The main goal was for us to engage in conversation on the relevance of themes and models brought up by theologies of liberation in Asia for the Malaysian context. In conversation with Jojo what we hoped to do was to carve out space where we can start this kind of open learning process together. For me, personally the fact that Roman Catholics and Protestants can come in this manner is most enriching and challenging.
Father Jojo presented a theological interface of the Malaysian Barefoot Theology with Pieris and Sobrino, part of which has been published in EAPR. Joseph Ng, SJ who did a STL in Pieris Asian Theology of Liberation added on with more in depth comments.
I was facilitating the event as a novice compared to the two Jesuits above … and tried to interact with the ideas presented more from the pastoral and missional lens influenced by Lesslie Newbigin.
This was really not for the fainthearted. But we came together to explore a more contextualized approach for us in Malaysia. Especially, for those who are already engaged in the issues through their work, to explore theological models to center our efforts with the liberating power of the Gospel.
My good friend Alwyn Lau as usual is the fastest blogger to put some thoughts out in the world wild web for more conversation. I’ve included some pictures interspersed between his notes to give a visual picture of the enriching event on Friday night, 28 November 2008 at Bangsar Lutheran Church!
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by Alwyn Lau
Learnt some new things last night at BLC where I listened to Fathers Jojo Fung (see my short write-up on him) and Joseph Ng share on liberation theology and God’s heart for the poor in Asia:
1. Jesuit priests can be distinguished by at least 3 characteristics, a) gritty casualness in dressing, b) profound depth of theological reflection and c) striking gentleness and calmness in responding to criticism/objections.
2.There are some truly remarkable missionaries cum thinkers cum religious symbioticians in the Roman Catholic faith, and Aloysius Pieris stands tall among them.
- 3. One unique path to deeper spirituality with God may be to drop all of one’s pre-conceptions of God and take a plunge into new baptisms (or allowing oneself to be initiated) into other faith-communities (Pieris into Buddhism, Fung into Shamanism, etc.). "To the Jew, one becomes a Jew. To the Gentile, one turns Gentile. To the pagan, a pagan" – so that all avenues are covered in the work of salvation (1 Cor 9:20-23) and that one gains a fresh experience of the spiritual universe?
- 4. John 14:6 – "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life" -, traditionally used to proof-text the ‘exclusivity of Christ for salvation’ may be less a soteriological ‘How To’ and more of a Christological ‘Trust-Me"(!). Brian McLaren explains the different perspective, although (no doubt) some disagree.
- 5. The human knee-jerk reaction of avoiding hardship suffocates the impulse to be in solidarity with those experiencing hardship. The active alleviation of suffering and oppression, therefore, may be inseparable from the choice of experienced suffering.
- 6. Restating 5), ‘going barefoot, i.e. voluntary poverty, helps puts us in touch with those for whom being bare-foot isn’t an option. ‘Taking off’ our shoes is a way of putting ourselves ‘in’ the shoes of the poor.
- 7. The famous question from Jesus, "Who do you say I am?" (Matthew 16:13-15) should be posed to the poor, with serious Christological and missiological consequences i.e. who Christ is and what the Church’s calling should be could take serious turns if we listen carefully to the poor’s view of Jesus, regardless of their formal faith-confessions.
- 8. The poor reflect the kingdom of God because they form the loci of Jesus’ actions and very presence i.e. in a way reminiscient of the Church being one with the Body of Christ (Acts 26), the poor are paradoxically ‘equated’ with Jesus (Matthew 25:45).
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