Monday, February 20, 2012

Marcella Althaus-Reid: Queer theology pioneer

Marcella Althaus-Reid

Marcella Althaus-Reid was a queer theologian whose controversial books include “Indecent Theology” and “The Queer God.” Born in Argentina, she became the first woman appointed to a chair in the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland in 2006. She held that post when she died at age 56 on Feb. 20, 2009 -- three years ago today.

Althaus-Reid (May 11, 1952- Feb. 20, 2009) was baptized as a Roman Catholic and grew up in Buenos Aires. She earned her first theological degree there from ISEDET (Instituto Superior Evangelico de Estudios Teologicos), Latin America’s renowned center for studying liberation theology, which emphasizes God’s “preferential option for the poor.”

Next she gained recognition for working on social and community projects in the slums of Buenos Aires. As she continued her studies, Althaus-Reid applied the principles of liberation theology to women and sexual minorities, including LGBT people.

Her first book, “Indecent Theology,” was published in 2000 and established her international reputation as a self-proclaimed “indecent, Latina, bisexual theologian.” The book challenges the sexual oppression behind traditional Christian concepts of decency and introduces theology rooted in the context of people whose sexual freedom has been limited. In 2003 she wrote “The Queer God,” in which she aims to liberate God from the closet of sex-negative Christian thought and embrace God’s role in the lives of LGBTQ people.

Her writing style is dense and her books continue to be controversial, even among LGBT people of faith. But nobody denies that Althaus-Reid took risks to raise important issues based on queer life and spirituality.

Her originality and flashes of insight are expressed in the following quotation from “The Queer God”:

“Our task and our joy is to find or simply recognise God sitting amongst us, at any time, in any gay bar or in the home of a camp friend who decorates her living room as a chapel and doesn’t leave her rosary at home when going to a salsa bar.”

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Links to book by or about Marcella Althaus-Reid:

Indecent Theology: Theological Perversions in Sex, Gender and Politics

The Queer God

From Feminist Theology to Indecent Theology

Liberation Theology and Sexuality

Dancing theology in fetish boots: Essays in honour of Marcella Althaus Reid

More books by Marcella Althaus-Reid

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Related links:

Official website Althaus-Reid.com

Remembering Marcella Althaus-Reid, “Indecent theologian” (Queer Saints and Martyrs - And Others)

Marcella Althaus-Reid: Theology’s bisexual shock jock an queen of obscene (Rollan’s Censored Issues Blog)

Marcella Althaus-Reid (The Dance of the Elements)

Vale Marcella Althaus-Reid 1952-2009 (Michael Carden's Jottings)
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This post is part of a new effort to add authors and theologians to the GLBT Saints series by Kittredge Cherry at the Jesus in Love Blog. Saints, martyrs, mystics, heroes, holy people, deities and religious figures of special interest to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and queer people and our allies are covered on appropriate dates throughout the year.

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2 comments:

Turtle Woman said...

This was hysterically funny in parts.
I'll just have to remember to bring my rosary the next time I'm at a salsa bar!

Kittredge Cherry said...

Turtle Woman, I've missed your voice here. Marcella herself was reportedly quick to laugh, so I like to think that she is laughing with us today as we enjoy her wit and wisdom.