Mary Daly

16th October 1928 – 3rd January 2010

“It is the creative potential itself in human beings that is the image of god.”

Beyond God the Father, Mary Daly

Mary Daly was an American radical feminist theologian who famously wrote that “if God is male then male is God”.

Born in New York state, Mary received two degrees in English before being awarded three doctorates in theology and religion in America and Switzerland. Daly then started a teaching career at Boston College which lasted for 33 years until she was forced to retire early for refusing to allow men into her advanced Woman’s Studies classes. Daly argued that to admit men to the class would violate the safe space she was creating for women and would inhibite discussion within the class. Despite this she was popular with the student body who had fought for her previously when the university tried to remove her. She also admitted men to her beginners classes and privately tutored them when they requested it so her decision was based on an attempt to protect woman rather than a contempt for men.

Daly’s key work of theology was the book Beyond God the Father in which she attempts to move away from patriarchal imagery and androcentric language in theology. After the publication of this book Daly moved away from theology claiming that as a discipline it was impossible to untangle it from the patriarchy. Despite moving away academically it seems she never lost her faith as she continued reading theology personally into her old age.

Through her work and career Daly opened the door for other women to begin writing radical feminist theologies and her influence is still felt today. Mary Daly died at the age of 81 on this day in 2010.

A Prayer for Mary Daly:

All Powerful and all Loving God, we give thanks for the life and work of Mary Daly. We ask that the same conviction that lead Mary to fight misogyny be present in our own lives and that theology becomes a gift to open up Your mysteries rather than a tool for oppression and the closing down of discussion. We ask through Your Holy Word made flesh. Amen

Suggested Bible reading:

Psalm 86:4-10