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TRANSGRESSIVE THEOLOGY
Introduction

The authors of this issue, part of the circle of US-EATWOT members and friends in solidarity, are grateful for the opportunity to have a
theological conversation with the broader audience of the international
organization, a conversation that has not happened for a while. It is our
hope and desire that this modest start, as eclectic as it is, will be the
beginning of a sustained and fruitful conversation. We are a diverse group
of theologians from diverse locations, social and epistemic, who have
been engaging each other in dialogue over the past few years and felt
the need for starting a new conversation that we are calling--as a working definition--transgressive theology. Perhaps the best expression of the
group's thinking is in the statement of life and energy reflected in the
artwork on the cover.
The concerns that have been guiding our reflection as a group as
we articulated them in a shared statement a couple of years ago when we
started this conversation are the following: Where and how do we develop
collaborations (projects, events, publications) with varied constituencies (academy, church, society) in order to maintain the necessary link
between reflection and practice? How do we incorporate transgressive
perspectives in our pedagogical praxis, in our scholarship, in the academy, in our churches, and in our social movements so that they become
avenues for meaningful resistance and radical change?
This issue reflects the different experiences of doing theology as
a transgressive tool to articulate voices of liberation from particular locations of social and intellectual struggle. Theology as we know it, is among
the first constructs that have become irrelevant for addressing the emerging questions from our experiences in a changing world and collapsing
empire. The epistemic revolution of decolonial thinking is all around us,
and the Eurocentric theology that dominated the scene for the last centuries finds itself today irrelevant. That theology needs to be transgressed.

12 Introduction

The authors in this volume offer snapshots of engaging theology in


their locations as a form of theological reflection on their ongoing struggles in relation to politics, imperial religion, theological education, race,
identity, and more. A central question this issue raises, which remains
open, is whether one can do transgressive theology without transgressing
theology? In almost all the instances discussed in the articles, traditional
theology has been used by the imperial culture as a tool of domination.
Gerald M. Boodoo offers a theoretical reflection in dialogue with the new
thinking coming out of the writings on coloniality and decoloniality, with
examples from theologizing in the Caribbean context.
Rufus Burnett examines the theological significance of the performance of teaching and pedagogy in the modern/colonial world relative to the emergence of the Black Atlantic. Using Carter G. Woodsons
concept of the mis-education of black Americans as an interpretive
lens, he explores colonial pedagogiesparticularly those performed in
the Christian Instruction of black Americansand how they reduce the
humanity of teachers and students into passive vessels for replicating
the colonial imagination. He argues that decolonial pedagogical practice, reflected in bell hooks engaged pedagogy, is a resistant act aimed
at the recovery of learners and teachers as embodied subjects that are
radically open to God. Burnett contends that this decolonial act is base
for a constructive theological anthropology that evokes what James Noel,
articulates as the ineffable characterthe moans and shouts of blackreligious consciousness.
By presenting a review of the Palestinian theology of reconciliation
and liberation, Michel Elias Andraos responds to the dominant view in
North American society that demonizes the peoples of the Middle East in
order to justify an unjust foreign policy and the ongoing failing wars of
imperial domination in that region in the name of "peace and democracy."
In this process, the voice of Arab Christian theologians from the Middle
East is supposed to be silenced.
Another pressing topic in our North American context is
Islamophobia. In addition to Hispanophobia, Islamophobia is the most
recent construct of an imaginary enemy that is gaining cultural momentum for scapegoating our Muslim communities. These communities could
become the new sacrificial social victims necessary for prolonging the life
of the collapsing empire, which is in constant need for new enemies to
sustain its fragile and critical survival. Nami Kim offers us some insights
on this growing and complex phenomenon by briefly looking through
the experience of some Evangelical Korean communities in the U.S.
Can we let go of race? Phillip J. Linden, Jr., S.S.J., gives a reflection
that broadens the parameters of the discourse on diversity and race using
a historical-theological method. He claims that such an approach is better

Introduction 13

able to uncover the victimization of peoples and the struggles accompanying the severity of poverty. What it demonstrates is how diversity
and race in the contemporary situation of global conflict, imperceptibly
marginalizes the poor, the exploited, those systematically and lawfully
stripped of their status as human beings. His analysis is a critique of the
use of race by those who are victims of market driven society, as a possible solution to the violence we face.
In the final article, Joseph Drexler-Dreis argues for reciprocity to
exist between theological discourses on God and the irruptions beyond
the borders of the western concepts that theology has traditionally drawn
upon to describe God. He does this by first engaging the transgressive
character of the irruption of the poor, which catalyzed liberation theologys use of the preferential option for the poor as a discourse about
God. He then considers Toni Morrisons Beloved in order to reveal the
dynamism and creativity of this irruption, which he grounds theologically by drawing on Marcella Althaus-Reids Queer Theology. From this
intersection he develops criteria by which theological discourses on God
will make a preferential option for those queer experiences that have
been excluded.
Again, we hope these articles help to begin a sustained and fruitful
discussion among the international EATWOT community and its friends
in solidarity as we respond to the significant challenges facing theologies
in our changing worlds.
Michel Elias Andraos
Gerald M. Boodoo

Team of Authors of this Dossier:


Gerald M. Boodoo
Rufus BRUNETT
Michel Elias Andraos
Nami KIM
Phillip J. LINDEN, Jr., S.S.J.
Joseph DREXLER-DREIS