The Cooptation of Relational Theology: Another Example of the Erasure of Women’s Contributions to Theology by Dirk von der Horst
Over the last couple of years, I started to notice “relational theology” crop up in what I considered unlikely contexts. I had previously associated the term primarily with the feminist and womanist work of Carter Heyward, Catherine Keller, Rita Nakashima Brock, Katie Geneva Canon, Karen Baker-Fletcher, Kelly Brown Douglas, and Sharon Welch, as well as the gay/feminist work of Gary David Comstock. In each of these thinkers, the pursuit of relationality as divinity was always linked to a profound wrestling with suffering and oppression. Furthermore, a clear diagnosis of individualism, transcendence, and other forms of disconnection as manifestations of patriarchal/hierarchal forms of subjectivity was central to the rationale for doing relational theology. As I experienced it in the 1990s, relational theology was simply a dimension of feminist theology. Forging through the searing pain of oppression to the roots of problems in order to propose radical solutions to real social evil, not general ruminations on divine being, was the first step. Read more…
In Part I of this post I started asking questions about whether Buddhism in the West is part of patriarchy. Today I offer a possible link between practices of men’s Initiation Rites and some of the elements of Buddhism.
Men’s Initiation Rites
When we consider principle practices of Western Buddhists, primarily daily meditation and meditation retreats we might enquire something like this: since monastic practice is a model for our Western lay practice, do Buddhist monasteries constitute an extension and continuation of men’s long houses, places of men’s initiation rites?
Recently I had the great pleasure of presenting on the WATER Teleconference Series and dialoguing with women from around the world about how to promote healing in a rape culture. Likewise, in a previous post I discussed rape culture in the Church and its impact on victims of sexual violence and the greater community. Within a rape culture, those who experience sexual victimization endure physical, emotional, and spiritual wounding. It is a victimization unlike any other, and one that we must continue to discuss in search of healing.
This topic is important to me for obvious reasons. As a woman, mother, and social justice activist, I am passionate about eradicating gender based violence. This said, I also have direct experience with this brutality that plagues our society. Having worked with rape survivors for more than a decade, I have witnessed the suffering endured as a result of such violence. My own mother died prematurely as a result of sexual and domestic violence; having come to learn of the horrors she lived through has greatly impacted my understanding of the deep spiritual wounding experienced due to our culture of shaming and blaming – our rape culture.
By now it should be clear to feminists that when Barack Obama thinks about women, he does not view us as independent individuals, but rather as he said in his 2nd term inauguration address–to my consternation—as “our” mothers, wives, and daughters. Obama does not address us–he addresses the men he expects to make decisions for us. I almost wrote a blog on this egregious error in perception and judgment on the part of the President in January, but in order not to be seen as nit-picking, I held my tongue. The recent decision of the White House to continue to restrict the availability of the Plan B , brings this question to the fore again.
Plan B is a brand name for the “morning after pill.” If taken within 3 days of unprotected intercourse, it will prevent conception. There is now a much cheaper generic version as well.
After reviewing the effects and side effects of Plan B, the Federal Drug Administration found it safe and reliable and advised the US Department of Health and Human Services that it should be made available without prescription or age restrictions. In late 2011, the Obama administration and Kathleen Sibelius made the unprecedented decision to overturn the recommendations of the FDA and to allow Plan B to be purchased without prescription only by women age 17 or older. Just over a month ago, US District Court Justice Edward Korman of New York ruled that the Plan B and the generic alternatives should be made available without restriction. Before the ruling could take effect, the Obama administration lowered the age restriction to 15, while announcing that it would appeal Justice Korman’s decision to make the morning after pill as available as aspirin.