All theology is done in a location, in a particular language, responding to certain realities. The interests of believers in one place are not true for believers somewhere else. This section is about my own location, kind of an expansion or a narrowing in of the Local. Living in Australia (Aboriginal Australia, British Colony + Migrant Multiculture) brings up questions for me and for my faith.
I have in this section three subcategories: mainland Australia, the islands of Pasifika (Melanesia and Polynesia), and Migration which is a story for so many of us here. How do the (Ab)original, settler-colonial and postcolonial migrants interact and form the identity of this place? They do so in concert and in contest. We are multicultural in Australia but racism is problem we haven’t overcome. Australia as a colonial project was founded on the displacement of Indigenous Australia.
The church reflects the tension of the three aspects. Hugely multicultural but dominated by European practices and beliefs, with indigenous folk under-represented or completely absent.
- Rev. Merv Anderson — rural congregations across the state of Western Australia, pastoral care for marginalised groups that are also often on the fringes of the church, including remote indigenous communities, bikies and those in prison.
- Aboriginal Resources and Development Service (ARDS) — before 1972 the Yolŋu people of Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, were under the supervision of the Methodist Overseas Mission (MOM). Foreseeing changes to government funding, MOM established the Arnhem Land Civic and Economic Development Council Inc (CEDAR) which became the Aboriginal Advisory and Development Services (AADS), reflecting a focus on helping the Yolŋu and Binin operate and develop their communities and lands. The establishment of the Uniting Church in 1977 incorporated the Methodist Overseas Mission. in 1985, the AADS finally became the ARDS, operating under that name today. ARDS develops educational and cultural tools by and for Yolŋu people, notably (as of 2002) but not only through Yolŋu-language radio, on vital topics such as: health, law, governance and economics, social services, cultural sustainability and language.
CEO Rev. Djiniyini Gondarra had said of health during the 1990’s: “If we do not educate people around health, there will not be many people left to do legal and economic literacy education with. I am tired of standing beside a newly opened grave, day in, day out.”
- Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo — Born in 1948 in Walaikama, East Timor, Father Belo was politically quiet and favoured by the hierarchy, progressing from the poor Catholic childrens schools of Baucau and Ossu, graduation at Dare Minor Seminary near Dili in 1968, and then extensive theological and philosophical training in Portugal until 1981 (briefly engaged in political training in Timor between 1974-’76). He had joined the Salesians in Portugal and was ordained in 1980, returning the next year to teach in Fatumaca until ’83 when he was announced Apostolic Administrator of the Dili Diocese. He was not the choice of Timorese priests but of the Pro Nuncio in Jakarta, yet in this same year Belo spoke out vehemently against the Kraras massacre and began using his church position to communicate with the outside world against Indonesian suppression in East Timor. In 1989 he was consecrated Titular Bishop and wrote to the United Nations, the President of Portugal (Timor Leste being a previous Portuguese colony), and the Pope: we are “dying as a people and a nation.” That was in February, and by April 1989 the letter had become public, making Bishop Belo a target for the Indonesian military, particularly after housing those fleeing the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre. In 1996 he won, along with future Prime Minister and President José Ramos Horta, the Nobel Peace Prize. He stepped down due to health reasons after independence in 2002, but as of 2004 has worked in Mozambique, in the Diocese of Maputo.
- Roland Boer — Professor at the University of Newcastle, NSW and director of the Religion, Marxism and Secularism project for the university’s Faculty of Education and Arts, Roland Boer is one of the world’s leading exponents and proponents of Marxist-Christian thought, exploring both Christianity through a Marxist lens and Marxism through its Christian usage around the world, historically and today. His blog is Stalin’s Moustache. He is author and editor of many books, articles and resources on theology, politics and social theory, including:
– Marxist Criticism of the Bible (Continuum 2003)
– Criticism of Heaven (E J Brill and Haymarket 2007)
– Rescuing the Bible (Blackwell 2007)
– Last Stop Before Antarctica: The Bible and Postcolonialism in Australia (Sheffield 2001, SBL 2008)
– Political Myth: The Use and Abuse of Biblical Themes (Duke University Press 2009)
– Criticism of Religion: On Marxism and Theology II (E J Brill 2009)
– Criticism of Religion: On Marxism and Theology III (E J Brill 2010)
– Criticism of Earth: On Marx, Engels and Theology (E J Brill 2012)
– Nick Cave: A Study of Love, Death and Apocalypse (Equinox 2012)
– The Earthy Nature of the Bible: Fleshly Readings of Sex, Masculinity, and Carnality (Palgrave Macmillan 2012)
– Lenin, Religion and Theology (Palgrave Macmillan 2013)
– In the Vale of Tears: On Marxism and Theology V (E J Brill 2014)
– (with Christian Petterson) Idols of Nations: Biblical Myth at the Origins of Capitalism (Fortress 2014)
and the forthcoming:
– Marxist Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (Bloomsbury)
– The Sacred Economy (Westminster John Knox Press)
- Mark Brett — Raised in Papua New Guinea and trained at Princeton Seminary with other “two-thirds world” students, Whitley College’s Professor of Old Testament has always been interested in where culture and theology meet. From 2005-2008 he was Policy Officer at Native Title Services Victoria. He is author of:
– Biblical Criticism in Crisis? (Cambridge 1991)
– Genesis: Procreation and the Politics of Identity (Routledge 2000)
– Decolonizing God: The Bible in the Tides of Empire (Phoenix 2008, ATF Press 2009)
and editor of:
– Ethnicity and the Bible (E J Brill 1996)
– journals: Biblical Interpretation (Leiden), Pacifica (Melbourne), Journal for the Study of the Old Testament (London), and The Bible and Critical Theory (Melbourne).
- Jonathan Blas Diaz — In 2010 Jonathan Blas Diaz wrote Towards a Theology of the Chamoru: Struggle and Liberation in Oceania, published by his “primary task, and that of all like-minded people in Oceania, is “to identify a theology from below” (xv). By this he means a theology that will serve “those who are oppressed and the outcasts of Oceanic society” (xv). From the outset, then, Diaz identifies his dual purpose: to redress the wrong of the history of his people, the Chamoru people of Guam (and by extension of the Northern Marianas), and to do this within a theological context.” (from review by Francis X Hezel, SJ – Micronesian Seminar, Pohnpei)