The name of Jesus made me recoil in anger. Oh, I was OK with a certain range of “live and let live,” but I was also in a war against stupid. “Live and let live” meant to keep your religious practice in the closet. While Freud considered the Christian faith pathological, I considered it applied cultural phobia, and it was not welcome in my classes.
It was 1998. I was a newly tenured professor in the English department of a large university. My field was queer theory.
From a Christian perspective, I was the vampire and you were the fresh blood. Let me be clear. I had a lesbian partner and I wasn’t cheating on her. I didn’t want to hop into bed with you. I wanted you to hop the worldview fence and see the enlightened path that feminist theory and LGBT advocacy alone could offer you. I wasn’t thumping tolerance. Nothing short of a cosmological paradigm shift was my focus.
I taught a large “Introduction to Women’s Studies” class for our university’s core humanities requirement. This class served as a bridge between the university and the community through service learning, and between radical ideas and domestic life through the texts and assignments that I gave. No longer was gay and lesbian culture some marginalized, sexually perverse subculture. We were the face of a new social decency, and we knew this. We were the new thumbprint of civil rights.
My PhD was in English literature and critical theory. I was trained to read books and make sense of them. The Bible was on my radar as a book that needed a good public spanking. That the Bible claimed unearned ontological “true truth” was laughable to me back then. Christians had one book that maintained this status on its own terms. I had a hundred that tore that argument apart.
Oh, I wasn’t hard hearted—not too much. I saw young Christian students try nobly to hang on to their sentimental ideas. But their emotional beliefs were no match for me. My heart went out to students for whom “knowing Jesus” meant not knowing anything else; I wanted to help liberate them into a more enlightened path. On my “Intro to Women’s Studies” syllabus, I reminded students that all papers must be written from a feminist life- and worldview. That was the law, because worldview and hermeneutics mattered to me. I wasn’t just interested in your ability to draw feminist conclusions about literature and life. I wanted you to have an integrated knowledge.
The integrated feminist hermeneutics that I taught drew a stark contrast to what the Christians on campus were doing. They told me what the Bible said but could not defend why it was true. They used the Bible to answer a question and to stop a conversation, not deepen it. After trying that tactic in my class, even the most devout young Christian saw the hermeneutic futility. Or perhaps they just got tired of arguing with me.
In my estimation, Christians were not only bad thinkers and faulty handlers of texts and ideas, but they were emotionally and spiritually violent—after all, how dare they declare me and everyone I loved lost in “sin”?
There is a lot more info: Please click on...
Also check out her website: http://rosariabutterfield.com/
By Rosaria Butterfield
March 13, 2013 on Intercollegiate Review Article