dangerous stories

i’ve spent the last couple of days at Dangerous Stories 2 – the missional church conference run by Forge. i’m always grateful for situations like this that put me in contact with people who i wouldn’t otherwise meet. i heard some wonderful stories and met some exceptional people. Highlights were meeting Jarrod McKenna and hearing him talk about his peacemaking ventures, listening to Cameron and Rod do their poetry and jazz impro performance last night, and seeing brian mclaren again.

i really like Brian’s stuff – he did his empire talk, which is fabulous. I came away simultanteously inspired and really uncomfortable.

My discomfort comes from this: the kind of thinking that Brian is bringing to our attention isn’t new. Liberation and feminist theologians have been saying this kind of stuff for thirty or forty years. It’s wonderful that the church is picking this stuff up, and that speakers like Brian are giving it credibility. I just can’t quite believe that again it’s the white, middle class, developed world males who are only ones who can give it credibility. Are we yet again perpetuating the belief that theology is only valid if it comes from that subsection of the community?

if you’d like to read some of the other people who have been talking about these kind of things for a long time, then these might be a beginning:

Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza writes about the theoretical, historical, cultural, and political conceptual frameworks that influence our interpretation of biblical texts – and in particular how we interpret the person of Jesus. She has a new book about to come out that speaks exactly to Brian’s topic: The Power of the Word: Scripture and the rhetoric of empire.

Elsa Tamez critiques liberation theology from a feminist perspective – try Through her eyes: Woman’s Theology from Latin America

Sallie mcfague writes provocatively and beautifully about ecology and faith – i’d suggest Models of God: theology for an ecological, nuclear age or Life Abundant. I love Sallie McFague. She’s my most quoted theologian: “there’s a power at work in the universe on the side of life and all its fulfilment”.

Carter Heyward writes about power, justice, sexuality and faith – try Our Passion for Justice.

let me say again that this is not a criticism of Brian. I deeply respect him, and what he has to say.

[postscript: on an entirely unrelated note, I’ve written the faith column for the Age today. It’s on the claim that Jesus’ bones may have been discovered… it was a last minute column, it’s ok. I could find an online link earlier but it seems to have disappeared, so here’s a pdf version: on_resurrection.pdf ]


  1. I’m sorry that I’m white, middle class and male. I really am. When I was running for office for the Democrats, I used to offer the same apology. Once I ran in a seat instead of a wonderful young woman who may have been as articulate and intelligent as me, but was not as easy on the eye!!! 🙂 The guilt is still with me.

    I don’t know how to do this stuff other than to be a feminist, and yet I feel somewhat under qualified. Where are these women? I’ve read McFague, Fiorenza and Daphne Hampson. I love them and agree with thim. They are wonderful, and I am filled with the same grief when I see that the church is still largely patriarchal in most of the roles. I don’t want to add to the patriarchy, and yet it’s what I must do.

    Hmm… (sighs and reaches for Unique Car Magazine…)

  2. Cheryl

    you don’t have to apologise, nahum…! i see no need for apologies, and i don’t want them.

    and i know plenty of white, middle class, educated males who don’t add to patriarchy…

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