The Empathy List #99: the Other Theologians
The Dead White Guys don't have exclusive access to God
Hello friends, Liz here.
I’m churning out the draft of my book with a deadline looming, so my brain is too full to bring you much besides of list of what I’m reading… which is a whole bunch of minority writers who are much smarter than I am.
Theological eduation at most well-known US seminaries is known to be a place you go to read dead white guys. ;-)
These dead white guys do have meaningful, thoughtful and true things to say about God.
But dead white guys don’t have exclusive access to God and sometimes they swing wildly and miss… and their misses hurt more because they have had an unequal amount of power in Christian spaces since the time of Jesus.
So as I’ve been writing my own strange theological book, I’ve been supplementing my bible education at the Big Important Evangelical College in the midwest (*eye roll*) by following the trails of footnotes and recommendations in the work of theologians I respect in order to track down the work of the other theologians.
That is, I’m looking for the voices of nondominant theologians, the black, brown, female, liberal, differently-abled and Jewish theologians whose perspectives vary in striking ways from the white boys club that has educated me within American white evangelicalism.
So, today, I want to share my reading list with you.
This reading list is IN NO WAY COMPLETE (it does not even cover all the books I’ve read and learned from!), but simply offers the chance to follow a path or two that I’ve followed myself, usually by digging into the end notes of other contemporary theologians I’m reading.
A List of the “Other” Theologians, the ones who are currently discipling this mostly-abled white girl in the Way of God
…AKA An Incomplete List of Theolgians Who Are Not Dead White Guys:
Howard Thurman, the Grandfather of the Civil Rights Movement
I’m Reading: Jesus and the Disinherited, a book carried around by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. himself as he traveled across the United States preaching the cause of the Civil Rights movement. Thurman’s theology also inspired King’s theological stance on nonviolent resistance.
Rev. James H. Cone, Founder of Black Liberation Theology
I’m Reading: The Cross and the Lynching Tree, which makes the case that “in the United States, the clearest image of the crucified Christ was the figure of an innocent black victim, dangling from a lynching tree” (p. 93). In other words, the victimhood of Christ on the cross is best exemplified by the lynchings performed by white mobs against innocent black men and women in the American South. How’s that for a punch to the gut?
Dr. Dolores S. Williams, Founder of Womanist (Black Female) Theology
I’m Reading: Sisters in the Wilderness, a book that centers Hagar, slave of the matriarch Sarah in the Old Testament, as a means of understanding the unique black female experience in America—a truly profound read.
Dr. Phyllis Trible, Feminist Theologian
I’m Reading: Texts of Terror, a rereading of the Bible through the female gaze, with an exegetical emphasis on the female characters.
Father Gustavo Gutiérrez, Founder of Latin American Liberation Theology
I’m Reading: A Theology of Liberation, a tome that “explains the [priest’s] notion of Christian poverty as an act of loving solidarity with the poor as well as a liberatory protest against poverty.” In this theologian’s mind, living in poverty, in fact, gets you closer to the actual truth of the gospel, a truth the rich cannot access, making the poor our wisest theologians.
Dr. Nancy L. Eiesland, Disabled Feminist Theologian
I’m Reading: The Disabled God which offers a remarkable picture of Jesus, post-crucifixion, still bearing evidence of scars and pain in his renewed body.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Jewish Philosopher and Civil Rights Activist
I’m Reading: God in Search of Man, a philosophical exploration of the partnership between man and God as evidenced in the Hebrew scriptures and his theology reads like poetry.
Dr. Avivah Gottlieb-Zornberg, Feminist Scholar of Jewish Midrashic Writings
I’m Reading: The Beginning of Desire: Reflections on Genesis, an interdisciplinary commentary that engages the Genesis text and the midrashic legends/exegesis by means of psychology, anthropology, and literary theory. So inspiring!
Other works by Gottlieb-Zornberg
In the comments, please tell me who you’re learning from.
I want to expand this list over time—and my knowledge of past theological thought—much further, so nudge me in the direction of any nondominant scholars who have fed you.
I’m particularly seeking out: women, queer and more brown, black, asian and indigenous theological voices (I see that some of these are missing from this list and I want to correct that—such as the mujerista theologians!).
All suggestions are welcomed!! :)
Super helpful. Just order a few from the library. I recently finished bell hook's The Will to Change, which I really appreciated. Would not fall under the category of theology but because it focuses on love...
Great reading lists!! I have not read much of him, but my (pastor) husband really likes Miguel de la Torres, out of Iliff I believe. He does great liberation theology work!