Tuesday, July 06, 2010

my paper went well – Bible, plough and damper: responding to a de/colonising God

I delivered my paper – titled Bible, plough and damper: responding to a de/colonising God – today. It seemed to gain lots of energy and positive feedback today: the radio man recording for ABC shook my hand in genuine appreciation, while my chief interlocur called it “great”.

What I wanted to do was explore how indigenous communities read the Biblical text, particularly when it is perceived that the dominant culture has brought the Bible as part of the colonisation process. I would suggest such work is of importance given the concern with how contemporary Christianity will survive in the face of what is often perceived as colonising – the threats of consumerism and globalisation.

I looked at two historic examples. One was the Parihaka story and Te Whiti O Rongomai’s use of the Bible, when the story of Samson in Judges inspired their acts of non-violent resistance. The other was the Aboriginal people of Yarralin and Lingara, who have a story of Ned Kelly as a type of Christ figure, multiplying damper and giving his life. My interest was not so much on the actual biblical texts, but on the reading strategies ie how specific communities used the Biblical text.

For those interested, here was my conclusion: (more…)

Posted by steve at 07:57 PM

Friday, June 25, 2010

fascinating resource for postmodern preaching: Blackwell Bible commentaries

In doing some research this week – indigenous responses to colonisation; how colonised people’s use the book of the coloniser (the Bible ) – I stumbled across a fascinating resource – the Blackwell Bible Commentaries.

To quote from the commentary on the book of Judges, these books focus on “what a text, especially a sacred text, can mean and what it can do, what it has meant and what it has done, in the many contexts in which it operates.”

In other words, while most commentaries focus on the Bible text, this commentary series explores how people have interpreted the Biblical text, from the church fathers through to current popular culture. It dips into literature, art, politics, comics, hymns and official church statements. It’s classically post-modern in focusing on reader-response, but it’s fascinating. It’s even got pictures! How cool is that in a Biblical commentary.

So in my research I am looking at the Samson story in Judges 14 and in particular how a Maori leader (Te Whiti O Rongomai of Parihaka) used that text to encourage non-violent resistance. Turning to Judges Through the Centuries I read how the text was interpreted over the last 2,000 years.

Which serves to underline how radical and innovative was the theological work of Te Whiti – some 100 years ahead of other Biblical interpreters of that text. There are commentaries on John, Revelation and Judges, Psalms, Exodus, with another 20 or so in process.

Posted by steve at 09:30 AM

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 … (more…)

Posted by steve at 08:38 PM