����� ��� Spiritus 13 (2013): 163–186 © 2013 by The Johns Hopkins University Press Throughout the history of Christianity, women have engaged in sustained theological reflection on experiences—of God, themselves, and the world—that they have undergone in the course of practices of contemplation. Contemplative women of the past were not seen by their contemporaries as theologians, but what little survives of their spiritual writings represents a mother lode of rich theological insight. Today record numbers of women are formally trained theologians, but the academic discipline of systematic theology is generally resistant to making a space for spiritual practice and personal experience (especially women’s spiritual practice and personal experience of embodiment) in its well-ordered, cerebral discourse. What’s more, the demands of work and family life on many lay theologians today result in a lack of time and freedom to spend hours on end in the silent, contemplative prayer that provided the desert mothers and medieval mystics with such rich fodder for theological reflection. Contemporary women theologians are faced, then, with a dual challenge: first, to integrate contemplative practice into their daily lives—in the spirit of St. Teresa of Avila, to find God among the pots and pans; and second, to integrate contemplative practice into their work as constructive theologians. As if these challenges were not enough, women theologians committed to this integration of contemplative spirituality and theology are faced with an additional obstacle. Given that we are human beings and not angels, contemplation is always an embodied practice, and it often involves intense and even ecstatic bodily experiences. Historically dominated by a hierarchical understanding of the relationship between mind and matter, Christian theology has often approached the body (especially the female body) with ambivalence or even hostility. 1 There are few models for contemporary women theologians who seek to reflect on women’s bodies and bodily experiences as sites of spiritual practice, divine revelation, and theological reflection. As Marcia Mount Shoop insists, the language of our bodies is “not easily ‘heard,’ but it cries out

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