I confess that I have read little of her work probably because she did not deal very much with biblical matters but was primarily a theologian. So much of theology engages little with biblical texts, that nowadays I find that, without the biblical anchor, I can't really connect with it. The book I must read is Indecent Theology, in which she engages with liberation theology, feminist theology and queer theology in South American context. There is a very good summary of her thesis here from which I want to quote the following
Its starting point is a suspicion on the ideological use of traditional understandings of the category of Decencia/Indecencia (Decency/Indecency) in the Latin American cultures, and specifically in Argentina.
Decencia is a concept that traditionally has implications of honesty and truthworthiness for men (especially in economic transactions) but for women, it is a different story. Decencia for women in this context implies a complex set of regulations of sexuality (as in sexual options), the dealings with transgressions of expected behaviour according to age and civil state, but also a complex web of expectations based on gender perceptions and sexual understandings including codes of dress, mobility and hairstyle. It gets further complicated with economic issues but also with race. Somehow poor women are more prone to be considered indecent than wealthy ones. If they are indigenous or black women, this adds an extra category of indecency , that is, of oppression.
Decency and Indecency are therefore gender/sexual/ racial/economical categories of defining 'normality' in people's lives and in society. What is expected and proper. But what is expected and considered proper for Latin American women to be 'decent' masks a multitude of oppressions.
These patterns of class and gender/sexuality are reflected in ancient literature including the biblical texts. Given that male male anal sex in the ancient world was understood as a form of subordination of one male by another, I wonder if the Levitical taboos on male male anal sex (Lev 18:22, 20:13) even if borrowed from Persian religion, were not an attempt at building a male solidarity as part of the Holiness Code for priests and Levites. I also wonder if Paul's arsenokoites (1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:20) generally translated as sodomite, homosexual, sexual pervert etc in English bibles might not actually refer to such phallic aggressive males, especially such householders who screwed anything that moved by right and without consideration for consent or other such niceties (ancient Christianity was a religion of slaves, amongst others, after all).
But I have wandered far from Marcella Althaus-Reid. I'll conclude with a quite from Bob Shore-Goss obituary for her from a recent Other Sheep e-newsletter:
Marcella was very familiar with my own theological work, so she had her editor at Routledge send me her manuscript of her book Indecent Theology for an endorsement quotation. I read the manuscript with a perverse glee, noting how I originally underrated this creatively, queer and in her own words, “indecent Latina, bisexual theologian.” Marcella maintains that all theology is sexual theology, and she explored how vanilla Christian sexual theologies were oppressive. As an outsider, she creates an indecent theology, a counter-patriarchal and heterosexist theology.
And so I wrote an audacious endorsement quote for the back cover of the book: “I believe that this may be the best feminist theology (and I am not exaggerating) in the last decade.” And I meant the quote, for Marcella adeptly brought class and economic analysis to feminist theology, from a postcolonial perspective, into her indecent, albeit queer theology.
It was a pioneer development in feminist and queer theologies.
Kwo Pui Lan, a professor at the Episcopal Divinity School, contacted me in the spring of 2001 to participate on a panel to review Indecent Theology at the American Academy of Religion. Pui Lan mentioned that the invitation originated from tMarcella’s suggestion.
I was the only male panelist on the panel of the Feminist Theology Group, and my paper, “Expanding Christ’s Wardrobe of Dresses,” became one of the essays on Christology in Queering Christ. The essay built on her insight into the nomadic and bisexual incarnation of Christ.At the AmericanAcademy of Religion in November 2001, I had the opportunity to interact with this feisty and bold Argentinean theologian, stylishly dressed in a black skirt and blouse with polished leather boots.There was no mistaken that I met a theologian embedded in the leather/fetish community as well.There was strong scholarly kinship already, and our friendship instantaneous.
Marcella tried hard to get the manuscript Gay Catholic Priests and Clerical Sexual Misconduct published in the UK, but publishers were too timid about the content. It was about the same time when I was teaching in Thailand, that I received news that the dean of Webster was opposing the Religious Studies Department’s recommendation for my tenure evaluation. I was turned down for tenure, for more than transparent reasons. Marcella Althaus-Reid organized a group of theologians in the United Kingdom to write the President of Webster University. She wrote to the President asking him to overturn what she considered a violation of academic freedom but also a human rights violation to silence my voice.Later she commented to me that the President of Webster University did not her the courtesy by not even acknowledging receipt of her letter. In 2003, Marcella published The Queer God, a very seminal book in queer theology.I read the book, and I sent her an email of congratulations, explaining that while I may have previously wore the mantle of outrageous queer theology, she had superseded me, and I gladly acceded that mantle to her until we could write a collaborative, transgressive, and indecent theology. On her website, she writes, “The Queer God is a call to 'disaffiliation' processes in theology. To be unfaithful to sexual ideological constructions of God in order to liberate God- a Queer God who also needs to come out of the closet of theologians of the status quo.” She wrote about God “found in the complexity of unruly sexualities and relationships,” or she as coined the phrase—“god of the dark allies.”.
Eternal life grant unto her, Most High, and may perpetual light shine upon her. May she always shine in the perpetual light of your presence.
UPDATE: More information in English and Spanish plus further discussion at Holy Vignettes here.