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Showing posts from 2004

Si Lazaro at ang Mayaman

Mula sa mga Igorot ng Cordillera hanggang sa mga Lumad sa Mindanao, hitik ang ating kasaysayan at kolektibong karanasan sa mga taong nag-alay ng buhay dahil sa pag-ibig sa kapwa, sa bayan, at sa Dios. Marami sa kanila ay mananampalataya-- mayroong humawak ng sandata upang ipagtanggol ang bayan, ang mga anak, ang buhay laban sa mga puwersang mapang-api at sakim; mayroong namang hindi. Si Andres Bonifacio ang pangunahing halimbawa ng unang grupo, si Jose Rizal naman ang sa pangalawa.

Maliwanag ang koneksyon ng mga kuwento ni Rizal sa kanyang pagkakabaril sa Bagumbayan bilang kaaway ng imperyong Kastila. Ang hindi maliwanag sa maraming Kristiyano ay ang koneksyon ng mga kuwento ni Jesus sa kanyang pagkakapako sa krus bilang kaaway ng imperyo ng Roma. Lumaki tayo sa mga parabola ni Jesus subalit ang nakagisnang interpretasyon ng karamihan sa atin, na galling sa mga paborito nating Amerikano at Europeong iskolar at komentaryo, ay makalangit ang mga kuwentong ito at walang koneksyon sa pa…

Reading Matthew... part 3

Look at how the pais is described in Greek, "ho pais mou," "the servant who is mine." That child's body is under somebody else's control- whether it's his father, his owner, and, as I argue elsewhere, his pedophile. The centurion's act on the pais' behalf emphasizes the latter's marginalization. As far as the text is concerned, the pais cannot speak or seek his own healing. Yet, that child because he is "paralyzed," albeit momentarily, paralyzes not just his owner-who thus seeks help from Jesus-but also the imperial expansions (the goings and the comings) in Matthew. Throughout the gospel, characters come and go, border crossings are effected: magi from the East come seeking the king of the Jews (2:1-12); Joseph and his family flee into Egypt (2:13-15); Herod sends his death squads to Bethlehem to murder children (2:16-18); Joseph and his family go to Nazareth, from Egypt (2:19-23); Jesus goes to John the baptizer and is led b…

Reading Matthew... part 2

Interpretation, by definition, is always perspectival and particular. In other words, everything-including the supposedly objective historical-critical method-is reader response. My selective literary analysis of Matthew as imperializing text presupposes the reality of empire as backdrop to the construction of the narrative. Many Filipinos employ a similar assumption when engaging Filipino resistance literature: Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, Francisco Baltazar's Florante at Laura, and Carlos Bulosan's America is in the Heart. My analysis does not equate the Gospel of Matthew with historical facts. What it does is argue that the Gospel is a narrative discourse constructed and framed by a particular historical setting, in this case the Roman Imperial occupation. Anti-colonialist Frantz Fanon and educator Paolo Freire show that dynamics leading to literary production exist not only between the colonizer and the colonized, but also between various i…

Reading Matthew inside a Jeepney

Introduction
Biblical interpretation has privileged the centers of power, within, behind, and in front of the text. Biblical Studies, in the Philippines, have been a stronghold of colonial scholarship for over a century, especially among Protestant Churches. Denominations refuse to go autonomous and continue to depend on "mother" institutions in the United States. Church buildings and institutions are named after "benevolent" foreign church leaders and missionaries. Seminaries continue to have more foreign teachers (who are paid in dollars by foreign boards) than Filipinos (who are paid in pesos and usually way below the living wage). Libraries are filled with books authored by European and American scholars, and continue to receive donations of old ones from the First World. Traditional historical critical methods remain the key reading paradigm. Establishing what texts meant is the first step toward discerning what they mean today. Reading programs that do not…

Resonance and Fishing

According to Dianne Bergant, "...Anthropologists when confronted with the particularities of social reality attempt to construct a “thick description” of behavior, a highly detailed ethnographic analysis that explicitly includes, as far as this is possible, the insider's perspective. The most common approach toward this end is through a process of radical empiricism known as participant observation. Concerned with the comparability of empirical data, it begins with a particular, microscopic life-situation, and moves toward a contextualized understanding of meaning with the hope that general principles or parameters might be formulated. The findings then are tested against data from other life situations. Conclusions are drawn by induction as well as by comparison. The key authenticating factor here is resonance."

By resonance, I mean the power of a text, an object, or a song to reach out beyond its set boundaries to a larger world, to evoke or conjure up in readers, view…

From war machine to Pinoy "home on wheels"

On July 7, 1940, the US Army requested the War Department for an all terrain reconnaissance go-anywhere vehicle that seated three and had a mount for a 30-caliber machine gun. Tens of thousands of these vehicles were used in World War II. For many Filipinos the jeep was, and—with the continuing presence of American troops in the islands—still is an imperializing “text.” The jeepney, the Philippines’ most popular mode of mass transportation, resists this “text.” A jeep becomes a jeepney when it ceases to serve its original purpose and is transformed into something else, like beating swords into ploughshares. Jeepneys are unexpected readings of a jeep. Filipinos did at least three things to the jeep: they removed the machine gun mount, increased its limited seating capacity from three to sixteen-plus-passengers, and transformed the military vehicle into a “Filipino home on wheels.”

Jeeps and Jeepneys...

Mark Lewis Taylor, during the 2000 Annual SBL/AAR meeting, celebrated the publication of the Dictionary of Third World Theologies and called it "A Dictionary for Resisting Empire." For him, the volume summarizes critical reflection arising from people's movements in resistance to "empire," i.e. to the hegemony of Western powers whose metropole centers seek an ever-strengthened global power to subordinate and control each and every facet of the lives of masses of peoples. For him, the book preserves and marshals the archival power of Third World peoples' own discourse of resistance and liberation. To this developing archive I would like to contribute one model of Filipino decolonizing reading, jeepney hermeneutics. If the Filipino jeepney is a “resistant reading” of the U.S. military jeep, then jeepney hermeneutics is a resistant reading of the Bible.

Biblical Studies is one area that remains a stronghold of colonial scholarship, especially among Protesta…