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Queer Saints and Ancestors: Spiritual Practices of Recovery and Imagination with Flora x. Tang

Throughout church history, Catholics and other Christians have turned to the saints as sources of hope, inspiration, friendship, and community. How have queer Catholics turned to a similar spirituality of saints and ancestors to sustain them in their faith and justice? How have stories of queer saints been a source of inspiration, but also a site of contestation? In her presentation, Flora Tang explores how queer Catholics have retrieved stories of queer saints and queer ancestors and guides us through a practice re-imagining the saints and their presence in our lives.

Flora x. Tang is a doctoral candidate in theology and peace studies at the University of Notre Dame, where she writes and researches about post-traumatic theology, queer theology, and decolonial Asian theology. Flora has previously worked as a hospital chaplain, a campus ministry fellow, and a service-learning program coordinator for college students. Her theology and preaching draw from her complex faith journey to and within Catholicism: from becoming Catholic at age 19 after living and serving with Catholic sisters, to deconstructing her faith while living in Palestine, to discovering her own queer Catholic expressions of faith. Flora is committed to reimagining God’s love while standing on the margins of the Catholic faith.

A Queer Blessing – by Flora Tang (2024)

Blessed be God.
Blessed be God’s many names and faces.
Blessed be God in the whispering breeze and the blazing flame.
Blessed be God the mother, who gave birth to the world, and who never fails to listen to the cries of her children.
Blessed be God the father, who adorns himself in glory and radiance.
Blessed be God beyond all genders: God the mother, father, and parent, whose name is simply “I am who I am.”

Blessed be our father Jacob, who wrestles with an angel all night for a blessing.
Blessed be our mother Hagar, who sees God in the desert in times of desperation.
Blessed be the prophets Elijah and Elisha, who swore to one another the oath of love, “as long as the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.”
Blessed be Mary and Martha, partners and sisters, who rested by one another, loving one another from death to resurrection.
Blessed be Jesus in the poor, in the marginalized, and in the forgotten queer names and faces.
Blessed be the queer spirits, the queer angels, the queer saints, and the queer ancestors, whose intercessions and blessings instill a love within us that transgresses all and consumes all.

Blessed are you:
   you who resist, you who love,
   you who desire, you who struggle.

And blessed am I,
and blessed are we, children of God,
now and forever, Amen. 

Download “A Queer Blessing” by Flora Tang

 

Celebrating Queer Becoming with Barbara Anne Kozee

Content warning: This presentation begins with a discussion on statistics of physical and sexual violence. If you may be sensitive to this type of content, we advise skipping forward to the 8 minute 30 second mark.

Doctoral student, Barbara Anne Kozee, continues FutureChurch’s Pride Month series with a presentation on “Celebrating Queer Becoming.” In her presentation, Barbara brings contemporary queer theory into conversation with the contemplative theology and spirituality of Karl Rahner, SJ to illuminate a liberating pathway forward for all – and especially queer Catholics – based on “becoming.”

Barbara Anne Kozee is entering her third year as a PhD student in Theological Ethics at Boston College. Barb completed her Master of Divinity at Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University with a certificate in women’s studies in religion. Her research focuses on issues of gender, sexuality, culture, and politics with an emphasis on interdisciplinary and qualitative methods.

Additional Resources from this Talk

Working Together: Feminist and Queer Theology in Conversation with Mary E. Hunt, Ph.D.

Mary Hunt, Ph.D. kicks off FutureChurch’s Pride Month series with a presentation on “Working Together: Feminist and Queer Theology in Conversation.”

Dr. Hunt’s presentation names the current lived reality for women and LGBTQ+ people in the Catholic Church, explores the histories and intersection of both feminist and queer theologies, and offers practical suggestions and principles for working together toward justice in the world and church. Dr. Hunt then engages in conversation with several participants.

Mary E. Hunt, Ph.D., is a feminist theologian who is cofounder and co director of the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER) in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. A Catholic active in the women-church movement, she lectures and writes on theology and ethics with particular attention to social justice concerns. Visit the WATER website to learn more about their work and about Dr. Hunt and her publications.

Reading List

Mary E. Hunt (5.4.24) mentioned a variety of foundational historical sources in feminist, liberation, and queer theologies on which current work is built. These sources are meant to be illustrative not exhaustive.

Early feminist work:

  1. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, The Woman’s Bible,1895
  2. Valerie Saiving, “The Human Situation: A Feminine View,” The Journal of Religion, Vol. 40, No. 2, Apr., 1960, pp. 100-112, published by: The University of Chicago Press; Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1200194

Basic texts in pioneering feminist work in religion:

  1. Mary Daly, Beyond God the Father, 1973
  2. Rosemary Radford Ruether, Sexism and God-talk: Toward a Feminist Theology, 1983
  3. Shawn Copeland, Enfleshing Freedom: Body, Race and Being, 2010
  4. Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins, 1984
  5. Katie Geneva Cannon, Black Womanist Ethics, 1988
  6. Ivone Gebara, Longing for Running WaterEcofeminism and Liberation, 1999

Key texts for various other liberation theologies:

  1. Gustavo Gutierrez, A Theology of Liberation, 1971
  2. James Cone, Black Theology and Black Power, 1969
  3. Nancy Eiesland, The Disabled God: Toward a Liberatory Theology of Disability, 1994

Roots of contemporary Queer Theology

  1. John McNeill, The Church and the Homosexual, 1976
  2. Kevin Gordon, Report, San Francisco Archdiocesan Commission on Social Justice’s Task Force on Gay/Lesbian Issues, 1982
  3. John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century, 1981
  4. Bernadette Brooten, Love Between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism, 1996
  5. Sally Miller Gearhart, The Lesbian and God-the-Father, 1973 (see LGBTQ-Religious Archives Network)
  6. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, Sensuous Spirituality: Out from Fundamentalism, 1992
  7. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott and Letha Scanzoni, Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? A Positive Christian Response, 1994
  8. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, Omni-Gender: A Trans Religious Approach, 2007

How Do Roman Catholic Womenpriests Contribute to Our Understanding of Church

FutureChurch welcomes co-authors, Sharon Henderson Callahan and Jeanette Rodriguez, to discuss their new book,  Women Called to Catholic Priesthood: From Ecclesial Challenge to Spiritual Renewal (Fortress Press, 2024).

In their compelling and carefully crafted ethnographic work, Sharon Callahan and Jeanette Rodriguez explore the contexts, calls, journeys, spirituality, and theology of women called to priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church. Posing the questions of how womenpriests’ stories illustrate both ecclesial challenges and spiritual renewal, the authors encourage readers to thoughtfully engage these women on their own terms.

Sharon Henderson Callahan, EdD, is professor emerita and past academic dean of the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University. A scholar of ministry and leadership , Callahan has focused her research on both Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant ecclesial formation.

Jeanette Rodriguez, PhD, is a professor of theology and religious studies at Seattle University. Currently she also serves as Executive Director of the Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture at the university. She is a ‘border theologian” studying Christian faith experience among different cultural groups; her books include studies of Haudenosaunee and Mexican American cultural identity.

Both Callahan and Rodriguez have performed qualitative, ethnographic research in locations around the world.

Purchase the book in paperback or Kindle on Amazon. 

African American Readings of Paul with Lisa Marie Bowens

FutureChurch welcomes Princeton Theological Seminary Associate Professor of New Testament, Lisa Marie Bowens, who discusses her ground-breaking book, African American Readings of Paul: Reception, Resistance, and Transformation.

Part One

In part one, Dr. Bowens highlights early Black women preachers and petitions from her book that reclaim the liberating messages of scripture to oppose slavery.

Part Two

In part two, Dr. Bowens finishes her exploration of early Black women preachers with a discussion of Julia Foote. She then discusses early and mid 20th Century ministers and interpreters of Scripture, including Ida Robinson and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as they resist segregation.

African American Readings of Paul: Reception, Resistance, and Transformation (Eerdmans 2020), is the first book to investigate a historical trajectory of how African Americans have understood Paul and utilized his work to resist and protest injustice and racism in their own writings from the 1700s to the mid-twentieth century. In it, Dr. Bowens takes a historical, theological, and biblical approach to explore interpretations of Paul within African American communities over the past few centuries. She surveys a wealth of primary sources from the early 1700s to the mid-twentieth century, including sermons, conversion stories, slave petitions, and autobiographies of ex-slaves, many of which introduce readers to previously unknown names in the history of New Testament interpretation. Along with their hermeneutical value, these texts also provide fresh documentation of Black religious life through wide swaths of American history. African American Readings of Paul promises to change the landscape of Pauline studies and fill an important gap in the rising field of reception history.

Lisa Marie Bowens, PhD, associate professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary, earned a BS (cum laude), MSBE, and MLIS from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, an MTS and ThM from Duke Divinity School, and a PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary. She is the first African American woman to earn tenure in Princeton Seminary’s Bible department. Her research interests include Paul and apocalyptic literature, Pauline anthropology, Pauline epistemology, discipleship in the gospels, African American Pauline Hermeneutics, and New Testament exegesis and interpretation. She is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Society of Pentecostal Studies, Society for the Study of Black Religion, American Academy of Religion, and a past Fund for Theological Education fellow. Her current projects include working as a contributor and co-editor with Scot McKnight and Joseph Modica on Preaching Romans From Here: Diverse Voices Engage Paul’s Most Famous Letter (forthcoming), contributor and co-editor with Dennis Edwards on Do Black Lives Matter?: How Christian Scriptures Speak to Black Empowerment, and two commentaries, one on 2 Corinthians and one on 1-2 Thessalonians.

Mary Magdalene: Her Easter Proclamation and Why It Matters

FutureChurch Program Associate, Olivia Hastie, moderates an intergenerational panel of women in scholarship and ministry to explore how Mary Magdalene continues to inspire us today, why it is important that we reclaim and tell her true story, and what difference it would make in the lives of people of faith to hear the full story on Easter Sunday.


About our Panelists:

Carolyn Osiek, RSCJ was professor of New Testament at Catholic Theological Union at Chicago for 26 years, and is professor emerita from Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University. She is the author or editor of many books and articles on topics of New Testament and Early Church.

Laura Boysen-Aragón is the Development Director at the Loyola Institute for Spirituality (LIS) in Orange, CA where she brings to her work a deep commitment to Ignatian spirituality and a faith that seeks justice. Laura has felt a strong call to the priesthood for many years. She continues discerning how to live out that call.

Molly Cahill is an assistant editor at America Media, where she previously completed a one-year media fellowship after her graduation from Boston College. She is passionate about theology, activism, journalism, and the arts.

Martha Ligas is a spiritual director, lay minister, preacher, and educator. She is currently pursuing her Doctor of Ministry at Fordham University, serves as pastoral minister at the Community of St. Peter in Cleveland, OH, and is communications coordinator for FutureChurch.

Resources Mentioned in This Presentation

“Mary Magdalene Goes to the Synod” Project to Expand the Lectionary

Most Catholics, including Catholic bishops and priests, do not realize that many important stories of our foremothers in faith are excluded from our lectionary.  For instance, the full story of Mary Magdalene’s Easter proclamation of the Risen Christ is NEVER heard on Easter Sunday (John 20: 1 – 18).  Thus, Catholics are deprived of learning about the gifts, grace, courage, and ministry of women such as Mary Magdalene.

As we head towards the 2024 Synod, help us to share the Good News that women have been integral to shaping our Christian tradition and their inspirational stories should be included in our lectionary!

Learn more

Lenten Fasting and Body Hatred with Jessica Coblentz, Ph.D.

Jessica Coblentz joins FutureChurch to present on her article “Catholic Fasting Literature in a Context of Body Hatred: A Feminist Critique” in which she argues that the social conditions of misogynistic body hatred and the culture of fasting during Lent perpetuates disordered eating.

Jessica Coblentz, Ph.D. is an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies and Theology at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, where her research and teaching focuses on Catholic systematic theology, feminist theologies, and mental health in theological perspective. She is a graduate of Santa Clara University and Harvard Divinity School, and received her PhD from Boston College. She was previously a resident scholar at the Collegeville Institute in Collegeville, Minnesota, and has taught at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, California.