deviations from the norm

I spent yesterday at Narana with a group of people from the United Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress [UAICC], working on some communication and education resources for some presentations they will be doing next year.

Have I mentioned I love my job?

When i got home last night I read this book review on Jonny’s blog about Steve Bevans’ book, An Introduction to Theology in Global Perspective. Yesterday we’d been talking about the belief that God’s spirit was present in the land before Christianity arrived with the white people, and about the complexity of communicating that with people who believe that salvation begins and ends with the revelation of Jesus. While I was listening to the conversation it occurred to me again how weird it is that we are guided in our theology by those with doctorates, rather than by those who rely on the theology for their survival. I was reminded of Sallie McFague’s idea of deviations from the norm [which i’ve talked about before]… and how at christmas we are reminded that God is born from the womb of an unmarried middle eastern girl, not from the head of a middle-class, educated western theologian. And I wonder why, at christmas, we don’t search out more unmarried pregnant middle eastern girls to hear what God is doing now…

I was reminded again of that in the prison last week – it’s the conversion i always have there. I could quite happily do without faith, myself. And I’d really rather not have it. But I’m convicted of its necessity by the people who rely on it simply to survive. And they are the ones who remind me what God can and can’t do. They disabuse me of my fantasies and clever thoughts. And the best i can hope i offer is that God is made real in the space between us when we do the things that faith does.

I was about to buy Steve Bevans’ book when i realised the irony of that. So instead I’ve ordered some more indigenous theology, to broaden what i’ve already read… so i start listening again to the voices i find hardest to hear, in order to have even the smallest confidence that what i say and write has any credibility at all.


  1. Hi Cheryl,
    I just wanted to thank you for this post which really speaks to me and to say how much I value your work and really appreciate your distinctive ‘voice’. Bless you and best wishes for Christmas.

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