Kim's Blog

Kitchen Table Theology

I’m writing a dissertation at present and have been reflecting upon the way in which the Upper Room grew up as a women-only space initially. This wasn’t intentional, its just how it happened, and we were lucky to be able to inhabit a women-only space for the early year, free of male power or leadership shape, as it enabled us to grow in confidence as women leaders. Women may flourish and develop vocation through a domestic setting or a voluntary setting and this has been termed “kitchen table theology” which I think is a powerful phrase. Below is an extract from my dissertation:

“The rituals and ministry of women journeying together has been termed:

“ a ‘kitchen table theology’; taking place within British Christian feminism…discussed and practiced in contexts which extend well beyond the confines of the academy…The context and conviviality of the (metaphorical) kitchen table…are thus acknowledged and affirmed as legitimate starting-points for theologising. This amounts to the development of a feminist practical theology: starting with experience, it also seeks to integrate the values of affectivity, justice and care.” (Graham, Words Made Flesh 2009 p51-52)

It is important to note that recognition of a domestic setting as a starting point for some women’s theology in no way limits or restricts women to this location, but in reality the home and the domestic milieu are often the backdrop to the powerful discovery of vocation. Volunteering, around family life, can enable women to enter the public sphere and develop and grow in confidence in new roles; this at times also reflects the lack of access and opportunity in larger or more public spaces:

“We may wish to claim the right to have our kitchen table recognised as a site of legitimate theological work, to see the world of nurture and family as important vantage-points from which to locate theological insights: for it is, after all, where women do the bulk of their pastoral care. Economic reality dictates that many women write at their kitchen tables…” (Graham, 2009 p52)

Graham goes on to point out that Christian feminist groups often work in alternative spaces such as homes and halls; these are largely outside the control of patriarchy, perhaps because they are seen to be unimportant and therefore unnecessary to control. She identifies these groups as sources of “alternative epistemology for feminist practical theology,” and “spaces in which diverse experiences and ways of knowing may be articulated.”(Graham, 2009 p52)”

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