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Subject areas include: feminist theology, spiritual life, meditation and ritual, contemporary social issues and women's health, psychology and world religions. We also have fiction, art books, poetry and biography.

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Sophia Library book review

'Red, Hot & Holy
A Heretic's Love Story'
by Sera Beak [204.09 BEA]
Red, Hot and Holy is a an intriguing blend of academic research with spiritual memoir but not one for the prudish for it seems there is nothing the author will not talk about! (Warning: bad language!) The book charts the spiritual growth of Sera Beak, a Harvard trained scholar of comparative religions, who always felt something lacking in the spiritual traditions she studied. It wasn’t until she encountered theologies around female expressions of divinity, in particular the Goddess Kali, that she felt something resonate. She noticed the colour red was often associated with female divinities and so the “something lacking” she longed for, became represented by the colour red. Red is also often associated with passion and physicality, such as in red blood, red heart etc, which have been central to Sera’s interpretation of spirituality and why parts of the book are printed in red. Sera thought many of the spiritual ideas and practices she studied encouraged an experience of divinity as a rarefied state of consciousness remote from real life. However, she felt it was possible to embody spirit consciously in our physical lives by feeling it more as a passionate connection. She was very influenced by some of the female Christian ecstatic mystics but also by Rumi and the Sufi tradition. She has also explored the spiritual relevance of sacred sexuality and, as a result, the book contains some crude language and can be quite explicit. Although still feeling a strong connection to the Goddess Kali as her way of relating to the divine female, Sera has been very influenced by Gnostic teachings and she explores the idea of Mary Magdalene, (often historically depicted in red - to Sera, a very significant point!) as relevant in understanding Christianity in her role not as “just” a prostitute but as a wife to Christ. It is at this point in the book she makes it clear that although she has concentrated on talking about the divine feminine, we should also be “unleashing” our divine masculine as the two aspects go together. Red, Hot & Holy is a very down to earth book in which Sera is unafraid to talk about her view of divinity as something embracing all the physicality and sensuality of being embodied. She achieves this by describing her very personal and colourful, “red” experiences, often in a very humorous way, but does back up her ideas with academic references. Sera has revealed her deepest self to the reader without glamorising it. She says she has done this so that we may be encouraged to discover our own unique divine soul connection within, for ourselves. I found the book unusual, interesting, challenging at times, but entertaining and thought provoking. Gillian Cichowski (Sophia Library Volunteer)

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