Mary Beth Writes

5/23/2022 Rosemary Radford Ruether

 “Rosemary Radford Ruether, a founding mother of feminist theology, has died at age 85”

Click here for the story. 

 ...

Rosemary Ruether taught at Garret Evangelical Theological Seminary while I was a student there in the late 1970’s. I only took one class from her but for me it was a doozy.

I’d grown up in evangelical Christianity which meant I was raised to believe “these are the end times.” Jesus would be coming back to earth soon to redeem his favs (that would be us) from the doom and chaos about to descend. My church hosted “prophecy conferences” where we had to attend church on weeknights to listen to a bombastic special speaker. As my brother would ask years later, why do “special speakers” always yell? No answer…

Anyway, the loud prophecy experts would tell us how current politics meant Jesus was on his way. The subject of prophesy and what Jesus is going to do next and when he is going to do it is called Christian eschatology. It’s the main reason Trump ordered the American embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in Israel. Conservative Christians believe Jerusalem is the mothership of Christian eschatology; Trump was currying favor with his base with that $21,000,000 switcheroo.

Even when I was young that crazy Christian eschatology didn’t make sense to me. It seemed more like outré comic book sagas than literature that jived with the teachings of Jesus. You know? The Beatitudes dare us to be peaceful, dare us to risk and suffer on behalf of others, dare us share who we are and what we have with our fellow human beings.

So I took a class about Apocalyptic Biblical literature from Rosemary Ruether and it was as if someone had opened a window.

In a nutshell, the weird prophesy passages of the Bible are the poetry pf people who live by honesty, courage, and love in dire times. Most of the passages about end times - the horsemen from the north, mighty angels, jangling bones, statues with clay feet - most of them are images and metaphors from historical times when Hebrew people lived in exile longing to return to the customs and places of their homeland.

Lets ask surviving Ukrainians what they thought about when hiding in their basements. Let’s ask African Americans crouching behind shelves and counters in Tops grocery store. Let’s ask native people on the trail of tears what songs they sang.

Anger, sorrow, loss, misery, fear.

And then a fierce and fiery hope.

Eschatology is about creating hope where there is none.

RIP Rosemary Radford Ruether. Thank you.

Comments

RR Ruether was my person in my last year at Garrett. She passed my thesis on my ramblings on the role of women in the Catholic Church. Very special woman!!!!!
Mary Beth's picture

She was a thinker, and so were we all, but we had miles to go to catch up! Good to hear from you!

I would have loved to take that course! Certainly, a game changer. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the Beatitudes, was how we aspired to lived? I wonder about my fellow Christians... Be well. Patricia

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