Carol Eftalou - Michael HonnegerThough often asked, this is the wrong question.  Every statement about the “essential” or “central” teaching of any religion is based on a prior interpretation rooted in a particular standpoint. Thus, the idea that there is a “central” or “essential” core in any religion is not a matter of fact, but rather a matter of interpretation.

In discussions of religions, we often make global statements about our own and other religious traditions, such as: “Christianity is patriarchal to its core,” or alternatively, “The core teaching of Christianity is to love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.” Or: “The true Islam teaches that God is love,” or alternatively, “Islam always teaches the subordination of women.”

These sorts of claims are made from time to time here on Feminism and Religion too. Every global statement that a particular religion “is” or “ is not” oppressive, calls someone to assert the opposite in the comments. I believe that statements about the “true” nature of any religion should should always be qualified. Continue reading “DO RELIGIONS HAVE AN “ESSENTIAL” “CENTRAL” CORE THAT IS–OR IS NOT–SEXIST? by Carol P. Christ”

Rescuing Martha from the Dishes: A Challenge of Retrieval and Proclamation by Mary Grey – Part II

What do the Gospels of Luke and John tell us?
This is the second part of a three part post. Part I is here and Part III is to follow tomorrow. 

I now return to the story of Mary and Martha in the gospel of Luke: what was its purpose for the evangelist and his community? The text itself has been a subject of multiple interpretations. An abstract interpretation sees the sisters as representing two different principles, one as justification by works and one by faith. Augustine (d.430) saw them as symbolising either the labours of this world and the bliss of the world to come. Origen (185-254), famous for his allegorising interpretation of Scripture, understood them as life according to the flesh or according to the Spirit. So, as Elisabeth Schüssler-Fiorenza points out in But She Said: Feminist Practices of Biblical Interpretation (1992:58), this typologising contrast was already established by the end of the 2nd century.  In a contemporary context Martha and Mary continue to exemplify the two vocations that the church offers to women, contemplative love of God (Mary), or social activism through service of neighbour (Martha). Continue reading “Rescuing Martha from the Dishes: A Challenge of Retrieval and Proclamation by Mary Grey – Part II”

Women’s Christian Heritage by Elise M. Edwards

elise-edwardsIt is difficult to carve out time in a course that covers Christianity from the past 2000 years to address material beyond the standard textbooks.  But yet, I must because the visual and material culture, the worship practices, and the daily activities of women and men who have called themselves Christians or followers of Christ throughout history also comprise the story of the Christian heritage.

Over the past several weeks, I have been developing material for a historical and theological survey course called “The Christian Heritage.” In the multiple sections of this course taught at my university, and I imagine similarly at schools across the country, students are assigned a course reader.  The reader we use is a collection of texts that have shaped the Christian faith from the first century to the 21st.  It is a good collection, and I have no objection to using it.  However, for the way I would like to teach the course, I will need to supplement the reader with other material.  I have two interrelated concerns: the reliance on texts as a way of determining theological history and the absence of women in that history before the medieval period (and even then the number of women included is small). Continue reading “Women’s Christian Heritage by Elise M. Edwards”

Catherina Halkes – In Memory and Appreciation By Mary Grey

The following is a guest post written by Mary Grey, Ph.D., Professor of Feminist Theology at St. Mary’s University College, in Twickenham, London, and author of thirteen books including A Cry for Dignity: Religion, Violence, and the Struggle of the Dalit Women in India.

On April 21, 2011  Catherina Halkes, the founding mother of Feminist Theology in Europe, inspiration to me and countless others,  prophet, mentor – and much else – died in her home city of Nijmegen, the Netherlands. She certainly changed my life: I arrived in Nijmegen desperately searching for books in Feminist Theology when writing my Ph.D. thesis. I had read everything that England had to offer, (not a lot in 1986!) I could not afford to go to America, so the Netherlands was my only option. Catherine Halkes, (or Tine, as we all called her), welcomed and encouraged me: later she would come to the public defence of my thesis in Louvain – after which I became her successor to the chair of Feminism and Christendom in Nijmegen, 1988. Life was never the same again!

Catherina Halkes

Tine blazed a trail  for women’s role in theology in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as for all women in Feminist Theology in Europe in its key developing stages. She embodied the hopes and dreams of countless women – and men- beyond the boundaries of her small country. She influenced the development of Women Studies as an academic subject in the Universities of the Netherlands and wider. Her influence cannot be restricted to a single category. Rooted in the progressive theology of the Second Vatican Council, she developed a wide-ranging pastoral theological influence on theology. It could be said  – although an evaluation is still too early-  that her legacy will be seen as opening up different areas of theology and related disciplines to the feminist lens, and being at the forefront of developments in many fields, always with a critical eyes of a Christian faith that has never wavered, despite continuing disappointment and personal suffering at the unflinchingly repressive attitudes of the Roman Catholic Church, to which she remained consistently loyal. Continue reading “Catherina Halkes – In Memory and Appreciation By Mary Grey”

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