Marie BairdAssociate Professor, Director of Doctoral Studies
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Department of Theology
Education:Ph.D., Formative Spirituality, Duquesne University, 1992
M.A., Formative Spirituality, Duquesne University, 1988
M.A., French Literature, Bryn Mawr College, 1983
B.A., French Literature, Clarion University, 1981
Dr. Baird's primary specialization is in spiritual theology and the philosophy of religion. Her research interests include the problem of suffering, the philosophies of Emmanuel Levinas, Gianni Vattimo, and Giorgio Agamben, phenomenological approaches to religion, spirituality and mysticism, and the role of ethics in theology and spirituality after the Holocaust.
Undergraduate: Faith and Atheism; Anti-Semitism; Spiritual Theology; Grace; Special Topics in Spirituality; The Problem of Suffering; Phenomenological Approaches to Religion.
Ph.D.: Emmanuel Levinas, Jean-Luc Marion
The Holocaust demands a rethinking of spirituality, both human and Christian. Traditional definitions of spirituality that focus on the human capacity for self-transcendence in relation to an ultimate horizon of meaning, whether or not that ultimate horizon is called 'God', are inadequate after the Holocaust to the degree that they make ethical responsibility a secondary consideration. Because the unthinkable has, in fact, happened, a contemporary spirituality must locate ethical responsibility for the other at the heart of human subjectivity and self-transcendence. The extreme suffering of the incarcerated and murdered, as well as the ethical engagement of the rescuers cry out for a newly articulated spirituality that defines self-transcendence primarily as ethical responsibility. This study also contributes to a contemporary discussion situated at the nexus of philosophy and spirituality. This discussion seeks to characterize spirituality by using terms other than the traditional categories of being. Such an approach may reveal the contours and dynamics of a spirituality springing from the ethical consideration of the other. This study defines spirituality as fundamentally self-transcending ethical engagement in which the subject 'enacts' himself or herself into the fullness of his or her humanity. This new perspective stresses ethical engagement over the ontologically-based conceptual categories found in traditional philosophical or theological anthropologies.
"The Kenosis of God: Vattimo and Levinas on Incarnation, 'Useless' Suffering, and the Secularization of History," in Godhead Here in Hiding: Incarnation and the History of Human Suffering (eds. Terrence Merrigan, and Frederik Glorieux; Leuven: Peeters, 2012), 427-440.
"Whose Kenosis? An Analysis of Levinas, Derrida, and Vattimo on God's Self-Emptying and the Secularization of the West," Heythrop Journal 48 (2007): 423-437;
"The Kenosis of God: Vattimo and Levinas on Incarnation, ‘Useless Suffering' and the Secularization of History," Louvain Studies 31 (2006): 332-334;
"Revisioning Christian Theology in Light of Emmanuel Levinas's Ethics of Responsibility," Journal of Ecumenical Studies 36 (1999): 340-351;
"Eric Voegelin's Vision of Personalism and Emmanuel Levinas's Ethics of Responsibility: Toward a Post-Holocaust Spiritual Theology?," Journal of Religion 79 (1999): 385-403;
"Emmanuel Levinas and the Problem of Meaningless Suffering," Horizons: The Journal of the College Theology Society 26 (1999): 73-84;
"Divinity and the Other: The Ethical Relation as Revelatory of God," Eglise et Theologie: A Review of the Faculty of Theology, St. Paul University, Ottawa, Canada 30 (1999): 93-109;
"Spirituality and Twentieth Century Suffering: A Dialogue with Karl Rahner," Louvain Studies 22 (1997): 352-369;
"Death Camp Survival and the Possibility of Hope: A Dialogue with Karl Rahner," Philosophy and Theology 10 (1997): 385-419.
Dr. Baird is currently at work on a book about the phenomenology and spirituality of bearing witness.