Fading Christian Relevancy Exposed by Sallie McFague Essay

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My first encounter with Sallie McFague’s article was jarring: her eco-feminist metaphorical approach to theology is somewhat unexpected to those unfamiliar with Religious Studies. Yet I suppose I have misjudged much of this field of study by unfairly coming to expect either wholly traditional or wholly radical claims. McFague’s approach, however, seems relatively moderate and reasonable in all its assertions, and its neo-Derridian deconstruction had my inner cultural analyst bursting with excitement. Aching to break away from the patriarchical tyranny of classical Christian theology, she is committed to a drastic reconstruction of traditional Christian dogma.

At first I wondered as to her motives: was this deconstruction fueled by a
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Jesus’ resurrection, then, is not just symbolic of a Christian ‘rebirth’, but also of God’s manifestation within the cosmos: the universe as God’s body.

Unlike Nietzsche’s, McFague’s God is not dead; yet she is sadly aware of His modern reducibility. Thus the greater issue, for McFague, is how to “remythologize the Christian’s cry of affirmation ‘Christ is risen!’ – the promise of God’s saving presence always – for our space and time.” (261) In order to restore Christianity’s relevancy in contemporary times, she says, we need new metaphors and cultural conceptions to express God’s presence and power. (McFague 276) What makes McFague’s writing easy to digest is its logical flow and unbiased tone. She asks the reader neither to endorse nor doubt Christianity, nor God’s existence; rather she is interested in developing a model of the God-world relationship with universal appeal for contemporary times. I wonder why she so fervently desires new conceptions of Godliness: why not simply re-figure notions of ritual or sin? Is it not risky, within Christianity, to doubt the very nature of God’s being and essence?

As McFague explains later in “Metaphorical Theology”: belief is related to an imaginative and credible picture of myth of the relationship between God and the World.” (277) She aptly observes how mythology and semiology both serve perpetuate religious faith: it seems that a strong visual

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