In his literary classic What Is Not Sacred, Laurenti Magesa alludes
to a triadic empirical-transcendental-sacramental constituent of
African spirituality. This manière d’être resonates with the biblical
claim (Gen 1:31) that everything created is good. However, human
relation with creation does not always guarantee sacramental and
transcendental experiences. How then should creation be appropriately
admired, understood, and embraced without tragic consequences? An
aesthetic assessment of what is (not) sacred deserves due investigation.
Attention is shifting in recent times from contextual theology to intercultural
theology, from inculturation to interculturation. The
discourse on this practice is not new. About thirty years ago, in
1993, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger declared to the Bishops of Asia: “We
should no longer speak of inculturation, but of the meeting of cultures
or of interculturality.”
On the eve of African independence, the Christian theological discourse
in Africa was still elaborated in the logical continuation of
the foundation of Christianity, that of a pre-Christian culture in a
historicist perspective. By 1956, African priests had begun to radically
question the Christian colonial salvation, a fact which some have seen
as the beginning of African theology. After nearly 65 years, one wonders
where we are in the practice of this discipline, which was initially
very promising. Indeed, African theology had the wind in its sails after
the Second Vatican Council. During this assembly, Pope John XXIII
opened the windows of the Church to the world. T
The year 2021/2022 offers a unique opportunity to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Conversion of St Ignatius to a radical following of Christ. Injured
in battle at Pamplona on 12th May 1521, Ignatius lay convalescing in his family
home in Loyola reading the Life of Christ and the Lives of the Saints through much of
July and August. By September, those around him began to suspect that ‘he wanted
to make a very great change’ in his life, having seen several outward changes. Among
those changes was his growing appreciation of the value of religious poverty, a value
which was to characterise the life of the religious order he founded, the Jesuits.
“But, where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more” (Rom. 5:20b), declares St. Paul. The biblical text echoes hope in apparently hopeless situations. The COVID-19 pandemic, arguably, constitutes a sin that has brought about lots of suffering around the globe. People cannot travel as much as they would like to for fear of contracting or spreading the disease. Churches have experienced closure to the effect that religious practitioners cannot freely gather to give praise to their Creator. Schools closed pending amelioration of the COVID-19 pandemic. People have prematurely lost their jobs, and an endless list of lamentations accompany the pandemic.
Over the past few decades, there has been an increased level of selfconsciousness
on the African continent. Our political self-consciousness has
grown, our economic self-consciousness continues to see a steady rise, and our
theological self-consciousness has significantly advanced. One factor that
explains this growth in consciousness is the realization of the value of Socrates’
famous aphorism, which I paraphrase as Africa know thyself and to thyself be
true. Self-knowledge and self-examination is, therefore, a critical determinant in the
development of our theological consciousness into theological self-consciousness.
In Mark 12:13-17, we see an encounter between Jesus, the Pharisees, and the Herodians. The latter groups of people attempt to trap Jesus through their questions about paying taxes to Caesar. Jesus is clever enough not to fall into this trap. He eventually silences the Pharisees and the Herodians with what has become a famous maxim: "Give back to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's:' This encounter Jesus had needs to be unpacked for it bears important consequences, not just in a religious paradigm, but also in a socio-political framework. The various characters in this narrative can be given symbolic meaning.