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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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.

Alex brings up an interesting point in his treatment of Lloyd’s article on the negative impact of imperialism on identity. It’s true that hybridization incorporates part of the colonized identity. It’s also true that we can’t just go back to the way things were. People tend to want to go back to their roots and find their identity and cultural mores in that ancient (or not so ancient) time. But can we really go back? I remember talking in my History of the English Language class in college about the fluid and organic nature of language. It’s always morphing and changing. If we right now tried to go back to English in it’s “pure” form, it would be entirely unrecognizable to anyone. Just like the article on Irish vs. English, you just can’t go back. It’s important to acknowledge the influence of other cultures on our own, positive or negative. But then we move forward.

Response to Caroline’s blog

November 11, 2007

Caroline writes in response to the Mishra article that Frank the Poet exemplifies a non-violent way to be revolutionary by being willing to tell stories through his poetry. I think she sees something very valuable here. I keep mentioning what I’ve been learning in my Storytelling class this quarter, and here’s another installment. It’s important to provide space for people to tell their stories. It allows them the opportunity not only to establish identity but also to generate awareness about injustice. Telling your story is a very powerful tool, and Caroline picks up on just how powerful it can be. It reminds me, too, of Gandhi’s nonviolent protests and how he fasted nearly to the point of death in order to stop the outbreaks of violence among the people all over India. His story, during his time and even or perhaps especially since his death, has impacted unknown numbers of people all over the world facing all sorts of different struggles. Frank the Poet was brave to share his perspective in his poetry, and I appreciate Caroline’s astute observation as to his role in overcoming injustice simply by telling a story.

Terry writes in her response to Donaldson’s article that the uniqueness of people’s cultures should be preserved and the people who are strong enough to maintain their cultural identity should be praised. Two thoughts here. One, there is no indication that Orpah ever changed her religious allegiance, so her clinging to her cultural identity does not necessarily mean she deserves praise. Two, Terry’s comment about syncratistic practices makes me think about the current struggle many Muslims have when they want to convert to the Christian faith. How much of their daily practice and living can be preserved and how much must be altered to worship Jesus instead? In my Power Encounter class, we talked about how it’s often different for each Muslim convert. Each one must consider Muslim practices and choose what is cultural and what is religious for themselves. Would it have been possible for Ruth to have done the same? I think not, based on the text, but it is an interesting thought.

John writes about Fuellenbach’s discussion of the kingdom of God as being larger than the church itself. He supports the view that there is more than just one way into the kingdom and that Christians do not have a monopoly on the kingdom. The way I understand the kingdom of God and Fuellenbach’s argument differs from John’s.

I come from a much more conservative background, and I do believe that Jesus is the only way into the kingdom of God. The way I interpret this chapter is more based on my coming from the land of nominal Christianity in the South. Just because you say you are a Christian and join a church and do all the Christian stuff that culture expects doesn’t make you part of the kingdom of God. And just because you reject the church or have too little understanding of God to “do” all the Christian stuff we westerners expect doesn’t exclude you from the kingdom of God. I don’t know a person’s heart, so I can’t judge. And we’re all on the path toward or away from God. But I don’t think that means there is more than one way into the kingdom. It just means we aren’t capable of judging one way or the other for anyone but ourselves. God knows the heart. It’s just my job to point the way.

I’m not quite sure what I think about Brianna’s description of the reason women are suffering oppression–from Radhakrishnan’s article. It’s true that the traditional expectation of women has been that of submission, but how much of that is a reflection of patriarchal ideals? Yes, women are called to submit to Christ and to submit to others. But no less or more than men are called to submit to Christ and to others. Criticizing women for aggressiveness in the workplace but allowing men to continue the same practice is simply a double standard that perpetuates a false ideal for women. The fact is, people are supposed to submit to Christ and to one another. In the western workplace, competition, individualism, and supposed success have negative connotations for all people who step on each other or cut corners to get ahead. To say that it is only women who are out of place in this setting because they’re not being submissive enough…it simply isn’t helping.

In all honesty, I’m struggling to learn what it means to be a woman of God, especially one who is learning leadership skills that will be contested when put into practice in just about any local church setting. Because I am more accommodating by nature, I have to struggle to learn to say no and stand up for myself when situations call for confrontation. Should I learn to overcome these issues, does that make me less of a woman? Am I then stepping outside of my required submissive state? Have I then bought into some “feminist” formula that sets me apart from God’s plan for me?

I do think Brianna has a point that life is not as God ordained it to be. We don’t live in Eden where everything is right. But the idea of womanly submission has played too detrimental of a role in society to be left alone. All of humanity is called to submit to God. All of humanity is called to submit to one another. To stress that role for women and leave the men out of it is tantamount to dragging the adulterous woman naked into the street to be stoned (an extreme example, I know) while leaving the adulterous man to remake his bed, comb his hair, and wonder what’s for dinner.

Nathan writes regarding Horsley’s article that when Jesus came to liberate, he set free not those who were under political oppression but those who were truly marginalized even in a marginalized society: women, slaves, the poor, etc. That’s a really interesting point to compound the realization on my part that the Jews were in fact a society struggling against Roman control. Jesus always takes things one step further than anyone ever expected. The Jews expected the Messiah to bring political freedom for them. But Jesus brought social freedom for the lowest and most despised or overlooked, and He brought spiritual freedom for every human being regardless of gender, ethnicity, or social rank. When we talk about postcolonialism and oppression and social justice, we will do well to remember Jesus’ example and not get caught up in labels and pointing fingers of blame and following guilty trails. Everyone needs forgiveness. Everyone needs freedom.

Shelley notes Fuellenbach’s emphasis on community and the link between our community as believers and the community expressed in the Trinity. I wonder what implications there are to differentiating between the church and the kingdom of God. Do believers have to be integrated into our western understanding of “church” to be part of our community? Do we recognize the kingdom of God at work in different contexts, manifest in different ways? How does the picture of the Trinity inform our understanding of community? Does it limit or expand our view? Too many questions for one “response?” Basically, what can we learn from the relationship of the Father, Son, and Spirit that will inform our efforts to “do” community in our contemporary, western context? Maybe this is a good reflection for the paper…

Hang noted that in the “Aftermath” article Warren put a positive spin on violence as an expression of God’s love in “saving” underdeveloped countries from ignorance, etc. by colonizing them. He made a good theological point about the way of Jesus being one of peace rather than violence. That’s also what I noted in the “Spontaneity” article. Fanon’s conclusion was that violence alone could overthrow colonialism for good and bring the people into a new independent freedom. I think freedom, both spiritual and political, can be attained by non-violent means. True, uneducated peasants might be more inclined to take up arms than to sit in a room and learn, but there simply has to be another solution than violence. Colonialism, clearly, was not a good thing to begin with. Must it follow that freedom from oppression also be by violent means? If the way of Jesus is the way of peace, isn’t that the way to go?