Friday, January 8, 2010

Mary Daly Remembered

I just learned that Mary Daly died on Sunday. She was 81 years old. I was her sole defender in my M.Div. theology class. She, naturally, would have told me that she did not need a male to defend her. She, naturally, would have been right.

She called herself a "post-Christian radical feminist." I cannot improve upon that moniker.

Her work was not easy reading for male Christians preparing for service to the Church. I enjoyed her irreverence and that she made the fundamentalist's blood pressure rise. The later was great fun to watch. But her work (and the reactions to it) were more than merely some species of performance art. With regard to the substance of her work, it seemed to me that she was nearly always right. The question for me was always "as a male, Christian, serving the Church, how do I act given the truth she speaks?" Most of my classmates were merely interested in responding to Daly--not to the world as Daly unveiled it.

Daly called my attention to the scandal of particularity of the incarnation. For her purposes, it was the gender of the Christ that bore scrutiny. On this point, she seemed to me to be obviously correct: Christians claim that God was incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth, a male living in Palestine, a couple of thousand years ago. Given that the Christ was male, and there is a long history of sexism with males as the perpetrators, will Jesus' maleness not further oppress women--not liberate them? If the face of God is a male face, what are women to think? Further, she was right--there was no escaping it.

We will, I believe, do well not to dismiss these observations to quickly, but rather acknowledge them and struggle with them as Jacob wrestled with his angel. I am not willing to turn lose of Christianity, but neither am I willing to turn lose Mary Daly.

1 comment:

Thelema said...
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