The Redemption of God
278 Pages

The Redemption of God



The Rev. Dr. Carter Heyward is Professor Emerita of Theology at the Episcopal Divinity School, in Cambridge, MA,  where she was on the faculty for thirty years. Her doctoral dissertation at Union Theological Seminary in New York City,  The Redemption of God: A Theology of Mutual Relation was written in 1979 and first published in 1982.  In it, Dr. Heyward lays the foundation for all of her theological work.  In 2005, Dr. Heyward retired to the mountains of North Carolina, where she lives in an intentional community, participates in a small ecumenical worshipping community, fiddles in a women's old time string band, and is involved with a therapeutic horseback riding program which she founded in 2000.  As a feminist liberation theologian and a leading voice among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Christians,  Dr. Heyward continues to write and speak nationally and globally.  Her most recent books include God in the Balance: Christian Spirituality in Times of Terror (Pilgrim, 2002), Flying Changes: Horses as Spiritual Teachers (Pilgrim, 2005), and the forthcoming  Keep Your Courage: A Radical Christian Feminist Speaks -- Occasional Pieces, 1998-2009 (SCM, 2010).



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Published 01 September 2010
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EAN13 9781725227835
Language English
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Wipf and Stock Publishers 199 W 8th Ave, Suite 3 Eugene, OR 97401 The Redemption of God A Theology of Mutual Relation By Heyward, Isabel Carter Copyright©2010 by Heyward, Isabel Carter ISBN 13: 978-1-60899-422-9 Publication date 2/1/2010 Previously published by University Press of America, 1982
n the beginning is the relation.” Martin Buber’s words begin and resound “I throughThe Redemption of God. In the three decades since she completed this book, no one has lived into these words more fully than Carter Heyward. This early work presages every life decision, every political action, and ev-ery piece of Carter’s writing. Since the publication ofThe Redemption of God, she has published more than a dozen books and scores of articles and she has preached and spoken in diverse contexts throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America, Australia, and New Zealand. I was privileged to read this book twenty îve years ago. At the time, I felt a deep resonance with the Relational/Cultural psychology I was engaged with at the Stone Center at Wellesley College. Neither Christian nor theologian, I was moved and inspired byThe Redemption of Godand, after being introduced by a mutual friend, Carter and I became dearly beloved friends and colleagues.Over the years, she and I have walked together, collaborated, and “co-created” in various feminist settings, professional institutions, and political struggles. She has also been a kindred spirit and good friend to my husband Steve and a “goddess mother,” mentor, and inspirational friend to our daughter Katie. Reading this early work of hers again, I am struck once more by the pro-found power of her visionary and prophetic voice, and the integrity with which she has lived into this vision. Even when the journey has been difîcult and in those times when she has been deeply misunderstood and maligned, Carter Heyward has continued to explore and celebrate her deep faith in the redemp-tive power of love and the struggle for mutuality.The Redemption of Godis an authentic reection of the person and spirit of Carter Heyward. Originally Carter’s dissertation,The Redemption of Godcompleted was in 1980 as the culmination of her doctoral studies at Union Theological Semi-nary in New York City. The book reects the political and creative era of the 1960s and 1970s and Carter’s pivotal role in the ordination in 1974 of the îrst 11 Episcopal women priests. Since its publication in 1982, this work has been signiîcant, often formative, for her teachers, mentors, students, colleagues and friends, as well as for many theologians, priests, and other religious, spiritual, and political leaders. I have been with Carter when people have reached out to
her and told her how much her work has meant to them. Strangers have written to her that they have built their own work and lives on her teaching and writing, and people have told her that there are many others, known and unknown to her, whose lives have been changed byThe Redemption of Godand her subsequent theological work. In co-founding with her colleagues the Feminist Liberation Theology pro-gram at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, and through her teaching and public speaking for over thirty years, Carter’s contributions have touched countless people, directly and indirectly. Indeed, her inuence on individuals and the scope of her theology is hard to imagine. One of my own colleagues in psychology once remarked that Carter’s theological work had become so foun-dational to Christian feminist and other liberation theologies by the late 1980s that many of her theological peers and those who would follow did not even realize the extent to which they were building their work on hers. The re-publication of this book today can be part of a retrospective appre-ciation, honoring and assessing the power of Carter Heyward’s spiritual lead-ership, which stretches far beyond îelds of religion and theology. The book stands on its own as a spiritual and theological vision even more clearly today than when it îrst appeared. This theology illuminates the relational matrix and the struggle for mutuality as the core of our Sacred Power.The Redemption of God deînes “mutuality” as “right relation,” that which is grounded in love.Building right, or mutual, relation is always the authentic work of justice and the basis of any lasting peace. Without love, there is no justice; without justice, there is no love; and without justice-love, there is no God. This is Carter Hey-ward’s voice. She makes no distinction in these pages between personal, intimate, hu-man relationships and the global and structural power relations that contextual-ize our historical lives. Carter herself is quick to point out thatThe Redemption of Goddoes not pay adequate explicit attention to the environmental and eco-logical contexts of the struggle for mutuality. The expansion of her theological attentiveness to the rest of creation emerges later in her life, as does her sharp, sustained focus on erotic power, and her own lesbian sexuality, as a primary spiritual resource. Still her vision here is grand, inclusive, poetic, and mystical.At the same time, she recognizes her place as a theological thinker and activ-ist in the real historical context of the Christian church. She attempts to speak meaningfully and respectfully to her sister and brother Christians as well as other spiritual seekers. In these pages, Carter Heyward is calling for the redemption of humanity through the ongoing struggle for right relation. Thereby redeeming one another, we humans participate in the redemption of God. Paradoxically, by the power of God’s Spirit, we incarnate the Spirit personally and collectively, thereby
giving birth to God through our lives. As this sacred Spirit unfolds among us in the “intimate and immediate” experiences of our embodied lives, we—like our brother Jesus—participate in liberating God from evil (structures steeped in wrong, non-mutual, relation in which there is little love or justice and much fear). In the words of Elie Wiesel, whose experiences and questions are central to this book, this Spirit is urging us to “recreate the universe!” InThe Redemp-tion of God, we hear the intelligent, passionate voice of a young Carter Heyward responding, Yes!
—Janet L. Surrey, Ph.D., July 2010
Dr. Surrey, a clinical psychologist and a Founding Scholar at the Jean Baker Miller Train-ing Institute of the Stone Center at Wellesley College, has become a spiritual teacher in the meditation tradition of Buddhism. In addition to her own writings, Janet Surrey has co-authored several books with her spouse, Steven Bergman (pen name: Samuel Shem). Drs. Surrey and Bergman’s acclaimed play, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, centers on the powerful relationship between the two men who founded Alcoholics Anonymous in the 1930s, a relational movement which has become a source of healing and hope for people throughout the world.