A Contextual, PostColonial Theory and Theology Reading List

Preparing for further research into postcolonial theologies by developing a reading list. This is my starting place. I would love to get reviews on these if you’ve read them, or recommendations for others, including journal articles, blog posts and videos.

Doing Contextual Theology
by Angie Pears (Oct 24, 2009)
Models of Contextual Theology (Faith and Cultures Series) by Stephen B. Bevans (Sep 10, 2002)
Contextual Theology for the Twenty-First Century (Missional Church, Public Theology, World Christianity) by Stephen B. Bevans and Katalina Tahaafe-Williams (Oct 1, 2011)
Contextual Theology: The Drama of Our Times by Paul D. Matheny (Jul 18, 2012)
Global Theology in Evangelical Perspective: Exploring the Contextual Nature of Theology and Mission by Jeffrey P. Greenman and Gene L. Green (Feb 8, 2012)
Controversies In Queer Theology (Controversies in Contextual Theology Series) by Susannah Cornwall (Jun 30, 2011)

Postcolonial Theory
by Leela Gandhi (Apr 15, 1998)
Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader by Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman (Apr 15, 1994)
Postcolonialism: A Very Short Introduction by Robert J.C. Young (Sep 25, 2003)
Contemporary Postcolonial Theory: A Reader by Padmini Mongia (Sep 1, 2009)
Colonialism/Postcolo… (The New Critical Idiom) by Ania Loomba (Oct 21, 2005)
Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction by Robert J.C. Young (Jul 24, 2001)
Globalization and Postcolonialism: Hegemony and Resistance in the Twenty-first Century by Sankaran Krishna (Jan 16, 2009)
Postcolonialism and Science Fiction by Jessica Langer (Jan 17, 2012)
The Arab Spring: The End of Postcolonialism by Hamid Dabashi (Jun 5, 2012)

Exploring Postcolonial Biblical Criticism: History, Method, Practice
by R. S. Sugirtharajah (May 10, 2011)
Frontiers in Catholic Feminist Theology: Shoulder to Shoulder by Susan Abraham and Elena Procario-folely (Oct 1, 2009)
An Eerdmans Reader in Contemporary Political Theology by William T. Cavanaugh, Jeffrey W. Bailey and Craig Hovey (Nov 18, 2011)
Global Theology in Evangelical Perspective: Exploring the Contextual Nature of Theology and Mission by Jeffrey P. Greenman and Gene L. Green (Feb 8, 2012)
Planetary Loves: Spivak, Postcoloniality, and Theology (Transdisciplinary Theological Colloquia) by Stephen D. Moore and Mayra Rivera (Oct 29, 2010)
Story and Song: A Postcolonial Interplay between Christian Education and Worship (American University Studies, Series VII: Theology and Religion) by HyeRan Kim-Cragg (Jul 20, 2012)
Inculturation and Postcolonial Discourse in African Theology (Society and Politics in Africa) by Edward P. Antonio (Jun 1, 2006)
The Theology of Food: Eating and the Eucharist (Illuminations: Theory & Religion) by Angel F. Méndez Montoya (May 1, 2012)
Christ & Empire: From Paul to Postcolonial Times by Joerg Rieger (Apr 1, 2007)
Postcolonial Reconfigurations: An Alternative Way of Reading the Bible and Doing Theology by R. S. Sugirtharajah (Dec 2003)
Postcolonial Criticism and Biblical Interpretation by R. S. Sugirtharajah (Jun 20, 2002)
Identity, Ethics, and Nonviolence in Postcolonial Theory: A Rahnerian Theological Assessment by Susan Abraham (May 1, 2007)
Postcolonial Theologies by Keller Catherine, Nausner Michael and Rivera Mayra (Nov 1, 2004)
The Touch of Transcendence: A Postcolonial Theology of God by Mayra Rivera (Sep 14, 2007)
Postcolonial Imagination and Feminist Theology by Pui-lan Kwok (Feb 2, 2005)
After Heresy: Colonial Practices and Post-Colonial Theologies by Vitor Westhelle (Feb 26, 2010)
Postcolonial Feminist Interpretation of the Bible by Musa W. Dube Shomanah (Jun 30, 2000)
The Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming by Catherine Keller (Mar 9, 2003)
Handbook of U.S. Theologies of Liberation by Miguel De La Torre (Nov 10, 2004)
Heart of the Cross: A Postcolonial Christology by Wonhee Anne Joh (Aug 10, 2006)

Hospital Employee Grief and Loss Support Program

The following is a discussion starter for developing a support program among employees as a 40 bed hospital. If you have insights from your own experience, I would appreciate hearing them. And if you would like help thinking through your own situation, I’d be happy to share in that conversation also.

An updated summary version is available here in pdf.

Initial conversation –

In the past few months several of our coworkers have experienced the death of significant person in their lives. Others are entering a new stage of life with parents and others experiencing a decline in physical or mental health. Still others experience stress and grief related to relationship conflicts and disappointments. All of this has prompted a discussion regarding how we as a staff support one another during these difficult seasons.

Some considerations –

Work relationships are important. People spend half of their waking hours at work. We often spend more time interacting with coworkers than any other people. At a place like TCH, because of our size, the potential increases for us to develop a sense of family. In our families we typically know how to respond when someone has a loss, but at work we may be less confident in what we might say or do to support one another.

What happens when a TCH staff member has a loss? Who do they tell, and what happens next? Some possibilities:

  • Employee informs supervisor
  • Supervisor/employee informs HR
  • Supervisor or HR have a sit-down with employee offer support and discuss bereavement leave and EAP
  • Supervisor or HR informs leadership team & Support Team (Psychologist, Chaplain, Social Workers, etc …)
  • Employee’s immediate coworkers are informed, with the permission of the employee
  • Formal acknowledgement of sympathy is sent (card, flowers, memorial, etc)
  • A “Buddy” coworker is tasked with offering intentional and focused support to the employee, with training and backup from the Support Team. Support may include how often to follow up and how – i.e. have lunch weekly for a month, and monthly for a year. Invite conversation, offer permission to share thoughts and feelings, and to normalize the grief process over time.
  • Supervisor or HR follow up periodically, prompted by a reminder in Outlook.
  • Employees have the right to “opt out” saying, “I do not want to receive specific attention for my loss” and to change their minds and “opt back in”.

 How do we as a staff support one another more generally?

  • Normalizing the grief and loss experience:
    • Recognition that loss comes in many different forms – death, divorce, illness or disability of self or significant other, loss of a hope or dream, significant geographic move of self or others, graduation of kids from High School or College,
    • Recognition that grief is expressed in many different ways – sadness, depression, flat affect, anger, lethargy, manic episodes,
    • Recognition that grief does not respect rules or a timeline – it ebbs and flows, sometimes sneaking up on us and taking us very much by surprise.
  • Periodic in-service training and town hall meetings to discuss various topics (quarterly or semiannually?)
  • Monthly book study

What is the difference between “sharing information to enable and encourage support” and “gossip”?

What are the boundaries between being friendly, collegial, supportive, and being intrusive? How do we invite/encourage each person to state their need and be able to speak when their need changes?

What other questions/considerations need to be raised that are not identified here?

Dream Discovery Process Update from 08202012

The group met several times in July and August. The first item of business was to revisit the process as approved last summer and determine where we are in that process, what remains, and what to do. The group recognized that it elected to slow the process down significantly last Fall, believing that the proposed timeline was overwhelming at that time, particularly given that we had just begun our hosting of Family Promise. Slowing the process, we accomplished some but not all of the early action steps that would provide the seeds for our discernment process. This resulted in our not meeting timeline benchmarks of coming up with the “output” in the spring of 2012 because we did not have all of the necessary “input” up to that point. So in May the group identified several short term goals that fit with our overall vision and would be necessary for us to move forward.

  1. How can we strengthen our ability to care for one another within the congregation. The Member Care ministry convened: TF, CK, KR & SS to discuss:
    1. how we follow up with people in the church who miss several weeks
    2. how we support people during times of crisis, i.e. hospitalization, illness, injury, significant loss or other crisis (relationship, employment, etc)
  2. How can we strengthen our prayer ministry? DS and FB have accepted the responsibility for facilitating this conversation.
    1. Their first effort is to build an Emergency Prayer Chain so that people can call, text or email during the week and know that a group of folks will stop and pray for them then and that they will be lifted in prayer during the week.

Now that these projects, are underway, the DDP is returning its focus to the process. In particular, we recognize the fourfold exploration illustrated in the diagram above and based in Numbers 1-3 “Taking the Census” – getting to know one another and understanding our needs and resources; and Numbers 13 “Scouting out the Land” – getting to know our neighbors and understanding their needs and resources.

While we have done most of what was involved in Taking the Census, we still have much work to do in Scouting out the Land. The group recommitted itself to the process as originally agreed upon by the board. What remains:

  1. In Taking the Census, we still need to compile a comprehensive list of needs and resources so that they can be assessed and matched.
  2. In Scouting the Land, we have
    1. gathered significant demographic data on our community
    2. developed an initial set of discussion points for conversation with our neighbors
  3. We still need to
  4. Decide how and where we will have conversation with our neighbors, individually, in pairs or small groups, and as a larger congregation. We agree that this is not primarily about telling others about our church, but rather our goal is to get to know them, and communicate that we desire to serve our community. In particular, we might say,

    “We at Forest Grove Christian Church are aware that there is more we could be doing to serve our community. We recognize that people have unfulfilled hopes, desires, dreams and needs. We believe that God is calling us to respond to these things and help our neighbors live richer, fuller lives. We would love to hear from you what needs you see in your friends and neighbors, or even in your own family, and if you have any thoughts on how a church might respond to those needs.”

We believe that God does have a dream for us as a congregation. Part of that dream, we think, is to live out our commitment to join with other Christians by exploring how we can support the work of the kingdom in our community and beyond, including praying for and encouraging other ministries, because we are not in competition, but are all working together.

We would love to see FGCC host an open house, homecoming, revival, festival or other event this fall.



Needs     & Resources

Member Care






Disciple Making

Spiritual Formation



Needs & Resources

  • Demographics
  • Circles of Influence
  • Circles of Affiliation
  • “Fishing Ponds”
  • “We are here to learn from you. Please tell us what you see, hear, wonder, hope.”
  • Open house – community calendars – 10/18-21; 11/1-4; 11/8-11
  • 9/18 – AFCC – @ TML

Some thoughts regarding “The Word of God”

At its most basic level, a word is a symbol used to express and idea, and perhaps to communicate that idea from one being or group to another.

When we think about God as represented in the Bible, we see a God who speaks to express ideas and who seeks to communicate. Genesis tells us that through speech (presumably of words) creation experienced order, distinction and categorization arising out of chaos. Thus we learn that words, or at least the words (Word?) of God has the power potentiality to create. “God said, “Let there be…” and it was so…and God saw and said, “It is good” (Genesis 1). God then turns the divine word toward relationship with humanity by offering the blessing of orientation, direction, counsel and boundaries that would constitute the divine/human relation. “Do this… don’t do that” (Genesis 2). Words are next used to disorient and deceive, and then to rebuke, correct, and warn (Genesis 3). From just the first three chapters of the bible, we learn that words are spiritual, powerful, and that they shape life.

With the second call of Abram/Abraham (Exodus 15) we encounter the phrase “the word of the LORD”. The all caps “LORD” is a place holder for the tetragrammaton “YHWY” which is the unpronounceable name of God derived from the encounter with Moses on Mount Horeb (Exodus 3:14). This word of the LORD comes to people, as an almost physical presence of God in speech – see the encounter of the boy prophet Samuel in 1 Samuel 3.

Through the call, the word/speech of God continued to create/form a unique people (Isaiah 42:6). The calling/creating word/speech beaconed Israel back from captivity and restored them as a nation in Jerusalem and Judea. The word came and spoke through the prophets. The word had always been known by the Hebrew people as active in the world, and among them speaking and calling and creating.

Then, “the word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). The New Testament theologians understood that through this same word-made-flesh all creation came into being and continues to exist (1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2, 2:10). They recognized in the Incarnate One the same creating word which they believed was spoken (and spoken of) in Genesis. In the Hebrew Scriptures “the word of the LORD” is most commonly the direct communication from God to a prophet, priest or king. Similarly, we also encounter “the angel of the LORD” as a reference to God’s direct communication.

That mode changes in the New Testament, as Jesus himself comes to us as God’s Spoken Word – God’s direct communication to the world. “The Word of God” is a New Testament theme – the phrase only appears 3 times in the Hebrew Scriptures and once in the Apocrypha. In the writings of Paul and the other epistles “word of God” most often refers to the proclamation of the message about Jesus (e.g. 1 Corinthians 14:36; Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12; 1 John 2:14). The notable exception is Romans 9:6 where Paul is discussing the unfolding message of salvation to the Jews throughout their history.

The phrase “word of God” as used by Jesus in the Gospels refers to God’s communication to Israel as witnessed in the faith and testimony of the Hebrew Scriptures – specifically “all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:40). When the same phrase is used by Luke in telling the story of the early church in The Acts of the Apostles, it refers to the testimony about Jesus (e.g. Acts 4:31; Acts 6:2). Here in Acts, as in the epistles, the proclamation of “the word of God” results in creative action – i.e. people become believers in / followers of Jesus and the Church, the Body of Christ, increases. Thus the notion of the Word of God being a creative force continues. Finally, in Revelation the usage shifts again, back to the more broadly understood message of God to the world through the Jews, where we encounter the new phrase “the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 1:2; Revelation 1:9; Revelation 6:9; Revelation 19:13; Revelation 20:4).

Nowhere is the “word of God” a fixed or static thing. As Hebrews 4:12 says, “Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” At the time of Jesus there was strong debate among the Jewish leaders over what constituted authoritative scripture and how to interpret them. This is the essence of the conflict between the Sadducees and the Pharisees. Sadducees apparently denied the resurrection (Mark 12:18; Luke 20:27) and possibly the existence of angels – Acts 23:8 lists these distinctions: “The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, or angel, or spirit; but the Pharisees acknowledge all three.” The Pharisees also held an oral tradition of interpretation that is called “The tradition of the Elders”. An example of this discussion is found in Mark 7

1 Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, 2 they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. 3 (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; 4 and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles. ) 5 So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6 He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’ 8 You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.” 9 Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! 10 For Moses said, “Honor your father and your mother’; and, “Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, “Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban’ (that is, an offering to God )— 12 then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this.”

Here Jesus enters a discussion of the relationship between the Mosaic Law, the tradition, and the practice of his contemporaries. Clearly there were multiple understandings of “the word of God”, and only Jesus, the “Word of God made flesh”, was able to bring clarity.

What to make of all of this? I want to stress several points:

  1. The “Word of God” and the “Spirit of God” are intertwined, though distinct. We see this in the bible’s first story of creation – the Spirit moving and the Word spoken.
  2. God’s communication with us is creative – this is the active result of the work of the Word of God proceeding forth.
  3. God’s communication with us is ongoing, not closed or static. God spoke, is speaking, and will speak the world and the church into existence and into relationship through love.
  4. We are participants in this loving, creative, sustaining work. We are being made new. And because the Word is in us and we in Him, we are co-laborers with God in creating, redeeming and sustaining the world – the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.

Jesus tells his disciples that when the Holy Spirit comes (Who was also at the beginning of creation, moving over the waters of chaos) the Spirit will teach the church (Luke 12:12; John 14:26) which is similar to what is said in Psalm 143:10: “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Let your good spirit lead me on a level path.” The church taught that we abide in Jesus, and he in us, and that together we abide in God (John 15) “As for you, the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and so you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, abide in him.” (1 John 2:27)

Lastly, the writer of Hebrews quotes from Jeremiah the promise that eventually the communication of God with humanity would shift modes yet again, so that we would no longer be in need of an external teacher and interpreter, because the Law/Word would dwell in us.

10 This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 11 And they shall not teach one another or say to each other, “Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8)

31 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31)

We have not reached this place, but we are on our way. This is the goal of all spiritual formation and growth, until we come to maturity in Christ (Ephesians 4:13).