The Confessions of an Ex-Feminist
(Ignatius, 2008) is a revealing look at how the grace of God moved one woman from radical protest to living faith. Author Lorraine V. Murray was deeply involved in the sex and drug culture of the 1960s, and was an open protester. She had attended Catholic schools for 12 years and was immersed in the old Baltimore Catechism. When Murray arrived at the University of Florida in 1964 she began to doubt everything she had been taught. By 1968 she had read Das Kapital and Sartre’s Being and Nothingness, but not the Bible.

She concluded logically that, if there was no God, then she could live any way she pleased, and this was the course she followed for some years. She went from relationship to relationship and lived for "free love" and open sex. She also embraced radical views of "women’s rights."

Attaining a doctorate in philosophy with an emphasis on the feminist writings of Simone de Beauvoir, Murray then taught philosophy in college. For many years she launched a personal vendetta in the classroom, against God and the Catholic Church, trying to persuade students that God did not exist. She mocked values Catholics hold dear, and touted feminism as the cure for many social ills. When she discovered she was pregnant, Murray followed the route that feminists offer as a solution for unmarried women. Much to her surprise, her abortion was a shattering emotional experience, which she grieved over for years. It was the first tragic chink in her feminist armor.

After her marriage in 1982, Lorraine anguished over the decision to have children, but became an advocate of the “child-free” movement, believing children were burdens and life could be happy without them. Later, in her forties, Murray experienced a mysterious series of events in which it seemed that “someone” was inviting her back to God. The mysterious calls came from different ports, including nature, books and other people. Gradually, she realized that the One seeking her was Christ, and the place He was calling her to was the Catholic Church. Eventually realizing it was only in the Church that she would find what she was seeking—the person of Christ and his love and mercy—Murray returned to the Church, finally finding healing and forgiveness for her abortion.

When a boyfriend dumped her, and she took an an overdose of Valium, a friend heard her weeping and rushed her for medical help. The 60s agenda eventually proved futile to her, and after marriage to a kind man she began her journey back to the church. She says her first prayer, after seeking out a priest for counsel, was "Help me to believe." This was the beginning of her new journey, and today she counts her faith a precious gift from God.

As with many who make or have made this same journey, Lorraine reacts in general to almost everything related to women’s rights, besides to the particularly secular and godless parts of the so-called feminist agenda. I rejoice in her finding her way back to God, but I am also glad that women have gained many of the rights they now have, and which they should long ago have had. By this I do not include abortion, of course, but I do believe that we should not "throw the baby out with the bathwater" when we talk about feminism in the public square. There are a thousand varieties of what is now called "feminism," and not all of them are evil. Lorraine’s story is helpful but it is her story, not the story of every sister in Christ.

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  1. Helen August 24, 2008 at 7:31 am

    John, thanks bringing balance – I really like how you’re able to appreciate Lorraine’s story without necessarily agreeing with all her conclusions – which are inevitably based on personal experience and not necessarily reflective of other peoples’ experience.
    Your post is great role modelling of how to read something with wisdom and discernment.

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