Q & R: colonizing atheism - and brown theism
Here's the Q:
Would you respond to this article on the new atheism?
Here's the R:
First, it's a fascinating article. Thanks for sending it. His thoughts on the desert and its impact on Abrahamic theology (and sexual ethics) are fascinating - something I explored a bit in my Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?
I was also intrigued by his linking of protest marches and religious processions. That gets my imagination going!
And that term "materialistic sterility" - that speaks.
My qualm, right now, with the political left is that it is so taken over by sexual issues, sexual questions, that we have forgotten the traditional concern of the left was always social class and those at the bottom. And now we’re faced with a pope who is compassionate towards the poor and we want to know his position on abortion. It seems to me that at one point when Pope Francis said, “You know the church has been too preoccupied with those issues, gay marriage and abortion…” at some level the secular left has been too preoccupied with those issues.
I don't think he's saying those issues aren't important, but that if "progressives" don't have a moral vision that addresses other issues as well, especially economic ones, there's a problem.
I think what hasn’t happened yet in the official language of our political life is that we really don’t know how to speak brown-ly about each other and about ourselves. And Barack Obama is still officially designated our first black president. Well, he’s our first brown president, which is a much more interesting thing to be because it unites these two races, but in some way what we are not able to deal with is the reality that brown is all around us. That kids have been born, Cambodian/Mexican/German kids who don’t look like anyone who has ever lived before. And we’re still in a kind of rhetorical swamp where we’re still using the vocabulary of the 1950s: white and black America.
I'll come back to that quote in a minute …
As for the New Atheism and Postcolonialism … I was just with a group of people who are fluent with "Integral Theory." Drawing from Spiral Dynamics, they use a color-coded framework to describe different kinds of "consciousness" - or ways of looking at the world. Broadly speaking, they are talking about traditionalist/pre-modern, modernist, and postmodernist mindsets.
If the traditionalist mind is naturally theistic, modernist and postmodernist mindsets tend toward agnosticism and atheism, and they look down on pre moderns, a disdain and superiority (a colonizing mind) which Rodriguez is naming. What many of us are seeking is to rediscover theism after modern and postmodern atheism - as philosopher Richard Kearney says, to discover a new theism after atheism. That new theism must not look at the old theism and atheism with disdain, but with understanding and appreciation, knowing that whatever meaning we discover and construct in the future will build upon what has gone before. I don't know Rodriguez work at all apart from this article, but it seems like he is also looking for a more integrating, respectful, and generous theism.
Perhaps what we need, recalling the quote above, is the capacity to go beyond white and black theism and atheism to discover a "brown theism."