(This letter was featured in a short video that I recorded for the TransFORM conference in Washington, DC, USA. See below.)
Dear friends at TransFORM,
This is Gustavo K-fé Frederico speaking from Brazil. Here we are learning to talk to one another, becoming more aware of the importance of conversation. Here this conversation is nameless still, in embryonic stages. In it the other is not simply the recipient of our message, but equal participant. And this conversation is a long and difficult process over time.
Our Histories in Brazil and in Latin America are diverse and ambiguous. And the US and Europe - legitimized also by theology - were the authors of some dark chapters in our Histories. But we move on without bitterness. In recent History we have had inspiring theology that was highly contextualized. A few of us are rediscovering Liberation Theology, Integral Mission and other theologies from the "margins". We are learning how they defied the status quo, how they gave a voice to the voiceless and how they made the oppressed subjects of their own liberation. Still, History moves on and so must these theologies.
As we talk to each other we become aware of the fact that faith does not exist in a void, but is contextualized. So our praxis must not neglect History, Sociology, Philosophy, Anthropology and Political Sciences. I'm not calling folks to senseless academic discussions. On the contrary: I'm proposing a challenge to professionals, leaders and practitioners to contextualize their faith and practice in every aspect. For me if faith is not contextualized it is irrelevant.
Dear American brothers and sisters, as you think about new communities of faith, do not neglect the hidden Christ in the face of the suffering near you. Some estimates speak about 45 million people living in poverty in 2009 in the US. And there is really no suffering far from you in this globalized age. Please raise your prophetic voice against the hidden forces of oppression and violence. That is a practical epistemological exercise. I know you are thinking about 'small' communities, but do not neglect tough problems including macro-politics. Try to craft new languages of non-violence, justice, beauty and love.
Babel was a failure with its presumptions, but I invite you to engage with us in dialogue. I invite you to come to Brazil, to come to South America.
Finally, I leave you with a quote by Althaus-Reid: "If theology is not for liberation, that is, to deliver us from sexual and political ideological constraints of its constructions, and if it is not rooted in our experience and does not become transformative, it is not theology. "
Peace to all
Gustavo K-fé Frederico