Sarah Coakley believes in productive engagement between theology and other disciplines.
Theology deserves to be, as it was in the medieval period, still at the heart of the university. There’s no subject that I can think of in the university that hasn’t got things to say in relation to theology and vice versa; partly because of the entanglement within the history of these subjects, and partly because questions of supernatural reality are opened up, at least potentially, in all of these subjects. And certainly questions of ethical challenge – which often bemuse us in secular society, when we come up against things like assisted suicide, for instance. These are some of our deepest aporiae, as you might say.
So it’s a matter of theology not shooting itself in the foot. It takes some courage to go out into disciplinary forays into the university at large. And I have found in both America and England that, actually, those other subjects are much more interested in doing business with us as theologians than we tend to think. We suffer from our own false humility at times. It is a matter, of course, of taking time to imbibe what’s happening in those other subjects and finding the friendly faces within those disciplines. But I’ve spent quite a lot of my career engaged in this and it’s been enormously productive. I think regenerating, too, of my own subject.