DR. WENDY FARLEY

Professor of Christian Spirituality
Director of the Program in Christian Spirituality
Rice Family Chair in Spirituality


CONTACT INFORMATION:
Montgomery Hall, Room 211
wfarley@sfts.edu
415.451.2867

EDUCATION:
PhD, Vanderbilt University
MA, Vanderbilt University

A leading theologian, Wendy Farley has written extensively on women theologians and mystics, religious dialogue, classical texts, contemporary ethical issues, and contemplative practices.

Professor Farley received her Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 1988. Her teaching and research interests include women theologians, Buddhist-Christian dialogue, spirituality and social justice, classical texts, and contemplative practices. Her first book, Tragic Vision and Divine Compassion: A Contemporary Theodicy (Westminster John Knox, 1990) considers the problem of evil by focusing on suffering rather than sin and abandons the forensic model of God in favor of one emphasizing compassion as a dominant metaphor for the divine. A second work, Eros for the Other: Retaining Truth in a Pluralistic World (Penn State: 1996), also takes up the relationships between ethical and philosophical issues in religion. In 2005, she published The Wounding and Healing of Desire: Weaving Heaven and Earth (Westminster John Knox), which combines attention to contemplative practices, folk traditions, and inter-religious dialogue to reflect on suffering and transformation. Gathering Those Driven Away: a Theology of Incarnation (Westminster John Knox, 2011), reflects on the meaning of Christian faith and tradition for women, queers, and others that the church has had difficulty recognizing as part of the body of Christ. She also recently edited (with Emily Holmes) a collection of essays called Women, Writing, Theology: Transforming a Tradition of Exclusion.

Her latest book, “The Thirst of God: Contemplating God’s Love with Three Women Mystics” (Westminster John Knox, 2015), explores the spirituality of medieval mystics Marguerite Porete, Mechthild of Magdeburg, and Julian of Norwich. In Farley’s words, “These women have important things to tell us about our faith, the same as contemporary contemplatives, with the emphasis on divine love.”

Classes Taught

Orientation to Theological Education (SFTS)
Systematic Theology (SFTS)
Compassion and Contemplation (SFTS)
Contemplating Beauty (Emory University)
Contemplative Theology: Plato to Porete (Emory University)
Women Mystics and Theologians (Emory University)
Religion and Social Change (Emory University)

Publications

The Thirst of God: Contemplating God’s Love with Three Women Mystics, Westminster/John Knox, 2015 (169 pp)

Gathering Those Driven Away: a Theology of Incarnation, Westminster/John Knox, 2011 (233 pp)

The Wounding and Healing of Desire: Weaving Heaven and Earth, Westminster/John Knox, 2005 (180 pp)

Eros for the Other: Retaining Truth in a Pluralistic Age, Pennsylvania State Press, 1996 (220pp)

Tragic Vision and Divine Compassion: A Contemporary Theodicy, Westminster/John Knox, Spring, 1990 (150 pp)

EDITED VOLUME
Women Writing Theology: Transforming a Tradition of Exclusion, co-editor with Emily Holmes, Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2011 (330pp)

Teaching Philosophy

W.B. Yeats reminds us that education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire. The world is so beautiful, so varied, so wonderful. Teaching helps to open minds and hearts to the great plurality and depth of human wisdom, alert to suffering and injustice, and ignited by a commitment to an adventure of ideas. I enjoy disrupting master narratives and patriarchal patterns of telling the story of Christianity. Teaching and learning require discipline and hard work, openness to new ways of thinking, dialogue, respect and hopefully also the joy of being part of a community hungry for understanding and wisdom. 

I believe academic study can be its own kind of spiritual practice which broadens our understanding of the Christian tradition and the human adventure. Close readings of classical texts, the discipline of good writing, contemplative listening to music at the beginning of class, and exposure to the insights of many cultures and races all contribute to our ability to bring wisdom, compassion, and justice to our beautiful, broken world.

In her own words

Dr. Farley is an associate of Green Bough House of Prayer, has three children and a wonderful partner, reads poetry every morning and loves to hike. When home, she invites the community for wine and postcard writing night once a week. Writing about women contemplatives she says: “Without our particular, unique, unrepeatable beauty, the beauty of creation would be incomplete. Without mothers, the motherhood of God would be invisible. Without queer lovers, the full range of the Divine Eros would be unfulfilled. Without the outcasts, Wisdom’s joyous indifference to social norms would be unknown. The witness of Christianity’s rejected and despised is essential to the gospel” (Gathering Those Driven Away).