Touching the Future

A Living Eschatology

in International Journal of Public Theology
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Christian models of eschatology have often aligned ultimate, perfected existence with immateriality and disembodiment, and have subsequently devalued materiality and embodiment; This is particularly problematic for women’s bodies given their patriarchal alignment with materiality. In response to this problem, this article rethinks the relationship between eschatology and the female body. It asserts that present embodiments are valuable and valued by God, and thus that women’s bodies can be trusted and can add substance to the anticipation of the future. In particular, the article envisions the future through the lens of the maternal body, and therein highlights the eschatological transformation of bodies into abundant life and flourishing. It proposes that this can be both anticipated and created in the present through the practice of touch, as this has the capacity to re-unite dichotomized aspects of existence and to ‘flesh out’ the eschatological affirmation of bodies.

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References

1

Donald L. Berry, ‘Seeking a Theology of the Finite’, The Christian Century, 99:29 (1982), 953–56 at 953.

6

Ruether, Sexism and God-Talk, p. 67.

8

Ada María Isasi-Díaz, En la Lucha: In the Struggle (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004), p. 52.

9

Ivone Gebara, Out of the Depths: Women’s Experience of Evil and Salvation (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002), p. 127.

10

Rosi Braidotti, ‘Embodiment, Sexual Difference, and the Nomadic Subject’, Hypatia, 8:1 (1993), 1–13 at 7.

11

Elizabeth A. Johnson, She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2002), p. 15.

13

Melanie A. May, A Body Knows: A Theopoetics of Death and Resurrection (New York: Continuum, 1995), pp. 22–3.

16

Marcia W. Mount Shoop, Let the Bones Dance: Embodiment and the Body of Christ (Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), p. 48.

18

Johnson, She Who Is, p. 234.

19

Ibid., p. 235.

20

Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore, Also a Mother: Work and Family as Theological Dilemma (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994), p. 145.

21

Miller-McLemore, Also a Mother, p. 138.

22

Grace M. Jantzen, Becoming Divine: Towards a Feminist Philosophy of Religion (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998), p. 143.

23

Miller-McLemore, Also a Mother, p. 138.

24

Ibid., p. 139.

25

L. Serene Jones, ‘Hope Deferred: Theological Reflections on Reproductive Loss (Infertility, Miscarriage, Stillbirth)’, Modern Theology, 17:2 (2001), 227–45 at 235.

26

Ibid., 242.

28

Ibid., 243.

29

Mount Shoop, Let the Bones Dance, p. 26.

30

Johnson, She Who Is, p. 63.

31

Carter Heyward, Touching our Strength: The Erotic as Power and the Love of God (San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1989), p. 6.

32

Grace M. Jantzen, God’s World, God’s Body (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1984), p. 83.

33

Linda Holler, Erotic Morality: The Role of Touch in Moral Agency (New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2002), p. 61.

34

Heyward, Touching our Strength, p. 93.

35

Bruce G. Epperly, God’s Touch: Faith, Wholeness, and the Healing Miracles of Jesus (Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001), p. 218.

36

Amy Hunter, ‘The Show-Me Disciple’, The Christian Century, 119:6 (2002), 17–22 at 17.

37

Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (New York: Crossing Press, 1984), p. 58.

38

Zach Thomas, ‘The Intention of Touch in Pastoral Care’, Chaplaincy Today, 15:2 (1999), 23–9 at 26.

40

Carter Heyward, When Boundaries Betray Us: Beyond Illusions of What is Ethical in Therapy and Life (San Francisco: Harper Collins Publishers, 1993), p. 113.

41

Ibid., p. 10.

43

Thomas, ‘The Intention of Touch in Pastoral Care’, 23.

44

Heyward, When Boundaries Betray Us, p. 69 (original italics).

45

F. Dean Lueking, ‘Touch and See’, The Christian Century, 114:11 (1997), 337; Hugh Thomson Kerr, ‘Touching the Untouchable’, Theology Today, 11:1 (1954), 1–7 at 1.

46

Mayra Rivera, The Touch of Transcendence: A Postcolonial Theology of God (Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2007), p. 89 (original italics).

48

Rivera, The Touch of Transcendence, p. 137.

49

Heyward, Touching our Strength, p. 135.

51

T. Hessel-Robinson, ‘Nurturing Hope in the Face of Ecocatastrophe: Advent, Eschatology, and the Future of Creation’, Liturgical Ministry, 19 (2010), 9–20 at 19.

52

Holler, Erotic Morality, p. 26.

53

May, A Body Knows, pp. 13–14.

54

Thomas, ‘The Intention of Touch in Pastoral Care’, 25.

55

Epperly, God’s Touch, p. 109.

56

Cristina Traina, ‘Touch on Trial: Power and the Right to Physical Affection’, Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics, 25:1 (2005), 3–34 at 19.

58

Traina, ‘Touch on Trial’, 4.

59

May, A Body Knows, p. 22; see also Epperly, God’s Touch, p. 96.

60

Mount Shoop, Let the Bones Dance, p. 48.

62

May, A Body Knows, p. 48.

63

Rivera, The Touch of Transcendence, p. 96.

65

Ibid., p. 97.

68

Holler, Erotic Morality, p. 21.

69

Ibid., p. 23.

73

Heyward, Touching our Strength, p. 93.

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