|Ed Conrad, Joel Hodge , Anne Brown|
On a balmy Brisbane Friday night in April I pushed against a determined footy crowd of another denomination to make my way to a community hall for the Brisbane launch of a new work by Joel Hodge.
Resisting Violence and Victimisation Christian Faith and Solidarity in East Timor is a landmark work in the conversation about religion and society. It continues the theological conversation from the "underside of history", a theme developed in the school of Liberation Theology and popularised in the works of Gustavo Gutierrez
Joel has presented his book in sections that reflect his methodology. The first section, Setting the Context in Dialogue comes out of his deep personal relationship with the people of East Timor and their experience under Indonesian occupation and the turbulent period of liberation. Section 2, Violence and Faith explores the experience of victimisation and faith using the mimetic theory of Rene Girard. Section 3, Sacred Violence and Christian Resistance offers a contemporary insight into the tradition of Christian resistance to the State.. Section 4, Solidarity with the Victim, spells out the theological model that builds faith and community. A concluding reflection provides insights into the experience of being Church in East Timor A good sample extract from Joel's book is available online
Any book that comes with positive reviews from both James Alison and William Cavanaugh is a "must read".
Cavanaugh describes this work as "a fine contribution to a new way of doing political theology, an interdisciplinary way that starts in the midst of people’s suffering and courage.'
Alison tempts us with: "This is cutting edge stuff. Joel Hodge is a pioneer in a new understanding of Church, of Eucharist and of our relationship to our own violence"
At the launch Dr. Anne Brown and Assoc. Prof. Ed Conrad who helped to supervise Joel's PhD work on which the book is based spoke with excitement and praise for the ground breaking way Joel explored across disciplines in academia.
Joel Hodge will be known by ABC fans as a regular contributor to public opinion on religion and society. He is currently a lecturer in the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy at the Australian Catholic University's St Patrick’s campus, Melbourne.
Joel's first book is not an easy read. However, the experience of victims, resistance, faith and community are not easy topics and demand commitment. Reading this book is like the title, a long intriguing challenge. The challenge is one we must promote and encourage if we are to confront a world where the language of terrorism and State security threatens our sense of community. Joel is offering those of us in First World communities a fresh understanding of what it means to be Church in the 21st Century.
Students of politics, religion and society will find this book a valuable resource. Clergy religious and those responsible for formation of religious ministries will also benefit from this text. The price might deter the general reader but my hope is that we will see local council libraries purchase copies that can be available to the public.