Forsaking Futurity and a Call for Feminist Theologies: A Response to Gender & the Studio, Part Three

Abstract: Rather than delve into the potential theo-logic of a Butlerian “constructivist” account of gender, this blog post proposes that we pause, and instead question the discursive operations undergirding the very idea of “the future of systematic theology.” The effort to secure the existence of systematic theology, I suggest, is idolatrous—rather, systematic theology needs to lose its own life in order to potentially save it, and can begin to move in that direction by attending to the concrete, historic, material, discursive realities of people’s lives, especially those on the underside. This “losing” is both practical and apophatic, in that it acknowledges that the task demands constant attention to the material realities of people’s lives and the discursive regimes that produce those realities, and that we cannot seek to grasp or claim or secure a telos or overarching discourse. I end, then, by turning briefly to the potentialities within a constructivist frame, and offering some suggestions for possibilities for Christian feminist theologies.

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Part Two: Bodies Matter (A Response to Tony Baker’s “Gender and the Studio”)

Part Two: Bodies Matter (as do the ways they are configured in and through power relations)

 Baker argues that theological studies need not be a “masculine form” and that one of the ways it can instead function within/as “the redeemed form of Mary,” is through a focus on “receptivity”—which he identifies, at least in part, as close readings of texts and engagement with Biblical, historical, and literary material—as opposed to “mostly creative construction in the realms of logic and metaphysics.”

While I have a number of theoretical and theological concerns with the association between receptivity and femininity, which I’ll address in the next, and final, post on this topic, on some level, I can get behind, or at least understand, this. Different strands and iterations of feminist theory and politics have named masculine modes and forms of discourse as problematic and have called for the embodiment of alternate, feminine forms—most notably, the “French feminists:” Irigaray, Kristeva, Cixous, Clement… One might also look to some of the U.S. “second-wave” feminists: Carol Gilligan, Catherine Mackinnon, Andrea Dworkin

What Baker’s analysis lacks in this regard, however, is an attention to the discursive and material realities that engender these dynamics—something that is central to the work of the aforementioned “sexual difference” and “second wave” feminists. Baker calls for a greater focus on “receptivity” without contending with, or even acknowledging, the ways in which bodies and/in power function. Read the rest of this entry »

Gender and Theology (and the Theological Academy): A Response to Tony Baker’s ‘Gender and the Studio’- Part One

Part One: The Pink Penis on my Desk (A Lengthy Introduction)

In addition to the random smattering of papers, books, and other odd objects that are strewn across my desk at various points, there are a few items that are consistent adornments—there  are the practical things: the external hard-drive , the file folder, the stapler; and the sentimental things—a stained glass cross I was given upon graduating from div school, a wine cork that reminds me of a particularly happy time in my life, and a bedazzled pink penis.

Often, people don’t comment on the pink penis, probably because they’re embarrassed, or think I’ll be embarrassed. But occasionally, the bold ones will ask,

“Why do you have a pink dildo on your desk?”

I explain to them that, actually, it is not a dildo, but rather, a water gun. When this answer proves unsatisfactory or incomplete, as is often the case, I tell them a version of this story….

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Jennings book event–(The importance of) history and context (and how they function)

Plato or Paul? is an impressive text, by virtue of its detail alone. Rather then expend the time noting its achievements, I want to focus on one contribution of this text that I found particularly valuable, and the subsequent concerns and questions that arise for me in light of that contribution. Jennings explains:

Homophobia, far from being a natural concomitant of Christian perspectives, actually takes a very long time to be engrafted onto the body of Christianity. It is in this sense a ‘foreign element’ that can therefore be removed without in any way affecting what is important about early or patristic Christianity (14).

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The Politics of Redemption: The Social Logic of Salvation (Chapters 8-9)

The penultimate chapter in The Politics of Redemption, “Community and Related Questions,” begins by reminding the reader of the social-relational logic that pervades patristic theories of atonement and the trajectory that theories of atonement take  from a social-relational logic to a more individualistic one. Kotsko has already begun to demonstrate “the continuing relevance of recaptiulatory theories in modernity” but goes a step further in this chapter, beginning to sketch a contemporary atonement theory. Before that move occurs (which is the topic of the final chapter), Kotsko turns to Karl Barth and Dorothee Soelle to gesture to the centrality of community and relationality for a theory of atonement. Read the rest of this entry »

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