on 10 August 2014
After Christianity offers a challenge to Christian theology on two grounds: that of the historical uniqueness of the Christ event and that of its essential patriarchalism, which renders it untenable.
Hampson's argument is sophisticated without being impenetrable. She writes with philosophical rigour and theological insight, but with a style that guides the reader without ever being patronising.
Hampson's historical critique is more well trodden ground than her feminist one, but the latter is probably the more powerful argument. It is certainly harder to respond to.
This is an important book and should be read in both academic and non academic circles.
on 31 August 2004
The book offers a feminist critique of Christianity, concluding that it is both untrue and damaging to women. It offers an analysis of key themes within Christianity and how the tradition has portrayed women, before going on to consider ways in we can speak of God and lead spiritual lives, after Christianity.
Reading the book, I was delighted to discover that I felt like I was eavesdropping on a lively and fascinating conversation. The ideas of great theologians are drawn in to a dialogue which includes feminist psychoanalysts and also friends of the author and people she encountered over dinner. Theologians whose books and ideas have inspired and shaped my own dip in and out of the conversation along with those I'd never heard of and those I never liked. A second edition has allowed discussion of how the ideas in first have been received and adds depth to the conversation.
I feel I wouldn't be playing fair if I didn't say to you that it's terrifyingly complex, it's not as simple as the caricature I had in my head of post-Christianity (of course it would not be). Don't let that put you off, it's not one of those bafflingly obscure theology books that will leave you shipwrecked on a tangent. You may arrive at the end shaken and dazed but the tightly knit logical structure will not allow you to be lost on route. Indeed, the introduction to the second edition provides the reader with a guide to the journey on which they are about to embark.
Hampson offers a glimpse of different way of speaking about God and being spiritual. This is no slamming of doors on that which one loves but a cool calm look at what is harmful in ones tradition and a moving away to do something new, to work for justice another way.
I have chosen not to follow Daphne but to stay within Christianity. I work within it because I see, among the things which are harmful, much that still inspires and excites me about Jesus of Nazareth and his message. I do not wish to see this lost amid a sea of patriarchy and fundamentalism. Those who have ever considered this dilemma, and those remain in Christianity and have never thought of leaving, would benefit from entering into dialogue with Daphne who is stunning conversation and says much that ought to challenge us.