I forgot to write a post until tonight. If you are still excepting them, here it is: 

I enjoyed hearing further connections that were made today between our reasons for studying postcolonialism and how this relates to the Church. The comments that were most thought provoking today for me were related to the criticisms  that people have had of the church when it has tried to lobby for change to happen at a macro level, but has not been willing to engage with the problems and the people being impacted by them at a local level. This ties in nicely with some of what I am learning about in Poverty and Development. Also, I was struck by Mark Lau Branson’s recommendations for how to support a community of people in moving them towards change in such a way that they own and direct the process, instead of coming across in a dominanting way by trying to infuse eveyone with your ideas or methodology to address an issue.

Week 10, Monday’s class:

November 27, 2007

Good class. Wess, you heard my feedback after class, you did a nice job of making me more convinced that it is time to finally get around to reading Yoder. Interesting how Mennonites can grow up going through Mennonite education systems without having much exposure to Yoder’s writing. Helps me understand a bit more why we have delved into postcolonial studies within this class.

I appreciated Antonia’s insight into what the Maori people may have felt at the loss of their lands to the hands of colonizers. Her agricultural background provides a larger window into the loss that the Maori people experienced.  The way she elaborated on this was helpful. I agree with her, “It pains me that Jesus was seen as a land-hungry god instead of as the Savior who gave up his life for the Maori.”

The identification of compromised positions within postcolonial criticism should not come as a surprise. It seems that the discipline is largely based on suspicion of motives and any discourse that takes a dominant or hegemonic stance and places alternative views on the margins.  It seems in keeping with this emphasis that there would be a place in which the field is taking a look at where it has been complicit with colonialism in the process of seeking to speak about it.   

Week 9, Ch. 8, Fuellenbach

November 26, 2007

The discussion in this chapter about interreligious dialogue was noteworthy. It seems that interreligious dialogue is a more developed aspect of Catholic mission theology than many other Christian traditions based on what is written in this chapter and from what I have observed. I have at times in the past associated interreligious dialogue with Christians who are going to de-emphasize the particularity of Christ in exchange for a universalism that places all religious traditions on the same plane. I don’t know where I got these ideas, but I am realizing that interreligious dialogue when done with humility can be a way in which missions can happen.

Robert Young’s writing brings to light very disturbing historical realities about the commonly held understandings of racial difference within the 19th century. It is alarming to realize the obsessive interest that the colonizers took in calculating the “degrees of deviance” that mixed-race persons were from the white norm (:91).  Further, the double standard that the colonizers held out about those of mixed-race is entirely without justification, for they simultaneously demonized those of mixed-race, while proliferating sexual and cultural diffusion by using the colonized as objects of their sexual desire. How is it possible that people lived with these delusions and obvious contradictions? What are we guilty of today that will cause those living 100 years from now to stand aghast?

This chapter looks at the understanding of God embodied through the voice of Wisdom or Sophia. The hybridity of Sophia reveals the transcendence of God, and the mystery of God. Rivera describes the complexity of pinning Sophia down within a single categorical identity, reflecting the tension experienced when in pursuit of “theological certainties” about God. The image of God presented may in fact provide an image that the postmodern individual can identify with as he/she seeks to make sense of his/her own hybridized identity constructed in a fluid, transient, and globalizing culture.

This was definitely a fascinating depiction of the multiplicity of dynamics at work within a community impacted by Christian missionary activity during times of colonial expansion. It is difficult to fault the Maori people for their authentic expressions of resistance to theological propositions about the authority of Jesus that came hand and hand with colonial domination.  I think it is unfortunate that Christians today get upset when people struggle with faith questions regarding the absolute and universal claims of Christ as Lord, or that Christ is equal to God. I think much of what is at the heart of these questions is a desire to trust that the God that one worships is just and fair, that this God is one who doesn’t push universal claims about Himself out of self-interest.  This is not to suggest that that absolute claims about the lordship of Christ should be abandoned, but sensitivity to those who are seeking intellectual integrity in their understanding of God should be honored with a patient, listening attitude, versus propositional and aggressive forms of dialogue.  In this way, our witness will reflect the humble nature of Christ, who suffered and dwelled as God on earth in human flesh.

Ryan mentioned in class with regards to the emerging church that one distinctive characteristics of this movement was that: “Churches arose out of those who were already sharing life together vs. starting a church service and then drawing people together to it.”  It seems right to make church be more about sharing life together regularly, thus have it form around those whom we are naturally drawn to. However, it seems that an overemphasis on this can be problematic as well- Where should a common vision and mission be what unites people rather than bonds of friendship alone?

The comment regarding Spencer Burke’s thoughts on the relationship between the poor and the non-poor were interesting. Ryan mentioned that he realized that “they [the non-poor] realized that they needed relationships with the poor to become whole.” I grew up in a church tradition that placed a pretty solid emphasis on social justice and my family intentionally lived in a lower-income section of town to be involved with the community and church we attended there. I still find myself asking the question of what it really means for the poor and the non-poor to be in relationships with one another, to what extent? How does this look, especially in regards to the poor in underdeveloped countries 1000s of miles away? How do these relationships become significant and mutually impacting? If this is true, that the non-poor need to be engaged with the poor it seems that there are plenty of Christians who are missing out on the fullness of life in Christ. I know I could be more connected than I am currently.