Tag Archives: rebooting PJ

Rebooting Political Jesus Part 4: Cultural Intelligence

For the beginning of this series that started back in October of last year, Rebooting PJ, keeping the name, and Part 1: why h00die_R, part 2, Theological Openness, Part 3: Nonviolent Politics.

As I am weaving together the principles that describe Political Jesus, I see how theological openness and nonviolent politics are connected, and how both intersect with this next principle, Cultural Intelligence.  A commitment to theological openness (relationality+honesty) means that, as persons committed to a personal God, we have a duty to discuss all relationships.  Since anti-racism is very much a part of nonviolent politics, Cultural Intelligence must be seen as a defining value in this space.

Also pejoratively mocked at “political correctness,” the quest to attain cultural intelligence is an on-going process for all persons.  As a Christian, I understand Christ Jesus as the best Teacher of anti-racist praxis, the Person who defined justice for us, and the One who establishes the norms by which we are to be reconciled across cultural boundaries. Just as main-liners and post-evangelicals make that people just turned off by “hellfire and brimstone sermons,” a number of Christians do not like to read or hear about Christianity’s race problem. In fact, they would probably prefer the former.  The fact is, studies are now showing now more than ever, that U.S. American Christians of various cultural backgrounds believe in “separate but equal” as a way of life. In short, Christians are resisting the Kingdom of God, the worship service at the New Creation where every nation, tribe, tongue, and people group are praising our King Jesus.

While these realities can seem intimidating, there is hope, but that’s the thing about hope. Once a person catches hope, she catches something that places herself in conflict with the world. So people can be filled with hope that in their enthusiasm, they can be labelled as “angry” and “impatient” by others. One of the things I have learned from other writers and my friends is that if Christian anti-racism is a part of Christian discipleship, justice and hope must be valued equally.  Not only are Christians empowered to redemptively use the sciences of this world to combat the practices and institutions that divide us, but also in following Christ, we must start to faithfully live out the Kingdom in the here and now.

If a congregation is to apply Cultural Intelligence, it will have many implications for evangelism, missions, discipleship.  It starts with a self-awareness, but it cannot stop there.  We can’t say hey, we’re a Star Wars Church, we shall stay Star Wars church only for geeks and blerds. No. No no no no no.  This is not what Jesus demands of us with the Great Commission.  The Body of Christ is not to be a country club where people gather to share in their special interests (cultural particularities).  If we just remain stuck in self-awareness mode, we are probably going to end up in the idolatrous territory of self-glorification.  As Soong Chan-Rah argues in Many Colors:
Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church
, “By engaging in relationships across the cultural divide and learning from others, we create the possibility of expanding our cultural worldview.” It is this expansion of our worldview that is the creation of space within ourselves to allow the Holy Spirit to move. This space creation has a biblical term; it is called repentance. A people of repentance will not be simply guilt-ridden persons who offer apologies after wronging offended parties. Rather the truly penitent work to do better, to change actual practices for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

Cultural intelligence involves the hard work of keeping vigilant; since it is a life-long process we can choose to grow through. It means understanding the complexity of culture, power dynamics, the power of words, as well as the power of just being present and listening to others. Pastoral theologian Emmanuel Lartey developed a term I have found most useful, that of interculturality. (for more, see Lartey’s In Living Color: An Intercultural Approach to Pastoral Care and Counseling, specifically the first 2 chapters). Where as cross-cultural and multi-cultural approaches to reconciliation and justice assume conflict and natural, irreconcilable difference, interculturality values the diversity of human experience found in possible universal, culturally-specific, and individual uniqueness. The assumption is quite Trinitarian in nature where every human person is 1. Like All Others 2. Like Some Others 3. Like No Other.  And just like that, I have moved back into theological openness; from my point of view, an intercultural theology is necessarily trinitarian, reflecting the glory of our Triune Creator.

Rebooting Political Jesus Part 3: Nonviolent Politics

Library of Congress description: ", SNCC ...

Library of Congress description: “, SNCC Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, news conf[erence]” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a confession. Yesterday, when I wrote Part Two of Rebooting PJ: Theological Openness, I said I would be focusing on only FOUR principles that PJ represents. Well, after much reflection, I decided upon FIVE, yes five, and guess which principle that is? It’s actually the one I am going to talk about today: Nonviolent Politics.

As an individual, I myself am well read in the pacifist, nonviolent tradition of Christian theology. Ever since I was a baptized eight-year old convert, I can’t think of a time where I was pro-war. During the First Iraq War, all I knew was that these strange generals and politicians kept interrupting my Saturday morning cartoons, and I didn’t know what was going on. While I had friends in elementary school at that time who seemed more interested in what was war, I was more, meh. I chose those days to read about the people groups that were neglected in social studies. In a way, that was a way of practicing nonviolent politics.

This is where the commitment to theological openness and nonviolent politics intersect. As I see it, the Truth is A Person who lives in covenant in neighborly love. Truth (Jesus) makes himself available everywhere, so that there is no one culture that holds a monopoly whose form of worship is correct.  The theological openness that Jesus embodied, the idea that God is relational, relies on persuasion as the primary form of engagement.  One form of nonviolent politics that I believe in as that of being consistently pro-life, from womb to tomb.  While there are many friends who support the libertarian, and others, anarchist view, I cannot personally do so.  Politics is not about just public policy preferences or voting for our favorite supermodel politicians.  The political in political jesus is about about the public square, a public square that has expanded online, into the music industry, movies, publishing, you name it. Political Jesus is a blog that attempts to put our Nonviolent Liberator Jesus at the center of praxis in the public square.

Also read: the decision to “reboot PJ” and why I, rod, write as h00die_R.

Rebooting Political Jesus Part 2: Theological Openness

The Transfiguration Lodovico Carracci 1594

The Transfiguration Lodovico Carracci 1594 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This post is part of a series of articles I am writing to UPDATE the original vision that I first articulated concerning Political Jesus’ purpose. For part 1, see here: Why h00die_R? Instead of simply asking why PJ is here, it now stands to reason that I explore the four principles for which Political Jesus exists.

I initially did not set out to be a “progressive Christian blogger.” The label is debateable, but I digress. I originally started writing online because I needed an outlet to express my feelings and thoughts during seminary. During that time, I was active in the church, highly involved in extracurricular activities at school, and studying to earn good grades. My social activism (which I usually don’t like to talk about) back then was taking its toll. The Living Wage campaign, a petition to update a school’s curriculum, and the “Save Sudan” movement took up portions of my time. As these movements were met with various responses, and ended for various reasons, I had found the virtual form of being active.

So, Black Libertarian Theology blog became Hope And Theology on Blogspot, and then on wordpress, it became Political Jesus. Behind Political Jesus, and Hope Theology, there was the underlying premise that I wanted to make hope theologies, relational theologies, and liberation theologies accessible to laypersons, all the while having dialogue with church historians and biblical studies.

The meaning of this Theological Openness is TWO-fold. First, Theological Openness means Political Jesus, its editors, writers, and guest contributors, are committed in general to being honest about where they stand or are standing contextually. In some cases, there are Christian bloggers who work to avoid labels (and this is okay) in order to speak to Christians generally, as well as the general public. Great. That’s fantastic. There is an alternative way of creating a community. This is one built not on branding, but honesty. This theological openness means from time to time, the pieces that are published on Political Jesus are upfront about our theological, *gasp* biases. One of the things I truly appreciate about The Gospel Coalition is that unlike many emergent “don’t label me” bloggers, the TGC blog makes it obvious what tradition they stand in, and by doing so, they make possible for others to dialogue with them. Sometimes these dialogues may not be in USian Christianity’s best interest, but hey, at least conversation is going right, rather than lecturing all those mean people who are angry.

[side note: a series on being creedal and baptist is happening next year.]

A positive, constructive example of a blog site that practices Theological Openness is Joel Watts’ Unsettled Christianity.  As annoying as it is, Joel constantly goes out of his way to remind everyone that he is United Methodist, that he is Wesleyan, and that he has an affinity for Catholic teaching.  Recently it’s become popular for us bloggers to brand ourselves and our platform, even with things, like with  Jesus Radicals or Jesus Capitalists (I mean Republicans, woops). What Jesus asks us is not only to follow Him, but to follow Him WITHOUT qualification. Unqualified, without reservation, without limitation. Jesus told us to not only take up the Cross, but he also instructed prospective followers to abandon their families, to discard themselves of their riches, etc.  If discipleship and community are to happen  virtually, we should shed off branding labels and ideologies with Jesus+whatever, & reject discipleship without sacrifice. 

The other, secondary meaning for Political Jesus’ Theological Openness is a general commitment to the notion that God is relational.  From the First Testament (the Hebrew Bible/LXX) to the New Testament, God shows Godself to be a God who lives in covenantal dialogue with God’s people and creation.  Political Jesus seeks to explore these relationships, and how Christian praxis is influenced by God’s relationality.

[sidenote: In January, I will be doing a series on Liberation Theology as Relational Theology; the results may surprise you]

So, let me ask. What does Theological Openness look like for you?