Sunteți pe pagina 1din 102
Editorial Five young theologians… The Georges Lombard Prize is awarded every other year to the

Editorial

Five young theologians… The Georges Lombard Prize is awarded every other year to the three best essays written by theological students or young pastors who are under 31 and belong to one of the member churches of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. The theme of the 2005-2006 edition was “Water, source of life: socioeconomic, theological and interreligious perspectives”. The recipients of the prize were Anderson Jeremiah (India), Clifford Rawlins (Trinidad and Tobago), and Carola Ruth Tron (Uruguay). Their essays are published in this issue of Reformed World. Two other young theologians join them here:

the Presbyterians Aimee Moiso (USA) and Claudio Carvalhaes (Brazil).

…and two prophets André Biéler, the author of Calvin’s Economic and Social Thought, challenged the Protestant churches in Switzerland to engage their members to contribute three per cent of their income to a development project. Milan Opocenský, the former General Secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, challenged the Reformed family to realize that “the integrity of our faith is at stake if we remain silent or refuse to act in the face of the current system of neoliberal economic globalization…” Biéler passed away in December 2006, at the age of 93, and Opocenský in January 2007, at the age of 75. Jean-Pierre Thévenaz, Edward Dommen, and Alastair Hulbert bear witness to their legacy.

^

^

Orthodox-Reformed dialogue Following the agreements on the doctrine of the Trinity (1992) and on the doctrine of Christ (1994), Orthodox and Reformed theologians representing the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches turned their attention to the doctrine of the church. This issue of Reformed World brings together the results of ten years of work on ecclesiology.

Odair Pedroso Mateus

1

2
2
  VOLUME 57(1), MARCH, 2007 Privatization of water - a theological critique and ensuing challenges
  VOLUME 57(1), MARCH, 2007 Privatization of water - a theological critique and ensuing challenges
 

VOLUME 57(1), MARCH, 2007

  VOLUME 57(1), MARCH, 2007

Privatization of water - a theological critique and ensuing challenges for the church

 
 

Anderson H. M. Jeremiah

What is the theological rationale behind privatizing the basis and source of life, which sustains and nurtures life, and moreover comes to represent God’s presence in creation? asks the young Indian theologian Anderson Jeremiah. He describes the notion of water privatization, offers biblical and theological perspectives on the privatization of water and identifies the challenges which it raises for the public witness of the church. Jeremiah is an ordained minister of the Church of South India, Vellore Diocese. He is currently a postgraduate research (PhD) student at New College, University of Edinburgh, Scotland. His work as a rural parish minister among the Dalit people propelled him to do further research in theology from the Dalit perspective. This essay won the Lombard Prize 2005-2006.

Water, without any ambiguity, is accepted

 

as

the source and basis of life on this planet

down and they would come in an hour’s time. All that I had in my refrigerator was some

earth. Every form of living being and biological life owes its existence to water, which sets apart the earth from the rest of the planetary universe. In other words, water becomes a precondition and harbinger of life. This fact of life flashed into my mind on

coke! That is when I realized that, after all, this source of life does not come free; I need to depend on private water distributors to provide drinking water to me in this “privatized pay-for-your-life world”, since the water tap of the “inefficient” municipal

hot and humid day back in my city, Chennai in southern India, when I was desperately looking for water to drink. To my agony I found out that the water supplier had not turned up that day. I frantically called to check what had happened and they told me that their supply van had broken

a

system (the primary reason for privatizing is the inefficiency of the public sector!) has not seen water pass through it for days if not months, although basic necessities like water are supposed to be the right of every citizen and the responsibility of the government.

 

3

necessities like water are supposed to be the right of every citizen and the responsibility of
necessities like water are supposed to be the right of every citizen and the responsibility of
  This paper tries to look at the impending privatization of water distribution in India
 
 

This paper tries to look at the impending privatization of water distribution in India from a theological perspective and develop the idea of a responsible church. This paper progresses at three levels. Firstly, it presents a brief overview of privatization, a global perspective of water privatization and considers some specific cases from India. Secondly, it shows the basic biblical significance of water and the Christian theological foundation for a community of sharing. Finally, it lays bare the essential characteristics of a responsible church in the context of privatization. This paper is not exhaustive. Rather, it raises points for further reflection.

1. Privatization

Privatization is often assumed to entail commercialization and commodification, to the extent that the terms are, at times, used interchangeably. Privatization requires change of ownership, or handover of management, from the public to the private sector. 1 Privatization is the accumulation of property and ownership of the right to exclude others from using it. 2 This idea of privatizing in order to prevent conflict and preserve “scarce resources” is a key to capitalism, since it also creates the scarce condition to make it competitive. Inequality is a by-product of this process. The market is for those who have purchasing power and not the impoverished. Furthermore, the term privatization could be interpreted as the process that involves the participation of private

4

Furthermore, the term privatization could be interpreted as the process that involves the participation of private

companies in the distribution and maintenance of public services with the government infrastructure at various levels of agreement and not necessarily controlling the assets. There are ardent supporters and advocates of privatization as the norm and future of the world. 3 The privatization of water The world is waking up to the reality of the precious nature of water. Some of the facts about water are startling. 4 In this context the attitude to water has changed. The important step in recognizing the economic value was taken in Berlin, Germany. As the statement says:

Water has an economic value in all its competing uses and should be recognized as an economic good. Within this principle, it is vital to recognize first the basic right of all human beings to have access to clean water and sanitation at an affordable price. Past failure to recognize the economic value of water has led to wasteful and environmentally damaging uses of the resource. Managing water as an economic good is an important way of achieving efficient and equitable use, and of encouraging conservation and protection of water resources. 5

This attitude towards water as an economic entity has led the private sector to cash in on the need for safe drinking water. The community that has the

economic potential makes use of this

privilege and the low-income category is left

to the mercy of governments.

The recent trend of governments to

  entrust to private companies the responsibility for securing water resources and for distributing water
 

entrust to private companies the

responsibility for securing water resources and for distributing water is an issue of great concern. Apart from paying a fee to the government, private companies would earn

a

huge profit by selling water to the public.

There were efforts to enhance the government policy to accommodate this process. Considering the fact that governments lacked funds and expertise, private companies, which were on the high following the neoliberal market economic boom, jumped in to provide the service, exploiting the “inability” of the public sector infrastructure. This is true of many developing countries. India is no different. Within a neoliberal setting it is believed that governments should play the role of a facilitator by allowing the market to carry out the social functions. 6 It is too attractive

proposal for governments to refuse. When it comes to water, the issue becomes rather complicated due to the very attitude of people towards water. It is an essential part of human life. In the words of the World Council of Churches, which probably summarizes the people’s view, “Water is a symbol of life … It is a basic condition for all life on Earth and is to be preserved and shared for the benefit of all creatures and the wider creation.” 7 Water has a special place in the spiritual life of many world religions. It is an accepted notion that all human beings, irrespective of their economic background, have a right to use water. 8 The UN states that, “The human

a

beings, irrespective of their economic background, have a right to use water. 8 The UN states
 
 
  right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, affordable, physically accessible, safe and acceptable water for

right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, affordable, physically accessible, safe and acceptable water for personal and domestic uses.” 9 But with the definition of water as an economic entity, water has shifted from a “human right” to a “commodity” that needs to be bought. 10 It is very obvious that the poor become the victims of this effort to privatize water distribution by the private sector as they cannot afford to pay for and buy it. Although this privatization argument is furthered from the stance that it would enable better efficiency in the preservation and distribution of water, and would serve the poor better, very little evidence comes in support of this. 11 An Indian journalist describes this situation as follows,

Developing country governments that are under the charmed spell of the pro- privatization World Bank, Asian Development Bank and other multilateral organizations have come around to a consensus that water is a commodity. On the other hand, civil society groups firmly believe that water is a natural resource that belongs equally to all people and should stay a public utility. … World Bank sponsored studies indicate that the urban poor already pay five times the municipal rate for water in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire; 25 times more in Dhaka, Bangladesh; and 40 times more in Cairo, Egypt. 12

Although the organized private sector

does not yet have a monopoly on water, the

distribution and sale of “bottled/packaged

mineral water” within the context of the

5

 
 
  lack of a proper drinkable water supply by the municipal system assumes an importance
 
 

lack of a proper drinkable water supply by the municipal system assumes an importance that cannot be ignored. Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke, severely critiquing this process, comment:

The commodification of water is wrong – ethically, environmentally and socially. It insures that decisions regarding the allocation of water would centre on commercial, not environmental or social justice considerations. Privatization means that the management of water resources is based on principles of scarcity and profit maximization rather than long-term sustainability. Corporations are dependent on increased consumption to generate profits and are much more likely to invest in the use of chemical technology, desalination, marketing and water trading than in conservation. 13

This destructive developmental process has to be countered in order to save the earth and the human community which demands strict measures and policies protecting the natural resources and upholding human rights. It can be

achieved only when governments take the

responsibility and provide legal

frameworks for safeguarding the interests

of the whole of creation and not just private

individuals and corporations. 14 The poor are the hardest hit by this process. International experience tells us that they pay more than anyone, since water has become a commodity controlled by multinational companies and soon will no longer be a “natural free source”. 15

6

become a commodity controlled by multinational companies and soon will no longer be a “natural free

Some cases of privatization of water in India The Indian situation on the privatization of water is yet to assume the status of a national problem. But the recent developments spearheaded by new economic policy and neoliberal free market champions are rather concerning. The pace with which public sector units are being privatized for better performance and the few MNC (multinational corporation) water distribution projects that are being tried around the country, definitely point to the eventual handing-over of important functions of the government, citing inefficiency, to the private sector for better performance. 16 In actuality the economic growth reported in India is widening the urban–rural divide which is deteriorating the already polarized country. Slums are growing faster than the cities on their peripheries as a direct result of the new market economy that neglects the rural sphere, further complicating the situation. 17 In order to sustain urban industrial development, water resources are diverted from rural areas. The leftover water in the villages is either polluted or contaminated, driving the helpless villagers to move to urban centres and end up in slums. 18 Within this context, when we observe the Indian government’s water policy, we see mixed results. Though it claims that 90% have access to potable water, it does not mention the percentage of people who actually get it and how often they get it. There seems to be no answer. 19 With the

    growing demand for water coupled with the inefficient functioning of the government water
    growing demand for water coupled with the inefficient functioning of the government water
 
 
 

growing demand for water coupled with the inefficient functioning of the government water distribution system, private companies have staked a claim to do the job, but at a price. This development can be looked at on two levels. Small-scale privatization – domestic and local commercialization of water As explained through my own experience in the beginning, Chennai is one of the country’s water-starved cities. It depends for its water needs to a large extent on the dwindling ground water. The water tanks too remain dry due to the failure of the monsoon rains. With the heat and humidity, water consumption is very high. Exploiting this situation, more than 200 legal and 400 illegal water packaging units have sprung up, utilizing the bore well water on their own small lands to meet the needs. According to a press release, in the past few years the people of Chennai have paid $10 million to these companies for 3.7 billion litres of potable water. 20 Perceiving the profitability of this market, bigger players like Nestle, Parle, Aquafina (Pepsi) and Kinley (Coca-Cola) have invested heavily and even bought out some of the smaller companies. Adding to the water woes of the neighbouring villages, these companies have sunk deep bore wells to feed their factories, deteriorating the water sources in those villages. 21 Continuing failure of the municipal water distribution system promises a good future for these companies. The Chennai Metro water authority has also adopted another

method of utilizing private vendors to provide and distribute water to the major unserviced area by spending a huge amount. 22 This is indirectly promoting and encouraging private water vendors. Instead of investing in a long-term plan, energy is being spent on a short-term solution. Personal experience shows that for many reasons even this water is not available to 50% of the population in Chennai. Those individuals or shops that can pay more money can very easily buy out the water from the vendors, leaving the poor people waterless for days, if not weeks. Large-scale industrial and multinational takeover of water distribution and maintenance The following are the archetypal mega projects of the modern market world that are at various stages of execution in India. The water distribution system in New Delhi, following the privatization of electricity, has been handed over to Vivendi and Degremont; the latter is taking up a design, build and distribute system in Sonia Vihar, New Delhi. 23 Tirupur is an industrial town chosen by the state government of Tamilnadu to experiment a private build, operate, own and transfer model. This project was given to Bechtel and other Indian companies which have formed a consortium. 24 Vivendi had secured water management worth US$ 7.5 million in Calcutta, and in Bangalore along with the Northumbrian Water Group (NLI), secured a pilot project in water management and distribution, which

 

7

with the Northumbrian Water Group (NLI), secured a pilot project in water management and distribution, which
with the Northumbrian Water Group (NLI), secured a pilot project in water management and distribution, which
    would lead to a 30 year contract in 2000. Even Chennai has handed
 
   
 

would lead to a 30 year contract in 2000.

Even Chennai has handed over its water service management to Vivendi. 25 Apart from these, there is this host of Coca-Cola and Pepsi establishments around the country involved in monopolizing water sources and causing severe ecological destruction, which needs no explanation. 26 The effects of these developments can be generally summarized in the following points:

 

1.

The price of privatized water involves

 

the cost of purification, upgradation and

distribution, which is unaffordable by the poor.

 

2.

Unsustainable and uncontrolled water

 

mining, with profit as the only motive, leads

to an alarming fall in the ground water level, which is the primary source of fresh water.

 

3.

Privatization leads to the formation of

 

water monopolies thereby eliminating public control over this resource. 4. In the absence of the legal implementation of quality control, individuals and companies driven by profit

compromise on water quality, thereby causing a serious threat to public health.

 

5.

In order to feed the growing urban need

 

for water, villagers are robbed of their

remaining water resources, driving them to abandon their villages and move to urban centres.

 

6.

It is true that government agencies

 

fail miserably due to deep-seated corruption and lack of transparency in their transactions, thus causing private companies to flourish.

8

to deep-seated corruption and lack of transparency in their transactions, thus causing private companies to flourish.
 
 

All the above-mentioned points could be substantiated through the cases that were briefly presented earlier. One of the fundamental problems is that the people who have money survive somehow; it is the poor who become the victims in this whole transaction. They form a large majority (65%) of the Indian population, and are excluded and driven to the edge of despair and death, which is a gross violation of human rights. 27 To summarize in the words of Maude Barlow,

an activist, “Leaving water in the hands of private companies – which are driven by commercial concerns and are not accountable to anyone – is socially and

environmentally immoral.” 28

2. Biblical significance of water and a Christian perspective on

privatization

The biblical creation story in Genesis lays down some of the fundamental understandings of water. 29 In the beginning the spirit of God was hovering over the water (Gen 1.2) even before creation began, signifying the fact that water is a pre-creation source and becomes the basis for the creation that followed. Heaven and earth were called out of the waters (Gen 1.6-10). The waters were blessed with abundant living creatures (Gen 1.20-21). God uses water to nourish and sustain creation, and

gives it as a blessing on the whole of creation (Gen 1.20-23, 2.6). Water becomes a means of God’s creation. In other words, it is the lifeline of God’s creation. It is also important to note that water can become a tool of

 
 
destruction in the face of human wickedness (Gen 7.1-24) and ecological destruction (the 2004 tsunami

destruction in the face of human wickedness (Gen 7.1-24) and ecological destruction (the 2004 tsunami and hurricane Katrina in 2005). 30 The New Testament carries on this symbolical importance of water. John’s gospel 31 abounds in references to it. During Jesus’ baptism, water becomes the context of divine revelation (Jn 1.31-33). It is also considered to be purifying in nature, as it is closely identified with the Spirit of God. 32 “Living water” (Jn 4.10) is another expression that needs our attention, as it signifies the new life which Jesus promises. The gospel of John also narrates two important healing stories by the pool side (Jn 5.1-9 & 9.1-14). The purpose of this brief biblical overview is to highlight the creational thinking that underlines the significance of water in human communities as life-giver and sustainer of this complex ecosystem. It is important for us, as Christians, to recognize this aspect of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. The presence of water ensures life and the absence of it spells death. In other words, water comes to represent the divine among creation. These preceding points on the significance of water demand an answer in the light of water being privatized. Can there be a theological justification or explanation of this development? What is the rationale behind privatizing the basis and source of life, which sustains and nurtures life, and moreover comes to represent God’s presence in creation? Ultimately, how do we treat God’s gift to humanity? What are the

experiences of the early Christians on the issue of private possession? Does privatizing water amount to privatizing God? Acts 4.32-35 holds the key to the early Christians’ understanding of this issue. In very clear terms it is mentioned that they shared everything and had everything in common. Importantly, there was not a needy person in their midst. Ulrich Duchrow interprets that it was not an accident that the early Christians had this practice; it is an outcome of their experience with their master Jesus Christ, who prophetically condemned the attitude of accumulation and insisted on sharing and gaining “abundant life”. They continued it because, through this fellowship of a sharing and caring community, Jesus Christ became alive in their midst. The early Christians represented a community without need, a counter community of sharing. 33 Throughout the centuries this idea of a shared common life occupied the heart of the Christian message. In the understanding of the early church fathers, private ownership is rather sinful and the common use of goods manifested the fellowship in Christ which is God’s will for humanity. Joan L. O’Donovan substantiates this:

Within the practice of the church, the original use was more closely approximated by the communal ownership and distribution of goods throughout the clerical and monastic estates, but was also reflected in the giving away of superfluous property to the poor by all estates of the church. As much as the fathers, the medievals viewed the

9

of superfluous property to the poor by all estates of the church. As much as the
  private amassing of wealth, retained and preserved by property right for exclusive use, as
 
 

private amassing of wealth, retained and preserved by property right for exclusive use, as a violation of the divine owner’s indentation that the earth’s abundance be shared in charity and distributed justly for the sustenance of all, love and justice being bound together. (…) They concurred in their predecessors’ indictment of avaricious accumulation as ‘robbery’ of the needy, taking from the poor what belongs to them by divine and natural right. 34

Property and economic exchange, human industry and market trade have to be fairly and righteously dealt with, Luther claimed. 35 It is important to pick up these threads from Christian theological history i.e. that there is no Christian justification for privatization or claim for exclusive use of resources; rather we are expected to share and live in a community. Exclusive ownership and accumulation are even considered to be against God’s will.

Common good is the norm, since

Christian theology makes it very clear that

we do not own anything but God, and all

the earth’s resources need to be justly shared among all in other words; this is the Christian ethical basis. Furthering Calvin’s idea of our resources as God’s gift and we as stewards, 36 Kathryn Tanner says that there should be a non-commodity exchange rather than a commodity exchange, putting the emphasis on giving rather than accumulating. One partakes in the

community not for personal reasons but to

be part of a self-sustaining society, 37 which

stands in opposition to the commodity

10

for personal reasons but to be part of a self-sustaining society, 3 7 which stands in
 
 

contract of capitalist transaction. 38 This ushers in the idea of common sharing and possession as against private accumulation. It is not the individual but the community that is at the heart of God’s gift. 39 The necessity of non-competitive relations is crucial in sustaining this community, self- sharing for the good of others. 40 In other words,

The significance of the ethic of common good and stewardship, since ownership is defined in the light of love for the neighbour, an essential “mandate for Christians” because it is the necessity of all of us to promote justice and protect the common good by working together with neighbourly love. 41

In the light of the foregoing discussion, the WCC statement makes a clear point on the issue of privatization of water:

The centrality of water to life, and the experience of water as a gift are two sources of the affirmation of water as a basic human right. Just as the biblical Jubilee declared that land belonged, in the final analysis, to God and not to any particular individual, so water should be part of the global commons and a social good. To treat water as a gift of God and human right implies that clean fresh water should be available to meet the basic needs of all living beings, rather than be treated as a private commodity to be bought and sold. 42

We can conclude that any privatization that excludes and denies the rightful use of resources is against God’s will and more so with the water which God uses to create,

 
 
  nurture, sustain and heal the whole of creation. The multinational companies that are trying
 

nurture, sustain and heal the whole of creation. The multinational companies that are trying to privatize water are actually trying to privatize life itself, thereby excluding and denying to a large section of humanity their right to livelihood through the unjust structures of society. This process requires serious consideration within the ecclesial community.

3. Challenges for the church

“The church exists in modern society as the work and instrument of God’s justice.” 43 These defining words of Jürgen Moltmann summarize the purpose and mission of the church in our times. The church, which stands in the historical tradition of being a counter community, promoting the values of justice and love, the importance of sharing, has to reinvent itself to confront contemporary challenges. When talking about the responsibility of the churches Ulrich Duchrow says, “Prophetic critique, resistance, living alternatives and intervention towards legal reforms – these were the biblical forms of practising faith in Yahweh, the compassionate God.” 44 As has been pointed out, the church is under obligation to promote a non-market framework and practise unconditional giving in the face of competitive terms of relationship. 45 The theological roots of economy have to rework the truncated hopes, unrectified losses, callous exclusions and challenge the “winner takes all” competitive market attitude. 46 How is this possible? Enrique Dussel

and challenge the “winner takes all” competitive market attitude. 4 6 How is this possible? Enrique
 
 
  advocates that it is possible only through covenantal relationship, which is a pact for the

advocates that it is possible only through covenantal relationship, which is a pact for the good of the community. Not through moral order (morality of domination or privatization) but by ethical praxis, not through accumulation, but through freely giving, by making ourselves responsible for the “other”, we may be able to establish a covenantal community. 47 This community relationship should have the characteristics of sharing and stewardship, not economically commodified transaction. Salvation is not just an issue concerning an individual’s soul but also involves transforming the sociopolitical and economic structure of which the individual is part. Privatization that replaces God with self should be critiqued. In the context of the dehumanizing forces of privatization and globalization, Hans Küng stresses the necessity of a global ethic that has binding values, irrevocable standards and personal attitudes. 48 The church is an instrument of God’s justice. Hence it is incompatible with the unjust structures of the world and stands under the obligation to strive and struggle for the restoration of the fallen creation. It should have in its heart combating for justice and promoting right relationships, relationships of equality, mutual sharing and caring with “love for the neighbour” as the driving force, embodying the image of God. 49 In the light of the growing privatization of water in India, the Indian church is called upon to be prophetic, critiquing the kind of dehumanizing privatization that is being

11

 
 
  pushed by the national water policy under the influence of international funding agencies (World
 
 

pushed by the national water policy under the influence of international funding agencies (World Bank, Asian Development Bank and International Monetary Fund) and to challenge the government to develop policies that protect water resources. Being a model, the church should practise the ecologically sustainable use of water resources and promote community- based initiatives with equal and just sharing. It should encourage the government to take up sustainable watershed management and invest in ecofriendly technologies. 50 It should highlight to its members the benefits of rainwater harvesting. As an instrument of God’s justice, it should urge the government to take the legal framework seriously to protect the poor against this onslaught, by regulating various water bodies and monitoring the price, quality and distribution of water. The church being the epitome of a just sharing community, without romanticizing “community”, should live it out in all possible ways. It requires a firm belief in a “God” who has gifted us with all these resources and given us a vocation as stewards to preserve, nurture and share in a community. 51 There is no provision for claiming an exclusive right to God’s gift to humanity and the church has the mandate to resist such a development. It is the duty of the church in the light of Luke 4.14-21 (Jesus’ Nazareth Manifesto) to ensure that justice is done to the poor, the victimized and the excluded, especially in the context of privatization!

12

ensure that justice is done to the poor, the victimized and the excluded, especially in the

Conclusion

The strongest theological critique is that the core aspect of privatization undermines the very nature of community and the place of God in it. As we found in this paper, it breaks the bond of community and creates inequality through accumulation and exclusion, with the result that some have access to good drinking water and some do not. “Community” in a Christian sense is essentially sharing the resources and caring for one another. The church as a community of faithfuls should practise reciprocal commitment 52 by ensuring the wellbeing of all the members. This is the fundamental difference between privatization and the communitarian aspect. The church should promote a non-commodity exchange community, based on a sharing and caring principle, reflecting the economy of God’s grace. Water is the basic source of life. It needs to be considered not in terms of its economic capabilities and potential, but as a necessity for human sustenance, hence the importance to its distribution to all, irrespective of their ability to pay for it.

In India, water is understood to be ‘life’ itself, on which our land, our food, our livelihood, our tradition and culture depend. As ‘the lifeline of society’, water is a sacred common heritage … to be worshipped, preserved and shared collectively, sustainably used and equitably distributed in our culture. 53

I hope the church in India opens its eyes and ears to these realities and takes a stand against the privatized destruction of creation

and promotes Life instead! Here is how the prophet Isaiah (41.17-18) proclaims God’s promise:

When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue fails for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not

Other sources

will hear them, I the God of Israel will not Other sources forsake them. I will

forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. 54

God is concerned about the poor and the needy, what about the Church? Is it listening?

Statements

World Meteorological Organization (1992), International Conference on Water and the Environment: Development Issues for the 21st Century: The Dublin Statement and Report of the Conference, Geneva, WMO, http://www.wmo.int/web/homs/documents/english/ icwedece.html (accessed 24.04.2007). WCC statement, http://www.wcc-assembly.info/en/theme-issues/assembly-documents/

plenary-presentations/committee-reports/public-issues-committee/water-for-life-

statement.html. United Nations Economic and Social Council (2002), “Substantive issues arising in the implementation of the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights”, draft, General Comment No 15, Committee on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights, Geneva, 11-29 November 2002, http://www.iied.org/human/eandu/documents/ budds_mcgranahan.pdf.

Web sites

Water Facts, http://www.indiaresource.org/issues/water/2003/waterfacts.html,

www.unesco.org/water/wwap/wwdr/pdf/chap13.pdf,

http://www.indiaresource.org/news/2003/4343.html.

The Water Policy of the Asian Development Bank 2002, www.adb.org,

http://www.newleftreview.net/Issue26.asp?Article=01.

13

Notes 1 Karen Bakker, Neo-liberalizing Nature? Market Environmentalism in Water Supply in England and Wales,

Notes

1 Karen Bakker, Neo-liberalizing Nature? Market Environmentalism in Water Supply in England and Wales, http://www.geog.ubc.ca/~bakker/PDF/neoliberalizing.pdf, p.544.

2 Kathryn Tanner, Economy of Grace, Minneapolis, MN, Fortress Press, 2005, p.34.

3 Morgan Paul, Edd Noell, Capitalism and Liberation Theology in Latin America, Santa Barabra, CA., Westmont College, December 1990, gordon.edu/ace/pdf/ MorganNoell_CapAndLiberTheolLat.pdf.

4 Water Facts, http://www.indiaresource.org/issues/water/2003/waterfacts.html, www.unesco.org/water/wwap/wwdr/pdf/chap13.pdf, http://www.indiaresource.org/news/

2003/4343.html.

5 World Meteorological Organization, International Conference on Water and the Environment: Development Issues for the 21st Century: The Dublin Statement and Report of the Conference, WMO, Geneva, 1992; as quoted by: Jessica Budds, Gordon McGranahan, www.iied.org/human/eandu/documents/budds_mcgranahan.pdf, p.91.

6 Jessica Budds & Gordon McGranahan, Are the Debates on Water Privatization Missing the Point? Experiences from Africa, Asia and Latin America, http://www.iied.org/human/ eandu/documents/budds_mcgranahan.pdf. p.89.

7 WCC statement on Water for Life, http://www.oikoumene.org/index.php?id=1955.

8 Jessica Budds & Gordon McGranahan, op. cit., p.90.

9 United Nations Economic and Social Council (2002), “Substantive Issues Arising in the Implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights”, draft, General Comment No 15, Committee on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights, Geneva, 11-29 November 2002, http://www.iied.org/human/eandu/documents/ budds_mcgranahan.pdf, p.94.

10 “Conserving water”, Water for All: The Water Policy of the Asian Development Bank, 2002, www.adb.org.

11 Jessica Budds & Gordon McGranahan, op. cit., pp.100-110.

12 Ann Ninan, Private Water, Public Misery, India Resource Center, April 16, 2003,

http://www.indiaresource.org/issues/water/2003/privatewaterpublicmisery.html

13 Maude Barlow & Tony Clarke, Who Owns Water?, http://www.thenation.com/ docPrint.mhtml?i=20020902&s=barlow p.5.

14 Ibid., p.6.

15 Charles Santiago observes, “Water as a global common good has come under the control of market forces. This is because water promises to be the most precious commodity of the 21st century, profiting corporations. The global trade in water is currently estimated to be US$ 800 billion, involving about 6% of the world population receiving services from corporations. However, the global trade is expected to be a multitrillion dollar industry in the near future when privatized water systems expand to serve about 17% of the world’s population by 2015. The Big Ten multinational corporations control the water market and related industries. Nine of the ten largest water corporations in the world are located in Europe.” European Water Corporations and the Privatization of Asian Water Resources:

The Challenge for Asian Water Security, http://www.boell.de/downloads/global/ cancun_water.pdf, p.9.

16 Ann Ninan, op. cit.

17 Elliott D. Sclar et al., The 21st Century Health Challenge of Slums and Cities, http://www.earth.columbia.edu/images/TheLancet_slum_dwellers.pdf and http://

14

www.newleftreview.net/Issue26.asp?Article=01. 1 8 McKenzie & Ray, Household Water Delivery Options in Urban and

www.newleftreview.net/Issue26.asp?Article=01.

18 McKenzie & Ray, Household Water Delivery Options in Urban and Rural India,

http://scid.stanford.edu/events/India2004/McKenzie-Ray%205-11-04.pdf.

19 Ibid., p.31.

20 Anjali Kamat, Water Profiteers, http://www.indiaresource.org/issues/water/2003/ waterprofiteers.html.

21 Ibid.

22 McKenzie & Ray, op. cit., p.29.

23 Anitha Sampath et al., Water Privatization and Implications in India, http:// studentorgs.utexas.edu/aidaustin/water/water_privatization.pdf, p.6.

24 Ibid., p.6.

25 Charles Santiago, European Water Corporations and the Privatization of Asian Water Resources: The Challenge for Asian Water Security, http://www.boell.de/downloads/global/ cancun_water.pdf, p.17.

26 Ibid., p.18 and S. Viswanathan, Bottling Thamiraparani, http://www.indiaresource.org/

news/2005/2022.html.

27 Charles Santiago, op. cit., p.21.

28 Maude Barlow, Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water,

http://www.cceia.org/viewMedia.php/prmTemplateID/5/prmID/830.

29 William P. Brown, Structure, Role, and Ideology in the Hebrew and Greek Texts of Genesis 1.1-2.3, Atlanta, GA, Scholars Press, 1993, p.42f and William Henry Propp, Water in the Wilderness: a Biblical Motif and its Mythological Background, Atlanta, GA, Scholars Press, 1987, p.9f.

30 There are plenty of Old Testament narratives to substantiate the significance of water that are not mentioned here.

31 Craig R. Koester, Symbolism in the Fourth Gospel, Minneapolis, MN, Fortress Press, 2003, pp.175-206 and Stephen T. Um, The Theme of Temple Christology in John’s Gospel, London, T&T Clark, 2006, p.10f.

32 Ibid., p.181.

33 Ulrich Duchrow, “Private Property: a Growing Danger for Life - or: Neglected in the Globalization Debate”, The Ecumenical Review, (54(4), October 2002 http://

findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2065/is_4_54/ai_97118068.

34 Joan L. O’Donovan, “The Theological Economics of Medieval Usury Theory” in: Oliver O’Donovan (ed.), Bonds of Imperfection: Christian Politics Past and Present, Grand Rapids, MI,Wm B. Eerdmans, 2004, pp.104-5.

35 Ibid., p.117.

36 Kathryn Tanner, op. cit., p.48.

37 Ibid., p.50.

38 Ibid., p.55.

39 Ibid., p.74.

40 Ibid., p.85.

41 James B. Martin-Schramm & Robert L. Stivers, “Taking on water” in: Christian Environmental Ethics, New York, Orbis Books, 2003, p.178.

42 Working Group on Water, WCC Consultation at Mission 21, Basle, 9-13 May 2005, http:/

/www.oikoumene.org/index.php?id=2612

43 Jürgen Moltmann, Creating a Just Future : the Politics of Peace and the Ethics of Creation in a Threatened World, London, SCM Press, 1989, p.6.

15

4 4 Ulrich Duchrow, op. cit., p.480. 4 5 Kathryn Tanner, op. cit., p.129. 4

44 Ulrich Duchrow, op. cit., p.480.

45 Kathryn Tanner, op. cit., p.129.

46 Ibid., p.90.

47 Enrique Dussel, Ethics and Community, Turnbridge Wells, Kent, Burns & Oates, 1988,

pp.40-46.

48 Hans Küng (ed.), A Global Ethic and Global Responsibility: Two Declarations, London, SCM Press, 1998, p.41.

49 This idea is borrowed from the feminist ecclesiology narrated by Natalie K. Watson, Introducing Feminist Ecclesiology, Sheffield, Sheffield Academic Press, 2002, pp.116-120.

50 Also support alternate models such as check dam and bund building, holistic watershed management, integrated river basin management, etc. For further alternates in water management see Anitha Sampath, p.14.

51 James B. Martin-Schramm & Robert L. Stivers, op. cit., pp.101, 298.

52 By reciprocal commitment, I mean it is not just that the members of a church should be committed to the church as an institution or organization, the church should also show its commitment for the betterment and wellbeing of its members.

53 Quoted by Maude Barlow & Tony Clarke, Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water, New York, The New Press, 2002, p.87.

54 Isa 41.17-18.

16

  VOLUME 57(1), MARCH, 2007 Water, source of life - socioeconomic, theological and interreligious perspectives
  VOLUME 57(1), MARCH, 2007 Water, source of life - socioeconomic, theological and interreligious perspectives
 

VOLUME 57(1), MARCH, 2007

  VOLUME 57(1), MARCH, 2007

Water, source of life - socioeconomic, theological and interreligious perspectives

 
 

Clifford Reinhold Leandro Rawlins

 

There are two things essential to life, writes Clifford Rawlins: water and breath. These two elements, water and breath, form “the basis of a powerful biblical metaphor

relating to the second and third persons of the Trinity, the spiritual life of humanity and the whole created order and also of life in communion with Jesus Christ”. Rawlins provides a succinct introduction to the socio-economic, theological, and inter-religious aspects of water. A native of Trinidad and Tobago, Rawlins has been

a

minister of the Church of Scotland in his country for 10 years. He is currently

doing research in post-colonial studies and preparing a degree of Master of Theology.

He is engaged in local ecumenism and in the contextual renewal of Reformed

spirituality, particularly through church music. This article was one of the winners

of

the 2005-2006 Lombard Prize.

Water is a unique element on Planet Earth. It makes possible the existence of all living organisms more than any other element of life. Indeed, the very absence of this element on other planets of the solar system may well preclude the existence of life forms on any of them. It has been observed that only the planet Mars lies within the narrow temperature band that allows water to exist in its three states of liquid, solid and gas, and only the earth is blanketed by a living, water-built biosphere in which the life force seems to issue from the water’s evaporation, precipitation, run- off, seepage, plant transpiration, animal

respiration, melting, freezing and flowing. Earth, as humanity knows it, is the only “water planet” in this galaxy and therefore the only one capable of propagating various life forms. 1 The Dublin Principles for Water have declared that water is a finite and valuable economic resource, 2 which, although self- recycling through the process of evaporation and condensation back into rainfall, is not increasing in quantity. In other words, it is argued that nearly every molecule of the water that exists today for human consumption was present at the time when the seas formed the earth.

 

17

of the water that exists today for human consumption was present at the time when the
of the water that exists today for human consumption was present at the time when the
  This is due mainly to the “Dynamic hydrological cycle that bathes and supports all
 
 

This is due mainly to the “Dynamic hydrological cycle that bathes and supports all life”. 3 Also, this hydrological cycle yields only a fixed quantity of water per time period, which cannot be humanly improved though it may be depleted by human waste and pollution. It is estimated that just three thousandths (3/1000) of the earth’s water is available for human consumption. The rest is either highly inaccessible, unfit to consume or just too expensive to obtain. 4 Water is a unique element. It can absorb other elements such as heat and cold thereby making it a vast energy storage bank. Other substances can be dissolved in it, as with sugar and salt, or be suspended therein (i.e. existing side by side with the water without changing the essential nature of either) as in the case of milk, juices and other liquid or semi-solid products. Seeing, therefore, that the earth is essentially a “water planet” with just over 70% of its landmass covered in this element, and all of its life forms having their origin therefrom, and that the human body itself is composed of about the same 70% of water, it becomes evident that our own preservation is closely and inextricably linked with the availability of water for all, with respect to basic human needs, and with the preservation of this very limited and finite resource from which all life originates. Water is, literally, the source of life on earth and vital for its sustainability, even for human survival, dignity and development. Indeed, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof, the world and those who

18

dignity and development. Indeed, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof, the world and
 
 

dwell therein; for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers” (Ps 24.1-2). The demands on this finite resource are enormous. Industrial purposes, food and energy production, human consumption, sanitation, jobs and recreation stake their claim. And when these demands are translated into actual figures they become startling indeed. Water resources are under pressure from steadily increasing population growth, economic activity and intensifying competition from water users. At the heart of this there is also the voice for environmental needs among these other users in the ecosystem. Then too, there are growing concerns about climate change and variability such as the greenhouse effect and “El Niño” phenomena, floods and drought. 5 Yet the amount of usable water remains invariably unchanged.

Socioeconomic perspectives

It has been recognized that about one in six of the world’s human population is without access to potable water and at least one half without adequate sanitation. 6 Many of these cases are located in the poorer segments of the developed and the developing world. In some of these segments, however, this inaccessibility is often confused with the inability to obtain a developed, perhaps even luxurious supply of water via in-house taps and modern and/or elaborate bathing and sanitation systems as against a truck-

 
 
    borne or community taps/wells supply which may have an invariable flow. This still
    borne or community taps/wells supply which may have an invariable flow. This still
 
 
 

borne or community taps/wells supply which may have an invariable flow. This still does not detract from the fact that at least 1.2 billion people worldwide are without recourse to an adequate water supply required for basic human consumption and sanitation needs, if any supply at all in most circumstances. The adult human body is 70% water, and this figure is higher for children, so that one may be able to survive a traditional biblical period of forty days without food, but only a few days without water. 7 It is therefore essential to the very dignity of the human person that each one has access to an amount of water necessary for personal survival and development, before the needs of the larger user groups. This would invariably place water allocation firstly within the realm of economics and the political will (or lack thereof) to combat vested economic interests in industry and foreign investment. The Dublin Articles recognize that within this principle it is vital to acknowledge the basic right of all humans to have access to water and sanitation at an affordable price. Water must be seen as having economic worth. The non-recognition of its full value has led to wasteful and environmentally damaging uses up to the present. 8 There must needs be a cost for managing a nation’s water resources in such a manner as to ensure the availability of this resource on a sustainable basis. But would it be proper to levy such an assessment on groups and communities

already disadvantaged by the inaccessibility thereof, and who are also on the lowest levels of economic empowerment? An inherent danger here is that of the privatization of water allocation and management supply and services. Where this action of a privatized supply of water services has occurred, there have been steadily soaring increases in rates, water shortages and disconnection without concern or compassion for those who may be unable to afford such services. Applying such an economic instrument to support thus disadvantaged groups would affect behaviour towards conservation and efficient usage, provide incentives for demand management, ensure cost recovery and signal the consumers’ willingness to pay for additional investments in water services. It is an important means of decision-making that impacts on social aspirations as well. In a water-scarce environment, would it be right to give water to industrial giants instead of the poor simply because they can afford to pay? Water allocation may not be most efficient when valued in economic terms alone or acceptable when made only on political grounds. Here the value of water is measured against the economic charge for use and services. The value of water rightly assessed would place decisions on its management and allocation now within the realm of natural justice, fairplay and even equity to a lesser degree, bearing in mind increased scarcity of supply and a reduction in conflict among users. 9

 

19

to a lesser degree, bearing in mind increased scarcity of supply and a reduction in conflict
to a lesser degree, bearing in mind increased scarcity of supply and a reduction in conflict
  No longer would it be the first, second and third fruits for the strong
 
 

No longer would it be the first, second and third fruits for the strong and powerful only, but as a kingdom principle, God intended that the first fruits should go to him, rightly recognizing water as a gift of God, essential to the created order, of which humanity is only a fraction. The second fruits, as it were, would have to involve a coordinated effort among all interested parties. This means that all government agencies with an interest in water usage, such as health, local government, agriculture, public utilities, water management institutions, industry and other user groups should clarify the entitlements, responsibilities and roles in relation to stakeholders. 10 Water uses are interdependent and must be considered together. However, entrusting responsibility for drinking water to one agency, for irrigation to another, for the environment to another and for industry to yet another, leads to uncoordinated water development and resource development management, resulting in conflict, waste and unsustainable systems. Grassroots involvement should be paramount here because local solutions regarding water and sanitation would then be found by local people who are most affected. This endeavour would clean up much of the bureaucracy, redundancy and separatedness of human and other resources with regard to water management and ensure a sustainable use of the resource. This effort serves to highlight as well the interconnectedness of all of life which

20

a sustainable use of the resource. This effort serves to highlight as well the interconnectedness of

postmodern society has maliciously dissected into various compartments, often in seeming conflict with one another, in a vain attempt to attain some measure of human control over the elemental and other forces of the created order which was never originally God-intended. Lastly, the “gleanings of the field” should demand an attitude that incorporates even the poor and disadvantaged (Lev 19.9-10). God demands the “right use” of his gifts so that his providential nature will be glorified when all creation is cared for and looked after and receives in celebration a just and fair distribution proportionate to one’s needs without wasting, polluting, greed or selfish indulgence (Ezek 34; Jn 10.10). Lack of basic resources vital to human existence and development and in many instances wilfully withheld on political grounds poses a serious threat to a person’s power in society and position in decision- making circles. On the other hand, such an empowerment could be seen also as a threat to a government’s power and position where absolute power is tyrannically maintained. Such possible threats are thus controlled and a government consolidates its hold on power. The General Council of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches in its 1989 “Open Letter to the Children and Young People of the Planet” had this to say,

Over and over again one refrain persisted: The rich get richer, while the poor get poorer. Surely the world should not be the way that it is. But if the world is to be changed…then the present global

economic order will have to be altered drastically. Basic to all other injustices today…is economic injustice; and this means that the churches are being called to recognize that the present world economic order and the systems and structures which maintain it are unjust at base. …They not only allow but they actually foster injustice in terms of the distribution of wealth and access to economic power. This means that many people are bound to be kept in a condition of utter poverty while a few enjoy immense wealth. If the present economic order is maintained, this enormous discrepancy between rich and poor will prevail, and it will become still more conspicuous. 11

Decision-making on water management and allocation must not be confined to the vested interests of limited groups of users, geographical boundaries, sectoral institutions or national jurisdictions. It must involve full public consultation and decisions from the lowest levels of water users in planning and implementation. This would go a long way towards a rejection of the notion and experience of victimhood by the disadvantaged who desire to be on an equal footing with the rest of the world, at least where the equitable distribution of the earth’s resources is concerned. It may be that the powerful transnational economic trading blocs, economic superpower nations and even despotic regimes will keep setting objective standards so that disempowered concerned groups and other such lobbyists cannot fight, and who are to be mourned for protests so seemingly helpless. In any event, too, such protest

 
 
  actions appear to have only a hollow, passing effect in that there is a great

actions appear to have only a hollow, passing effect in that there is a great uproar about a particular issue of a particular time-period, and without influencing the desired decision from the world powerhouses, the protest dies or fades away quietly until another time and another issue. This can be seen with regard to the issue of the depletion of the ozone layer, the refusal of the United States of America to sign the Kyoto Accord and the Jubilee 2000 campaign to cancel the debts of poorer nations. The Dublin Principles again bear witness to the need for gender equality with regard to water allocation and the concomitant empowerment that it brings to those so disadvantaged. It recognizes that water management is male-dominated because of a preponderance of males in the decision- making strata of government and its agencies and in industry and agriculture. It acknowledges, too, that different societies, especially more traditional ones, assign particular social, economic and cultural roles to men and women, and that there is need for synergy between gender equity and sustainable water management, where such gender equity would be improved by access of both men and women to water and water- related services to meet their particular and essential needs. 12 Women the world over have traditionally been revered as guardians of the living environment in their role as “mother”. They have been at the bedrock of sustainable development on the whole as homemakers and through their involvement in agriculture. They thus play a central role

21

 
 
  in the provision, management and safeguarding of water. Water, while not the source per
  in the provision, management and safeguarding of water. Water, while not the source per
 
 

in the provision, management and safeguarding of water. Water, while not the source per se, can

Venezuela to other parts of the world because of its natural capacity as a water purifier has led to the plant now becoming

 

also be the means by which disease and death-carrying species of life are borne. Medical researcher David Bratt observes that water-borne diseases are “dirty-water” diseases, caused primarily by water that has been contaminated by human, animal or chemical wastes. Worldwide the lack of sanitary waste disposal and of clean water for human consumption and hygiene is to blame for over twelve million deaths a year. 13 He surmises, “Water, like honesty or trust, when not contaminated with garbage, is healthy, clear and sparkling with life.” 14 The fact is that much of human activity with water and interference with many of the self-maintaining processes of nature, and with nature in general, have long been accepted as part of humankind’s God-given right to take, have and hold dominion over the earth (Gen 1.28). The construction of the Aswan High Dam in the River Nile has greatly affected the natural flooding of the plains with the river’s silt and thus considerably reduced the agricultural capacity of the land to feed its people, resulting in widespread famine,

an agricultural pest and a threat to many species of water life. The plant was removed from its place in a naturally controlled environment where seasonal flooding, insects, fish and others would feed and otherwise use the plant thus constricting the untamed spread that occurred when it was transplanted to other uncontrolled environments. In 1825 the Erie Canal in the northern United States was opened with much fanfare celebrating the arrival of easier inland access through riverboats. Unseen, however, was that the opening of the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean led to their invasion by the sea lamprey. This was a seafood delicacy in Europe from time immemorial, and unknown as such in North America. It soon became a ravaging parasite that greatly affected the fishing industry in the Great Lakes region for many years. 15 These serve to highlight an idea of the earth as a dead, empty thing to be conquered and subdued, (much the same way as women were regarded and treated

malnutrition and disease. This is all due to

in

Western church and society), by the

the silt that once fertilized the land now

political and private economic giants that

 

being deposited and trapped in the dam,

have continued the old imperial trends in

and this also poses a problem to the

a

modern and brazen resurgence of

infrastructural safety of the dam itself. More than a century earlier the transplanting of the water hyacinth from its unique home in the Orinoco River in

neocolonialist tendencies. Yet the apostle Paul reminds us that it was not only humankind that was redeemed by the Christ Event, but all creation, which was

 

22

reminds us that it was not only humankind that was redeemed by the Christ Event, but
reminds us that it was not only humankind that was redeemed by the Christ Event, but

groaning in labour pains until the dawning of a new order (Rom 8.19-23). Furthermore, Anne Hadfield, writing in Reformed World reminds us that this process of reconciliation to God is not a completed one either; but rather a continuing one that involves not just personal repentance but the twin movements of stopping the destruction of creation and the restoration of creation, which would imply a christology of nature as well. 16 This idea, as well as that of humankind as stewards of God’s creation, is fully embodied in the church’s eucharistic rite where not only thanks is invoked on behalf of the whole created order, but where this whole creation is together the sum total of the oikoumene. In the words of Psalm 150 it is everything with breath that praises the Lord. The other psalms just previous to this one also invoke the elemental forces of nature with its flora and fauna in a universal thanksgiving. Indeed, “All creation rightly gives you thanks and praise; all life, all holiness comes from you”, 17 and joins humanity and the entire cosmic order now in the ecstasy of the angelic “Sanctus”. Therefore, it is the fullness of the benefits of the redemption of Jesus Christ that not only has been gained for the whole created order but also poured forth in eucharistic blessing through the intercession and elemental partaking of the priests and stewards of this creation, namely humankind; and more particularly

 
 
  those in direct communion with Christ (Rom 8.19ff; Rev 22). Theological perspectives There are two

those in direct communion with Christ (Rom 8.19ff; Rev 22).

Theological perspectives

There are two things essential to life:

water and breath. Interestingly one of water’s two component elements is that which is also responsible for sustaining “everything that has breath”, namely oxygen. These two elements of water and breath have formed the basis of a powerful biblical metaphor relating to the second and third persons of the Trinity, the spiritual life of humanity and the whole created order and also of life in communion with Jesus Christ. In the beginning of the world’s creation, it is the Spirit (ruach, breath) of God that hovers over the vast expanse of water, making it fertile to receive the life-giving word of God and bring all things into being. This “word” of God itself is composed of water and breath as are all words and sounds that proceed from the mouth of any being. The two primordial elements of water and breath combine to incarnate thoughts into the spoken word. In the book of Job, chapter 37, verses 9 and 10, it is written that from God’s chamber comes the whirlwind, and cold from the scattering winds (bringing water in their condensation) and by the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast. In anticipation of the New Creation in the Christ event, this same Spirit is involved in the incarnation of the very “Word” of God,

the second person of the Trinity. He/she

[the Spirit] was there in the inspiration of

23

 
 
  the prophets, the conception of Jesus and the prenatal anointing of John the Baptizer,
  the prophets, the conception of Jesus and the prenatal anointing of John the Baptizer,
 
 

the prophets, the conception of Jesus and the prenatal anointing of John the Baptizer, the laudatory acclamations of Mary, Zechariah and Simeon and Anna. It is the Spirit that is “Ready to give birth to all the word will say”. 18 This Word of God, incarnate as Jesus of Nazareth, was called upon to heal a man blind from birth according to John’s gospel, chapter 9. Jesus spits on the ground and with the wet clay anoints the man’s eyes for healing. The spittle is composed of water and breath and coming from one who is God’s incarnate Word and full of the Spirit. Thus the Spirit of God is again seen bringing life to birth when water and breath from the Holy One are cast upon dry, infertile earth. Jesus uses the metaphor of water to refer to the Spirit of God indwelling those who respond to God through him. It was a potent symbol in a land that encompassed the extremes of cold and heat, aridity and fertility, desert and oasis. Water was an all- important and many times scarce resource so that its intrinsic value was fully recognized and appreciated by the entire region for generations on end. More interestingly his referrals to the gift of living or life-giving water, recorded in John 4.10, 13; 7. 38-39 (which themselves are seen as a fulfilling of the prophecies of Isaiah 55.1- 2, Jeremiah 2.13, 17. 13, Zechariah 14.8 and the desire of Psalm 23.2) stand in stark contrast to the existence of the Dead Sea in which no life can be found or sustained. Indeed, Jesus proclaimed blessings on those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness”,

in Matthew 5.6, since this life-giving water of the fullness of life in God through the Spirit is given to those who live within the Reign of God and seek, invoke and exude his justice and mercy as priests of the new creation. The rivers of the Garden of Eden are life- giving. The water from the rock provided much needed relief in crossing the barren wilderness into the Promised Land. Water, even if it destroyed Pharaoh and his host, did give a new life to the Israelites. The Syrian captain, Namaan, was cleansed of leprosy in the waters of the Jordan, as was likewise the world cleansed in the deluge of Noah’s day. As Amos declares in chapter 5, verse 24, “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream”. This justice and mercy of God in life- giving water is further contrasted with God’s judgement and indignation against sin and a life contrary to his will, in drought. The absence of this life-giving resource symbolizes the absence of his favour, his Spirit, his Word and his life, as clearly perceived in the story of Elijah who called a drought upon the land for three and a half years as God’s condemnation upon the idolatry of his people. However, water itself may also be used as a sign of God’s judgement on the land. It is common among Caribbean churchgoing folk to describe the ravages of hurricanes as the judgement of God upon a particular people. Recently, with the double ravaging of the island of Grenada in two successive years by hurricanes Ivan

24

people. Recently, with the double ravaging of the island of Grenada in two successive years by
people. Recently, with the double ravaging of the island of Grenada in two successive years by
    and Emily respectively, the church has been forced to ask whether this can
    and Emily respectively, the church has been forced to ask whether this can
 
 
 

and Emily respectively, the church has been forced to ask whether this can really be declared the judgement of God when there are other islands with worse sins than that one. In the same manner the very question begs to be asked in favour of those lands tragically devastated by the tsunami of December 26, 2004 in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, or of the Southeast of the United States, New Orleans in particular, that was effectively destroyed by hurricane Katrina! In the latter’s regard one may say that Katrina was used as a potent instrument of revelation, to make known the once hidden recesses of abject poverty in the midst of a land and city of overwhelming prosperity, and at the forefront of world economic and political domination! It might have been God’s instrument of justice in regard to the descendants of former slaves (who had always considered themselves spiritually akin to the children of Israel in their Egyptian bondage and Mosaic deliverance) to reveal their plight so that they may obtain a share of the fullness of life which the rest of the nation was enjoying without any regard to their suffering brethren; and as a means of judgement on those who have wilfully sought economic and political means in order to keep their fellow citizens continually disempowered. In any event they, along with volcanoes, earthquakes and other such violent natural phenomena, may also be seen as a way of the earth cleansing, purging and renewing

itself; in much the same way a human being would have naturally automated means of self-cleansing and preservation. Or it could very well be the earth reacting vehemently to the interference with and inhumanity of the human race against nature itself. The earth has a judgemental reaction against pollution, waste, wanton abuse, misuse and pillage of the earth’s resources and of the continued domination by the rich few of the poor, helpless masses. But on the other hand, is there a way that we can see the glory of God in the power of water to give life as well as to destroy? Scripture does testify to the Lord who, “thunders upon many waters”, and who, “sits enthroned upon the floods” (Ps 29.3, 10). Also the very floods and mighty waves of the sea and the thunders worship God and declare his power in Psalm 93. The hymnwriter Robert Grant reminds us, “O tell of his might, O sing of his grace, Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space. His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form, And dark is his path on the wings of the storm.” 19 These frightening effects of nature are often a time to complain and murmur before and against God; a time for frenzied intercession to be spared, yet scripture testifies to their giving praise to God’s almightiness in their potency, as Job 36.27- 37.24 also concurs. This multifaceted imagery of water, its natural “fluidity” to being adapted to various

 

25

37.24 also concurs. This multifaceted imagery of water, its natural “fluidity” to being adapted to various
37.24 also concurs. This multifaceted imagery of water, its natural “fluidity” to being adapted to various
  uses, its all pervading character throughout many states of being, has led to its
  uses, its all pervading character throughout many states of being, has led to its
 
 

uses, its all pervading character throughout many states of being, has led to its adoption in scripture by Jesus, John the Baptizer and others as a symbol of cleansing, renewal, promise and hope. And this is chiefly demonstrated and effected in the sacrament of baptism. Again Jesus makes the reference to water’s intrinsic relationship to life and breath (ruach – Spirit) in his notion that to be born again would be through the one baptism of these two intertwining principles, water and the Spirit. Indeed, for the purposes of Christian theology, water may be the source of life, but water without the Spirit gives no real life at all. It is, thus, with a sense of grave concern that this writer pens his deep disquiet over Reformed Ministers of Word and Sacrament who baptize without any thanksgiving over or epiclesis of the Spirit upon the baptismal waters, especially over a falsely perceived notion that it closely resembles practices of the pre-Reformation Roman church. In the creation narrative it is the life-giving Spirit who breathes upon the watery chaos and brings it into order. So that from the time of Jesus, life-giving water and the gift of the Holy Spirit must always be seen in the closest relationship possible since they are inseparable. But the Spirit must be invoked, called to breathe upon, and never taken for granted. Otherwise we run the risk of “forsaking the fountain of living water”, Jeremiah 7.13, and performing a mere ritual that is not an effective means of grace or potent to apply the thing signified to the

recipient, though all the faith in the universe be present. The Reformed tradition has always evangelically held that sacraments and indeed the entire salvific economy of God and the church are effected primarily by the sovereign and graceful action of God perceived and obtained through faith, but that faith is never the centre of activity or point of departure. The same malpractice of the failure to have an epiclesis of the Holy Spirit is also true of many a Reformed celebration of the Eucharist. Water may be further used as a metaphor of the Resurrection in the Caribbean. With the advent of Christianity and missionary activity in the colonial era, the Caribbean church inevitably acquired all the trappings and imagery of a European brand of the faith. Within this were hymns and ideas relating to the changing of seasons of a temperate climate and especially to the significance of spring as a time of new birth, fertility and resurrection in relation to the seemingly dead earth, delayed activity and suspended animation of the effects of winter upon the land. This is totally out of harmony with the weather patterns of the Caribbean where only two seasons abound, namely dry and wet. Yet there is a similar deathlike quality over the land in the intense heat and aridness of the dry season. Rain hardly falls, there is the threat of drought, water reserves are used up and water is rationed along with penalties for failure to observe such water rationing, as with the watering of lawns and

26

water is rationed along with penalties for failure to observe such water rationing, as with the
water is rationed along with penalties for failure to observe such water rationing, as with the
  use of hoses. The land is parched and on many a mountainside and plain
 

use of hoses. The land is parched and on many a mountainside and plain there are vicious bush fires, [hu]manmade or naturally caused. The grass dries up and the land is bare and hard. No planting takes place then. But then the Poui tree sends forth her blossoms in March/April and the people breathe a sigh of relief because the Poui signals the coming of the April showers with their promise of renewal, slightly cooler temperatures, especially at night, and fertility. The dryness of the land is intimately linked with the timing of the season of Lent and the Crucifixion and is a ready symbol of repentance, of yearning and thirst for living water, of death, loss, suffering and sacrifice. The advent of the April showers potently point to Christ who by his rising again becomes our Returning Rain and who comes to renew creation in all its colour and splendour. This Returning Rain also comes with victory to those who have known loss and destruction, whose lives are parched and dry from not having any more tears to cry or have grown hard and callous from pain and suffering. The Returning Rain comes to bring freshness and colour to those bound up in the staleness of routine or lack of imagination.

Interreligious perspectives

Water, as a religious image, is common to all religions, no doubt because of its recognition as essential to life and living. It is to be found in prayers, scripture texts, teachings and rituals.

of its recognition as essential to life and living. It is to be found in prayers,
 
 
  Whereas in Christianity water is only now being appreciated as a gift of God, it

Whereas in Christianity water is only now being appreciated as a gift of God, it formerly being just another tract of subjugated creation, other religions have tended to see water as the sacred milieu in which we live. This is due to a pantheistic approach to creation which views the created order as divided aspects of the divine whole, each intrinsically divine in its own right and worthy of praise, awe, respect and therefore, correct use. Christianity has tended formerly to regard only that water consecrated for spiritual use as in baptism or as holy water for cleansing, blessing and purification as sacred. Yet more traditional religions, because of the people’s closeness with the land and the elements of nature, have preferred to give a more sacred character to water on the whole and to see it as an interconnected part of all life. It does not follow that all believers of such religions have always observed the tenets of their respective faiths especially in regard to the right use of nature. Throughout humanity there is ever the tendency to evil and destruction. In Hinduism and in the Orisha religion (transplanted in the Caribbean from West Africa), rivers, streams and oceans contain the vital mother spirit. From the churning of the seas the Hindu Mother Lakshmi, the feminine aspect of Vishnu, was generated. She is the mother of the universe and the goddess of wealth and prosperity. For the Orisha the water spirit is represented by the Kweyol name, Mama Glo, from the

27

 
 
  French, Maman de l’Eau , mother of the water. This bears an interesting connotation
 
 

French, Maman de l’Eau, mother of the water. This bears an interesting connotation to the biblical connection between water and the Spirit seeing that in Hebrew the generic word for Spirit is feminine in gender. But Mama Glo can be beneficent if her gift is used rightly or vengeful if abused. Water in Hinduism is worshipped as the source of all life. Originally revered at the mighty Ganges River in India as Ganga Dhaara, postcolonial Caribbean diaspora Hindus, who were believed to have lost their caste and by extension all ancestral and other connections with Mother India in crossing the seas, have re-established that bond in this ritual of Ganga Dhaara. It purports that since all waters merge into one in the oceans then all water, whether of river or sea and separated by landmasses, is essentially one through this oceanic connection. So the Ganges can be revered in the diaspora in this way. But for this writer, this ideology does not augur well for re-establishing the local validity of the land, lost through Western imperialism, in itself, since it has here to get validity from a supposed connection with a foreign entity, seeing it once had a local identity and validity of its own. For Africans transplanted to the West from their native continent by the demonic system of slavery and its concomitant racism, the crossing of the sea also signifies a cutting off of ancestral ties and the establishing of a new way of being, though still intrinsically African, on new soil. For many it is the salt in the seawater that cuts,

28

a new way of being, though still intrinsically African, on new soil. For many it is
 
 

kills and even hinders. Added to water, salt takes away its potability and is effective also against spirits of evil. As the biblical prophet Elisha used salt to restore this potability to the Jordan (2 Kings 2.21), so too salt added to water has traditionally been used in Christianity to convey blessing and holy water for warding off evil. And in popular belief it is acknowledged that crossing the sea by any means of transport or even a sea bath is potent to cleanse from “Obeah”, or witchcraft. For the Orisha religion, salt in food or water, is never offered to the gods because it cuts off all spirit contact whether for good or for ill. 20 The crossing, though, of a river, especially in a dream, often signifies death of some sort, physical or spiritual. There is also an interesting connection here with the biblical concept of crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land, used by Christianity as an image of passing over from death to eternity. And there is also the connection with baptism, especially believer’s immersion baptism, which is the defining rite of the large Afro-based indigenous Christian expression in the Caribbean, the Spiritual Baptist Shouter Faith. Here baptism refers to the uniting of the believer with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (Rom 6.3-

11).

Conclusion

Water is a sacred gift from God to humankind, indeed to all life on earth. As the guardians, stewards, priests of God’s creation and acting thusly on behalf of the

 
 

rest of the created order, we must ensure that all life has access to the water it needs to preserve the intrinsic dignity of being and the continuation in time to come of the species. This requires a recognition of all life as being interconnected and that human beings are not dominators or the sole proprietors of God’s sacred gift; but that all life which depends on water in some form has a right to access it without fear or favour. As a gift it must be held in a similarly sacred

or favour. As a gift it must be held in a similarly sacred trust, used correctly

trust, used correctly and managed properly, without wasting, polluting or destroying this already limited, overburdened and finite yet absolutely essential resource for life. Humanity, spearheaded by the church, must continue to work and pray to ensure the justice, peace and integrity of God’s creation, that there may be a just and equal sharing of all Mother Earth’s resources for all her creatures and that “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Hah 2.14).

Note

All biblical quotations are taken from the New Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Oxford University Press Inc., 1962, 1973.

Notes

1 Jacques-Yves Cousteau and staff of the Cousteau Society, The Cousteau Almanac – An Inventory of Life on our Water Planet: Water Facts, New York, Doubleday and Co. Inc., 1981,

p.116.

2 The Dublin Statement on Water and Sustainable Development, International Conference on Water and the Environment, Dublin (Ireland), January 1992.

3 Op. cit., no. 1, p.117.

4 Ibid., Eating, Drinking and Breathing, p.616.

5 Miguel Solanes, Fernando Gonzalez-Villareal, Dublin Principles for Water as reflected in a Comparative Assessment of Institutional and Legal Arrangements for Integrated Water

29

Resources Management, TEC Background Paper No. 3, June 1999 (http://www.unsgab.org/ III-1.6.pdf). 6 Ibid. 7 David

Resources Management, TEC Background Paper No. 3, June 1999 (http://www.unsgab.org/

III-1.6.pdf).

6 Ibid.

7 David E. Bratt M.D., “The Source of Life”, published in The Trinidad Guardian, 28 March

2006.

8 Op. cit., no. 5.

9 Ibid.

10 Ibid.

11 Section III: Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation: Report to the General Council – An Open Letter to the Children and Young People of the Planet”, Reformed World, 40(7), September 1989, p.135.

12 Op. cit., no. 5.

13 Op. cit., no. 7.

14 Ibid.

15 Op. cit., no. 1, Unlearned Lessons – Unintended Effects, p.180ff.

16 Anne Hadfield, “A Perspective from the Pacific”, Reformed World, 46(1), March 1996,

pp.31-2.

17 Eucharistic Prayer B, Book of Common Prayer, Anglican Church in the Province of the West Indies, 1995.

18 John Bell and Graham Maule, Hymn: “Enemy of Apathy”, Wild Goose Resource Group, Iona Community, published in Iona Abbey Worship Book, Iona Community 2002.

19 Robert Grant (1779-1838), Hymn: “O Worship the King, all-glorious above”, published in :The Church Hymnary, third edition, Oxford University Press.

20 Maureen Warner-Lewis, Guinea’s Other Suns – The African Dynamic in Trinidad Culture, Dover (USA), The Majority Press, 1991.

30

VOLUME 57(1), MARCH, 2007

VOLUME 57(1), MARCH, 2007 Water and the Christian community in a liquid modernity - a Latin-American

Water and the Christian community in a liquid modernity - a Latin-American perspective

Carola Ruth Tron

The lack of water is giving us the chance to repent from our individualistic way of living and to choose a new way, writes the young Waldensian theologian Carola Tron. A water-related theology needs to overcome anthropocentrism and start “at home”, to take root in daily life. This is “what Jesus did every day when he got in touch with common people. He cared about their stories of life and gave them salvation”. Tron is a Pastor of the Waldensian Evangelical Church of the River Plate, in Uruguay. She completed her theological studies at ISEDET in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1998, after having also attended the Princeton Theological Seminary. She is particularly committed to gender and youth issues. She is one of the winners of the Lombard Prize 2005-2006.

The problematic situation of water today claims an urgent and effective re-elaboration of classical theological topics. In order to do that, this essay will develop some guidelines to reframe theology within the new contexts. First, I will look at the Bible as a big frame in order to see the role of water in it. Second, I would like to name some examples of water problems that we are facing today, in a global context. Third, I would like to focus on globalization. By taking some tools from sociology I will see what is behind the concept of natural resources, humankind and the relationship between the two. Fourth, I will relate sociological analysis to

theology in order to propose a reconstruction of some theological understanding of human relationships with water and creation. Fifth, I will cite a case in Uruguay and propose some guidelines from a new rereading of the Bible and reconstructed theology in context. Finally, I will give some conclusions.

1. In the beginning, surrounded by waters

Why is the water issue a matter of theology? This rhetorical question will be

present throughout this essay. First, as I look

at the Bible I see that Genesis 1 and

31

  Revelation 22 talk about waters. God’s creation started from the waters. The new creation
 
 

Revelation 22 talk about waters. God’s creation started from the waters. The new creation that God has promised us is compared to a river of the water of life, bright as crystal, and good life is there. 1 We can see that water is in the frame of the whole Bible because of its connection with life. There is no life and no creation without water. Water is also related to natural disaster, and in a mythological way to the anger of God and the condemnation of human sin (the Great Flood, Gen 6-8). The biblical image of water is a powerful vehicle to give life and death. Second, I would suggest that water is a theological issue because it has been present since the beginning of existence itself. Animals and plants cannot live without water. Our bodies are mostly made of water. We are born from the waters: our prenatal life grows in the amniotic liquid. We, as human beings, are part of the ecosystem; we are part of God’s creation. Water is an irreplaceable part of planet earth; water is part of life, as it is part of our bodies. Third, water means life, and Jesus came to give us life in abundance. When he meets the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well (Jn 1.1-24) he compares his ministry with water. I will come back to this passage later and develop some theological guidelines. Water plays an important role in the Bible. It also occupies an important place in our lives. We definitively cannot have life without water. It is more than an irreplaceable resource for humanity. It is part of creation. Creation is not finished. Jesus

32

It is more than an irreplaceable resource for humanity. It is part of creation. Creation is
 
 

offers us the water of life to live in abundance. We are called to play a great role in creation by searching for life, for water for everybody and for the life of all creation.

2. The shortage of water

Because water is an irreplaceable source of life, it is becoming a topic of conflict and concern in many places of the world. For example, the shortage of water that is growing in different ways and many places; the scarcity of water that confronts one neighbour with another in a struggle for a pot of water, stealing it; 2 water is being contaminated with the use of agrochemicals; related diseases like those that come from bacteria and cancer; 3 and climate changes. 4 Since the era of industrialization, water has become a fundamental resource for production. Water is not just part of the ecosystem. Not only people, animals and plants need it. Factories need water for production processes too. They take it from rivers, use it and then return it to the river at a higher temperature and with the addition of many chemicals. The same river

that has become part of a production process

also feeds its polluted water to the

population. Beaches are getting dirty. Rivers

are losing life, many fish and birds are in

extinction. As the Fourth World Water Forum held in Mexico, March 2006, points out:

Water resources can only be understood within the context of the

 
 
  dynamics of the water cycle. […] Both the availability and use of water are
 

dynamics of the water cycle. […] Both the availability and use of water are changing. The reasons for concern over the world’s water resources can be summarized within three key areas:

water scarcity, water quality and water- related disasters. 5

These facts show that the water issue is already a big problem and a big challenge to all of us as caregivers of the earth. Statistics say that there is no time to lose and we have to act. The scarcity and abundance of water is becoming a topic of great political confrontation between nations. 6 Steve Lonergan points out that there is a new face to conflicts between countries. The so- called “soft wars” are going to happen because of environmental problems like, among others, diseases and corruption. Thinking geopolitically, this author believes that the possibility of a water war is low because it has never been a topic of high conflict even though, nowadays, the water crisis is promoting new conflicts. Actually, in the last chapter I will speak about the Argentine-Uruguayan water conflict. As we will see, abundance of water is a reason for conflict too.

3. Freedom and temptation

Humankind has been tempted by power

and domination. God gave us the freedom

to take good care of creation and to live in

abundance. Instead of using our freedom to get life in abundance for all, we used it to dominate others. Globalization is the new

Instead of using our freedom to get life in abundance for all, we used it to
 
 
  face of individualistic freedom and temptation. Globalization subordinates and reduces everything to economic

face of individualistic freedom and temptation. Globalization subordinates and reduces everything to economic profit. We see through the Bible that freedom as a gift of God very soon became “an opportunity for self-indulgence”. 7 “Now the whole earth had one language and the same words… Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves…’” Gen 11.1, 4. The attempt to become a strong dominant race, with only one language, in spite of others, has been a constant human temptation. Very sad examples of that were the totalitarian nondemocratic governments, Nazism, apartheid, dictatorships in Latin America. Nowadays, a new way of imposing one world order is in action. Day in and day out we are being told that there is only one world order with one economic system for the whole of humanity. The system claims it is the only voice to be listened to. Globalization claims to be the only system in which everybody needs to fit. It strongly supports the idea that there is no other option, and that those who are not part of the new economic order do not exist. Those who do not speak the one language like Babel will not touch the sky. They will be out of the system, out of the world. As in the time of the tower of Babel, human beings are building a tower. Our new tower is called globalization. In the globalization era, water has been privatized. The system preaches that those who are within it will get jobs and will be

33

 
 
  able to buy good water. Those who are outside the system will not be
 
 

able to buy good water. Those who are outside the system will not be able to. While the first ones get life, the second ones do not. There are those who strongly believe that they are touching the sky and are living according to the Revelation promise of prosperity, but in a private way, they will buy “a private river of life”. From the scriptures we know and believe that the seeking of human power, domination and exploitation has always been condemned by God. “The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. And the Lord said, ‘Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.’” 8 We clearly see that God is against domination. Babel’s ideals are so close to globalization ones. As it was in the time of Babel, those ideals are condemned by God. The tower of Babel was an anthropocentric dream of domination. The individualistic dream today is to be part of the system in order to obtain life. But very soon, the dream will collapse. There will be the chance to get good and expensive water because the system does not provide all the solutions. When water from natural resources starts to become scarce, no money that would make it good enough to drink. The paper tower is built out of power and sin and will collapse upon

34

no money that would make it good enough to drink. The paper tower is built out
 
 

us. Within this context churches are called upon by God to act.

4. Communities of faith in a liquid modernity

However, before we get there, we need to understand the place of Christianity and even other religions in our world today. In this era of globalization, freedom is conceived essentially as an individualistic human right. This comprehension of freedom needs to be confronted with the concept of freedom as a grace of God (Gal 5.13ss). The idea of Western Christendom is in crisis. Modernity has become the expression of secularism and hard sciences to the detriment of others, theology included. Nowadays, theology is no longer the main centre of studies as it was in the past. Our churches have discussed too much about how to grow, how to continue to be Protestant churches in a secularized world, in a modern society. Sociology can give us an interesting vision of present society. We need these approaches in order to dialogue with the new contexts, and to continue doing theology on the basis of this dialogue. A challenge to think theologically about water is to build bridges with the social sciences. Zygmunt Bauman in his book Liquid Modernity proposes that humankind has a complete sense of freedom and individualism. The individual has guaranteed for him/herself a complete sense of freedom as he or she had wished. In relation to the social dream of integrating outsiders into society, he affirms that there

 
 
    are only temporary solutions 9 , which means that in liquid modernity, it
    are only temporary solutions 9 , which means that in liquid modernity, it
 
 
 

are only temporary solutions 9 , which means that in liquid modernity, it is very hard to work together to find alternatives. As we confront the liquid modernity concept with our religious practices, we see that our churches are dealing with this. When we listen to the word of God at Sunday services and then do not get in touch until the next week, we can consider that we are part of a community, but only during Sunday services. Church community is fragmented into many proposals and groups. The concept of individualism is applicable to the idea of church community. Models of being “church” are changing to more individualistic, more personal, private ways of living our faith. Christian faith is no longer the centre of people’s life. Faith is being fragmented into little pieces, and believers choose one, two or all. As religious proposals are being fragmented, so are

This relationship can be translated to God’s sphere by constructing a religion of consumers. We can remark that discipleship and social compromise are not first-place issues in the church agenda. People do not enjoy getting involved in community projects for a long period of time. Sometimes they make some commitments but these must be specific and time limited. Reconstructing the concepts of freedom and grace in a liquid modernity Since the Reformation, Protestant theologies have preached strongly about freedom and grace. They were very liberating because they introduced a new relationship with God. However, those concepts in a secularized context became “an opportunity for self-indulgence” 10 and a temptation like in the time of Babel. Silently, they became part of the ideals of the system. We diminished the importance of the prophetic

believers’ lives. There is a believer at church,

role. Freedom and grace are very rich and

a

worker at his/her job, a father or mother

“expensive” theological concepts handed

at home, a student at school. In this context they hardly relate God’s will with job, with children, with neighbours. The question here is how can we practise

down from the Reformed tradition. In that context they were prophetic, challenging and transforming. They have become isolated and nonrelational concepts. Grace is no

theology related to water in this context? What church models are we building? Are we building churches for consumers? I ask myself that question very often. Everyone takes what they need, and will listen to God in their personal and urgent needs, losing the sense of community. We can conclude that humankind has established a relationship of owner and user in God’s creation.

a

longer a gift of God and a model to live. Grace has become something automatically given. Freedom has become one of the most precious individual rights. The misunderstanding of those two concepts is not helpful in our search for God’s justice in liquid modernity, and we will need to reframe and reinforce these concepts, so they can have become strong and prophetic again. 11 First, they are relational concepts. The

 

35

concepts, so they can have become strong and prophetic again. 1 1 First, they are relational
concepts, so they can have become strong and prophetic again. 1 1 First, they are relational
  truth that is in God, 1 2 and the grace of God, will give
 
 

truth that is in God, 12 and the grace of God, will give us freedom and life. 13 It is not a positive anthropological understanding of freedom but the transforming grace of God. We will need to stop building the tower and focus our future on the word of God. The truth and grace of God will guide us. We need to listen to the voice of God. Second, we are not going to guide God’s will. God’s will is going to guide us to the future. This is a liberating concept for those who are outside the system because it gives people the opportunity to be part of a future. For those who are part of this system it is not good news. Elsa Tamez affirms that humankind feels free to rest because the future does not belong only to them. The future belongs to God. Humanization is a gift of God’s grace. 14 We do not have to build our own future alone because we are living in the grace of God. We need to listen to God’s will and take it seriously in our daily life. From an anthropocentric to an individualistic practice of religion We are moving from an anthropocentric to an individualistic practice of religion. Modern theologies have focused on an anthropocentric interpretation of scripture. 15 Some people even related their faith to the social situation but they did not link it with environmental issues. Many others look at problems like water in an anthropocentric way, thinking that water is a resource for human development and production. We are searching for more integral theologies that take the idea of diversity seriously. The

36

and production. We are searching for more integral theologies that take the idea of diversity seriously.

concept of diversity does not refer only to people, but to ecosystems too. Modernity looked at the human being and his/her capacities. Humankind believed that the world was something to conquer or to build with progress and development using all that was in it: natural resources, people, science, etc. Theology was not isolated from that time and was mostly preached in an anthropocentric way.

Contemporary Christians are citizens of a planet gravely troubled by the reckless and rapacious enterprises of its human inhabitants. Human industries, spurred by technological innovations of the last several centuries, have turned the earth into a commodity for human purposes. The earth’s geological features and animal and plant life are routinely sacrificed before the altars of corporate profit and a moneyed public’s ever- expanding hunger for consumable goods. Modes of production and patterns of consumption in the industrialized nations proceed as if the earth were an infinitely malleable object of human mastery readily bent for any human use, or as if the harm done by human enterprises to the earth and its life forms were of no real importance or concern. 16

If modernity was characterized by anthropocentric practices, postmodernity or liquid modernity has an individualistic view of humankind. As we move from an anthropocentric to an individualistic practice of religion, I believe we are being tempted to build a theology for consumers. Consumerism is the mark of this time and the mark of the world economic order. 17 The

    relationship between religious offer and demand determines our theological agenda because the agenda
    relationship between religious offer and demand determines our theological agenda because the agenda
 
 
 

relationship between religious offer and demand determines our theological agenda because the agenda is often controlled by the necessity of keeping the number of members in our churches rather than the gospel. Many times, in order to keep communities at peace, we do not talk about controversial topics. In a world that is changing so fast, sometimes churches do not want to confront each other. They work for reconciliation and non-conflict and they will do whatever is possible to implement that. Water issues confront countries, rich and poor, pitting those who use agrochemicals against those who are struggling to have clean water, even those who do not care and drink contaminated water saying that it is not dangerous against those who want to denounce that as bad. In this situation we can be prophetic and an alternative community to the system, or we can offer symbolic goods to consume in our churches. We are called to offer resistance and be prophetic in a liquid modernity. The water crisis can help us to convert our hearts and minds, our practices at home, in our places of work, and to walk new paths where God walks. Ecofeminism has given us some new theological tools to achieve this. It emphasizes the idea that we (all creation) are one sacred body. Patriarchal systems, in contrast, divide our social body into different parts, each one living by the domination of one over the other. After years of anthropocentric theologies we are

searching for more integral theologies that take the idea of diversity seriously. The diversity concept does not refer only to people, but to ecosystems too. Creation is as diverse and rich as are we. 18 From creation and the lack of water we are learning that we have to change and be transformed by the grace of God into new people so we can transform our homes and the world. 19 Fresh new water to build communities of faith We need to refresh our faith and our communities with the grace of God in order to keep walking in God’s promise towards the river of life. As water keeps itself fresh when it is running, our faith needs to run to be kept alive. 20 We have learned that the Reformed church is always in a reforming process. This remains true as we continue the constant process of reformation. The analogy of theology with water can be good to understand that there is not a closed idea of God and its interpretation. Stagnant water turns bad, it needs to run, it needs sun, air; so do we as churches, so does theology and our reading of the Bible. The water crisis will bring new challenges to refresh theology and relate it to home where water is lacking. First, we recognize the negative elements. At the local level we know that we are facing one or more water problems. How many of us who are concerned about water have taken some new decisions to save water, and not to contaminate it, not to use chemicals, to talk and denounce abuses about it? How do we teach children in Sunday schools to relate God to daily

 

37

to talk and denounce abuses about it? How do we teach children in Sunday schools to
to talk and denounce abuses about it? How do we teach children in Sunday schools to
  practices? We are so anthropocentric, so individualistic that is too hard to sustain these
  practices? We are so anthropocentric, so individualistic that is too hard to sustain these
 
 

practices? We are so anthropocentric, so individualistic that is too hard to sustain these simple, daily concerns. We are so concentrated on the constructions of big paper towers (personal careers, power and status) that we do not have time to save water and care about creation. Can we recognize our concerns at church? Is the community concerned about water issues? Are we relating faith to daily life, water conflicts to church community? Do we think that God and churches have something to do with water issues or not? These questions need to be raised in our communities of faith. If we are not taking God to our “secular life”, I guess we are not taking God to water problems. I would ask, where we are taking God. The water crisis brings the challenge for a new theology and it starts at home. Second, we will have to take God home to find a new understanding of faith and theology. Theologies in context have given us new tools to read reality and relate to theology: liberation theology, for example, looked at reality through social structures. Daily and essential issues like the lack of water are giving us the chance to do theology at home. 21 We have to start to do theology in the context of daily life using all the tools that many theologies have given us. Today, the lack of clean water has to connect us with God, and the Bible; also tomorrow, the lack of a piece of land to live on, lack of health, lack of love will have to be the starting point for a theology of daily life. Let us be prophetic at home. Let us be converted at home.

Third, once we take God home, we will have to check our traditional meaning of freedom and grace and how this relates to our daily life. We will be surprised to see how anthropocentric and individualistic our way of life is. To recover the deep meaning of these concepts we will need to refocus God in our lives. The grace of God transforms us into new persons; grace involves repentance and forgiveness. It starts with a crisis too. Grace is a new way of living and understanding life under God’s blessing. The concept of grace is extensible to all creation. Grace is a new model of God’s economy that will show us an alternative way of globalization. We are called to live in the grace of God that is connected with all creation. By grace we are saved from sin; living in this new economy we not only connect with salvation but also with a new understanding of the relationship between creation and ourselves. 22 Only by living in the grace of God and searching for truth can we use freedom in a correct way. Freedom does not mean doing whatever I want or need without caring for others because the grace of God justifies me. Freedom is the right to think and to believe, to transform those things that are wrong. Freedom is liberation and it is a long walk. Jesus invited us to seek liberation, that means no water poverty, no destroyed ecosystems. A theology related to water has to start at home where women and men are facing the water problem day by day. They are the subjects that need to be transformed by

38

home where women and men are facing the water problem day by day. They are the
home where women and men are facing the water problem day by day. They are the
  grace and then in turn to transform the practices. They are suffering when they
 

grace and then in turn to transform the practices. They are suffering when they do not have water to cook, to clean, and to feed their children. Finally, we need to read the Bible from our daily needs and challenges. I would like to come back to the encounter of Jesus with the Samaritan woman. She went to do the domestic work and met Jesus. She had the pot to take water from Jacob’s well and Jesus had the water of life. They had different resources. She had the concrete solution for his thirst. When they met, they had an interreligious dialogue. This was not to be expected. It is an example of freedom in the grace of God: the sharing of needs through the grace of God. We can practise the exercise at home: share our daily needs, read the Bible with the necessities in mind, and relate them to the grace of God.

5. Uruguay is building the paper tower: cellulose pulp case

The context of Latin America There are two concepts crucial to understanding our Latin American context: first, the situation of Latin America as a colony; second, rediscovery of the theology of the native people in Latin America. The native people’s God was connected to daily life while the God that came with colonization was European, male, anthropocentric and a conqueror. America has been a colony since 1492. In liquid modernity, developing countries are the backyard of the world. Multinational corporations build the factories and throw out dangerous garbage

countries are the backyard of the world. Multinational corporations build the factories and throw out dangerous
 
 
  in Latin America. American native people believed they had to ask the earth for permission

in Latin America. American native people believed they had to ask the earth for permission to kill an animal in order to feed the family. They also believed they had to ask for permission to fish from the river. Animals and plants, water and land are not usable resources. They are part of creation and belong to God. I need to believe that we, as Christians, also relate to creation in that way. Maybe it was too far back in history. I also think that we have to recover this theological understanding of creation. Christopher Columbus arrived on this continent in 1492. At that time, Latin America started to learn about being a colony. Colonization took the gold and God from the people. The colonizers took the gold and every valuable resource they found. They also took away the cultural identity and essence that constituted the people’s way of life, organizing and building communities. They killed the native people’s God, who was connected to daily life, and imposed their European, male, anthropocentric and conquering God. Native people had a completely different way of relating to their God and to creation. Since colonization, Latin American countries have been colonia. By colonia I mean lands full of natural resources that were taken to First World countries (first period), and then to economic powers called transnational companies (nowadays). Why do we continue to be colonia? The deepest meaning of colonia is not rooted in the economy; it is the ideology that is beyond it.

39

 
 
  The paper tower The ideology of colonia was an assault against the culture, knowledge,
  The paper tower The ideology of colonia was an assault against the culture, knowledge,
 
 

The paper tower The ideology of colonia was an assault against the culture, knowledge, religion and philosophy of the indigenous people. That continued with the dictatorships supported by First World countries. It continues today with the promise of factories that will give us the opportunity of new jobs in developing countries where unemployment is very high. Two cellulose pulp mills are in construction on the Uruguayan side of the River Uruguay which divides Argentina and Uruguay. Cellulose pulp mills are one of the highest factors of water contamination. Nowadays there is an international conflict between the two countries. Churches are challenged to have a prophetic voice, although social involvement is very slight. The Spanish company ENCE and the Finnish company Botnia are building two cellulose pulp mills on the coast of the River Uruguay in Fray Bentos City, Uruguay. A third one is projected to be built on the coast of the Río Negro near Durazno City, Uruguay. It is important to note that not the whole process will be done here, but only the first, most contaminating part. This is the face of globalization in Uruguay. Factories that use the river in their production process have had serious legal problems in the other countries where they were established. 23 They choose to establish their factories in developing countries because they get more economic benefits and there is less State control. Unemployment is very high, which causes salaries to be lower. The State is slack in controlling and sanctioning the

private investors because the country’s economy depends on them. Ever since a forestation law was passed, Uruguay started to sell lands to foreign companies to practise monoculture of eucalyptus trees. For 20 years this colonia has been preparing to build a “paper tower”. From the World Bank report we know that Botnia will produce 24,000 tons of solid garbage per year; ENCE will produce more than 23,000 tons. The first will produce from 100 to 150 tons of dangerous garbage and the second from 90 to 100 tons. There is more information about gaseous and liquid garbage and the energy and primary resources that will be consumed. 24 There are many discussions beyond the building of the cellulose pulp factory. I will mention them in order just to illustrate how deep this concern is. The need to add another paper factory to satisfy demand is being questioned since most of the paper is used for luxury packaging in the First World. The impact of monocultures on the ecosystem and the related diseases and contamination, the selling of Uruguayan lands to foreign economies, the exodus from the countryside to the city, the end of tourist resorts that signifies an economic impact on the population are all questions being raised. Taking all this into account, I will focus on the international conflict and the churches’ role. The game of the media in the conflict plays an important role when we do not have a clear voice from the government and the environmental impact

40

the conflict plays an important role when we do not have a clear voice from the
the conflict plays an important role when we do not have a clear voice from the
    reports are given by the factories themselves. Feelings like nationalism, as a kind
    reports are given by the factories themselves. Feelings like nationalism, as a kind
 
 
 

reports are given by the factories themselves. Feelings like nationalism, as a kind of social individualism, are at the top. Citizens do not have enough information to be able to discern.

This generates great discontent that has to be resolved in order to prevent a social outbreak. We may or may not agree with this style of showing discontent, but we have to confess that they have attracted the

A

great part of the Uruguayan population

attention of governments and the

is in agreement with the government in the construction of the factory. They argue that very big investors have chosen Uruguay to build the factory and this will reactivate the local economy. They argue that Argentina is protesting because the companies did not choose it. A minority group of Uruguayan people is in agreement with a local environmental assembly group from the Argentine city of Gualeguaychú which is opposite Fray Bentos, Uruguay. They have been speaking out against the project since 2003. The environmental assembly group

population. As social groups have found new ways of showing their discontent in this liquid modernity and globalization, we as churches have to search for new ways of getting involved in issues that cross the border of the individual. I reinforce the idea that we have to preach at the everyday level because this is where people are first affected by situations. We will not get socially involved as churches if first we are not convinced of that at the personal level. Church voices In this conflict many churches have assumed a nationalistic spirit.

from the other side of the river is striking to stop the construction because of the impact on the ecosystem. Since December 2005 they have been organizing a strike by cutting off two of the three international bridges.

While some churches in Argentina are with the environmental assembly group, in Uruguay we are not even raising the topic. Opinions and discussions turn around the conflict itself and the right to be against the

It

seems that Uruguay does not have the

factories or not. People do not relate the

tools or the economic power to stop the investors. They affirm that this factory will not contaminate the River Uruguay and they have promised that the state will control the environmental impact once it is working. This powerful strike has put the discussion on the table for both governments. In the context of liquid modernity this is a new way of striking. The ones primarily affected by the cutting of the routes are individuals. People cannot circulate and they feel attacked in their personal rights.

discussion to a theological understanding on environmental situations. On March 23, the Latin American Council of Churches organized a regional consultation on “cellulose on the Uruguay River banks”. The consultation’s impact on local churches was very limited although it was most important for the churches to meet with the representatives of environmental groups, who opened church people’s minds to a new understanding of ecology. The resistance to taking this conflict

 

41

who opened church people’s minds to a new understanding of ecology. The resistance to taking this
who opened church people’s minds to a new understanding of ecology. The resistance to taking this
  to the local churches’ agenda shows that it is easy to be ecological when
 
 

to the local churches’ agenda shows that it is easy to be ecological when we do not have to sacrifice our daily practices or our political points of view. It also shows the fragmentation of local and denominational churches. This is an example of churches for consumers where the prophetic voice has been very low.

Conclusion

The lack of water is giving us a great chance to repent from our individualistic way of living life and to choose a new way. This new way has to be rooted in a holistic conception of life that integrates every part of creation. From the Bible and theology we know that water is a matter of faith because it is part of creation. We recognize that colonial countries are being affected by globalization and liquid modernity. Within a fragmented world and society, theology has been affected too. It cannot pretend to be universal. Neither can it pretend to move from the general to the particular. It has to be concrete and converting. In this changing world, theology has to be reframed in order to respond to the new challenges. The frame to do theology related to water has to start at

42

has to be reframed in order to respond to the new challenges. The frame to do
 
 

home. It has to be rooted in daily life. There is nothing new about that because it was what Jesus did every day when he got in touch with common people. He cared about their stories of life and offered them salvation. A new frame has to move from an anthropocentric theology to an integral one that cares and goes from our daily work at home to our big home, the Planet Earth. A reframed theology has to help us to remove sinful practices like egocentrism, individualism, nationalism. Reconciliation into the grace of God is to confess our exploitation of natural and human resources and to ask for God’s will in our life.

Searching for the grace of God and living

through its freedom we will find a new

alternative way to live in abundance. There

is transforming water from prophet Ezekiel 25

imagery. This water flows from the temple of God. As waters flows, new life starts to spring up. This sweet water enters the sea and has the power of making it fresh. This sweet water is the grace that God offers us. It is a dream: that we search for this water to make us new, to cleanse us of our unclean practices and to walk towards the Kingdom.

 
 

Notes

Notes 1 Genesis 1.1-2.4 and Revelation 22.1-7. 2 Ivonne Gebara, La Sed de Sentido, Búsquedas ecofeministas

1 Genesis 1.1-2.4 and Revelation 22.1-7.

2 Ivonne Gebara, La Sed de Sentido, Búsquedas ecofeministas en prosa poética [The Thirst for Meaning: Ecofeminist Experiments in Poetic Prose], Montevideo, Uruguay, Doble clic Editoras, 2002, pp.43-48.

3 Water-related problems in Dolores City: there is a high concentration of nitrates in the water because of agrochemicals. Recently there were more than 130 hepatitis cases related to sanitation problems. See Acción Magazine, Mercedes, Monday April 10, 2006, p.3.

4 “Damage to the environment is causing a greater number of natural disasters. Flooding occurs in areas where deforestation and soil erosion prevent the attenuation of flood waters. Climate change, which, it is suggested, is fuelled both by emissions and degradation of the world’s natural environment, is blamed for the increasing number of floods and droughts.” The World’s Water Crisis, Fourth World Water Forum, Mexico, March 16-22, 2006,

p.8.

5 Ibid., pp.10-11.

6 Steve Lonergan & Davis Brooks, “Watershed: The Role of Freshwater in the Israeli- Palestinian Conflict” (IDRC Books, 1994) in Our Planet, 15(4), in www.redtercermundo.org.uy.

7 Galatians 5.13.

8 Genesis 11.5-7 (NRSV).

9 Zygmunt Bauman, Modernidad Líquida, Fondo de Cultura Económica, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2003, pp.21-28.

10 See footnote 6, Galatians 5.13.

11 Relationship between Christian God and modern culture; ethic consequences of theology, in: J. M. Mardones, Postmodernidad y Cristianismo [Postmodernism and Christianity], Santander, Sal Terrae, 1988, pp.115-116.

12 Jesus says “and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8.32 NRSV).

13 John Calvin is denoting a negative anthropology when he points out that only by the grace of God can humanity work for goodness. He quotes Paul, “I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Cor 15.10b). John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book II, Chapter III, 12 [translation: Henry Beveridge]. Grand Rapids MI, Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1957, p. 262.

14 Elsa Tamez, Contra Toda Condena: la justificación por la fe desde los excluidos [Against all condemnation: justification by faith from the point of view of those who are excluded], San José (Costa Rica), Editorial DEI, 1993, pp.39-40.

15 See Kathryn Tanner, “Creation, Environmental Crisis and Ecological Justice”, in Rebecca Chopp & Mark Taylor, (eds), Reconstructing Christian Theology, Minneapolis (USA), Fortress Press, 1994, pp.99-123.

16 Idem, p.99.

17 Zygmunt Bauman, op. cit., p.82ss.

18 Ivonne Gebara, “Ecofeminism”, in Letty Russel & Shannon Clarkson (eds), Dictionary of Feminist Theologies, Louisville (USA), Westminster John Knox Press, 1996, pp.77-78.

19 “God, in your Grace, Transform the World” was the theme of the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches celebrated last February in Brazil.

43

2 0 Revelation 22.1-7. 2 1 Steve Lonergan, op. cit. The author affirms that geopolitically

20 Revelation 22.1-7.

21 Steve Lonergan, op. cit. The author affirms that geopolitically water will not become a topic for war because water is a domestic problem. He thinks in a male category that analyses the macro and public sphere and does not look at the micro and private. A new fact of liquid modernity is that the borders of the public and the domestic spheres are not clear as they were in modernity. Environmental crises will lead more often to unexpected issues like water and they will turn into political conflicts.

22 See Romans 8.19ss.

23 For example, in Valdivia, Chile the Arauco Cellulose Factory contaminated the Río Cruces and black swans died. See Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales (www.olca.cl).

24 Eduardo Gudynas, “Batalla sobre aguas turbulentas”, in El País, Montevideo, March 17,

2006.

25 Ezequiel 47.1-12.

44

VOLUME 57(1), MARCH, 2007

VOLUME 57(1), MARCH, 2007 Louder please, I can’t hear you: voices, spiritualities and minorities Claudio Carvalhaes

Louder please, I can’t hear you:

voices, spiritualities and minorities

Claudio Carvalhaes

The meditation on the final words of the Waldensian Oath of Sibaud leads Claudio Carvalhaes to connections between Christian faith, marginalized voices, immigrants without papers, globalization, spirituality, and community life. A Presbyterian from Brazil, Claudio Carvalhaes studied theology at the Methodist University of São Paulo, Brazil, and ecumenism at the Ecumenical Institute, Bossey, Switzerland. He has a doctorate in Liturgy and Systematic Theology from Union Theological Seminary, New York, USA

For Daisy Machado 1 There is no such thing as silence (John Cage) Sometimes you have to scream to be heard (Avital Ronell)

In 2006 the American Waldensian Society celebrated one hundred years of existence, a short span of time compared to the history of the movement since its beginning with Waldo of Lyons. It is a time to speak out loud, rejoice with our sisters and brothers and renew our resistance and resilience against intolerance. The survival of the Waldensians is a world sign of resistance and survival of many minorities across the globe.

The voice of the oath

Reading some of the documents of the Waldensian Church, I was struck by one of its oaths. It says:

“Waldensians, by these oaths, Heaven blessed our fathers, And in these days is still ready to bless us. Joining our brothers’ hands, let us loudly proclaim:

‘At the altars of my God, So, I want to live and to die’”.

45

  This is a powerful statement of faith, a radical shout that clearly places life
 
 

This is a powerful statement of faith, a radical shout that clearly places life on the edge (to live and to die), which understands

both faith and life as one event, an event that is always at risk. This profession of faith was a second step, a response from a community who knew well what faith in praxis meant. For this short paper, I would like to reflect on just one word from this oath, namely, loudly. The oath says: “let us loudly proclaim.” That word called my attention. Why this need for volume? Why not say “let us proclaim” or even “let us boldly proclaim?” Why it is not enough to proclaim, declare or confess? I might well be wrong, but it seems that this oath refers not so much to what you say as to how you say it, which I guess, is very Italian, or Brazilian… Aloud! The oath seems to be preoccupied with the levels of energy, trying to instill a mixture of awe, fierceness and urgency, and intending to fill the believer with a necessary intensity that she or he will need in order to live the challenges and perils of this faith, perhaps

to

the last consequences. Thus, the how of

the confession might have to do more with the liturgical ways the believer attaches her/ himself to the belief than to the theological

aspect of that belief. In order to believe, one cannot only proclaim what one believes, one has to do it in an intense and loud way. This oath claims a faith that combines words and sounds, making every affirmation sound like an exclamation, a shout, a scream,

a

creed confessed with a loud voice.

Moreover, you cannot understand this faith

46

an exclamation, a shout, a scream, a creed confessed with a loud voice. Moreover, you cannot
 
 

if

it does not come with the gestures of the

body moving closer to the altar and the movements of the hands searching for

 

somebody else. “Joining our brothers’ hands… At the altars of my God”. What we see here

is

the connection between liturgical gestures

of

companionship, bodies closer and hands

together with the assurance of a God who belongs to them (my God). “Let us loudly proclaim…” Again, the volume of one’s voice radically affects the way one believes, and consequently, determines the ways in which one understands, negotiates, lives and performs one’s spirituality.

 

Whose voices are speaking in us?

What does “voice” have to do with our faith and to the ways we develop our spiritualities and worship God? If we pay attention to the voices that speak our theologies or create the hymnody of our

congregations, what voices are they and whose voices do they represent? The voices

of

our theologians and liturgists are located

voices, under an array of influences and

 

limitations. Their voices are only a rumor,

or a point of view about God. These particular and local voices become

a problem when they become or want to

become a universal voice that has to be listened to by everybody else. For instance, we in Latin America for far too long listened to the voices of European and North American theologians and only later did we realize that we also had a voice, that we could speak and more interestingly, that we

theologians and only later did we realize that we also had a voice, that we could
    could speak about God too. In the midst of foreign and colonizing voices,
    could speak about God too. In the midst of foreign and colonizing voices,
 
 
 

could speak about God too. In the midst of foreign and colonizing voices, we went through a long process to find our

this exclusionary voice was so loud that it made mute many other voices, the voices of the women, the voices of black people, the

 

tupiniquim 2 theological and liturgical voices.

voices of the South of the world, the voices

One of the things at stake in liberation

of religious difference, the voices of nature.

theologies is the search for difference,

A voice so loud that it ended up deafening

alterity, i.e. other ways of speaking, listening,

many of those who were trying to say

understanding, believing, and experiencing life. Differences that were denied, avoided

something, an uninterrupted noise that intended to continuously strike at the ears

and erased in the construction of Western

of

others until they all agree, as in the movie

theological thought. In this process, the task of hearing the voice of the voiceless has been a major and complicated one. One of the many questions we should ask is: can we move beyond the pleasurable tone of our voices and hear the voice of the other? If so, how can we hear the voices of those who have been silenced for so long — the poor and the oppressed, whose voices have been smashed down and whose mouths have been brutally shut up? How can we hear if they don’t speak? Why don’t they speak? The voices of minorities have been historically dismissed and forbidden. The construction of an official voice of history, that determined what existed and what did not exist was made by those who, by imposing a sort of pre-Babel world, decided to speak for all the others and establish a lingua franca which provided straight and proper standards of how life should be listened to, spoken about and understood. Within theology, there was always an attempt to establish an unambiguous voice that would tell us what to believe and what to do regarding God’s will. In this process,

1984. 3 If any voice goes on without being challenged and interrupted, in time this voice will become the truth and the measure of life for those who are listening. However, within the discourses pronounced by major voices, there were those who resisted, and decided not to conform or to obey. Voices of marginalized people ended up writing history in different shades, modulations and tonalities of sounds. These voices, hidden under those of the colonizer, were the sounds and vocabularies of a different understanding of God and of the world. These voices of dissent gave us different histories filled with examples of resistance and possibilities to perceive, experience and live our “common” faith differently in the world. Waldo of Lyon and the Waldensians are some of these voices. Waldo’s strange voice shaped an other spirituality that challenged proper and acceptable measures of faith at his time, creating other theological and spiritual possibilities for the believer to live life and faith beyond the stream of the official discourses. He shouted as if in a desert,

 
 

47

to live life and faith beyond the stream of the official discourses. He shouted as if
to live life and faith beyond the stream of the official discourses. He shouted as if
  voicing other ways for the coming of God. The sound of his voice echoes
 
 

voicing other ways for the coming of God. The sound of his voice echoes within us today and is mixed with the screams and shouts of those who decided to listen to strange voices. As we hear Waldo’s voice, we must continue to listen to the voices of those who lived and died on the margins, and those who are still living and dying in the mute gutters of our world: Are they saying anything? What are they saying and what we can learn about God from them? We must continuously ask ourselves whose voices are speaking in and through us, since our voice is never a single voice. Our voices depend on the economic structures and cultural settings in which we are confined. My voice, for instance, depends on the opportunities, on the education I had, and the network of possibilities in which I am integrated; it also depends on the voices I have heard and the choices I have made; the voices I didn’t hear, the things nobody ever told me; it depends on my history, the limits of my world and the multiplicity of voices that I allow to speak for and with me. Our voices are necessary tools to determine who and what we are always becoming. Our voices determine the ways in which we develop our communal spiritualities. Is it possible to develop a sense of spirituality if we cannot talk? How can our voices and more specifically, the volume of our voices, give contours to our faith and create a place of dignity in the world?

Franz Fanon’s voice

Franz Fanon in This is the Voice of

48

to our faith and create a place of dignity in the world? Franz Fanon’s voice Franz

Algeria, says that the Algerian people were only able to incorporate a larger sense of “the struggle of an assembled people” 4 when they were able to buy a radio and listen to the voice of fighting Algeria, which was “an official voice, the voice of the combatant(s), (to) explain the combat to him, tell him the story of the Liberation on the March, and incorporate it into the nation’s new life”. But due to the highly trained French services, they detected the “sound-wave warfare” and the programs “were then systematically jammed, and the Voice of Fighting Algeria soon became inaudible”. 5 The occupier of foreign territories intends to control people by gradually muting their voices. Without a voice, one loses the capacity to recollect and the threads of one’s history. Thus, the history of the colonizer becomes the history of the colonized. By dismantling the voices of colonized people, the colonizer wants to prevent the colonized from discovering the power of their voices, the concatenation of their thoughts and establish any movement of resistance. Fanon says: “Imperfectly heard, obscured by an incessant jamming, forced to change wave lengths two or three times in the course of a broadcast, the Voice of Fighting Algeria could hardly ever be heard from beginning to end. It was a choppy, broken voice.” 6 Voice matters and the processes of colonization, then and now, try to obliterate the voices of the other, cracking its codes and shattering its nuances, rendering other voices imperceptible, unpleasant,

    unimportant, a mere distraction. When only one voice speaks, the silence of the
    unimportant, a mere distraction. When only one voice speaks, the silence of the
 
 
 

unimportant, a mere distraction. When only one voice speaks, the silence of the other voices amplifies the volume of the one spoken. Moreover, unheard voices usually sound strange when rarely spoken and they end up being used as reverberations of the negative side of the spoken one. The relationship between silence, voice, amplification and reverberation performs an acute role in the Waldensian service where silence constitutes an important aspect of the service. There, silence is not the absence of a voice but rather, the condition of the possibility of their sounding voices. For in silence, we are able to hear our own voice, and articulate it in various ways. Fanon was in favour of adding new sounds into the univocal sound of the colonizer. I believe that, theologies, liturgies, ecclesiologies and spiritualities must be populated by many voices. The voice of the other is that constant challenge to my certainties and a continuous sign that shows that my voice is not absolute in any theological, liturgical or faithful matter. By adding different voices and sounds, even the “sound” of silence, to our spiritualities, the connections between voice and word can help undo the logos of any dominant voice into, perhaps, a more plural and pentecostal voice of God. Fanon says that “… the French language, the language of the occupier, was given the role of logos, with ontological implications within Algerian society.” 7 Our task is to break the “ontological implications,” i.e. the will to sovereignty of any dominant theology, and

turn the one logocentric voice of any theologian/occupier of “God’s understandings,” into a Babel/Pentecostal epiphanic moment, where God visits and transforms us in unimaginable ways. Between Babel and Pentecost, we must be able to create a liturgical space where the monolithic voice of the occupier gets distracted and transgressed by the multiplicity of voices of the Spirit, which comes from those who were not used to speaking but only to listening. Through these unheard voices, we might even be able to hear the logos of God. Therefore, by listening to different voices that speak a “foreign” theological language to which our ears are unaccustomed, we might become able to listen to an unpredictable singing of strange songs in strange lands. The ability to listen to somebody else’s voices is the opening of the Spirit within us to “see” God’s movements in unexpected people and places. The voice of an-other has the power to signify to our ears the creation of liberating processes whereby the Spirit operates in and through people in ways we might never have imagined before. Moreover, by adding strange voices and sounds to our foreign/ mother tongue, we can learn how to re- create and reinvent ourselves as we enhance, change or add new possibilities for our spiritualities in praise of a God who always speaks in many tongues. The voice of the other within my voice, and my language within the language of my neighbour might take us to what Edmond

 

49

of the other within my voice, and my language within the language of my neighbour might
of the other within my voice, and my language within the language of my neighbour might
  Jabès once said: “My mother tongue is a foreign language.” 8 My “conversion”: new
 
 

Jabès once said: “My mother tongue is a foreign language.” 8

My “conversion”: new voices in my voice

When I think about my voice, I realize that my voice is never my own voice, as it never comes alone. Instead, it is always marked by the mute screams of those who came before me, those who were enslaved, exploited and forgotten. My voice is a historical horizon of sounds, utterances, mumblings, words, and speeches that dispute a place and a right in my mind, in my heart and in my throat. One thing is certain: I can only speak through the timbers and sounds of those who colonized me, those who taught me how to speak and how loud I could be. It is with and against this voice that I try to engage and unravel my own history. Let me tell you a story:

It was July 2004. I was in Bahia, a vibrant state of Brazil with 80% of its population composed of Afro-Brazilians. I went to visit Mercado Modelo, the “Model Market” where slaves were negotiated in the 18 th century. Under the main floor, there was a large basement where people who came from Africa were thrown after arriving in Brazil, and kept until they were negotiated to slave owners. Women and men of all ages were kept under the market with water covering their bodies up to their waist. On the walls, there were holes with images of Christian saints, trying to teach them a proper and

civilized faith. This place was opened for

visit only a few years ago by the local

50

trying to teach them a proper and civilized faith. This place was opened for visit only

government after the complaints of various Afro-descendent movements who wanted to show a very important part of the history of Brazil. It was there, in that basement, that I had a conversion moment. All of a sudden I heard a myriad of voices indecipherably speaking and shouting out loud to the point of almost making me deaf. Words and sounds that I had never heard took my mind and my heart. There were sounds of weeping mothers and fathers separated from their daughters and sons, shouts of utter despair from people who were taken away from their homes to a strange place, desolation and unredeemable cries of free people all of a sudden turned into slaves. Nonetheless, among these sounds and voices, there were also screams of resistance, words of command not to give up and prayers to all the Orixás for deliverance. As I heard those voices, I realized that I have never lent my ears to this part of the history of my country and my people. Why did it take me so long to be able to hear those voices that formed who I am? Why has nobody ever told me about them and why have they never told me they were part of my self and my history? That day I realized that when I speak with my own voice, my voice is a blur of silenced and loud voices that speak inside of me. Voices that are unknown to me, voices that are telling me things that I am not able to understand, voices that are screaming inside of me and I cannot not hear them, voices of others that are trying to find their

way into the volume of my voice. And yet, they make me what I am trying to be, they subvert my thoughts, they challenge me every time I try to speak just for myself and not for my community, the community of those who lived before me and those who are yet to come. These voices in the Mercado Modelo taught me that I cannot develop my spirituality without those voices, black voices, disrupting and undoing my theological frames of reference and indexes, and giving me life. I learned that my theological grounds and the spirituality that is shaped from these grounds must be this place between Babel and Pentecost, where indiscriminate sounds and incomprehensible voices abound, voices that I can hear and understand, and voices that are both unspeakable and untranslatable, near and afar. In order to stand on sound theological ground, I must learn to pay attention to the voices that went unheard and were lost in the loud archives and monotone records of the official history of the Western world. Thus, if we are an archive of silenced voices, how should we proceed to listen to them? The way we answer this question is the way we construct our theologies and spiritualities and the way we worship God. My guess is that we must keep listening, or trying to listen, digging into our history and the history of our countries, listening to these faded and mute voices, seeing erased traces, looking for the obscured remains of a people that we both know and know nothing about. Moreover, we must listen not

 
 
 
 

only to the voices of the past but also to the silenced voices that are present today around us and in our communities. I must listen to those who live on the streets and on the borders, near and afar, “loudly proclaiming” what I cannot or do not want

 

to

hear. I must make an oath to them saying:

“With you I want to live and die”. My faith can only make sense if I listen to those who are on the margins of this world, a world, like God, made mine, not “theirs.” It is in the middle of the cacophony of these voices that I must linger with my theologies and spiritualities knowing that there is no such

 

a

thing as me and them. In this Babel/

Pentecost world, I must take on my faith and “loudly proclaim” with someone else, always with someone else, different from me, strangely and absurdly different from me, the many ways and the many voices of God in this world. As we confess our faith, it will be our continuous task to define the contours of this faith which is marked by the glossolalia of the Spirit.

 

The spiritualities of the voiceless

Stretching the possibilities of our theologies, let us assume, for now, that our

spiritualities are closely related to the ways

in

which we speak, and to the volume and

tonalities of our voices. If that is so, how can we measure, understand or relate to the spirituality of minorities? The Waldensian spirituality had to find ways to develop itself

 

in hidden places, dangerous situations, always using a lower voice, negotiating its place in the world with a quiet voice. A louder

 

51

 
 
  voice would mean death. What kind of war?” 1 1 And Irena Klepfisz writes:
  voice would mean death. What kind of war?” 1 1 And Irena Klepfisz writes:
 
 

voice would mean death. What kind of

war?” 11 And Irena Klepfisz writes:

 

spirituality and theology could be developed under such circumstances? Nowadays, we see the same situation happening to undocumented immigrants throughout the world. Even though their presence is well known by the authorities, their presence must be made invisible, silent. The watchword within these communities is “don’t draw the attention of the police, they want you here to do the worst jobs and receive lower salaries, but be quiet in everything you do, do your job and don’t call attention to yourself.” This invisibility entails the lowering of their

And our tongues have become dry the wilderness has dried out our tongues and we have forgotten speech. 12 Churches usually are, or have the potential to be, the space where undocumented immigrants choose to develop their spirituality, a ghetto where they can at least verify their existence and be certain they are not fake individuals. In spite of walking “undercover,” they have real names, even if they cannot say them out loud. In these whispering sanctuaries an undocumented immigrant searches for: 13

voices. They cannot speak out loud, they

A place where one hopes to find a

cannot fight for rights, they cannot complain

measure of sanity and safety and where one

 

about sexual and other abuses and exploitation, they cannot scream their

can be with somebody else in order to find solace over and against rampant fears that

sorrows and hopes for, if they do, they are put in prison and sent back to their countries. In order to survive, they learn to

have the power to disrupt and disarticulate one’s subjectivity and to destroy hopes, desires and resistances.

pay a high price for their non-existence and

A place where one becomes a citizen

learn that their voice can be a weapon against themselves. They learn to turn an

for a while, without worrying about getting caught.

 

exterior voice into an inner voice, a voice

A place where colliding worlds try to

which says: “Don’t speak, your voice can kill you”. Without a voice we cannot speak our language and without language there is no God, there is no creation, there is no world. 9 Without a voice, without a language, one lives in the shadows, as if one has disappeared without a trace. As Gloria Alzaldua says, “I am my language.” 10 And Ray Gwyn Smith says: “Who is to say that robbing a people of its language is less violent than

make sense out of a communal life, a place between places to call home. Worlds trying to be connected together through the liturgical practices that develop a certain spirituality that allows them to breathe for a while. • A place of recovery when the experience of utter and indescribable violence plagues the individual and the community. A place to speak when silence seems to fill one’s heart with fear, anger and sorrow.

 

52

and the community. A place to speak when silence seems to fill one’s heart with fear,
and the community. A place to speak when silence seems to fill one’s heart with fear,
    • A place where one learns with others, challenge, to prophesize against the
    • A place where one learns with others, challenge, to prophesize against the
 
 
 

A place where one learns with others,

challenge, to prophesize against the “open

 
 

is

changed by others and expands one’s ways

wound” 14 of many unfair borders.

of

seeing and experiencing God and life. The

 

A place to re-member, i.e. to be

sharing of our roots and our faith will serve

reminded of God’s love in Christ and to be

 

as

a reminders that any community alone

constantly reconnected with one’s dignity.

can get life properly. The body of Christ is

A

place where resistance is always

composed of many voices, with mixed roots,

reinvented, where identities, theologies and

spread as rhizomes, always unfolding within

struggles are constantly rewritten, redone.

trans-national communities.

A

gathered community that develop courage

 

A place to use one’s own language to do

as

strangers, immigrants, foreigners,

 

practical, “illiterate” theology, giving

excluded people, through the fresh and

 

measurement to oneself, God and the world.

insisting moving of the Spirit.

A

place where language marks off space,

 

A place where voices find faces that

locates time and tries to control both the

make and demand ethical demands. There,

 

known and unknown world.

we

look at each other’s faces without putting

 

A place where broken spiritualities

our heads down, as brothers and sisters

 

reflect broken lives made of so many stories

having to decide how to live life together in

of

pain, abuse and oblivion; a place where a

spite of injustices and difficulties. In these

displaced spirituality mirrors an exilic faith

liturgical spaces, we are called to listen and

and fosters a theology of diaspora by trying

to

speak, to love and to be challenged to

ceaselessly to find rest in an insecure land,

find the “Face of the Voice” 15 .

terra incognita, terra infirma. A place where

 

• A place where an incarnated spirituality

half-way spiritualities reflect a land without

is

always pressing our faith in Christ.

maps, a theology without clear references, encapsulating life in a desert of scattered dreams and increasingly fewer possibilities.

The spiritualities of undocumented immigrants are unmapped terrains, with fading and hidden marks, broken landscapes,

 

A place where the transcendence and

moveable sights and unclaimed territories.

 

sovereignty of God must be a reality in order to help the wandering immigrant to

Borders are written all over their bodies. This way of living engenders a spirituality

get through the hardships of life, where hopes are cherished and horizons are

that is always under negotiation. The substratum, the source of their spiritualities

stretched.

is

made of contingent material supports that

 

A place for social connections, shelter,

are always under suspicion. They cannot

 

healing and consolation where the body cries its brokenness and hopes to be somewhat joined together, mended by the Spirit. A place to contrast, to counteract, to

talk out loud for too long outside of the church, and are always relying on fake id cards, expired driver’s licenses, and non- permanent addresses. A life made of

 

53

are always relying on fake id cards, expired driver’s licenses, and non- permanent addresses. A life
are always relying on fake id cards, expired driver’s licenses, and non- permanent addresses. A life
  impermanence that ends up fostering cracked, moveable spiritualities and where theologies are always on
 
 

impermanence that ends up fostering cracked, moveable spiritualities and where theologies are always on the go, as we live, as we learn to live with one another in a foreign land.

Touched by the voice of the other

The task for us Christians is to invite these immigrants to embark into our faith journey as we join their journey as well. In this process of listening to the voices of the other, we must be aware that there might be a constant vanishing point within our faith that can spur hatred and xenophobia. As we try to live together, we must hold tight to the Holy Spirit in order to learn, again and again, how to welcome the other in our midst. To do that, we must acknowledge that we are a people which is always on the move to a better theology, better liturgical practice, and a better sense of our faith. Our spiritualities must be touched by the presence of the other, by the voice of the other, as we incarnate the gospel of Christ within our communities of faith. The incarnation of our faith will entail the sharing of our sacred spaces and also of our belongings. We must learn to negotiate our liturgical actions and our faithful decisions. How do we give an account of our faith if we never hear about forgotten communities of poor people around the world and invite them to worship with us? What would it take from us to develop our spiritualities in the midst of a variety of strange people turned brothers and sisters? How can we

54

us to develop our spiritualities in the midst of a variety of strange people turned brothers

find our own voice if we cannot hear the other who is silenced? How can we experience the Pentecost if we do not go through the Babel of our faith? Strangers and voices have a strong relation to our beliefs, spiritualities and theologies. Like the Waldensians, how do we get to the altars of God? By ourselves? How much do our theological “musts” set apart the other who cannot fit into our beliefs? At the Eucharistic table for example, are we the hosts or the hostages of God’s sacrament? Should we raise our voices and speak out loud our own stories in the midst of God’s story until we don’t know anymore whose story belongs to whom? Or are we only to regurgitate “properly” the words of institution as if a miracle were to happen? Saint Augustine’s famous line says: “You receive what you are: the body of Christ.” Who is the body of Christ around the table? What many languages does this body speak? Where are the borders of our spiritualities, of our Eucharistic tables, of our countries? In this endless web of questions, undocumented people everywhere have to learn to talk out loud, speak up and loudly proclaim whatever they believe, think and imagine. They are living on the shadow of our Eucharistic tables. The hope is that, by developing a Christian spirituality with the other, the stranger, the immigrant around the altars of God, listening to their voices and paying attention to what and how they say and sing and how they move, we will be able to engage in a negotiation of our faith that will

help us to move between Babel and Pentecost. In this process, our ears are very important. Our ears are key elements for any theology and liturgy. To talk about God is to talk about us, in disfigured words, in unspeakable words, in words yet to be said. Thus, we need to hear, hear the other. Our ears are connected to our mouths and our mouths can only make sense when our ears listen to the words we speak. There are words, wounded words that we cannot speak, words tainted by the horrific and impossible to our ears to grasp. As Derrida says,

The ear is uncanny. Uncanny is what it is; double is what it can become; large or small is what it can make or let happen (as in laissez-faire), since the ear is the most tendered and most open organ, the one that, as Freud reminds us, the infant cannot close; large or small as well the manner in which one may offer or lend an ear.” 16

Speaking and listening, being able to talk and to hear, mouth to ear and ear to mouth, might be one way for us to develop our spiritualities, to make our organic theologies grow. Grow until we get to the point where speaking and listening become the same thing, your tongue in my ear, my ear in your mouth, always negotiating our sacred spaces, our becomings, our spiritualities, re- writing our stories, translating each other and expanding what we know and what we wish we knew about ourselves.

 
 
  Conclusion The Waldensians can teach us how to get from imposed silence to loud proclamation.

Conclusion

The Waldensians can teach us how to get from imposed silence to loud proclamation. Every time they were persecuted, destroyed, and killed, this community was able to resurrect and continue its journey. Through various tonalities of voices and uneven heartbeats and bodily gestures, they were able to come together, hold hands and loudly proclaim what they believed. They learned how to voice their faith, their spiritualities and their lives. We can also learn this when an oath is loudly professed. The Waldensian oath tells us something about them as a community. When you proclaim out loud whatever you believe, you are willing not only to be heard, but also to tell your peers that you can, that you are capable of something, that you cannot and must not stop. An oath professed from the top of our longs, as a scream that sounds like a deliverance. Perhaps, we could add to our directories of worship that everyone who wants to profess their faith in Christ must affirm their faith out loud as they hold hands with the rest of the congregation! Thus, speaking our faith out loud with one another, we learn that trust is in God, but also within each other’s hands. This is how we should

begin to profess our faith and the first step

to follow Jesus. For when we do that we are

saying: “Yes, we are here! We exist as a

community, as a body! And even more, we

have something to say. Loudly!”

55

 
 
The voices of the Waldensians are now stretched to the voices of my African ancestors

The voices of the Waldensians are now stretched to the voices of my African ancestors in Brazil, along with the voices made mute, the unknown, the uncared for, the improper and unlanded 17 marginalized voices from all over the world. By now, our voices must have become a matter of life and death as well, as the Waldensian oath teaches us. So, as one and multiple communities, with different faces, colors, voices, bodies, classes, ears and tongues, springing a variety of spiritualities and

Notes

experiences with God, it is our task to create a hospitable community that is marked by diversity. We live under the guidance of the Spirit and the many tongues of the Pentecost. The voice of God is plural, received and spoken not by one major voice but by many voices. It is among our differences, voices and languages that we can loudly say:

Joining our hands, Let us LOUDLY proclaim, At the altars of my God, So I want to live and to die!

1 Her soft and yet intense voice speaks in my ears since a day when she gave a speech at Union Theological Seminary, New York, in 2003. I don’t remember much what she said but the tone of her voice was unforgettable: It was loud, intense, trembling, as if she was screaming even though she wasn’t. Since that day, her voice speaks somehow in and through me.

2 An indigenous word used by Brazilians to refer to typically Brazilian cultural traits

3 Based on George Orwell’s novel Nineteen-eighty-four

4 Franz Fanon, A Dying Colonialism New York, Grove Press, 1965, p.84.

5 Ibid., 85.

6 Ibid., 86.

7 Ibid., 91.

8 Edmond Jabès in Rosmarie Walsroy, Lavish Absence: Recalling and Rereading Edmond Jabès (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2005).

9 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1, Holy Bible, NRSV.

10 Gloria Alzaldua, Borderlands, La Frontera. The New Mestiza. (San Francisco, Aunt Lute Books, 1987), 59.

11 Ray Gwyn Smith in Gloria Alzaldua, op. cit., 53.

12 Irena Kleptisz in Gloria Alzaldua, op. cit., 54.

56

1 3 The generalizations of these assertions are based on my experience as a pastor

13 The generalizations of these assertions are based on my experience as a pastor for undocumented immigrants in Massachusetts, USA, and have the sole intention of provoking our thoughts to a more particular and nuanced engagement with these very diverse communities on undocumented immigrants.

14 See Gloria Anzaldua, op. cit.

15 Craig Dworkin Reading the Illegible, (Northwestern Univ. Press: Evanston, Illinois, 2003),

p.32.

16 Jacques Derrida, The Ear of the Other. Otobiography, Transference, Translation. Texts and Discussions with Jacques Derrida (Bisson Book, 1988), 33.

17 “It refers to the condition of dispossession and displacement that occurs during war and to zones of the world that have been effectively abandoned, where life has become absolutely intolerable.” Doris Salcedo, in Siobhán Garrigan. Worship Audible Only in the Mouth, So far. Not published yet.

57

VOLUME 57(1), MARCH, 2007 “How” matters - the case for unity- focused methods of dialogue

VOLUME 57(1), MARCH, 2007

“How” matters - the case for unity- focused methods of dialogue

Aimee Moiso

As the North American Faith and Order Commission celebrates its 50th anniversary, Aimee Moiso makes the case for dialogue methods more analogous to their objectives by critically comparing the methods adopted by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church with the way the Faith and Order study group on Justification/Justice has operated over the past four years. Moiso graduated in 2006 from San Francisco Theological Seminary. She serves as a PC(USA) commissioner to the US National Council of Churches and its Faith and Order Commission. She is currently completing a Master’s in Ecumenical Studies at the Bossey Ecumenical Institute (World Council of Churches) and the University of Geneva, Switzerland.

1. Searching for unity across division

The case of the PC(USA) Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church For ten years, two letters and five numbers have represented the possibility of schism in the Presbyterian Church, United States of America, PC(USA). A provision of its Book of Order, known as “G-6.0106b,” addresses the controversial issue of ordination standards related to sexuality. Added to the Book of Order in 1997, G-6.0106b has been a source of contention, division and hostility among US Presbyterians ever since. Those working to retain the provision

stand fast against those repeatedly seeking

58

to repeal it, and overtures from both sides

have generated heated debate, angry rhetoric and painful discord at each successive PC(USA) General Assembly. Ongoing dispute over related issues of Reformed theology, biblical interpretation, Christology and ordination has threatened to forcibly split the Presbyterian family. In response not only to perpetual rancour but to fatigue and despair over potential church division, the 213th General Assembly (2001) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approved the formation of a Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity, and Purity of the Church. Its mandate was to:

lead the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in spiritual discernment of our Christian

identity in and for the 21st century…seeking the peace, unity, and purity of the church. This discernment shall include but not be limited to issues of Christology, biblical authority and interpretation, ordination standards, and power. The task force is to develop a process and an instrument by which congregations and governing bodies throughout our church may reflect on and discern the matters that unite and divide us, praying that the Holy Spirit will promote the purity of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). 1

Unlike commissions or committees appointed to design specific proposals or programs, the task force was a body of discernment, reflection and historical and theological study. Moreover, the 20 task force members were appointed to represent the widest possible spectrum of theological and cultural diversity within the denomination. As such, the task force was not directed to resolve the conflicts facing the church, but instead to “help the church deal with current and future conflicts more faithfully.” 2 Between 2002 and 2005, the task force met three times a year, and in September 2005 released its unanimous report and recommendations to the larger church. Not all theological or ethical dilemmas were resolved – most notably, the report offered no absolute statements on sexuality and ordination – but through discernment the group found manifold foundational elements of the faith upon which to agree and which to affirm together. More importantly, despite issues that have yet to be resolved the task force ardently called on the church to resist

 
 
  division precisely because the issues are as important and difficult as they are and thus

division precisely because the issues are as important and difficult as they are and thus require the participation, input and discernment of the whole church. 3 In fact, though task force members themselves continued to disagree on some issues, their report reiterated the crucial importance of church unity nonetheless:

We [the members of the task force] have not compromised our basic convictions or commitments. We still hold most of the views and perspectives we brought to the task force…But still it is a fact that all of us have been greatly enriched and changed by our work together…Our experience of Christian faith and life has been extended and expanded. Our trust in other Presbyterians and our respect for differing perspectives has deepened. Most of all, our joy in believing has been greatly increased by the work of the Holy Spirit. Our gratitude for the church has grown because of the honesty, humility, and faithfulness of the other members of the task force. As a result, our hopes for the future of the church have been confirmed…Over our time together, a common conviction has grown among us: different as we are, God has called us all to be part of the body of Christ as it is manifested in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). 4

The depth of fellowship and common

vision and passion for unity were not

coincidental outcomes of the work of the task force. The task force utilized judicious and deliberate methods to generate

dialogue of “honesty, humility and

faithfulness” over against the context of

59

 
 
  suspicion, mistrust and conflict in the church. Specific methods of vulnerable discussion, active listening,
 
 

suspicion, mistrust and conflict in the church. Specific methods of vulnerable discussion, active listening, discernment, prayer and study were carefully interwoven to create and maintain a context of open communication and relationships of trust and mutual forbearance among the task force members. The task force then offered these methods and findings to the larger Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as tools to help others engage in similar dialogue in other contexts. The task force confirmed that not just what is discussed and affirmed but how is crucial to the church’s identity:

How we deal with one another in controversy – especially how we accept judgment and reconciliation won for us in Christ – is a challenge to our discipleship, a test of our faith, and our most convincing witness to the truth and power of the gospel we proclaim. 5

The case of the US Faith and Order study group on Justification/Justice Divisive discussion and debate over theological and ethical issues are not confined to the inner workings of denominations. Because parallel division also occurs in ecumenical settings,

interconfessional organizations and

commissions have been charged with the

work of seeking unity across the one holy catholic and apostolic church.

The Faith and Order (F&O)

Commission of the National Council of

Churches of Christ USA is the branch of the

council devoted to theological dialogue as a

60

of the National Council of Churches of Christ USA is the branch of the council devoted
 
 

means of overcoming obstacles to unity of

the church, principally in the North American context. 6 Through study and

discussion, F&O strives to “call the churches

to

the goal of visible unity in one faith and

in one Eucharistic fellowship expressed in worship and common life in Christ, and to advance toward that unity that the world may believe.” 7 Twice a year, the F&O commissioners gather to discuss issues of theological and doctrinal importance to the North American church. The current quadrennium (2004-

 

2007) is focused on three study areas: “The Authority of the Church in the World,” “Full Communion,” and “Justification/ Sanctification/Theosis and Justice/Ethics:

A

First Study in Theological Anthropology.”

The first two study groups continue the work

 

of

previous quadrenniums; the latter group,

Justification/Justice, began its work in 2004.

 

From its inception, the F&O Justification/Justice group struggled to focus its study, to find points of commonality or even common language - which led to the unwieldy title above 8 - and to communicate or facilitate common vision and understanding among its members. Though early work was done to focus the topic in specific directions, participants had difficulty connecting with the subject matter in the manners proposed, and instead offered alternate entry points, wording, and ways to engage the topic. As

a

result, the multifaceted discussions often

felt disorganized or nebulous; in addition, some members discussed withdrawing

result, the multifaceted discussions often felt disorganized or nebulous; in addition, some members discussed withdrawing
  because they felt the dominant language was not representative of their communions. 9 A
 

because they felt the dominant language was not representative of their communions. 9 A common search for unity across division Though the PC(USA) Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity, and Purity of the Church and the F&O Justification/ Justice study group are decidedly different bodies created and designed for distinct purposes, they share commonality as groups seeking the unity of the Christian church across theological, historical and contextual division. Given this common calling, is it possible that the methodologies of the task force might strengthen and enhance the difficult work of the Justification/Justice study group? As a case study, this paper will offer a brief overview and analysis of the methods used by the task force. The paper will then provide a first look at ways the work of the Justification/Justice study group might benefit from those methods.

2. Methods used by the PC(USA) Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity, and Purity of the Church

Examination of the final report of the Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity, and Purity of the Church (as well as other resources produced by the task force) reveals a number of elements the task force lifts up

as integral to their rich process of dialogue

and discernment. It is not within the scope

of this paper to treat each element in great

depth, but they can be loosely grouped into

three categories:

the scope of this paper to treat each element in great depth, but they can be
 
 
  1. Community building 2. Worship, prayer and Bible study 3. An atmosphere of listening and

1. Community building

2. Worship, prayer and Bible study

3. An atmosphere of listening and discernment. These categories are mutually interdependent, proceeding from one to another and informing and building upon each other. All of the elements served to enlighten and undergird the group’s deep, thorough theological and historical study. None of the components was assumed or taken for granted; each was intentionally and thoughtfully fostered by the task force over time. Community building “It is essential that relationships be nurtured among participants who have differing perspectives if effective engagement in theological exploration is to happen. Group cohesion enables reflection and discussion to have more depth and breadth.” 10 The community building aspect of the work of the task force included introductory activities designed to help participants get to know one another and understand the varied contexts from which each had come, and trust- and relationship-building activities that focused on sharing experiences, stories, feelings, expectations and goals, and that encouraged honesty, openness and vulnerability in dialogue. For example, at their first meeting the task force shared anonymously-written hopes, concerns and ideas, and from the resulting discussion created a common covenant that was affirmed by the group and became the common basis of their work together.

61

 
 
  Worship, prayer and Bible study In addition to an opening worship service at each
 
 

Worship, prayer and Bible study In addition to an opening worship service at each meeting that included celebration of the Lord’s Supper, members of the task force engaged in regular Bible study relevant not only to the theological issues before them but also to personal and collective concerns they faced. Members spent time in regular prayer with each other: at meetings in pairs,

small groups and as a whole, and individually between meetings. The final report states that the following, among others, were important aspects through which the participants were drawn closer to God and to each other:

 

Sincere self-examination, mutual

 

confession, and repentance of ways in which

all have undermined the church’s calling and faithfulness. • Joint participation in worship and the Lord’s Supper.

 

Communal study of the Bible that

 

seeks common and mutually enriching understanding across dividing lines. 11 An atmosphere of listening and discernment Perhaps more than any other single element of the task force process, an atmosphere of listening and discernment seems to have been the most surprising and fruitful means to deep understanding and

relationship. As participants took time to

carefully and thoughtfully listen to the ideas,

hopes, fears and faith of others, and to seek

the will of God for the church through what

was said and experienced, they found themselves irrevocably changed:

62

seek the will of God for the church through what was said and experienced, they found

As we observed the disciplines of listening and reflection that became foundational in the task force process, we heard…the gospel anew and felt the spirit of Christ in the words and deeds of our fellow task force members. Repeatedly, we found ourselves moved and impressed by the depth and truth of statements made by our colleagues, including those whose backgrounds and experiences are very different from our own. Most surprisingly, our faith was enriched and strengthened by the contributions of those whose views on contested issues we do not share. 12

The intentional listening and collective

discernment necessary to come to such mutual enrichment is not an easy task, and for members of the task force it involved significant reflection on and discussion about such issues as power, stereotyping, inference, judgment, insecurity and

interpretation. The task force took deliberate measures to recognize and break through preexisting patterns of assumption and belief, and to find new ways of approaching dialogue and discernment. 13

3. Why “how” matters in unity- related theological dialogue

Theological study is informed by method As a major portion of its mandate, the Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity, and Purity of the Church was asked to engage in extensive theological, biblical and historical study. The comprehensiveness and depth of the theological sections of the report, attested by the significant

bibliography of sources consulted 1 4 and presentations received, demonstrate the breadth and rigour of

bibliography of sources consulted 14 and presentations received, demonstrate the breadth and rigour of the study undertaken by the task force. Yet rather than being independent from the method previously described, the meticulous study was informed – and in fact formed --– by those methods. The scholarly studies were conducted within the context and patterns established by a commitment to community building, common worship, and an atmosphere of listening and discernment, so that what might seem in another context to be merely an “academic” exercise was instead a continuation of the communal, worshipful and prayerful discernment of the task force. Theological study began by first laying groundwork of “general theological understanding and engagement before taking up the more sensitive and difficult specific topics,” 15 thus ensuring all participants both understood and affirmed the methods and means of study, not just their content. To foster engagement with varied opinions, the task force made a “determination to seek to understand positions other than our own by studying some of the best written presentations of different perspectives by respected scholars and earlier committees and commissions of the church.” 16 Both the content and methods of the theological and historical study were designed to bring the participants to common understanding while encouraging deep engagement with positions unfamiliar or

different from their own. That experience led to the task force’s recognition of the importance of the unity the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.):

We have given voice to our shared convictions in the theological reflection that heads this report. We have seen the reflection of Christ’s glory in one another. Our growing awareness of this common faith in Christ has become the basis of our unity and of our fear of the consequences of losing one another. This faith gives us hope, indeed, assurance that we should hold on to one another and bear with one another as we grapple with the other difficult issues before the church. 17

Put another way, through their intensive work together task force members themselves found unity in Christ across their differences, and in so doing became convinced of the value of – and possibility for – the unity of the church as a whole. Challenges facing the F&O Justification/Justice group The Faith and Order Commission of the NCCCUSA, charged with witnessing to the churches “the Gospel call to full visible unity,” 18 has generally engaged in its mandate through the methods of Western academia, pursuing theological study and dialogue (typically among scholars who write and share academic-style papers) and publishing research that serves the unity of the churches. 19 This work has often been fruitful and has led to a number of helpful and significant studies for the churches. At times the study groups have also used a variety of methodologies of

63

and significant studies for the churches. At times the study groups have also used a variety
  dialogue to assist with the difficult work of communicating trans- denominationally, especially as it
 
 

dialogue to assist with the difficult work of communicating trans- denominationally, especially as it has been recognized that the work of interconfessional theological dialogue requires more than merely expertise in and knowledge of theology itself. 20 Language. Among the many challenges currently facing the F&O “Justification/ Justice” study group is that of use of language. The use of the word “justification” itself poses problems for traditions (such as Orthodox or Pentecostal) that focus more on experiences of sanctification or theosis. Mutual understanding of the terms was mistakenly assumed from the group’s inception. Even among the Reformed and Lutheran members of the study group (traditions with a more developed understanding of justification) there was miscommunication and disagreement about how to best conceive of and express the concept. Often, such miscommunication was based not in different root understandings of the underlying concepts – how God redeems creation or humanity, per se – but in a lack of willingness or ability to speak of the complex concepts in other than theologically-loaded terms that were not equally familiar or meaningful to all group members. 21 The etymological play-on-words of “justification” and “justice” had significant meaning for some members, while for others the term “justification” was so remote to their tradition as to potentially preclude participation in a study group by that name.

64

was so remote to their tradition as to potentially preclude participation in a study group by
 
 

Perpetual discussions about what language to use and how to use it kept substantive dialogue from moving forward but never seemed to lead to a concerted effort to truly understand or define common language. 22 Inclusion. In addition to the problems of language, early presentations were complex and assumed shared knowledge of concepts unfamiliar to some group members. Some who had planned the studies wanted to forge ahead with particular topical agendas despite the obvious hesitation of others who felt marginalized in the discussion. Conversation around the table was often dominated by a few, while others appeared to be merely observers. I noticed in particular that participants who were either new to Faith and Order or who held non-academic positions (as pastors or other church leaders, for example) were frequently less able to engage fully in the discussions. Efforts by some to pose alternate methods or ways to frame the questions at hand were often unsuccessful. 23

4. Rethinking the “how” in existing dialogue

It is likely that the work of the F&O study group would have benefited from taking more time in its early stages to establish common ground and mutual understanding of both the task and subjects at hand. Deliberate efforts to build

community within the study group might

have allowed for fuller participation of all

members. Presentations might have been

 
 
  more useful if they had begun with discussion and clarification of underlying theological concepts
 

more useful if they had begun with

discussion and clarification of underlying

theological concepts before proceeding to

more complex and interrelated topics.

Still, even at this late stage methods like

those used by the Theological Task Force

on Peace, Unity, and Purity of the Church could offer some benefit to the Justification/ Justice study group. As the group nears the end if its first quadrennium, deliberate reflection on both the subject and methods of the group’s dialogue could prove critical for the future. Such a moment of review of the past and creative vision for the future is also an opportunity for new direction which could be characterized by both new methodologies and a transformed ethos. At the most recent meetings - October

2006

and March 2007 - much energy was

devoted to discussing the difficulties the

study group had encountered in its work and trying to identify the underlying tensions and misunderstandings. Such conversations – which will undoubtedly continue in October

2007

– could be strengthened by the use of

different methods of dialogue.

For example, future discussion might

begin with open round-table sharing

(perhaps using mutual invitation) about each participant’s fears, disappointments and hopes for the study. A recorder could note common themes of both hope and frustration that might help inform the group

as to the most fruitful directions of dialogue,

both in format and content.

A discussion of theological topics could

group as to the most fruitful directions of dialogue, both in format and content. A discussion
 
 
  be channeled creatively to highlight what each person thinks is the most relevant aspect of

be channeled creatively to highlight what each person thinks is the most relevant aspect of “justification” or “justice” in his or her tradition, and each person could then be invited to explain or express not only why that aspect is important in the tradition, but also its importance to the individual. Such dialogue would serve two purposes:

lifting up and sharing key theological concepts from each tradition, and giving an opportunity for participants to share beliefs using non-theological (and perhaps personal or experiential) language, thus (perhaps) providing alternate language for common understandings and values. With the beginning of a new quadrennium in March 2008, there will likely be changes in the study group’s membership as various church representatives depart and are replaced. This time of transition provides an opportunity to build community and partnership among the members of the new body to ensure everyone’s full participation. Setting a tone of inclusion, welcome and collaboration from the start and using methods that strengthen our relationships along the way will serve us well when we face misunderstanding, disagreement and division. Though it is not possible at this time for such an ecumenical body to share in the Eucharist, the Faith and Order Commission as a whole does participate in worship together at its meetings. The Justification/Justice group would also benefit from sharing prayer together as a study group itself, both to reflect on the

65

 
 
    nature, purpose and direction of its work, and to offer care and concern
 
   
 

nature, purpose and direction of its work,

and to offer care and concern for the other members of the group – many of whom have struggled with serious health issues during this quadrennium. Minutes of several meetings also reflect a desire among some members to spend time in Biblical study together. Perhaps a prayerful or worshipful spirit in each meeting might help the members listen and share with each other anew in patient and thoughtful ways.

 

At

the October 2006 F&O meeting, one

 

of the co-moderators of the Justification/ Justice study group commented on the difficulty of finding a method to define and understand the theological, ecclesiological and linguistic differences being voiced by the members of the group. Traditional comparative methods of presenting denominational or confessional positions to one another seemed to be limiting the process. “Is there another way?” she asked the group. 24

Conclusion

 

A

short analysis of this kind can only

 

begin to scratch the surface of how particular

methods might contribute to dialogue seeking the visible unity of the church. Many areas require further study, and this paper has dealt primarily with the practical and pragmatic reasons for utilizing such processes. One area for further study would be the relationship between theology and

66

reasons for utilizing such processes. One area for further study would be the relationship between theology
 
 

method, or ecclesiology and method. Various traditions have different ideas of how church structures of decision making should impact or influence the methods used in dialogue, as well as how the participants themselves might understand power and authority. Theologically, there may be good reasons for utilizing methods that promote relationship and community, but such theologies have not yet been strongly articulated (with the exception of some work done regarding the use of the “consensus model” of decision making in parts of the global church and the ecumenical movement). What is clear is that unity and community among members of a study group or task force have a direct impact on work accomplished toward unity; thus methods of dialogue that foster unity could be an important factor in furthering the visible unity of the church. But beyond the pragmatic and productive reasons for using such methods, might there be another – possibly even more significant – reason for

seeking unity and community in these

bodies? Should not the methods, goals and

life of the task force or study group reflect

the unity it seeks to achieve? As various

groups work for the visible unity of the

church, might it also be important – or even

faithful – to do all they can to live the unity

they seek?

 
 
  Bibliography Bills, Samuel. Minutes, “Justification/Sanctification/theosis and Justice: Towards a Theological
  Bibliography Bills, Samuel. Minutes, “Justification/Sanctification/theosis and Justice: Towards a Theological
  Bibliography Bills, Samuel. Minutes, “Justification/Sanctification/theosis and Justice: Towards a Theological
 

Bibliography

Bills, Samuel. Minutes, “Justification/Sanctification/theosis and Justice: Towards a Theological Anthropology” Group of the NCCCUSA Faith and Order Commission. National Council of Churches of Christ. October 2006. Coalter, Milton J., Barbara G. Wheeler and John Wilkinson. “Principles of Polity: Their Contribution to the Peace, Unity and Purity of the Presbyterian Church.” Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church Final Report Resources. 2 June 2005. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). 1 January 2007 <http://www.pcusa.org/peaceunitypurity/ finalreport.htm>. Cross, Terry. Minutes, “Justification/Sanctification/theosis and Justice: Towards a Theological Anthropology” Group of the NCCCUSA Faith and Order Commission. National Council of Churches of Christ USA Faith and Order Commission. March 2004. Minutes, “Justification/Sanctification/theosis and Justice: Towards a Theological Anthropology” Group of the NCCCUSA Faith and Order Commission. National Council of Churches of Christ USA Faith and Order Commission. October 2004. Minutes, “Justification/Sanctification/theosis and Justice: Towards a Theological Anthropology” Group of the NCCCUSA Faith and Order Commission. National Council of Churches of Christ USA Faith and Order Commission. March 2005.

Minutes, “Justification/Sanctification/theosis and Justice: Towards a Theological Anthropology” Group of the NCCCUSA Faith and Order Commission. National Council of Churches of Christ USA Faith and Order Commission. October 2005. Curtiss, Victoria. “Resources for Fostering Community and Dialogue.” Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church Final Report Resources. 2005. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). 1 January 2007 <http://www.pcusa.org/peaceunitypurity/finalreport.htm>. “Discernment and Decision-Making.” Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church Final Report Resources. 2005. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). 1 January 2007 <http://www.pcusa.org/peaceunitypurity/finalreport.htm>. Demarest, Gary and Jenny Stoner. “A Plan for Moving Ahead.” Attachment to Press Release of August 2002 Meeting Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church. 5 August 2002. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). 1 January 2007 <http://www.pcusa.org/

peaceunitypurity/archive/aug06-pressrelease.htm>.

Ford, Rev. John, CSC. “Theological Language and Ecumenical Methodology.” 2004. National Council of Churches of Christ USA. 15 January 2007 <http://www.ncccusa.org/unity/ fandoford.html>. Fuchs, Sr. Lorelei, SA, ed. National Council of Churches of Christ USA Faith and Order Commission Handbook. New York: National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA,

2005.

Goodwiller, Gregory A. “Presbytery Theological Reflection Groups: A Guide to Their Formation and Work.” Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church Final Report Resources. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). 1 January 2007 <http://www.pcusa.org/ peaceunitypurity/finalreport.htm>. Kinnamon, Michael and Brian E. Cope, eds. The Ecumenical Movement: An Anthology of Key Texts and Voices. Geneva: WCC Publications, 1997. Lancaster, Bill. “Assembly approves task force to seek peace, unity and purity of the church.” Presbyterian News Service, 13 June 2001. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). 12 January 2007.

<http://www.pcusa.org/ga213/news/ga01116.htm>

 

67

June 2001. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). 12 January 2007. <http://www.pcusa.org/ga213/news/ga01116.htm>   67
June 2001. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). 12 January 2007. <http://www.pcusa.org/ga213/news/ga01116.htm>   67
  Lossky, Nicholas, et al., eds. Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement . Geneva: WCC Publications,
  Lossky, Nicholas, et al., eds. Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement . Geneva: WCC Publications,
 
 

Lossky, Nicholas, et al., eds. Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement. Geneva: WCC Publications, 2002. Loughran, James, SA, ed. Minutes, Faith & Order USA, Justification, Sanctification, Theosis and Justice. National Council of Churches of Christ USA Faith and Order Commission. March 2006. National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA. “Faith and Order Commission.” 2004. Website of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA. 5 January 2007 <http:// www.ncccusa.org/about/unityhome.html>. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Part I:

Book of Confessions. Louisville, KY: Office of the General Assembly, 1999. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Part II:

Book of Order, 2005-2007. Louisville, KY: Office of the General Assembly, 2005. Presbyterian Peacemaking Program. Seeking to Be Faithful: Guidelines for Presbyterians During Times of Disagreement. 1992. Office of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). 5 January 2007 <http://www.pcusa.org/peacemaking/index.htm>. Raiser, Konrad. To be the Church: Challenges and Hopes for a New Millennium. Geneva:

WCC Publications, 1997. Small, Joseph D. Committed Conversation. No. 2 of the Office of Theology and Worship Church Issues Series. 6 vols. Louisville, KY: Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 1999. Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity in the Church. A Season of Discernment:

The Final Report of the Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity, and Purity of the Church. June 2006. Office of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). 6 January 2007 <http://www.pcusa.org/peaceunitypurity/finalreport.htm>. “Engaging One Another in New Ways.” Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church Final Report Resources. 2006. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). 1 January 2007 <http://www.pcusa.org/peaceunitypurity/finalreport.htm>. “Resources: Bibliography of materials read by Task Force members.” Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church Resources. 2004. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). 9 January 2007 <http://www.pcusa.org/peaceunitypurity/resources/biblio.htm>.

68

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). 9 January 2007 <http://www.pcusa.org/peaceunitypurity/resources/biblio.htm>. 68
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). 9 January 2007 <http://www.pcusa.org/peaceunitypurity/resources/biblio.htm>. 68

Notes

Notes 1 Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity in the Church, A Season of

1 Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity in the Church, A Season of Discernment:

The Final Report of the Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity, and Purity of the Church, June 2006 (Office of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 6 January 2007 <http://www.pcusa.org/peaceunitypurity/finalreport.htm>), p.1.

2 Ibid, 14-15.

3 The final report states: “The differences on these matters are strenuous and serious, but precisely because they are so important, we have been encouraged to stay together, speaking the truth in love, learning from one another, and building up the body.” Ibid, p.21.

4 Ibid, 13.

5 Ibid, 32.

6 Faith and Order in the United States also works in tandem with Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches, often on issues of parallel or global concern. The NCCCUSA F&O Commission also includes some Canadian members.

7 Lorelei Fuchs, SA, ed., National Council of Churches of Christ USA Faith and Order Commission Handbook, (New York: National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, 2005), p.18.

8 This was the unofficial, amended title for the study group’s first years. At its October 2006 meeting, the study group voted to have “Justification and Justice: Beyond the Dichotomy” as its working title, though there was still not unanimity on this language.

9 James Loughran, ed., Minutes, Faith & Order USA, Justification, Sanctification, Theosis and Justice, (National Council of Churches of Christ USA Faith and Order Commission Meeting, March 2006), p.9.

10 Victoria Curtiss, “Resources for Fostering Community and Dialogue,” Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church Final Report Resources, 2005 (Presbyterian Church, (U.S.A.). 1 January 2007 <http://www.pcusa.org/peaceunitypurity/finalreport.htm>),

p.4.

11 A Season of Discernment, op. cit., 23.

12 Ibid., p.13.

13 One example was the use of “mutual invitation” in group discussions, wherein each member was directly invited by another to speak to the issue at hand, and all have the opportunity to speak once before anyone speaks a second time, thus transforming power dynamics and allowing all to listen freely knowing they will also have an opportunity to speak. See Victoria Curtiss, op. cit., p.6-9.

14 Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity, and Purity of the Church. “Resources: Bibliography of materials read by Task Force members.” Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church Resources, 2004, (Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). 9 January 2007 <http:/ /www.pcusa.org/peaceunitypurity/resources/biblio.htm>).

15 A Season of Discernment, op. cit., p.10.

16 Ibid., p.10.

17 Ibid., p.16.

18 Fuchs, op. cit., p.18.

19 Ibid., p.18.

20 See for example the methodology developed by Rev. John Ford, STD, professor of theology at the Catholic University of America, in “Theological Language and Ecumenical Methodology” on the website of the NCCCUSA at <http://www.ncccusa.org/unity/

69

fandoford.html>. Also discussed in Committed Conversation by Rev. Joseph D. Small, Office of Theology and

fandoford.html>. Also discussed in Committed Conversation by Rev. Joseph D. Small, Office of Theology and Worship Church Issues Series No. 2, (Louisville: Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 1999), p.32-37.

21 Minutes of various Justification/Justice study group meetings reflect the frequent desire on the part of some members to use other kinds of language, such as metaphor (October 2004) and experience (March 2006), or by reframing the question in a different way entirely (October 2005). See Terry Cross,