Thursday, September 23, 2010

Liberation and Post-Colonial Theologies

Remember way back when Obama was running for president and the pastor of the church he attended in Chicago (the buffoonish Jeremiah Wright) caused so much controversy?  In addition to Wright's really arrogant media appearances, many Obama critics questioned the theology of the church (Trinity United Church of Christ) and of Wright because of their theology--specifically what is often called Liberation Theology.  Well, Liberation Theology is back in the news largely due to criticisms against it lodged by cable news talk show host and all-around demagogue Glenn Beck.  This has raised Liberation Theology's profile from something taught in American seminary classrooms to something to be bantered around in the culture wars.  This is unfortunate, because Liberation Theology and a related movement called Post-Colonial Theology are important systems of thought about God, and I would argue important challenges to white European theology that has served for centuries to justify all sorts of sins and crimes. 

Here are a few helpful articles that provide concise introductions to these types of theological work:

Perhaps the best, most concise, most accessable overview of Liberation Theology I've come across. Susan Thistlethwaite's explanation sounds like my understanding of Jesus, and if Obama reads the Gospel this way too I'm thrilled--although I believe Liberation Theology would find much to criticize about the Obama administration's policies.
Brian McLaren (best-known for his writings about the so-called "emergent church") provides an excellent and accessible article explaining the need for so-called "post-colonial" theology and the problems with any theology that has an adjective in front of it. You need not be an academic to read it, only someone who cares about religion not being used to oppress people.
Although not directly speaking of Liberation or Post-Colonial Theology, Jim Wallis offered a response to Glenn Beck's Labor Day rally in Washington, D.C. that lays out in a civil and insightful town the case for faith perspectives that embrace social justice.  If only Glenn Beck would respond in the same civil tone.

No comments: