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HomeFeminismEmbodying bell hooks’ theological imaginative and prescient by Liz Cooledge Jenkins

Embodying bell hooks’ theological imaginative and prescient by Liz Cooledge Jenkins


I used to be lately requested: Who’s a theologian you admire? Since I’ve been deeply steeped within the Christian custom, loads of Christian theologians might come to thoughts—Christian theologians, that’s, within the sense of people educated within the Christian theological academy with the theology PhDs to show it.

 However after I consider theology, nowadays, I discover myself pondering extra broadly. Like Kat Armas, who wrote Abuelita Religion as a manner of reflecting on and honoring the theological contributions of marginalized girls, slightly than males who sit within the seats of educational energy—and like Sarah Bessey, who writes that theology, at its finest, is a subject the place “everybody will get to play”[1]—I’m skeptical of the assumptions Christians usually make about who’s or isn’t a theologian. And so, after I considered theologians I look to for knowledge, I believed exterior the field. I considered author and activist bell hooks.

Hooks might have earned her PhD in English slightly than theology, however her work has influenced my very own theological pondering profoundly. What’s a theologian, in spite of everything, if not somebody who helps us mirror with depth and precision on who God is, who we’re in relation to God, and what it means to reside effectively in our world? Hooks definitely does this.

 I believe, for instance, of how Jesus taught his followers to like others as we love ourselves.[2] It’s a beautiful instructing, one I embrace. However unpacking the specifics of what this most elementary and most vital commandment means is commonly messier than we’d have hoped. Totally different Christians have all types of various opinions about what love seems to be like in numerous eventualities.

In her e book All About Love, hooks speaks into this milieu with readability. To her, love is an motion greater than a sense,[3] and it consists of a mixture of identifiable substances: “care, affection, recognition, respect, dedication, and belief, in addition to sincere and open communication.”[4] We’d like all of those substances. And we’d like the specificity with which hooks speaks. In a society the place some variations of Christian “love” trigger critical hurt, particularly to minoritized and oppressed folks, the care and precision with which hooks examines love looks like a balm that would domesticate therapeutic in our world.

 Taking a look at hooks’ work that focuses extra straight on patriarchy and feminism, then—books equivalent to Feminism Is For Everyone, Feminist Concept: From Margin to Middle, and The Will to Change: Males, Masculinity, and Love—I see hooks casting a compelling imaginative and prescient of energy shared amongst folks of all genders. I consider this usually, as I work and write towards gender fairness in religion communities. I consider it as I learn the apostle Paul’s imaginative and prescient within the New Testomony of communities brimming over with all types of individuals freely and joyfully providing their God-given items for the frequent good.[5] Non secular energy, shared. Communal energy, shared. Folks of all genders free to be precisely who they’re, deliver what they’ve to supply, and be valued for it.

Hooks places it superbly: “Think about dwelling in a world the place there isn’t any domination, the place females and males will not be alike and even all the time equal, however the place a imaginative and prescient of mutuality is the ethos shaping our interplay.” She invitations us to “think about dwelling in a world the place we will all be who we’re, a world of peace and chance.”[6] If I needed to choose a couple of phrases that form my theology, or at the very least what I would like my theology to be, these can be amongst them. Mutuality. Peace. Chance. An finish to domination. Freedom to be who we’re.

I believe Jesus imagined this type of world; as did the Hebrew prophets who known as their folks to return to the methods of justice, many times; as did the New Testomony writers, as they constructed the earliest Christian communities.[7] Hooks’ imaginative and prescient of the tip of patriarchy—together with all different intertwined oppressive methods that hinder the flourishing of individuals and communities—sits on the deepest core of my theology. God’s image-bearers deserve no much less. And our rapidly-warming, often-violent world desperately wants the total contributions of each particular person of goodwill towards restoration, therapeutic, and peace.

Could we be taught, collectively, not solely to admire but additionally to embody bell hooks’ theological imaginative and prescient of affection, care, and shared energy.


[1] Bessey, Sarah, Out of Kinds: Making Peace With an Evolving Religion (New York: Howard Books, 2015), 41.

[2] See, for instance, Matthew 22:34-40.

[3] hooks, bell, All About Love: New Visions (New York: William Morrow Paperbacks, 2001), 13.

[4] Ibid., 5.

[5] See, for instance, 1 Corinthians 12:4-31.

[6] Hooks, bell, Feminism Is for Everyone: Passionate Politics (Cambridge: South Finish Press, 2000), x.

[7] See, for instance, the unity, sharing, and fairness that marked the group described in Acts 2:42-47.

Writer: Liz Cooledge Jenkins

Seattle-based author, preacher, and former school campus minister; creator of Good Churchy Patriarchy: Reclaiming Girls’s Humanity from Evangelicalism.

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