Women and Theology

Jenell Paris, another blogosphere kindred spirit, whom I have blessed to find writes about the nature and purpose of theology here (it can also be seen at her site: http://jenellparis.blogspot.com/):


Sometimes I wonder if all theology is really theodicy. If a great idea, a great sermon, or a great exegesis doesn’t speak to your aching need, or even aggravates it, can you hear it? Four years later, I still filter Christian words, sermons, and people through my experience of infant loss. And on days when that isn’t at the tip of my emotions, I consider other people’s suffering, of which there is always plenty to consider. Today on Christian radio I heard a man say in what sounded to me like a sing-song voice, “Well, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, and Lord, we just pray for those Boy Scouts you’ve taken home to be with You.” That just seemed like the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, so I offered up a quick counter-prayer, “Lord, please don’t let those boys’ parents be listening to this radio station right now. Amen.” Maybe counter-praying is the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard, I don’t know.

Yesterday I watched A Birth Story, the cable show that shows women having babies. My heart started pounding, my uterus started cramping, and I started crying. It really took me back! When her baby was born, she cried, and I cried, and I’m sure the thousands of women who love that show cried. My body was remembering Max, my youngest son born a year ago. Like the baby in the show, he was a singleton born whole and healthy in a relatively quiet and sparse room. It was a normal birth, and he was a normal baby. The nurse handed him to me, and I held him, and felt for all the world like I was getting away with something big. I was, and I am.

When I see pregnant women, twins, triplets, hospitals, or newborns, I almost always react negatively with feelings and thoughts of nausea, vomit, pain, sickness, death, terror, and invasive medicine. This “A Birth Story” is the first time my body put the good times before the bad, calling forth the sweating, breathing, and cramping of a successful delivery instead of the panic of a doomed labor and delivery (for new readers, my first triplet pregnancy ended with the stillbirth of one and deaths of two). Maybe faith isn’t all about mind and spirit. Maybe ‘fixing’ theology isn’t the most important thing. Maybe, just maybe, by living into my reality — I really did birth a healthy baby — my body has taught my soul something about peace and rest. And of course, maybe body and soul aren’t as far apart as I might think.


She inspires me. Sometimes I wonder if women doing theology brings theology back into the grit and grime and earthiness of the universe. Life is messy and theology should be as well! Thank you, Jenell!


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