In the introduction to her new book "Memories of God," church historian Roberta Bondi explains how she "finally accepted that the theological work of telling one another our stories, of talking about the ways in which our concrete and particular experiences intersected with the great Christian doctrines, was not private work, or work done only on behalf of us as individuals. It was a common work, real theology done in order to find a way to claim for our own time and our own generation what it means to be a Christian." That recognition was a long time coming, because in the academic world into which she was initiated, "serious theology concerned itself only with what was universally true. It did not waste its time addressing the personal and the 'subjective.' Certainly, there was no room in theology to raise any of the kinds of questions I had, especially those connected with my experience as a female human being."
The world of the university was populated by a whole society of people prepared to induct me into the ethos of "the life of the mind." I was taught in my classes that reason and emotion were enemies. Where reason was objective, and universally verifiable, emotion was dangerously subjective, leading its sufferers to see the world through their own personal, particular experience.
It was only as I could strip away my own emotional responses to particular people or problems that I could arrive at what was rational. That my own emotions and experience so often stood in opposition to the conclusions of reason did not mean that those conclusions should be re-examined. It meant that my emotions and experience were to be discounted.
At the same time, I was taught to think about the moral life in these same terms. According ...1
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