I heard a song on the radio today that I haven’t heard in a long time, so I sat myself down and listened to the whole thing – even though I thought I was in a hurry: Deniece Williams, Silly. That piercingly high song reminds me of summer when I was a kid. The song was released in 1981, so I was probably listening to it on the radio. I was young, so I don’t know what I thought of the lyrics back then. But since I spent the whole day reading Marcella Althaus-Reid’s Indecent Theology, it certainly resonated.
Williams is lamenting her attachment to a lover who is not really hers:
Silly of me to think that I, could ever really have you for my guy.
But it’s the third verse that really reminded me of Althaus-Reid:
Silly of me to go around and brag about the love I found
And say you’re the best, well, I can’t tell the rest
In Indecent Theology, Althaus-Reid writes about the ways that liberation theology, while exposing relationships of power and domination, is unable, inadequate, or just plain unwilling to account for relationships of sexual power and domination that shapes the lives of poor women.
I imagine those women – the Argentinian lemon vendors that Althaus-Reid writes of – singing Deniece Williams.
Silly of me to brag about the love I found, and say you’re the best: to brag about this awesome new way of thinking about, talking about, and doing religion that recognizes the parts of my life – colonialism and economic exploitation – that have gone unrecognized.
When I can’t tell the rest: but, I can’t talk about how liberation theology still relies on and reinforces a patriarchal and heterosexist sexual narrative that leaves me holding the short end of the stick. Or more plainly, leaves me in the closet or under the thumb of an abusive husband or father.
I’ve been really drawn to liberation theology for years, but now I’m kind of digging Althaus-Reid’s Indecent Theology. Speaking truth to sexual power? Or maybe I just liked listening to Deniece Williams and being reminded of summers when I didn’t have to read and think so much.