Flinders, Carol Lee 1943-
FLINDERS, Carol Lee 1943-
PERSONAL: Born December 12, 1943, in Portland, OR; daughter of Gilbert H. (a farmer and businessman) and Jeanne Lee (a homeworker) Ramage; married Tim Flinders; children: one son, Ramesh. Education: Stanford University, B.A., 1965; University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D. (comparative literature), 1973. Politics: "Leftist Fringe." Hobbies and other interests: Hiking, swimming, reading.
ADDRESSES: Home—Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, Petaluma, CA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Candice Fuhrman Literary Agency, 60 Greenwood Way, Mill Valley, CA 94941. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Author and educator. Taught courses in mysticism and women's studies at University of California, Berkeley, and Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley.
(With Laurel Robertson and Bronwen Godfrey) Laurel's Kitchen: A Handbook for Vegetarian Cookery and Nutrition, Nilgiri Press (Berkeley, CA), 1976.
(With Laurel Robertson and Bronwen Godfrey) TheLaurel's Kitchen Bread Book: A Guide to Whole-Grain Breadmaking, Random House (New York, NY), 1984, revised edition, 2003.
(With Laurel Robertson and Brian Ruppenthal) TheNew Laurel's Kitchen: A Handbook for Vegetarian Cookery and Nutrition, Ten Speed Press (Berkeley, CA), 1986.
(With husband, Tim Flinders) The Making of aTeacher: Conversations with Eknath Easwaran, Nilgiri Press (Petaluma, CA), 1989.
(With Laurel Robertson and Brian Ruppenthal) Laurel's Kitchen Recipes, Ten Speed Press (Berkeley, CA), 1993.
(Editor) A Little Book of Women Mystics, HarperSan-Francisco (San Francisco, CA), 1995.
(With Laurel Robertson and Brian Ruppenthal) Laurel's Kitchen Caring: Recipes for Everyday Home Caregiving, Ten Speed Press (Berkeley, CA), 1997.
At the Root of This Longing: Reconciling a SpiritualHunger and a Feminist Thirst, HarperSanFrancisco (San Francisco, CA), 1998.
The Values of Belonging: Rediscovering Balance,Mutuality, Intuition, and Wholeness in a Competitive World, HarperSanFrancisco (San Francisco, CA), 2002, published as Rebalancing the World: Why Women Belong and Men Compete and How to Restore the Ancient Equilbiruim, fall 2003.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A sequel to Enduring Grace; screenplays on the lives of Teresa of Avilia and Florence Nightingale.
SIDELIGHTS: Carol Lee Flinders is a writer and scholar whose works reflect her interests in vegetarianism and spiritual topics. Her literary career began with the "Laurel's Kitchen" vegetarian cookbook series, to which she contributed, along with Laurel Robertson, Bronwen Godfrey, and Brian Ruppenthal. Since then, she has shifted her interests to spiritual matters and feminism. The Making of a Teacher: Conversations with Eknath Easwaran was her first book with a religious theme, and was written with her husband, Tim Flinders. Both are students of SRI Easwaran, a teacher of meditation from India. In an article in Utne Reader, however, Flinders is quoted as declining to identify herself with a single tradition; "I cannot describe my spiritual practice as Buddhist . . . or as Hindu or Catholic or Sufi, though I feel that in a sense it is all of these." Critics have noted her sensitivity to the literary merit of the writings of some of her biographical subjects, certainly a legacy of her academic training in comparative literature. The author has taught classes in women's studies and mysticism at the Graduate Theological Union and the University of California, both in Berkeley, California. Her books have been praised for the careful consideration she gives her material and their warmth and accessibility.
Laurel's Kitchen: A Handbook for Vegetarian Cookery and Nutrition, first published in 1976, has maintained its reputation for good recipes and sound nutritional information. Since the appearance of the first book, there have been others; notably The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book: A Guide to Whole-Grain Breadmaking. The authors are committed to the view that whole grains produce the best breads. With this in mind, they have geared the presentation to this particular niche of baking. However, it was noted in a review in LibraryJournal, that the explanation of basic techniques will be helpful for bread bakers of all tastes and persuasions. There are recipes for more than 100 types of bread, rolls, muffins, quick breads, and yeast varieties, plus sourdough and other styles of fermented breads. In addition to the collection of recipes, there is information on different kinds of flour and natural sweeteners, and suggestions for the use of grains such as bulgur and cornmeal in bread recipes. The other titles in the "Laurel's Kitchen" series, The New Laurel's Kitchen, Laurel's Kitchen Recipes, and Laurel's Kitchen Caring, have enjoyed positive notice from critics and home cooks alike.
In the book, Enduring Grace: Living Portraits of Seven Women Mystics, Flinders studied the lives of seven medieval-era Roman Catholic women recognized for their spirituality. Covered are Clare of Assisi, Mechthild of Magdeburg, Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Genoa, Julian of Norwich, Catherine of Siena, and Therese of Liseux. Janet Heyneman, in her review of the book for Parabola, noted that Flinders presents each woman as a mystery; "But their mystery, their difference from the rest of us, is in the clarity of their chosenness, and in their intensity of purpose: their ability to live, as the Japanese say, 'in a single thread.'" That they flourished, each in her own way, in a patriarchal system, is explored by the author. With attention to what is known about their lives and the writings they left behind, Flinders traces her subjects' individual characters and by what means they were able to achieve their insights and understanding.
In At the Root of This Longing: Reconciling a Spiritual Hunger and a Feminist Thirst, Flinders ponders in more depth some of the issues raised in Enduring Grace. Specifically she addresses the dilemma faced by the feminist who seeks a spiritual life. The author observes that the spiritual life requires silence, loss of ego, and the abandonment of desire. In contrast, feminists urge women to find their own voice, establish a clear place for themselves in the world, and claim their own pleasures. In her review in NWSA Journal, Jacalyn Claes commented that "At first glance, these women seem to be handmaidens who submitted themselves willfully to the patriarchal structure of the Church. However on closer inspection and in the context of their time, these women were radical resisters who redefined the Divine with female attributes and who, by their actions, challenged women's rights to define theology." In the end, Flinders concludes that, rather than each side canceling the other out, the paradox created is energizing; each part is founded on the need for self-understanding and the search for meaning. The reviews of At the Root of This Longing were favorable, with commentators noting that this is a deeply personal book.
Flinders's most recent book, The Values of Belonging: Rediscovering Balance, Mutuality, Intuition, and Wholeness in a Competitive World, expands on the theme of connections introduced in At the Root of This Longing. She studied the Native-American model exemplified by the Ohlone and Pomo tribes of northern California to find examples of societies worthy of emulation. As noted in a review in Publishers Weekly, "these were a people who honored women, particularly their female elders. . . . Men and women performed different tasks and played different kinds of games, but the things that concerned women most urgently concerned men also." The Values of Belonging proposes that these pre-agricultural societies offer, with their ideals of sharing and cooperation, and their absence of ironclad gender roles, a desirable alternative to the intensely competitive, individualistic 'enterprise' societies of the developed world. In the book's final chapter Flinders put forth some suggestions for revamping the contemporary scene by combining the best of pre-agricultural society and the advantages of the current 'enterprise' society to make a productive and workable future. Reviewers complimented Flinders on her ability to combine the anecdotal with the scholarly in presenting her ideas, thereby making an informative and accessible read.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
America, July 17, 1993, Thomas H. Stahel, review of Enduring Grace: Living Portraits of Seven Women Mystics, p. 2.
Booklist, February 15, 1998, Patricia Monaghan, review of At the Root of This Longing: Reconciling a Spiritual Hunger and a Feminist Thirst, p. 955.
Changing Times, November, 1982, review of Laurel'sKitchen: A Handbook for Vegetarian Cookery and Nutrition, p. 66.
Library Journal, August, 1984, Ruth Diebold, review of The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book: A Guide to Whole-Grain Breadmaking, p. 1449; September 15, 1995, Barbara J. Vaughan, review of Enduring Grace, p. 112; February 1, 1998, Sandra Collins, review of At the Root of This Longing, p. 89.
National Catholic Reporter, November 18, 1994, John McNammee, review of Enduring Grace, p. 30; October 4, 2002, Judith Bromberg, review of The Values of Belonging: Rediscovering Balance, Mutuality, Intuition, and Wholeness in a Competitive World, p. 1.
New York Times Book Review, December 2, 1984, Marian Burrus, review of The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book, p. 16.
NWSA Journal, fall, 1999, Jacalyn Claes, review of At the Root of This Longing, p. 213.
Other Side, November, 2000, review of At the Root ofThis Longing, p. 28.
Parabola, fall, 1994, Janet Heyneman, review of Enduring Grace, pp. 92-93.
Publishers Weekly, July 20, 1984, review of TheLaurel's Kitchen Bread Book, p. 77; February 16, 1998, review of At the Root of This Longing, p. 197; August 5, 2002, review of The Values of Belonging, p. 64.
Sojourners, May, 1999, Jo Ann Heydron, review of At the Root of This Longing, p. 58.
Utne Reader, July/August, 1998, review of At the Root of This Longing, p. 49.
Nilgiri Press Web site,http://nilgiripress.com/ (January 20, 2003).
Two Rock Institute Web site,http://www.tworock.org/ (January 20, 2003).