Monday, April 4, 2011

Week Thirteen

Reading Reflections:
“Unresolved Tensions and the Way Forward” in Through the Eyes of Another
In his chapter on unresolved tensions in intercultural readings of Scripture, Eric Anum discusses “transcendental theology” (181). This type of theology is based on the belief that “Christ…transcends every culture, and therefore every cultural practice or norm has to be subjected to Christ” (Anum 181). Anum gives the example of polygamy in the particular cultural context he is discussing— that Christ’s call for monogamy transcends the cultural norm of polygamy. This entire discussion got me thinking about Christ, culture, and incarnation— how do these things come together to form the good news? For me, this transcendental theology called into question the meaning of the incarnation; it led me to ask the question, “what about the culture in which Christ lived?” It is not the good news that Jesus comes and lives among  us, meeting us in our culture? These concepts have been central to my understanding of the incarnation. So, thinking about Christ transcending all cultures is difficult to me because understanding the culture in which Christ lived has been central to my ability to understand Christ’s message. This type of transcendental theology also calls into question the concept of contextual theology; if Christ transcends all cultures and speaks one truth above instead of into one’s cultural context, then contextualized theology is simply a distortion of Christ’s message.
            After pondering and engaging the concept of transcendental theology, I have found that it does not resonate with my theology or my experience of Christ. With that being said, it has been helpful to engage the concept because I think it is a fairly common one. However, to claim that the good news is that Christ transcends one’s culture is to miss the contextual beauty and brilliance of the incarnation. For me, the good news is not that Christ is the same for all people, but that he meets each and every one of us where we are, taking on the human condition and meeting us in the midst of our culture, our reality, and our suffering…not beyond it.

Journal Article Reflections:
            The final article in the NPR series on Operation Streamline focuses on the cost of the program. The answer to this question is a shocking one: no one knows how much the program currently costs. And even more shocking is the fact that the government is looking to expand it in spite of the unknown cost. One estimate states that meeting the program’s goal of prosecuting every person who crosses illegally would cost close to $1 billion a year in Tuscon alone. With only estimates of the cost, and with much doubt about the practices of the program, it seems that the government could find more responsible and just ways of confronting the issue of illegal immigration.
            I also read a review by Geth Allison of the book Justice: Rights and Wrongs by Nicholas Wolterstorff. In the book, Wolterstorff argues that justice is about inherent human rights rather than right order. He roots his vision of justice firmly in the Christian faith, and it is dependent on the sacred worth of every individual bestowed upon them by God. Allison gives high praise to the book, saying that it is “accessible and captivating” and that it “reads like an energetic and engaging conversation with bold and provocative arguments.” I hope to read this book in the near future; as someone who has always been drawn to the concept of justice, I enjoy learning about different perspectives on justice and coming to a clearer vision of God’s justice. One thing that would be interesting to think about in this book is Wolterstorff’s argument for justice as human rights against the argument of justice as right order; while I have not read the book, I do not think I would place human rights and right order against one another. Rather, I would likely describe right order as the kind of order where human rights do flourish. Thus, I look forward to reading Justice: Rights and Wrongs in the future and exploring these questions in more depth.

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