Richard Marshall interviews Susannah Cornwall in 3:AM Magazine:
Susannah Cornwall is a theologian with philosophical thoughts about how religions needs to get to grips with sexuality, about why bodies matter,about why sexuality is so divisive in religion, about queer theologies, about their outsider status, about Frederick Roden’s linking of Christian queer theology to Jewish traditions, about queer Muslim theology, about links between queer theologies and liberation theologies, about the relationship between sexuality, incarnation and erotic love, about what contemporary theology can add to debates about sex, about sexchatology, about Jürgen Moltman, about the challenges intersexed bodies bring to theology, and about how her theological positions speak to the stigmatised and marginalised.Divine…
3:AM: What made you become a theologian – and are you working only with Christian theology?
Susannah Cornwall: I was fortunate to grow up going to a church which was “broad church” in the best sense, where there were women in leadership for as long as I can remember, and where I was encouraged to participate fully even as a child. But, as for many people, I suspect, the trajectory that brought me to where I am today looks much clearer in retrospect than it ever did at the time. At every stage, serendipity has taken me onward. When I was 13 and choosing GCSE options, there were three subjects I passionately wanted to take, and only one timetable slot available. I was tossing up Religious Studies, Italian and Drama as possibilities. If I hadn’t chosen Religious Studies, then I might not have plumped for Theology and Philosophy at A-Level (I very nearly did Psychology instead). And if I hadn’t done Theology A-Level, then when I arrived at university to start my English literature degree (I was always going to do English – and I was always going to be a journalist) and quickly realized that I wanted to do Theology instead, I might not have been allowed to transfer onto the course. But I knew in my very first undergraduate lecture that it had been the right decision, and I’m convinced now, as I was then, that all theology is love and justice.
Most of my work has been on the cusp of Christian constructive theology and theological ethics. In some areas, especially feminist and postcolonial interpretation, I’ve drawn quite a bit on the work of Jewish scholars – always, I hope, with an awareness that Jewish narratives and texts can’t be unproblematically hijacked by Christian thinkers. And I’m currently researching accounts of variant sex and gender and understandings of the human being across Islam, Judaism and Christianity.