Toward a catholic feminist practical theology of hope after domestic violence
Theuring, Ashley Elizabeth
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Liberation, womanist, and feminist theologians re-imagine hope in light of suffering in a variety of communities, via the narratives of cross and resurrection. They insist that hope is shaped by its context and always practiced in response to particular suffering. This dissertation takes the experiences of women who have lived through domestic violence as the locus theologicus in which to investigate the question: “What constitutes hope after domestic violence?” A Catholic practical theological examination of House of Peace, a Latina domestic violence shelter, recasts hope after domestic violence as the practiced communal embodiment of an open and ambiguous future. The first chapter presents domestic violence as a theological problem, tracking the past half century of feminist and trauma theologies’ questions and concerns in regards to domestic violence. Chapter two provides a survey of liberation theologies of hope (Metz, Moltmann, Sobrino, Isasi-Díaz, Haight, Johnson) and highlights the importance of hope as a communally embodied practice profoundly shaped by its context. The third chapter turns to the insights of womanist theologians (Williams, Terrell, Copeland, and Crawford) who conceptualize hope in the midst of Black women’s experiences of race- and gender-based violence. The fourth chapter investigates Latina theologians, Ivone Gebara and Nancy Pineda-Madrid, who present hope as what emerges through embodied practices of resistance. Their vision of fragile redemption yields insights for a constructive feminist reading of the Gospel of Mark’s “Empty Tomb” resurrection account. Chapter five re-imagines the “Empty Tomb” narrative and hope through the healing narratives and practices of the House of Peace, highlighting the possibility for everyday practices and relationships to mediate hope. The community at House of Peace practices the biblical story differently, thus challenging a singular, extrinsic understanding of the crucifixion and resurrection. They renew the concept and practice of hope—emphasizing embodiment and imagination—in alignment with both Latina and Catholic commitments. This examination of contextual communal practices and narrations of hope after domestic violence contributes to the fields of Catholic practical theology, feminist theology, and trauma theology.