Archive for the 'Liberation theology' Category



12
Feb
09

Poor & Helpless – Two Different Things

 There is sometimes a perception that low-income people are victims or helpless, as well as another that they are deserving of their economic status because they lack certain skills, ambition or values. A study performed by the Gallup organization reported that 54% of the U.S. population believe that “low self-esteem” was a significant factor in homelessness, and alcoholism a causal factor in 52% of cases, although 94% believed the homeless could lead productive and self-sufficient lives if given the opportunity.(i)  Both views tend to understand the low-income population as powerless to get what they need. While this is certainly true of some, for many these judgments may simply be the perceptions of economically or socially privileged people that ignores the ingenuity and creativity expended by low-income people in pursuit of basic survival, especially since more people are fighting for economic survival than in the past. Continue reading ‘Poor & Helpless – Two Different Things’

11
Feb
09

Growing Beyond Numbers – a continuing project

This is a project I was involved with several years ago, while in seminary. I have threatened numerous times to revisit this and continue to work at the basic premise. It was good, just not complete. If you feel inclined to help, I would appreciate any suggestions. I will no doubt make sure that the revisions can be seen apart from the original, which is owned collectively by all the authors. Each gave their permission years ago to work with this, as long as attribution was given.

Be prepared: This is a small book. It is, at least I think, interesting and challenging – especially for churches in flux and those trying to redefine their identity – but it is not a quick read.  

Continue reading ‘Growing Beyond Numbers – a continuing project’

11
Feb
09

DOING THEOLOGY – A Series on Practical Theology

A 7-part series about praxis – the way we treat theology as an active word, rather than just something we think about if we have to.

Excerpts:

“Theology is a word that seems to bring terror to some people’s hearts, cause others to roll their eyes back in their head and, at the very least, make some folks think of a deranged, reclusive, scholarly pastor sitting amid a room full of books reading under candlelight. … Theology as something we think can be important, but theology as something we do – well, now, that’s just plain powerful. ” 

“What I hoped to show is that developing theology is based on a process – a continuous process, at that – in which we actually have to contend with what we believe, and consider how the consequences play out in our reality (”our” meaning human reality, as opposed to God’s reality). Un unexamined theology risks becoming an idolatry, with that which is idolized being our own rigid dogma.”

Continue reading ‘DOING THEOLOGY – A Series on Practical Theology’

07
Feb
09

Power Flower – a Tool Against Tyranny

I am posting this on both my blogs, because it is important (I think). It sets a stage for meaningful discussion about power and privilege. These are excerpts from the full article at my other blog.

Privilege is one of those very strange things. Those who lack it generally recognize it as either something to envy or something to despise. Those who know they have it and are inclined to have more, manipulate it to their own advantage. Then there is the great, largely clueless majority who, if asked, will tell you they don’t have privilege – they are just as downtrodden as women, people of color, GLBT or whatever other group they may name. Sometimes I think that the invisible unflective privilege is the most heinous and insidious.

It is important to keep in mind that, just because a constitutional amendment is passed by popular vote, the amendment is not necessarily constitutional. Determining consistency with the overriding provisions of the constitution falls on the backs of the courts, which makes it a highly contentious and potentially unpopular part of the US system of justice. You might say that, when the courts get the most heat from the public, they may have come the closest to doing what they were created to do.

31
Jan
09

Luke’s Jesus

Several year’s ago, after finally giving my heart to Christ, I asked several people the question, “Okay, now what?” I had no idea what it meant to be a Christian, and little background from my early childhood from which to cull an answer. Almost everyone, including several clergy, suggested I read the Gospel of John, followed by Matthew, Mark and then Acts. What was it about Luke’s Gospel that prompted people to omit it from a new Christian’s reading list? Historically, Luke hasn’t been a favorite Gospel, which, for me at least, prompts the question, “What does it say that might be uncomfortable to the church hierarchy?” Luke’s Jesus, it seems, was an advocate of social justice, a vehement critic of religious authorities and a harsh judge of the people who rejected God’s “true” ministry. Continue reading ‘Luke’s Jesus’

29
Jan
09

God as Mother – Innocence Lost (Part 5)

Continued from Part 4, or go to the beginning and view the Table of Contents.

I will resist the urge to recap the arguments so far. They are here, after all, to find and read in the first four parts. In this section I want to speak of why this topic is important in the first place. Nothing like waiting until the end to do that, is there? Ultimately, what I have to say on this will be based on two central beliefs.

(i) As long as it falls short of idolatry, the image that each of us has of God can serve be valuable for our faith lives. It is one thing to say, “I find an affinity with a male or female image of God that informs my personal spiritual journey,” and a whole different thing to say, “God is male – to say otherwise is blashemy, a sin or whatever.” We have a right to envision God in the way that is most comfortable to us, as long as we remain cognizant of the fact that it is just an image.

(ii) When it comes to public worship or study, however, our personal image of God needs to be left at the door. In this situation, we may be responsible not just for our own spirituality, but that of others as well. To formalize or otherwise restrict public worship and theology to that of our own is to reach the point of idolizing our own rationality, or irrationality as the case may be. Continue reading ‘God as Mother – Innocence Lost (Part 5)’

28
Jan
09

God as Mother – Masculinity Lost? (Part 4)

Continued from Part 3, or go to beginning at Part 1.

EMASCULATION OR UN-MASCULINIZATION OF GOD

Opponents of inclusive imagery and language about God often claim it is bordering on blasphemy, with a significant number of those making the case being women. Proponents cite myriad reasons for its legitimacy. For now, let’s begin by looking at the arguments for the masculine image of God, so we can determine what’s at stake in changing our approach.

Except for Mormons, many who believe there is a God-mother beside the God-father, and some non-trinitarian sects, most adherents of Christians sects believe that the totality of God is wrapped up in the trinitarian formula, “Father, Son and Holy Ghost (Spirit).” To change that formulation, many think, is to attack the very nature of God and to lead people away from the “true” God. Besides the fact that God does not need protecting, on which I hope we would all agree, then what is in need of protection is a tenet of faith – a dogma – a way of understanding God. The way in which we speak of God does not change who and what God is. The tenacity with which people hold onto specific images prompts us to ask, “What is really at stake?” Continue reading ‘God as Mother – Masculinity Lost? (Part 4)’

27
Jan
09

Scapegoating & Spiritual Abuse in Churches (Part 3)

Continued from here.   Go to Table of Contents

Pastoral care in spiritual abuse

Most of the authors, again, describe two distinct groups – those that abuse and those that are abused. While the majority discuss pastoral or secular care for the victims, little is said about the perpetrators of spiritual abuse. Arterburn and Felton, however, seemed to acknowledge the brokenness and victimization of all the participants by providing a short section, after each description, labeled “Hope for the …”. While differences can be distinguished with regard to aggression, intentionality and, to some extent morality, each of the players who stay in an errant or sick religious environment, without trying to change it, can be viewed as victims in need of recovery and redemption. Care should be taken, however, to avoid excusing aberrant behavior, since that can lead to freeing the victimizers from the obligation or duty to recognize and change their abusive patterns.

Continue reading ‘Scapegoating & Spiritual Abuse in Churches (Part 3)’

27
Jan
09

Scapegoating & Spiritual Abuse in Churches (Part 2)

Continued from here   Go to Table of Contents

The others players in the ‘game’ of spiritual abuse

Most of the authors researched consider the remaining players to be persons addicted to a toxic or sick religious system, generally assuming that healthy members would be aware of the problems and leave to find a more nurturing environment. While not all are directly involved in the abusive behavior, all people remaining within the system and choosing not to seek change are, to varying extents, complicit in the illness of the church. Various terms were used to name these people – victims, religious addicts and scapegoats being the most common.

Continue reading ‘Scapegoating & Spiritual Abuse in Churches (Part 2)’

26
Jan
09

God as Mother – Imagery lost (Part 3)

Continued from Part 2. Or go to Table of Contents

Feminine images of God still abound in scripture, as discussed in Part 1. Those images, however, are simply those that have survived the expurgation by 3rd and 4th century “masculinizers” of the text. I know, that’s not technically a word – at least it wasn’t, but it is now. Examples could be used from the texts that were omitted, like the Odes of Solomon, but they are not part of the canon and so would be open to ridicule. Examples of passages still in the Bible have already been covered. To make the point on how images have been expunged, I will simply examine the instance of El Shaddai – Almight God – as the case in point. Continue reading ‘God as Mother – Imagery lost (Part 3)’

26
Jan
09

Liberation Theology and Globalization – Part 5

Continued from here or go to Table of Contents.

A LIBERATION THEOLOGY FOR THE “FIRST WORLD”

A major roadblock to a serious discussion of liberation theologies in dominant culture is the assertion that they are essentially Marxist in nature. This accusation has been proffered by not only “First World” governments, but by the Western churches including the Roman Catholic Church. Since explicating the philosophies of Marx is not the point of this paper, it will have to suffice to address the barest of arguments. First, the West in general, and the U.S. in particular, is somewhat irrational in its fear of Marxism. Marx was, first and foremost, a philosopher – albeit one who believed in praxis. The philosophy of Marx does not line up particularly well with what the West understands as Marxist politics, namely Communism as practiced in the 20th century: Continue reading ‘Liberation Theology and Globalization – Part 5’

26
Jan
09

Liberation Theology and Globalization – Part 4

Continued from here or go to Table of Contents.

THE UNDEVELOPMENT OF THE DEVELOPED WORLD

The dominant U.S. theology of entitlement seems to conflict with not only liberation theologies, but most theologies that include political and social action as essential tenets. Such European notables in political theology as Jurgen Moltmann, Johannes Baptist Metz, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer were joined by Reinhold Niebuhr and John Howard Yoder of the U.S. In his 1972 book The Politics of Jesus, Yoder detailed the biblical evidence which justified his belief, “Jesus is, according to the biblical witness, a model of radical political action …”[1] Disturbed by theological thought that separated Jesus from the political sphere, he attempted to prove that faithful Christian disciples should adopt Jesus’ political approach. Continue reading ‘Liberation Theology and Globalization – Part 4’

25
Jan
09

Liberation Theology and Globalization (Part 3)

Continued from here or go to Table of Contents.

USING THEOLOGY TO PROSPER

As in the U.S. women’s battle for the vote, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the ‘end’ of apartheid in South Africa, to name a few momentous occasions in recent social history, change of this magnitude requires partners. In each of these instances of striving for justice, significant numbers of allies within the dominant Western cultures had to be enlisted. Men voted to recognize (not give) women’s right to vote; pressure on East Germany and South Africa from other countries seem to have played a substantial role in changes experienced in those areas. Allies, from within the U.S. and European cultures, are likely to be needed, in the long run, to aid in the battle against widespread impoverishment. Continue reading ‘Liberation Theology and Globalization (Part 3)’

24
Jan
09

Liberation Theology and Globalization (Part 2)

Continued from here or return to Table of Contents

THE ECONOMICS OF OPPRESSION

It may be, on one hand, quite right to point out that the general populations of these dominant cultures have neither made the decisions to dominate nor benefited directly in the economic spoils of domination. Actions empowered by monarchs and popes have been replaced by those instituted by presidents, prime ministers and corporate moguls. It may even be true that the portion of the U.S. or European populations that has profited the most is the elite – those with significant holdings of stocks, bonds and privilege.[1] While these things may be true, for the general population to claim no enrichment or complicity is to turn a blind eye to the obvious truths of economy and quality of life. Continue reading ‘Liberation Theology and Globalization (Part 2)’




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That's too bad - I'm so sorry. Oh, well, just try to make the best of it. What you'll find here is a variety of essays and ramblings to do with things theological, social, whimsical and, sometimes, all three. I don't write to get famous - trust me, I've been told how futile that would be - but to express myself. I love to communicate and browbeat - ummm, I mean dialogue - about the things I find intriguing. Since you're here, and the door's locked, why don't you stay a while. There's a page bar under the header with links to information about us - I mean me. Don't forget to tell me what you think - in a nice way, I mean.

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