Tuesday, July 11, 2006

end of term, off to chile and peru

My first term at ISEDET has ended. To finish, I took a four day intensive course on feminist theological anthropology - thinking about how the church has understood human beings, and particularly women. And how we might want to challenge some of those views today. We talked a lot about boarder lands and crossing frontiers, both physical and in terms of our identity. During the course, we watched a documentary on Central American people trying to cross the boarder into the USA. The documentary is called "Wetbacks" and you can watch a clip here
The documentary focuses on the journey of Nicaraguans and others but there are also some revealing interviews from US vigilantes which reminded me of the response of some of those interviewed in the Channel Four 2004 documentary about Lee-on-Solent, Hampshire. Here's a link to the Neighbour Lee group that was formed to encourage residents to become more welcoming of new arrivals. http://www.neighbourlee.org.uk/

Tomorrow I leave for Chile and Peru for just over two weeks. I'll be visiting the Conspirando collective in Santiago that is a centre for ecofeminist theology and spirituality. Then I am heading up the coast by bus to Lima, where I am hoping to see some friends from when I lived there ten years ago. After that it is into the Amazon to stay with another friend from those days for a week. I may post a few entries while I'm away, otherwise it will be on my return. More then.

blogging as theological reflection

This one is for all the STETS students!

I noticed an entry on Mark Goodacre's blog exploring the idea of blogging as theological reflection. You can read it by clicking here. The questions come from Francis Ward.

Amongst the wide range of theological blogs out there, some are more reflective, others more informative. One blog that is very much of the reflective type is Real Live Preacher. Click here to read a recent entry

For myself, I've found it useful to have a space and a reason to reflect on my experiences on a weekly (usually!) basis. The possibility that others will read my thoughts keeps me a little more focused and responsible than a private journal would. It also helps people keep connected with your journey, especially those you may not be in regular contact with otherwise. When I was back in the UK in May, it was great to have conversations that began from something I had posted on my blog, rather than people not really knowing what I was doing.

John: face to face with friendship

Chapter 11 of John's gospel is traditionally understood as the conclusion of the 'book of signs' which begins with the wedding at Cana in John 2. It begins with a wedding and ends with a (near) funeral. References to Hugh Grant aside, I like reading the miracles (or signs) in the context of Jesus' social life: family gatherings, village celebrations, friendships sustained.

When Mary and Martha send a message to Jesus,
Lord, he whom you love is ill. (John 11.3)

they are reminding Jesus of his longstanding relationship with their family. Their words are a request for help, recalling friendship and hospitality codes of the time. Supporting a friend in need or sorrow was a serious duty that could not be dismissed lightly. And the disciples know this too. When Jesus eventually leaves for Judea, a the location of previous conflicts with the authorities, Thomas says to the other disciples,
Let us also go, that we may die with him. (John 11.16)

Becoming friends involves faithful committment through times of sorrow, difficulty and even death. It means being present at all the weddings, and the funerals too.

What I like about Thomas, whom we often call 'doubting,' is that his doubts and fears are not the end of the story. Rather they are a springboard for action.

The same week as John 11, another class had me reading Emmanuel Levinas reflecting on how we meet God in the other. Levinas talks of being a hostage to the other, always responsible for them without ever having chosen to be so. And it is our care for others that we find God:
The goodness of the Good - the Good which never sleeps or nods - inclines the movement it calls forth, to turn it from the Good and orient it towards the other, and only thus towards the Good...

He does not fill me up with goods, but compels me to goodness, which is better than goods recieved.