bell hooks’ Spiritual Vision: Buddhist, Christian, and Feminist
When Black feminist and scholar bell hooks died in 2021, she was widely remembered for writing more than three dozen books across genres including memoir, poetry, theory, and criticism. However, it was her book Ain’t I a Woman, in which hooks examines how Black American women have historically faced gender, class, and racial oppression, that catapulted her to prominence as a leading feminist thinker.
Nadra Nittle makes it clear that hooks identified not only as a feminist but also as a Buddhist Christian. In bell hooks’ Spiritual Vision, Nittle recounts how hooks kept her spiritual practice private for years, fearing there was no room to discuss her faith in the feminist movement or in the academy. Ultimately, hooks decided to talk and write about her faith to give hope to students curious about her source of strength in a society she deemed an “”imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.””
Nittle traces the influences of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh as hooks developed a spiritual practice centered on love as a force for social change. Although hooks opened up about her spiritual philosophy in the last decades of her life, Nittle argues that hooks’s contributions to religious discourse are largely unheralded. bell hooks’ Spiritual Vision reflects her identity as a feminist and a believer who knit together her political and spiritual practices.
This book offers readers a window into spirituality’s role in hooks’ writing on her life, love, feminism, and society. It speaks both to hooks’s longtime followers and to newcomers to her writing. Regardless of their starting points, readers will get to know bell hooks for all she was–Buddhist, Christian, and feminist.
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November 7, 2023