How to Do Comparative Theology

By Francis X. Clooney; Klaus Von Stosch | Go to book overview

7 Embodiment, Anthropology,
and Comparison:
THINKING-FEELING
WITH NON-DUAL SAIVISM

Michelle Voss Roberts

Imagine the constructive theologian as a beachcomber. She attentively picks her way through the landscape of the Christian theological heritage, salvaging treasures that sparkle unexpectedly in the sun of the contemporary moment. From this or that angle, a dusty practice or neglected doctrine takes on new beauty. The theologian’s tools of detection sound the alert: There is something relevant here, something useful, something true! The detectors include sensors for scriptural soundness, doctrinal fidelity, rational coherence, and con temporary resonance. Many different tools can be used to look and to dig.

Comparison belongs to the toolkit of constructive theology, although it sometimes goes unnamed as a methodology. Tina Beattie’s Theology After Postmodernity takes up a project that can be loosely described as comparative: Beattie reads a Christian theologian (Thomas Aquinas) alongside a thinker from another discipline (the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan) to address con temporary questions. Although she supports postmodernism’s abandonment of absolute certainties and embrace of difference, she wants to challenge the postmodern rejection of metaphysics. Through the lens of the comparison, she finds new potential to rescue the metaphysical project:

There are resources in Thomas’s writings to construct a different account
of the relationship between God and creation … and to imagine a less
totalizing but more hopeful vision of the human species earthed in cre-
ation and dreaming of heaven, than what postmodernism offers.1

Lacan’s methodology, and in particular his analysis of human desire, enables Beattie to recover the “repressed otherness in Thomas that awaits an outing.”2

-137-

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