Professor Daphne Hampson came to talk at the first of the Lectures in Radical Christian Faith tonight as part of the series, ‘Theologies of the Excluded’.
Her focus, one of gender, was introduced from the point of view of someone who views themselves as post Christian. She has rejected the Christian faith and views it to be untrue. She does, however, retain a belief in a presence that is God (to which she rejects any form of image, especially an anthropomorphic one). She talked about the way in which the patriarchal history of the religion cannot be reconciled and thus needs to be rejected. She shared her opinion on the potential damage to both male and female children of teaching them of the intrinsic misogyny found within all the historic faiths.
The punch line to her talk was, apparently, that Christianity is fascist. At the moment she was expressing this, I’d stepped out of the room so by sheer accident I missed it. Upon my return I noticed less people than there had previously been but I was also grateful for the explanation I was given of what had happened.
During the questions she was asked to expand further on several of her points but the most anger shared was in response to the suggestion of the links between Christianity and fascism. I’m reliably informed that her deeper exploration within the questions (which I did hear) clarified what had been said before. My interpretation of which goes something like this:
Christianity has been instrumental in deciding on the identity of ‘the other’, excluding them and militantly enforcing what is deemed to be acceptable. It has embraced many of the ‘isms’ and used them widely. While the ideals of Christianity most certainly do not have the evils of the totalitarian, Nazi or other political regimes given the same title (fascist), the failings of the organised structures and practices of the church have been evil and sinister.
I found the talk to be challenging, and I look forward to hearing it back again. If this is week one, I wonder what Mukti Barton, Lisa Isherwood and Kathy Galloway will add to the mixture of theologies of the excluded. I look forward to hearing them and wonder what thoughts and explorations they will lead to.