This course examines the beliefs of Christian theology from feminist and womanist perspectives. Students read deeply in such feminist and womanist theologians as Delores Williams, Elizabeth Johnson, Ada-Maria Isazi-Diaz, Kwok Pui-lan, Monica Coleman, Wonhee Anne Joh, Nancy Pineda-Madrid, Andrea Smith, and more. The course is unique in that it centers theological reflection in several key literary texts, particularly in five novels. The novels read will be these: Arabian Jazz, by Diane Abu-Jabar, Meridian by Alice Walker, The Woman Who Owned the Shadows by Laura Gunn Allen, So Far from God by Ana Castillo, Obasan by Joy Kogawa and poetry selections in Janice Mirikitani’s Shedding Silence. (This course I team-teach with Professor Yolanda Pierce, also of Princeton Theological Seminary, who is Associate Professor of African American Religion and Literature and Liaison to Princeton University Center of African-American Studies.)
An analysis of antagonisms between women and men – also between men and men as well as between women and women – all of whom encounter the pervasive constraint and oppression of patriarchy and its structures of gender and sexual injustice. Women, here, are foregrounded as the primary bearers of an imposed social suffering of patriarchy and sexism, yet the sting of this suffering, and the pervasive way it is experienced, are always different and changing depending on how women are inserted in various racialized, sexualized, economic, and often religious, cultural, national and global labor systems.
The arts of feminist and womanist vision and thought worldwide challenge the many pervasive patriarchal constructs of Christianity and its traditional theologies. Female specific images of the divine and of liberating spirit are born from many religious traditions, even Christian ones. Alternative spiritualities (their arts, visions and practices), often marginal to official religions, are crucial to feminist liberating spirit.
Once again these visionary popular arts are catalysts of, and dependent upon, social movements of women (and some men, and of transgendered, transsexual, queer, intersex, and two-spirit persons) working for liberating spirit by and for women, opening out, at their best, onto a liberation that is a counter-force, also, amid economic, racial, and imperial antagonisms.