Friday, July 12, 2024

fun day plotting the IASH Digital activism research project

It was good today to spend some time reflecting on the IASH Digital Activism as justice-making project to date.

Over the last 6 weeks in Edinburgh, I have gathered a raft of research notes. I’ve written various research memos and pieces of data analysis. Together these total around 12,000 words.

Over the last 6 weeks, I have also presented 3 academic talks. Each of these have helped to clarify data and flesh out some arguments. But they’ve also meant I’ve skipped around a bit, collecting enough data for an “initial finding” in a presentation, but not enough for an indepth written argument.

In the up-next-soon, I have one full week left in Edinburgh. It would be nice in that week to gather threads and work toward something I could publish.

In the up-next-medium term, I have some grassroots activist organisations who are keen to participate. But they have some project deadlines, so have asked if they can be researched later in the year. Totally understandable.

Then in the up-next-longer-term, I want to develop the research in ways that involve multiple voices, not just mine. To make this concrete, a few weeks ago I submitted a funding bid. This is under peer review and could make possible a multi-voiced gathering. I have also initiated contact with a publisher, who has expressed enthusiasm for the project and my hopes for a multi-voiced project.

So today was spent plotting ways that I might produce different outputs. The IASH time was always about the conceptual space to set up the ethics process and research design. It was never intended to complete the project. At the same time, I don’t want to juggle yet another unfinished project, as I already have several too many of those. Equally, having several projects on the go can help with managing timelines.

So today was about plotting. Can there be something in the short term, that is distinct, yet sets up outputs in the medium and long term? Can I match an argument I’ve verbally developed with an already gathered concrete set of data?

After several coffees, and then some thinking thoughts into (1800) draft words on a page, I can see some ways forward.

Posted by steve at 02:46 AM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 09, 2024

Socrel 2024 “Digital activism as justice-making” conference questions

I was pleased to present a paper on “Digital activism as justice-making” at the British Sociology Association (BSA) Sociology of Religion Annual Conference. The theme for 2024 was Religion, Justice, and Social Action which fitted really well with my IASH Fellowship. Being in Newcastle on Tyne, just down the road from Edinburgh also worked really well, providing an international conference forum without having to travel too far! it was nice not to enter the most jet-lagged conference attendee award.

This paper is the third presentation of work from my IASH Research Fellowship at the University of Edinburgh. My data and methods have grown significantly since I proposed an abstract back in February. That in itself is encouraging, seeing how the project is growing and taking shape.

Participants asked a range of excellent questions. As per my standard conference talk practice of taking handwritten notes and writing them up later, here are the questions I was asked, and comments that were made:

    1. Are indigenous ways of knowing appearing in the data?
    2. How many of these groups (indigenous Christian climate change activist using online platforms for climate change activism) exist?
    3. How to account for the public dimensions of being online? One of the theoretical typologies that I use included the possibility of digital activity that is illegal. Would activism groups post about such activity online?
    4. Is there a possibility that indigenous approaches to climate change might be able to provide different approaches and solutions than we currently experience in Eurocentric approaches?
    5. It is fascinating how social media gives voice to communities and provides ways for researchers to listen and learn with and from them.
    6. (In the cup of tea queue the next day) – Have you had focus group participants offer different responses to your visual grammar readings?
    7. (Also in the cup of tea queue the next day) – The collective, practical, participatory ways of being that I’m noticing in my research of activist groups in the Pacific is also present in working class British activism.

As you can see, within the confines of 10 minutes for questions, some really helpful matters for me to think through. Every question and comment informs my ongoing thinking. It also provides feedback on how what I am communicating is being received across cultures.

It was great afterward to exchange contact details with researchers at Durham University, Manchester University and Hong Kong University, who are also researching climate change activism. It confirms that my research is timely, yet is also unique. A good sweet spot.

Posted by steve at 09:26 PM | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 29, 2024

IASH “Visualizing climate change activism” Work-in-progress questions

It was great to deliver an IASH Work-in-Progress presentation of my “Visualizing climate change activism” research project. I’ve been in IASH Edinburgh for about 3.5 weeks and was surprised and grateful to find my work to date filled out 4,400 words. (The photo of a screen shot by my mentor, Dr Chow, of me explaining the origins of the project, with IASH folk listening.)

I began with a Northern hemisphere theorisation of digital activism by Neumayer and Svensson (2014), which I then brought into dialogue with initial findings from my research of the visual online presence of two different climate activist organisations. By starting with indigenous grassroots climate justice online organisations, I am seeking to listen to different ways of being and acting.

Participants asked a range of excellent questions, some from those in the room, others online through chat. I try to take handwritten notes of the questions I get asked after a presentation. Taking notes gives me time to think about how to respond. It also means I can sit more thoroughly and more thoughtfully with the questions at at later date.

Here are my notes of the 8 questions I was asked:

  1. Does the “visual grammar” of grassroots organisation form a coherent identity? Is there a “brand” the organisation are curating? Are there training and guidelines about what is posted
  2. The images I showed were hopeful and called people to action. Images can also speak of doom. There are doom images in some parts of Christianity, focused on the world burning and as a good thing. Are doom images being used and what theologies might they portray?
  3. Are there climate action images from indigenous groups in historic that could be a resource for the research?
  4. A connection – recall seeing an art piece that uses indigenous ways of making to depict a contemporary climate crisis, that of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. So is this another way in which indigenous knowledge in activism is at work?
  5. Your presentation focused on social media images. Does pressing like result in a person thinking they have done their bit, and thus lead to decline in activism?
  6. The research project might have a contradicting set of assumptions. The local is valued, yet the local might not want to share their knowledge. An Indian poet wrote a poem called “ I am not your data.” Participants might want to exert their data sovereignty and not share their knowledge.
  7. Can these activist theologies in my presentation be connected with existing Pacific theologies eg Havea’s coconut theology?
  8. What is the nature of the practice of the image makers? How does their practice develop over time, as they take and upload? Are the image makers individuals or are they part of a collective? How are they being formed by their practice? How are the image makers being influenced by memes that are circulating at that time? How could research explore the practice of image making among indigenous content makers?

As you can see, a range of excellent questions, which are really helpful me as I continue to write, think and research. I have 3 more weeks in Edinburgh! Looking forward to seeing what emerges as I continue in the interdisciplinary and delightful space that IASH is proving to be.

Posted by steve at 03:41 AM

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Visualising climate change activism – Edinburgh IASH seminar

I’m delivering a Work-in-Progress seminar on Thursday 27 June at 13:00 BST as part of my Visiting Research Fellowship. In the tentative and exploratory nature of work-in-progess, here’s my work today as I conducted an interview to reflect on online images, transcribed the interview, then did an initial thematic analysis of the 4010 words.

Visualising climate change activism: A visual grammar beginning with online Pacific/indigenous eco-theologies

My research at IASH is focused on grassroots digital activism and how organisations use social media to activate for climate justice. This research could have practical outworkings for organisations seeking to activate online for climate justice and theoretical implications in challenging Euro-centric theorisations of digital activism and visual grammars.

To initially confine my study, I am focusing on online visual images produced by organisations in the Pacific that are Christian. I focus on images because of their importance in communication and the Pacific because of my location. I focus on Christian organisations because of the place of spirituality in Pacific cultures, the current contested terrain in Pacific eco-theologies and the ways that climate change, as a crisis, offers new possibilities for partnerships across difference.

My initial challenge, and in outworking the IASH 2021-2024 theme of decoloniality, is how to research online images produced by indigenous communities. I propose an interdisciplinary side-by-side method that weaves visual grammar approaches from sociolinguistics and talanoa, a Pacific term for sharing stories in the space between. Such a side-by-side methodology could respect the interpretive visual resources of local communities and honour their commitment to communicate through the globalised flows of what is a world wide web.

Folk can join in-person in the IASH Seminar Room, or contact me for a zoom link to join the webinar.

Posted by steve at 05:29 AM

Saturday, June 15, 2024

consenting to digital activism

Whoop! A first signed consent form in a research project is a moment worth celebrating. It takes hours of work to get to this stage of a project.

First there is the funding application, seeking resources to undertake research (thanks IASH Edinburgh). This is mixed with a literature review to develop a research question that builds on what others re thinking. Next there is the ethics application, thinking through the risks and benefits of various approaches to research. For this project, this required a lot of reading in ethical research with social media data and ways not to compromise the safety of children in domains that allow anonymous comments. Then there is initiating contact, connecting with organisations and explaining the research to participants. Hours of work make the first signed consent form a moment worth celebrating.

The digital activism in justice-making is briefly introduced here. I am using a mixed methods approach. This involves seeking permission to undertake a visual grammar analysis of online images on social media, alongside offering conversations (focus groups) about the online images. This side-by-side approach should help understand the visual public theologies being offered by grassroot organisations as they activate for climate justice.

Whoop whoop. After positive interactions this week, a first signed consent form!

Posted by steve at 12:09 AM

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

sea rising labyrinth and the ethics of love

Strolling Portobello Beach in Edinburgh on Sunday with a friend, we spotted a labyrinth on the sand.

With the tide coming in, the shoes came off and the jeans were rolled up. One way to walk the labyrinth is to take a question in with you. I took “why are you here?” It’s a question I’ve been asked a few times in the last week, as a Kiwi new to Edinburgh and a long way from home.

One response to the question is technical. I am in Edinburgh for 7 weeks, as a Visiting Research Fellow at IASH (Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities), at the University of Edinburgh. I’m doing work on digital activism as justice-making by Christian organisations, working with Dr Alex Chow, from the Centre for the Study of World Christianity.

Another response to the “why are you here?” question is  topical.  As I walked the labyrinth, the tide was coming in. At pace. The path of the labyrinth circles in toward a centre, then back out. My journey out would be through deepening water, as the tide continued to rise.

I might be safe, but I found myself thinking about the futures of others impacted by rising sea levels. This might feel remote on a sunny Sunday in Edinburgh. Yet earlier that week I had read about indigenous families being forced to relocate in Panama. So a second response to the “why are you here?” question is topical. I’m researching climate change and how organisations use online images to activate for change. So that less communities will need to relocate in the future.

At the centre of the Portobello Beach labyrinth I found a heart of love. It was yet another delightful touch by the unknown labyrinth makers. I stood, my feet immersed in water, pondering love.

In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus is asked what it means to love our neighbour. He tells the story of a robbery. Perhaps if he was telling it today, he might tell the story of a rising sea. And how easy it is to walk on by. Busy. And how some religions use beliefs to justify walking by. Hoping another person might come along to act. Or that God will somehow provide another place to replace this earthly abode. Yet the Parable of the Good Samaritan ends with an unexpected Samaritan, motivated to act.

So a third response is that I’m here to research those motivated to act with love. I’m researching Christian organisations who use online spaces to call for climate-justice. I’m researching people who understand themselves as stewards with creation, rather than profiteers from creation. I’m researching how they use images to spread a message of love.

Perhaps through my research I might see things that help their actions. Perhaps I might see things that help other organisations to find ways to act. So a third response to the “why are you here?” question involves the ethics of love.

PS – A big thanks to the unnamed labyrinth makers on a Portobello beach, who enabled me to immerse myself in a rising tide and ponder a heart of love.

Posted by steve at 10:19 PM

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

UK research June and July 2024

I’m busy at the moment making plans for a June and July research sojourn in the UK, where I am juggling 3 research projects.

First, I have around 6-7 weeks in Edinburgh, where I am a Visiting Research Fellow at IASH (Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities), at the University of Edinburgh. I’m doing work on digital activism as justice-making by Christian organisations, working with Alex Chow, from the Centre for the Study of World Christianity.

Second, I will be popping over to Glasgow, thanks to the generosity of Trinity College, where I am doing further work on the Race, Justice and Mission project, with archival research into the complicated nature of Presbyterian mission engagement in Pacific blackbirding.

Third, I will be in Birmingham for 2 weeks, where I am commencing a Birmingham University Cross-training theologians in Psychology Fellowship. This has several intensives, online connections and mentoring to equip with skills to undertake psychologically informed theological research. It is a second round of what Lynne Taylor has been enjoying.

Lynne Taylor is on sabbatical in the second half of the year and originally it was planned that she would join me toward the end of this time. However some family matters have changed the landscape and she’ll be heading over later for a shorter time.

I’m stoked to be awarded these Fellowships and excited about the chance to work internationally across a range of research projects. While I’m not looking forward to being apart from Lynne, I am looking forward to seeing a daughter in Oxford, England.

Posted by steve at 09:16 PM

Monday, March 25, 2024

Digital activism as justice-making: Evaluating decolonial public theologies on Christian social media platforms

I’m thrilled to have an academic paper accepted for GoNeDigiTal24. The conference organisors requested a short video introduction to Evaluating decolonial public theologies on Christian social media platforms.

This paper is part of a larger project on Digital Activism, with Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh in June/July 2024. Here is a summary of the IASH project from my application:

This project analyses how Christian organisations deploy social media to advocate for justice. While toxic discourse abounds online, so do impactful moments of digital activism. Digital ethnography is used to analyse what might be distinctive about Christian decolonial digital activism. How might digital acts of public theology create viral justice?

Update: Thrilled to have a second academic paper accepted, this one for the British Sociology Association Sociology of Religion (SocRel) Annual Conference 2024: Religion, Justice, and Social Action. Here’s the abstract for that conference:

Digital activism as justice-making. Evaluating decolonial public theologies on Christian social media platforms

There are widespread examples, both positive and negative, of digital activism among religious communities. Methodologically, digital ethnography provides ways to understand the mundane aspects of everyday digital life (Hine, 2015) and analyse the interplay between online and offline performativity. Theoretically, salon, contentious, law-abiding and Ghandian typologies have been used in evaluating digital activism (Neumayer and Svensson, 2016). However, Oceanic scholars have challenged theoretical categories circulating in the Global North, arguing that indigenous approaches to activism centre identity, well-being, and kinship (Tupou et al., 2023).

This paper presents initial findings from a Visiting Research Fellowship with the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, June/July 2024. To better understand the limits and possibilities of religion, justice, and social action, this paper analyses digital activism by selected Christian groups in Oceania. The place of race is foregrounded by analysing groups that are active in ways that express indigenous ways of knowing. The paper will draw on data from interviews with key leaders of digital activist organisations and participant observation of digital activist campaigns. Content analysis of emojis as representations of digital emotionality and interviews with key participants/retweeters/commenters will be used to clarify motivations and analyse what might be distinctive about Christian approaches to digital activism.

The research has the potential to impact decolonial discourse through the study of lived practice and provide insights for organisations working in digital spaces to facilitate online justice-making.

Posted by steve at 11:25 AM

Monday, July 24, 2023

Retrieving practical theology from the archives paper proposal

Glad to submit a conference paper proposal for Association of Practical Theology in Oceania (APTO). It’s in Dunedin in 2023 so nice and close to home! The conference theme – migration – gives me the opportunity to offer some research emerging from my Race, justice and mission project, thanks to my upcoming University of Glasgow Library Research Fellowship.

Retrieving practical theology from the archives: a reassessment of race and justice in Oceania migration

In the academic study of lived experience, practical theology often draws on empirical research. However, practical theology’s engagement with lived experience, as presented in archival material, is less common. The Glasgow University Library and University Archives hold a unique repository of pamphlets, sermons, reports and minutes. The archives include accounts of how Scottish missionaries experienced “blackbirding,” a coercive approach to migrant labour in Oceanic history. How might these historical accounts of lived experience help us analyse race and justice in the practices of mission?

This paper considers three methodological approaches by which practical theology might research migration histories in Oceania. First, McDougall (2016) used oral histories retrieved through ethnography to outline a distinctive cosmopolitan openness that shaped migration amongst the Melanesian peoples of the Solomon Islands. Second, Modjeska (2014) used embodied imaginaries and drew the work of historians and anthropologists into a “fictive” narrative that asserted indigenous Melanesian agency. Third, Halapua (2001) wove documentary analysis, interviews and action research in seeking to sing God’s song of solidarity with marginalised Melanesians in Fiji.

These three Oceanic methodologies provide ways first to approach archival history as lived experience and second to reflect on race and justice in the practices of Christian mission.

Posted by steve at 09:21 AM

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Race, justice and mission – my 2023 University of Glasgow Library Research Fellowship

I’m delighted to have been awarded a 2023 University of Glasgow Library Research Fellowship. This provides access for a month to what is a unique archive collection of mission archives. It also provides some funds to aid with travel and accommodation, which I hope to do around September 2023.

My research project is titled Race, justice and mission and here is some of what I wrote in my application:

Understanding the past demands a contemporary reappraisal of race and justice in the expansion of empires. The history of slavery invites educational institutions to assess their complicity in education, empire and exploitation. Slavery generally tends to be framed in relation to the transatlantic slave trade. However, a unique history of coerced Pacific labour is called “blackbirding.” Pacific peoples were extracted from island communities to build sugar plantations in Australia and Fiji. Recently, scholars have called for a reappraisal of “blackbirding,” the need for new Pacific genealogies and a critical reassessment of the “racial imaginaries” at work in the empire’s expansion.

My research project aims to illuminate the Glaswegian contribution to the modern Protestant missionary enterprise. The archives at the University of Glasgow Library offer a significant resource. Several Special Collections contain pamphlets and sermons that illuminate historic attitudes to other cultures, as students from the University were encouraged into mission activity by Christian student bodies meeting in and around the campus. The University Library Missions Book collection includes descriptions by missionaries who sailed from the ports of Glasgow and wrote of their encounters with “blackbirders” in operation. 

This unique archival material will be located in relation to the growing body of contemporary scholarship attuned to histories of slavery and the economic and educational complicities of British imperialism. My research project aligns with the University of Glasgow’s Historical Slavery Initiative, which seeks to respond to the University’s complicated entanglement with Scottish imperial expansion.

I am thrilled to have been awarded this Research Fellowship, grateful for the opportunity to access what is a unique collection and thankful for the help from Rev Dr Doug Gay in alerting me to the archive.  I look forward to strengthening academic relationships with various colleagues and friends and am excited by the important work already being done at the University through the Historical Slavery Initiative. This research allows me to return to my roots as Melanesian born and reflect on the Pacific’s particular histories of slavery.

Posted by steve at 08:17 PM

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Bono’s Scripture in song: theological ethics in the performing of the U2 catalogue

A conference paper proposal I submitted today. Bono’s Scripture in song: theological ethics in the performing of the U2 catalogue builds on my paper for the 2020 U2conference, on Soul work: two blessings and the eXPERIENCE tour and the research I did in preparation. However this paper takes that work in a more focused theological direction. It also allows me to develop some of my Theological Reflection lectures that I offered while Principal, KCML, in particular various contemporary applications of the theological ethics of Richard Burridge, Imitating Jesus: An Inclusive Approach to New Testament Ethics.

And for the fans and those who need a reminder, of social justice from U2 – Rattle and Hum – “Silver and Gold” was written in support of the Artists United Against Apartheid project, which protested the South African apartheid. With the potentially imitating Jesus lyrics from 1985-

There’s a rope around my neck
And there’s a trigger in your gun
Jesus say something
I am someone, I am someone
I am someone

to the creative use of beatitudes in Waves of Sorrow (2017) and American Soul (2017).

Bono’s Scripture in song: theological ethics in the performing of the U2 catalogue
Rev Dr Steve Taylor

Theological ethics involve reflection on how Christian beliefs are embodied in life and practice. Such reflection occurs not only within academic contexts but equally in contemporary popular culture. Take the world’s biggest band U2. They perform songs that request “Jesus say something,” including about apartheid (“Silver and Gold”), Aids (“One”) and American interference in Nicaragua and Iraq (“Bullet the Blue Sky”).

For Bono, U2’s lead singer, the Psalms are a guiding thread (The Book Of Psalms, Canongate, 1999). Meanwhile, U2’s fourteen studio albums contain seventy-five Scripture references, including the Gospels (twenty-six), Epistles (seventeen) and Psalms (twelve).

This paper analyses Bono’s theological ethics using a frame by Richard Burridge (Imitating Jesus). Burridge outlines four approaches to applying Scripture to ethics, each tested against how the church in South Africa used Scripture during the apartheid era.

Burridge’s work offers ways to analyse Bono’s Scripture in song. First, U2’s live performance of “Silver and Gold” on the Rattle and Hum tour. Second, contrasting “Waves of Sorrow” with “American Soul” as embodied performances of the Beatitudes. Third, examination of how U2’s catalogue clusters around following examples (Gospels) and seeking principles (Epistles). Burridge argues that theological ethics that draw on a limited Biblical canon result in embodied practices more likely to legitimate injustice. What then are the implications of U2’s focus on Gospels and Epistles?

The argument is that Bono’s use of the Beatitudes is a sophisticated embodying of theological ethics. However, the performing of a limited Biblical catalogue leaves U2 vulnerable to embodying theological ethics that legitimate injustice.

Posted by steve at 07:41 PM

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Radioactive: a theological film review

Monthly I write a film review for Touchstone (the New Zealand Methodist magazine). Stretching back to 2005, some 150 plus films later, here is the review for September 2020.

A film review by Rev Dr Steve Taylor

Radioactive is the illuminating story of human brilliance. Brilliance shines from the science of Madame Curie (Rosamund Pike). Living in Paris, she became in 1903 the first woman to win a Nobel prize, for discovering radioactivity. The first ever woman appointed to as professor at the University of Paris, in 1911, she became the first (and only) woman to win a second Nobel prize, for the discovery of polonium and radium.

Radioactive illuminates not only her brilliance but equally her humanity. Born Maria Salomea Skłodowska, she lost her mother aged ten to tuberculosis and her husband, Pierre Curie (Sam Riley), in a tragic accident. Born Polish, she experienced sexism and xenophobia, at times cruelly scapegoated by the populist press in France.

Radioactive draws from the graphic novel by Lauren Redniss (Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout) and is directed by Iranian-born French woman Marjane Satrapi. Perhaps it is the gift of a migrant, to tenderly illuminate the corrosive impact of causal racism and a xenophobic public.

Before directing, Satrapi had gained critical acclaim for her autobiographical novels Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return. Indeed, a feature of Radioactive is the attention paid to the visual in storytelling. While sequences like the woman aflame in the second meeting between Maria and Pierre add meaning, other visual sequences offer an overworked hyperrealism that distracts from the unfolding drama.

The ethics of making are central to any dramatic telling of radiation. Science has a human side, and in a final sequence, Maria walks through humanity’s future. She enters a future room in which she glimpses the radioactivity she discovers making good, in the cure of cancer. She then enters rooms in which radiation is making bad, killing tens of thousands at Hiroshima, causing hundreds of thousands to be evacuated at Chernobyl. These ending sequences invite a theological reflection on the ethics of making.

For Christianity, making is never neutral. Things, as well as humans, can always be converted. In Isaiah 2:4, swords can be beaten into ploughshares, spears into pruning hooks. Such is the vision of God, as military hardware is redeemed into agricultural assistance.

A similar vision occurs in Deuteronomy 19:1-13. Handmade axe heads can kill. Things made for good – to cut wood – can make for bad – a neighbour unintentionally killed. In response, God’s people are instructed to make again. The love of God converts an eye for an eye into the making of cities of sanctuary. Things made are never neutral. Yet a city well made can transform the corrosive impact of scapegoating.

Such ancient visions have inspired contemporary makers. Recently in Sweden, Andreas Vural turned the metal from seized illegal guns into sets of wireless headphones. The Megatons to Megawatts Program dismantled nuclear weapons, making them into civilian electric power stations. Over twenty years, as much as ten per cent of the electricity produced in the United States was generated from the equivalent of 20,008 made in Russia nuclear warheads. Makers can transform. It is a vision in which human brilliance is dignified and each of us are capable of making, whether for good or bad.

Posted by steve at 11:22 AM

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Fire and Rain on Just and Unjust Alike: Zadok autumn 2020 column


I am a columnist for Zadok, an Australian publication focused on Christian engagement with Australian society. The latest issue (Autumn 2020) is on climate change and is packed with articles on plastic, zero-waste lifestyles and theological themes of creation and hope. I provide a short (860 words) reflection on the use of “hell on earth” to describe bushfires. It is a fascinating phrase to use in societies claiming to be secular and somehow becomes a detour through apocalyptic language to the Sermon on the Mount and the church as nurturing the art of conversation across polarised communities and that fascinating line from U2:

Choose your enemies carefully, ’cause they will define you/
Make them interesting, because in some ways they will mind you/
(from Cedars of Lebanon, in U2’s No Line On The Horizonalbum)

You can order the magazine here.

Posted by steve at 01:17 PM

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Indigenous home-making as public theology – Wiremu Tamihana

Unknown-12 Happy Steve, stoked to have a book chapter published on the life of Maori leader, Wiremu Tamihana, in which I argue he’s an extraordinary public theologian.

The theme of home yields rich insights when it is examined through diverse cultural lens, in this case in relation to New Zealand history. Methodologically, an approach of biography as missiology has been used in researching the life of Maori leader, Wiremu Tamihana. In word and deed his reimagining of home has been outlined: in planting an alternative indigenous community, in leadership reorganisation and in public speechmaking as a set of ethical acts shaped by a christological ethic. Translation theory has clarified Tamihana’s reading of Scripture, including the reversing of what is foreign and domestic, and a household code shaped by Christology. What Wiremu Tamihana offers is a theology of homemaking as a public theology of empire resistance. His theology offers significant resources for those seeking to reimagine home in response to dominant cultures, in encouraging a Christology interwoven with ethics and the use of place-based readings to reverse categories of what is foreign and domestic. It suggests that creative responses to the empire can emerge through the ongoing renegotiation that happens as people move in the tides of history. A flexible justice-making is encouraged, one that uses the translations from the empire in resistance against the empire.

This is part of research begun in 2017, which has resulted in 3 conference papers, 1 (unsuccessful) research bid, 2 keynotes, 2 sermons, 2 short publications for the Presbyterian Church and now this longer academic piece. It is published as one of the conference papers from Australian Association of Mission Studies 2017. It was nice to slip a New Zealand indigenous story into the mix!

Details: “Indigenous home-making as public theology in the words and deeds of Maori leader, Wiremu Tamihana,” Re-imagining Home: Understanding, Reconciling and Engaging with God’s stories together, edited by Darren Cronshaw, Rosemary Dewerse and Darryl Jackson, Morling Press, 2019, 188-207.

Available from Morling Press. Thanks to Darren Cronshaw, Rosemary Dewerse and Darryl Jackson for their editorial skill, Morling and Whitley for their hospitable approach to scholars and scholarship.

Posted by steve at 10:20 PM