The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Going to SAU we may not have always be Catholic or religious but we are told to take some theology classes. Some may find it boring, some may find it interesting. I personally took a strong interest in Theology after learning about Liberation Theology. Feminist Theology in particular may help some young women at SAU find some interest in Theology or in the Bible.
I interviewed Lisa Powell, a Professor and Chair of the Theology department as well the director of Women and Gender studies to explain a little bit of what Feminist Theology is all about.
- What got you interested in Liberation Theology?
“I became interested in liberation theology when I was introduced to it in graduate school, and learning about the differing interpretations of Christianity from perspectives other than those I was raised with was eye opening for me. I was at the same time interacting with other students from different Christian backgrounds, different races and ethnicities and it felt like my whole faith was opening up in a new and exciting way.”
- Why do you think it is important for people to look at this view of Theology?
“Because it is important for people to realize that all forms of Christianity are interpretations that come from specific contexts.”
- Can you tell me a little bit about Feminist Theology specifically and some theologians/authors you think people should read about if they are interested?
“Feminist theology arose from women trying to reconclie their faith in a life-giving God, with a religious tradition that in many ways has oppressed and silenced them. It recognizes that Jesus says he comes to give abundant life, and that the gospel is a word of freedom, spiritual freedom but also more than that. Jesus says he comes to proclaim freedom for captives, to release the oppressed. The message of Jesus and the way he ministered in his life shows a God who wants all to flourish, women included, and so they strive to bring this out in theology, expose theologies that actually serve to oppress women, that are rooted in misogyny.”
- How has (or if it has) Feminist Theology helped you in your Profession and in understanding religion as a whole?
“It has given me comfort when I’ve experienced the burden of sexism in this field of study and profession–it is an extremely male dominated discipline and the old boys network still rules the day in many ways, so the pioneers in the field, who dealt with sexism even more explicitly give me courage to press on. Their work also helps me break away from the male-oriented images of God that I grew up with. It’s been a journey–how to pray without imagining my prayers going to an old white man in the sky, how to find hope for the church even though it continues to resist women’s leadership. It names the pain, the abuse, the oppression, gives me words for it, and also frees our theological imagination to consider new language to describe God or to recover language, images, and traditions that were buried by the church in patriarchal dominance.”
- How do you think young women/college age women benefit from learning about Feminist Theology?
“I think it helps them recognize the ways that women continue to be oppressed and kept out of leadership; often times students don’t think women actually still suffer from sexis and misogyny, but studying feminist theology opens their eyes to the way sexism pervades so many parts of life. I also think it gives them permission to question and challenge things, and gives them skills to do so critically (meaning with a depth of thought and rational engagement).”
- Lastly, what other advice do you have for girls pursuing a career in Theology/religious studies?
“Find your community. It can be lonely and isolating at times, but there is an incredible group of women doing this work who support each other in the wide range of sub-disciplines of religious study. Women studying the bible, women studying women in the early church, women in medieval studies looking at the fascinating lives and work of nuns, abbesses, and mystics. Women who use sociology or other theoretical disciplines like queer studies to interogate and reinterpret theology. Find your people.”
Feminist Theology is not just for women, but for everyone to see sexism that is often overlooked or to question certain traditions. Even if religion does not interest you, reading on Feminist Theology can help in many other areas in a women’s life.