Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

A Theology of the Urban Space

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

A Theology of the Urban Space

Article excerpt

This article discusses the development of a theology of the urban space from a Latin American point of view, without ignoring the global implications of the present expansion of urban life. It shows how the reality of urban life has affected our way of doing theology, especially through notions of development, planning, and progress. The article proposes a change of paradigm through a theology of dialogue among human beings with God and with the whole of creation. It also shows the effects of corruption, not only as an occasional occurrence but at the very heart of the economic system that today upholds the present way of urbanization and global market economy. Finally, it advocates for an ethics of anticipation, beginning to act in a way that creates alternatives that might imply a greater respect of our fellow human beings, of creation, and of the presence of God.

First of all, T want to say diank you for the opportimity given to me by this invitation to share this conference with you through these days. Even if it was not the original intention, it resulted in our being here at what might become a meaningful moment in the world his- tory: the first days of the presidency of Barack Obama, with all the novelty, expectation, and opportunities opened by this event. Unpre- dicted things occur in human liistory and this might be a chance for this to happen. Things change in history, sometimes through in- tended human actions, other times because of sudden human deci- sions, and other times in spite of them. What and how much of the awaited and needed change will really happen is yet to be seen. Unplanned things surge in human reality, sometimes opening new hopes, sometimes frustrating them. And the decisions made in the coming days will tell us which of these two will take place, or, more probably; how both hopes and frustration will intertwine in expected and unexpected ways.

It is also at least a coincidence that we meet on Wall Street, at the locus of the financial crisis that is shocking the world, putting on stage a dramatically misshapen world economy under the doctrines of neoliberalism, monetarism, and financial speculation, and the impositions of the global and total free market. Those who prophesied the end of ideologies, only to enthrone their own as the only valid discourse, find the ideological farce of their speech slapping back in their own faces. The preached "only way" turned out to be a way to growing injustice, leading to disaster, exposed to fraud, and driving millions of people into the abyss of uncertainty, poverty, and helplessness. Many of us were clear about what was happening, but it was difficult to row against the stream. But now the system has overtly shown its demises, and, as always, the price is to be paid by the workers, the poor and destitute, the same ones who have no part in or benefit from the prevailing order.

As we meet today in our conference, these things should not be kept out of our minds and conversations. They offer also a way of entry to what is one of my arguments in tins discussion, and that is the tension between planning, dialogue, and the unexpected, the historical surprise. In a sense, as I will propose in the development of this conversation, it is the need to recover the eschatological dimension, even the apocalyptic thrust of the Christian faith, of the already-but-notyet, of a coming that is already here, of the eruption of the transcendence that is yet immanent, a nucleus of the confidence that nurtures the fife of the people oriented by the messianic dynamics of Jesus.

From Planning to Dialogue

Some theologies have read in Scripture apian of salvation as a predetermined route that God provides to humans for their restitution. This reading is not new, but in modern times it has been highly influenced by the idea of progress, of a more or less continuous development of a creation that, arisen from Creation and Fall, God conducts toward a final fulfillment of God's will. …

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