In this award-winning text, theologian Sallie McFague challenges Christians' usual speech about God as a kind of monarch. She probes instead three other possible metaphors for God--as mother, lover, and friend....
|Title||:||Models of God|
|Number of Pages||:||224 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Models of God Reviews
Still never met a feminist theologian I didn't like.
Believing our theology informs our ethics, Sallie McFague pragmatically suggests how our theology could be changed to achieve the ethical goals of survival for our planet and improving the well-being of the poor and oppressed. Understanding God as king or father seems to encourage overly aggressive or passive approaches to others and the threat of nuclear annihilation, war and disparities in the distribution of goods. This is the testimony of history. McFague urges that we understand these views of God as partial and flawed, not as doctrine, and that we surrender them in order to consider the world as God's body, and God as mother, lover and friend. These equally partial views could encourage us to act with compassion toward all that is. While I question both her approach and conclusion in this book, I greatly enjoy her iconoclasm, her compassion and her pragmatism. I too would like to see the goals she sets reached, and think she is right to interrogate what theology could lead to such behavior. She seems, though, to connect theology with action perhaps more causally than they may be, given human penchant for rationalizing whatever is desired by whatever authority is convenient. She also seems ready to instrumentalize God and religion, instead of looking for already existing sources for her aims within the Christian tradition. These are a few of the reasons why I believe her approach will create more resistance than compassion, and therefore will ultimately fall far short of the goal she sets.
I don't necessarily like this about myself, but my experience reading the physical copy of a book often impacts my appreciation of it. So, super small font often prevents me from enjoying a book even if I'm digging the content. For this reason, I've had to embrace the embarrassing snobbery of refusing to read books that are even relatively marked up because I know I won't read them with a fair shake. And, unfortunately, my copy of this book (which formerly belonged to a beloved professor of mine) had such terrible binding that its pages would come apart from the binding even with the most gingerly and tender treatment. (And the same thing happened with the other book I've read of McFague's!) All that to say, it's impressive that this still scored four stars from me. I don't think it necessarily started off super strong. In spite of how tragically relevant the notion of impending nuclear devastation is again with President Trump and Kim Jong-un tweeting back and forth, the language itself felt a bit dated in 2017. I also found Part I in general to read as the foundation of Part II, mostly echoing her earlier book, Metaphorical Theology, and arguing for the notion of the Earth as God's body (which, for whatever reason, I just didn't find that compelling?). Thankfully, it was more than worth sticking through, because Part II was really marvelous. In general, I was struck by McFague's methodical, consistent approach to exploring this endeavor. She offers three "new" models of God that align with the commonly used models of the Trinity, and goes on to explore three dimensions within each of those models. The Father is met with the Mother, and she focuses on agape love, the act of creating, and the ethic of justice. The Son is met with the Lover, who demonstrates eros love, the act of saving, and the ethic of healing. The Spirit is met with the Friend, whom she aligns with philia love, the act of sustaining, and the ethic of companionship (which I think comes across as inclusion). Overall, it made for a really thorough, satisfying approach that helps to guide the process for the reader and offer a useful roadmap and way of comparing and developing as it goes on. There is the inevitable redundancy at times, particularly when she persists in describing the factors of the kingdom of God and the notion of the earth as God's body, but other than that I think her approach works well. Surprisingly, the model I was most excited for (Mother) was the one I enjoyed the least. Interestingly, McFague opts to focus on the biology of a female rather than the attributes generally recognized as feminine. Although this both effectively necessitates the identification of God as "she" (otherwise, the male God can take on the attributes of being caring, gentle, etc.) and avoids the perpetuation of certain qualities as inherently feminine/female (only women are caring, gentle, etc.), it also seemed to limit the depth of the model. (Incidentally, it also reads a bit jarring in 2017 when gender and even sex are less frequently considered either/or in academic circles, and womanhood especially isn't tied to one's ability to procreate due to increased trans representation.) I found Melisa Raphael's exploration of the female God in The Female Face of God in Auschwitz to be much more compelling, as she more fully engaged the anti-patriarchal notions of femininity (on the basis that, socially constructed or otherwise, they are associated with the feminine and therefore devalued by tradition) beyond the physical attributes. With that said, I did still appreciate the nuance McFague explored re: God the female mother gives birth, and how that enriches and expands our theology of creation in a really intimate way. Even more surprisingly, I was really enthralled by the other two explorations, especially concerning the ethics they relate to. Her writing around what it means to respond to God's love in our active healing of the world and to embrace companionship through inclusive friendship with the outcast and stranger were just stunning. My highest regard for theology is when it directly integrates into and helps to reshape or cast a new light on my own lived experiences, and I really think that her writing around those ethics will result in that. As a whole, I also really appreciated and resonated with her encouragement to embrace more immanence in lieu of the heavily transcendent posture and perspectives Christianity commonly adopts towards God. The only real bummer (aside from the quality of my book) is that this has been around so long, and yet the ideas she resists and recognizes as so deeply problematic are still flourishing. In fact, we really seem to see examples come to life, not of her encouragements and dreams for the future, but of her warnings for if the trajectory she acknowledges doesn't change. It largely hasn't, and the recognition of that renders this decidedly more melancholy and somber than the hopeful, galvanizing message I'm sure it was meant to be initially.
McFague is a feminist Christian theologian who wishes to adopt a variation of the panenthist model of God found in many Eastern religions. She knows this is not an easy sell since she is targeting this view towards devote Christians, but she does a honorable job of addressing the pros and cons of this view, relative to the Christian philosophy.
Some questionable theology. I do not mind the images of God as mother or friend. I did have issues with the images the world as God's body. The earlier parts of the book were good as they questioned traditional theology.
This is a fantastic book. The heavy focus on the "nuclear age" is a product of the time when it was written and made me skeptical at first, but the theology presented is amazing and, at least for me, mind blowing.
One of my favorite theology books