monotheism, Myth, Nietzsche (Friedrich), Occam’s razor, Relations of Production, Scholarship, Sign


² Chuck Stewart, Homosexuality and the law: a dictionary, p. 41.

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St. Joseph

Joseph marries Mary

Joseph marries Mary by Niall McAuley via Flickr

St. Joseph (1st century BCE) According to the Bible, particularly the Catholic interpretation, Joseph is the chaste spouse of the Virgin Mary and the foster-father of Jesus Christ.

A simple carpenter in the town of Nazareth, Joseph is last mentioned in the Bible when Christ is aged 12 years.

Many believe that Joseph, being much older than Mary, died by the time Christ began his public ministry.

Some feminists and Christians in general believe that Joseph and Mary had sex to produce the Christ child. Theological dogmas and arguments that preserve Mary’s virginity are often seen as patriarchal ploys to subjugate women, devalue sex and define the human body as a sinful object.

Others believe that Christ was fathered by God but Joseph and Mary possibly had another child (James) through intercourse.

Catholic prayer, however, usually describes Joseph as a “most chaste spouse” of the Virgin Mary. And James, Jesus’ alleged brother is regarded as a relative but not an actual brother. This is based on other parts of the New Testament that clearly state that Mary is a Virgin, and an informed understanding of the Greek term for “brother” (adelphos) as it appears in the historical context of the New Testament, along with the Catholic teaching tradition, held to be inspired by the Holy Spirit.¹

Joseph’s feast day is 19 March.

¹ To get a sense for the controversy around the word “brother,” see:


Lot’s Wife

Lot's Wife near  the Dead Sea DSCF8241

Lot's Wife near the Dead Sea by GflaiG via Flickr

Lot’s Wife is character in the Old Testament. Her tale has become emblematic with regard to the dangers in not trusting God.

When delivered from Sodom, Lot and his wife are warned by the Lord to not look back because the city is being utterly destroyed. The destruction arises because “the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly” (Genesis 13:13).

Lot’s wife disobeys. As she turns to look back she is transformed into a pillar of salt. Lot, however, doesn’t look back and survives the ordeal.

Feminists point out that the name of Lot’s wife is not mentioned in the Bible.

Historians, tour guides and geologists each have their own take on what really happened. Two prevailing naturalistic theories are:

  1. Lot’s wife is a natural rock salt formation that occurs in the Dead Sea area, which can still be viewed today.
  2. Salt floes in the dead sea were thrust upward by surging waters, “hence legend is created out of what can now be explained as a simple geological phenomenon.”¹

From a practical perspective we could say that the story of Lot’s wife instructs us to “not look back” when life and, perhaps, our very physical, economic, psychological or spiritual survival demands that we move forward and not get stuck in the past.

Related Posts » Eurydice, Orpheus

¹ “The geologists said that Lot’s wife did not appear to turn into a pillar of salt because she dared to look back but because of the briny nature of the Dead Sea. But the research shows it was more likely a case of mistaken identity. Mr. Harris said by telephone from Canada that the Dead Sea was full of salt floes that might have been thrown up by surging water to resemble a female outline. ‘Hence legend is created out of what can now be explained as a simple geological phenomenon.'” Source: “Geologists Zero In on Sodom and Lot’s Wife” in New York Times »