Wednesday, September 07, 2005

contextualized theology

i am becoming enchanted with the ideas surrounding what it means to develop and live theology in the particularity of one's context. what does it mean to do theology in the west? in north america? in the u.s.? in the urban context of seattle? collin green, an irish professor of mine, made the statment in class that if we are to begin thinking theologically in america, we must first address the myth of the "american dream" because it requires that we see failure as intolerable, pain as something to be avoided. the "american dream" instills in us a pridful attitude of entitlement. as i was driving home from class, i tuned into npr news to hear the president make a comment that served as a perfect illustration of my professor's point. as he was referring to the horrific tragedy along the gulf coast, bush said that he was unwilling to refer to those who are suffering as "refugees" because they are not "refugees," they are "americans." i almost had to pull over to the side of the road... wow! what does it mean to be an american if we can no longer identify with the world in suffering? where is the solidarity to be had with the victims of the tsunami? or with those who exist post-any crisis? why are we unwilling to hold our own brokenness and in doing so step into an embrace with humanity? and ultimatly... how do we begin to develop and live a theology in a nation such as this?

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

disrespectful towards the rest of humanity...

Jaime_Hymay said...

Beni, solo puedo decir algo necesitas leer a Gustavo Gutiérrez.
La Teología contextualizada es uno de los puntos mas fuertes con los que estoy de acuerdo de la Teología de la liberación.
Necesitamos hacer teología desde la praxis, se necesita hacer manifiesto el reino de Dios. Hay un verso en la Biblia que me gusta: "El mundo espera la manifestación de los hijos de Dios".

Becky said...

hi, i found your blog through bryan's.

i've been totally overwhelmed by this too - like when bush refused aid.

is pride the top american value?

what pain are we attempting to escape by alienating the world like a two-year-old who insists he can do something himself but falls on his face?

only we're different because the two-year-old stops alienating at that point and seeks comfort. america declares that we are not refugees - we refuse to be takers of "refuge."

so, then, what does it mean to be a prophet in this situation? how do you call a society to feel, to mourn, not just to suffer with others, but to be willing to suffer herself?

my house church pastor in boston is deeply mourning the tragedy. i suppose his visable wound might be the most prophetic action he can take. his tears and sleepless nights might be the most profound theology he can offer.

Lian said...
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Lian said...

The Western/American mindset is extremely entitlement oriented. All our talk of human rights and basic freedoms and so on, is slowly turning to bite us in the rear - it's like too much sugar decaying our teeth.

Flyin J said...

I agree I couldn't believe it when I heard a newcaster on the radio refer to them as "Displaced Americans," Not to mention Jesse Jackson saying that the term refugee is racist.

Firelance said...

Very thoughtful post young man. I can't say much that hasn't been said already, but this "entitlement" attitude is everywhere in our culture. Just listen to radio ads, "you deserve...that perfect body, you deserve...your dream home..." You deserve everything! I'm sure you will agree in working with ole Crisp, Philip, and the other Sudanese boys that pain can produce some solid people.

Do think that with all of the political finger pointing in the wake of the tragedy of who is to blame, Bush was simply trying to watch his words and say something as encouraging as possible to those suffering? I take the blame game to be more evident of "entitlement" society than Bush's comments. I mean, who's is REALLY to blame for a category 5 hurricane?

elnellis said...

hey guys, thanks for interracting with this issue. you all bring such unique perspectives to the table. i love your voices and discomfort with the "the way things are." how does this become hope... become action... become change?

Flyin J said...

I think strong support (both donations and readership/listenership)of small market media such as local newspapers and radio stations is a great way to start. If there is going to be a breakthrough of thought into "mass media" it will picked up through the independant resonance.

cris said...

I deeply appreciate all your sentiment. I have one niggling comment on semantics--just wondering what is the best way to refer to those removed from their homes and lives by Katrina. The most basic definition of a refugee is someone who has had to flee home and country. Those impacted by the hurricane are still in the states (for the most part), though they certainly have had to flee, will need to build new lives, and were not cared for. They certainly are suffering--and paying for the failures of others. The impact of Katrina clearly shows failure of care for the poor and for the environment.

And all of that points a big fat finger back at me. How is this going to impact my actions and my view of suffering within my own country?

Becky said...

how does this become hope?

how does it become hope in light of last night's lecture?

how do we find the energy to hope in light of that lecture?

how do we have faith in a future redemption of emotionlessness? how do we see recieving pain as redemption and how do we act as prophets, priests and kings to make that happen?

maybe we tell stories that invite those around us to suffer with a view to restoration.
maybe we are prophets like ezekiel and find public ways to show our mourning and mourning on behalf of God.
maybe we are kings leading into a battle against complacency and pride by losing our own complacency and pride to the disaster that surrounds us and our powerlessness to change it.

then, maybe we sit on edge hoping for that time when redemption takes the weeping of the night and turns it to the joy of the morning. (ps 30:5)

elnellis said...

becky, thanks for your words. (faith hope and love class?) it was good to finally put a face to you yesterday. peace

Becky said...

yeah...sorry. i just posted on my blog about the lecture...so i guess i forgot to say which class.

it was good to meet you too.