Postcolonializing God: An African Practical Theology

By Suna-Koro, Kristine | Anglican Theological Review, Fall 2017 | Go to article overview

Postcolonializing God: An African Practical Theology


Suna-Koro, Kristine, Anglican Theological Review


Postcolonializing God: An African Practical Theology. By Emmanuel Y. Lartey. London: SCM Press, 2013. xxii + 138 pp. $56.00 (paper).

Postcolonializing God is a quest for epistemological, imaginative, and pastoral practices of theology and spirituality that would "decolonize, diversify and promote counter-hegemonic social conditions" (p. xiii) to creatively transform culture and build communities of liberation and wholeness.

Emmanuel Lartey begins with a critical analysis, arguing that the historical postcolony of institutionalized African churches, as well as their European and American diasporas, are still steeped in the internalized colonial discourses and imagery of God. Yet the historical African postcolony also yields creative trajectories of genuine decolonial spirituality and theology: counterhegemonic, strategic/dialogical, hybrid, interactional, dynamic, polyvocal, and creative practices of imagination and devotion.

The first chapter draws from the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, particularly the Tower of Babel narrative and instances of Jesus encountering religious pluralism, to argue for the understanding of God as the supreme agent of postcolonization/decolonization who effects and blesses diversity and plurality of life. Chapter 2 presents a strong argument for locating the black church within the milieu of African spirituality and religious institutions, interpreting it as a creative and emancipatory expression "of African religious creativity and the postcolonizing impulses of Africans influenced by contextual Christianity" (p. 35) and as part of New Religious Movements. Next, Lartey offers a reflection on postcolonial liturgical explorations through a detailed description of the public and pastoral ritual that was enacted in Elmina, Ghana, in 2007, on the site where the first Europeans landed in Western Africa in 1471. The multitraditional and radically hybrid liturgy took place to remember the traumas of colonialism and slavery, and to seek reconciliation and "healing of memories and of ongoing pathologies" (p. 62). The fourth chapter presents an overview of the work of the contemporary Ghanaian mystical theologian Brother Ishmael Tetteh and his "Etherean Mission" movement; Lartey argues that they represent a comprehensive attempt to construct a genuinely postcolonial and authentically African spiritual worldview and religious practice by a hybrid synthesis of Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and indigenous African theological insights. Chapter 5 draws on Lartey's previous proposals in pastoral methodology and argues for a postcolonial paradigm shift away from the West-centered globalization and internationalization approaches in pastoral care, and toward the paradigm of indigeneity (p. 118), which focuses on subaltern persons and communities to build liberated communities and transform cultures. Such a paradigm shift also entails a retrieval of spirituality for transformative pastoral care to achieve a better methodological balance, rather than the conventional reliance on the dominance of the Western individualistic psychotherapeutic models in pastoral caregiving. …

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