AS A POST-CHRISTIAN feminist, Ms. Hampson raises two fundamental questions about Christianity: Is it true? Is it ethical? Her answer to both questions is no. Christianity cannot be true because in a post-Enlightenment world we know there can be no revelation of the kind that Christians necessarily claim. Nor is Christianity ethical: rather, Ms. Hampson claims, it is necessarily sexist, functioning powerfully at a subconscious level with the message that women are lesser persons than men.
Ms. Hampson notes that feminists have a different view of the self than that built into western theology, with its masculine bias. For feminists the alternatives are not a self in isolation with rigid ego boundaries, opposing/fending off other selves, or dissolution of the self. Rather, they advocate a centred self, with its own agency, yet in deep connection to other selves.
| After Christianity
by Darlene Hampson
Ms. Hampson sees the paradigms of Christian theology as reflecting the aspirations, needs and fears of men. Woman is the “other”, given a place in an “over-arching framework through which men have projected their understanding of reality.”
God is conceived as self-sufficient, at a distance which is bridged by condescension and selfsacrifice, able to do anything, not needing to take into account anything else whatsoever, the proper object of human worship and obedience. “What a nightmare!” comments Ms. Hampson, and recommends that we all, women and men, move on from Christianity. Ms. Hampson conceives God, not in anthropomorphic terms or set against all else, but as a dimension of reality to which all have access.
Ms. Hampson’s style is lively and conversational, her scholarship impressive. So far, her God seems disappointingly thin. Further development of the concept of the self in relation to God could hold the promise of enriching her theism.
Susan Storey is a doctor of theology, and honorary assistant priest at All Saints Cathedral, Edmonton.