A Public Theology of Relationships: Reflections from the Mothers' Union in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia

Theology Religion Christianity Humanities Arts and Social Science (HASS) Sex differences Anglican Church New Zealand

Following feminist critiques and challenges to the distinctive and discourse within the genre of public theology, this research further explores possibilities in feminist public theologies. By engaging with the work of Luce Irigaray and acknowledging the relational paradigm shift that her philosophy effects, this research explores a public theology of relationships. This exploration takes place within a corporate theological reflection with members of the Mothers' Union in the Three Tikanga Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia. The Mothers' Union World Wide vision seeks to see a world where God's love is shown through loving, respectful and flourishing relationships. Exploring the public significance of divine and human relationships in this context challenges prior delineations and gendering of the private and public realm. Furthermore, the culturally distinct articulations of that which is loving, respectful and flourishing, illustrates the critical potential of prioritising relational language and culture within public discourse. This research raises the possibilities that ensue from considering public theologies of relationships for speaking of and within a public theology of love. Such a theology would be cognisant of the critical relational inter-subjectivity of love, following Luce Irigaray. The possibility of a public theology of relationships and the theological cultivation of loving thought are critically evaluated as potential gifts which public theology might offer to the broader public.

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