Rosemary Radford Ruether
The study of theology and the practice of religion have been transformed in recent years by incorporation of the experience of women from many social contexts, bringing new perspectives on gender in the contexts of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and disability. This volume highlights the exciting work of twelve young scholars working at this fruitful nexus.
In historical, social, and theological studies, new methodologies from cultural anthropology, social theory, and gender studies have emerged. They take lived religion explicitly into account and thereby illumine cultural values that emerge from many distinct contexts. These scholars and theologians are themselves working from these distinct standpoints. They are intently aware of their own cultural location, and they prize the culturally specific religious insights that arise from these contexts. Departing from an identification with the dominant elites in academic or ecclesial communities, the writers of this volume approach their topics from the marginalized communities in the churches, often not represented in theological schools.
Working from these many “other sides,” the chapters in this volume shed particular light on the roles of religious agency in such communities as African Americans, Cuban and Belizan Caribbeans, and Filipinos. They look first at particular historical moments of social transformation, such as the lunch counter struggles of the 1960s and the splits created by the question of homosexuality in the evangelical feminist movement of the 1980s. They next illumine the role of religious practices, such as folk healing in Belize, religious music in black churches in New Orleans in the early twentieth century, and women’s preaching in Cuban Protestant churches in the twenty-first century. Finally, the volume also offers new theological perspectives, arising from these many contexts—Afro-Caribbean, Cuban, womanism in the United States—as well as insights into sacramental theology and spirituality arising from the challenges of ecological crisis, the lives of people with disabilities, and the civil rights struggle.