method in my madness

a lot of my thinking at the minute is caught up in how we 'do' theology. i've been surprised at the idea that theology might be considered abstract, irrelevant. i guess i've had some great teachers over the last nine years who taught me, explicitly and implicitly, that beliefs and practice are inseparable and that what we believe about God inevitably controls what we do. what i believe about the doctrine of this, that or the other will never simply stay in the classroom.

this piece was written in response to a piece of contextual theology that was read and discussed in a classroom. it was written by heather walton and was about her experience of infertility and staying in a hospital with other women. she ends her piece by asserting 'this is how theology is done'. whilst i agree that people do theology from their context, i rather worry that we can become snobbish about certain contexts being unassailable, unquestionable as places to do theology.


A true story.

That may have actually happened.

It claims to have depth that abstract theology cannot. That theology done in the place of sterility cannot.

But is there ever such a place? Even the bearded theological professor has pain, has the deep secrets that he does not want anyone to know, has the fear.

God is the God of the fruitful vineyard and the fruitless fig. And you may choose who is who.

The things that we might think are ‘dead’ may be found to be living in God. It is only in the close scrutiny of doing, that we might find a latent fecundity.....or a pseudo-fertility.

Do not be fooled by the words, whether of the creative or the academic: poetic and beautiful, or droning and dull. Again, you may choose which is which. In either place the logos, the spark of life, may set you on fire, or, if you like, the seed may germinate, crack open and in its death give itself over to life, budding, green, new and vulnerable.

At any point it may not survive and may end up in the ground to become the muck that feeds the next new life. Or it may grow and grow and grow to be tall and proud, it may offer protection for the next new life to grow...or it may overshadow and steal its food.

Conception may happen in the dark of the night, in the strip light of a hospital room, or in the minds of students as they soak up the words dripping out of the professor. Birth is not inevitable after conception in any of these places. But it may be that something grows in the secret place.

The mind is the womb from where practice bursts.

How and where can theology be done?

Before the beginning was the Word.
Existing, being, living.

In the pulsating, pulsing place of life.
Theology is done.

Creation formed by a crying out.
Waking, seeing, thinking.

In the clumsy, chaotic, consummation of life
Theology is done.

A people gathered, in the smelting pot
Suffering, weeping, stumbling.

In the dirty, dreary, doing of life
Theology is done.

Women and men, acting out belief
Conflicted, confused, impulsive.

In the constant, continual, conversation of life
This is how theology is done.

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