Today is the release date of Voices of Feminist Liberation: Writings in Celebration of Rosemary Radford Ruether, which I co-edited with Emily Silverman and Whitney Bauman. It was very much a labor of love. It was released at a price meant for institutional buyers, so if you could ask your library to order a copy, I would be eternally grateful.
I've written previously about Ruether in my first diary in The Religious Left series, in a book review of her book of ecological theology and ethics Gaia and God, and for the My Favorite Authors/Books series. Cassiodorus reviewed her book America, Amerikkka: Elect Nation and Imperial Violence. A little overview of the contents of the book in her honor on the flip.
Voices of Feminist Liberation has essays by fourteen of Ruether's doctoral students, grouped into three sections: The Crucible of Experience and the Life of Dialogue; Legacies of Colonialism and Resistance; and Angles on Ecofeminism.
The Crucible of Experience and the Life of Dialogue
We titled this section based on a statement Ruether made in her correspondence with the Trappist monk Thomas Merton: "I distrust all academic theology. Only theology bred in the crucible of experience is any good." This emphasis on experience is coupled with Ruether's profoundly dialogical ethics, laid out in depth in my "The Religious Left" link above.
Wanda Deifelt opens the section with personal reminiscences of Ruether seen through the lens of citizenship formation.
In an extremely powerful essay, Dori Grinenko Baker recounts her work with teenaged girls in Virginia, noting how Ruether's method allows her to help them see past the patriarchal structures that limit them and shows how communal listening offers healing from the wounds a male-dominant society inflicts.
I have an essay on how Ruether's theology helped me sort out the puzzlement I felt as a closeted gay adolescent when I heard a seventeenth-century opera that exploded all of the terms on which I maintained an identity based on sexual renunciation.
Rita Lester describes how Ruether's theology opened her to seeing tradition as malleable and contested; this opening prepared her to absorb the critical approach to religious studies advanced by Russell McCutcheon. She describes how moving from a liberal Christian to a more critical perspective in her teaching changed the classroom dynamics in a conservative college in Nebraska.
Emily Silverman describes her gradual, and painful, realization that the liberal Zionism she espoused was actually a form of the revisionist Zionism that both Hannah Arendt and Ruether diagnosed as fundamentally inimical to peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Legacies of Colonialism and Resistance
Jennifer Scheper Hughes revisions our understanding of Bartolome de las Casas, pointing out ways in which his advocacy of the indigenous population feminized and infantilized the very people he tried to save from annihilation.
Shelley Wiley discusses Haitian Vodou as a decolonizing spirituality, bringing Ruether's early engagement with the postcolonial theorist Franz Fanon back into the limelight.
Diane Capitani sees in the novels of the Haitian writer Edwidge Danticat and Alejo Carpentier models for revisioning the idea of Christ as one who suffers under colonial domination, rather than as an imperial savior.
Andrea Giovannoni discusses the legacy of U.S. torture policy, its continuation in the Obama era, and how the theologies of Ruether and Johann Baptist Metz offer dangerous memories as a basis for resisting torture in any form.
Nancy Pineda-Madrid turns to Ruether's understanding of "redemption" as a socio-political category rooted in slave release to explore the significance of redemption for Latina theology.
Angles on Ecofeminism
Stephanie Mitchem gives an overview of Ruether's ecological thought through the central metaphor of making the world "home" in various contexts.
Sarah Robinson compares the ecological ethics of the Muslim scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Ruether, stressing their commonalities across religious and ideological divides.
B. Teresa de Grace-Morris uses Ruether's thought to tease out theological motifs in Alice Walker's writings. She describes how Walker enacts four major shifts in thinking that Ruether proposes:
1) From social relations of men and women across social classes based on patriarchal dominance as the "order of creation" to a recognition that patriarchal dominance is the root of distorted relationships and a shift to gender equality, equity and mutual interrelations between men and women in all aspects of lifeWhitney Bauman explores affinities between postmodern ecological thought and Ruether's ethics.
2) From a concept of one superior culture (white Western Christian) to be imposed on all other peoples to "save" and to "civilize" them, to a respect for diversity of human cultures in dialogue and mutual learning, overcoming racist hierarchy and defending particularly the bioregional indigenous cultures presently on the verge of extinction
3) From a theology that defines God as hold all sovereign power outside of and ruling over creation to a concept of God/Goddess who is under and around all things, sustaining and renewing creation, human and non-human, as one
4) From an ethic that defines non-human entities of the earth and universe as having only utilitarian use values for humans for industrial development production, consumption, and profit to a view of all things as having intrinsic value to be respected and celebrated for their own being
It's a real joy to offer these fine young scholars the exposure they deserve. It is equally a joy to honor our teacher, Rosemary Ruether, with this volume.
P.S. Gratitude for rec list!