Academia & the groaning places; handling a violent drunk (Quotes & Links)

Click here to read the article on Msafara (tour of hope) in Sunday’s Nation.

Quote of the Day:

Some people are always going to be offended when you actually teach them what’s in the Bible as opposed to what they assume is in the Bible. The preacher can try to say it a number of ways, and sometimes people just won’t get it. They will continue to hear what they want to hear. But if you soft-pedal matters, they will think, Oh, he’s taking us down the old familiar paths. There is a time for walking in and just saying what needs to be said. Sometimes you just need to find a good line.

. . . there must be a relationship between what you say and who you are. Preaching is the personality, infused by the Spirit, communicating the Word of God to people. – NT Wright – Interview – Preaching Today blog. 19 March 2008

Dan asks Jurgen Moltmann some important questions and makes some profound observations (an open letter to Jurgen Moltmann). Thanks to Chris Tilling for the link:

“Why have I had my life transformed by the in-breaking of God’s Spirit of love, and others have not?” . . . “Why did God come and meet me but not all these others?”

. . . it is part of my own process of trying to understand how one can be both an academic and be rooted in communities located within “the groaning places of the world” (N. T. Wright’s phrase). As I now consider moving to Europe to pursue PhD studies in theology, I cannot help but wonder if such studies will lead me into greater intimacy with the crucified people of today – with whom I am already intimately journeying – or if it will lead me away from intimacy with these people. Thus, I would find it very helpful if you could explain to me how your life as an Academic has fit with the themes of justice, solidarity, resistance, community, hope, and love, which you yourself have developed.

. . . In this regard I have trouble simply accepting the idea that the Academic contributes thoughts – analysis, theories, suggestions, and so on – while others, say the activists, actually engage in the practical work of living these things out. I think that such a divide is devastating to both Christian thought and action, and I wonder how much Christian academics who think this way are only fooling themselves. In this regard, I cannot help but think of the words of Slavoj Žižek:

Even in today’s progressive politics, the danger is not passivity but pseudo-activity… [radical academics] count on the fact that their demand will not be met—in this way, they can hypocritically retain their clear radical conscience while continuing to enjoy their privileged position… Let’s be realistic: we, the academic Left, want to appear critical, while fully enjoying the privileges the system offers us. So let’s bombard the system with impossible demands: we all know that such demands won’t be met, so we can be sure that nothing will actually change, and we’ll maintain our privilege! (I’m mixing a passage from Lacan with a passage from The Puppet and the Dwarf in this quotation.)

I’m liking Dan a lot, and he is making me do some soul searching of my own. In his latest post, he gives basic advice for handling some potentially violent situations

here are a few of the basics: when dealing with a volatile situation involving people who are street-involved (1) if at all possible, never come at somebody from behind; and (2) don’t touch somebody unless you (a) absolutely have to, or (b) have a very close relationship with the person you are about to touch (and even then, think twice — when somebody is preparing themselves for a fight, the last thing you want to do is touch them).

here are a few more of the basics: (3) limit the number of people involved in the situation — if somebody who is drunk and has been on the edge of violence wants to shut up and bugger off, let him shut up and bugger off. At that moment, he doesn’t need to hear about how much Jesus loves him — he needs to get some sleep and sober up; (4) The whole “aw shucks, we just want you to know that you are loved, so can you please just be a little more polite, good buddy” thing doesn’t work all the time. Sometimes you need to look like a you’ve been in a fight or two, and you know how to carry yourself in that sort of situation. It’s all about how you position your body, what you do with your hands and eyes, and what you choose to say or not say. This is an art that needs to be learned — you need to be able to show that you are willing to physically commit yourself to the situation, while not actually posing or acting in a way that escalates the situation.

. . . we need to recognise that being a peacemaker is something of an art that requires us to practice certain disciplines — disciplines that require some training — otherwise we risk following the trajectory of the seven sons of Sceva.


On another topic, CT editor-at-large Collin Hansen interviewed Thabiti Anyabwile, author of The Decline of African American Theology, about the appeal of black liberation theology.

Do most African Americans feel like they’ve gotten a fair shake in the American experience? Certainly not. Do most African Americans think that racism is alive and well? Yes. Do most African Americans feel that there will be some judgment against America for its hypocrisy and duplicity along racial lines? I think so. But in that sense, most African Americans aren’t much different from their white counterparts who decry abortion as a scourge deserving judgment.

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