Tina Beattie

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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.[1] 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.[2][3]

Early life and career[edit]

Beattie is the eldest of three daughters born to Charlie and Nan Bell. She was born in 1955 in Zambia and lived there for eighteen years, attending the Dominican Convent School in Lusaka. Beattie also lived for several years in Kenya and Zimbabwe. She is married to Dave Beattie and worked as a secretary before the birth of their four children (born in 1978, 1980, 1983, and 1986). She and Dave now have one grandchild. In 1986 [4] or 1987[5] she converted to Roman Catholicism from Presbyterianism. 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 completing a PhD on the theology and symbolism of the Virgin Mary viewed in a "gynocentric" light in engagement with the ideas of Luce Irigaray under the supervision of Professor Ursula King.[6] Since then, she has lectured at the University of Bristol and Wesley College, Bristol and has also taught for 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[edit]

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" website of The Guardian newspaper, 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[edit]

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[citation needed] and she is much in demand as a speaker, workshop leader and writer. She is criticised by some other Catholics [7] 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[edit]

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.



Selected journal articles and book chapters[edit]

  • '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)

External links[edit]


  1. ^ The Guardian online retrieved 12 March 2013
  2. ^ "Catholicism, Choice and Consciousness: A Feminist Theological Perspective on Abortion", International Journal of Public Theology, Vol. 4, No. 1 (2010): pp. 51-75
  3. ^ Sex, marriage and the Catholic church
  4. ^ "Tina Beattie's Personal Website"[1]
  5. ^ Tina Beattie, God's Mother, Eve's Advocate, 2002, p. xi.
  6. ^ Ibid., p. xii.
  7. ^ Cardinal Newman Society, "Catholic university hosts pro-abortion theologian who compares Mass to gay sex," Life Site News, November 25, 2012[2] Hilary White, "Vatican hosted feminist conference featuring prof who compares Mass to gay sex," Life Site News, March 11, 2015[3]