Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Transformative Lutheran Theologies: Feminist, Womanist, and Mujerista Perspectives

This book is outstanding on a number of levels. First of all, it is a collection of relatively brief essays outlining many of the key emphases of Lutheran theology. In that sense, readers can engage it as a primer in Lutheran theology and interpretation. It simultaneously functions as a primer in feminist, womanist, and mujerista perspectives as they come into conversation with the Lutheran theological tradition. I found this to be a rich approach, because they authors come at both aspects of this conversation (the Lutheran and the feminist/womanist/mujerista) with a generosity of interpretation that invites readers to see, for the most part, what is positive and contributes to forward movement in theological conversation.

It helps to see the titles of the essays:

Part 1: Legacies and Margins

1. Historical and Theological Legacies of Feminism and Lutheranism
L. DeAne Lagerquist and Caryn D. Riswold
2. The Elusive Lure of the Lotus
Mary (Joy) Philip

Part 2: God and Humanity
3. Inhabiting Paradox: God and Feminist Theology for the Third Wave
Caryn D. Riswold

4. God’s Heart Revealed in Eden: Luther on the Character of God and the Vocation of Humanity
Kristen E. Kvam

Part 3: sin and grace

5. Sin from a Queer, Lutheran Perspective
Mary E. Lowe

6. Who Are You? Christ and the Imperative of Subjectivity
Anna Mercedes

Part 4: The Work and Person of Christ
7. Through Mujerista Eyes: Stories of Incarnate Redemption
Alicia Vargas

8. Putting the Cross in Context: Atonement through Covenant
Marit Trelstad

9. Christ as Bride/Groom: A Lutheran Feminist Relational Christology
Kathryn A. Kleinhans

10. The Person of Christ from a Feminist Perspective: Human and Divine, Male and Female
Mary J. Streufert

Part 5: Spirit and Body

11. Spirit and Body: A Lutheran-Feminist Conversation
Cheryl M. Peterson

12. Experiencing the Spirit: The Magnificat, Luther, and Feminists
Lois Malcolm

Part 6. Knowing and Living

13. Hush No More! Constructing an African American Lutheran Womanist Ethic
Beverly Wallace

14. Being Church as, in, and against White Privilege
Cynthia Moe-Lobeda

Part 7:Hope and the Future
15. In the Flesh: A Feminist Vision of Hope
Krista E. Hughes

16. Hoping for More: How Eschatology Matters for Lutheran Feminist Theologies
Deana Thompson

One can immediately see how the themes are equally influenced by the traditional loci of what be called traditional Lutheran theology (arising out of the confessions and Melanchthon's Loci) and the concerns and themes of the feminist/womanist/mujerista traditions.

As a white male reader, I have to remind myself (and this book does a spectacular job of reminding me of this) that I could come to the idea that there is only one Lutheran theology, and it is the one I currently hold. This book expands my perspective on many levels, in beneficial ways.

The essays are, individually, also incredibly well written. You can tell they arose out of an ongoing conversation. I appreciate many of these theologians for their own merits, and encourage readers to read their books, if available. But as an introduction to these themes in Lutheran theology from an important and often silenced perspective, this book simply can't be beat, and Augsburg Fortress is to be commended for publishing it. I hope it is read very widely.

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