Return to a Theology of Normalcy or the Same Old Homogenous Imperialism? By Randy S. Woodley

Return to a Theology of Normalcy or the Same Old Homogenous Imperialism? By Randy S. Woodley January 23, 2013

It is coming….the signs of restored racism in our society are beginning to show… Increased hate crimes, record gun sales, White Male Supremacy is definitely on the rebound! It was precipitated by the organized resistance to the first Black President, (think Tea Party and the hijacking of the Republican led House). The Tea Party and their corporate donors have mastered the redistricting game and are now working on gerrymandering on a state level. They intend to win again and “they” mostly represent the interest of White male, conservative Christians. What would edgy, alternative thinking White male progressives have in common here with these folks? The next move towards theological retrenchment.

Seems like we can’t get away from it. The church always follows culture. That’s a shame since part of our worth to society is about being on the prophetic and pastoral edges. So now there is a sudden rise in “Radical Orthodoxy,” surprised? No. I knew it was coming. This so called orthodoxy is based in the theological development of the Enlightenment and the Reformation. (Hey didn’t Francis Schaeffer attempt this in the 1980s?) Okay, before I lose you, let me get to the punch line:

Without an enriched theology of diversity you will end up on the wrong side of history, politics and theology. Without healthy debate and dialogue with people very different than you, you won’t discover the theological gems God has waiting. If you continue looking only (or even mostly) to White, European based theologians all the things you may hate about American conservatism will eventually show up at your own doorstep. Think about what you will be missing if you continue to ignore AND dis-empower women and other ethnic, racial, global, indigenous folks…The alternative is a world of ideas, poems, stories, theologies, pedagogies, histories, and other real wealth from “the other” that awaits you. The new normal you are seeking was never normal. It was simply normal to you and those who appear to be most like you. But it’s not just theology or worldview at stake here, this is also about power, and especially about giving up power.

Western hegemony being what it is, demands categories that give a sense of false power. Western worldviews create all sorts of dualisms which create false binaries and the power differential always favors the status quo. Western thinking requires orthodoxy to trump orthopraxis almost every time. Oh yeah, it always claims to deliver both but it never does. History shows us time and again that right beliefs rarely lead to right actions (especially from Western Christians, and please don’t make me sight the voluminous anecdotes from history here). So, you think, therefore you are? No, a better way is the way Jesus taught of the Good Samaritan. Realize thinking cannot be separated from the everyday reality of your life (the orthodox characters in the story), then do the right thing (breaking with “orthodoxy” to help or even learn from “the other”). It took a Samaritan to show orthodox folks the right way to act. Their orthodoxy caused them to think correctly and do nothing.

The new normal of radical orthodoxy is simply the same old homogenous imperialism. So, please don’t go there. Come back, and let’s move forward together in humility… please?

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