I'm not laughing at the content. No way. Love the content. Rather, it's the moxie of the thing - their sheer guts to take on Big, Powerful, All-correct TRADITION while delivering their doctrine-smashing ideas in disinterested "clearing the dishes after dinner" academic voice.
I've developed a serious girl crush on Rita Nakashima Brock. Catch this title of her best-known book: Journeys by Heart: A Christology of Erotic Power and Casting Stones: Prostitution and Liberation in Asia and the United States.
"Erotic" and "Christology" in the same sentence?
And that's why Rita is today's virtual guest on:
"Julie Springer's Theological Talk Show"
(Aka: How to take out 20 centuries of tradition in a couple of paragraphs).
(The following interview is purely the invention of "moi" while the responses are drawn from Journeys of the Heart, Chapter 3)
Moi: So Rita, how do you understand "the Big Guy in the Sky" theology, upheld by theological hall of famers: Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin and Barth?
Rita: In moving beyond a unilateral understanding of power I will be developing a christology not centered in Jesus...
Moi: Whoa! Come again? Did you just say a "Christology not centered in Jesus"? Rita, my stars, you trot that comment out like it's about as surprising as jello at a potluck!
Rita: [Well, I'm speaking of a christology centered in] relationship and community as the whole-making, healing center of Christianity.
Moi: I like that idea - community is the center. What does that say about Jesus then?
Rita: In that sense, Christ is what I am calling Christa/Community. Jesus participates centrally in this Christa/Community, but he neither brings erotic power into being nor controls it.
Moi: Good heavens, woman! Them's fightin' words. Reminds me of the first time I heard James Cone say "God is black." You've got Jesus "participating centrally" (not even "influencing predominently" ala Hartshorne or Tillich). You say Jesus doesn't "bring erotic power" (kinda depends on who is cast as Jesus in all those movies, though, doesn't it?)... nor exerts control.
In other words, Jesus is a catalyst perhaps, a presence that acts as a unifier, a central force (maybe a centrifugal force?) in creating community.
I'm listening Rita. Tell me more...
Rita: He is brought into being through [the community] and participates in the cocreation of it. Christa/Community is a lived reality expressed in relational images. Hence, Christa/Community is described in the images of events in which erotic power is made manifest. The reality of erotic power within connectedness means it cannot be located in a single individual.
Moi: Stop the bus! If salvation isn't located in a single individual, then are we off track with all of our emphasis on a singular human - Christ - saving me from my sins, Christ directly loving and redeeming me? What other way can we think about salvation?
Rita: [W]hat is truly christological, that is, truly revealing of divine incarnation and salvific power in human life, must reside in connectedness and not in single individuals. The relational nature of erotic power is as true during Jesus' life as it is after his death. He neither reveals nor embodies it, but he participates in its revelation and embodiment. And through its myriad embodiments and playful manifestations, we are led to take heart.
Moi: Crikey! *flipping booklet madly* None of this is in the Four Spiritual laws.
I'm struck by the emphasis on realitonality as the center of Christian community, salvation and incarnation.
When you say "take heart" are you referring to hope, then, of some kind?
Rita: Heart--the self in original grace--is our guide into territories of erotic power. Through that power we come to touch and be touched by, to transform and be transformed by all that is "the whole and compassionate being."
Moi: Well knock me out with a sound punch to the solar plexis. For you, our hearts indicate "self in original grace." Original Grace! Has a ring to it...
Rita summarizes how she sees community functioning in a christological way when she writes:
We are led to heal ourselves and each other. In the self-acceptance and wholeness that come with healing, we are empowered to live by heart, to reach out to each other and to the whole aching and groaning cosmos in acts of honest remembrance and heartfelt connection...
Erotic power is the only life-giving power. Our ability to live in its grace and to risk acting to stop the forces that crush it is what continually creates salvific acts. Spirit-Sophia and humanity as Christa/Community journey together into the territories of erotic power where we discover our love for the whole and compassionate being, the incarnation of divine love.