I appreciate what David says in his identification with Fernandez’ article. It really helps me to get a different view. I was critiquing the article based on its biblical content, but David discusses the issue of racism in the article. He reminds us that discrimination based on color can be extremely painful not just for Filipinos but for all ethnicities. It’s really useful to me to be reminded that racism exists and negatively impacts people’s identities, especially since as a white American racism does not affect my everyday life. Thanks, David, for your insights and for sharing your story with us.

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I don’t see how criticism of the American dream has a biblical antecedent in the exodus. No one has enslaved Filipinos or subjected them to anything like Egypt. What I do see is the parallel in the us/them binary and the negative effect of colonialism on the Filipino identity: “White America represents what is good and beautiful, noble and laudable, while the brown Philippines represents what they despise in themselves” (294). I don’t think the Hebrews experienced anything similar. They came to Egypt because there was famine in Canaan. They left Egypt because of slavery.

This article clearly had an agenda, and I’m afraid I’m losing patience with the articles in this book for that reason. Good thing we’re on the last bit of it. One assertion that surprised me: “Canon and ‘orthodoxy’ were devised in part to exclude women from positions of leadership and authority” (289). I do think it’s true that scripture has been read through the lens of our patriarchal society, and a lot of assumptions have been made with that bias that skew biblical truth. But I’m not so quick to agree with King that scripture was canonized in order to keep women under the thumb of male domination.

Week 10 Wednesday

November 29, 2007

Last class. Sad. I appreciated the effort to tie things together, but I would have rather done that as a group or in small groups than through lecture. I’m sure it was helpful for people who are in their first quarter, though. I was especially engaged while we talked about generosity and gift-giving. When I go back to my home church for good, I want to help them move through that rubric process to think about how we can be generous as a church (which we are) without requiring anything in return (which we do, unintentionally for the most part). I wonder, though, how possible it is to facilitate the process of awareness at a church as big as mine. I guess I’ll just have to start the conversation among the leadership in the church so that it will trickle down instead of trying to get it to spread upward. If anyone has any brilliant thoughts, I’m open to suggestions.

Week 10 Monday

November 26, 2007

Wess did a great job lecturing today. It was really helpful to me to get a synopsis of Yoder’s book Body Politics since it’s been referenced several times this quarter. I had little idea what we were talking about before today. Now I find it useful to think of my church context in reference to the multiplicity of gifts. My paper deals with imperialism, so naturally I’d like to see the empowerment of the laity, especially including the congregation in vision-making and in identifying gifts and providing space to use those gifts in the church and local communities.

Joel wrote regarding Huie-Jolly’s article that Christians often give Christ a bad name because of the way they choose to present the gospel. I think it’s true that Christians can push people away when they come with their own agendas. That’s one reason it’s so important for us to look for where God is already working and join in. That way we’re sure that God is in it, preparing the way and moving in hearts. And that way it’s not about us going out to save the lost or any kind of crusade, but humbly part of something much bigger that God is already doing.

I thought it was really interesting that there even is such a thing as “missionary Tamil” (276). I think people are too critical of missionaries who came into an unreached area and toiled for years and years to give people the Bible in their own language. It’s true that these translations have difficulties, but so do all other translations. That’s why educating people is important, so they can make their own decisions about the text. At least the people were aware of the differences involved in “missionary Tamil.” That shows knowledge and education to make wise decisions when reading the text.

I’m not sure I agree with this article. The author insists that the missionaries did harm to the people by choosing a local name for God and infusing it with Christian understanding. She goes so far as to accuse them of taking “the Shona captive by colonizing the Shona Supreme Being” (262) and thus making them “feel inadequate for being Shona” (266). First of all, is it really possible to colonize an idol? And secondly, having a true understanding of who you are in Christ is liberating. The inadequacy comes from elsewhere, whether from the way the missionaries portrayed God or from something else.

Interesting realization: “The difference between Irishness and Englishness escaped Lewis’ notice, but it was all too plain to those Irish people who identified with the colonial administration in their own country” (498). We understand the world around us through the lens of our own experience. Repeatedly this quarter we’ve realized how ridiculous were some of the anthropological and sociological claims made by people who assumed they had the ability to be completely objective. This quotation is a perfect example of the ability of those who know their identity to recognize the fallacy of others’ attempts to define what they do not know.

Week 9 – Fuellenbach Ch. 8

November 23, 2007

Again the question of identity captures my attention: “The identity of the church depends ultimately on its kingdom consciousness based on scripture” (219). Often in history, the church has defined itself by contrast to whatever is outside it: the us/them binary. We are the kingdom, and everything outside that boundary is other, secular, not holy and not part of the kingdom. As we’ve discovered this quarter, the kingdom of God is not in any way limited to the church, though the church is certainly part of the kingdom. When defining ourselves as the church, if we want to be an icon of the Trinity and point to the kingdom of God, we have to look to scriptural models. The aspects of the emerging churches we talked about in class Wednesday are exactly that kind of scriptural model I mean. To be part of the kingdom is to be part of the Missio Dei, pointing toward Jesus always, looking for where He is working and joining in. When we define the church in these terms instead of who comes into our buildings on Sunday mornings, we’ll be a lot closer to an accurate identity as the church that furthers the kingdom of God.

Rivera focuses a lot of her energy in this article to set up the binary us/them in her biblical texts. Even Proverbs’ Wisdom versus the Strange Woman is identified as God versus the Other. Listen to Wisdom, and stay away from the Strange Woman who will lead you astray. I never noticed how prevalent these binaries are until we started talking about them in this class. Now they’re everywhere. In order to define self, we contrast against something that is not like self. In order to define good, there must be evil. For wisdom, there must be fallacy.

“Later, in a Christian imperial context, [John’s] exalted image of Jesus as the unique Son, God from above the beginning, resonated with the culture of subsequent imperial rule, and later Western colonial subjugation” (234). Huie-Jolly and many of the other authors in this text are really starting to wear on me. She’s reading Western imperialism into John’s gospel. Is she really criticizing John, or Western missionaries, for claiming that Jesus is God? That’s just ridiculous to me.