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Sunday, November 28, 1999

More than models: Is tentative theology religiously adequate?

Sallie McFague introduces a fascinating method of theological work in The Body of God: An Ecological Theology. "When one decides to live as if something is the case," she writes, "there are usually many reasons for doing so, of many different sorts, and at many levels of consciousness. . . . It has to make sense not just to our minds, but to our bodies, our feelings, our needs, and even our hopes and dreams" (85). She proposes to live as if it is the case that the world is God's body. As a theological method, it is notable that McFague does not argue that it is the case that the world is God's body: she merely proposes a model of the world and presents a variety of criteria by which her model can be seen to be especially useful and meaningful. McFague's method elevates nothing to the status of an absolute or certainty: "No one reason, one basis or foundation, exists for being willing to live according to the organic model, but a variety of reasons and feelings, as well as hunches and hopes, come into play" (85). Here we have a non-absolutistic religious doctrine, considered meaningful from a variety of vantage points, with an ethical dimension and an aesthetic immediacy, which is not in clear conflict with scientific understanding. This doctrine has special virtue in its value for feminist, ecological, and process understanding of the human body and the world. On these and a variety of other grounds, McFague's model would seem especially appealing to religious liberals.

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Posted by Philocrites, November 28, 1999, at 05:00 PM

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