Here’s a roundup of some good stuff I’ve read lately:
– Why English majors make lousy fundamentalists calls out seven key elements of approaching scripture as literature, and how they shape interpretation. Here’s a snippet:
An English major assumes that the way to get people to do things is not to give them pristine clear commands to follow, but to tell a story that moves their hearts and sways them to respond the way that you’re hoping they will.
– A fabulous article/interview with Sr. Dr. Elizabeth Johnson: Feminism In Faith: Sister Elizabeth Johnson’s Challenge To The Vatican. I excerpt here a bit about an incident from her tenure process, an unprecedented examination by every US cardinal:
Toward the end of the questioning, Boston’s Cardinal Bernard Law slammed shut his binder of Johnson’s writings and scoffed, “You mostly teach Christology. You’re not going to do anymore of this feminist stuff.” He pushed the files away.
“It was a breakthrough moment for me, painful as it was,” she says, “because it planted the seeds for She Who Is,” referring to her groundbreaking book of feminist theology. As Johnson drafted that text, Law’s words swirled in her head, fueling her passionate exploration of feminine images of God.
because it reminded me of my own experience of having been impelled to take the next step in theological or spiritual growth as a response to something hurtful that a bishop said. Not the kind of growth in the faith they intend to provide, I dare say, but growth nonetheless.
– A fascinating paper examining church practices through the lens of neuroscience: Embodiment Takes Practice: The Neurological Necessity of Counter-Practices in Transforming Culture
In this essay, I offer an investigation of ecclesiology, formation, and cultural transformation that attempts to take the body strand seriously. In particular, I consider the relationship between embodiment and ecclesiological cultural transformation, assessing whether a robust account of this relation may render the church-world distinction incoherent. I argue that although taking the body seriously does not render cultural transformation (or formation) impossible, it does require that one more carefully attend to practices, and what McClendon called “counter-practices,” as the necessary enablers of faithful engagement with culture.
– Here’s a review of what looks like a great book with a companion blog: Dressed Up and Ready to Read: a review of Dressing Constitutionally: Hierarchy, Sexuality, and Democracy from Our Hairstyles to Our Shoes
The premise of the book is straightforward: constitutional considerations constrain, inform, and explain our clothing—or lack of clothing—choices. Robson drives the book through seven chapters that explore the premise in different contexts. In each chapter, she draws out the themes of hierarchy, sexuality, and democracy—themes that she argues “animate the constitutional concerns surrounding attire and appearance.”
And if you’re wondering what this last one has to do with theology or religion, think distinctive religious dress and hairstyle. Anything that the state requires, permits, or prohibits can be relevant to the practice of religion.