We’re pleased to host a series of guest posts on Taylor Petrey’s recently published article on the Mormon theology Heavenly Mother. Taylor will introduce the series, and later in the week, we’ll have commentary from Margaret Toscano, Caroline Kline, and Kristine Haglund. This is intended to be a discussion of Taylor’s article, not a grab-bag of ideas about Heavenly Mother, so please read the entire linked article before commenting.
Taylor G. Petrey is Lucinda Hinsdale Stone Assistant Professor of Religion at Kalamazoo College, where he teaches biblical studies. In 2016-17, he is Visiting Associate Professor at Harvard Divinity School and a research associate at the Women’s Studies in Religion Program where he is pursuing a project on Mormonism and gender.
This post is for the discussion of my new article, “Rethinking Mormonism’s Heavenly Mother” in Harvard Theological Review 109.3 (2016).
In this article, I compare Mormon feminist analysis of Heavenly Mother to broader feminist theologies of a Divine Woman. The revival and rearticulation of Heavenly Mother in Mormon feminist thought roughly parallels the rise of feminist theology.
In particular, I look at the conversations around one feminist philosopher, Luce Irigaray. Her views have striking similarities to Mormon feminist analysis of Heavenly Mother.
Since Irigaray’s advocacy for a Divine Woman, other feminist philosophers of religion have critiqued her on a number of fronts. I join in these critiques, and argue that they also apply to Mormon feminism’s views of Heavenly Mother. For instance, the notion of Heavenly Mother has often been advanced as an argument for gender complementarianism and heteronormativity.
The final section of the article offers some alternative ways of thinking about the divine realm than its current heterosexual framework. These solutions are within the space of a “generous orthodoxy,” or a more expansive view of the plurality of human and divine experience that begins from orthodox Mormon thought.
In many ways, this article is a follow-up to my earlier article, “Toward a Post-Heterosexual Mormon Theology,” in Dialogue. While the “Heavenly Mother” article stands on it is own, it is part of a broader project that the earlier article laid out first in 2011.