Writing Prayers Without Underwear And Looking Up God’s Skirt (In memory of Marcella Althaus-Reid)

marcella althaus-reid

Marcella Althaus-Reid

The most important theologian in the last 50 years has been Marcella Althaus-Reid. Marcella grew up in Buenos Aires, where she graduated with a BA in Theology from the ISEDET ecumenical theological institution in Buenos Aires. Marcella engaged in community and social projects in impoverished neighborhoods of Buenos Aires.

Due to her experience and accomplishments, Althaus-Reid was invited to Scotland, where she worked in poor neighborhoods of Dundee and Perth. She completed her doctorate in 1994 at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. Althaus-Reid wrote, among others, two very important books: Indecent Theology: Theological Perversions in Sex, Gender and Politics and The Queer God. Her theology was a theology informed by the margins of sexual, gender, and economic exclusion. Her theology shocks and startles while it dismantles the decent theologies of the rich and comfortable and of those in power.

Althaus-Reid died on February 20, 2009, in Edinburgh, Scotland, of breast cancer. The following prayer is written in her memory. Althaus-Reid encouraged us to look up the skirt of God and to take off our underwear while doing theology. She was not being cute. Althaus-Reid was stripping away our decent theologies which undergird the oppressive powers of heterosexual orthodoxy, whiteness and global capitalism.



We have looked up your skirt


and discovered you are not a heterosexual HE.

We have looked up the skirt of your creations and learned there is far more diversity than any of us ever imagined.

We have looked up the skirts of the church and of governments and the smell is offensive, not the smell of life or the smell of community.

We have taken off our underwear while praying and accepted, perhaps for the first time, who we were created to be. Shame has been dumped and dumped and dumped on us but in our nakedness we now refute such shame and claim the image of God within us and in our God-created sexual orientation and gender identity. No more shall we be other than who we are.

We have taken off our underwear, God, and tears have formed over rejection, years lost, relationships ended or strained.

What has kept us sane God is that we have looked up your skirt and taken off our underwear and known love and acceptance, love and acceptance that have made all the difference.



Why Don’t You Try Arguing With God?

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Do you argue too much?  Do you argue enough?  Do you argue with God?

Arguing with God turns out to be a Jewish tradition.  There are plenty of other examples of arguing/struggling with God.  “Abraham argues with God over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah and ‘convinces’ God to spare the cities for the sake of ten righteous individuals.”(Anson, Laytner, Arguing with God:  A Jewish Tradition. p. xx)  Jeremiah, Job, some Psalmists and the author of Lamentations argue their own personal cases before God.

What good will it do for you to argue with God?  I don’t know.  I do know some of of the suffering in the world is God’s fault.  God should have done a better job creating the world.  So there is plenty to argue with God about.  We may just need to get our disappointment with God off our chest.

Arguing with God may also help us with some of our misplaced anger.  Often we kick the “dog” that is closest to us when it would be better to kick God.  Would some of your anger toward others be better directed to God?

Today might be a good day to rethink your arguments.  Today could be a good day to argue with God.