Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Reconciliation: Feminist Shadings

Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Reconciliation: Feminist Shadings

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper is an attempt to identify certain feminist shadings on reconciliation. It is based on the premise that women make better reconcilers in the light of their own experience of suffering and commitment to relationality or community. It does not purport to propose a programme of reconciliation nor does it purport to address how reconciliation can be effected in a particular context. Rather, it raises certain issues in relation to the process and praxis of reconciliation from the perspective of women. It examines insights gained from study of women in their role as reconcilers, and the manner in which women have coped with conflict in their lives as portrayed in select biblical passages. The paper also considers whether and how these elements, viz, rootedness in faith, affirmation of the God of life, the recognition of oppressive systems, resistance to oppression, forgiveness, repentance, insight, good judgement and ritual could be possible resources for the development of a perspective for reconciliation with the self and the community. It is hoped that it will generate further reflection in our attempt to isolate a strategy or strategies for reconciliation between individuals and communities, in the church and society.

Introduction

We live in a world today where the contempt for the "other" is growing and the mantle for violent change is falling on individuals and groupings who are influenced by a globally transportable ideology stemming primarily from a belief that a new world order can be crafted by a theatrical display of force. Terrorism, caste violence, sexism, abuse, genocide, and more of the like are characteristic of the day. This says a lot about us, our present day societies, and our cultures. The emerging picture is difficult, embarrassing and humiliating. The painful truth is that the acts of violence and barbarism occurring at present are nothing but the natural consequence of generations of individuals and groups having been force-fed with speeches (filled with) hatred of others ... based on ideologies that are hierarchic, oppressive and dehumanizing. While some struggles that result in violence and separatism are authentic, one needs to be cautious about always blaming somebody else. For, in it there's a danger that you start putting forward a different and exaggerated take on events and, in due course start believing your exaggerations. The theme of reconciliation today is in vogue and has become somewhat of a buzzword.

What unique insights do women offer to our understanding of reconciliation? What gifts do women bring to the practice of reconciliation? Probably the most significant ambiguity in the ongoing work on reconciliation has been the lack of inclusion or recognition of women's experiences, or women's ways of fostering reconciliation. Women's possible and distinctive contributions to reconciliation practice and theory seem to be an untapped resource by both scholarship and the church. To my limited knowledge, there seems to nothing written on reconciliation from the perspective of women. Lessons learned from women's ways of effecting reconciliation seem to have been completely ignored by the church. Theologians and reconciliation theorists have ignored gender as a separate category by which to analyze and evaluate the exercise of reconciliation.

In addition, the biblical text, particularly the Hebrew Bible, portrays reconciliation as something that is pursued by men in male stories. This does not mean that there are no tensions between women, or that there are no instances of reconciliation among women. Is the lack of women's involvement in reconciliation, as reflected by the Hebrew Bible, because women have a more effective way of reconciling? Whatever the reason, biblical authors seem to know little about the resolution of conflict in the women's world. Does reconciliation become necessary in the male world because men, driven by greed or other motives, engage much more in the struggle for power? …

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