Friday, April 17, 2015

Inclusivity #14 Friday afternoon musings near a overcast Strawberry Fields

It’s been suggested that some of the FSAOF articles are focused on a liberation-spirituality, and in particular those with a focus on LGBT oppression.

Some blog visitors will recognize the names Paulo Freire and John Elias, the latter being a recognized authority on liberation theology. He was also a lecturer in 1988 in one of the grad schools I attended, Fordham University, NY. Dr. Elias shared that Freire was a Christian humanist and who constantly referred throughout his writings on pedagogy; they must always feature a vision of man and of his world. Freire speaks of man’s relationship with God being central to his view of man in the world.  

He is well known to many because of his activity as a consultant to the world Council of churches in Geneva. He criticized the church for failing to exercise the true prophetic function which was theirs, and he urged them to become more actively involved against oppression, in whatever form it takes. He spoke against churches that remain neutral because neutrality meant supporting the status quo. He said that the true gospel is prophetic, utopian, and revolutionary as exemplified by Jesus, who worked for radical change. And this was to Freire the model for the church - to be strongly evangelical and kerygmatic (proclaiming-preaching).

‘Liberation spirituality’ looks carefully at the signs of the times. And the signs of the times that we Christians are to look for are the sufferings, injustices, and inequalities that exist in the world.  The old saying is a valuable truth: “We do theology with the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other!” Many of us with a Salvation Army history can proclaim without fear of contradiction that we, the Army, are often the first responders to stand against, and in seeking to end oppression. However, there are also those areas of oppression where we have remained *neutral, where some remain *naïve and others *negligent. We stand along with a decreasing number of ‘fundies’, clinging to the church’s status quo posture.

Jesus’ severest condemnations were of religious leaders and institutions. Clearly, many religious leaders and churches today have sidestepped their role to stand firmly with the oppressed.  A ‘liberation spirituality’ will resist the tendency to shift all the burden on society and to absolve the churches of responsibility.

The FSAOF is represented in several forms throughout the world, with one of the largest fellowships being in Sweden with more than 350 active members. Scandinavian Salvation Army officers, past and present, have stepped into the midst of the passionate debates ignited and fueled by the LGBT community supporters and their foes especially this last decade.

The churches’ debates have caught the attention of an otherwise disinterested, secular and mostly irreligious public. We posted one newspaper article on April 15th and we’ll share additional newspaper articles published this week in Sweden tomorrow and Sunday.

Please share what you believe the Army should do and how we might
respond on local levels.

Sven Ljungholm
Near Strawberry Fields

L’pool, UK

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