Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Massingale, Bryan N.
Nussberger, Danielle K.
Rossi, Philip J.
This dissertation examines the theologies of North American Ecofeminist Sallie McFague and Latin American liberation theologian Leonardo Boff in order to answer the question - What are the features of a Christian spirituality capable of helping people to clear vision, transformation and hope in this time of socio-ecological crisis? In the sixth chapter I also briefly engage the work of Carmelite contemplative Constance FitzGerald, as she both reinforces and deepens the theologians' answer to the above question.
The dissertation begins with a short explanation of the interlocking ecological and social crises, and offers a basic understanding of Christian spirituality as powerfully transformative of human assumptions and actions in the world. In Chapter One I argue that a study of McFague's metaphorical theology indicates that authentic Christian spirituality must challenge false social constructions. Investigating McFague's model of the world as God's body, Chapter Two then illustrates how to live by a spirituality that loves God while caring deeply for the needs of the world. In Chapters Three and Four I show that an examination of Boff's theological corpus elucidates how people can and must live in the experience of God through their every experience of the world. In this way, his theology explicates why and how God must be experienced for individual and collective fulfillment, as well as for producing a marked global and historical transformation.
After summarizing and evaluating, in chapter five, the theologians' contributions to contemporary Christian spirituality, chapter six briefly explores FitzGerald's call to a contemplative yielding to God in this time of crisis so that God's own vision and imagination may transform human consciousness. Thus, with all three authors I indicate that Christian spirituality is capable of producing clear vision, transformation and hope inasmuch as (1) it challenges false social constructions; (2) orients people to loving God while caring for the wellbeing of the world; (3) shows them how to experience God's presence in their lives and understands the power of this experience to transform the course of history; and, most radically, (4) teaches people to yield to God so that God's own vision for the future may arise in human consciousness. Such a Christian spirituality is well equipped for birthing a new humanity through the present socio-ecological crisis.