Subversive devotions: Toward a wholehearted practice of Christian faith.
Committee ChairWarnock, Tilly
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractWriting this dissertation, I opened a sanctuary in which to practice the devotions of my feminist, lesbian, Christian life. It has turned out to be a healing work. There are some who advise me that "healing" has no place in academic classrooms and compositions, but I learn, teach, and write as if it belongs. This writing grew out of my fifteen years as a Presbyterian minister seeking to resist the promotion of male supremacy and the condemnation of lesbian, gay, and bisexual existence which interweave in prevailing, patriarchal practices of Christianity. I tell how my subversion of these dynamics of domination was furthered as I came to understand Christian traditions, including the Bible, from the perspective of rhetoric. I demonstrate that one way to support the interpretive authority of marginalized believers is to see Christian faith as an ongoing argument in which the meanings of key terms such as "God," "love," and "Jesus" are continually being negotiated. I urge people to decide among contending practices of Christianity based on how well each would be likely to bless us, with who counts as part of the "us" being key to the deliberations. I propose that defecting from the rituals of domination and submission celebrated in most churches can empower us in the struggle for racial, sexual, cultural, economic, and ecological justice. At the center of this project are the devotions through which I have rewritten my relationship with Christian traditions. In composing them, I fell into listening more freely to the fears, angers, griefs, and desires of my heart. Experimenting for three years with strategies of appropriation, faithful repudiation, and revision, I eventually turned my "mis"hearings and "mis"readings of patriarchal faith into an alternative, wholehearted practice of being Christian, a practice which encourages me to love the world, including my life, with increasing pleasure and power. I offer this work as a participation in the movement of mujerista/womanist/feminist believers who choose to pursue their vocation of love and justice by reinventing "the" faith.