Thursday, October 17, 2013

Theology: Gustavo Gutierrez on Marginalization, Frida Berrigan on Catholics in Waiting, Adam Ackley on Churches and Gender, Bill Tammeus on Theological Education

And following on the heels of what I've just posted about Bishop Robert McElroy's essay "A Church for the Poor," more theology-oriented articles that have caught my attention in the last day or so:

At Iglesia Descalza, Rebel Girl offers an English translation of a recent interview of the founder of liberation theology, Gustavo Gutierrez, by Mauro Castagnaro for the journal Jesus. Castagnaro asks Gutierrez,

Liberation theology tried to interpret the Gospel message and Christian reflection "from the perspective of the poor." In recent decades, theological branches have been born from its trunk that are trying to do the same thing, but "from the perspective of women", "of indigenous people", "of homosexuals", etc ... What do you think of it?

And Gutierrez replies,

It has always seemed important to me to have a comprehensive concept, which for me was "insignificance", because it is possible to be insignificant due to lack of money, but also due to skin color or the fact of not speaking the dominant language of a country well, like occurs in Peru with the indigenous half of the population. When I speak of "the poor", I'm not just referring to those who have a low income, but also to "those who don't count, who have no social weight," those who are marginalized or forgotten.

For Waging Nonviolence, Frida Berrigan, daughter of a priest and a nun, reflects on what it was like to be raised in a Catholic household in which "there was no rosary involved." Berrigan now attends a Unitarian Universalist church, All Souls, but considers herself, along with many others, "a Catholic in waiting":

I do miss communion and the long stretches of prayer and contemplation that are part of the Catholic mass. I am not alone in that. All Souls congregation is full of people who were raised Catholic, but are lapsed for lots of reasons. I’m not lapsed. I am a Catholic in waiting — waiting for my church to remember the Gospels, to be a justice and peace-seeking community, to be fully inclusive of women and to be welcoming to people who are not hetero-normative. Pope Francis is a step in the right direction, but there is a long way to go.

And at Huffington Post, Adam Ackley, who has been terminated as a professor of theology from Azusa Pacific University as he transitions from Heather Clements, wonders why rigid, unyielding binary understandings of gender have come to drive the Christian enterprise today: 

To be honest, I don't understand why issues of gender are an issue that divides the Body of Christ or causes others to do so, especially given what Jesus teaches about welcoming all in these parables and what Paul teaches about the insignificance of gender in the community of the Redeemed in Galatians 3.28. And I also don't understand why culturally-constructed definitions of sexual partnership that are not biblical language but rather neologisms of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century West that focus on gender are imported into the Church's discussion of human sexuality. When we clearly come to understand that biblically and medically, gender is not always binary but is rather ambiguous -- particularly in one percent of people who simply can't fit in either category because God didn't make us that way, then recent cultural definitions of sexual partnership strictly defined by gender don't really make sense and can't be worth importing now into our Christ-centered biblical practices as a Christian community where they have never been before and clearly aren't helping us in any way.

And, finally, for National Catholic Reporter, Bill Tammeus, a journalist and Presbyterian elder, asks why so many American Christians of all denominational backgrounds are lamentably ignorant about matters theological, while they demonstrate sophisticated knowledge about all sorts of other topics:

What subject, after all, is more important than God? And yet we find in our congregations many people whose understanding of God seems stuck at an elementary-school level and whose knowledge of how the Bible came to be and what it means is close to zero. 
Talk to them about derivative financial instruments or nanotechnology or which celebrity is dating whom, and they turn out to be experts. But ask them if they know there are two creation stories in Genesis or whether the names attached to all the New Testament books were actually written by those people and they go blank.

Bill's right. 

I find the graphic at the head of the posting used by many bloggers, with no clear indicator of its original source. If any reader has that information, I'll be grateful for it.

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