Thursday, September 17, 2009

Incarnational Approach to Theologizing

Incarnational approach to theologizing.
During the second year of my theological formation I tried utmost to theologize from the point of view of incarnational approach. I tried to make use of the week-end ministry in Sanand mission for that purpose. Besides having the week-end ministry, we were offered to spend a week long village exposure to learn contextual theologizing. I grabbed this opportunity to try my incarnational approach to theologizing in Sanand mission. The spirit was high but the body was weak, and I could not complete a week long stay in a village called Meital in the Sanand mission. However, with a renewed spirit I expressed my deep desire to the Dean of the theology Fr.Francis Parmar about my plan to do theology in the village setup and cover the topics of missiology and ecclessiology in the context of a mission village. I took Fr. Mangalam, a misssiologist and then the parish priest of Sanand as my guide and hence began my stay in the village, in the first week of our Diwali holidays.
There were three activities that characterized my initial stages of the contextualized theologizing.
1.Diary writing: At the end of each day, I used to spend an hour jotting down my observations related to the topics that I had planned with my guide.
2.Theoretical input: A continual theoretical input was made available through private reading, done in consultation with my guide.
3.Week-end meetings: Every week-end I would meet my guide to sort out things, to integrate what I was going through, to look at the theological perspectives and implications of the experience. Besides I would meet Fr.Darrel to nurture my spiritual life and look at my psychological growth.
I then felt the need to learn their customs, to learn their attitudes, to enter their world-view so to say, to enter their frame of reference – in short to identify with them as much as possible and in doing so knock of the spectacles of my frame of reference. I saw the ecological imbalance in the village – it being a year of severe drought, I saw plenty of dead cattle. Reflecting on this, I realized that man is in continuity with the creation. Man is no isolated being and the whole of creation is an extension of man and man is an integral part of it. If a part of creation is destroyed, man is maligned in the process. I saw a lot of waste land there and reflecting on this, I realized that perhaps ‘forestation’ was required.

A group comprised of mixed casts, having a special inclusion of people from the lowest rung of the society with the Koli Patels was formed with the help of the Behavioural Science centre Ahmedabad. Rural SEWA- a self-help women group who was working in the near by village too started approaching the government with the similar objective ‘Forestation’. The Mamladar of Dholka who had the power to allot the waste land for the forestation program, decided to award the waste land to the SEWA group. At the end I had to terminate the little initiative with a reluctant heart. However, a mixed cast inter-village cricket tournament met with a huge success. There were about ten youth teams with mixed casts participated in the tournament. Though it was a small initiative in the contextual learning and involvement during my theological studies in 1988, it made an indelible mark in my memory and my spirituality.
Fr.Lawrence Dharmaraj s.j

1 comment:

  1. Dear Fr. Lawrence,
    It is really thrilling to read your experience of contextual theology and how you have assimilated it in your life. It is indeed as relevant today as it was twenty years ago. I suppose the cricket tournament might have surely brought the youth together. It is evident that overall it was an integral approach to study theology in a context.

    From Alpesh Macwan SJ