Divine Reckonings in Queer Appalachia: An Analysis of the Queer Theologies of Austin Caudill and Tennessee Jones

Matthew Ryan Sparks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In recent years, the concept of “queer theology” has risen to prominence as an analytical tool for evaluating how queer individuals understand and relate to the divine, both inside and outside of organized religious bodies. Scholars such as Chris Greenough and Marcella Althaus-Reid have argued that queer theology, in its deconstruction of traditional theological power hierarchies and norms, has radical potential as a liberatory tool for religious queer folk. This study applies the queer theological framework to an Appalachian context, in analyzing the narratives of two queer Appalachian individuals, Austin Caudill and Tennessee Jones. From these interviews, it is possible to trace the development of their theological understanding of the divine as well as the transformative impact that the process of theological analysis had on their lives and work. This article argues that queer theological practices can and do help to achieve self-and societal reconciliation in Appalachia, and as such can be considered a powerful catalyst for spiritual, social, and economic progress in the region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-29
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Appalachian Studies
Volume28
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences

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