Category: influential reading material


mujerista theology

I am currently reading “Mujerista Theology: A Challenge to Traditional Theology” by Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz and am struck by the way Isasi-Diaz uses Latina words and concepts to describe the theology and methodology of Latina women; the role this plays in identity and belonging of the group and in grounding the words and praxis of Latina theologians in a cultural context.

Here’s an excerpt:

…Lo cotidiano for us is also a way of understanding theology, our attempt to explain how we understand the divine, what we know about the divine. I contrast this to the academic and churchly attempts to see theology as being about God instead of about what we humans know about God. Lo cotidiano makes it possible for us to see our theological knowledge as well as all our knowledge as fragmentary, partisan, conjectural, and provisional.  It is fragmentary because we know that what we will know tomorrow is not the same as what we know today but will stand in relation to what we know today.  What we know is what we have found through our experiences, through the experiences of our communities of struggle. What we know is always partisan, it is always influenced by our own values, prejudices, loyalties, emotions, traditions, dreams, and future projects.  Our knowing is conjectural because to know is not to copy or reflect reality but rather to interpret in a creative way those relations, structures, and processes that are elements of what is called reality. And, finally, lo cotidiano, makes it clear that, for mujerista theology, knowledge is provisional for it indicates in and of itself how transitory our world and we ourselves are.

Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz, Doing Mujerista Theology pp71-72.

 

As a Pakeha/Ngai Tahu woman living as a visitor on the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nations – how do my cultural identity and location within place inform my writing, thinking and theology? And the language that I use to communicate my ideas?

In my experience, most books of theology loaned or recommended to me have come from a predominantly North American or northern hemisphere context. There is a disconnection and displacement in that which feels rarely spoken of or acknowledged, for instance when the symbolism, art and exegesis are located in a different hemisphere but used in ours – an easy example is noting such times like Easter (darkness) and Christmas (cold).

Acknowledging of course, all those women of colour and woke women who are and do use language and cultural context in their theological exegesis, for those who aren’t using ‘local’ language in our theological discernment and writing, what are we offering that is specific to our personal and geographic context?  Is this language lack linked to the disconnection from our cultural tale?

We cannot tell a story we do not know.

How do the ideas of Kaupapa Maori or Mana Wahine, or unresolved Australian identity politics and influences of policies such as Terra Nullius, already influence and inform my thinking, theology and writing in conscious and unconscious ways?

I think there might be an idea that our writing is more professional, academic or more universally relevant if these “personal” elements are left out, but are we still looking to our euro-centric, patriarchal forebears to tell us what to do and how to do it rather than finding God here, on this country, and speaking to that? What are words and ideas we could be drawing on that shape and inform our feminist praxis and writing based out of the Pacific?

Tell me, and show me, what can the South Pacific theology offer to the North?

That is the book I want to read.

Dr Alana Harris Kings college gender equity in academia

The Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 “to encourage and recognise the commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research” In 2015 the scheme was extended to arts, humanities, social science, business and law (AHSSBL) subjects. Dr Alana Harris and Professor Abigail Woods participated in the bronze accreditation being rolled out at King’s College, London but also headed the project to analyse and assess across an audit of the framework which institutional contexts, working practices and interventions are most conducive to advancing gender equality…  for more information read the report or play a round of Gender Equity Snakes and Ladders.

  • When we looked at lecturing staff the gender ratio of men to women was 60:40 but when you look at professorial level that ratio shifts to 80:20. At the age you might be offered that seniority, women are often caring either for children and/or aging parents.
  • Doing a staff survey in real time gave everyone a voice and ensured they felt heard. Respondents replied more honestly. When you are sitting in a room with your colleagues and x indicate they “don’t feel they are consulted or able to contribute to decision making”, you feel that in the room and its powerful.
  • In an assessment of staff shared working space…  70% of women were sharing and only 7% of men.
  • If you are to apply for the Athena SWAN Bronze Award that work needs to be resourced. Attainment of the first level takes 5 years. It’s a commitment to a process.
  • A cultural shift is not just about women joining in more to existing structures. Change happens with longevity and legacy.  In staff meetings we use a collaborative process of decision making.  This has been habituated into virtue and staff would revolt now if someone tried to take it away.

Is there anything feminist about the framing of this model?

It looks different on the ground everywhere its been applied.  Sometimes women are empowered to lead it and sometimes men encouraged to so it’s not seen as just “a women’s thing”.  When you start looking at systems and structures for parity you very quickly see beyond gender and that informs the process. Eg  in auditing assigned reading lists, how many readings are by women? You can’t help but also ask, how many by people of colour? Creating assessment tools for LGBTIQ inclusion and religious diversity will be next.

 

Anything you would suggest for consideration by the Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies at the University of Divinity?

You are named in the Strategic Plan “To be a centre of excellence in feminist theological scholarship and in mentoring academics so as to challenge and transform patriarchal structures and assumptions in the academy, church, and wider world.”  You need to have impact beyond being UD strategic aim 3.  What impact into other areas of work, institution and structure can be implemented?

Hold events during the day, not evenings. Our event are not held in a pub, moving away from the ‘old boy club’ feel. We host an academics book party once a year at 3pm in the afternoon and cross-read our texts eg. modern history lecturer trades their book with the medieval history teacher.

It seems senior male academics support younger counterparts but senior women don’t? External support scaffolding, if it’s not available within the institution, can be really useful. Ref. Facebook group: ‘Women in Academia Support Network’ or Australian Collaborators page.

What are the vision and mission statements of the UD?  These set the culture of the institution and its frameworks – if these have inclusive language then then culture will be inclusive and staff attracted to that culture be drawn to work for that organisation.  If your work sits outside the scope of these statements you may not be fighting only students to accept new ideas and thinking but other staff.

What do you do with the resistant remnant?

Isolate them. Move them to one side where they can do the least harm. If they’re not able to support or participate in change their means to prevent it needs to be minimised.

You’ll always get people who will say: “There aren’t women to cite. They aren’t there”, if you were taught to a reading list that was all male, the conference speakers you here are male, the professors you look up to are male… we need to be able to interrogate our own networks of influence.

Activist fatigue is real.  You need allianceships. Rather than being  one strident voice… ask someone else to raise it in a meeting and lend your voice to theirs. Need mix gender mentoring and people who will back you up in meetings… and at conferences introduce you to the right people.

If you are looking for increased balance in curriculum and representation… crowd source knowledge from within the network. Aim for 25% female.

Questions to ponder:

  • Would the UD undertake an audit of its course set reading lists? Or undertake the Athena SWAN Bronze accreditation?
  • What does ‘external support scaffolding’ look like? Can/should we provide it?
  • What are the precedents? eg. getting a researcher when you come back from mat leave. Case study for part time work…If something’s offered at another like University/College/ department, you might be able to use that as leverage at yours.
  • In what ways can the Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies stimulate and promote momentum in the areas of feminist and minority voices at the UD?
  • What are the vision and mission statements of the UD?

Our Vision

Together we empower our learning community to address the issues of the contemporary world through critical engagement with Christian theological traditions.

Our Mission

We fulfil our vision through:

  • excellence in learning, teaching, and research;
  • growth of our resources and capacity; and
  • engagement with the churches and community in Australia and internationally.

Vision, Mission, Strategy

Thoughts on crucifixion by a doctor – it’s not the nails that kill you but exposure.
Thoughts on crucifixion by a woman whose husband has a brain tumour.
Thoughts on crucifixion by a poet. “A king who dies on the cross must be the king of a rather strange kingdom. Only those who understand the profound paradox of the cross can also understand the whole meaning of Jesus’ assertion: my kingdom is not of this world”.  (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
Thoughts on crucifixion by a friend…

A gorgeous mix of piano, story and spoken word poetry at the Maundy Thursday service at Fairfield Uniting Church making an old story new. They had me at Mary Oliver.

The lights are extinguished one by one until all light is gone, but hope is not. We carry it with us.

lit white candle maundy thursday itellyouarise

 

 

Land and Place: Indigenous Perspectives in an Era of Displacement  NAIITS

Uncle Dr Terry LeBlanc: ‘Native perspectives on Land and Place’

Uncle Dr Terry LeBlanc: ‘Native perspectives on Land and Place’

We are all related. Connected together. We touch one another with life lived on the land together. Interrelated and interdependent with the land.

NAIITS stands for North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies, partnering to become an indigenous learning community here at Whitley.

The land is not to be feared or conquered but is part of us. Adam (adamah – earth) red dust on the ground. We are dust. We are the same dust.

THEOLOGY OF LAND

The Great Divide

  • Dualism: dividing the spiritual from the material
  • The reformers also divide the spiritual from the material: spiritual and political are now separated. Political and land separated.

Invited to do a welcome to Christian and Muslim refugees in Canada and was able to say: As I’ve welcomed the 500 years of refugees represented behind me I also want to welcome you. I’m sorry you’ve had to flee violence, to lose connection to the land of your ancestors.

Place – security, growth, wonder, sights smells… experience what God has for us in this place.

Utilitarian View of Land

  • Commodification of land the breaking loose of land from people along with the loss of work – labour now becomes a commodity.
  • John Locke and the primacy of private ownership.
  • Nature is seen as an enemy to be subdued and dominated.

Colonisers saw indigenous people as godless heathen savages. We can do this to Muslims still – see them as godless people of a godless land but this isn’t truth.  This belies a faith that says God is everywhere and all are made in the image of God.

Uncle Rev Ray Minniecon: ‘Walking the Land’

Uncle Rev Ray Minniecon: ‘Walking the Land’

How as people and pastors can we operate to be authentically indigenous and authentically Christian? I ask myself these questions:

  1. Who am I?
  2. Where have I been?
  3. What do I do?

We are always in search of our people.  We meet and tell our stories. Sometimes our great, great, grandparents lived at the same mission.  Did they have other brothers and sisters? We don’t always know. People from a different family, from a different mob, from a different country might hold part of our story that hasn’t been heard.

I am confronted by racism everyday. I have learned how to have faith and to draw on the strength of the ancestors… ‘so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God’. (1 Cor 2:5). This includes church who continue to exclude us. I’m invited to speak about aboriginal issues but not to preach the gospel.  That is why I started a little congregation in community at St John’s Anglican in Glebe called ‘Scarred Tree Indigenous Ministries‘. We are grateful to work on land that has the last Scar Tree in Sydney CBD. It is a way for us to connect to our history and to the gospel. we have to confront Australia’s history as a church, neighbourhood and community. we would lose our minds, selves, souls if we don’t stand up.

TALKING CIRCLES
Someone in our group shared their story adding, “when you don’t know who you are, there are no reference points.”

Psalm 68:5-6  (NIV)
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
    he leads out the prisoners with singing

God as Father gave me a sense of who I am. Knowing this, no one is a mistake. Then I had a moment on country in a park with sunlight… I knew I belonged to the land and felt known. Mother (Nature) – living and breathing.

 

Aunty Rev Patricia Courtenay: ‘Aboriginal spirituality in an era of displacement’

Aunty Rev Patricia Courtenay: ‘Aboriginal spirituality in an era of displacement’

IDENTITY

Where did I grow up? What country is that and what language is spoken there?

ASSIMILATION

  • Displacement
  • Denial of culture and spirituality
  • Disconnection

RESPONSES

Our language is not ‘lost’, our home is not ‘lost’,  we are disconnected from them.

Why would you want to identify as aboriginal?

I am supported, protected and reminded who I am by my ancestors and totem animals. My strength is in my spirituality.

How can you identify as Aboriginal and a Christian?

I can separate the faith of the missions from Christianity.  There is a spiritual basis for this – acceptance of all – Jew and Gentile… 1 Cor 7:17-20. Live the life that the Lord has assigned… obey the commands of God in all things. You were provided identity at birth. Who were you called to be? Dualistic enquiry – I can be Christian without denying or giving up my cultural identity or heritage. Who I am is rooted in belonging and connectedness.

CULTURALLY SPIRITUAL WAYS OF KNOWING AND BEING

  • sense of belonging: Aboriginal belonging comes from story and love of the land.  Aboriginal people know and keep these stories. Are able to use these in other contexts. Able to use these for survival. We have an embedded spiritualness and awareness of sacred space.
  • holistic worldview: spirituality and culture are invisible. Our mind and body’s wellbeing are interconnected with our spirituality. An attack on one affects the other areas.
  • spirits of place: we have an oral tradition and literacy.  We have a spiritual connection to the land and knowledge generation and re-generation. Supernatural and natural occupy the same place and time.  Not mystical but mundane and embedded in the landscape. Someone might stay at a place and dream there – we learn through dreams.  This is considered a geographic source of sacred knowledge. The revelation comes to the person in the right place at the right time.  This is about identity, kinship and relationship to the land… receiving wisdom.  This wisdom is omnipresent but non-visible for no-indigenous.  Not mythfolk, lore or legend speaking of the past but continue happening now.

Aboriginal Australia still exists. When we gather and tell our stories ‘the land is speaking’. As guardians of the the land ‘we are speaking for the land’. The Creator Spirit/God’s relationship with indigenous people does and will continue to exist.  Language, world views, etc. can be shared with those willing to listen.

CREATING AN AUSTRALIAN CHRISTIAN

  • how do indigenous Australians reconnect culturally and spiritually?
  • how do non-indigenous Australians relate to indigenous Christians culture and spirituality?

‘Know the past, change the future’

 

Aunty Rev Janet Turpie Johnstone: ‘Bunjil weaves past and future in the present’

Aunty Rev Janet Turpie Johnstone: ‘Bunjil weaves past and future in the present’

Wominjeka – ‘we have come together for good purpose’

When we have shared stories and place, that goes with us when we leave.

Bunjil patterns the past and future in the present.  We’re not Animist, we don’t worship animals but are related to them and to the river.

Can we live with the land and waters so that everything has a place to live?

  • colonial invasion
  • Bunjils narratives
  • work with local elders eg. Bunjil’s Nest Project.

Reconciliation:

  • multiculturalism
  • migration
  • recognise
  • silence – denial

 

Professor Mark Brett & Naomi Wolfe: ‘Traditional Land and the Responsibility to Protect Immigrants: A Dialogue between Aboriginal Tradition and the Hebrew Bible’

Professor Mark Brett & Naomi Wolfe: ‘Traditional Land and the Responsibility to Protect Immigrants: A Dialogue between Aboriginal Tradition and the Hebrew Bible’

“You shall love the immigrant, for you were immigrants in the land of Egypt” (Deut 10:19)

But what happens when Israel arrive sin Canaan?  The oppressed become oppressors?

Indigenous mob don’t need a qualification to be who they are.  But this partnership has arisen from an international journey and collaboration.

Strangers, immigrants, sojourners… it’s the story of people who took others’ land.  If you don’t take care of the widow, orphans, migrants… you will lose your country.

Indigenous: country knows them, calls them home.  There’s a kinship system and people are looked after. ‘no one should be left behind’

Jer 26: 8-9 and Jer 26:16-19 people hated what he had to say… except some elders. Not citing Deuteronomy but oral storytelling – there moral compass is somewhere else. In the Samaritan story, who do indigenous people see themselves as in the story? Where are the settlers in the story?

We’re all Gentiles.  Settlers brought the thinking, they are the new Israel. They have the right to take the country. That’s wrong. They think they’re superior and that God is on their side. There is a theological problem with this logic.  White people are not the new Israel.

There is an idea that our liberation is bound to native title, but that’s extinct in Tasmania. So what does freedom look like for those of use from there?

  • where are we?
  • what does that look like for our relationship with settlers
  • what does that call us to be?
  • how does it call us to live?

Reinterpreting our stories:

Every identity therefore is a construction… a composite of different histories, migrations, conquests, liberations and so on. We can deal with these either as worlds at war or as experiences to be reconciled. Edward Said.

What next?

  • go back to the text
  • what does that mean for me?
  • Who am I? What’s my cultural identity?
  • how do I engage gospel? … those around me?

Reading the Bible as Israel is toxic for Gentiles.  Colonised people are colonising.

Our beliefs are already here, we don’t need yours. Our sacred land is right here. Our text is the land – we hear it with our feet and our hearts. It is broader and more inclusive.

We can have/give/build what was denied to earlier generations if we’re strong in culture.

Wonderful animation…

Bunjil The Creator: Bunjil’s Flight to the Stars

 

 

Paste up in Paraparaumu today

Artwork by Rowena Fry

This is your home and you should have been safe here

by Wellington artist Ruby Jones

“To whoever sees this…”

Someone called Grace has been leaving notes on a lamp post I walk past. And I came to wonder whether there is a person called ‘Grace’ or whether the grace is the space being offered, a gentle invitation to live into all you have it in you to be…

What grace-space would you invite others into? What counsel, what love letter would you leave on a lamp post?