Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Choosing to be a goat's cheese maker was a theological choice

Georgette Gribi started our feminist theology series on "Dieu est Belle" by saying that choosing to be a goat's cheese maker was as much a theological choice as anything else. Gribi teaches at Geneva's Ecumenical Theology Workshop (AOT) and makes goat's cheese.
She gave us a tour de force introduction to the Song of Songs as we pondered whether the wife in the love poem could be a feminine face of God. She rightly corrected the question pointing out that the lovers in the Song of Songs do not marry, but said that perhaps the female lover (l'amante) might show us a feminine face of God.
We had a wonderful and quite extraordinary discussion talking about desire and passion; the God of desire and our desire for God; the dangerous, passionate and unreasonable quest for God that the lovers could represent; the extraordinary mystical sermons of Bernard de Clairvaux on the Cantique.
We also pondered and gave thanks for the inclusion of this wonderful erotic poetry in the biblical canon. It has challeneged writers across the centuries - generating almost as many commentaries as the Psalms in the Middle Ages. It is also this love poem that is the reading at the Jewish festival of Pessach: the feast of liberation celebrated with the poetic words of passionate love.
Anne Coidan summed up by saying that she felt looking at this text helped her to connect with God as a being of desire. Quoting Mary Balmary she said that we are created in God's image but it is our work to try and resemble God. She felt that rehabilitating desire was part of that.
For my part it there is a phrase from Monty Python that I just can't resist at the end of this evening - "blessed indeed are the cheesemakers." Thank you Georgette for a wonderful evening I'm just sorry we didn't get more of a chance to talk about theology and cheese.
You'll soon be able to read her paper on the new theolfem blog. The blog is still under construction but you can find many of the papers from past years there already and our programme for this year. Oui mes amis c'est en français!