Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Re: Theology for Skeptics by Dorothee Soelle

My interests roam around randomly.  The Kindle makes this easier to do.  After the football games Saturday and with my wife asleep on the couch I would read one thing for a while and then another.  Ended up reading from five different books that night.  I'll be perusing something and the reference they give causes me to shop the Kindle bookstore and then that leads me to other interesting things and on and on.  Somehow convinced myself that I needed to download Theology for Skeptics by Dorothee Soelle.  Why would a Southern white guy geek like myself be interested in her?  Well, amazingly, I was introduced to her by an article in Wineskins!  This publication is relatively progressive for the Churches of Christ.  I was quite surprised to discover a book review of another of her books, The Silent Cry - Mysticism and Resistance.  Which I bought and read six years ago.  Loaned out my copy.  Dorothee was born the same year as my Dad, 1929.  She came from the same Protestant group as Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  She was Protestant and a Mystic.  She was a feminist.  Come to think of it.  I've never read anything by an authentic feminist.  Only bumper sticker type snippets from the right and the left.  Here are some interesting quotes I've encountered so far in Theology for Skeptics. 

Theology for Skeptics (Dorothee Soelle)
- Highlight Loc. 91-96

I am reminded by this way of thinking about God of  a cheeky song from Vienna, in which a young man  from a wealthy home carries out all possible mischief at the expense of others and then in the refrain sings  reassuringly: 'Papa will set things right." Many  believers have never gone beyond this childish image of  God; they have never learned to assume responsibility  themselves. Their relationship to God remains childish;  they do not want to be friends of God but want to  remain subordinates and dependents. But must we really speak in this way? God is mighty,  we are helpless - is that all?

- Highlight Loc. 101-4

This woman (whom Dorothy met at a church meeting in Hamburg) did not look up to heaven in order to be  comforted by an Almighty Father. She looked within  and around herself. She found "that of God," as the  Quakers often say, in herself, the strength for resistance,  the courage for a clear no in a world that is drunk  on the blood of the innocent. And she found another  gift of the Spirit, the help of other brothers and sisters.  She was not alone. She did not submit herself to a God
who was falsely understood as fate.

- Highlight Loc. 112-13 |

I did not  rid myself of God like many who had handed over  responsibility to God alone; rather I grasped that God  needs us in order to realize what was intended in  creation.

- Highlight Loc. 185-88

The most important questions about the dominant  theology posed by an emerging feminist theology are  directed, iconoclastically, against phallocratic fantasies,  against the adoration of power. Why do people venerate  a God whose most important quality is power, whose  interest is subjection, whose fear is equality? Why  worship a being who is addressed as "Lord," whose  theologians must testify to his omnipotence because  power alone is not enough for him? Why should we  honor and love a being who does not transcend the  moral level of contemporary culture as shaped by men,  but instead establishes it?

- Highlight Loc. 208-12 |

When it is understood that we can speak only symbolically   about God, every symbol that sets itself up as  absolute must be relativized. We cannot live without  symbols, but we must relativize them and surpass them  iconoclastically. God in fact transcends our speech about  God, but only when we do not lock God into prisons  of symbols. Feminist theology does not deny that  "father" is one mode of speaking about God, but when  we are forced to make it the only mode, the symbol  becomes God's prison. All the other symbol words  which people have used to express their experience of  God are thus repressed by means of this obligatory  language or else pushed down to a lower level on the  hierarchy.

- Highlight Loc. 220-21 |

To be free of images of dominance,   theological language can go back to the mystical  tradition. "Wellspring of all good things," "living  wind," "water of life," "light," are symbols of God without   authority or power and without a chauvinistic  flavor.


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