Wednesday, September 27, 2006

reading a post-colonial Bible

OR: How to sing “ashamed of my past” as the Lord’s song?


Being on top is only one way to view the world. Post-colonial studies is the attempt to read “from the other side.”

Take Genesis 28. Jacob is promised the land of Israel. So what happens when you read this from the “other side”? What does this text mean for the land itself, which will in time be ploughed and domesticated by the migrant? Where is God for those who lose land when the migrant arrives? In the words of Jomo Kenyatta: When the Missionaries arrived, the Africans had the Land and the Missionaries had the Bible. They taught how to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible.

I have been reading Jacob’s story throught the eyes of the settler: James Cook Voyage of the Endeavour, and second, through the eyes of the dispossessed: Te Horeta Te Taniwha’s Account of Cook’s Visit. Different values. Different ways of viewing the world.

I, as Pakeha, am descended from settler. I often feel guilty over the migration of my ancestors. It becomes more complex when God and God’s word is used on behalf of those on top.

So this work is part of my learning and listening what it means to follow Christ, when the name of Christ has, at times, been shamefully used in our past. It is also part of research in preparation for a paper I am presenting at the Faith in a Hyphen conference, December 4-6, Sydney, Australia.

Further links:
For more of a poetic on this Genesis 28 text go here.
For a multi-sensory and pop cultural preaching engagement with this text here.

Posted by steve at 03:53 PM

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