On Being a Postcolonial Mystic

Note: This is a forum post I wrote for my New Testament at Church Divinity School of the Pacific class this week. We have been reading from Written That You May Believe: Encountering Jesus in the Fourth Gospel by Sandra S. Schneiders and from John and Empire: Initial Explorations by Warren Carter.

I have greatly enjoyed the juxtaposition of Schneider and Carter for this week’s readings. I am very interested in Postcolonial readings of the sacred scriptures. Whose story is being told? Whose story isn’t being told? How are these stories being told in hidden rhetorical or encoded ways? As a twenty-first century progressive politician, I’m very conscious of ‘dog whistle politics’. Are there code words in the New Testament that we are overlooking? Are there code words that Jesus or the writers might have used, but been unaware of their coded meaning? I find it very helpful to ponder this.

Likewise, I’m very interested challenging binaries and false dichotomies. Was John writing about Jesus teachings as they applied to the Roman Empire? Was John writing about spirituality? Could this be a both/and instead of an either/or?

For me, this comes together in the idea of Jesus being fully human and fully divine. The politics of empire feels very much concerned with the fully human aspect of Jesus. How do we stand up together against oppression? The language of spirituality feels very much concerned with the fully divine aspect of Jesus. How do we experience unity with Jesus, especially at those times where he is absent and fully present at the same time?

Perhaps the most important question is the fusion of the two. How do we stand up together against oppression while being in union with Christ and all believers? Perhaps this is the challenge of the twenty-first century Postcolonial Mystic.

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