Monday, April 19, 2010

future of religion in australian society paper acceptance

Email today from Melbourne College of Divinity, notifying me that my paper proposal – The art of gentle space-making: responding to a de/colonizing God – has been accepted. It is part of their 2010 Centenary Conference, with the grand title ” The Future of Religion in Australian Society.” Being held 4th to 7th of July 2010, they have billed it as a seminal event in theological reflection in Australia. Nice to have landed a paper, only now, in the midst of all the other things I’m juggling, I have to find time to write it! For those interested, here was the proposal I sent it back in February … The art of gentle space-making: responding to a de/colonizing God
Rev Dr Steve Taylor

The phrase “gentle space-making” comes from Sarah Coakley, as she describes a posture by which feminists might construct a spirituality that transcends gender stereotypes.

It brings into focus the question of what enables communities, who feel marginalised or oppressed, to read the Biblical text, particularly when it is perceived that the dominant culture has brought the Bible as part of the colonisation process.

The paper begins as a dialogue with Mark Brett’s Decolonizing God (2008), in which Brett writes that “Biblical texts were often used as colonial instruments of power, exploited with pre-emptive and self-interested strategies of reading.” His turn is then to the Biblical texts, in “the hope that the decolonization of God might still be possible.” (31)

While my paper begins in the same place, it will take a different turn. Like Boer in Last Stop before Antarctica (2008), my interest will be less in actual biblical texts, and more in reading strategies, including the use of the Biblical text by specific communities.

Thus this paper will explore some traces, even if only fleeting, of creative Biblical reading strategies, at a number of sites who name the corrosiveness that is colonisation. These include Maori culture, in the Parihaka story and Te Whiti O Rongomai’s use of the Bible; feminism, in Sarah Coakley’s engagement with kenosis and vulnerability and contemporary Aboriginal theology, in the writing of Chris Budden.

The selection of sites is by no means systematic. Rather, they reflect an inquisitive search for a plurality of sites in which creative Biblical responses by colonised communities can be explored.

Such work is of importance to the study of the future of religion in Australia, for the Bible needs deliverance from colonising methodologies and colonised voices can be encouraged in their finding of voice.

Posted by steve at 08:38 PM


  1. Sounds like you’ve written a fascinating paper, mate. Well done. Are they going to publish the papers in due course?

    Comment by Paul Fromont — April 20, 2010 @ 3:50 am

  2. paper proposal written does not equal paper written.

    yes, plans for publication but i don’t think i’m in the MCD league in that regard,


    Comment by steve — April 20, 2010 @ 4:19 pm

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