Friday, August 05, 2005

The theologian of chick-lit

Donna Freitas says that for hip spirituality, ascetism is out, chocolates and "inner poise" are in. In an interview on Beliefnet, she attempts to craft the Christian tao of Bridget Jones. Clearly, this is a sophisticated spirituality that can't be confined by abstinence or celibacy.

Freitas writes:
Often the spiritual figures who are held up are very extreme--for example, Mother Teresa. People can admire her, but it’s very difficult to be her. So I think people are searching for models who are closer to who they are, are searching for people like Bridget who is clearly in love with the world in every which way.
You can't see or hear us now, but we're tittering. It gets better:
Q: Speaking of vices, why is sex spiritual?

Because we make it that way. Bridget and her friends, and everyone on Sex and the City, and all these other women characters in chick lit novels are all having sex outside marriage. So one of the things I was looking to do was to figure out, How do we incorporate this experience into our spiritual lives? Because people tend to divorce their sex life and their spiritual life, since religion teaches that marriage is the only legitimate place for sex.
So, let's make sure that we understand this. Christian practice should legitimize our activities and gratifications. We need a Christ and a Cross that fit comfortably into our fornication. Just wanted to be clear on that.

Later, Freitas gushes over Elaine Pagels (of course):
I admire Elaine Pagels’ understanding of authority and the fact that we need to remember that we’re the authors of our own authority. There’s a self that’s implied there. You can give yourself authority. You have the authority to believe in someone. Can we stand with our own sense of authority and affirm sexuality as a spiritual thing? There is tons of literature within religious traditions that affirms sexuality. There’s erotic poetry, there’s all kinds of wonderful things about sexuality and marriage. One of the things I think we need to do is take that poetry, take that work done on marriage about the importance of sexuality and open that up beyond marriage to apply to our sex lives outside of marriages.
Oh, thank goodness Dr. Freitas is looking out for us. Somehow, we're not truly affirming the goodness of sexuality unless we're affirming the goodness of adultery. For Freitas, the traditions of Christian spirituality (she cites Augustine, Hildegaard, Julian of Norwich, and Mother Teresa) were fine in their time, but we need something hipper and sexier. Maybe anonymous sex at a health spa. She tries so hard to be hip, but she's so square (baby I don't care).

As you can probably guess, Freitas is a professor of spirituality and religion somewhere.
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