Wednesday, September 7, 2011

in the presence of burning children

just as I think it's an indicator of a superior theology that it's willing to look at its presumptions and say, "we were wrong," so I think it's important for individuals who pay close attention to theologies to admit it when they are also wrong. my trek through mullino moore is slow, but the following quotes are from about 30 pages beyond what I'd quoted and critiqued earlier. I don't think she's answered the questions suggested by the ways biblicism has been used to abuse and oppress people--admittedly, a task worth a whole branch of biblical taxonomy on its own--and I don't think by writing 3 paragraphs she's done more than given a thin veneer to the troubling aspects that she brings up. but she at least touches on the subject and that's more than I thought she had done, and at least she doesn't pretend the issues don't exist. so here I quote her takes on the topic, keeping in mind that so far as I've read this is all she's said on it, but noting as well it remains something worth attending.

"truth-telling is not easy to hear, and it demands a response, whether by individual action or social policy. native americans make this clear in the united states, asking the government to acknowledge atrocities against their people. vine deloria also adresses the christian church, which has forced 'opinions, myths, and superstition on us.' he adds, 'you have never chosen to know us. you have only come to us to confront and conquer us.' deloria's cry echoes the cries of south africa and elsewhere, where generations of people have been denied basic human rights. like [archbishop desmond] tutu, he knows the significance of memory, including the memory of pain and horror." [emphasis added]

"reconciling with the past is undermined when people gloss over pain, blame themselves or others for tragedy, or seek glib words of comfort. these are common responses, however. painful parts of the bible are rarely the subject of sermons or bible study in christian churches. people often carry large burdens of unresolved guilt on their backs, which they hesitate to reveal in their churches, much less to expect absolution or renewal. scapegoating is an international pastime, soaking into our various religious communities as ink soaks into a garment, staining our communities forever with practices of looking for other people to blame for ills in our world. further, people often seek solace in painful times by scouring the bible and devotional books for comforting words. dietrich bonhoeffer notwithstanding, 'cheap grace' is attractive." [emphasis added]

"to reconcile with the past is to engage with hard realities, which finally requires critiquing and reforming theological traditions and religous practices in light of those realities. historical critique is not an empty exercise; it points to real flaws in biblical traditions. to say this is to align with irvin greenberg's post-holocaust analysis--to recognize that no theology is adequate if it does not make sense in the presence of burning children. if anti-judaism and anti-islam are part of christian history and have led to dismemberment of others, we need to reflect critically on traditions that made that possible. if christian theology has aligned with oppressors and ignored the oppressed, we need to revisit and reshape our traditions in light of jesus' central teaching of love toward god and neighbor." [emphasis in original]

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