In an effort to think more about how my politics and my theology should be/are intersecting, I'm reading through the above book. Its chapters cover the personal, the political, and the pedagogical, among other focii, and the fact that others who identify as both religious and feminist seem to be thinking through similar issues that I'm struggling with makes me feel a little better on the whole. For the next few weeks, I'm going to be devoting the blog to a discussion of Jules and Pedersen's book as I read it, most likely a chapter at a time. Feel free to contribute your thoughts in the comments, or to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The book's epigraph is Galatians 3:28: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." I'm not sure what this is doing yet, what it says about the book's project as a whole. On one hand, it seems a cry for equality; labels don't matter and we shouldn't use them because the grace of Christ frees us from the restriction that such labels necessitate. That sounds nice. Looking a little deeper, though, what place does such a sentiment have in a book whose very title suggests reconciliation between two seemingly conflicting labels? Why title the book that way if the book is going to say we need to dump the labels through which we define ourselves? Just something I'll be considering.
The introduction proper is a collision of the personal and the political in which Jules and Pedersen recount their own backgrounds and the circumstances that made religion and feminism collide for them, as well as try to make since of the increasing global importance of religion in a post 9/11 world. I really like the inclusion of the personal here; I probably wouldn't have wanted to read the entire book if that dimension wasn't present. I believe that both religion and politics cannot be responsibly practiced without a connection to the personal. A connection to the intellectual or philosophical is also necessary, of course, but for me, the personal came first in both cases, and the rest has developed and is developing as I experience life.
A bit of the introduction that make me think this book is going to be amazing for my political and religious development:
Like others of our time, we grew up surrounded by a stubborn myth at work in Western society: that one's faith undermines one's thought and scholastics, that one cannot believe and think. If one is a 'Christian,' then one must adhere to certain performances of that identity; if one is a 'feminist,' then one cannot have a dynamic religious faith because religious faith is too patriarchal and demeaning to women. To be a woman inside Christianity necessitates the role of submitting, while to be a woman committed to feminist ideals necessitates a role of assertiveness or aggression (5).
WOW. Just wow. That paragraph pretty much sums up every problem I've had from age fourteen to now. I like so much about it. I like that this incompatibility is going to be questioned from multiple angles. I like that the editors are not afraid to employ quote marks in a Poststructuralist way that questions the validity of group labels (or "metanarratives," just so I can exercise my Derridean cred). I really can't wait to dive in to the rest of the book.