Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Playful wisdom - transgression and mysticism at feminist theology

I have come home from tonight's feminist theology group richly blessed as ever and laden with gifts, including a copy of Grace Jantzen's A Place of Springs. I am so delighted! I also got some very special Faverger chocolate and a splendid bottle of Ecrivain Poète Genevan wine.
Tonight was the last time I shall be with the group for quite some time as it really will not be possible for me to get back from Paris on a regular basis to be with them. This is a shame because the programme for the year ahead is really interesting: "Obéissance et transgression: Créatrices et créateurs à la suite de Dieu".
So we began tonight with an apple on the table as a symbol of trangression and its desirability. I spoke about mysticism and integrating spirituality and faith for this first session and we did various exercises - writing down the name of a woman and man who had been important for our spiritual formation, either folk known to us or historical figures or even ficitonal ones. Each of us spent some time, in the silence of our hearts comparing these two figures - had their influence been different because of their gender, is their a male or female spirituality or mysticism? We held on to and "contained" these thoughts as I went on to lay out some thoughts from Sarah Coakley's book Powers and Submissions about how "kenosis" the notions which have grown up around self-emptying have been seen in extremely different ways in by feminist theologians such as Rosemary Ruether and Daphne Hampson. In her book Coakley works carefully and persuasively through the text in Philippians 2 to offer a non destructive basis for kenosis as a foundation for spirituality. Tonight I was trying to pick up the different ideas around kenosis as a way of trying to move us towards thinking about who the God we pray is - I admitted taht despite decades of feminist theology I have deeply internalised a judgemental God - fortunately not the only God I have internalised but part of teh God I pray to. As we were workign through some of this I asked everyone in the group fot try to write some kennings and encouraged them by offering some that I had written earlier. I wasn't at all sure about using this form in a raomance language but it actually worked quite well. As we had some anglophone folk at the group tonight and I was interpreting myself into English most of the time it worked well as I tried to kenning what people said in French back into English. Two of my favourite ideas about God that came out of this exercise ( and I wish I'd had the presence of mind to write them all down but hey...) were "joueuse sagesse - playful wisdom and berceur d'enfant which I suppose I would translate as lullaby singer - what a glorious image of God.
I am so grateful to this group which has been my lifeline to sanity, theology and laughter over these past 7 or 8 years. I shall miss our time together but hope to drop in from time to time so as to transgress together.
We ended by reading Chouraqui's wonderful translation of the Beatitudes - en marche les matriciels - Get up and go may mercy be born from you...
A wonderful evening. And my kenning for God was "love maker". Maybe all these years of fem theol are finally having a bit of impact!