Thursday, May 27, 2004

Reading Whale Rider: Reweaving in Godzone

This is the abstract of a paper I am going to give in July in Auckland. It’s up on the web here.

Reweaving in Godzone: theological scholarship in Aotearoa New Zealand

The movie Whale Rider has placed New Zealand on the screens of the world. The movie explores many themes, including the place of the ancient and historic in a culturally fluid context.

In one scene, Paikea asks her Koro about their past. Koro takes a rope he is using and shows Paikea the strands of the rope, woven together, as an illustration for how the past is woven into the present. Koro then uses the rope to try to start an outboard motor, only to have it break in his hands. He goes to find another rope, only to be greeted by the roar of the outboard motor. Paikea has re-woven the rope. This scene becomes a metaphor for the movie.

In this paper I will apply this metaphor of re-weaving the broken rope to the task of theological scholarship in aotearoa New Zealand.

Our theological scholarship occurs in a broken landscape. This includes the decline of church attendance, the cultural divides that mark our society and stain of responses to global terrorism. The broken ends of these ropes need to be acknowledged.

The task of theological scholarship can be described as a re-weaving the ancient ropes.

This paper will reweave the Emmaus Road narrative into the rope of theological scholarship in Aotearoa New Zealand. This means facing the brokenness of ethnocentricity, violence and marginality and weaving in themes of hospitality, welcoming the stranger and table fellowship. This paper will thus challenge the notion of theological scholarship as an individual elite rational enterprise.

This paper will argue for first: excavating the unheard stories, and the task of theological scholarship is to mine the edges, to allow the voice of the voiceless to speak. This can be applied to a number of areas, including the voice of popular culture.

Second: excavating the non-rational insights, and the task of theological scholarship is to allow ways of knowing, to Β“let our hearts burn,Β” not only through words, but in community and ritual. New ways to research, as evidenced in recent trends in practical theology are thus insightful.

Third: excavating in missional community, and the task of theological scholarship is to include the edges, rather than exclude. Scholarship thus must be an inclusive, missional enterprise.

Posted by steve at 07:53 PM


  1. Steve I love the quote, “The task of theological scholarship can be described as a re-weaving the ancient ropes.”

    Comment by David Finch — May 28, 2004 @ 1:33 am

  2. Looks good. I look forward to hearing it in person in July. Must start thinking of questions now.

    Of course there will be those who’ll say “Give a man enough rope and…” πŸ™‚

    Comment by Stephen — May 28, 2004 @ 9:49 am

  3. Looking forward to hearing it first hand as well…

    Comment by Paul Fromont — May 28, 2004 @ 12:16 pm

  4. I wish I could be there… πŸ™ – I really, really, would like to read the paper…

    Comment by Dean Tregenza — May 28, 2004 @ 1:38 pm

  5. Love your edge theology – don’t fall off

    Comment by Conrad — May 28, 2004 @ 3:15 pm

  6. Linguistic theology

    Several things came together in my mind this weekend as I read and thought about various things. Firstly I’d been reading Steve’s posting (e~mergent kiwi: Reading Whale Rider: Reweaving in Godzone) about reweaving or reintegrating the various strands o…

    Comment by Greenflame — May 31, 2004 @ 11:49 am

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