Tag Archives: theology

There is no mention of freedom for non-Jewish slaves.  The point here is that when non-Jewish people (like many African-American women who now claim themselves to be economically enslaved) read the entire Hebrew testament from the point of view of the non-Hebrew slave, there is no clear indication that God is against their perpetual enslavement.  Likewise, there is no clear opposition expressed in the Christian testament to the institution of slavery [itself]…. Womanist theologians, especially those who take their slave heritage seriously, are therefore led to question James Cone’s assumption that the African-American theologian can today make paradigmatic use of the Hebrew’s exodus and election experience as recorded in the Bible.  Even though Cones sees that for the Hebrews “election is inseparable from the event of the exodus,” he does not see that non-Hebrew female slaves, especially those of African descent, are not on equal terms with the Hebrews and are not woven into this biblical story of election and exodus.

-Delores S. Williams, Sisters in the Wilderness, p.146-147

You ever read a sentence you feel like you’ve been waiting for your whole life?


Developmentism

The other two theology books I bought arrived in the mail this week.  The one I’m looking at first is A Theology of Liberation by Gustavo Gutiérrez, because from what I’ve gathered it’s a very foundational text among some parts of the Christian left.  It’s a lot more thick and academic than I expected, very dry and formulaic in that familiar way if you’ve read many academic texts in the social sciences or the humanities.  So I’ve been skipping around a bit instead of reading it straight.

I dislike the way Gutiérrez keeps using “human” to mean “good/moral/just,” but I’ve been pleasantly surprised that he addresses the specific economic/political concept of “development.”  Here’s one of the passages on that:

…One of the most important reasons for this turn of events is that development — approached from an economic and modernizing point of view — has been frequently promoted by international organizations closely linked to groups and governments which control the world economy.   The changes encouraged were to be achieved within the formal structure of the existing institutions without challenging them.  Great care was exercised, therefore, not to attack the interests of large international economic powers nor those of their natural allies, the ruling domestic interest groups.  Furthermore, the so-called changes were often nothing more than new and underhanded ways of increasing the power of strong economic groups.

Developmentalism thus came to be synonymous with reformism and modernization, that is to say, synonymous with timid measures, really ineffective in the long run and counterproductive to achieving a real transformation.  The poor countries are becoming ever more clearly aware that their underdevelopment is only the by-product of the development of the other countries, because of the kind of relationship which exists between the rich and the poor countries.  Moreover, they are realizing that their own development will come about only with a struggle to break the domination of the rich countries.

This perception sees the conflict implicit in the process.  Development must attack the root causes of the problems and among them the deepest is economic, social, political, and cultural dependence of some countries upon others — an expression of the domination of some social classes over others.  Attempts to bring about changes within the existing order have proven futile.  This analysis of the situation is at the level of scientific rationality.  Only radical break from the status quo, that is, a profound transformation of the private property system, access to power of the exploited class, and a social revolution that would break this dependence would allow for the change to a new society…

–Gustavo Gutiérrez, A Theology of Liberation, p.17

This is a theology book, y’all.

I think I’m in the right place.


“Believing in”

Been thinking a little bit about the concept of “belief” lately.  Loosely related, I thought this post was interesting.  Here are some excerpts to entice you to read it (bolding mine):

We [Jewish people] face the now-universal injunction for those who consider themselves “religious” (there has never been such a thing on the face of this Earth before Christianity; Christianity is the first and the last ‘religion’) of “but do I really believe in G-d?” This injunction, this “test of faith” is part and parcel to a Christian mode of subjectivity which has made the (simultaneous) production of, and disavowal of doubt–the challenge of “true faith” versus “hypocrisy”, “heresy”, and “unbelief” which together form the Christian problematic–an integral part of religious experience.

It is significant that seldom in Jewish history have we drawn lines around the ‘community of believers’ in contradistinction to the apostates and the heretics. If anything, we only ever condemned those who refuse the work, a term in Hebrew (avodah) which has nothing to do with our capitalist understanding of labor but instead refers to the act of bringing about that which underlies and redeems the world, of performing mitzvot (commandments), of tzedek, tzedek tirdof (“Justice, justice you shall pursue,” Deut. 16:20). As our sages said, “It is not your responsibility to finish the work [of perfecting the world], but you are not free to desist from it either” (Rabbi Tarfun, Pirkei Avot 2:16).


when one of the few theologians you like disappoints you

[Vizzini voice] I’m just going to have to find myself a new giant, that’s all.