Tuesday, March 23, 2021



കേരളത്തിന്റെ സ്വന്തം മതേതര ദൈവശാസ്ത്രജ്ഞൻ 

വിശ്വാസത്തിന്റെ മതേതര മൂല്യത്തെക്കുറിച്ചു സുവ്യക്തമായും സുദൃഡമായും നമ്മോടു സംസാരിച്ച കേരളത്തിന്റെ സ്വന്തം ദൈവശാസ്ത്രജ്ഞൻ ആരാണെന്നു ചോദിച്ചാൽ അതിന് ഒരു ഉത്തരമേയുള്ളൂ: ബിഷപ്പ് ഡോ. പൗലോസ് മാർ പൗലോസ്. കേരത്തിന്റെ സാംസ്‌കാരിക തലസ്ഥാനമായ തൃശൂരിന്റെ മണ്ണിൽ പിറന്ന് മലയാളക്കരയും ഭാരതദേശവും വിട്ട് അന്തർദേശീയ തലങ്ങളിൽ വിരാചിച്ചു ക്രൈസ്തവ വിശ്വാസത്തിന്റെ സാർവലൗകിക പരിവർത്തനാത്മകത വെളിപ്പെടുത്തിയ പൗലോസ് മാർ പൗലോസ് സാർവദേശീയ അംഗീകാരം നേടിയെടുത്ത കേരളത്തിന്റെ സ്വന്തം ദൈവശാസ്ത്രജ്ഞനാണ്. ജനിച്ചനാടിന്റെ പ്രത്യേകതയാണോ അതോ വളർന്നു വന്ന വിശ്വാസ പാരമ്പര്യത്തിന്റെ സവിശേഷതയാണോയെന്നറിയില്ല, മതം അദ്ദേഹത്തിന് മാനവികതയും ദൈവം സ്വാതത്ര്യത്തിന്റെ അനുഭവവും വിശ്വാസം പരസ്പരികതയുടെ ഉൾക്കാമ്പുമായിരിന്നു. അകലങ്ങൾക് കാരണം കണ്ടെത്തുന്ന മലയാളിക്കും അനുഷ്ടാനങ്ങളിൽ അഭിരമിക്കുന്ന മതവിശ്വാസിക്കും എല്ലാക്കാലത്തേയും ഒരു തിരുത്തായി നമ്മുടെ ഓർമകളിൽ നിറയുന്ന ആ മഹാനുഭാവൻ നമ്മെ വിട്ടുപിരിഞ്ഞിട്ട് ഇന്ന് ഇരുപത്തിമൂന്നു വർഷങ്ങൾ തികയുന്നു.

Friday, September 25, 2020

 

BOOK RELEASE

Rev. Dr. Y.T. Vinayaraj Political Theology in Transition (New Delhi: Christian World Imprints, 2020).


Foreword

Y.T.Vinayaraj is one of the few Asian theologians for whom theology is a constant struggle. Despite the general belief that the so-called liberation theology has now more or less come to an end, he continues to see in it a means of thinking through some of the most important issues and problems of contemporary church and society. In this profoundly engaging book, he calls for a church of the multitude, a church without sovereignty - an open network in which all differences can be expressed freely and equally and a platform of hospitality where no one is excluded. 

Forty five years ago Paul Lehmann bemoaned the widening gap between biblical and revolutionary politics and called for the transfiguration of politics in response to an environment of growing conflict and violence around issues of racism, capitalism and imperialism. His call was accompanied by a survey of the theory and practice of revolutionaries from Marx to Mao and Ho Chi Minh; from Fidel and Che Guevara to Camillo Torres and Nestor Paz Zamora; from Frantz Fanon to Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcom X, and the Black Panther Party. He wanted political revolutions to reconsider the question of violence and become more spiritual by turning toward the ideals of Jesus. However, his line of thinking seems to be that much must be said on both sides.  While reproaching revolutionary politics for its rabid materialism, he overlooked the fact that his own magisterial authority derived from an alliance of the politics of established power and the anti-revolutionary ideology of the church.

Unlike The Transfiguration of Politics, this book is produced on a different terrain. While Paul Lehmann practiced theology during the time of old imperialism which extended the sovereignty of European nations beyond their very borders with an inside and an outside, the work of Vinayaraj takes place in the context of what Hardt and Negri call Empire, the name they have given to the political form of globalization. Unlike old imperialism, Empire has no borders, no centre, and no limits. ‘It is a decentred and deterritorialized apparatus of rule that progressively incorporates the whole globe’. This does not mean that the sovereignty of nation states has vanished.  We live in a period in which the victory of global capitalism and the defeat of any political alternative to neo-liberalism seem somewhat assured.  It is also a period when global as well as national conflicts seem increasingly driven by faith-based politics.

In more and more countries those on the political right are questioning the separation between church/religion and state. Theological imperatives gain more space in the rhetoric of many contemporary political leaders. George W.Bush’s description of ‘war on terror’ as a ‘crusade’ is an example.  In order to cover up the contradictions marring the coherent identity of the nation, politicians are turning to the politics of good and evil. They depict secular politics as the battleground of good and evil. The politics of eschatology is also played out against progressive secular politics.

Any attempt toward a theology and ethics of responsible involvement in social change should take all these into account, especially, the challenges of both national politics and the politics of globalization.  Vinayaraj is well aware of this and he makes his points with admirable clarity. At a time when theory is being continuously marginalized, he draws on theories and methodologies of contemporary cultural studies and postcolonial studies for help in reflecting on the possibility of a radical political theology. Recruiting resources from Spivak’s notion of subalternity, Hardt and Negri’s ideas of Empire and multitude, M.M.Thomas’s theology of the cross, Agamben’s reflections on the coming community, Ambedkar’s contest against Brahmanical hierarchy, and Deleuz’s idea of ‘society of control’, he is exploring the possibility for theology to connect with movements for a radical democracy.

The task of theology, in accordance with Spivak’s notion of subalternity as ‘a third position of being human other than the self and the other’, is ‘not to speak for the margin’, rather, ‘to learn to listen to the unspoken voices of the margin’, and consider ‘the subaltern as teacher’. This book of Vinayaraj invites us to share this insight and, like Spivak, provokes us to attempt to change ‘conditions of impossibility – the hopeless and negative feeling that nothing will change for the disenfranchised – into a condition of possibility.’

 T.M.Yesudasan


Saturday, August 15, 2020

  Book Release 

Second Book in the “Re-imagining Church as Event: Perspectives from the Margins” series of Council of World Mission by Y. T. Vinayaraj

Faith in spite of empires: a foreword

Jione Havea*

(Jione Havea is the Research Fellow, Trinity Theological College, Auckland, New Zealand and Pacific and Contextual Theology Center, Charles Sturt University, Australia.)  

Faith is born in communities when humans figure out how to navigate the circles of life, under the eyes of unseen mana that are felt to be extraordinary, as if they are out of this world, or even divine. In Pasifika and Asia, faith existed prior to the rise of empires. When empires arose, they grabbed the land and with the land went the circles of life. Over time, empires act as if they own the mana that make creatures belong in the circles of life as well as give meanings to faith.

Any attempt to release the hold of empires over lands, waters, circles of life and people must therefore seek to break their claim to the mana. This is the primary task that Y. T. Vinayaraj attempts in this timely work, Faith in the Age of Empire: Christian Doctrines in a Postcolonial Sensibility. Vinayaraj’s intention is stated clearly in the introduction:

[T]he whole intention behind this work is to de-imperialize Christian doctrines and to signify them for a postcolonial spirituality. Postcolonial spirituality is the spirituality of the colonized and the displaced through which they signify a relational God, and ever-creating fluidity of creation and planetary humanity. It intends to strengthen their political practices of becoming and belonging in the midst of growing forces of fragmentation and discrimination. This work is done with the hope that it will enhance the church and the theological community to continue their ministry of signifying faith and practices vigorously for establishing a new world of justice in this world.

The specific empire in Vinayaraj’s sight is a religious one – Christianity, which spread over India along with the colonial expansion of the British Empire. With the mana of postcolonial spirituality, Vinayaraj shows that the Christian faith could be released from the colonial legacies of Christianity. He does this by revisiting, with postcolonial sensitivity, seven Christian doctrines: (1) God, (2) Creation, (3) Humanity, (4) Christology, (5) Church, (6) Mission, (7) Eschatology.

Vinayaraj’s work shows that, and how, the Christian faith may bear the fruits of mana in spite of the Western manners of the Christian church, in India and in other colonized lands. Flowing between the lines of this work is a healthy opportunity to exercise faith in spite of (read: instead of and in resistance to) empires.  

 

Afterword

Joerg Rieger

(Joerg Rieger is the Distinguished Professor of Theology, Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, USA)

 Christianity has never existed in a vacuum, even though the church and its theologians have often acted that way. In this book, Y.T. Vinayaraj, aided by many other theological voices, develops a constructive argument that takes into account the fact that for 2000 years Christianity has shaped up in the context of empire. Of course, the purpose of this book is not to put down the legacies of Christianity altogether but to point out that there are always alternatives to empire and that Christianity has been able to produce some of those throughout its history and even today. This is what I have called the “theological surplus” of Christianity, a term which Vinayaraj picks up in this volume. In other words, Faith in the Age of Empire is a hopeful book, a book that is designed to help Christianity around the globe more forward in constructive and liberating ways.

In order to get to the good news, as I have argued in many places, it is important to develop an understanding of the bad news. This is what Vinayaraj does in this volume, guiding us from the oppressions of the Roman Empire, with which early Christians had to contend, to the Medieval empires, European empires of colonial modernity, and the more current embodiments of empire in our own globalizing age where the United States and a few other countries dominate. Empire, it is becoming clearer today than ever before, can be defined as what accounts for structures of domination and oppression through the ages. In our own times, the political structures empire are shored up and shaped by capitalism in major ways, linked with various forms of oppression along the lines of gender, ethnicity, race, caste, and class. Christianity, unfortunately, has often supported those unjust structures in economics, politics, culture, and religion, and there has been a price to pay. Nothing remained untouched over the centuries, not even its innermost beliefs and confessions. For that reason, theology has its work cut out if it wants to develop credible alternatives. 

What is guiding Vinayaraj in many of his judgements and constructive moves is what he calls “postcolonial sensibilities.” Much work has been done in postcolonial theology, and a good deal of it is reported and reflected in this book. While one might consider drawing a firmer line of distinction between postcolonial theology and liberal US-theology—there is a colonial heritage to be taken into account in liberal theology as well that is often overlooked—the creativity and ingenuity of Vinayaraj is admirable as he reconstructs images of God, Jesus Christ, humanity, the church, and the future. Far too often, Christianity has developed images of God that correspond with images of power in imperial contexts: God as heavenly monarch, sitting on a heavenly throne, removed from everyday struggles, is one example. Another one is God as all-powerful CEO, an often-unacknowledged image that nevertheless seems to be widely worshipped in contemporary Christianity.  Such images, it can be argued, have all turned out to be idols and led people of faith astray. But what else should be put in the place of these images? Ultimately, I would argue that theologians do not get to decide because the most powerful alternative images of God arise not primarily form the heads of theologians but from unexpected places of struggle and marginalization that cannot be controlled by the dominant status quo. For this reason, it is important to listen not only to the cutting edge of academic research but, more importantly, to expressions of Christianity (and religion in general), as they arise from communities that have not sold out to empire.

Much theological work remains to be done, especially in relations to such communities and the resistance to empire that they are putting up, visible and invisible. While Christians have learned a great deal in recent decades, we still need to develop deeper understandings of local variations of empire, as they affect the majority of the world’s population. In some periods and in certain parts of the world, the power of empire manifested itself in softer ways, supposedly dispensing what it considered order, civilization, and happiness. In other periods and other parts of the world, empire promoted the hard power of war, enslavement, and back-breaking labor that has wiped out whole populations. Much of this continues today, even in the heart of imperial nations themselves, where the suffering is greater than often realized. COVID-19 has made visible again the deep inequalities in countries like the United States and elsewhere, where minority populations and working people die in much greater numbers from consequences of the disease, and where another world seems all but impossible.

What does all of that mean for the reconstruction of theology? I would argue that local voices at the grassroots deserve more of a hearing yet, even in the circles of postcolonial theologians. These voices are distinct—including indigenous populations around the world, grassroots movements that tackle oppressions along the lines of race, gender, and class, as well as Dalit communities in India—but closer encounters with them might make visible some of the overlaps as well. In the resistance against dominant top-down images of God, alternative images not on deconstruct dominant power but also identify alternative images of the divine that stay closer to the earth, the lives of people and communities, and that organize the powers of the “least of these,” with which Jesus identified.

Moreover, encountering a multitude of new theological voices and actors, how can resistance and alternatives be organized so that empires can be challenged successfully? Theologians need to pay more attention to how subjects of postcolonial empires organize. Armed with these insights, perhaps communities of faith can emerge as alternative spaces in our own times, not only embodying political but also economic and religious alternatives that shake the foundations of the status quo, not merely proclaiming the new world but realizing it.


Table of Contents

 Foreword

Introduction

Prologue

1.   God

2.   Creation

3.   Human Being

4.   Christ

5.   Church

6.   Eschatology

7.    Mission

Epilogue

Afterword

Index

 

Available at ispck.org.in  

Indian Price: 180 Rupees.  

 

 

 

 

 

 




Friday, June 12, 2020


RELIGION, POLITICS, AND SCIENCE IN THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC ERA
                  
  
Covid 19 Pandemic has evoked various responses to address the crucial issue of Life in his planet-earth. The scientific world, especially the medical scientists and the researchers in the area of public health  has offered various studies and creative responses to make the public aware of the emerging challenges. The secular writers like Slavoj Zizek signify the need to have a dream of a community of common need. However, the responses from the religious circles are discouraging and disappointing. The religious responses address only the obstacles of having church meetings and sacraments in this crucial context of pandemic. It reminds me of the sharp criticism of Johann B. Metz  and Jurgen Moltmann who responded to the German Church and the world Christianity in the post-World War era regarding the privatization of religion. The contemporary theologians of the church are not able to come out of this sin of privatization of religion and open Christianity and the church to 'face the reality of the world' (Metz). 

The immediate provocation to write this note is the write-up of O.V. Jathanna regarding the issues connected with the celebration of the Eucharist under the conditions of the lock-down. I appreciate and acknowledge his sincerity, genuineness and the theological expertise to initiate such a discussion in this regard. However,  I just want to register my contentions with those responses while I keep my respect and love towards him. My serious obsession is that this response does not go beyond the thought-pattern of a common believer; rather than a response of a theologian.  

O.V. Jathanna offers three responses on the celebration of the Eucharist during the lock down period: 1. Postponing the Celebration until Normalcy Returns; 2. Utilizing Technology in the Celebration of the Eucharist; and 3. Strengthening the Family-Altar and Reviving the Home-Based worship service, including the celebration of the Eucharist.

All these three options are helpful for the church to plan the functions of its sacraments. However, what we expect from a theologian is something different, especially in the crucial context of pandemic. The concern of a theologian should not be just the unavailability of the sacraments; rather it should be about the efficacy of religion and its practices all-together in this particular context where people listen to science for more meaningful life in this planet. Theologians are expected to think about the issues of public health, global economy,and politics under the shadow of the pandemic that affect the people irrespective of caste, color, creed and religion. I think this is the time to discuss about the efficacy of liturgy and sacraments in the public ministry of church. The Italian philosopher and theologian Giorgio Agamben raises his obsessions whether our liturgy and sacraments perpetuate hierarchy and priestocracy. He contends that it is the liturgical and the sacramental practices that legitimizes hierarchy in the church in the name of the theology of a sovereign God. Thus, let this be a time of interrogation and investigation whether we need to deconstruct these practices in order to reclaim the legacy of Jesus movement in the early church period where the people found it as a public event of sharing and to de-imperialize the Constantine's legacy which shaped liturgy and sacrament as the celebration of power. Do we think that we need to democratize those practices in order to challenge the inherent dichotomy between priest and the believer, sacred and secular, man and women, touchable and untouchable, canonized and anarchical?          

Don't we need to reformulate religion in the context where people listen to science rather than religion to find ways to confront the realities of life? The sanctity of the alter is not beyond the hygiene-protocol of the health workers. Thus, it is not to bring the sanctity of the church-alter into the homes and we create another theology of sanctity in homes which may in turn disturb the genuine secularity of our homes. What is trying to communicate here is to think about radical religiosity and spirituality even in our public engagement and service where we find the divine presence and comfort. I think Covid 19 pandemic era is the right time to overcome the dichotomy between work and worship, religion and politics, sacrament and diakonia, secular and sacred, church and society. Christian theology is invoked by the science to join hands for finding ways to redeem humanity and the planet-earth. Encountering the emerging 'corporate capitalism' or the 'disaster capitalism' should not be sidelined while we think about bringing sacraments into our 'highly commercialized' homes. I think this is the right time to reform our spiritualities, theologies, and christianites rather than reclaiming the hierarchical provisions of the established religion. I am afraid that the post-Covid era may be the era of the established religions to reclaim their practices and theologies through which they legitimize the hierarchy and power. 

Y.T. Vinayaraj
12.06.2020
Kottayam             
         


Friday, October 5, 2018

ഞണ്ടുകളുടെ നാട്ടിൽ




ഞണ്ടുകളുടെ നാട്ടിൽ



ഞണ്ടുകളെ അപമാനിക്കാൻ ഉദ്ദേശമില്ല എങ്കിലും മാനനഷ്ടത്തിനു ഒരു കേസ് മുന്നിൽകാണുന്നു. പുറകോട്ടു നടക്കുന്ന ഞണ്ടുകളുടെ ശീലത്തെ ഒരു സാമൂഹ്യ അടയാളമായി സ്വീകരിക്കുന്നു എന്നു മാത്രം.

കേരളവും പുറകോട്ട് സഞ്ചരിക്കുകയാണെന്ന് തോന്നുന്നു. പ്രളയാനന്തര കാലം നവകേരളം ആയിരിക്കുമെന്ന് ഭരണാധികാരികൾ പ്രഖ്യാപിച്ച് അധികം നാളായില്ല. എന്നാൽ സമകാലീന സാഹചര്യത്തിൽ അങ്ങനെ വിശ്വസിക്കുവാൻ സാധിക്കുന്നില്ല.

ചരിത്രപരമായ കോടതിവിധികൾ ആണ് അടുത്തയിടെ ഉണ്ടായത്. ലൈംഗിക സ്വാതന്ത്ര്യത്തെക്കുറിച്ച് കോടതി വിധി പ്രഖ്യാപിച്ചത് മനുഷ്യാവകാശങ്ങളുടെ നവഭൂമികയിൽ നിന്നുകൊണ്ടാണ്. ലൈംഗികത പാപമാണെന്നും അത് നിയന്ത്രിക്കപ്പെടേണ്ടതാണെന്നുമുള്ള പുരുഷകേന്ദ്രീകൃത/ പരമ്പരാഗത സമൂഹത്തിന്റെ ജീർണതയുടെ സംസ്കാരത്തിൽ നിന്നും നാം ഒട്ടും മുന്നോട്ടു പോയിട്ടില്ലായെന്ന് തെളിയിക്കുന്നതാണ് അടുത്തിടെയുണ്ടായ പ്രതികരണങ്ങൾ കാണിക്കുന്നത്.

മനുഷ്യബന്ധങ്ങളിലെ സ്വതന്ത്ര കാമനകളുടെ ഏതൊരു ശീലവും ദുരുപയോഗം ചെയ്യപ്പെടാനുള്ള തിരിച്ചറിവോടെ ബന്ധങ്ങളെ ജാഗ്രതയോടെ കാണാൻ പഠിപ്പിക്കേണ്ട മതസമൂഹങ്ങളും ഞണ്ടുകളുടെ അസോസിയേഷനുകൾ ആയിമാറി.
ശബരിമലയിലെ യുവതീ പ്രവേശനം ഒരു ജീവൻ -മരണ പ്രശ്നമായി രാഷ്ട്രീയപ്രസ്ഥാനങ്ങൾ ഏറ്റെടുത്തിരിക്കുന്നു. തങ്ങളുടെ വിശുദ്ധ - അതിവിശുദ്ധ ഇടങ്ങളിലേക്കും സ്ത്രീ പ്രവേശനം എന്ന പ്രശ്നം കടന്നു വരുമെന്നറിയാമായിരുന്ന ഇതര മതസാമൂഹങ്ങളും പ്രസ്തുത രാഷ്ട്രീയപ്രസ്ഥാനങ്ങളൊടൊപ്പമാണ് .(മുത്തലാഖ് പ്രശ്നത്തിൽ വിശ്വാസ/ആചാരപ്രശ്നം ഇവർക്കാർക്കും തോന്നിയില്ലായെന്ന് കേവലം വിരോധാഭാസം മാത്രം.)


മുമ്പോട്ട് സഞ്ചരിക്കുന്ന ഒരു ജനാധിപത്യസമൂഹത്തിന് അഭിമാനം നൽകുന്ന വിധിയല്ലേ ഇത്. ഇത് പ്രതിരോധിക്കപ്പെടുക എന്നുവെച്ചാൽ പരമ്പരാഗത/ ജീർണതയുടെ സംസ്കാരത്തിലേക്ക് തിരിച്ചുപോവുകയാണെന്നാണ്. ജീർണ്ണതയുടെ സംസ്കാരത്തെ മുറുകെ പിടിക്കുന്ന ഇത്തരം കുത്സിത നീക്കങ്ങളെ നിസ്സംഗമായി നോക്കി കാണുന്ന സമൂഹത്തിൽനിന്നും പുതുതലമുറ എന്താണ് പ്രതീക്ഷിക്കേണ്ടത്?


കന്യാസ്ത്രീകൾ നിരത്തിലിറങ്ങി സമരം ചെയ്ത സംഭവവും നമ്മളൊക്കെ ആരാണെന്ന് ബോധ്യപ്പെടുത്തുന്ന ഒന്നായിരുന്നു. ലൈംഗികബന്ധത്തിലേർപ്പെട്ട കന്യാസ്ത്രീ എങ്ങനെയാണ് കന്യാസ്ത്രീ ആകുന്നതെന്ന് ചോദിക്കുകയും അതേസമയം അതിൽ പങ്കാളിയായ ബിഷപ്പിനെ കൈമുത്തി ( ജയിലിൽ പോയി)തന്റെ പാരമ്പര്യസഭാസ്നേഹം വെളിപ്പെടുത്തിയ നിയമസഭാ സാമാജികൻ ഒരു സങ്കോചവും കൂടാതെ വിഹരിക്കുന്ന നാടാണിത്.
അവകാശ നിഷേധങ്ങളുടെ പശ്ചാത്തലത്തിൽ തെരുവിലിറങ്ങിയ കന്യാസ്ത്രീകൾക്ക് പിന്നിൽ അരാജക വാദികളാണന്നു പറഞ്ഞ നേതാവിനോട് നമുക്ക് ക്ഷമിക്കാം. കാരണം മുത്തങ്ങാ സമരവും ചെങ്ങറ ഭൂസമരവും സാമൂഹ്യവിരുദ്ധരുടെ സമരമാണെന്ന് പറഞ്ഞ വിപ്ലവ പ്രസ്ഥാനത്തിൻറെ ആളാണ് അദ്ദേഹം. എന്നാൽ എല്ലാ രാഷ്ട്രീയപ്രസ്ഥാനങ്ങളും മതസമൂഹങ്ങളും കേരളത്തെ പിറകോട്ട് വലിക്കുമ്പോൾ എന്തു നവകേരളം??

എല്ലാ ഞണ്ടുകൾക്കും നല്ല നമസ്കാരം!!!!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017




Reclaiming the poeticality of theology                                                                                    Denying the idolatry of methodology[1]

The language of theology cannot be, and should not attempt to be,                                                  clear and precise, since such technical language                                                                             always misses a part of that which it attempts to disclose.                                                            Raimon Panikkar
                                                                                                                                            
Raimon Panikkar alludes to a poetic language of theology. For Panikkar, theology is not a systematic, scientific, methodological treatise; rather it is aesthetical, liturgical and imaginative.[2] However, the theologians like Karl Barth who define theology as dogmatics and a ‘guild discipline’ provide theology a systematic methodological framework. As Panikkar denotes, theology as a scientific, methodological and technical language loses its spontaneity and poeticality. The over emphasize on methodology in recent times, delimits theological engagement to a scientific program and thereby theology becomes a ‘closed discipline’ of the ‘ghettoized communities’—the seminaries and divinity schools.  Theology has to be liberated from the idolatry of methodology and the fixity of its dogmatics. Its esthetical, liturgical and imaginative style of language is to be retained and reclaimed in order to make it more public and social. This essay offers a discussion on the poetic language of theology as it tries to re-locate itself in the post-foundational epistemological context.

It was the Enlightenment epistemology in the modern period that demanded Christian theology to have a systematic foundation of knowledge and methodology of articulation. The problem with this methodological sensitivity is that theology becomes yet another scientific discipline and thereby it loses its creative and imaginative content. Another important criticism aroused against the methodological ‘disciplinization’ of theology was that the modern Christian theology had never been the language of the non-European life-worlds. Thus, Christian theology or theologies in the post-Enlightenment / post-Western context has to be post-foundationalist and post-colonial in content. It needs to de-dogmatize itself and re-place itself with the aesthetical articulations of the suffering people in the postcolonial world. In order to re-define theology as a creative, critical and imaginative poetical engagement in the post-foundationalist/ postcolonial context, this essay initiates some discussions on the contemporary methodological contentions and theological significations.

1.  Theology as Theopoiesis
To locate theology in a post-foundational epistemological context, the antidogmatic contemporary theologians who follow the panentheistic tradition such as Roland Faber, Catherine Keller, Luke B. Higgins, Sharon D. Welch and so on define theology as theopoiesis. The Greek word poiesis which originally means ‘to create’ or ‘to make’ signifies ‘an action that transforms and continues the world’. The theologians who follow the theopoetic tradition locate theology in two foci: poetry and multiplicity. Here, theology becomes independent and polyphonic. It is well explained in the following sentence:
The rediscovery of Continental roots of the philosophical criticism of theological language and its new embrace, respectively became another source of the claim of theology to be essentially not a dogmatic system of certain knowledge of God or ultimate reality and the human response to it, but either a response of infinite variability in face of the divine mystery or, in a different adaptation of postmodern stances, a bulwark against a nihilism with the rediscovery of old knowledges of the divine enshrined in the divers traditions of religious communities and their written witnesses.[3]
Theology in this theopoetic sense becomes more creative (spontaneous, organic and aesthetical), critical (encounter, interrogation and prophetic), and imaginative (alluric, enigmatic and apocalyptic). Theopoiesis is a process of being and becoming to be a part of the social ontology of salvation. Thus doing theology in this theopoetic tradition is ontological in content as it invokes us to be part of the common ontology of redemption which is inherent within. The salvific experience is defined here as common, multiple and potential within.   

In theopoiesis, God is named as poet by which it is refrained from defining God as a person, a force, a substance, a cosmic law or not even as a fixed concept. On the other hand, God is considered as a creative process of becoming of the creation from within. God is understood here as the ultimate novelty of creation or as the organic potentiality of creativity.  According to this tradition, theologians are participants of the creative process of becoming and belonging. For them, theological is always epistemological and ontological. Thus, Sharon D. Welch exhorts theologians: “Let us be artisans, artisans of hope, artisans of wonder, working with human longing for generosity, courage, forgiveness, and resilience. As artisans, let us craft together flourishing communities of honesty, inclusion, justice, self-critique and hope.” 

2. Theology as Theopolitic
     Mark Lewis Taylor, in his well-read book The Theological and the Political: On the Weight of the World’ distinguishes between ‘Theology’ and ‘theological.’  For Taylor, ‘Theology’ is a ‘guild discipline,’ ‘a credentialed profession in the ‘Christian West’ that typically reflects on doctrines of a religious tradition and fosters an ethos of transcendence.’[4]   Taylor defines ‘Theology’ as a strict discipline in terms of its dogmatic rigidity and doctrinal fixity.   The ‘theological,’ on the other hand, is a “spectral haunting Theology, which is already unsettling it, perhaps dissolving it, disseminating it anew among other languages and other disciplinary discourses—on the way to revealing something much more significant than Theology’s doctrinally structured ethos of transcendence.”[5]

    Taylor proposes ‘theological,’ in contrast to ‘Theology,’ as a dimension of agonistic political thought and practice.    Unlike the dominant ethos of Theology, which is transcendental and dogmatic, Taylor’s theological finds its fullest expression in the ‘prodigious force of artful signs deployed in spectral practice, and it is born of the struggle of those bearing, resisting, and finding life under “the weight of the world,” particularly that weight as shifted, or concentrated, in structures of imposed social suffering.’[6]   Taylor argues that the projection of a transcendent outside as a sustaining precondition, ‘Theology’ always shows its “imperio-colonial sense.”[7]  He locates his political theorization of the theological in the political philosophies of immanent transcendence such as that of Spivak, Zizek, Badiou, Ranciere and Nancy. 

    Catherine Keller, the prominent postcolonial theologian, in a similar way of thought, defines contemporary theological engagement as theopolic since it is aesthetical and eschatological rather than doctrinal and dogmatic. According to Keller, theology in the contemporary context would uphold a “rhizomatic radicality” which is founded on a “polydoxic” philosophical/ theoretical inheritance. Keller contends that “such rhizomatic radicality is not about uprooting our traditions but about exposing them to our confounding togetherness—as species, peoples, genders, sexualities, races, religions, even—Lord help us—our Christianities.”[8]   The Christianity, not only theology, is invited here to validate the multiplicity of its being, becoming, and belonging in this planet earth.   For John D. Caputo, theological is an act of theopolitic as it re-examines our theological presuppositions.[9]   For Caputo, theopolitic is nothing but thinking theology differently, which means to think about God otherwise, to reimagine God as a de-ontological de-Other.   In short, the theopolitical tradition de-dogmatize and de-doctrinize theology and evokes us to look at the artistic imaginations of the tortured people as they envision theology on the weight of the world.

3. Contemporary Methodological Significations 
   The contemporary epistemological context demands certain methodological focuses that are so significant not only for theological researches but also for all the social researches.                              
3.1 Postcoloniality

Testimony 1
The African human expereince constantly appears in the discourse of our times as an experience that can only be understood through a ‘negative interpretation.’  Africa is never seen as possesing things and attributes properly part of “human nature.” Or, when it is, its things and attributes are generally of lesser value, little importance, and poor qulity. It is this elementariness and primitiveness that makes Africa the world par excellence of all that is incomplete, mutilated, and unfinished, its history reduced to a series of setbacks of nature in its quest for humankind.[10]                           

In his ground breaking work On the Postcolony, Achille Mbembe, the African theoretician, problematizes the power involved in the construction of the African subjectivity. He argues that the colonial interpretation of Africa has always been negative. He writes: “Africa is never seen as possessing things and attributes properly part of human nature.”[11] Mbembe brings out the crucial inadequacy of the Western methodological imaginary to accept the idea of a common human nature, a humanity shared with others. In this crucial epistemological juncture, Mbembe demands a methodological shift in social researches—the postcolonial turn—in order to de-other the other and to de-self the self.  Mbembe contends that the flesh and blood of the ‘African other’ is not just a ‘thing’ as it was conceived by the Western colonial thinking; rather it is ‘something’ that interrogates both the Western colonial imagination and its politics of death (necropolitics).  Here, Mbembe interrogates the settled conviction about the epistemological normativity of the researcher. Researcher has to de-self him/her self and de-other the other. This process of ‘de-essentialization’ (Roland Faber) is termed by Mbembe as postcoloniality. Postcoloniality, for Mbembe, is not just a counter space of cultural re-imagination of de-othering of the colonized other; rather it is something political on the flesh and blood of the tortured other that envision a common human ontology. Here, the research methodology meets epistemology and ontology and research becomes a process of becoming and belonging in the planet earth.   

3.2 Planetarity

Testimony 2
Kallel Pokudan, a dalit activist, explains how he has become an eco-political activist. Kallel Pokkudan says it was his search for a de-casteist identity that led to him to a planetary agency. He had three specific options before him to reject his caste identity: one is to embrace communism and to become a Pulaya-communist. Later he came to the understanding that communist party can never understand the life of a dalit.  Second option was to embrace Christianity and to become a Pulaya-Christian. Accepting the fact that a Pulayan can never be an integral part of the church in Kerala, he rejected that possibility. The third option was to become an activist for his Pulaya-community. But he realized that at that time Pulaya community was not capable enough to accommodate a self reflexive-communist activist. He writes: “For a long time I didn’t do anything. Then I slowly started to preserve the kandal [mangrove plants] nearby my house. It is how I become kandal Pokkudan.”[12]
(Kandal pokkudan is not just a name; rather it is his life, politics, and becoming/ belonging himself—of course a political ontology of planetarity).

Planetarity is a methodological contention offered by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. With planetarity, Spivak envisions a de-othered space that invokes us to see ourselves through the eyes of the others. It is an invitation to live in an enigmatic relationship with the other, God and the earth.   It is not one of romantic imagination but one that reflects the ethical practice of human beings as planetary subjects.   Planetarity informs us about the interconnectivity between humanity and non-humanity. It is to re-imagine our identity and agency as a multiple site of the process of our becoming and belonging. While constructing a materialist political ontology, Jane Bennett contends that “human agency is always an assemblage of microbes, animals, plants, metals, chemicals, word-sounds, and the like—indeed, that is an agentic assemblage.” Planetary reminds us our intersubjectivity, biohistorical agency, and political ontology of becoming. Planetarity takes us beyond the binary thinking and the idolatry of identity.  Theological research is not just a scientific program to prove something for the academia; rather to become something. It is to affirm our common belonging in this planet earth and to reassure our biohistorical agency.   Becoming planetary agents is to deny the binary thinking and fixity of identity. Here, identity becomes fluid, relational and eschatological which can never be the same—the original.

3.3 Polydoxy

Testimony 3
Christian tradition does not refer to a singular lineage, nor do Christians speak with one voice even when they attend to the same line of scripture. In this sense, the Christian tradition is always polydox; it is irreducible to any one voice or lineage that may claim exhaustively to represent Christian faith, thought, and practice. This characteristic complexity is wrought of interweaving cultures and stories, of shifting agonisms and political pressures, of myriad communal practices, artistic media, and philosophical schools. Thus multiplicity becomes a source of richness and revelatory possibility for supple theologies that remain open to the ongoing participation of divinity in the world.[13]                                                                                                                            
Polydoxy is a methodological position offered by Catherine Keller and Laurel C. Schneider to address the reductive or overarching tendencies of Christian Theology and to suggest the multiple forms of right belief (orthodoxy) in the contemporary multi-religious context. It is intended to locate Christian Theology in the post-Christendom era in its inherent multiplicity and relationality over against its epistemological enclosure.  According to Keller and Schneider, Christian theology has to retain its polydoxical inheritances in order to re-imagine it in the post-Western era. Methodologically speaking, polydoxy offers a radical methodology of doing theology of religion in the contemporary post-religion/ post-secular context. It helps Christian Theology to go beyond the imagined dichotomies of theism and atheism; monotheism and polytheism; sacred and secular; spirituality and materiality, and religion and politics. Polydoxy demands Christian Theology to nullify its ‘transcendental ethos’—the legitimizing point outside that renders Christianity as the epitome of religion and to re-locate itself in a theological framework of the crucified God/ religiosity.   

Conclusion
Christian Theology has to be liberated from the idolatry of methodology. Doing theology is to participate in the process of transforming the world. It is to participate in the act of theopoiesis which is organic, spontaneous and creative within. Methodology of theology, thus, is epistemological and ontological in the process of becoming an act of love and life in this planet earth. Here, the act of doing theology becomes embodied, enmattered and immanent.  The contemporary theological methodology envisages a polydoxical ground through which it overcomes the binaries of secular/ sacred, religion/ politics, theism/ atheism, spirit and matter, God and the world. The methodological contentions offered by the postcolonial life-worlds invoke Christian Theology to be a planetary theology as it overcomes the binary thinking and the idolatry of identity. Planetarity helps Christian theology to de-other the other and to deconstruct the textuality of the con-text. The contemporary methodological contentions demand Indian Christian Theology to take a new turn, a radical turn, of course, a postcolonial turn where nothing is absolute, fixed, and the original; but everything is fluid, relational, polydoxical and eschatological.
     

Article published in SATHRI JOURNAL Vol.XI No.1 April 2017

[1] Lecture given at the methodological seminar organized by South Asia Theological Research Institute (SATHRI) at United Theological College, Bangalore on 3rd June 2016.
[2] Raimon Panikkar, The Rhythm of Being: The Gifford Lectures (Maryknoll, N.Y: Orbs Books, 2009), 200.
[3] Roland Faber and Jeremy Fackenthal, “The Manifold of Theopoetics” Introduction, Theopoetic Folds: Philosophizing Multifariousness (New York: Fordham University Press, 2013), 3.
[4] Mark Lewis Taylor, The Theological and the Political: On the Weight of the World (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2011), xi.
[5] Ibid.
[6]Ibid., xii.
[7]Ibid., 49.
[8] John D. Caputo and Catherine Keller, Crosscurrents, Winter 2007, 105-11 at 108.
[9]Ibid., 106.
[10] Achille Mbembe, On the Postcolony (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2001), 1.
[11] Ibid, 2.
[12] Pokkudan, Kandalkadukalkidayil Ente Jeevitham (My Life among Kandal plants)(Kottayam: DC Books, 2002),65.
[13] Catherine Keller and Laurel C. Schneider, Introduction in Polydoxy: Theology of Multiplicity and Relation, Catherine Keller and Laurel C. Schneider, eds. (London and New York: Routledge, 2011), 2.