Read the rest of the biblioblog rankings here.
Read the rest of the biblioblog rankings here.
John W. De Gruchy is a theologian, and at the time of this work, he was living in South Africa during apartheid. Behind the policies of racial segregation, there was a mis-application of historic Reformed theology, in particular, Dutch Calvinism. In his Liberating Reformed Theology, de Gruchy aims to emancipate contemporary Reformed communities from sectarianism by emphasizing the Catholic roots of John Calvin‘s work. As far as the book is concerned, it is quite consistent with the Reformed tradition in line with Luther, Calvin, Knox, Barth, and Bonhoeffer. I was already aware of the history of the Huguenots and their doctrine of revolt against tyrants. De Gruchy wants to move Calvinism away from imperial practices such as aligning its fate with the the powerful. Taking his cues from the Kairos Document, Latin American liberation theology, and Calvin’s doctrine of election, De Gruchy makes a clear case in favor of a Reformed tradition that sees itself as a resource for the oppressed.
A possible criticism is De Gruchy’s use of the Anabaptists as a strawperson. In the first chapters, he refers to the Radical Reformed tradition as a community that is without flaws, only in the final chapter, to dismiss the Anabaptist propensity to withdraw from the world in “neutrality.” I would argue that that is a misreading of the Radical Reformation and its peace witness, one in which historical evidence contradicts. For example, just here in the U.S., the 17th century Quakers’ withdrawal was not out of “neutrality” but out of a desire to live holy, to expose the sin of African enslavement. So, in terms of representing the Anabaptists fairly, I would say De Gruchy falls short.
LEARNING FROM HISTORY, LETTING TRADITION SPEAK FOR US
In my last post, I gave an explanation for why theologians and biblical scholars do not normally discuss foreign policy issues. Because I know so few of the details of the histories of Tunisia & Egypt, I think the best I could offer as a thinker, is tradition. Because no one writes in a vacuum, much of the time, individuals rely on tradition and philosophy in order to explain the nature of things. I believe the best person for understanding the nature of political upheaval is the work of Frantz Fanon, an Algerian psychiatrist who fought in World War II and who witnessed the Algerian the armed struggled versus the French. I believe that his book, The Wretched of The Earth, especially his suggestions about public policy, could be of some use for current and future revolutions.
1. If you listen closely to the words of journalists, you can almost feel their excitement. The economic reforms that Tunisia and Egypt were undergoing in the past few years are seen as the prima causa for the mass call for political reform. While there is the occasional mention of widespread poverty in both countries, the focus end up being on the middle class with talks of political parties forming and hopes of a more “mainstream” or secular democratic structure forming. Fanon noted that with all revolutions, there is a tendency to define national unity by first striving to develop legit political parties (WOTE, 67, 73, 83). As a result, those citizens who live in the urban areas (the middle class), become empowered politically while those who are the poorest and live in rural areas, end up remaining on the margins. National policy, for Fanon, meant first a foremost, a policy for the masses. National unity should be defined not by how the elites get their stomachs filled but how those who are ignored and who live outside cities and towns are treated.
2. Centralized governments are a bad idea. Centralization leads to authoritarianism a lot of the time. Decentralization, including a rejection of one capitol city, is what Fanon suggests that those going through de-colonization need to do.
3. Lastly, the media has feigned concern over the violence of the situation, on both sides. As Fanon points out, the objectivity of journalists is a form of violence, for it is always aimed against the colonized (the victims) (37). In other words, the media holds a false notion of what non-violence means, ignoring the violence that had been incurred by the victim in the name of “objectivity.” James Cone was one of the first Christian theologians to depend upon Fanon for the construction of a political theology. In Cone’s Black Theology And Black Power, he addressed the question of violence. After discussing Dietrich Bonhoeffer‘s notion of Christian ethics as invalidating concepts of right and wrong, Cone goes on, “To be Christian means that one is not concerned about good and evil in the abstract but about men who are lynched, beaten and denied the basic needs of life” (141). The mainstream media, which addresses primarily white liberal middle class concerns I might add, only pursues what it sees as wrong or right, but does not look at the human beings in question, because only the story matters. The problem of violence versus nonviolence is not a decision for the believer to take up, for there are no absolute rules in which one can make moral choices. So before one becomes judgmental against those who are violent, it is best to examine exactly whose violence we are talking about.
Also, please check out the conversation about the issue on Roland’s blog.
First, to qualify my answer, I must say that we as theo-bloggers are limited in what we can say because the results of the aforementioned nation-states because much of our history texts do not deal with these “marginal” countries in the first place in the name of essentializing African nations as being in need of “Western help.” Secondly, what limits what biblio-bloggers in what we can and cannot say is that the revolts are in their nascent stages, and we do not want to judge too quickly; it’s about discernment, really, especially when we are receiving our information sometimes second and third hand.
So, to the question at hand, the problem is quite simply this: religious scholars, both in biblical studies and theological studies, while many claim to be doing “political theology” and “political hermeneutics,” their politics is really limited to domestic issues in the name of being relevant and prophetic. I would say that by avoiding foreign policy, Political theologians fail to be prophetic, for the prophetic tradition of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Isaiah, there are oracles to foreign nations, and not to Israel, Judah, the Hebrews or Samaria.
Thus, we should not be surprised when bloggers who do biblical and theological studies do not comment on foreign policy matters.
And Why Chad’s Prediction Keeps Looking Right On Target
Chad, ever being the Optymyst, predicted that 2011 will be a bad year for comic book movies. Judging by the horrible fashion choice for the Captain America costume, Chad could not be more accurate. Yeah, and choosing the idiot jock quarterback from the movie Not Another Team Movie was a terrible choice. I think that movie was so bad, I (without having any acting experience at all) could have easily played Malik The Token Black Guy.
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