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Motherhood as Metaphor

Engendering Interreligious Dialogue

Jeannine Hill Fletcher

Publication Year: 2013

Who is my neighbor? As our world has increasingly become a single place, this question posed in the gospel story is heard as an interreligious inquiry. Yet studies of encounter across religious lines have largely been framed as the meeting of male leaders. What difference does it make when women’s voices and experiences are the primary data for thinking about interfaith engagement? Engendering Dialogue pursues this question with original work on women in mission, the secular women’s movement and women in interreligious dialogue today. These new sites of consideration provide fresh ways of thinking about our being human in the relational, dynamic messiness of our sacred, human lives. The first part of each chapter details the historical, archival and ethnographic evidence of women’s experience in interfaith contact through letters, diaries, speeches and interviews of women in interfaith settings. The second part of each chapter considers the theological import of these experiences, placing them in conversation with modern theological anthropology, feminist theory and theology. Thus, the insights offered in Engendering Dialogue come almost exclusively from listening to and culling the theological reflections from women across the faith traditions of the world. Grounded in women’s experience of motherhood, women’s struggle for rights and women’s interfaith friendship, this investigation offers new ways of conceptualizing our being human. The result is an interreligious theology, rooted in the Christian story but learning also across religious lines.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

In my first book, Monopoly on Salvation? A Feminist Approach to Religious Pluralism, I set out to discover what diff erence it would make to bring feminist theoretical and theological insights to bear on contemporary discussions of religious diff erence. It seemed that the theologies being...


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pp. xiii-xviii

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Introduction: We Feed Them Milk

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pp. 1-12

She was reflecting on her participation in interreligious dialogue and considering the importance of the work through the lens of her experience as a nursing mother. The point this young Muslim woman was illustrating was that in the same way we nurture the next generation with material sustenance, we also shape them emotionally and relationally,...

Part I In Mission and Motherhood

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1 Encounter in the Mission Fields

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pp. 15-39

“Pagan Babies—Save Th em for Christ Th rough Maryknoll.”1 So, the caption reads on a promotional poster (circa 1929) that helped shape American Catholics in their imaginings of people of other faiths. With a pagoda in the background and the silhouette of two Chinese youngsters in the foreground, the idea of the religious other as ‘pagan’ all but erased their distinctive humanity. The specter of paganism cast long shadows...

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2 We Meet in Multiplicity

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pp. 40-76

What the mission strategy of the Maryknoll Sisters demonstrates is that in order to meet the ‘other’, we must meet in multiplicity. We meet one another not merely as ‘religious others’ but in a complex multiplicity constituted by relationship and responsibilities. Th is indicates not only that a meeting can be forged in this multiplicity of relationships but also that, as ...

Part II In the Sacred Secular

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3 Encounter in Global Feminist Movements

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pp. 79-109

You can see them in the brown and white photos.1 Mothers marching for freedom. With their children in tow, women publicly demonstrated for greater political rights in the suffrage movement of early twentieth-century America. That they did so as women is obvious. That they did so as mothers gets lost in memory, except for the visual traces from long-forgotten...

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4 Creativity Under Constraint

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pp. 110-142

It may be a peculiarly ‘modern’ understanding of the human person as one in which freedom is pressed to the fore. In Sources of the Self: Th e Making of Modern Identity, Charles Taylor traces this sense of freedom back to René Descartes and the Enlightenment trajectory that linked disengaged reason to “a sense of self-responsible autonomy.”1 Indeed,...

Part III In Lives Intertwined

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5 Encounter in Philadelphia

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pp. 145-163

“I actually want to start with the group and go backwards, if that’s okay, because currently this is also my spiritual home in huge, huge ways.”1 When asked about the community that shapes her sense of self and purpose, her spiritual orientation in the world, Anne thought first about the interfaith group of women who have shaped her story and her ...

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6 The Dynamic Self as Knower

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pp. 164-198

The Philadelphia Area Multifaith Women’s Group provides a context for considering the phenomenon of interreligious dialogue. It simultaneously presents a point of departure for asking again the question “What does interfaith encounter have to say about what it means to be human?” While this interfaith group demonstrates an essential relationality in...

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Conclusion: Seeking Salvation

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pp. 199-214

The Christian narrative is a story of seeking salvation, of enacting the means by which to right the wrongs we encounter in our lives and in the world. Like the artist of the Igbo people or the women in the Philadelphia dialogue group, the Christian theologian fashions a people anew, seeking ...


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pp. 215-240


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pp. 241-254


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pp. 255-262

E-ISBN-13: 9780823251193
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823251179

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: Cloth

OCLC Number: 844362711
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Motherhood as Metaphor

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Theological anthropology.
  • Women and religion.
  • Women -- Religious aspects.
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