All theology is local. It’s just that it’s taken us a while to admit it. But of course that’s just a starting point, and it drives us toward the need for an actual practice of the interpretive community.
Have you read any of these books? How did they differ? Which was the most helpful? Where did they (it) take you? I had Geertz in my hand a couple of years ago and have misplaced that volume, but Sedmak arrived on my desk last week and so far it’s a great book. As a writer/thinker he has a Continental feel, but his dialogue partners seem to be mostly Latin American. That’s helpful in thinking about doing theology, because most theology is now being done elsewhere than in the white, European West. The wider our dialogue partners go, the better our theology will be.
Furthermore, Sedmak is highly sensitive to post-colonial issues. And while his book is systematic, it remains engaging and almost poetic. And where else are you going to engage a discussion like this which also crosses into rich spirituality? Geertz writes in the introduction that “theology is about mindfulness.” He notes that,
“Theology wants to bring people closer to God. Doing theology is a way of listening to God. God’s voice is often a whisper. God’s presence is hidden. Theology asks for an attitude of attentiveness, awareness, mindfulness. Doing theology is a spiritual act. Theology reads the book of the world, looking “in between the lines.” Theology is not talking about God but talking to people about God, or talking about God in the light of God’s presence in the world.” (6)
The book proceeds chapter by chapter by walking through fifty thesis statements. See the attached zip file for all fifty statements.
Doing Local Theology: A Guide for Artisans of a New Humanity. New York: Orbis Books, 2002. 182 pages.
Download ZIP file