Originally posted 12-9-06
Just finished reading She Who Is, by Elizabeth Johnson, and I would describe it as an excellent work of theology that happens to have a feminist focus. It is a work that does not overly push a feminist agenda to a degree that loses its academic credibility. I would highly recommend the last couple of chapters for those who are wrestling with the idea of the nature of God in the trinity, and in the unity of the divine. Johnson does some excellent work with language in trying to find a name for God that would include the woman’s experience. Overall, it is an excellent work.
Here’s where I am in my thoughts. Johnson claims that her theology begins at the experience of the woman. I understand how theology can emerge from such an experience, yet how can I enter into this particular level of theological discourse? Can I rest on a Kantian epistemology and just conceive the possibility of the experience? Would such an attempt be seen and accepted as valid? Most likely not.
I recognize how Johnson is trying to hold up the diversity of all humans, yet the name Johnson suggests for God, “She Who Is,” is a name that is truly coming out a woman’s experience. I understand how this name for God can resonate with women, and may even move towards freeing their theology. Yet, is it a name that I could also use? Probably if it is not the only name of God that I employ. If I use a variety of names to describe God, then I am not longer confining God to one specific attribute or theological method of thought. Thus, I could claim that God is the holy creator, She Who Is, the one who calls us into Being, the Spirit-Sophia, and on and on. Even then, I imagine I would still circle around the names that I am most comfortable with.
Perhaps that is the challenge, to always be critically considering the names one has for God, and questioning is those names are still appropriate. Or, more broadly, to always be questioning and developing one’s theology, looking for the holes, and the constrictions one has placed upon God. Maybe then theology moves from and academic endeavor to a spiritual endeavor.