Tina Beattie is a British theologian, writer and broadcaster. She is the Professor of Catholic Studies at the University of Roehampton in London and Director of the Digby Stuart Research Centre for Religion, Society and Human Flourishing.
Beattie's academic research and publications include work on Catholic theology and psychoanalytic theory (see Theology After Postmodernity: Divining the Void [OUP 2013]); theologies and theories of gender and sexuality (New Catholic Feminism: Theology and Theory [Routledge 2005]); the cult of the Virgin Mary (God's Mother, Eve's Advocate [Continuum 2002]); theology and art (contributions to a number of books and journals); atheism and religion (The New Atheists: The Twilight of Reason and the War on Religion [Darton, Longman and Todd 2011]), and religion and women's rights (contributions to a number of books and articles). She is currently researching issues of marriage, the family, gender and women's rights, with a particular focus on maternal well-being in sub-Saharan Africa.
In addition to her academic work, Beattie is in demand as a public speaker on issues relating to the role of religion in contemporary society and is a frequent contributor to radio and television. She writes regularly for the Catholic weekly journal The Tablet and contributes to The Guardian. She engages in a wide range of educational and awareness raising activities and projects among religious groups, including inter-religious dialogue and issues concerning social justice and non-violence. Conservative Catholics criticise her for arguing in favour of same-sex marriage and women's ordination, for challenging the Catholic Church's teachings on contraception and for appealing for a more nuanced ethical approach to the question of early abortion.
Early life and career
Beattie grew up in Zambia. She also lived for several years in Kenya and Zimbabwe. She is married to Dave and has four adult children and one grandchild. After moving to Bristol with her family in 1988, she became a mature student at the University of Bristol in 1991, where she received a first class honours degree in theology and religious studies before doing a PhD on the theology and symbolism of the Virgin Mary in engagement with the ideas of Luce Irigaray under the supervision of Professor Ursula King. Since then, she has lectured at the University of Bristol and Wesley College, Bristol and has also taught with the Open University. She took up her present full-time post at the University of Roehampton in 2002. Her teaching interests include Christian mysticism and spirituality; theology, art and culture; moral theology and Catholic social teaching, and religion and human rights.
Work and publications
Beattie has published extensively in academic and non-academic publications. Her theological output includes books and articles on the theology, art and symbolism of the Virgin Mary and Eve; the new atheism; the work of Swiss Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar from the perspectives of feminist theology and critical theory; theological perspectives on Christian art, and religion and women's rights. Her most recent academic book is Theology after Postmodernity: Divining the Void, which is a study of the theology of Thomas Aquinas from the perspective of Lacanian psychoanalysis. She writes regularly on a wide range of topics for the Catholic weekly The Tablet and is also a frequent contributor to the "Comment is Free" column at The Guardian online edition, including an eight-part series on Thomas Aquinas. Her novel The Last Supper According to Martha and Mary is currently being made into a film by German film maker Paul Guenczler with a script by Brian Phelan.
Reception and influence
With a primary focus on issues of women, sexuality and gender in Roman Catholic theology and practice, Beattie's work is highly regarded by many reviewers and scholars and she is much in demand as a speaker, workshop leader and writer. She is criticized by some conservative Catholics for challenging Church teaching on issues such as contraception, same-sex marriage and women's ordination as well as appealing for a less absolutist position with regard to early abortion. She has from time to time been criticised and prevented from speaking on church premises by bishops acting under instruction from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).
Vision and Inspiration
Beattie describes her work as a quest to discover the primordial sacramentality of creation, in the context of the Catholic theological tradition and its devotional, artistic, cultural and social forms of expression, with a particular focus on questions of gender, nature and embodiment. This, she explains, is the vision that connects her work across a wide range of interests and disciplinary perspectives - sacramental theology (including the theology of priesthood); Thomism; Lacanian psychoanalysis; art history; mysticism; Catholic social teaching and moral theology, and feminism and gender theory. Though much of her work is highly theoretical (e.g. on Thomas Aquinas and Jacques Lacan), she is committed to theological education and awareness raising by engaging with non-academic audiences by way of regular contributions to the media and in the context of public lectures and pastoral work.
- Theology after Postmodernity: Divining the Void (London and New York: Oxford University Press, 2013)
- The New Atheists: The Twilight of Reason and the War on Religion (London: Darton, Longman & Todd,2007; Maryknoll NY: Orbis Books, 2008)
- New Catholic Feminism: Theology and Theory (London and New York: Routledge, 2006)
- co-editor with Ursula King, Gender, Religion & Diversity: Cross-Cultural Perspectives'' (London and New York: Continuum, 2004)
- Woman, New Century Theology Series (London and New York: Continuum, 2003)
- God’s Mother, Eve’s Advocate: A Marian Narrative of Women’s Salvation (London and New York: Continuum, 2002)
- Eve’s Pilgrimage: A Woman’s Quest for the City of God (London: Burns & Oates, New York: Continuum, 2002)
- The Last Supper According to Martha and Mary (Tunbridge Wells: Burns & Oates, 2001)
- Rediscovering Mary: Insights from the Gospels (Tunbridge Wells: Burns & Oates; New York: Triumph Books, 1995)
Selected journal articles and book chapters
- 'The Revolution of Tenderness - the theology of Pope Francis' in Eamon Maher and John Littleton (eds) The Francis Factor: A New Departure (Dublin: Columba Press, 2014)
- 'Mary, Mother of God and Model of a Pilgrim People' in Gavin D'Costa and Emma Harris (eds) The Second Vatican Council (London: Bloomsbury, T & T Clark, 2014)
- 'The Vanishing Absolute and the Deconsecrated God - a theological reflection on revelation, law, and human dignity' in Christopher McCrudden (ed.) Understanding Human Dignity (London and Oxford: British Academy and Oxford University Press, 2013)
- 'The Body Between Us: Towards an Incarnate Mysticism' in Louise Nelstrop and Simon Podmore (eds), Exploring Lost Dimensions in Christian Mysticism: Opening to the Mystical (Farnham, Surrey and Burlington VT: Ashgate Publishing, 2013)
- ‘From Ethics to Eschatology: The Continuing Validity of the New Eve for Christian Doctrine and Discipleship’ in Rob C. MacSwain et al. (eds) Theology, Aesthetics and Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012)
- 'Fragments: Reflections in a Shattered Screen‘, Political Theology, Vol. 12, No. 5, 2011: pp. 672–77
- ‘Catholicism, Choice and Consciousness: A Feminist Theological Perspective on Abortion’, International Journal of Public Theology, Vol. 4, No. 1 (2010): pp. 51–75
- ‘Earth, Wind and Fire: Fenwick Lawson’s Art’, Art & Christianity, No. 57, Spring 2009
- ‘The End of Woman: Gender, God and Rights Beyond Modernity’ in Patrick Claffey and Joseph Egan (eds), Movement or Moment?: Assessing Liberation Theology Forty Years after Medellín (Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien: Peter Lang, 2009)
- ‘Humanae Vitae: nature, sex and reason in conflict’, The Pastoral Review, July 2008
- ‘From Rosaries to Rights – Towards an Integrated Catholicism’ in Bernard Hoose, Julie Clague and Gerard Mannion (eds.) Moral Theology for the Twenty-First Century: Essays in Celebration of Kevin Kelly (London and New York: Continuum, 2008)
- ‘”Justice enacted not these human laws” (Antigone): Religion, Natural Law and Women’s Rights’, Religion and Human Rights, Vol. 3, No. 3, 2008: pp. 249–267
- ‘Vision and Vulnerability: the significance of sacramentality and the woman priest for feminist theology’ in Natalie Watson and Stephen Burns (eds) Exchanges of Grace: Essays in Honour of Ann Loades (London SPCK, 2008)
- ‘Mary in Patristic Theology’ in Sarah Jane Boss (ed.), Mary: The Complete Resource (London: Continuum, New York: Oxford University Press)
- ‘Queen of Heaven’ in Gerard Loughlin (ed.), Queer Theology: New Perspectives on Sex and Gender (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 2007)
- ‘Insight beyond Sight: Sacramentality and the Eucharist in the Isenheim Altarpiece’, New Blackfriars, Vol. 88.1013, 2007: pp. 67–72
- ‘Redeeming Mary: The Potential of Marian Symbolism for Feminist Philosophy of Religion’ in Pamela Sue Anderson and Beverley Clack (eds.), Feminist Philosophy of Religion: Critical Readings (London: Routledge, 2003)
- 'Etty Hillesum: A Thinking Heart in a Darkened World’ in Ursula King with Tina Beattie (eds), Spirituality and Society in the New Millennium (Sussex: Sussex Academic Press, 2001)
- ‘Global Sisterhood or Wicked Stepsisters: Why Aren’t Girls with God Mothers Invited to the Ball?’ in Deborah Sawyer and Diane Collier (eds.), Is there a Future for Feminist Theology? (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999)
- Carnal Love and Spiritual Imagination: Can Luce Irigaray and John Paul II Come Together?’ in Jon Davies and Gerard Loughlin (eds.), Sex These Days: Essays on Theology, Sexuality and Society (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997)
- ‘Sexuality and the Resurrection of the Body: Reflections in a Hall of Mirrors’ in Gavin D’Costa (ed.), Resurrection Reconsidered (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 1996)
- 'Sex, Marriage and the Catholic Church', The Guardian, 8 October 2014 - article on being a Catholic and a feminist
- 'Pope Francis has done little to improve women's lives', The Guardian, 27 August 2014 - article on Pope Francis's failure to address issues of maternal mortality and the impact of poverty on women's reproductive lives
- 'Let the Laity Be Heard', The Tablet, 31 July 2014 - article on the International Theological Commission's document, 'Sensus Fidei in the Life of the Church'
- 'Part of the Solution, not Part of the Problem', The Tablet, 8 May 2014 - article on the Holy See, the UN and population and development
- 'Why British outcry at Oklahoma's botched execution rings tragically hollow', The Tablet blog, 6 May 2014 - blog on drugs used in American executions and late abortion
- 'Doorways to Faith - the Role of Mysticism and Sacramentality in Prayer' - reflection published in Independent Catholic News
- 'Towards the Shining City: Rural and Urban in the Easter Story', The Tablet, 7 April 2012 - article on the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem
- 'In the Balance', The Tablet, 5 June 2010 - article on the morality of abortion
- 'The Catholic Church's Scandal: Modern Crisis, Ancient Roots', Open Democracy, 14 April 2010 - article on the sex abuse scandal
- 'Antichrist: The Visual Theology of Lars von Trier', Open Democracy, 13 August 2009
- 'Along the precipice: visions of atheism in London', Open Democracy, 6 November 2008 - article on Francis Bacon exhibition
- 'An Immense Maternal Presence', The Tablet, 13 September 2008 - article on Lourdes
- 'The dark (k)night of a postmodern world', Open Democracy, 21 August 2008 - article on The Dark Knight
- 'Simple Gaudete of a Complex Believer', The Tablet, 17 December 2005 - article on Andy Warhol
- 'Feminism, Vatican-style', The Tablet, 7 August 2004 - critique of the Vatican letter on women
- 'Beauty Back on Camera', The Tablet, 26 February 2000 - article on the film American Beauty