Tag Archive: Liberation


Dream of a Female Worker

Dream of a Female Worker

How do you find the hope for freedom after centuries of oppression from four different world powers? What spark is there to transform the pain that you feel within and the emptiness of the world around you? Minjung theology is borne out of these questions and finds a response in a unique understanding of Christ and how to follow him faithfully.

Minjung (민중) is a word derived from the Korean pronunciation of two Chinese characters: “min” (the people) and “jung” (the masses). The combination of the two creates an image of the majority of people, the poor, the oppressed. The term originated as a descriptor in contrast to the Yangban, or ruling elite class.

Although it is similar in some respects to liberation theological movements, it is an oversimplification of the Korean context to lump in with Latin American, African, or other movements. There is less of an emphasis upon economic injustice and more attention to institutional oppression from colonial and hierarchical structures. These forms of injustice are partly due to geography, as the Korean peninsula is situated between China and Japan, and also (much more recently) politically between the former Soviet Union and the United States.

Minjung theology derives from the experience of the minjung– the people who are exploited by the elite. Initially conceived as an interpretive source by leaders of the Urban Industrial Mission who volunteered for labor camps in the early 1960s, the term has taken on added significance in successive generations. A similarity to the minjung can be found in the gospels’ use of the term ὄχλος (ochlos) to refer to the crowds (of commoners, outcasts) following Jesus.

There are two distinct features of minjung theology: 한 (han) and 단 (dan).
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Black Jesus by Stanley Rayfield

Black Jesus by Stanley Rayfield

In the 1960s, theologian James Cone was writing in an era of civil unrest due to racial disparity in the presence of a majority church largely unaware and unconcerned with the injustices common to his experience.

Rather than postpone the triumph over injustice to some abstract, heavenly future, he stresses the incarnation of Christ into the lives of the oppressed. This emphasis empowers the oppressed as well as challenges the privileged. This hermeneutic introduces reconciliation as a necessity for mature discipleship.

Below is an excerpt from James Cone’s book, Black Theology and Black Power:

“The way of the church is related to the fact that the Kyrios Lord himself is on his way in the world, …and the church has no choice but to follow him who precedes. Consequently obedience and witness to the Kyrios require the discernment of the opening which he provides and the willingness to step into this opening.” –Thomas Weiser

The opening has been made and the Church must follow. To follow means that the Church is more than a talking or a resolution-passing community. Its talk is backed up with relevant involvement in the world as a witness, through action, that what it says is in fact true.

Where is “the opening” that Christ provides? Where does he lead his people?
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David Horsey / Los Angeles Times (March 13, 2013)

There is still much to come in the tenure of Pope Francis, but already in his short time there is much that has caused the world (non-Catholics included) to take notice and consider the impact of this pontiff at this moment in history.

Let’s take a look at Five Reasons Why Pope Francis Matters… (Click to Tweet)

1. Recognition of the population shift of Christianity to the Global South

Much has already been written in missiological circles about the growing demographics of Christianity in Africa, Asia, and South America after a historical majority in Europe and North America. Despite the swelling numbers, the influence of these regions is still largely untapped.

Within World Christianity, there is no position more high-profile that Pope and few institutions wielding as much influence as the Vatican. The recent papal election was dynamic in the fact that cardinals from Africa, Canada, and the United States were considered as possible candidates (although their actual viability as candidates may be questioned).

With this appointment, Pope Francis opens the doors for other thought-leaders to emerge from the non-Western world. The perspectives that they inhabit will inevitably change the dynamics of the theological education, training, and implementation in ways that will impact our diverse and changing communities and world.

2. Pastoral experience among a growing (and practicing) Roman Catholic Church Continue reading

“Que mi sangre sea semilla de libertad y la señal de que la esperanza será pronto una realidad.”

(Let my blood be a seed of freedom and the sign that hope will soon be reality.)

- Archbishop Óscar Romero

On March 24, 1980, Archbishop Óscar Romero of El Salvador was assassinated while he was celebrating the mass.

Romero had become an advocate and champion of the poor in El Salvador and Latin America, which brought him into opposition with the right-wing military government. Following his assassination, he has been recognized as a candidate for canonization and is currently revered as a Servant of God.

The following music video was produced as part of The Project: Martyrs Prayers. Accompanying this is a three-part podcast examining the life and message of Father Romero by Bishop Christopher Coyne of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. The podcasts are available here (Part 1: Introduction, Part 2: Present Reality of Martyrdom, Part 3: Ancient/Modern Understanding of Martyrdom).

Credits:

Musician- Michael Glen Bell

Film Maker- Owen Thomas
More information on The Project: Martyrs Prayers.

I spend a lot of time thinking about how the Western church can benefit from the exploration, examination, and integration of non-Western perspectives. A recent voice I have appreciated is Christina Cleveland (@CSCleve), a social psychologist, professor, writer, preacher, and consultant on multicultural issues affecting churches and organizations.

Her post, Our Culture of Fear (of Different Cultures), takes a psychological look at a group’s tendency to avoid those who are perceived as different. These same elements affect interacting with non-Western theologies because of the unspoken assumptions of Western superiority. If the people of the Global South are viewed as having a deficient or derivative perspective, it is a matter of priority to preserve the “purity” of a Western interpretation.

“I sometimes wonder if the animosity some express toward [those who offer a different perspective] is motivated by the fear that the case [for the opposing perspective] might turn out to be more compelling than they can handle.” (Greg Boyd)  We’re afraid that they might influence us. As a result, our cross-cultural interactions are not characterized by humility, openness, interdependence and hopeful invitation.  Rather, they are characterized by fear, retreat into cognitive closure and accusations. Our orientation and motivation is one of fear and retreat. Within our culture of fear, our words and behavior are motivated by a desire to avoid being like a certain group, rather than a desire to be like Jesus. (Click to Tweet) Continue reading

A Pilgrimage of Hope

In my work with immigrants, there are certain stories that stick with me because they reveal some aspect of God. Usually, the stories of the poor are too similar to those in the Bible to ignore. They are almost literal, revealing the ways in which God actually identified with the poor and the oppressed. As we observe advent, I’d like to share with you the story of a hardworking family that came from Mexico 22 years ago.

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Christmas is all about a migration story.  I am not referring to Santa’s Christmas Eve sleigh ride around the world—that’s travel, not migration—and it’s also not what Christmas is all about.

Even Jesus, Mary, and Joseph’s escape as refugees to Egypt just after the visit of the Magi—while certainly a formative experience in young Jesus’ life and an experience upon which we would do well to reflect upon—is not at the very center of the Christmas story. Continue reading

Weekend Roundup is a quick link to articles covering an array of subjects related to Global Theology. This week, we have articles on Christmas! African celebrations, peace in Palestine, and the Christmas tree in abolitionist movements. Continue reading

Tago Ng Tago Theology

The title of this post is “Tago Ng Tago” Theology. “Tago ng tago” loosely translates from Tagalog as “be in hiding” or “always hiding.”  The term describes Filipinos who went overseas (OFW) to work , but did not leave when they were supposed to. Therefore, they live as illegals hiding in that country. This is a major part of the Filipino self-identity (in my mind) with over 10% of Filipino nationals living overseas in one form or another. The Filipino dream is to raise up a child to get a job overseas and send money home. There is perhaps no other country on earth so international… so globally minded as the Philippines.

A Filipino journalist who used to be a TNT in the United States (Tago ng Tago), won a Pulitzer award.

It seems strange that despite the strong place Christianity has in the Philippines, there is little real Filipino theology (within orthodox Christianity at least). In the past, there has been some original theology done by Catholic theologians in the Philippines, especially linked to martial law, but not much since. Most theology in the Philippines (again, not counting heterodox works) simply borrows from outsider works. Innovation seems to be more in line with switching who one borrows from. I am not Filipino, so it is not my place to say what good Filipino theology should be. But here are some things to think about. First think about a couple of other theologies… Continue reading

Below s a link to a piece describing the manner in which a Palestinian reads an oft-quoted piece of the Hebrew scripture and how his experience influences his interpretation.

A Biblical Reflection on Genesis 12:3

Dr. Naim Ateek

“On the day after Christmas, we went on a courtesy visit to the Israeli minister of religious affairs. Archbishop Tutu spoke “truth to power” and combined courage with candor. He told the minister about the importance of giving the Palestinians justice and freedom. As we were leaving the government building, we were followed by a man who kept repeatedly shouting the words at us, “Genesis twelve three; Genesis 12:3.” I could hardly wait to get home in order to look up the text in the Bible.”

Rev. Dr. Ateek is a Palestinian Christian pastor, teacher, and advocate. He founded the  Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center and has authored Justice, and Only Justice: A Palestinian Theology of Liberation

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