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- "Queer" is a re-claimed identity that denotes interest in exploring the spectrum of gender, not denoting a particular place on a gender binary.
Queer theology begins with an assumption that gender non-conformity and gay and lesbian desire have always been present in human history, and were present in the Bible. It is a way of unraveling structures and stories that have been oppressive. It is also a way of understanding the Bible as a source of stories about radical love.
One theologian who brought life and substance to the queering of theology is Marcella Althaus-Reid. She mixes Latin American liberation theology with a woman-positive, queer-positive, and sex-positive reading of Biblical mythologies. Though she died young, her contributions to this field were substantial. She offered a new way of understanding what theology can look like if we center marginalized people, including people in poverty and queer people. For Althaus-Reid, theology ought to be connected to the body and lived experience, and she takes her inspiration from those imaginaries.
She put it this way:
- ″Indecent Sexual Theologies…may be effective as long as they represent the resurrection of the excessive in our contexts, and a passion for organizing the lusty transgressions of theological and political thought. The excessiveness of our hungry lives: our hunger for food, hunger for the touch of other bodies, for love and for God… [O]nly in the longing for a world of economic and sexual justice together, and not subordinated to one another, can the encounter with the divine take place. But this is an encounter to be found at the crossroads of desire, when one dares to leave the ideological order of the heterosexual pervasive normative. This is an encounter with indecency, and with the indecency of God and Christianity.″
One theme in the theology of her "The Queer God" (Routledge, 2003) is the holiness of the gay club, as she explores the intersection and essential non-contradiction of a strong, vibrant faith life and sexual desire. An example of finding otherness and desire in Biblical texts is her reading of Jeremiah 2:23-25 from the Hebrew:
- "...a young camel deviating from her path: a wild she-ass accustomed to the wilderness, sniffing the wind in her lust. Who can repel her desire? And you said, No! I love strangers, the different, the unknown, the Other, and will follow them."
Several theology schools offer courses in "Queer Theology" including Vanderbilt Divinity School, Vancouver School of Theology, Pacific School of Religion, Chicago Theological Seminary and Harvard Divinity School.
- This early attestation is found (in scare-quotes) in William Pinar, Queer theory in education, Taylor & Francis, 1998, ISBN 9780805829211 p. 96.
- cited after Gary D. Comstock and Susan E. Henking, eds. Que(e)Rying Religion: A Critical Anthology. Continuum International Publishing Group (1997). ISBN 9780826409249
- Patrick S. Cheng. Radical Love: An Introduction to Queer Theology. Church Publishing (2011). ISBN 978-1-59627-136-4
- "Dr. Marcella Althaus-Reid", Religious Archives Network (on line).
- Marcella Althaus-Reid, Indecent Theology, Routledge (2002) p. 200. ISBN 0203468953
- Marcella Althaus-Reid. The Queer God. Routledge (2003). ISBN 041532324X
- Jay Emerson Johnson. A "Queer God"? Really? Remembering Marcella Althaus-Reid". Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, Pacific School of Religion (March 5, 2009) -- on line.
- Marcella Althaus-Reid. Indecent Theology: Theological Perversions in Sex, Gender and Politics. Routledge Chapman & Hall (2000). ISBN 0415236045