Monday, February 08, 2010

indigenous tables and Sarah Coakley’s Power and Submissions

I spent today with the Covenanting Committee. Five “white’s”, five indigenous people’s and me! – the visitor! – sweating under fans on a day forecast to reach 37 degrees.

The Uniting Church has a partnership with the Congress, developed and managed by Indigenous people to provide spiritual, social and economic pathways for Australia’s First People. It is the task of the Covenanting Committee, who met four times a year, to ensure ongoing dialogue between the Uniting Church and the Congress. It was a profound privilege to sit in a church hall, surrounded by indigenous art and simply listen to contemporary struggles. Here are some notes I took:

  • don’t forget that equal partnership will require similar resourcing
  • the importance of oral tradition
  • the systemic damage of memory loss
  • the importance of places in which Aboriginal people feel comfortable to go
  • “breaking of spirits” caused by ongoing injustice
  • the despair at the lack of a treaty as a starting point for relationships between indigenous and colonisers
  • the need for non-Aboriginal advocacy, by “white” folk, and thus a key role for the church today
  • that the experience of colonisation continues in Australia today
  • why can’t there be a real, dinkum, Aussie “fair go” for Aboriginal people
  • the hope found in the Biblical narrative – that the earth is the Lord’s (not the coloniser’s), and the curtains/walls that separate can actuallly be turned down
  • the need for voice, not just to speak once, but in shaping the process and leading to action
  • the need of missional leaders – able to be pastoral, political and prophetic – in all areas – health, housing, schooling, prison, church and community development
  • how does self-determination link with needing resources
  • why is this Congress church so much more run-down looking than all the other Uniting church buildings I’ve been in?

Needing some processing space, I stopped for a coffee. Needing to read, I pulled out Sarah Coakley’s Powers and Submissions: Spirituality, Philosophy and Gender (Challenges in Contemporary Theology).

What is normally dense theology suddenly became alive. Does Christianity repress people, including indigenous? How might the way of Christ and the relationships of the Trinity help the repressed find voice? I’ll try to blog book notes over the next few days, but today I simply wanted to name the personal vitality present for me today in the table at which I sat and the reading I began.

Posted by steve at 04:22 PM

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