The Queer God: Thoughts on Confessors, Confessants and Ecclestiastical S/M

What kind of book do you choose to read on a flight?  For my midnight, 10 hour flight from Paris to Johannesburg this week, I settled on Marcella Althaus-Reid, “The Queer God”.

Crazy? Stupid? Misguided arrogance? Or not? For a long time I have been aware of Althaus –Reid’s work in the canon of “Queer Theology”, of her roots in South American liberation theology and in queer theory, and of her academic credentials as lecturer at Edinburgh University in Christian Ethics and Practical Theology, so her books have been established on my wish-list for months.  Still, an initial browse through a selection of pages was not encouraging.  This is not an ostentatiously academic book as Boswell and Brooten are: there are no footnotes at all, and the few notes it has are discreetly tucked away at the back, out of sight.  But appearances can be deceiving.  There may not be footnotes or quotations in Greek and Latin, but she nevertheless freely tosses around academic terms and concepts, and with words and quotations in Spanish, that could easily have intimidated me on another day.  Besides, it is not just the words that are unfamiliar, but also the very concepts.

Consider a sample of the chapter and section headings:  (Read more)


3 Responses to “Theology”

  1. neville Says:

    Hi Terence

    Thank you for this awesome website! It really is a fantastic resource! I am an ordinand in the Anglican Church – (Diocese of Johannesburg) in South Africa. While I have a fantastic working relationship with both the clergy and laity in our diocese, I have been refused ordination on the grounds that I am gay and live with my partner. I acknowledge that this is not based on our Bishop’s bias but on Lambeth’s ruling regarding partnered gay ordinands/clergy. My deep love for the Holy Church however, is surprisingly, not shaken by the long silence of the commissions that were set up to engage in dialogue about ordaining gay people. It is nonetheless hugely frustrating for me! Where to from here? I work as a teacher at a primary school and on a part time basis as a Parish Minister at St. Margaret’s Anglican Church. I have also done all the necessary training to be ordained a deacon, through the Johannesburg Diocese’s School for Ministry, but I have reached a dead end! I would gladly work in any Anglican church in the world that is fully inclusive and accepting of Gay clergy in relationships. With our Bishop’s “hands tied” he can do little for me. All I am trying to do is think laterally about how to fulfill my calling to be a priest. This has always been my heart’s deepest yearning! Are there any gay sympathetic Bishops out there willing to risk ordaining me? I am 40 years old and have committed myself to this process for 22 years now. I would really appreciate some input from you or please feel free to forward this email to anyone you know who could possibly be of assistance.

    God’s Richest Blessings!


    • Terence@queerchurch Says:

      Hello, Nevile. I am always delighted to hear from South Africa. Thank you for this frank and touching testimony. Personally, I am unable to help with specifics, but I am sure that there must be a way forward. In a time when Episcopalians and Lutherans are not only ordaining openly gay men and lesbians, but even consecrating them as bishops, there must be at least some bishops, somewhere, who would show some sympathy and understanding. I imagine your best emigration bet would be in the USA, but even here in the UK there ahve been newspaper reports (which I have not yet shared) that the Anglican Church is to debate putting partners of gay clergy on the same administrative footing as more conventional spouses. I suspect that there will be difficulties in the emigration route which go beyond just the gay issue – questions of work permits, for example, and ecclesiastical jurisdiction.

      I wonder if there are not avenues worth exploring back in SA? Bishop Desmond Tut has been outspoken in his support for gay rights: have you tried writing to him? Or as an extreme measure, have you thought of treating this as matter for employment law? The constitution is explicit, that discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation is simply not permissible. Any human rights lawyer could advise whether the churches are exempt.

      Good luck – I will copy your comment into an independent posting. Perhaps a reader can help.

  2. neville Says:

    Hi Terence
    Thank you too for your prompt response! I really do value this. What set me off this morning was an email I got from a fellow Ordinand who said that her Ordination date had been set for the 30th January at St. Mary’s Cathedral in JHB. I felt sad! Happy for her and sad for me! Its not easy when some of my family and friends keep asking about the prospects of my ordination. Often, I just don’t know what to say. I think that many people feel that I’m wasting my time. I’ve explored many, many, many posibilities even the Old Catholic Church in the Netherlands – (which is in full communion with Canterbury). Desmond Tutu is a good resource – a man who I love and admire, however as Archbishop emeritus, he is not directly involved in policy making. The current House of Bishops in South Africa, I am sad to say, are too scared to rock the boat! They are happy to love me as a brother in Christ but when the chips are down, nobody is anywhere in sight. I will carry on regardless! Blessings to you and to all our sisters and brothers who continue to make the world a better and a safer place! God Bless! Nev

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