Posts Tagged ‘Feminist theology



30
Mar
09

Wrestling with Personal Theology

Over the last few years, one of my favorite preaching topics has been the abandonment of self-interest, selfish ambition and conceit that is extolled in Philippians chapter 2. The call to humility contained within that passage culminates with “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” (2:12) which, I remind the congregation I am addressing, is difficult to do with someone else’s theology tucked under your arm. To be free of your own conceit requires being free of theological tenets that establish authoritarian norms of belief. It is to acknowledge that certainty is the opposite of faith, not doubt. Continue reading ‘Wrestling with Personal Theology’

14
Mar
09

Christology – Borg vs Wright

If I can be allowed a brief introduction, I have a comment about the perceived theological location of each of the authors. During 2003/2004, while attending Westminster College, Cambridge, I heard three out of four lectures given by N.T. Wright about “New Perspectives on Paul”. More interesting than the lectures was the diatribe from the various seminaries regarding Wright. The Evangelical Anglicans, conservative as opposed to traditional (self-description), denounced him as “apostasy on two legs”, while the Anglican Catholic half of the Church of England considered him a defender, albeit somewhat radical, of traditional theology in the current age. The United Reformed Church (Westminster), a mixture of very traditional (reformed) to very conservative, generally considered him to be a liberal Catholic. (All that being said, the lecture hall was packed to the rafters.) Overall, the book we’re now reading was described in Cambridge seminaries as a conversation between liberal (Wright) and very liberal (Borg). The book’s cover, claiming representation from liberal and conservative camps, seems to be heavily dependent on one’s point of view. Very few conservatives in Wright’s home country view him as anything but liberal. Still, overall it appears that both authors fit somewhere in the less-than-extreme centrist majority of the imaginary liberal-conservative spectrum and, as such, posit stands most Christians should be able to get their heads around.

Continue reading ‘Christology – Borg vs Wright’

04
Mar
09

The Scandal of Jesus Christ – Three Perspectives

For much of the last two thousand years there have been scandals associated with, or hindrances to, belief in Jesus Christ as savior. What is so outrageous about the claim of salvation in Jesus that offends the moral or rational sensibilities of at least certain segments of society? In examining this question, three authors – Jan Milic Lochman, Elizabeth A. Johnson and Justo L. González – discussed the traditional orthodox views of salvation through faith in Christ in light of modern interests. The authors had particular agendas, openly declared in each of their works, around which they developed their arguments. These various arguments were in close agreement at some points and in discord at others but, when viewed collectively, created an interesting sampling of some of the opinions that make up modern Christian thought. Continue reading ‘The Scandal of Jesus Christ – Three Perspectives’

20
Feb
09

A Worthy Woman

Jesus didn’t invent the parable – he may have perfected it, but he didn’t invent it. The book of Ruth is, in its entirety, an Old Testament parable as critical of Jewish culture as Jesus was in his day. The Book of Ruth isn’t just a story with a nice moral, but is just as “in your face” to the Jewish culture as the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

Ruth, as a Moabite, was unacceptable in Jewish society. Racism was alive and well back then, too. Deuteronomy, Ezra and Nehemiah all tell how Moabites were ostracized – barred from being part of Jewish society. And it all went back to the time of Moses, when the men of Israel blamed their promiscuity on the women of Moab. Sound familiar – well, if they weren’t here, we wouldn’t have sinned. They’re the problem.

How is this story critical of that attitude?

Continue reading ‘A Worthy Woman’

18
Feb
09

An Ethical Analysis of Date Rape

When young and, unfortunately, privy to the aftermath of rape I was given to understand it as the outcome of errant behavior on the part of the female (thankfully I had no knowledge or concept of a male being raped). This view, obviously seriously flawed by today’s standards, reflected the opinions extant in the culture in which I lived. During the last decade I have become increasingly aware of incidents of date rape, acts of aggressive sex with resistant partners, stemming from some males’ selfish desires to satisfy sexual urges in spite of rejection. Continue reading ‘An Ethical Analysis of Date Rape’

16
Feb
09

Two Poles are Better than One

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In response to some inquiries that have been made about my rather cryptic title for this blog, I am going to unveil at least some of my thoughts behind the choice, and ponder further on the possibilities.

Gestalt – The obvious and, of course, most pedestrian assumption would be that it is based purely and simply on the fact that I am Bipolar. While, admittedly, that gave some impetous to choosing the moniker “Ministry From Two Poles”, it does not explain the rest of the name, “… or Preaching From Both Ends”, or the choice of header art. Continue reading ‘Two Poles are Better than One’

16
Feb
09

The Baby in the Bath Water

In colonial America, as in other places where water was fetched and heated only with great effort, ablutions were a family process. One by one, beginning with the father, then the mother and continuing through the youngest child, all would bath in the same tub of water. Both parents, as well all the oldest kids, worked the fields and tended the livestock. Of course, children also played outside. Saturday, in order to be clean for Sunday church service, was the proverbial bath night.  The old German proverb, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” had a very real meaning for early American settlers. Admittedly, even though the water was so tepid and dirty by the time the youngest of perhaps a dozen or more children were finished bathing that it would have been easy, it would have been ridiculously rare, if it ever happened at all, to loose a child in the muck. Rather than literal, the saying came to represent a frontier dweller’s value for resources similar to that expressed in the adage, “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” Continue reading ‘The Baby in the Bath Water’

11
Feb
09

Testing the Waters on a Virtual Church

In another post, I described my ongoing interest in a virtual church – not simply a digital reporduction of a physical church or a place to pick and choose prayers and sermons, but a real and actual church meeting at predetermined (oops, there’s that Presbyterian word) time.

I envision a church gathering in cyberspace for communal worship and praise, as well as having a physical presence in each of the towns, cities and countries in which the “members” live. A church that enlivens mission, both individually and collectively, and promotes the notion of the “priesthood of all believers” actively engaged in the physical world as well as the cyber-sphere. It would be a church which has the same range of theological perspectives as any “real-world” church, but would have a space in which, unlike most churches today, those differences can be discussed respectfully and reverently. Continue reading ‘Testing the Waters on a Virtual Church’

09
Feb
09

Can the Church Reconcile with its Own Victims? (Part 3)

Continued from Part 2

From this point forward, this paper follows a fairly radical ethical line – one based on Mat 16:25-26,

“For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?” (NRSV)

The church has based much of its behavior, since becoming an institution, on maintaining its status, solvency, relevance and political clout in the world. That behavior, as stated above, has included the historical marginalization or oppression of significant groups, many of who are still found within its doors. When this conduct is measured against what is perhaps the most significant Christian ethic, the “greatest commandment” of Mat 22:37-39[1], it fails miserably. The antidote for this ethos is none other than to embrace the message of the greatest commandment even if it leads to the church’s own material demise. The life of the church is founded on the concept of being the light of Christ to the world and, however divine the calling may be, is a temporal and, therefore, quite possibly a temporary presence in society. To maintain its existence at the expense of any of its neighbors, which includes any part of God’s creation inside or outside its walls, is to seek life over its mission. Continue reading ‘Can the Church Reconcile with its Own Victims? (Part 3)’

08
Feb
09

Can the Church Reconcile with it’s Own Victims? (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1

Reform movements have been associated with the church since its earliest days, generally when it was considered too focused on earthly or material matters. John Chrysostom, in the late fourth century, wrote of the political intrigue, power struggles and scandalous excesses being enjoyed by priests and laity of the church.  He restructured the finances of the church in Constantinople, selling many of the acquired luxuries of the clergy to feed and cloth the poor,[1] thereby enraging many of the priests. One thousand years later, the Brethren of the Common Life, an order started by Gerard Groote, railed against many of the same problems, including the secularization of the church.[2]  Between these two examples and their respective timeframes, history tells of myriad other reform movements that sought to correct very similar patterns of behavior, resulting in a list of dissidents within which almost all Protestant denominations can find their roots – Erasmus, Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and Wesley to name but a few. Continue reading ‘Can the Church Reconcile with it’s Own Victims? (Part 2)’

04
Feb
09

Speaking Out on Comprehensive Sexuality Ed

While I understand religious people’s dismay with social issues like abortion, teen pregancies and other sexuality issues, the track record for abstinence only sex ed has been worse than abysmal. If we are truly concerned about protecting young people from these life-changing situations that potentially challenge their emotional, spiritual and physical well-being, we will scream long and hard that education include effective prevention techniques as well as help young people to reach a reasonable level of maturity with regard to the ways in which their bodies function. Continue reading ‘Speaking Out on Comprehensive Sexuality Ed’

29
Jan
09

God as Mother – Innocence Lost (Part 5)

Continued from Part 4, or go to the beginning and view the Table of Contents.

I will resist the urge to recap the arguments so far. They are here, after all, to find and read in the first four parts. In this section I want to speak of why this topic is important in the first place. Nothing like waiting until the end to do that, is there? Ultimately, what I have to say on this will be based on two central beliefs.

(i) As long as it falls short of idolatry, the image that each of us has of God can serve be valuable for our faith lives. It is one thing to say, “I find an affinity with a male or female image of God that informs my personal spiritual journey,” and a whole different thing to say, “God is male – to say otherwise is blashemy, a sin or whatever.” We have a right to envision God in the way that is most comfortable to us, as long as we remain cognizant of the fact that it is just an image.

(ii) When it comes to public worship or study, however, our personal image of God needs to be left at the door. In this situation, we may be responsible not just for our own spirituality, but that of others as well. To formalize or otherwise restrict public worship and theology to that of our own is to reach the point of idolizing our own rationality, or irrationality as the case may be. Continue reading ‘God as Mother – Innocence Lost (Part 5)’

28
Jan
09

God as Mother – Masculinity Lost? (Part 4)

Continued from Part 3, or go to beginning at Part 1.

EMASCULATION OR UN-MASCULINIZATION OF GOD

Opponents of inclusive imagery and language about God often claim it is bordering on blasphemy, with a significant number of those making the case being women. Proponents cite myriad reasons for its legitimacy. For now, let’s begin by looking at the arguments for the masculine image of God, so we can determine what’s at stake in changing our approach.

Except for Mormons, many who believe there is a God-mother beside the God-father, and some non-trinitarian sects, most adherents of Christians sects believe that the totality of God is wrapped up in the trinitarian formula, “Father, Son and Holy Ghost (Spirit).” To change that formulation, many think, is to attack the very nature of God and to lead people away from the “true” God. Besides the fact that God does not need protecting, on which I hope we would all agree, then what is in need of protection is a tenet of faith – a dogma – a way of understanding God. The way in which we speak of God does not change who and what God is. The tenacity with which people hold onto specific images prompts us to ask, “What is really at stake?” Continue reading ‘God as Mother – Masculinity Lost? (Part 4)’

26
Jan
09

God as Mother – Imagery lost (Part 3)

Continued from Part 2. Or go to Table of Contents

Feminine images of God still abound in scripture, as discussed in Part 1. Those images, however, are simply those that have survived the expurgation by 3rd and 4th century “masculinizers” of the text. I know, that’s not technically a word – at least it wasn’t, but it is now. Examples could be used from the texts that were omitted, like the Odes of Solomon, but they are not part of the canon and so would be open to ridicule. Examples of passages still in the Bible have already been covered. To make the point on how images have been expunged, I will simply examine the instance of El Shaddai – Almight God – as the case in point. Continue reading ‘God as Mother – Imagery lost (Part 3)’

24
Jan
09

Albany Presbytery Votes Pro-GLBT

On Saturday, January 24 2009, the Albany Presbytery voted to approve the constitutional amendment to three sections of the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (USA). The primary change was to section G-6.0106b, the wording of which technically denied ordination to LGBT people seeking positions as deacons, elders or ministers. Before examining the potential effects on each ecclesiastical level of the church, you might want to check out the old and new wording. To do so, click here.

In some respects, this vote has the potential to have a major effect on the Presbyterian Church (USA), if it approved by 81 more presbyteries. It quite possibly will also be somewhat significant for the local presbytery. But, for the local church, little will change except that leaders will not be able to name a third-party as the reason it chooses not to ordain LGBT elders. The primary impact of this amendment is that it puts responsibility for determining the suitability of candidates for deacon, elder or minister squarely on the church body that approves the ordination – session for church officers and presbytery for ministers. Continue reading ‘Albany Presbytery Votes Pro-GLBT’




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That's too bad - I'm so sorry. Oh, well, just try to make the best of it. What you'll find here is a variety of essays and ramblings to do with things theological, social, whimsical and, sometimes, all three. I don't write to get famous - trust me, I've been told how futile that would be - but to express myself. I love to communicate and browbeat - ummm, I mean dialogue - about the things I find intriguing. Since you're here, and the door's locked, why don't you stay a while. There's a page bar under the header with links to information about us - I mean me. Don't forget to tell me what you think - in a nice way, I mean.

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