Feminist theologian and psychotherapist Sister Madonna Kolbenschlag was the author of Kiss Sleeping Beauty Goodbye (Doubleday, 1979) and Lost in the Land of Oz: Befriending Your Inner Orphan and Heading for Home (Harper & Row, 1989) when this article appeared. She was on the staff of West Virginia University Health Service in Morgantown and a member of the Women's Commission of the state of West Virginia. She was a member of the Sisters of Humility of Mary, Villa Maria, Pennsylvania. Kolbenschlag was interviewed for Sojourners in December 1990 by Mary Judith Ress, who was a Maryknoll missionary in Chile. --The Editors
MARY JUDITH RESS: In your latest book, Lost in the Land of Oz, you describe the experience of many women as one of orphanhood and call yourself a "spiritual orphan." Could you explain what you mean by orphanhood?
Madonna Kolbenschlag: First of all, I would say it is not only women's experience, but it is truly the experience of our time, the story of all humanity at this point. The concept of orphan came to me as I thought about the real conditions of humanity today.
In a literal sense, we have an unprecedented number of displaced persons, of refugees. In my work around Central America issues, I found that one out of every three people in the region is displaced. So I see orphanhood -- the experience of abandonment, the loss of connection, the loss of resources, being made to feel worthless and disposable -- as being a very pervasive condition that many people concretely experience.