Sue, a good friend of mine was telling me of her experiences with Catholic Nun, Feminist Theologian Prof. Elaine Wainwright (presently Head of the School of Theology, Auckland University) – that's her up there on the left - specifically Sue talked about the ways in which Elaine approaches and does theology in our contemporary context, the ways in which Elaine works with stories and narrative. I'm sure I haven't described that well, but the way Sue described it was very energising. I could readily see application and practical advantages. Thanks Sue, you open doors to new worlds in wonderful ways.
So, as is my practice when conversations resonate with areas that I’m exploring or interested in I went exploring – here’s an online essay by Elaine – Can We Free Ourselves for Transformation? (19/08/01). Its context is Australia, but certainly it is translatable into our Aotearoa New Zealand context, and no doubt other locales and cultural contexts. Excerpt below.
“…In this paper, I seek to explore some of the diverse stories which we tell and how these together with the symbols and images they carry can either stifle our imagination or can evoke new possibilities for a future which will enable the full human/spiritual potential of each person who calls Australia home. Sources for some such stories which transform the human imagination and spirit have traditionally been found among the major religions, particularly Christianity in western nations although this is changing radically in the multi-faith arenas of Australian life. Sadly in recent decades, the Christian churches as carriers of transformative stories have failed to keep them alive in the imagination of many Australians or to bring them into dialogue with the transformative moments in the Australian imagination.
…While Australians may be abandoning the churches, there is a profound longing in many Australian hearts for the transformative. In this climate, a new spirituality, a new transformative imagination is being forged among many Australians who may / [are] not be abandoning the tradition of Christianity but seeking to transform it. This longing for a new spirit is shaped by art and story as the memories evoked above make clear. It can be nurtured by a bringing together of traditional stories from religious traditions including Christianity [on which I will focus in this paper] and from the Australian memory; a critical deconstructing of these; and a re-telling of them in dialogue with a truly Australian imagination. From this process, something new, something transformative emerges…”
If you haven't already used the link above, you can read the whole lecture here