Monday, 2 March 2009

Death of Prof. Marcella Althaus Reid - Argentinian Theological Giant

From Professor Lisa Isherwood

Professor Marcella Maria Althaus Reid
Theology lost an original voice on Friday, 20th February 2009, when Professor Marcella Althaus-Reid died at Marie Curie Hospice in Edinburgh, Scotland. We offer offer sympathy to her husband, family members and friends. Those who appreciate creative, bold theology are in her debt.Marcella was Argentinean by birth with a deep commitment to liberation theology. She studied at ISEDET, the Protestant theological faculty in Buenos Aires, and received her doctorate at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. She held the Chair of Contextual Theology in the School of Divinity, at the University of Edinburgh. In addition she worked with deprived communities in both Argentina and Scotland.
She insisted that issues of body and sexuality need to be interwoven with other liberation concerns. Feminist and queer commitments informed her unique and important work. She was the author of the widely acclaimed Indecent Theology and The Queer God. Her work in liberation and sexual theologies has been honest, brave and challenging. She wrote believing that only a radical theology, one that dared to go beyond the hitherto accepted edges, could show us the presence of God in our times. She challenged the oppressive powers of orthodoxy and found courage and inspirations in the margins. Indecent Theology reflects on the sexual experiences of the poor through the use of economic and political analysis and in so doing exposes the sexual ideology of systematic theology. The Queer God creates a concept of holiness that overcomes sexual and colonial prejudices and shows how queer theology is a search for God’s deliverance.
It was my great honour to work with her and to call her my friend and I am indebted because her integrity gave me the courage to ask the hard questions. Before she died she made me promise that if I wrote anything about her I would be sure to say that we were a theological team, companions who challenged one another, who laughed together, read together, discussed and who brought the gospel from the marginalised. This was a theological team, she said, working from intellectual and affectionate closeness, working from the heart and the head. I agree with my dear friend and thank her for the joy of the caminata we shared.
You will all be familiar with Marcella’s prolific academic output but perhaps like me you will be most affected by the passion with which she engaged with her subject and the profound insights she conveyed through lively wit and creative theological thinking. Marcella Althaus-Reid's work will echo for generations to come.

Lisa Isherwood
Professor of Feminist Liberation Theologies
University of Winchester, UK

A Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Marcella will take place at St George's West Church, Shandwick Place, Edinburgh on Saturday 7 March 2009 at 12.00 noon to which all are inclusively invited. Sombre dress is not required.

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