This semester I am teaching the course EcoJustice and chose Sallie McFague’s A New Climate for Theologyas our foundational text. Something I greatly appreciate about McFague is that she continually calls us to radically redefine our understanding of the Divine and of our roles as human beings — fundamental questions that could easily lead to an existential crisis as one student reminded me.
My class and I ponder these questions, discussing our own interpretations of God, why we exist, what it means to pray, and understandings of salvation. Not surprisingly, many of us have an anthropocentric theology — one that puts ourselves at the center. We are so focused on what we need from God, we forget to ask what God needs from us.Continue reading “EcoJustice and Our Relationship with God by Gina Messina”
In my introduction to Christianity class, almost every one of my students (who come from diverse religious backgrounds – primarily Roman Catholic, Protestant and Muslim), continues to believe that the best image if not the only appropriate image for G-d is male. When probed they may speak generically about G-d as genderless, an entity or spiritual presence of some kind, yet conclude by affirming their belief that G-d is male often by adding something along the lines that G-d is best described as Father. Some go so far in these affirmations that they articulate G-d’s maleness as fact. It never fails that every semester I struggle with how to address this basic feminist issue within the classroom.
At least as early as 1973, Mary Daly, in Beyond G-d the Father: Towards a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation,articulated the problematic basis of the relationship between gender and divine imagery. She argues that “If G-d in ‘his’ heaven is a father ruling ‘his’ people, then it is in the ‘nature’ of things and according to divine plan and the order of the universe that society be male-dominated.” In other words, if maleness is associated with divinity, then the power, domination and running of society by men seems to be divinely ordained. Continue reading “On Pronouns and Liberation in the Classroom by Ivy Helman”
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!
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”