Just a quick post here. Once again, from the pages of Soong Chan Rah’s book, I find a couple of paragraphs that pretty much sum up my experience and my understanding of God, theology, the world and everything. Thanks Professor Rah for these words. I’m going to use them!
THE NORM AND EVERYTHING ELSE
In the formation of Christian theology, we also see white privilege at work. Theology that prioritizes the individual and arises out of the Western, white context becomes the standard expression of orthodox theology. In our understanding of what is considered orthodoxy, we see the emphasis on the individual aspects of faith. What is considered good, sound, orthodox theology is a Western theology that emphasizes a personal relationship with Jesus with its natural and expected antecedent of an individual sanctification and even an individualized ecclesiology. The critical issues and discussion in theology lean toward understanding issues relevant to individuals and Western sensibilities. The seemingly never-ending debate between the proponents of Calvinism and Arminianism, between predestination and free will, revolves around individual salvation.
Theologies that speak of a corporate responsibility or call for a social responsibility are given special names like: liberation theology, black theology, minjung theology, feminist theology, etc. In other words, Western theology with its individual focus is considered normative theology, while non-Western theology is theology on the fringes and must be explained as being a theology applicable only in a particular context and to a particular people group. Orthodoxy is determined by the Western value of individualism and an individualized soteriology rather than a broader understanding of the corporate themes that emerge out of scripture.
Because theology emerging from a Western, white context is considered normative, it places non-Western theology in an inferior position and elevates Western theology as the standard by which all other theological frameworks and points of view are measured. This bias stifles the theological dialogue between the various cultures. “Attendant assumptions of a racial hierarchy that assumes the intellectual and moral superiority of the Caucasians, has hampered our understanding of the text by unnecessarily eliminating possible avenues of study.”30 We end up with a Western, white captivity of theology. Western theology becomes the form that is closest to God. “It is a pretentious illusion that there is something pure and objective about the way theology has been done in the Western church, as if it were handed down directly by the Almighty to the theologians of the correct methodology.”31
Soong-Chan Rah. The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity (pp. 77-78). Kindle Edition.
I am not sure if you have had a chance to follow one of the stories unfolding in Melbourne at the moment. Last night, as Sydney played Collingwood during what is know as the Dreamtime Round (Dreamtime being a reference to framework for Australian Aboriginal beliefs), a 13 year old Australian girl in the audience referred to one of Australia’s champion footballers, Adam Goodes, an Adnyamathanha man from South Australia, as an “ape”. This was a racial slur as Goodes is an Aboriginal Australian.
I can only imagine the feelings that Goodes must have been struggling with last night and this morning. I wrestled with questions like what kind of Australia do we live in where a 13 year old girl can talk about a person from another race in this way?
I have been following the story with mixed feelings, one of the prominent ones being such a feeling of respect for Goodes as he continues to conduct himself with an incredibly level of humanity and dignity.
What follows are excerpts from an article in Melbourne’s local paper. If for whatever reason racism is something you think about and struggle with, I would encourage you to take some tips from the wonderful response from Goodes.
‘‘This week is a celebration of our people, our culture, and I had the absolute privelege of meeting the great man, Nicky Winwar, two days ago now. What he was able to do for us 20 years ago, to make a stand, racism has a face last night, it was a 13-year-old girl - it’s not her fault,’’ Goodes said.
‘‘She is 13, still so innocent. I don’t put any blame on her. Unfortunately, it’s what she hears, the environment she has grown up in has made her think it’s okay to call people names.
‘‘I can guarantee you right now she would have no idea how it makes anyone feel by calling them an ape. It was just the name calling she was doing. It cut me deep and affected me so much that I couldn’t even be on the ground last night to celebrate a victory, to celebrate indigenous round. I am still shattered - it’s tough.’’
Goodes does not want the girl to be targeted for retribution on social media.
‘‘The person who needs the most support right now in the little girl. People need to get around her,’’ he said.
‘‘She is 13, she is uneducated, if she wants to pick up the phone and call me I will take that phone call and I will have a conversation about that girl about: ‘You know what, you have called me a name, this is how it made me feel’.
‘‘It is school stuff and that’s what it took me back to last night. I felt like I was in high school again, being bullied, being called all these names because of my appearance.
‘‘I didn’t stand up for myself in high school. I am a lot more confident, am a lot more proud about who I am and my culture and I decided to stand up last night and I will continue to stand up because racism has no place in our industry, has no place in our society.’’
Goodes said he would have taken on-field action regardless whether it had been Indigenous round or not.
‘‘It could have been grand final day, I would still be feeling exactly the same, so disappointed, so heart-broken,’’ he said.
A look back at the underreported events that shaped American history.
I love documentaries. I watch them to unwind, even though sometimes they wind me up. I caught something on my Twitter feed about Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States.
I am a recovering racist and I have several friends from the USA who help me come to terms with my prejudice. In conversations with them and through being a witness to their attempts to live lives of justice and compassion, I am challenged to hold my judgmental fire and try to understand. It helps to try and discern, rather than jumping to conclusions all the time. You’d think I will get this sooner or later.
I checked out the documentary and am finding it inspiring, disturbing, informative, provocative and fascinating. If you get a chance, see if you can catch an episode or 10 (there’s only 10 in the series).