political theology, terror, theodicy, torture, war

On Scandal and the Future

Many an important theology has been born out of more than mere reaction, but an urge to address an established evil. Theologians in the past have been rightly scandalized by slavery, abuse, torture, genocide, and reacted with all their being. In a crazy world, it is the calm, sane person who may have the real problem, for they are not responding to what reality is. Simply, the question of theodicy or oppression in a violent world has galvanized theologians like Moltmann, Sölle, Metz, Cone, Copeland, Isasi-Díaz, and numerous others.

I’ve found that often, while there is a social foundation to evil, there is also a specific occurrence that grabs a theologian and never lets go. I myself have found a slew of scandals instances that could function as scandals for theologians in recent years, or at least have scandalized me to one degree or another: the “war on terror,” American torture, neo-colonialism, immigration, the response to Rev. Jeremiah Wright (racism), the sexist treatment of women, to name a few. And this makes me wonder, what will be the theodicy questions and issues that will push us forward in the future? What will we respond to? Have we as a generation yet to be gripped?


4 thoughts on “On Scandal and the Future

  1. Michael Westmoreland-White says:

    Laura may be right. The inaction in the face of Katrina initially shocked the nation (including the churches), but I remain aghast at just how quickly people “got over it” and went along with the GOP plan to have a smaller, whiter New Orleans with most of the 9th Ward in permanent diaspora.

    As a pacifist, war always scandalizes me, but the huge acceptance of “preemptive war” (an acceptance which still frames current presidential campaign debates to an enormous degree) was shocking, as was the torture. The racism in both these examples is shocking.

    Although I do not share your opposition to all forms of “human rights” language (the widespread claim that it grew out of the Enlightenment is historically mistaken–Richard Overton coined the term half a century before Locke and did so on biblical bases), I was shocked at how quickly such language lost all power to curb abuses.

    The utter disregard for the environment will be a major scandal in the future–as we struggle to survive “natural disasters” that could have been prevented or, at least, tempered had we responded quickly and without apathy.

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