Rita Gross

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Rita Gross
Rita Gross speaking
Speaking at an international conference in Germany
BornJuly 6, 1943[1][2]
DiedNovember 11, 2015(2015-11-11) (aged 72)
Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Alma materUniversity of Chicago

Rita M. Gross (July 6, 1943 – November 11, 2015) was an American Buddhist feminist scholar of religions and author.[3] Before retiring, she was Professor of Comparative Studies in Religion at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire.[4][5]

In 1974 Gross was named the head of Women and Religion, a newly created section of the American Academy of Religion.[6] She earned her PhD in 1975 from the University of Chicago in History of Religions, with the dissertation "Exclusion and Participation: The Role of Women in Aboriginal Australian Religion."[7][8]  This was the first dissertation ever on women's studies in religion.[6]  In 1976 she published the article "Female God Language in a Jewish Context" (Davka Magazine 17), which Jewish scholar and feminist Judith Plaskow considers "probably the first article to deal theoretically with the issue of female God-language in a Jewish context".[9][10] Gross was herself born Lutheran before converting to Judaism in her twenties.[11]

In 1977 Gross took refuge with Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, becoming a Tibetan Buddhist.[12][13]  In 2005 she was made a lopön (Tibetan (Wylie): slob dpon; Sanskrit (IAST): ācārya, "senior teacher") by Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche, and taught at Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche's Lotus Garden Center, located in the United States.[4][14]

Gross grew up on a dairy farm in the Rhinelander, Wisconsin area.[15] Gross died, of a stroke, on November 11, 2015, at her home in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.[16]

Books written by Gross[edit]

  • Buddhism beyond Gender: Liberation from Attachment to Identity, Boulder, CO: Shambhala Publications, 2018.
  • Religious Diversity: What's the Problem? Buddhist Advice for Flourishing with Religious Diversity, Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2014.
  • A Garland of Feminist Reflections: Forty Years of Religious Reflection, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2009.
  • Religious Feminism and the Future of the Planet: A Buddhist-Christian-Feminist Conversation (with Rosemary Radford Ruether), New York: Continuum, 2001.
  • Soaring and Settling: Buddhist Perspectives on Contemporary Social and Religious Issues, New York: Continuum, 1998.
  • Feminism and Religion: An Introduction; Boston: Beacon Press, 1996; Korean translation, 1999; Chapter One “Defining Feminism, Religion, and the Study of Religion” reprinted in Theory and Method in the Study of Religion, ed. by Carl Olson (Belmont, CA:Wadsworth, 2004), pp. 511–20
  • Buddhism After Patriarchy: A Feminist History, Analysis, and Reconstruction of Buddhism; Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1993; Spanish translation, Editorial Trotta, Madrid, Spain, 2005.[17]

Books edited by Gross[edit]

  • Editor (with Terry Muck):  Christians Talk About Buddhist Meditation: Buddhists Talk About Christian Prayer; New York: Continuum, 2003.
  • Editor (with Terry Muck):  Buddhists Talk About Jesus: Christians Talk About the Buddha; New York: Continuum, 2000.
  • Editor (with Nancy A. Falk):  Unspoken Worlds: Women's Religious Lives; Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Press, 1989; Third Edition, Wadsworth Press, 2001; Translated into French as La Religion Par Les Femmes, Edition Labor et Fides, 1993.
  • Editor (with Nancy A. Falk):  Unspoken Worlds: Women's Religious Lives in Non-Western Cultures; San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1980;
  • Editor:  Beyond Androcentrism: New Essays on Women and Religion; Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1977[17]


  1. ^ Robert S. Ellwood; Gregory D. Alles (2006). The encyclopedia of world religions. Infobase Publishing. p. 148. ISBN 9781438110387. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  2. ^ Mindrolling Lotus Gardens
  3. ^ E. J. van Wolde (2000). The Bright side of life. SCM Press. p. 49. ISBN 9780334030607. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  4. ^ a b Peter A. Huff, ed. (Spring 2011). "News of the Society". Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies Newsletter. 47. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  5. ^ Gross, Rita M. (2009). A garland of feminist reflections : forty years of religious exploration. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-25585-2.
  6. ^ a b Lowe, Barbara J. (22 September 2006). Feminists who changed America, 1963-1975. University of Illinois Press. p. 526.
  7. ^ Rita M. Gross (1975). Exclusion and participation : the role of women in aboriginal Australian religion. University of Chicago. OCLC 1723873.
  8. ^ Arvind Sharma (1994). Today's Woman in World Religions. SUNY Press. p. 459. ISBN 9780791416877. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
  9. ^ "Jewish Feminist Theology: A Survey". My Jewish Learning. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
  10. ^ "Standing at Sinai". Dhushara.com. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
  11. ^ Rosemary Radford Ruether, My Quest for Hope and Meaning - an Autobiography, 2013. p. 104. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2017-07-01.
  12. ^ Keller, Rosemary Skinner; Ruether, Rosemary Radford; Cantlon, Marie (2006). Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in North America. ISBN 0253346886. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
  13. ^ "Something Important". Tricycle. 1999-02-22. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
  14. ^ "Lopön Rita Gross". Lotusgardens.org. Archived from the original on 2011-11-16. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
  15. ^ Eau Claire Leader Telegram-obituaries-Rita Gross
  16. ^ Buddhist teacher and feminist Rita Gross dies following stroke
  17. ^ a b "Books". Rita M. Gross. Retrieved 2012-07-17.