As a child, Kristen Wolf set up a makeshift altar in the driveway of her home, decorating a desk with a white cloth and a crucifix before proceeding to conduct a Mass and causing a stir that resulted in a reprimand.

The move came, she now says, from a sense that she was left outside the center of Catholic tradition and spirituality by her gender, a feeling that led her decades later to write “The Way,” a re-imagining of the story of Jesus with a woman in the central role.

“I had a very definite sense, even as a young child, of being somehow excluded from my spiritual experience,” Wolf said in a recent telephone interview.

“As I looked on it, the church leaders could only be male and our God was male, the main player was the Father’s only son. The women were mostly in ancillary roles … I never felt there was a heroic female.”

Decades later, after attending Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and studying the Bible and mythology, as well as reading retellings of once-male stories from a female point of view, Wolf thought there was a need for a new take on the Biblical tale of the Messiah.

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