On this Good Friday: Reflections from M . Shawn Copeland

On this Good Friday, let us kneel before the broken, crucified body of Jesus. Let us kneel before the disappeared and murdered bodies of thousands of peasants, workers, vowed religious sisters and brothers, ministers and priests in Latin America; the raped and abused bodies of young boys and girls and women who have survived sexual assault by clergy and church workers; the torn bodies of prostitutes forced to trade themselves for survival; the rejected bodies of gays and lesbians; the swollen bodies of children dying in hunger; the scarred and bruised bodies of women, men and children suffering with AIDS; the despised bodies of red and brown and black and yellow women and men. To kneel before these bodies is a first step in grasping our collusion in their suffering and death; it is a first step in grasping the absolute gratuitous love of the crucified Jesus. Let us kneel in love and thanksgiving for the wondrous love of God.

 

Upper Midwest AAR Presentation

If you’re in St. Paul, MN this weekend you can check out the Upper Midwest AAR conference. Today is the last day to register. I’ll be presenting a paper on Saturday at 10:15 in Session 6: Philosophy of Religion/Systematic Theology #3. For your interest, here’s an abstract of my paper.

“Eating from the Sacred Tree: Decolonzing Western Interpretations of Original Sin in Genesis 3″ Continue reading

Original(izing) Sin and the Conquest of Native Bodies

In the conclusion of his book on sin, Derek Nelson proposes the following summary statements.  First, “How does sin relate to the human as soil?  The human can succumb to being less than one is called to be.  Karl Barth called this the sin of sloth.  Reinhold Niebuhr called it the sin of sensuality.”[1]  Second he asks, “How does sin relate to the human as spirit?  The human can claim to be more than one is called to be.  Barth, Niebuhr, and a whole host of others call this the sin of pride.”[2]

I recently saw an internet meme depicting an Inuit man with the following text overlay:
Eskimo: If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?
Priest: No, not if you did not know.
Eskimo: Then why did you tell me?[3]
This joke captures the sort of humour common among Native peoples exchanged around an often traumatic history of Christian colonization and conversion.[4]

Many authors have noted that Native peoples did not have a word for sin in their language, let alone original sin, akin to that of amer-european Christianity.[5]  The perceptions of the Native peoples that the missionaries had were, however, as sinners, pagans, heathens, and some even went so far as to refer to Native peoples “as Amelkites and Canaanites—in other words, people who, if they would not be converted, were worthy of annihilation.”[6]  The Canaanite identification was key in articulating the notion of sin, and particularly original sin, to both amer-european and Native peoples.  As Andrea Smith has astutely observed, “[i]n the colonial imagination, Native bodies are […] immanently polluted with sexual sin. […] What makes Canaanites supposedly worthy of destruction in the biblical narrative and Indian peoples supposedly worthy of destruction in the eyes of their colonizers is that they both personify sin.”[7] Continue reading

Top 13 Books of 2013

Marta Minujin’s “Tower of Books,” Buenos Aires, 2011.

At the year’s end I try to take some time to consolidate my reading into a list of my favourite books of the year. They can be  my favourite for several reasons including most impressionable, most challenged my thinking, most persuasive, etc.  I always admire bloggers who actually take the time to provide brief reviews of their top books, but I’m way too lazy to do that. So, here’s a list of my top 13 books of 2013 without reason or review. (Hey, at least I included pictures – that counts for something, right?)

 

Paulette Regan, Unsettling the Settler Within: Indian Residential Schools, Truth Telling, and Reconciliation in Canada

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Heinrichs, ed., Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry: Conversations on Creation, Land Justice, and Life Together

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Postmodern Theology: An Outdated Survey

Postmodern Theology

Žižek, Badiou, Caputo and Eagleton

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In recent decades there has been a surge in both deconstruction-and-religion and secular Christologies. The premise of the following piece is that both of these areas of study have significant insight to offer, but are incomplete without the other. Where deconstruction-and-religion offers a Derridean understanding of a postmodern Christ, the secular interest in Paul (Badiou, Agamben, Žižek) offers an understanding of truth in an age of fragmentation. In order to move beyond the deconstructive Christology as proposed by John Caputo, and the secular interest in Paul, to a more holistic, we must attempt the difficult task of constructing a more cohesive postmodern theology. The following will attempt to provide a ground from which to work on this task, while not presuming to offer any new or original insight. While making this move, the fundamentalism and the foundationalism of previous modern theologies must be stripped away in order to see a more robust postmodern theology that can hold up under the demands of contemporary thought. The following will attempt to (a) move beyond the traditional interpretations of salvation, (b) re-explore Christ’s human and divine natures, and (c) to propose a manner in which to transcend the name of God. This Christology is built upon two major premises which are as follows: (1) God possesses and is beyond both the properties of being (persona) and event (occurrence) and, (2) Christ is the universalize-able finite transport of both the being and the event of God.

The following theology (and Christology) is a generous reading of four philosophers which many would consider to be ‘postmodern’: Slavoj Žižek, Terry Eagleton, Alain Badiou and John Caputo. These four thinkers will form the backbone of the following constructive exercise and an effort will be made to distinguish between what the thinkers themselves write about Christ and what is being constructed. Section 1 will outline the similarities existing between Žižek and Eagleton so far as they inform a demythologized theology of the Being of God. Section 2 will deal with the relationship between Caputo and Zizek and their respective creation narratives. Section 3 will examine Badiou and Caputo’s philosophical theology of the event, and lastly, section 4 will deal with Caputo and Zizek and the non-dichotomized nature of the Being of God.

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Reflections on Anabaptist Mennonite Systematic Theology

library-of-babel

After reading the second section of A. James Reimer’s Mennonites and Classical Theology for a class this past term, and after discussing the theme of Anabaptist Mennonite systematic theology, I feel compelled to reflect on the topic in more detail. My intent in the following is to critically engage with the idea of an Anabaptist Mennonite systematic theology (particularly Reimer) in such a way that may raise more questions than it answers. In this way it is more of a general reflection than an in-depth scholarly essay, although I hope to use the themes and directions present in it in the future.

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