Feminist Theology

Revisiting the divine

Feminist theology began when Valerie Saiving - in the early nineteen sixties - had the courage to say that as women's experience of the world is different from that of men, and is not given recognition at least in Western cultures, so their spiritual and religious experience is different too. As the secular feminist movement worked to create a social and political space in which the difference of women's experience could be acknowledged, so theologians like Rosemary Radford Ruether sought expression for women's spiritual lives. Language about the divine became diverse, and theologians experimented with word pictures other than Father. (Mystics, of course, had always experimented in this way, without a conscious awareness of women's social and spiritual difference). Since then, the wheel has turned a turn or two, and the picture has become more complex. Feminist theology has been faced with the differences among women, particularly of ethnic and social origin, and has struggled to claim that diversity as a source of strength.

Christianity has a tradition of dangerous journeying - this theological exploration has taken forms that are disturbing and disorientating both to the explorers and to religious hierarchies, as a multiplicity of new images and experiences have been allowed a voice. An old and familiar landscape has shifted, and its meanings are no longer certain. So some women have carried on their exploration in the context of a formal religious tradition and for some, like me, the impetus has been to journey beyond those boundaries. Whatever the route, the journey continues with a healthy curiosity at the strange sights to be seen and fascination at the images and meanings that slowly begin to emerge for me as I journey.

Anne Lockwood

St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 2nd February 2000