Bones

Philip Gosse (1810-88), a member of the Plymouth Brethren and a marine zoologist, famously argued, in his book Omphalos (1857), that though Adam did not need a navel - having been born of the earth rather than a woman - he nevertheless had one (Philip Gosse 2003). Adam gave every appearance of being a normal body, even though he had never been born, had never been a baby, nor grown and gone through puberty to become the father of the human race.1 In just the same way, the trees in the garden of...

Notes

1 Though it may be noted that Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 130-c. 200) unusually - if not uniquely -thought that Adam and Eve were created as children and had to grow to adulthood before they could procreate. See Irenaeus (1996 455 Against Heresies, 3.22.4). 2 Though some have thought that Christ was born by a kind of miraculous Caesarean section, which left Mary perfectly intact. 3 I am grateful to Tina Beattie for bringing this text to my attention. For her own discussion of the passage see Beattie...

On Romans

In the Secunda Pars of the Summa Theologiae (ST), Thomas devotes only a few pages (six, in a standard Latin edition) to natural law. He devotes many more (157) to other forms of law The Old Law, the New Law, Ceremonial Law, Human Law, and vastly more to the virtues, their background and context (around 1200). Law generally is the deliverance of the prudence of a ruler. Eternal law is God's prudence (ST I-II.91.1), and concerns singulars (including people and events - ST I-II.93.5-6) natural law...

Gavin DCosta

The doctrine of the Trinity shapes the life and practice of the church, even though, of course, such a doctrine is the product of the very church whose life it shapes. Hence, we should not be surprised to find within the doctrine much that tells us about the shapers of this dazzling truth, and about their societies. But we will also glean a sense of the truth that compelled and drove Christians into formulating such a doctrine. How much depends on getting the Trinity right Most Christian...

Women Together

It may seem curious to claim that Balthasar's scheme has no room for differentiation between, and therefore for relationships among, feminine persons. After all, his understanding of mission and holiness is decisively shaped by particular women - by his study of the Carmelites Th r se of Lisieux and Elizabeth of Dijon, and by his collaboration with Adrienne von Speyr. The Carmelites are explicitly said to have different, if complementary, missions to the Church Elizabeth learns from and...

Why Sex Became so Important to the Modern Churches

Privatization and domestication of Christianity To read medieval compilations of canon law, or the writings of Aquinas, or papal documents relating to the investiture struggle, is to be reminded just how wide-ranging the Western church's sphere of interest and influence once was. What differentiated the medieval church from the early church and the modern church was its lively ideal of Christendom - of what Ernst Troeltsch refers to as an internally uniform Christian civilization (Troeltsch...

Conclusion Women at the Cross and in the Resurrection

Balthasar's portrayal of femininity as indifferent - from which arises, it has been suggested, his inability to establish Mary as a theo-dramatic character - perhaps makes it easy for him to ignore the other presences at the crucifixion. Even in the Fourth Gospel, two other Marys appear beside Jesus' mother in the synoptics, groups of women watch from a distance. It is these women, both in the synoptics and in the Fourth Gospel, whose actions and encounters mark the beginning of the...

The Saints and Sexual Desire

As different as virgin saints may be from Kapur's Elizabeth, they share a noble sexual self and a sacrifice of their desires. A clear difference is that women in the church have become saints from the low side of a social and theological hierarchy. For comparative purposes, I will consider St Rose of Lima (1586-1617), a contemporary in time but worlds away from Elizabeth I. The story of St Rose is positioned, from the start, in terms of a lack of status and power, particularly in relation to...

Dying for It

In many ways, the means to answer the biopolitics of the present and its management of life is to consider the significance of another death that is truly beautiful and desired above all else. Through the biopolitical lens of Western culture death is little more than one physiological stage on life's way, a point at which the body might be incised so that its clues to the mysteries of vitality and pathology may be acquired. Put starkly, death is no longer a watershed but a tractable, if...

David Matzko McCarthy

This statement might disturb many, inasmuch as it rings of sexual repression and frustrated desire. Surely sex ought not to be constrained by an archaic pro-creative end But although out of step with the times, it seems straightforward to begin with simple procreation when introducing a discussion of fecundity. Among the countless things done and intended through sex, sexual activity has an orientation to producing as well, and the end of this orientation is a baby. That...

Sexual Martyr

Kapur's rejuvenation of Elizabeth is a narrative of sexual desire. He tells his story of the Virgin Queen with heavy emphasis on the queen's virginity, which she accepts as a grim political necessity, given that she is not, nor is inclined to be, a virgin. Sex is not a subplot of the film it is a primary conveyance of the plot and, more importantly, of character. Mary, for instance, is the queen whose husband, Philip II, is repulsed by her bed. She is a type, like Cinderella's evil step-mother,...

The Economy of Matrimony

The renunciation of the eschatological imperative in Christian thought and practice is consummated in the modern period.5 It is nevertheless necessary to realize that this transformation of the character of Christianity did not arise through a straightforward rejection of eschatology. Rather, the doctrinal and conceptual territory of eschatology was reoccupied, to use Hans Blumenberg's term, by the promises of human rationality, techno-scientific progress and the socio-political possibilities...

Christopher Hinkle

Fired with love's urgent longings - ah, the sheer grace -I went out unseen, My house being now all stilled. (The Dark Night, stanza 1)1 Poet, mystic, and theologian, St John of the Cross (1542-91) has inspired numerous Christians with his passionate accounts of human desire for God and of the mystical consummation, both devastating and delightful, toward which this desire draws us. This sometimes controversial Spanish Carmelite describes a contemplative path along which all passions,...

Tina Beattie

If one calls her virgin, her child stands up, and married -no one knew her sexually . But if Your mother is incomprehensible, who is capable of comprehending you (Ephrem the Syrian 1989 131) She is indefinitely other in herself. This is doubtless why she is said to be whimsical, incomprehensible, agitated, capricious. . . not to mention her language, in which she sets off in all directions leaving him unable to discern the coherence of any meaning. Hers are...

The Child of

Psychoanalysis exposes a psychological world of alienation and grief focused on the trauma of childhood. Christianity offers a vision of a God who meets us with a sign of hope in the place of our sorrow, perhaps in the place where we are called to be like a little child (Mark 10.15) in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Noel O'Donoghue, writing about Th r se of Lisieux, says that she saw that the figure of the child was central to the message of Jesus (how consistently dogmatic theologies...

Mary Perfection of a Mission

For Balthasar, only Mary, by virtue of her freedom from original sin, has achieved the perfection of indifference, and thus only she can be said to conform perfectly with her mission (Balthasar 1992 21). The femininity of the church, as its openness to God and its perfect response to the prevenient action of God, is most often described in terms of the Marian principle. Mary is associated particularly closely with the contemplative tradition (Balthasar 1961 72), with the (lived, bodily)...

Mission and Personhood

In this section, I shall focus on Balthasar's use of gender terms and of sexual difference with reference to one of the key concepts in his anthropology - personal mission. The idea that each person is given a unique mission by virtue of her incorporation into Christ lies behind many of Balthasar's most distinctive concerns - the importance of contemplative prayer, his interest in the saints as living apologies for Christianity, his rethinking of the tradition of the beatific vision and the...

Original

One of the principal points of conflict at the time of the Reformation in the sixteenth century was the view of human nature held by either side of the discussion. The Reformed side tended to hold a view of human nature which claimed that after the fall, having been created good we became radically corrupted.2 We are saved by God imputing to us a counter-factual goodness which is not really ours at all, but which is made available for us to put on, by Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. The...

Death

Once one becomes alert to it, it is astonishing how frequently death appears in Foucault's writings, sometimes in its literal meaning, and often as a metaphor or rhetorical trope. Foucault is in this at one with the Western cultural and religious tradition, which, as I have argued elsewhere, is founded and built upon a gesture of death (see Jantzen 1998 156-70). Indeed, perhaps it is because the Western symbolic is so saturated with death that we are inured to it and at first may hardly notice...

Contents

1 Subjectivity and Belief 37 2 The Gay Thing Following the Still Small Voice 50 4 There Is No Sexual Difference 76 5 Fecundity Sex and Social Reproduction 86 Part IV QUEER ING TRADITION 129 8 Against Rabbinic Sexuality Textual Reasoning and the Jewish 9 Queer Father Gregory of Nyssa and the Subversion of Identity 147 10 Queering the Beguines Mechthild of Magdeburg, Hadewijch of Anvers, Marguerite Porete 163 11 Bodies Demand Language Thomas Aquinas 176 12 Love's Urgent Longings St John of the...

Reformed Church

In 1522 Luther declared How I dread preaching on the estate of marriage (Luther 2003 100) And yet he preached on it many times. Indeed, he wrote and preached about marriage, sex, sexuality, and women throughout the 1520s, 30s and 40s, until he died he wrote so much that sometimes his ideas are contradictory, and scholars have debated them at some length.2 Nevertheless, a clear message in favor of marriage and against monastic life, and against celibacy in most cases, is apparent in his...

Virginia Burrus

What might it mean to perform a queer reading of Gregory of Nyssa (And what would be the point ) Oddly enough, it might mean to read Gregory for his asceticism. For asceticism and queerness are, arguably, heavily overlapped terms both designate practices that center on resistance to normative discourses of sex and sexuality Thus, David Halperin's paradoxical definition of queerness as an identity without an essence might also be applied to asceticism. Like queerness, asceticism can be said to...

Mystical Queer

The centrality of the Song of Songs to medieval Christian devotional literature, images, and practices sets the stage for an intensely erotic and, at least on the surface, heterosexualized understanding of the relationship between the soul and God. Origen (c. 185-254), the first Christian commentator on the Song of Songs whose work survives, reads the series of erotic poems as an allegory both for the relationship between Christ and the church and for that between Christ and the individual...

Distance

What do these economies of response with respect to the body of Jesus, the Christ, enable us to understand about theology and sexual difference First, I have throughout paralleled the notion of difference with that of distance. This is partly to ensure that difference is always thought relatively, as distance is. There is no pure difference. Difference qua difference is an abstraction no one could recognize. Difference is relative, and distance spatializes that relativity and also suggests the...

Family and Social Reproduction

Marriage and family, inasmuch as they form a social economy, appear to provide an alternative site for social reproduction. If sex in late capitalism is sex without ends, the meaning of sex is constantly negotiated. Often, sexual encounters are assumed to imply certain ends, by the nature of their context and the signals of a common script. For instance, I can narrow the possible meanings of a sexual interchange if I take an acquaintance home to my bed as a stranger. Sex among friends and...

Gerard Loughlin

The Bible is like a body It is a whole composed of many parts, in the pages of which we find other bodies, identities which even now haunt the Western imagination like so many dead bodies in a library. The biblical body is not singular, but many malleable and multiform. St Paul imagined that the Christians to whom he wrote in Corinth constituted a body, whose head was Christ (1 Corinthians 12.12-31). Making Christ head changes the body of the Bible, both in form and in meaning. When the Bible...

Controlling the Female Christian Body

As well as asking why Christian energies have focused so much on the control of sexuality in modern times, it is interesting to consider in more detail how such control has been exercised. This topic can be interestingly pursued in relation to male and female sexuality, heterosexuality, and homosexuality Here I will concentrate only on Christianity and female heterosexuality, since I will argue in the final part of this chapter that where sexuality is concerned this is the area of greatest...

Sex without Ends

The history of modern sex can be told as a turn inward, toward sexual subjectivity over against social constraints, toward personal fulfillment over against economic alliances and household management, toward love over against procreation. Modern sex, at its best, is an inter-subjective reality. It is an expression of the sexual self, and the self is drawn, through this need for expression, into relationships that are conceived as sexual. Those who identify a relationship as something social,...

Queer Lives

Much early feminist theology made its way by appealing to the experience of women an experience that - previously excluded by male hegemony - now spoke with an undeniable power of lives lived (by women) rather than projected or theorized (by men). But with time this category of critique and reproach was weakened by its fragmentation into multiple experiences and by the rise of discourse as the productive - constructive - context for any and all experience. Experience is no longer an innocent,...

Emergence

From Plato we have learned that desire is not merely a matter of being drawn by the attractive, the beautiful and of a lack which must be fulfilled. It is equally a matter of travail, of expectant and obscure pregnancy, of frustration in something one is trying to say, make, or do. If desire is about sex, it is equally about birth. But both aspects are always present to have sex is to bring to birth. To bring to birth is to enter into a new erotic union with the world in some fashion. But if...

The Conjugal Catacomb

As with Fight Club, the Christian churches have moved into the underground as a response to the transformation of eroticism. The catacombs that have been erected - those subterranean tombs - serve only one purpose. It is there that eros is made safe through an unholy marriage with the thanatological criteria of the ideology of morality. The proclamation of a new creation becomes little more than a pious platitude and the eschatological ethic of love is definitively eschewed in the assertion of...

Paul Fletcher

As if the laws of nature to which love submits were not more tyrannical and more odious than the laws of society (Berl 1929 404 cited in Benjamin 1999 493) In his Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, Origen attempts, following Paul's bidding in Romans 5.14, to describe the relationship between Adam's sin and the transgressions of his descendants. Central to the description that Origen offers is the question of how Adam's sin came to be borne by all his progeny when many of his children's...

Theses on Aquinas and Butler

The account lends support to a non-standard but textually compelling series of observations about Aquinas's use of natural law that distinguish it sharply from many modern uses. In the Romans commentary, human beings cannot expect to reach correct conclusions about natural law under conditions of injustice - so that Aquinas's account unexpectedly allows different uses by those differing on what justice and gratitude entail. Although there is no budging Aquinas from his conclusion about the...

Daniel Boyarin

In this chapter I do not so much want to indicate content for a Jewish theology of sex, as point to the peculiar ways that a peculiar people undertake the theological enterprise itself. Not given to forms of philosophical discourse that other Jews (including Christians) mobilize in their doing of theological work (and which might possibly, at least, be the only form of discourse that merits the name theology), the Rabbis, famously or notoriously, work out values and religious ideas through two...

Queer Communities

When I was writing Sex and the Church, I might have argued that the queer community could function in a similar fashion to the black community. Now I'm not so sure. Part of the problem is simply that a huge schism seems to exist between secular queers and religious queers. Secular queer books and conferences have rarely (never in my experience) included religious components, and gay and lesbian Christians rarely reach out to include substantial dialogue with non-religious audiences. We could...

Queering Hans Urs von Balthasars Trinity

The theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar has been immensely influential within the Roman Catholic Church (see Henricci 1991). Balthasar was deeply admired by Pope John Paul II, and by Pope Benedict XVI, when he was Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Balthasar was a key figure in the founding of the journal Communio, a conservative response to the more liberal journal Concilium.4 Paul McPartlan (1997 51) notes Balthasar's profound influence on the...

Truth about the Body of

What is it to tell the truth about a human body Is it the truth of a medical chart or an autopsy report The body is described with its age and weight, medical conditions, signs of traumatic injury or inward decay. The body is reported science. Or is the truth of a body more like a fashion spread in a glossy magazine The body has been bathed and prepared with namable products for its skin and hair, new perfumes and make-up colors. It has been regimented or surgically altered to the prevailing...

Ministerial Priesthood Men Only Representatives

Balthasar's argument follows the gendered Trinity right into the genitalia of human beings, although, as Schindler notes, the primitive source of 'gender' at least in the theology of Balthasar is 'ontological' before it is physiological, even if it is through physiology that we first discover gender differences (Schindler 1996 259). Balthasar's objection to women priests is clear However the One who comes forth from the Father is designated, as a human being he must be a man if his mission is...

Woman at the Cross

One of the most powerful passages of the Theo-Drama is Balthasar's description of Mary's participation in the kenotic silencing of the incarnate Word of God. Her silent obedience that makes possible the conception and birth of the infant Christ is mirrored by her solidarity, standing at the foot of the Cross, with the silence of his death - a silence from which the speech of Pentecost is in turn born. Balthasar returns again and again to the Johannine account of the Passion, with Mary and the...

Gender

To begin with the gratingly obvious, there are in Foucault's writings on religion, as indeed in all his writings, the tell-tale slips and turns of phrase that make it obvious that only a man could have written them, and a man who had not problematized gender or thought much about the power at work in the assumption of masculinity as normative. He writes, for example, of humanism as the little whore of all thought (Carrette 1999 99). He writes of the development of the subject in relation to the...

Jesus Corpses

Much Christian theology claims to be about a divine incarnation. It is also, and perhaps more emphatically, a speech for managing that incarnation by controlling its awkward implications. Some particularly awkward consequences can only be managed by passing over members of the body of God in prudish silence. Looked at in this way, the history of Christian theology can be seen as a long flight from the full consequences of its central profession. The big business of theology has been to...

The Shape of Desire

Transforming the beloved in her Lover. The popularity of St John's poetry testifies to the power then as now of communicating religious truths in the language of erotic love. Throughout his prose writings as well John seeks to evoke the more demanding desire for God by employing imagery which stimulates and attracts.5 This linking of sexual desire and desire for God is not for John a mere technique. Rather John insists that this is the intended significance of sexual desire. In directing us...

The Radically Redeemed

As the Mother of God, model of the church and the radically Redeemed (Rahner 1965 218), Mary is a sign of contradiction to the finite mind. Being both mother and creature of the new creation, she reveals to us what we will finally be in a Kingdom and Queendom where love overwhelms the law, life triumphs over death, and the human comes into the fullness of his or her divinization in Christ. This redeeming process is decisively inaugurated with Mary's fiat, which brings God into intimate...

Femininity and Mission

Any discussion of sexual difference in Balthasar's work must quickly move to a discussion of his concept of femininity. This is partly because, following the logic of Genesis 2, he regards the creation of woman and the emergence of sexual difference as the same moment. Linked with this is the fact that femininity, within Balthasar's work, emerges as a clearly defined set of characteristics and ways of relating. In a familiar pattern, the existence and nature of woman (or the feminine principle)...

Queering Tradition

The first two chapters on queering the Western tradition are concerned with two sets of men - fathers - who have dominated later Western thought and practice, Jewish and Christian, and that more nebulous - doubtful - Western site, the Judeo-Christian. We may think we have got it straight about these fathers, but as so often, matters turn out to be queerer than at first appears. Daniel Boyarin starts with a celebrated biblical text - Leviticus 18.22 - and asks what it prohibited and why. The...

Queer Prayer

In New Elucidations, Balthasar sets quasi-magical prayer techniques, such as he believes to dominate most non-Christian practices of prayer, over against the Marian model of crea-turely femininity in the worship of God. He describes prayer techniques as a kind of religious homosexuality, in which the creature would relate himself to God in a masculine fashion . . . whose perverse encroachment on God himself is depicted in the story of Sodom and its destruction. With God there can be no union of...

James Alison

What I hope to do in this chapter is to further the possibilities for adult discussion in the Catholic Church. One of the things about adult discussion is that it presupposes people who are both capable of being wrong, and yet who take responsibility for what they say. One of the things about Catholic adult discussion is that, in addition to those two dimensions, it should be charitable and generous-spirited towards differing opinions within the discussion. Please forgive me in advance if I...

Promising Ashes

Yet although there is much in Foucault's writings that is unacceptable from a queer feminist perspective, I also find in them resources and strategies that can take us forward. It is after all Foucault who has, perhaps more than anyone else, fostered the tactic of listening to that which has been silenced and thus retrieving the marginalized past. It is Foucault whose example of painstaking archival research has shown just how illuminating the development of a genealogy can be, just how...

The Alienated Self

Unlike Irigaray, Kristeva does not challenge the necessity of the Oedipus complex for the development of socialized subjectivity, which means that she also accepts the necessary masculinity of the subject of the symbolic order (see Grosz 1989 63-9).6 Through the intervention of the father in the early mother-child relationship, the child achieves the separation required to become an individuated subject, modeled on the paternal example. But for Kristeva, the masculine subject is a less stable...

Grace M Jantzen

'Aren't you sure of what you're saying Are you going to change yet again, shift your position according to the questions that are put to you, and say that the objections are not really directed at the place from which you are speaking Are you going to declare yet again that you have never been what you have been reproached with being . . . Do not ask who I am and do not ask me to remain the same leave it to our bureaucrats and our police to see that our papers are in order. At least spare us...

Queering Modernity

Hans Urs von Balthasar can be placed as easily under the heading of modernity as that of tradition. For while he stands in a line of queer Christian thinkers - of those who thought within the queer symbolics of Christianity - he is also exemplary of modernity's straightening of that tradition of its heterosexualization. Jane Shaw's chapter on the Reformed and Enlightened Church, on the effects of Reformation and Enlightenment on Christian thinking about the sexes and their relationships, ably...

Notes on Contributors

James Alison writes, lectures and teaches in the UK, the USA and Latin America. He is the author, among other books, of KnowingJesus (1998), Faith Beyond Resentment (2001), On Being Liked (2003) and Undergoing God (2006). Tina Beattie is Reader in Christian Theology at the University of Surrey Roehampton, UK. She is the author of God's Mother, Eve's Advocate (1999), Woman (2003) and New Catholic Feminism Theology and Theory (2006). Daniel Boyarin is the Hermann P. and Sophia Taubman Professor...

Jesus Sex and Jesus Gender

Christian traditions have wanted to hide on Jesus' body the organs of male sex at the same time that they have wanted to insist upon his male gender. A full consideration of this division might look to the difference between male organ and male power, between what theorists distinguish as the penis and the phallus. The penis is an organ while the phallus is a totem. I propose for the moment only the beginning of a simpler analysis. Consider how the distinction between sex and gender in Jesus...

Queer Mixtio

For Bernard of Clairvaux, Mary the mother of Jesus was a cause of astonishment, for in herself she was an impossible mixture of virginity and maternity, and so a marvel like the child to whom she gave birth the supreme mixtio of humanity and divinity With faith and the human heart mixed we can only wonder at her and her child. For it is marvellous what the human heart can accomplish in yielding to faith, how it can believe God became man and Mary gave birth and remained a virgin. Just as iron...

Jane Shaw

It is often presumed within church circles that the tradition speaks with a univocal and ahis-torical voice. Much gets promoted in Christian sexual ethics, not least in opposition to women (of all sexual orientations) and homosexuality (in both sexes), under the flag of an unchanging traditional view (sometimes called traditionalist) - and this is always posited in opposition to the liberal and innovative ideas (sometimes called revisionist) of those who wish to affirm the full humanity and...

Fecundity and the Social Body

I have argued that sex is a means of social reproduction, and in the dominant economy of desire, the social reproduction of desire must be concealed. Sexual desire appears as natural and a self-validating end-in-itself, so that the economy of desire is justified, it seems, by the needs of the unencumbered self. Sex offers liminal moments of pleasure, but it can never be satisfied as a matter of course, in the everyday world. Everyday we want to want more. This is a basic principle of life in...

Trinity

If emergence resides in God himself for Thomas, it is because God is triune. In Plato we remain in the between of desire because we remain in orthos doxa and never attain to epis-teme. We remain in the realm of the daimonic sphere between gods and mortals. Our orientation to the eternal is both to a primordial past by recollection, and to a never-arriving future (since arrivals are in time) through emergence. The between of eros is for Plato also of heavenly birth or emergence nevertheless, it...

Fragments and Ghosts

To start with one interesting and perhaps unobvious example, the theories produced by the emerging discourse of subaltern studies can be very helpful, I found, in understanding the experiential shift of being inside and outside of faith communities. Beginning in the middle 1980s, the subaltern studies group attempted to transport the insights of Antonio Gramsci into rural India, not by writing a traditional history from below or incorporating disenfranchised Indians into existing paradigms, but...

Subjectivity and Belief

Because the mountain grass Cannot but keep the form Where the mountain hare has lain. (William Butler Yeats, Memory, 1916) In the Fall of 1995, I completed the first draft of Sex and the Church (Rudy 1997), a book which argued that sexism and homophobia were inextricably intertwined (especially for the Christian right), that the socially constructed distinction between heterosexuality and homosexuality was a poor way to conceptualize Christian ministry, and that progressive Christians should...

Black and White Communities

In an ideal world, this chapter would end here, with a call for a complex subjectivity and a way of seeing myself as both inside and outside the condition of faith. My pragmatic side, however, insists on a conclusion that addresses how we might execute a way of life that refuses the paradox of belief and non-belief, one that embodies fragmented subjectivity. What follows from here does not (and cannot) detail that life in full, because, quite honestly, I haven't yet found such a reality....

Queer Theology

It is has always been a queer thing. It is a very strange thing indeed, especially for anyone living in the modern West of the twenty-first century. For theology runs counter to a world given over to material consumption, that understands itself as accidental, without any meaning other than that which it gives to itself, and so without any fundamental meaning at all. Against this, theology relativizes all earthly projects, insisting that to understand ourselves we...

Gay Marriage

Here we cannot discuss all the complex questions raised by the idea - and now the practice - of civil same-sex marriage or partnership. These issues have been creatively and entertainingly addressed by Mark Jordan (2005). But we may note some of the ironies in the hostility of many Christian pastors, but not only pastors, to same-sex marriage, and wonder why they find such marriage unacceptable. For on the face of it, the advent of legal samesex marriages would seem to mark the triumph of...

Amy Hollywood

You can reduce religion to sex only if you don't especially believe in either one. (Michael Warner 1996) In the face of what the social historian Judith Bennett refers to as the virtual absence of actual women from the sources of medieval lesbianisms, a number of literary and cultural scholars have recently turned to texts by and or about women to uncover homoerotic possibilities within the metaphoric structures of their writings or in the practices ascribed to women or female characters within...

Mark D Jordan

For many contemporary speakers, telling the truth about Jesus means finding the real or historical Jesus underneath the stories and theologies constructed around him. The truth about Jesus, they affirm, is the truth about what he really said and did as over against what various Christian communities made of him. So telling the truth about Jesus' body would mean reminding listeners that he was a Jewish peasant who did manual labor rather than an Anglo-Saxon movie star surrounded by a constant...

Gregorys Virginity

In the treatise On Virginity, the earliest of his surviving writings,5 Gregory skillfully demonstrates his humility by representing himself as lacking what he nonetheless dares to praise - namely virginity. He expresses regret that his own knowledge of virginity's beauty is like water placed out of reach of a thirsty man - vain and useless. Happy they who have still the power of choosing the better way, and have not debarred themselves from it by engagements of the secular (tCC koivCC pico) as...

Queer Origins

Having encountered the lives of queer Christians within and without the contemporary church, we now turn to consider the Western tradition, beginning with two of its paradigm texts Plato and the Bible. For it is through the reading - interpreting - of these textual bodies that later Christians and Jews developed their theological understanding of the body and its desires. Not only these texts, of course. But these two are fundamental for thinking about eros, and then agape for thinking about...

Enlightenment and Church

When we turn to the Enlightenment period, and to our second paradigm shift, interestingly but perhaps not surprisingly we find ourselves turning not so much to the theologians and the churches but rather to the scientists and society, for it was science and society which led the way, and the church followed. Of course, Luther and company assumed without question the prevailing scientific ideas about sex and gender of their own day. In the early modern period, relying still on the ancient...

Virgin Mother New

The riches - some might say the excesses - of the Marian tradition have their origins in three theological insights of the early church Mary is Virgin, Mary is Mother of God or Godbearer (Theotokos), and Mary is the New Eve. In patristic theology, none of these titles is an optional extra - all of them are central to the doctrine of the incarnation and the meaning of salvation. From the fourth century, Mary's virginity has been increasingly interpreted as a sign of sexual purity, with the...

Balthasar and Sexual Difference Introductory Notes

Why is sexual difference important for Balthasar Diastasis - difference in relation - is of central importance for the structure of his theology Theologically, the diastasis between God and creation, within which the freedom of the creature becomes possible, is grounded in the diastasis of the persons of the Trinity. Anthropologically, the human person exists as inescapably ordered towards union with what is other than her, a union that brings about not self-contained completeness but...

The Risk of Desire

When the breeze blew from the turret, Given that institutional Christianity represents for many queer individuals the most visible source of oppression, asserting the potential godliness of gay sex from within a Christian framework fulfills a crucial theological and pastoral role. On the other hand, from the far left wing of Christianity and within a more spiritually ambiguous queer popular culture, the association of sex and transcendence has (in the interest of pro-gay apologetics) been made...

Queer Church

The chapters in the second part of the book remain with the church, and consider how Christian thought queers accepted notions of sexual desire, difference, and fecundity. For as the authors show, Christianity's eschatological orientation changes the way these things are thought. The point is not to queer the tradition, but to let its orientation queer us. In many ways, Elizabeth Stuart's chapter is programmatic for this book certainly for the argument of this introduction. For Stuart...

Lying and Lying Together or How Do Bodies Tell the Truth

A second oblique approach to Aquinas on natural law turns to his account of lying. In the Summa, Aquinas almost always bases his account of a vice, in Aristotelian fashion, on its corresponding virtue. At least twice he departs from that procedure. Both times he appeals to the law of nature rather than the virtues. The odd cases have never become important to a comprehensive account. Both anomalies resonate most powerfully not with the natural theory of Aristotle, but with the natural theory of...

Loves Wound

Some might perhaps think that these are the words of one in pain, not those of one in joy, especially when she says They struck me they wounded me they took away my veil. But if you consider the meaning of the words carefully, you will see they are the expressions of one who glories most in what she enjoys. . . . The soul that looks up towards God, and conceives that good desire for His eternal beauty, constantly experiences an ever new yearning for that which lies ahead, and her desire is...

Gods Bottom

Readers of Gregory's Life of Moses find their view of the biographical subject screened not only by the original biblical text of which Moses is both subject and (presumed) author but also by the added layers of Gregory's narrative simplifications and theoretical expansion. Inscribed, reduced, sublimated - in the end, Moses is made as fine and light as the thread of a spider web, enveloped in a tunic the color of air (Life of Moses 2.191 Gregory of Nyssa 1978 103).14 One begins to suspect that...

Elizabeth Stuart

Queer theology derives its origins not from the fictitious construction of human sexual experience as so much modern sexual theology has done with ultimately disappointing, though sometimes exhilarating results, but from the very life of God incarnate in the body of Christ and particularly in the sacraments, each one of which, every time it is celebrated, makes Christ as truly present as he was in a crib in Bethlehem or on a cross at Calvary. Sarah Coakley sees in Judith Butler's program of...

The Immanent Trinity Only Incestuous Homoerotics

How is one to stage the inner life of God To attain this near impossible task Balthasar employs gender terms, deriving from but transforming Aristotle. And in case we forget that analogy operates within an always greater difference, Balthasar uses the prefix uber - translated variously as over, above, supra or super - to signify that when supramasculine (ubermannlich) and suprafeminine (uberweiblich) are used of God, they are not to be literally or directly related to the masculine and feminine...

The Economic Trinity The Single Gendered Drama Continues

Balthasar's trinitarian drama - at the economic level - makes two key assumptions. Following the Johannine testimony, Balthasar argues that the Father is known only through the Son. This is the witness of most of the New Testament. Furthermore, for Balthasar, the Son as male is key in properly representing the supramasculine originless begetting Father. A woman could not represent this aspect of the Father. This is why, so to speak, God became incarnate in a man. Balthasar never tells us how...

Epilogue Philology as Theology

If there is anything distinctive about the Jewish way of doing theology, it is that there is no distinction between systematic and biblical theology, no distinction between dogmatic and narrative theology. Jews traditionally have done theology through reading narratives and producing narratives on narratives. There can be, I assert as a dogmatic claim, no Jewish theology without philology, no Jewish theology without close reading and textual reasoning. If the philology is not adequate, if the...

Going Underground

In David Fincher's highly successful adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's cult novel, Fight Club 1992 the viewer is presented with an unwittingly prescient parable for the church of the twenty-first century. The film interrogates the transmutations of desire in the context of late-capital, and the manner in which this culture of desiring consumption is also a culture of death. Released in 1999, Fight Club begins with the narrator, possibly named Jack, sitting in a chair with a gun in his mouth in a...

Queer Orthodoxy

In the sixth part of the book we turn to consider some key doctrinal topoi the doctrines of Trinity, Christ, Mary, and the saints. Here the point is not to queer an ostensibly straight tradition, but to show that the tradition's doctrinal heart is already queer, and that as a named undertaking queer theology is itself belated. Angelo Scola, in a study of the nuptial mystery which largely draws on the work of Hans Urs von Balthasar, notes the great perplexity caused by those who have gone so far...

Queering Gender Queering Death

There is, however, also another silence, even deeper than the silence about women and that is silence about birth. I am not referring here to motherhood, but to what I have characterized elsewhere as natality natality as a philosophical category parallel to mortality see Jantzen 1998 . Death, mortality, has been taken as a central category of thought throughout the Western tradition. Plato, at its inception, characterizes a philosopher as someone who makes dying his profession death will...

Eugene F Rogers Jr

In what follows I elaborate on the claim, common to Thomas Aquinas and Judith Butler, that a body is that which demands language. First, I undermine the claim that natural law functions in Aquinas primarily to give content to morality, particularly in the case of what he calls, in the Summa Theologiae and the Commentary on Romans, the vice against nature, and I heighten the surprisingness of the claims with a comparison to Butler. Second, I take up a possible objection to the claim that natural...

Dont Tell Me What To Do with My Body Sexual Control and Church Decline

A weakness of classical theories of secularization which appeal to constants of modernization like rationalization in order to explain religious decline is their inability to account for the accelerated decline of churchgoing in many parts of the West since the 1960s. In Britain, for example, churchgoing roughly halved in the century between 1860 and 1960, then halved again in just three decades see Bruce 2002 . Even in the USA there is growing evidence that the 1960s initiated a new,...

Natural Law Meets Judith Butler

Natural law in ethics sounds like the very heart of an essentialist program. And the greatest exponent of natural law is supposed to be Thomas Aquinas. Not only Catholic, but even Protestant, Jewish, and non-theistic accounts of natural law cite and claim him.1 Yet a queer natural law it is. It is a natural law of which we can know with certainty only the proposition do good, avoid evil. It is a natural law in which animals do not properly par-ticipate.2 It is a natural law that no human being...

The Source of Desire

All things ceased I went out from myself, Theology must address the multifaceted relationship of sexual desire to desire for God in order to speak to those who, having felt the full force of the challenge queerness presents to traditional Christian doctrine, still sense or are at least open to the possibility that sexual practice can lead us towards God. The fluidity, gender crossing, and affinity with male homosexuality which shapes John's desire for God contributes, I have suggested, to a...

Were the Men of Sodom Sodomites

It is important at this point for me to discuss the story of the Destruction of Sodom, since this text has often been interpreted as encoding a condemnation of - and therefore production or presupposition of - a category of homosexuality Cantarella 1992 195 . The story is as follows Genesis 19.1-12 . God, having become aware of the evil of the people of Sodom has determined to destroy the city and sent angels in the form of men to announce this to Lot, so that he and his family can be saved. In...

Penetrating Leviticus

Do not lie with a man a woman's lyings misksbei 'issa that is to ceba Leviticus 18.22 .1 This verse is usually taken in both scholarly and popular parlance to prohibit homosexuality tout court. What I would like to show is that the rabbinic culture of late antiquity did not understand this verse in terms of sexuality at all, although it did, of course, in terms of sex.2 I begin with the assumption that there is no more reason a priori to assume that ancient Jewish culture - biblical or talmudic...

Graham Ward

In Christian theology of the twentieth century Karl Barth and Hans Urs von Balthasar each attempted to situate the creation and vocation of man and woman within their wider systematic concerns see Barth 1936-75 III I-IV Balthasar 1986b 183-266 and Balthasar 1988-98 II, 365-95 . For Barth sexual difference was a repetition on a horizontal and social level of the vertical covenant between God and human beings. Sexual difference rehearses the dialectic of the self and the other the dialectic...

Introduction

Everyone knows that Jesus went to a wedding at Cana in Galilee John 2.1-11 . But who got married Strangely, we are not told. The story is not about the happy couple, but about some of their guests - Jesus and his mother and his disciples - and how one of them -Jesus - turned water into wine, the best wine at the feast, and how this was the first of Jesus' signs a revelation of his glory. But who got married Who was the bridegroom to whom the steward spoke in his amazement that the best wine had...

Basel Libellus For John The Evangelist

Basel Libellus For John The Evangelist

This book has been several years in the making, and I must thank all those who have worked on the project over that time. My greatest gratitude is of course to the contributors, to those who have been with the project from the first, and those who joined later, when others had fallen away. To all of them I owe more than it is possible to say. I must also thank the equally stalwart team at Blackwell, who patiently kept faith with the book. Alex Wright was the commissioning editor, but Rebecca...

Eros

So far, we have seen that for Plato desire is always involved in human knowing. We have also seen that a desire for knowledge is provoked initially by desire for beauty. Several dialogues show that this is in the first place characteristically the physical beauty of a human other. It is clear that human erotic desire, and of course most often the eros of male for male, is crucial for Plato's account of human understanding. But does this mean that he is not interested in the biologically and...

Catherine Pickstock

Ever since Plato, philosophy has seen that there is a profound link between the question of knowledge and the question of desire. Why is it that we desire at all, when it involves so much labor And is the question of the motivation of learning a clue to the nature of knowledge as such This link is particularly apparent in Plato's Meno, one of the most important loci for the Platonic doctrine of recollection. Socrates' interlocutor Meno puts to him a problem which has come to be known as the...