it's the beginning of term. a new year is always both crazy busy but hugely energising. at cms in oxford we have around 100 pioneers doing some training with us at undergrad, post grad and doctoral levels. it's such a joy and privilege meeting them and encouraging them in who they are, their sense of vocation, their learning and practice. i teach a couple of modules at undergrad level. one is an introduction to practical theology and reflective practice. we had the first day of that yesterday where amongst other things we discussed theology as a quest, as faith seeking understanding, as conversation about god, as something for everyone and not justan elite educated crew, as something lived, as something contextual and local and intercultural, as something global and not just western and so on. one of the ideas we came back to was theological homelessness (scroll through this edition of anvil and you'll find an article by me and cathy ross on it).
as you would expect, for every module there is a reading list. one of the books on that is theology brewed in an african pot by agbonkhianmeghe e orobator and an essay option is 'what does theology look like brewed in the pot of your community?' which i think is a fun title (i am not so sure students think it's fun writing essays mind!). i have always loved learning from other cultures and contexts and putting my western learned sense of things in conversation with that - it's a gift cms has given me. it's such a relief to find that wesrern theology (ies?) are a local theology rather than universal and will be enriched in conversation with other theologies. i'll never forget john mbiti sharing names of god he had collected from his travels in africa and he had over 300 names. orabator has various prayers and liturgies in the book, one of which is inspired by john mbiti. it's called an african invocation of divine names and i found it online here and am taking the liberty of posting it below (largely because i have learned over the years of blogging that links eventually don't work!). what does theology look like brewed in the pot of your community i wonder?
Consoler and comforter providing salvation,
Grandfather who alone is the great one,
Watcher of everything who is not surprised by anything,
Piler of rocks into towering mountains,
Divider of night and day,
Response: We praise You!
Sun too bright for our gaze,
Eye of the sun,
Drummer of life,
Owner of our head,
Large and deep pot,
My feathered one,
Mother of people,
Response: Bless us!
Great nursing mother,
Great personal guardian spirit,
Unsurpassed great spirit,
Great source of being,
Great mantle which covers us,
Great leopard with its own forest,
Great healer of eternal life,
Greatest of friends,
Great spider, the all-wise one,
Response: Enlighten us!
Controller of destiny in the universe,
All-powerful, never defeated,
Father of laughter,
King without blemish,
Possessor of whiteness,
Whiteness without patterns,
Caller-forth of the branching trees,
Unique great one to whom one can take petitions and requests for counsel,
Response: Hear us!
The first who always existed and will never die,
The only one bull in the world,
The one who sees both the inside and the outside,
The one we meet everywhere,
The one who is in all ages, everywhere and at all times,
The one who turns things upside down,
The one who has power to destroy completely,
The one who makes the sun set,
The one who gave everything on this earth and can take everything away,
Response: Guide us!
Axe that fears no thistle,
Hoe that fears no soil,
Ram of majestic sinews and majestic carriage,
Hero who never flees before the enemy,
Big boundless hut,
Victor over death,
Response: Protect us!
Compiled from John Mbiti, Introduction to African Religion (London: Heinemann, 1975); Robert E. Hood, Must God Remain Greek? Afro Cultures and God-Talk (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990); Joseph Healey and Donald Sybertz, Towards an African Narrative Theology (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1996), and other sources.Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator - Theology Brewed in an African Pot
i am adding this as a worship trick - yes i'll be getting those going again sporadically.