Walking with the Mud Flower Collective

Walking with the Mud Flower Collective: God's Fierce Whimsy and Dialogic Theological Method

Stina Busman Jost
Copyright Date: 2014
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  • Book Info
    Walking with the Mud Flower Collective
    Book Description:

    Arguing for a retrieval of the landmark work, God’s Fierce Whimsy, Stina Busman Jost establishes the critical importance of this volume for the construction of a dialogic theological method. This is accomplished through a close reading of God’s Fierce Whimsy in which the author identifies key methodological characteristics informing the volume’s formation. Critical importance also is established through interviews with the volume’s authors, the Mud Flower Collective—which included Katie G. Cannon, Beverly W. Harrison, Carter Heyward, Ada María Isasi-Díaz, Bess B. Johnson (Delores Williams), Mary D. Pellauer, and Nancy D. Richardson. Undergirding this endeavor is a recognition of the theoretical importance of difference to the project of theological construction and the vital form of the dialogic as constitutive of theological practice; this is carried forward through engagement with the pivotal theorists Martin Buber and Mikhail Bakhtin, who helped pioneer the philosophical and literary critical importance of otherness, difference, and dialogue. Finally, the author constructively engages recent developments in feminist theologies and postcolonial theories—ultimately making the argument that a dialogic theological method is relevant for the doing of theology today.

    eISBN: 978-1-4514-6961-5
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction: Setting the Stage for an Analysis of Godʹs Fierce Whimsy
    (pp. 1-16)

    What happens when seven scholars sit down face-to-face and commit to do theology collaboratively with their differences on the table? Are their differences minimized? Championed? Moreover, what is their method for such a task? Do they end up following old systems of constructing theology? Or do they forge a new methodological path? These are the questions I will take up in this book. Specifically, this work is a critical investigation ofGod’s Fierce Whimsy—a challenging and innovative text written and published in the 1980s by a group of seven women who identified themselves as the Mud Flower Collective.¹ This...

  5. 1 Framing a Methodological Approach to Godʹs Fierce Whimsy
    (pp. 17-44)

    Before beginning an investigation of any historical text, the question “why” is warranted. Why delve deeply into an examination ofGod’s Fierce Whimsy?Why give a careful reading to this text in particular? My answers to these questions—hinted at in the Introduction above—are twofold. First, there is historical significance toGod’s Fierce Whimsythat warrants attention. Second,God’s Fierce Whimsyis a methodological gem. Its profundity has been lost on many—maybe because of its initial lackluster reception or perhaps due to the fact that many theologians who do not self-identify as feminists have failed to understand that...

  6. 2 Godʹs Fierce Whimsy in the Literature
    (pp. 45-80)

    The text under consideration here—God’s Fierce Whimsy—was published almost thirty years ago. Therefore it has a historical context of its own that must be explored. What have others written about the text? How has it been utilized, critiqued, and engaged following its publication? This history of the text’s impact, which will be the focus of this chapter, is an interesting one, with features both surprising and expected. Up until this point, the text has not received a full analysis or treatment. In many ways, one gets the sense that it is a book that many reference but few...

  7. 3 Foundational Dialogic Characteristics in Godʹs Fierce Whimsy
    (pp. 81-130)

    Dialogue is a term used and affirmed frequently in theology published today. Yet such usage and affirmation do not always translate into actual evidence of dialogue in published work. Undeniably, dialogue may be the means by which a theological work comes into being as a published product,¹ but the emphasis and priority often lie not on this process but on the goal—the end result that entails distinct, definitive claims that can be accessed online or sent to press. In other words, as it concerns theological method, most theological work is primarily teleological in focus,² and while such an approach...

  8. 4 Reflections on Godʹs Fierce Whimsy in the Words of Members of the Mud Flower Collective
    (pp. 131-176)

    In autumn of 2011 I interviewed six of the seven members of the Mud Flower Collective.¹ These women welcomed me into their homes and offices and spent significant time with me recalling and reflecting on the experiences of being a member of the collective. These interviews fundamentally changed my interaction with the textGod’s Fierce Whimsy. I anticipated that conducting these interviews would be important when I began this project, but by the time I was addressing the complexity of relationships and experiences depicted in the text, I realized this research was essential to my project. So too, I expected...

  9. 5 Discerning the Relevance of Godʹs Fierce Whimsy
    (pp. 177-236)

    Throughout this project I have suggested thatGod’s Fierce Whimsyis a relevant text for contemporary theology. Yet what does such a statement actually entail? While it may be laudable that the Mud Flower Collective wrote in a manner that prioritized dialogue, why should this matter today—and more specifically, why should one make an effort to theologize in a similar manner? To take this inquiry in another direction, a concomitant question would behow—how should one make an effort to theologize in this dialogic manner, especially in light of difference and compounding systemic injustices? These questions will be...

  10. Appendix: Guiding Interview Questions for Members of the Mud Flower Collective
    (pp. 237-240)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 241-262)
  12. Index
    (pp. 263-265)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 266-266)